Archive for May, 2010

Nun Excommunicated For Allowing Abortion

Monday, May 24th, 2010

– It is hard to see how an organization that is concerned about diminishing membership and public skepticism can make errors like this.   Pedophile priests get a pass but a nun acting out of deep compassion gets the axe.

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May 19, 2010

Last November, a 27-year-old woman was admitted to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. She was 11 weeks pregnant with her fifth child, and she was gravely ill. According to a hospital document, she had “right heart failure,” and her doctors told her that if she continued with the pregnancy, her risk of mortality was “close to 100 percent.”

The patient, who was too ill to be moved to the operating room much less another hospital, agreed to an abortion. But there was a complication: She was at a Catholic hospital.

“They were in quite a dilemma,” says Lisa Sowle Cahill, who teaches Catholic theology at Boston College. “There was no good way out of it. The official church position would mandate that the correct solution would be to let both the mother and the child die. I think in the practical situation that would be a very hard choice to make.”

But the hospital felt it could proceed because of an exception — called Directive 47 in the U.S. Catholic Church’s ethical guidelines for health care providers — that allows, in some circumstance, procedures that could kill the fetus to save the mother. Sister Margaret McBride, who was an administrator at the hospital as well as its liaison to the diocese, gave her approval.

The woman survived. When Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted heard about the abortion, he declared that McBride was automatically excommunicated — the most serious penalty the church can levy.

“She consented in the murder of an unborn child,” says the Rev. John Ehrich, the medical ethics director for the Diocese of Phoenix. “There are some situations where the mother may in fact die along with her child. But — and this is the Catholic perspective — you can’t do evil to bring about good. The end does not justify the means.”

Ehrich adds that under canon or church law, the nun should be expelled from her order, the Sisters of Mercy, unless the order can find an alternative penalty. Ehrich concedes that the circumstances of this case were “hard.”

“But there are certain things that we don’t really have a choice” about, he says. “You know, if it’s been done and there’s public scandal, the bishop has to take care of that, because he has to say, ‘Look, this can’t happen.’ ”

A Double Standard?

But according to the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer, the bishop “clearly had other alternatives than to declare her excommunicated.” Doyle says Olmsted could have looked at the situation, realized that the nun faced an agonizing choice and shown her some mercy. He adds that this case highlights a “gross inequity” in how the church chooses to handle scandal.

“In the case of priests who are credibly accused and known to be guilty of sexually abusing children, they are in a sense let off the hook,” Doyle says.

Doyle says no pedophile priests have been excommunicated. When priests have been caught, he says, their bishops have protected them, and it has taken years or decades to defrock them, if ever.

– more…

– research thanks to Han D.

Mankind warming the oceans – report

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

The world’s oceans are warming up and the rise is both significant and real, according to one of the most comprehensive studies into marine temperature data gathered over the past two decades.

Measuring the temperature of the oceans has not been easy, but the scientists behind the latest study believe there is now incontrovertible evidence to show that the top few hundred metres of the sea are warming – and that this temperature rise is consistent with man-made climate change.

The findings are important because ocean temperatures are seen as a more reliable and convincing signal of global warming than land-based measurements, which are prone to huge variability. This is due to the fluctuating influences of the weather and the spread of cities, which can artificially increase local terrestrial temperatures by the urban “heat island” effect.

Scientists involved in the study have looked at temperature recordings gathered by flotation devices that take measurements of the top 700m of the ocean. They conclude that this upper layer of ocean has warmed significantly between 1993 and 2008 – the period covered by the study – and that this is slightly faster than earlier estimates used in the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

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Nature loss ‘to damage economies’

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

The Earth’s ongoing nature losses may soon begin to hit national economies, a major UN report has warned.

Elephants The abundance of mammals, birds, reptiles and other creatures is falling rapidly

The third Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) says that some ecosystems may soon reach “tipping points” where they rapidly become less useful to humanity.

Such tipping points could include rapid dieback of forest, algal takeover of watercourses and mass coral reef death.

Last month, scientists confirmed that governments would not meet their target of curbing biodiversity loss by 2010.

“The news is not good,” said Ahmed Djoglaf, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

“We continue to lose biodiversity at a rate never before seen in history – extinction rates may be up to 1,000 times higher than the historical background rate.”

The global abundance of vertebrates – the group that includes mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and fish – fell by about one-third between 1970 and 2006, the UN says.

– more…

– research thanks to Tony H.

Flowers blooming earlier now than any time in last 250 years

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Climate change is being recognized as one of the most influential drivers of changes in biodiversity. This is particularly evident in the field of phenology, which looks at how climatic changes affecting timing of events in the natural world. Changes in the timing of one part of the ecosystem can have a ripple effect, disrupting other areas. For example, a change in timing of plant flowering can disrupt the creatures that pollinate them. Similarly, changes in timing of plant or insect behaviour can affect the birds that use them as food supplies. New research has been published stitching together nearly 400,000 first flowering records covering 405 species across the UK (Amano et al 2010). They’ve found that British plants are flowering earlier now than at any time in the last 250 years.

There’s a strong correlation between temperature and the date when flowers first open each year. Consequently, much information can be gleaned from looking at flowering dates in the past. Since the mid-1700s, sightings have been made by full-time biologists and part-time enthusiasts. Systematic recording of flowering times began in the UK in 1875 by the Royal Meteorological Society.

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China seals oil deals

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

– This is part of a group of those huge but largely under-reported stories that are certain to shape our future world.

– Two examples (of which this story is one):

– Right now, all around the world, major powers are jockeying for their future oil supplies in the face of impending Peak Oil.

– Right now, all around the world, major powers are jockeying to lease lands in other countries to grow food for their own people back home.

– Just watch the news and see if, occasionally, you see stories on these subjects drift by; almost unnoticed.  And then reflect on what these stories really mean.

– Times are defintely going to get tougher.   A very serious game of Musical Chairs is underway.

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China’s oil demand is projected to grow by 80 percent between 2010 and 2030 due to its rapidly developing economy and in particular its growing middle class and exploding auto market.

CAP has a new map out showing where China is securing oil rights around the world.

China’s largest national, government-owned oil companies—CNPC, CNOOC, and Sinopec—have taken aggressive action over the last several years to secure oil abroad in an effort to cope with this growth and a looming global oil crunch. China’s recent overseas oil deals have the potential to deliver more than 7.8 billion barrels of oil to the country over the next several years.

– More…

Senior military leaders announce support for climate bill

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

33 generals, admirals: “Climate change is making the world a more dangerous place” and “threatening America’s security”

The Pentagon affirmed earlier this year that “Climate change, energy security, and economic stability are inextricably linked.”

Today an unprecedented 33 retired US military generals and admirals announced that they support comprehensive climate and energy legislation in a letter to Senators Reid and McConnell as well as a full page ad.  The news release points out:

It was the largest such announcement of support ever, reflecting the consensus of the national security community that climate change and oil dependence pose a threat American security.

– More…

Mystery Disease Linked to Missing Israeli Scientist

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

– I’ve known about this for at least two years.  I remember writing an E-Mail to a friend of mine from Oregon with a persistent cough and asking if she’d spent much time on Vancouver Island in Canada.

– Now, this latest story suggests a link to a renegade Israeli scientist.   This, in turn, reminded me of a little known book by Frank Herbert (famous for being the author of Dune).  This book I’m reminded of was called The White Plague and bears some similarities to what the article is suggesting.

– My university degree (BS) is in Medical Microbiology and I find all of this terrifying food for thought.

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Media outlets across the Northwest United States began reporting on April 24 that a strange, previously unknown strain of virulent airborne fungi that has already killed at least six people in Oregon, Washington and Idaho is spreading throughout the region. The fungus, according to expert microbiologists, who have expressed alarm about the emergence of the strain, is a new genotype of Cryptococcus gatti fungi. Cryptococcus gatti is normally found in tropical and subtropical locations in India, South America, Africa and Australia. Microbiologists in the United States are reporting that the strain found here, for reasons not yet fully understood, is far deadlier than any found overseas.

Physicians in the Pacific Northwest are reporting that an undetermined number of people in the region are ill from the effects of the strange strain. Physicians also say that the virulent strain can infect domestic animals as well as humans, and symptoms do not appear until anywhere from two to four months after exposure. Symptoms in humans include a lingering cough, sharp chest pains, fever, night-sweats, weight-loss, headaches and shortness of breath. The strain can be treated successfully, if detected early enough, with oral doses of antifungal medication, but it cannot be prevented, and there is no preventative vaccine. Undiagnosed, the fungus works its way into the spinal fluid and central nervous system and causes fatal meningitis.

– More…

Enough is enough, say climate scientists

Monday, May 10th, 2010

A group of climate change scientists who are convinced mankind is slowly destroying the Earth have written an impassioned plea to be taken seriously.

255 members of the US National Academy of Sciences have written an open letter to the Guardian newspaper in the UK, in defence of climate research.

The letter begins by admitting that scientific findings are not always one hundred per cent accurate. And it acknowledges that pioneers like Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein achieved their lofty reputations by challenging what was – at the time – conventional scientific wisdom.

However, the letter goes on to say, there are certain things that are so universally accepted that they can now be considered ‘facts’: our planet is about 4.5bn years old (the theory of the origin of Earth), that our universe was born from a single event about 14bn years ago (the Big Bang theory), and that today’s organisms evolved from ones living in the past (the theory of evolution).

Anthropogenic (ie, caused by man) climate change should be listed among these “certainties” of science, the letter claims.


Lost Opportunities at Copenhagen, Life at 3.6 Degrees Warmer

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Craig Scott Goldsmith, author of the new book, “UNINHABITABLE a case for caution,” comments on the recent Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

(PRWEB) April 12, 2010 — According to Craig Scott Goldsmith, author of the new book, “UNINHABITABLE a case for caution,”

“We will need to start preparing for the symphony of catastrophes that will befall us in our bid to adapt to life at 3.6 degrees on average warmer. It appears that the back room agreement at the Copenhagen summit of world leaders on Climate Change was to try and contain temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit and to stabilize C02 at 550 parts per million (ppm) or less by 2050.

“Simultaneously we will bring online at least 1000 new coal fire burning plants, one per week in China alone. We will add 2 billion additional automobiles onto the world’s highways and fossil fuel engines will still power 70% of them. We already have a 14.5-year inventory of gasoline-powered automobiles on the road. We will be bringing an additional 2 billion more people onto an already overcrowded and overburdened planet each bringing with them a heavy carbon footprint. This will certainly swamp any real C02 reduction efforts that have been tentatively agreed to without any binding agreement or penalties for countries that do not comply.

“We have debated and denied away our best opportunity to address this problem over the last 20 years. We are now heading into a war with nature that we cannot win and may not even survive. She will not negotiate nor capitulate and has all the time in the world to wear us down then knock us out. We have had skirmishes and even some major regional battles with her before as we have dammed her rivers, cut down her forests and cleared her land.


Humans to blame for climate change – scientists

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Climate scientists have delivered a powerful riposte to their sceptical critics with a study that strengthens the case for saying global warming is largely the result of man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.

The researchers found that no other possible natural phenomenon, such as volcanic eruptions or variations in the activity of the sun, could explain the significant warming of the planet over the past half century as recorded on every continent including Antarctica.

It is only when the warming effect of emitting millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from human activity is considered that it is possible to explain why global average temperatures have risen so significantly since the middle of the 20th century.

The study updates a 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and has discovered several new elements of the global climate which have been influenced by humans, such as an increasing amount of water vapour evaporating from the warmer oceans into the atmosphere and a corresponding increase in the saltiness of the sea.