Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα planet. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα planet. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Παρασκευή, Ιανουαρίου 16, 2015

Missing spacecraft discovered on Mars 11 years later

Britain's "Beagle 2" spacecraft, once dubbed "a heroic failure" by the nation's Astronomer Royal, was re-branded "a great success" on Friday for being found on Mars 11 years after it was originally launched in 2003.
Beagle 2, part of a European Space Agency's Mars Express mission searching for extraterrestrial life, had been due to land on Mars on Christmas Day of 2003, but disappeared on December 19, 2003. Until now, nothing had been heard from it. But at a packed news conference at London's Royal Society scientific institution on Friday, space experts said the tiny Mars lander had been found on the surface of the red planet.

"Beagle 2 is no longer lost," said David Parker, chief executive of UK Space Agency. He said recent images from the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showed "good evidence" that the spacecraft landed on Mars on the date it was due, but only partially deployed and failed to report its location to the home base.

  • The UK-led Beagle-2 Mars lander, which hitched a ride on ESA’s Mars Express mission and was lost on Mars since 2003, has been found in images taken by a NASA orbiter at the Red Planet.
Beagle-2 was released from its mother craft on 19 December 2003 and was due to land six days later. But nothing was heard from the lander after its scheduled touchdown, and searches by Mars Express and NASA’s Mars Odyssey mission were fruitless. 

Now, over a decade later, the lander has been identified in images taken by the high-resolution camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. 

 The lander is seen partially deployed on the surface, showing that the entry, descent and landing sequence worked and it did indeed successfully land on Mars on Christmas Day 2003.................http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Mars_Express/Beagle-2_lander_found_on_Mars

Δευτέρα, Νοεμβρίου 24, 2014

Russia to take advantage of global warming (chief of Russian weather service)

The phenomenon of global warming will have its effect on Russia 2.5 times sooner than in the rest of the planet, Alexander Frolov, Chief of the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Rosgydromet) told a TASS-hosted briefing on Monday. 

"Global warming might give certain advantages to Russia — a longer navigation period and a shorter heat supply season, which are very important for Russia because it is the coldest country. Areas where grain and bean crops might be harvested will be considerably enlarged, mostly in western Siberia and in the Urals, and a life comfort zone will be broadened, moving it up to the north," Frolov told the briefing.

"The negative effects of global warming are a growing threat of forest and peat bog fires, and possible breaking of a traditional way of life of the indigenous population of the North. Russia must be prepared to survive under conditions both of water shortages and floods," he said.

Climate on earth has become warmer by 0.7 degrees on the average over a period of ten years, while climate in Russia has warmed by 0.43 degrees in the same period, the expert said.

Κυριακή, Οκτωβρίου 19, 2014

More Than Half of World’s Wildlife Population Lost: World Wide Fund for Nature

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) released a statement Saturday following the 12th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity, highlighting that the world has lost more than half of the planet's wildlife population.

"At a time when the world has seen the loss of more than half of the planet's wildlife populations, countries are neither moving fast enough nor doing enough to prevent further decline," the statement reads.
Species populations worldwide have declined 52 percent since 1970, with a 76 percent decline in freshwater species and a 39 and 40 percent decline in marine and terrestrial species decline respectively, according to finding revealed at the convention that was concluded on Friday in South Korea.

The findings compiled in the WWF Living Planet 2014 report also states that global freshwater demand is projected to exceed current supply by more than 40 percent by 2030.

While urging governments to "supercharge" their efforts in conserving the environment, the WWF statement noted that forest ecosystems alone contribute $720 billion to the global economy.

"The COP [convention] urges Parties to take comprehensive and urgent measures necessary to ensure the full implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and corresponding national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs)," the statement says, adding that it urges the relevant parties to do so by October 2015.

The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, also known as the Aichi targets, and a main theme at the convention, is a ten-year framework for action by all countries and stakeholders to save biodiversity and enhance its benefits for people, as explained on the Convention on Biological Diversity website.

Among the strategies are getting the governments and society more involved, promoting sustainable use, safeguarding ecosystems and promoting the benefits of conserving biodiversity.

The WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund, was founded in 1961 in Switzerland and has been active in issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment. It is the world's largest independent conservation organization with over 5 million supporters worldwide, working in more than 100 countries.
(RIA Novosti)

Τρίτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 23, 2014

Ebola cases could reach between 550,000- 1.4 million by January - (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Between 550,000 and 1.4 million people in West Africa could be infected with the Ebola virus by January 20, 2015, according to a report issued on Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The top range of the estimate, 1.4 million, assumes that the number of cases officially cited so far, 5,864 according to the count kept by the World Health Organization, is significantly underreported, and that it is likely that 2.5 times as many cases, or nearly 20,000, have in fact occurred.

CDC emphasized that the projections, based on an epidemiological model that takes into account how many people each Ebola patient eventually infects as well as other factors, is based on data available in August. 
  • They therefore do not account for the recently announced U.S. government Ebola relief effort, which includes sending 3,000 members of the armed forces to the Ebola-stricken region.
"Extensive, immediate actions - such as those already started - can bring the epidemic to a tipping point to start a rapid decline in cases," CDC said in a statement. 

Κυριακή, Σεπτεμβρίου 21, 2014

Ahead of summit, UN Headquarters complex becomes canvas inspiring action on climate change...

UN, 20 September 2014 – In the lead-up to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Climate Summit, the United Nations lit up its iconic Headquarters complex in New York with a spectacular 30-story architectural projection show aimed to inspire global citizens to take climate action.

Entitled “illUmiNations: Protecting Our Planet”, and organized in partnership with the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) and Obscura Digital, the projections were shown on the white marble west facade of the UN General Assembly Hall and north facade of the Secretariat building from 7:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday evening.

With its striking scenes, the display provided a breathtaking visual reminder of what is at stake as Member States, as well leaders from finance, businesses, civil society, and the public and private sectors, prepare to gather at the UN Tuesday, 23 September.

The Secretary-General's Climate Summit aims to catalyze ambitious action on the ground to reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience and mobilize political action toward a meaningful, robust, universal, and legal climate agreement by 2015.

“We must make our voices heard. These exceptional projections being shown at the United Nations will help draw attention to the need to make climate action a reality in every community and every society,” Mr. Ban urged in a press release on the event, which was organized in partnership with UN Department of Public Information

The OPS was expected to kick off illUmiNations with the arrival of professional racecar driver and environmental activist, Leilani Münter, in a specially-designed electric Tesla vehicle outfitted with a high-tech mobile projection unit.

“I think it's the biggest story on the planet,” said Louis Psihoyos, who founded the OPS Society and directed the 12-minute piece, which will be shown in a loop on Saturday night, then be dismantled. A video of the event will be posted on YouTube next week.

“This event is all about inspiring people,” he added about the display, which was expected to include a 3 minute solutions segment with the photographic works of Yann Arthulic Informatoins-Bertrand, telling the story of climate change and highlighting actions that Governments, businesses, industry and civil society can take to shift toward a low-carbon economy and strengthen adaptation strategies.

The finale of the projection show was set to included the photographic works of Sebastião Salgado.

“There's no bigger billboard on the planet,” says Academy Award-winning producer Fisher Stevens, who produced the work. “The projections that will stream across the UN General Assembly Hall and north Secretariat building are a call to action on the most urgent issue of our times.”

From Paris to New York, people rally against climate change

World leaders including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were on Sunday set to join farmers, fishermen, children and others in demonstrations across the globe to demand action on climate change.

In New York, organisers were expecting some 100,000 to join the People’s Climate March ahead of Tuesday's UN summit, which will bring together 120 world leaders to discuss reducing carbon emissions that threaten the environment.

“You can’t fight climate change sitting on your couch and holding your breath,” said Jamie Henn, a spokesman for 350.org, which organized the New York event with more than a dozen other environmental, labor and social justice groups.

Sunday’s global rally - which is also being held in Berlin, London, Paris, Rio and Melbourne - is aimed at demanding changes that will lead to a world economy run entirely on clean energy.

The UN climate summit will focus on talks towards a pact 200 nations are working on that would rein in the rising greenhouse gas emissions. Negotiators aim to complete that deal in late 2015.

In Paris, activists said the mobilisation would act as a reminder for President François Hollande and his government of the huge responsibility they will shoulder when France hosts the Climate Conference in 2015.

“The climate crisis is already upon us and feeds the economic crisis. This is a silent tragedy, which kills tens of thousands of people every year”, said environmental activist and political figure Nicolas Hulot, who is joining the march.

Organisers have billed the event as the largest gathering focused on climate change since 2009, when tens of thousands of people gathered in Copenhagen in a sometime raucous demonstration that resulted in the detention of 2,000 protesters.



Κυριακή, Σεπτεμβρίου 14, 2014

Climate Change: The World, ‘It Turned Out Right’

Stefanie Spear (founder and CEO of EcoWatch):
Portugal student Gonçalo Tocha, as part of the Action4Climate video competition, produced the inspiring short film The Trail of a Tale, which is a monologue of a letter from the future written to our recent past, telling us that the world, “It turned out right.”

The nearly four-minute video is captivating as the narrator tells us, the stranger, how things went right. Society gathered with a fundamental belief that the “purpose of the economic system is to improve the world being for all within the limits of what the planet can sustain … We had to deal with overconsumption first. The prices we paid for things had to reflect the social and environmental costs…”

Deciding to be “more self sufficient and produce more locally” and realizing the “false consumer promise of buying happiness,” people in the new world had more time for themselves and their friends and family.

  • The film reminds the stranger of what life use to be like when “the world was divided by great wealth and extreme poverty … the global economy was falling apart … we were accelerating toward the cliff edge of catastrophic climate change.”

I’ve watched a lot of short films about climate change, and this one does an incredible job providing hope for the future.

***The Action4Climate video competition received more than 230 entries from 70 countries from students inspired to share their climate change stories. To watch other Action4Climate videos, click here.

Τρίτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 09, 2014

Peace means dignity, well-being for all, not just absence of war – (UN officials)

UN, 9 September 2014 – Underscoring that peace is more than just the absence of war, United Nations officials today stressed the need for concerted efforts to achieve the common vision of a life of dignity and well-being for all. 

“We know that peace cannot be decreed solely through treaties – it must be nurtured through the dignity, rights and capacities of every man and woman,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his remarks to the High-level Forum on the Culture of Peace, convened by the General Assembly. “It is a way of being, of interacting with others, of living on this planet.”

In September 1999, the Assembly adopted, by consensus, a resolution on the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace. Since then, it has met annually to discuss the issue, as well as how to advance this noble goal.
Mr. Ban said that peace means access to education, health and essential services – especially for girls and women; giving every young woman and man the chance to live as they choose; and developing sustainably and protecting the planet’s biodiversity.
“More than ever, it means living with others on the basis of tolerance, respect and mutual understanding,” he added.
“We are challenged today. We join forces here to promote a culture of peace, and yet all around us we see a spreading virus of war, of conflict, extremism, violence, hatred and terrorism.
“But I am convinced that our strongest arsenal in the face of these threats is not weapons or missiles or guns,” he stated. “It is our shared values … our common vision for peace, development and human rights … our universal aspiration for a meaningful culture of peace.”
Delivering remarks on behalf of Assembly President John Ashe, Vice-President Isabelle F. Picco said the desire for a culture of peace knows no boundaries and is inherent in the hearts of all people.
“It transcends gender, culture, religion, faith and belief, and unites the rich and poor, the old and young, East and West, North and South around a common desire.”
She added that the post-2015 development agenda that Member States are currently working on must be rooted in a culture of peace.
“Peace as an overarching theme must be woven throughout the goals and underpin the targets,” Ms. Picco stated. “And our new agenda must be backed by the political will, commitment, partnerships and financial support to help usher in a new era of peace on a global level.”

Πέμπτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 04, 2014

US obesity epidemic worsens as rates reach historic highs

Rates of adult obesity increased in six US states and fell in none last year, and in more states than ever - 20 - at least 30 percent of adults are obese, according to an analysis released this week.
The conclusions were reported by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and were based on federal government data. They suggest the problem may be worsening despite widespread publicity about the nation's obesity epidemic, from First Lady Michelle Obama and many others, plus countless programs to address it.
From 2011 to 2012, by comparison, the rate of obesity increased in only one state.

The 2013 adult obesity rate exceeds 20 percent in every state, while 42 have rates above 25 percent. For the first time two states, Mississippi and West Virginia, rose above 35 percent. The year before, 13 states were above 30 percent and 41 had rates of at least 25 percent.
Adult obesity rates increased last year in Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, Tennessee and Wyoming.
Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, where BMI is calculated by dividing weight (in kilograms) by height (in meters) squared. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 to 29.9.
Nationally, rates of obesity remained at about one-third of the adult population, according to The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America, while just over two-thirds are overweight or worse.
Rates of childhood obesity have leveled off, with about one in three 2- to 19-year-olds overweight or obese in 2012, comparable to rates over the last decade.
Continuing a years-long trend, nine of the 10 states with the highest rates of obesity are in the South. The West and Northeast had the healthiest BMIs, with Colorado boasting the lowest adult obesity rate, 21.3 percent.
Obesity also tracked demographics, with higher rates correlating with poverty, which is associated with lower availability of healthy foods and fewer safe neighborhoods where people can walk and children can play for exercise. For instance, more than 75 percent of African Americans are overweight or obese, compared with 67.2 percent of whites.
That pattern affects children, too. In 2012, just over 8 percent of African American children ages 2 to 19 were severely obese, with a BMI above 40, compared with 3.9 percent of white children. About 38 percent of African American children live below the poverty line, while 12 percent of white children do.
One-third of adults who earn less than $15,000 per year are obese, compared with one-quarter who earn at least $50,000.
"Obesity rates are unacceptably high, and the disparities in rates are profoundly troubling," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of TFAH.

Παρασκευή, Ιουνίου 27, 2014

Ban Ki-Moon advirtió sobre consumo de los recursos y su impacto ambiental

Esta semana, se ha reunido en Nairobi (capital de Kenia) la primera Asamblea de las Naciones Unidas para el Medioambiente (UNEA), para constituir el máximo organismo medioambiental creado por la ONU en su historia.

En la clausura del encuentro, el secretario general de la ONU, Ban Ki-moon, lanzó un llamamiento en cuanto a la insostenibilidad en el consumo actual de los recursos, señalando que "el aire que respiramos, el agua que bebemos y la tierra en la que crecen nuestros alimentos son parte de un ecosistema sujeto cada vez a una mayor presión por el crecimiento poblacional”.

La huella de este deterioro es "claramente perceptible" en desforestación de los bosques, en la escasez de la pesca, en la merma de los recursos hídricos y "en un cielo, un agua y una tierra cada vez más contaminados", señaló.

Ante una previsión de empeoramiento -con unas estimaciones de 10 mil millones de habitantes en 2050-, instó a todos los líderes a "actuar de manera firme" para promover un desarrollo sostenible integrando la protección medioambiental entre las estrategias más destacadas de su política.

Reconoció que no será una tarea complicada, ya que convergen numerosos intereses económicos procedentes, fundamentalmente, de la industria energética, de la agricultura y del comercio, si bien, los argumentos para intentarlo "son evidentes".

El secretario general de la ONU aseguró que el mundo se encuentra en una fase crucial para el desarrollo que se concretará tras la caducidad de los Objetivos del Milenio, a mitad de 2015.

  • Saying ‘change is in the air,’ Ban urges new UN body to galvanize global sustainability agenda

UN, 27 June 2014 – With the close of the Millennium Development Goal era just months away, and work already beginning on a successor agenda to reign in poverty and put the planet on a sustainable course before it is too late, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today the “timing could not be better” for the launch of a strong UN body tackling all issues relating to the environment.
“We are now poised for the crucial next phase of human development – a universal post-2015 sustainable development agenda. That agenda needs a strong voice for the environment,” Mr. Ban said in his address to the closing session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), which held its inaugural meeting this week in Nairobi, Kenya. 

More than 1,200 high-level participants, including UN officials, diplomatic and civil society delegations, have been taking part in the historic first session of the Environment Assembly, being held under the theme “A Life of Dignity for All.”
The body, created in answer to a call made by governments at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) for a more representative entity dealing with the issue, includes all 193 UN Member States sitting alongside major stakeholders. The Environment Assembly now plans to meet every two years and will replace the Governing Council of the Nairobi-based UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
“With its augmented role as a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly, UNEA has the mandate and capacity to position the environment alongside peace and security, poverty reduction, global health, trade and sustainable economic growth as an issue of crucial importance to every government,” said Mr. Ban.
At UNEA this week, stakeholders deliberated on many important topics – including the sustainable development goals, consumption and production patterns, the environmental rule of law, and the illegal trade in timber and wildlife. “The message is clear: protecting humanity’s life support system is integral to sustainable development. And it is a duty for all,” the UN chief declared.....................http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48154#.U63YgkDm7gw

Δευτέρα, Ιουνίου 09, 2014

World Oceans Day 2014 (U.S. State Department)

John Kerry, Secretary of State, June 8, 2014:

"World Oceans Day is a time to pause and focus on protecting our ocean: our planet’s most extraordinary ecosystem.
Life as we know it wouldn't be possible were it not for our ocean. We depend on the ocean for life’s essentials: the food we eat and the air that we breathe. It provides jobs for millions of people around the world, and a home for countless unique species.

The wonders of the ocean were impressed upon me at an early age in Massachusetts. my father taught me how to fish, and my mother taught me what happens when trash dumped into the ocean ends back up on the shore or kills sea turtles. I learned much more as a Senator working for fishing families that saw their way of life threatened when the oceans weren't properly protected.

We all have a responsibility to protect our ocean against the threats of overfishing, marine pollution, and ocean acidification. The entire system is interdependent, and we ignore that fact at our peril.
The bad news is that our ocean is in trouble. The good news is that we know what’s threatening it, and we know what we need to do in order to deal with these threats.

It’s not lost on any of us that we haven’t yet achieved the political consensus necessary to spur action. And, frankly, we know there’s no way that governments are going to tackle these enormous challenges alone. We need grassroots action to push us over the finish line, and that includes action from businesses, students, community groups, and advocacy and research organizations.

As Secretary of State, I am committed to doing everything I can to leave a healthy, thriving ocean for our children and future generations. But we need to do this together. One week from tomorrow, on June 16-17, I will host the “Our Ocean” conference. We’re bringing together high-level representatives from governments around the world, scientists, the environmental community, industry, and other stakeholders to address the challenges of sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification, and how we can work together to solve them.

Every action counts. It’s our ocean to share and that means we each share the responsibility to act as its steward. So - please pause - enjoy - celebrate - and let’s commit to work together as we chart a new way forward for a healthy ocean and a secure, prosperous planet."

[State Department]

Κυριακή, Ιουνίου 08, 2014

"One planet, one ocean – together, we must protect them", urges UN on World Oceans Day

UN,  8 June 2014 – To commemorate World Oceans Day, the United Nations family is encouraging the international community to reflect on the multiple benefits of oceans and commit to keeping them healthy and productive for current and future generations.

“We have to ensure that oceans continue to meet our needs without compromising those of future generations,” stressed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a message marking the Day, adding “their depths hold current and future solutions to humanity's energy needs.”

Oceans regulate the planet's climate while providing a significant source of nutrition and essential passage for global trade. World Oceans Day is an opportunity to celebrate the importance of the oceans for life on earth and to stand up for their protection.

Oceans generate most of the oxygen we breathe, absorb a large share of carbon dioxide emissions, and are important economically for countries that rely on tourism, fishing and other marine resources for income, and serve as the backbone of international trade.

Unfortunately, human pressures, including overexploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, destructive fishing, as well as unsustainable aquaculture practices, marine pollution, habitat destruction, alien species, climate change and ocean acidification are taking a significant toll on the world's oceans and seas.

In her message, Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), emphasized that “at a time of rising threats, 'business as usual' is no longer acceptable – we must change how we understand, manage and use ocean resources and coastal areas. For this, we need to know more about the ocean and draw on stronger science to craft sustainable, ecosystem-based policies for the ocean and coasts.”

The UN General Assembly has recognized oceans and seas as an important part of sustainable development – as envisioned by the Millennium Declaration and it landmark anti-poverty Goals (MDGs). Looking now to craft a successor post-2015 sustainable development agenda, Member States have identified protecting oceans as one of the keys to creating a better, cleaner future for the planet.

“Billions of humans, plants and animals depend on our oceans each and every day,” said General Assembly President John W. Ashe in his message. “I call on Member States and other stakeholders to continue to take action to protect our oceans by reducing pollution, and protecting marine life for present and future generations.” he added.

Since 2009, the UN family has come together each year, urging communities to ensure that our oceans remain clean and healthy. This year's theme “Together we have the power to protect the ocean!” underscores the power of collaboration.

This year, the observance coincides with the 20th anniversary of the entry-into-force of the landmark UN Convention on the Law of the Sea – known as “Constitution for the Oceans” – that provides a comprehensive legal regime for all ocean activities. It is also the International Year of Small Island Developing States.

The ocean is essential to our well-being and the future of our planet. World Oceans Day is an occasion for all Governments and societies to join forces in ensuring its protection.

“One planet, one ocean – together, we have the power to protect them both,” exhorted Ms. Bokova.


Πέμπτη, Απριλίου 17, 2014

Une planète soeur de la Terre découverte par la Nasa

Une équipe internationale d'astronomes a découvert la première planète hors du système solaire d'une taille comparable à la Terre et sur laquelle les températures permettent à l'eau d'exister à l'état liquide et d'être ainsi propice à la vie.

Cette découverte, réalisée grâce au télescope spatial américain Kepler, conforte la probabilité de trouver des planètes soeurs de la Terre dans notre galaxie, la Voie Lactée, estiment ces scientifiques dirigés par une astronome de la Nasa et dont les travaux sont publiés dans la revue américaine Science jeudi."C'est la première exoplanète de la taille de la Terre trouvée dans la zone habitable d'une autre étoile", souligne Elisa Quintana, une astronome du SETI Institute au centre de recherche Ames de la Nasa, qui a mené cette recherche.

"Ce qui rend cette découverte particulièrement intéressante c'est le fait que cette planète baptisée Kepler-186f est de taille terrestre en orbite autour d'une étoile dite naine, plus petite et moins chaude que le Soleil, dans la zone tempérée où l'eau peut être liquide", précise-t-elle.

Cette zone est dite habitable car la vie telle que nous la connaissons et qui dépend de la présence d'eau, a la plus grande probabilité de s'y développer, relèvent ces chercheurs.

Pour Fred Adams, professeur de physique et d'astronomie à l'Université du Michigan, "il s'agit d'un pas important dans la quête pour découvrir une exoplanète identique à la Terre", qui est l'objectif de la mission Kepler.

Sur les près de 1.800 exoplanètes détectées depuis les vingt dernières années, une vingtaine sont en orbite autour de leur étoile dans la zone habitable. Mais ces planètes sont nettement plus grandes que la Terre et de ce fait il est difficile, vu leur taille, de déterminer si elles sont gazeuses ou rocheuses, informe l'AFP.


Δευτέρα, Ιανουαρίου 27, 2014

Russia, US Plan to Jointly Fight Space Threats

MOSCOW, January 27 (RIA Novosti) – Russian and US experts are planning to join efforts in protecting our planet against thousands of potentially hazardous near-Earth space bodies, Russia’s emergencies minister said.

“The collision with the Chelyabinsk meteorite last year showed that space threats could be real and as destructive as huge fires or natural disasters on Earth,” Vladimir Puchkov said in an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta to be published on Tuesday.
The minister said a joint working group would be set up in the near future to develop solutions to counter space threats.

A meteorite entered the Earth’s atmosphere undetected by existing space-monitoring systems and slammed into Russia’s Ural Mountain region last February, accompanied by a massive sonic boom that blew out windows and damaged thousands of buildings around the city of Chelyabinsk, injuring over 1,500.

NASA estimated the meteorite was roughly 50 feet (15 meters) in diameter when it entered the atmosphere, traveling many times faster than the speed of sound, and exploded into a fireball brighter than the sun.

A team of researchers has recently studied two decades’ worth of data gathered by US government-run infrasound sensors positioned around the planet and discovered that 60 asteroids up to 20 meters (65 feet) in size had crashed into the planet’s atmosphere over the period – far more than had been previously thought.

The scientists suggested in a report published in Nature magazine that asteroids like the Chelyabinsk one could strike the planet every 20 or even 10 years, compared with an earlier estimate of once a century.

Despite the growing concern about the asteroid threat, no anti-asteroid defense programs have been developed in practice so far, with only several theoretical concepts being studied.

Σάββατο, Νοεμβρίου 30, 2013

The battle for Tasmania's wilderness

Could the government have the 2013 addition to the Tasmanian World Heritage Area revoked, asks John Pickrell.  
AUSTRALIA’S WORLD HERITAGE areas are having a tough time. In 2013 it was revealed that the Great Barrier Reef had lost half its coral cover since the 1980s. Now, due to a series of port developments for coal and gas exports, it is hanging under the threat of ending up on the “List of World Heritage in Danger”, the precursor to World Heritage status being removed.

It would be embarrassing for this to happen in one of the world’s wealthiest nations, one that holds under its guardianship perhaps the most famous natural World Heritage Area (WHA) on the planet. 

While we await the World Heritage Committee’s decision on the reef, it now appears that the Tasmanian Wilderness WHA could be at similar risk. In June 2013, the committee voted to add 1700sq.km to the existing 14,000sq.km protected area, which now covers 22 per cent of Tasmania.

Stunning strips of forest

The additions comprise many stunning strips of forest along the eastern and northern borders of the existing WHA, which grew to envelop areas including the eastern- and northern Great Western Tiers; Mount Field National Park; and the Huon, Styx, Upper Florentine, Picton and Counsel river valleys.

The extension was well received by conservation workers and environmentalists who believed these areas were now protected in perpetuity. It seemed a fitting way to mark 30 years since the High Court decision that saved the Franklin River from damming in July 1983.

However, in the run-up to September’s federal election, the Coalition said it did not agree with the extension, which had been formalised under the Labor government, and it would seek to have part of it delisted from the WHA if it was elected.

Value of Tasmanian forests

This has been reiterated since the election and was confirmed to AG by Richard Colbeck, Liberal senator for Tasmania and parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Agriculture. Will Hodgman, Tasmania’s Liberal opposition leader, has said that if his party wins the state election in March 2014, they’ll allow logging in parts of the extension that were previously state forest. Environmentalists say that this would be an unprecedented act of ecological vandalism.

About one-third of the newly added area is made up of pre-existing national parks and reserves that have pristine old growth woodlands and tall eucalypt forests that are of undisputed value. However, Mark Poynter of the Institute of Foresters of Australia has argued that, as the extension was not scientifically assessed for World Heritage values, it inappropriately included heavily disturbed former state forest areas.

He also says that the area added in June was ushered in as a “minor boundary modification”. The World Heritage Committee accepts these small modifications without the independent scientific analysis of value and wilderness quality that it requires for larger areas. The June addition was allowed despite the fact that minor boundary modifications typically constitute no more than a 10 per cent increase to the area of a WHA, and the new addition represented a 12 per cent increase.

Legal complications

The problem now for the Coalition is that it may not be legally permissible for recent additions to be removed. This has never been attempted in Australia and there is little experience of it internationally – usually governments fight to have territory added to the World Heritage List, not removed. Even more worryingly, if logging was to occur in disputed areas, it might place the entire WHA under threat of going on the danger list.

Some argue that removing the new areas with the minor boundary modification rule is unlikely to succeed, as they protect the integrity of the overall WHA, but this remains to be seen. One legal option would be to renounce Australia’s support for the entire World Heritage Convention, but we have to hope the government will come to its senses and realise that this is a step too far.

John Pickrell is the editor of Australian Geographic. Follow him on Twitter @john_pickrell.
Source: Australian Geographic Nov/Dec 2013
Related (Great Barrier Reef):

Σάββατο, Νοεμβρίου 23, 2013

Climate summit in overtime due to deadlock. -Delegates from more than 190 nations, meeting in Warsaw, argue on outline of new global pact to tackle climate change.

UN climate talks ran deep into extra time in Warsaw in an attempt to lay some groundwork for a climate pact which must be signed in Paris by December 2015.
The summit in the Polish capital was scheduled to end on Friday, but on Saturday morning negotiators and ministers were still debating, as rich and poor nations weighed their respective contributions to the goal of slowing the warming of the planet.

Gathering delegates from more than 190 nations, the fractious annual negotiations are working towards a deal that will for the first time bind all the world's nations to curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
On current emissions trends, scientists warn the Earth could face warming of 4.0 C or higher over pre-industrial levels - a recipe for catastrophic storms, droughts, floods and sea-level rise that would hit poor countries disproportionally hard.

Many delegates also said they wanted a clearer understanding of when nations will publish their plans for long-term cuts in greenhouse gases in the run-up to a summit in Paris in 2015.
That meeting is meant to agree on a global climate pact to enter into force in 2020.
World leaders last tried, and failed, to agree to a global treaty at a summit in 2009.
"If we don't succeed in Paris, the chances of us meeting the goal of limiting global warming to two degrees will be limited, or none," Pascal Canfin, French development minister, said on Friday.
A text on Saturday said that all nations should submit "intended nationally determined commitments" by the end of the first quarter of 2015, if they could.
That would give time to compare and review pledges before the Paris summit.
The US is among those advocating pledges be made by the end of the first quarter of 2015.
"It's something to build on," said Connie Hedegaard, said European climate commissioner, who wants pledges in 2014.
But many developing nations say the rich are doing too little to lead.
"The political signals [for Paris] are just too weak," said Naderev Sano, a Philippine delegate fasting during the meeting
in sympathy with victims of Typhoon Haiyan which killed 5,200 people.

Hotly disputed exchange
A major sticking point was the insistence of some developing nations like China and India, whose growth is fuelled by fossil fuel combustion, on guarantees of less onerous emissions curbs compared to wealthy nations.
In hotly disputed language, some want the new deal to impose "commitments" on developed countries and seek only "efforts" from emerging economies. The issue led to Europe and a group of developing economies trading barbs on Friday evening.
Hedegaard accused a group of "like-minded" countries of opposing a "push" towards the 2015 deal by insisting on the rich-poor country firewall.

"It is not acceptable to the European Union, but I also think to really many others," she said.
A group calling itself the Like-Minded Developing Countries, which includes China and India as well as Pakistan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, took issue with what they called the "brazen attack".
"The EU chief is responsible for damaging seriously the atmosphere of confidence and trust in this process," Claudia Salerno, Venezuel's climate envoy, who claimed to speak on the group's behalf, said.
As emissions continue to grow year after year, developing nations say their developed counterparts must have more responsibility for curbs given their long history of fossil-fuel combustion.
The West, though, insists emerging economies must do their fair share, considering that China is now the world's biggest emitter of CO2, with India in fourth place after the US and Europe. 

Climate aid
Another point of disagreement is finance.
Developing nations insist that wealthy nations must show how they intend to keep a promise to ramp up climate aid to $100bn by 2020, up from $10bn a year from 2010-12.
Still struggling with an economic crisis, however, the developed world is wary of unveiling a detailed long-term funding plan at this stage.
The funding crunch lies at the heart of another issue bedevilling the talks: demands by developing countries for a "loss and damage" mechanism to help them deal with future harm from climate impacts they say are too late to
Rich nations fear this would amount to signing a blank cheque for never-ending liability.

"On finance there has been no progress," Claudia Salerno of Venezuela, who represents a group of developing nations including China and Indonesia, said late on Friday.
The talks were also considering a new "Warsaw Mechanism" to help developing nations cope with loss and damage from extreme events such as heat waves, droughts and floods, and creeping threats such as rising sea levels and desertification.
Developing nations insisted on a "mechanism" - to show it was separate from existing structures - even though rich countries say that it will not get new funds beyond the planned $100 b a year from 2020.
In one step forward, governments agreed to a set of rules for safeguarding tropical forests in a deal aimed at unlocking big investments.
The new plan is backed by $280m from the US, Britain and Norway.
Deforestation accounts for perhaps a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions from human sources. Trees release carbon when they rot or burn.
"Governments have shown their firm commitment to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation," Christiana Figueres, UN climate chief, said in a statement.


Οι νεκροί Έλληνες στα μακεδονικά χώματα σάς κοιτούν με οργή

«Παριστάνετε τα "καλά παιδιά" ελπίζοντας στη στήριξη του διεθνή παράγοντα για να παραμείνετε στην εξουσία», ήταν η κατηγορία πο...