Apple crop ‘a disaster’
By Rob Gowan
Local apple growers’ fears are being realized.
The Southern Georgian Bay area, which accounts for about a quarter of the province’s production, has been all but lost this year.
On Saturday morning Brian Gilroy, chair of the Ontario Apple Growers and owner of Nighthawk Orchards just south of Meaford, toured some Meaford-area orchards with Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller and Vail’s Orchards partners Bill Vail and Tom Critsch.
Gilroy said earlier predictions that 80% to 90% of the area’s apple crop had been wiped out are now looking optimistic.
“It is a disaster,” said Gilroy. “Nothing close to this has ever been seen before.”
Gilroy said producers are still scratching their heads about what they are going to do this year.
“We honestly don’t know what we are going to do,” said Gilroy. “We are going to do the best we can with what we’ve got.”
Gilroy said there will be some apples but is unsure of just how much.
He said other areas of the province weren’t hit as bad as southern Georgian Bay. Quebec’s crop hasn’t been hurt.
Normally the trees would become laden with blossoms, but because of the mild weather in March, which was followed by hard frosts in April, the trees have been damaged to the point where there will be very little fruit on them this year. The orchards are full of dead buds that were frozen by the cold snap and didn’t bloom. The unusual weather pattern is even expected to affect next year’s crop as in some places next year’s buds have been frozen as well. Some of the younger trees were damaged so badly that it is questionable if they will even survive.
In 1945 there was a really early spring, but it didn’t get cold like it did this year.
“They had an average apple crop that year,” said Gilroy. “This is by far the worst we have ever seen.”
Gilroy estimated the crop loss at somewhere in the $15 million range. He also said the economic spinoff from the area orchards won’t be felt either. There will be far fewer apples to pack this year and area orchards employ about 800 people, many of them migrant workers, and already those numbers are being reduced.
by Staff Writers
Princeton NJ (SPX)
The influence of the ground beneath us on the air around us could be greater than scientists had previously thought, according to new research that links the long-ago proliferation of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere to a sudden change in the inner workings of our planet.
Princeton University researchers report in the journal Nature that rocks preserved in the Earth’s crust reveal that a steep decline in the intensity of melting within the planet’s mantle – the hot, heat-transferring rock layer between the crust and molten outer core – brought about ideal conditions for the period known as the Great Oxygenation Event (GOE) that occurred roughly 2.5 billion years ago.
During the GOE – which may have lasted up to 900 million years – oxygen levels in the atmosphere exploded and eventually gave rise to our present atmosphere.
Blair Schoene, a Princeton assistant professor of geosciences, and lead author C. Brenhin Keller, a Princeton geosciences doctoral student, compiled a database of more than 70,000 geological samples to construct a 4-billion-year geochemical timeline. Their analysis uncovered a sharp drop in mantle melting 2.5 billion years ago that coincides with existing rock evidence of atmospheric changes related to the GOE.
Based on this correlation, the researchers suggest in Nature that diminished melting in the mantle decreased the depth of melting in the Earth’s crust, which in turn reduced the output of reactive, iron oxide-based volcanic gases into the atmosphere. A lower concentration of these gases – which react with and remove oxygen from the atmosphere – allowed free oxygen molecules to proliferate.
The Princeton research offers the strongest data-driven correlation yet between deep Earth processes and the GOE, Schoene said. Previous hypotheses are largely based on qualitative observations of the rock record and computational models that simulate how this rapid oxygenation might have occurred. The Princeton research, however, is based on a statistical analysis of the geologic record and the chemical traces of deep-Earth activity it has preserved, Schoene said.
“The perspective behind past efforts to connect geologic processes to the Great Oxygenation Event has been hypothetical, saying that ‘If the Earth had been X, there would have been reaction Y,’” Schoene said. “But these ideas cannot be tested experimentally because they are largely notional. In our paper, we have the evidence to say, ‘The Earth was like this,’ and then propose a hypothesis that can be tested by examining the same rich database of mantle and deep-crust changes we used in our work.”
A change in subsurface activity around the time of the GOE has been noted before, Keller explained. But evidence of that shift is geochemically subtle, especially after billions of years. The database he and Schoene created allowed them to show more precisely how the geochemical makeup of the crust changed through time, resulting in a more detailed hypotheses about how this would affect the atmosphere, Keller said.
“Research in this area has been largely qualitative, but with this much data, we can pick up finer features in the geologic record, particularly a level of detail related to this sudden change 2.5 billion years ago that people had not seen with such clarity before,” Keller said.
A missing piece of the GOE puzzle?
Woodward Fischer, an assistant professor of geobiology at the California Institute of Technology who specializes in the GOE, said that the Princeton research could help shed more light on an important factor in Earth’s oxygenation that is not well understood. Fischer is familiar with the paper but had no role in it.
The dominant theory of oxygenation is that an abundance of photosynthetic life emerged some hundreds of millions of years before the GOE and began producing oxygen via photosynthesis, Fischer said. The problem is that this output would not have been enough to overcome “sinks” that were absorbing more oxygen from the atmosphere than was being put into it. So, a lingering question is what happened to those sinks to bring about oxygenation.
Keller and Schoene show how one of the primary sinks – volcanic gases – might have suddenly been neutralized, Fischer said. The exact effect this would have had on atmospheric oxygen levels is difficult to know – even recent fluctuations are hard to gauge, he said. Nonetheless, the clear and objective data the researchers use strongly suggests that a quick reduction in volcanic gases brought about by a drop in mantle-melt intensity was an important precursor to oxygenation, Fischer said.
“This paper offers a really striking assessment of changes occurring in the solid Earth that greatly helped set the stage for one of the most marked environmental transitions in Earth history,” Fischer said.
“And their methodology precludes a strong tendency that researchers, as humans invested in our work, have to look for anecdotal geological evidence and conclude based on coincidence that events co-occurring in time must have been related,” Fischer said. “The statistical approach taken by the authors in this paper really lets the data shine and reveals that there were important secular changes in the way the Earth made igneous rocks, and that these changes were possibly part of an interplay between life and deep-Earth processes.”
Keller and Schoene fashioned their expansive database from previously reported rock and trace element analyses, which are increasingly available through online databases. They focused on changes in the chemical composition of basalt, a byproduct of melting in the Earth’s mantle.
When melting in the mantle is high, Keller said, basalt contains greater concentrations of “compatible” elements such as chromium and magnesium that are ordinarily found in the mantle. Less intense melting, on the other hand, results in basalt with a higher content of incompatible elements such as sodium and potassium that are found closer to the Earth’s surface.
From their examination, Keller and Schoene saw that the Earth’s mantle has undergone a gradual cooling since the planet’s early history, which is consistent with scientists’ expectations based on heat loss at the Earth’s surface. Around 2.5 billion years ago, however, the levels of compatible elements in the sampled basalt plummeted, indicating that the magnitude of melting deep in the mantle dropped off suddenly.
Keller and Schoene confirmed their findings by checking them against existing analyses of crust-level “felsic” rocks such as granite, which form when hot basalt merges with other minerals. Heightened melt activity in the mantle leads to deeper melting in the Earth’s crust, and felsic rocks can indicate the intensity of mantle melting, Keller said.
The researchers conclude that when melting happens at a great depth in the crust then the concentration of the iron-oxide gases in magma increases. When emitted into the air by volcanoes, these gases bond with free oxygen and essentially remove it from the air. On the other hand, when crust melting becomes shallower, as they observed, atmospheric levels of those volcanic gases drop and free oxygen molecules can flourish.
Connecting the Earth’s systems
In a broader sense, said Schoene, his and Keller’s research depicts a close interaction between the Earth’s geologic and biological systems that is becoming more apparent. “In science, it is becoming increasingly obvious that seemingly different systems act together and the question is how,” Schoene said.
“Overall, this analysis strengthens emerging arguments that interaction between the solid Earth and biosphere are very intimate and important,” he said. “This is strong evidence of how biological and geological systems might work together, and it suggests that important planetary change is not simply the result of life dragging the rest of the planet along.”
Fischer of Caltech added that this interplay of systems applies to various events in the planet’s history – such as mass extinctions – that are the result of multiple factors both above and below the Earth’s surface. Decidedly more difficult is tracing how these events influenced one another and ultimately led to a greater planetary change, he said.
“Because of the complicated questions of how solid Earth changes lead to biological innovations, scientists now have to start thinking deeply and working across the boundaries of what have traditionally been pretty rigid subdisciplines in the Earth sciences,” Fischer said.
“It’s clear from research like this,” he said, “that there is hay to be made by interdisciplinary efforts to connect processes and mechanisms from the solid to the fluid Earth, and to understand that interplay with an ever-evolving biology.”
by Staff Writers
disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
Indonesia needs to address loopholes in its moratorium on deforestation, Greenpeace said.
The two-year moratorium, announced last May by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was part of an agreement with Norway.
Under that agreement, Norway had committed up to $1 billion in assistance funds in 2014 if Indonesia is successful in reducing levels of deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions under REDD+, an internationally agreed mechanism for compensating countries that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
Indonesia has the world’s third-largest area of tropical forest after Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Deforestation is mostly attributed to logging for the conversion of forests to plantations for palm oil and to supply the pulp and paper industry.
While globally deforestation accounts for up to 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, in Indonesia that figure is up to 85 percent, making it one of the highest emitters in the world.
“The existing moratorium only suspends the issue of new forest use permits, it did not order a review of existing permits,” Yuyun Indradi, forests policy adviser for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, told reporters this week, as Indonesia marks the first year of the moratorium.
Greenpeace says the ban is being undermined because the legislation and enforcement of it is weak.
“There are other glaring loopholes in the moratorium which need to be addressed if Indonesia is to honor its international commitments,” said Indradi.
A Greenpeace report estimated that since the moratorium has been in place, Indonesia has lost nearly 5 million hectares of forest and peatlands out of a total 71.01 million hectares covered by the moratorium.
If Indonesia’s deforestation were to continue averaging more than a million hectares annually, Greenpeace says, all of the country’s forests will have been destroyed within the next 50 years.
But Agus Purnomo, a presidential special aide on climate change, told Antara news agency the Greenpeace report was misleading and the Forestry Ministry’s records indicate the deforestation rate over the past few years “has drastically decreased to around 500,000 hectares annually.”
In September, Yudhoyono said he would dedicate the final three years of his presidency to protect his country’s rainforest.
In a related development, World Wildlife Fund and Indonesian non-governmental organization coalition Eyes on the Forest announced a Google Mapping Tool on Wednesday that shows the impact of deforestation on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island.
“Our conviction is that if we empower people with the information, the forests of Sumatra cannot only be saved, but we can restore them,” said Carter Roberts, WWF president and chief executive officer.
No Privacy Due to CyberTerrorism Threat?
Published on May 24, 2012 by RTAmerica
The looming threat of cyberterrorism is being ramped up by the day-from government officials to mainstream media pundits-who say that cyberterror will soon outweigh terrorism as the number one security threat facing the United States.
Cyber insecurity: the new WMD
Published on May 24, 2012 by RTAmerica
With the war on terror not as popular as it used to be, top US officials are allegedly hyping up a new threat, cyber terror. Many are saying it isn’t a matter of if, but when. Defense contractors are ready to cash in at keeping America safe from the next “9/11″ attack that could potentially wipe-out our financial systems and electrical grids. Mike Rispoli, campaign strategist for AccessNow.org, joins us with his take.
Lawmakers question whether Google misled Congress on data collection
Two Democratic lawmakers on Thursday questioned whether Google misled Congress and regulators over its collection of data from unprotected Wi-Fi networks.
Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.), who both serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to re-open the Justice Department’s investigation into the case.
From 2007 to 2010, Google cars collected data from unprotected Wi-Fi networks as they drove through neighborhoods taking pictures for the company’s Google Maps Street View project. The data included Internet activity, passwords and other personal information.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Justice Department investigated the incident and concluded that Google did not violate wiretapping laws.
In their letter, Pallone and Barrow noted that Google officials had said, including in testimony before Congress, that the company had “mistakenly” collected the data and never used it.
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Week 12 of 52: Financial Preparedness
There was a time in the not too distant past where I was enslaved to debt. I supplemented my income with credit cards in order to maintain an overindulgent lifestyle, and when my daughter needed emergency medical care, my financial situation worsened because I didn’t have medical insurance. The medical bills were a nightmare, and paying them off seemed like a never ending uphill battle. For years we had to live below our means in order to sort out our financial mess. During this time frame, I repeatedly asked myself, “Why didn’t I set some money aside for harder times? Why didn’t I prepare for this?” It was these questions that led me on a journey of financial discovery. Instead of wallowing in self pity, I educated myself in finding practical ways to fight back and to simplify my lifestyle, which became a huge lesson in self control.
Emergency agencies suggest a person have at a minimum 3 months pay saved up to fall back on. Although, this can be a difficult amount to save in our economy, it is possible if you simplify your lifestyle. Here are 7 Ways To Save a Buck :
1. Counteract financial emergencies by preparing for them in advance. Even when times are financially prosperous, it is a good idea to have a financial contingency plan in place and some emergency funds set aside to fall back on; this money can act as a buffer when things do go financially awry.
2. Focus on meeting your practical needs, i.e., food, water, shelter. As long as you have shelter and food to provide for your family, you are ok. The rest of the financial mess will eventually sort itself out.
3. Stop spending frivolously. Cut the following from your budget: restaurants, manicures, and Starbucks (my sister just fainted). Set a goal to save as much money as you can.
4. Take advantage of grocery store advertisements and coupons. You can save a substantial amount of money when you search for discounted goods; throw away brand loyalty.
It Tastes Just Like Chicken!
Article written by Sarah Duncan
When I was younger I was lucky enough to have a job that allowed me to travel to some relatively exotic locations. As a jewelry importer, I visited rural Mexico and Italy on several occasions. I never hit the big tourist destinations – my time was spent in small villages where the culture was very unique to the area.
One unforgettable element about those years was the food. Sometimes it was so fantastic I tried to recreate it when I returned home. Other times the simple food I was served reflected the poverty of the area, which was underlined by an attitude of using the resources that were available, whether or not they happened to be appetizing or generally acceptable to my North American standards. To encourage the reluctant American guest to try the unfamiliar foods, my hosts nearly always told me “It tastes just like chicken.”
When offered hospitality in a poverty-stricken area, it was important to cast aside my reservations and simply eat what was offered. In the Third World, survival is dependent on making the most of what is available. One day this may be true for us as well.
After the first time I was served el gato (cat) in Mexico, I learned the valuable lesson of not asking where the meat had originated until after I’d already eaten. In Mexico, I have consumed cat, rattlesnake and armadillo. Here, I learned that with enough tasty seasonings and spices, nearly anything can be not only palatable, but downright tasty.
DIY Faraday Cage Ideas
In the event of an EMP strike or solar flare, all of your electronic devices are vulnerable to destruction. Both cause a dramatic fluctuation in the magnetic field of the Earth that, in turn, causes voltage surges and damaging currents. These surges will irrevocably destroy any modern electrical components they come in contact with. By creating a Faraday cage, you can protect priority devices from this threat.
In 1836, English scientist Michael Faraday conducted an experiment on electrostatic charges that resulted in the creation of the container that bears his name. He was not the first to experiment with this concept; his work was based on research performed by Benjamin Franklin nearly one hundred years earlier, in 1755.
A Faraday cage is an enclosure made of conductive material that blocks both static and non-static electrical fields. This protects devices from a weapons EMP strike, a solar flare event, or a lightning strike.
Many websites have complex instructions on how to build a Faraday cage. For more information on building a custom Faraday cage, click here. There are also expensive Faraday bags and boxes that can be purchased. They are “guaranteed” to protect your items from an EMP strike, but collecting on that guarantee could be rather difficult, given the circumstances that would cause the necessity for that protection.
There are many less complicated ways that you can improvise an EMP-proof container of your own for a far less expensive price tag. Although these homemade Faraday cages are perhaps not as stylish and elegant as the retail units, they should be just as effective. The following items can be pressed into device protection duty:
• An aluminum garbage can with a lid
• A metal filing cabinet
• A metal tool box
• A gutted microwave oven
• Tin canisters or ammo cans
Insulate items by lining the container in a non-conductive material, like cardboard. You can also make cardboard sleeves for your devices. It is vital that none of your electronics directly contact the metal of the container. It is important to add that your make-shift Faraday cages should be grounded in order to disperse the energy.
What should you store in your Faraday cage? Anything that you don’t want to live without post-EMP and anything that you can charge in an alternate manner is a good candidate for residence within the container. Some items that you might want to prioritize for a place inside the cage are:
Police Captain Ray Lewis punished for supporting OWS?
Published on May 23, 2012 by RTAmerica
The Occupy Wall Street movement was created to combat corporate power but has since evolved. Police brutality took center stage when New York City police officers pepper-sprayed peaceful protesters, and since then a retired Philadelphia police captain has come forth to bridge the gap between protesters and law enforcement. Ray Lewis is in the process of potentially being stripped of his union benefits for protesting in his uniform, and he joins us with more on why he feels that it is necessary for him to speak out.
700 students arrested in Montreal during clashes with police
Published on May 24, 2012 by RTAmerica
Video courtesy of m2wannawatch
Youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/m2wannawatch
Police in Montreal arrested over 700 students during the latest night of demonstrations. The students are protesting against tuition fee hikes and the adoption of a controversial bill that is seen as a tool to limit freedom of speech. Arrests were also made in Quebec City with some 170 detained and in Sherbrooke. Most of those arrested have already been released, though many face $1,000 fines. Protesters reportedly threw fireworks and bottles at officers forcing law enforcement to carry out extensive arrests in the hundreds. It’s been more than 14 weeks since the largest student demonstration in Canadian history started.
Articles of Interest
Big Brother spying on your car
Published on May 24, 2012 by RTAmerica
All across America, cameras have become the weapon of choice when it comes to spying on its citizens. Law enforcement agencies in California and Texas has started using license plate recognition devices to spy on drivers. These devices are used to capture the plates of every car that passes by regardless if they are breaking the law or not. Many critics feel everywhere they go the police are watching. JD Tuccille, news managing editor for Reason 24/7 News, joins us for more.
by Staff Writers
Chinese-backed crime groups are leading a surge in African elephant poaching to meet China’s thirst for ivory, and terror groups are elbowing in on the lucrative trade, US lawmakers heard Thursday.
Seizures of contraband ivory in Africa and China have soared in recent years as syndicates with deep roots in the billion-dollar wildlife smuggling trade seek to feed the spike in demand among increasingly wealthy Chinese.
The resulting killings — highlighted by the mass slaughter of elephants in Cameroon, where park officials say at least 480 have been killed by poachers since January — are putting the pachyderms at unprecedented risk.
“The Chinese government and others have made substantial seizures, but clearly more needs to be done to eliminate the illegal marketplace,” Senator John Kerry told a hearing on the global implications of poaching.
“Increasingly, criminal gangs and militias are wiping out entire herds and killing anyone who gets in their way.”
Save the Elephants founder Iain Douglas-Hamilton, who has studied elephants in Africa since the 1960s, warned of an “acute crisis” going unnoticed by the wider world, and stressed that China has emerged as “the leading driver of illegal trade in ivory.”
He cited Kenyan reports that 90 percent of ivory seized at the country’s airports is linked to the Chinese, and that large numbers of Chinese nationals for the first time are “living in Africa, collecting ivory and shipping it out.”
Controls imposed to restrict ivory imports have “failed,” in large part because two one-off sales of legal ivory stocks in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia allowed poachers to exploit confusion over the rules and sell illegal ivory as though it were legal, Douglas-Hamilton added.
Crime syndicates are also exploiting lax US rules on shell companies that allow foreign nationals to set up vast money-laundering operations, said Tom Cardamone, managing director of monitor group Global Financial Integrity.
GFI said the ivory trade has become a lucrative offshoot of the illicit wildlife trade, valued at up to $10 billion.
Cardamone said US authorities and others must tighten corporate rules to prevent crime syndicates and terror groups from “posing serious national security concerns for the United States and our partners.”
Senator Chris Coons warned of the harmful secondary effects of the ivory trade.
“It is financing terrorism, guerrillas and organized crime,” Coons told AFP.
“We should add the trafficking in illegal ivory to counterfeiting, to counternarcotics and terrorism, as among the central issues that we’re pushing with countries in international fora.”
Experts have described 2011 as an “annus horribilis” for elephants, with the seizure of more than 23 tonnes of illegal ivory last year — tusks from nearly 2,500 animals.
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com
Officials at Nepal’s state-run airline have sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, following technical problems with one of its Boeing 757 aircraft.
Nepal Airlines, which has two Boeing aircraft, has had to suspend some services in recent weeks due the problem.
While many airlines might choose to tackle the problem by, say, having engineers fix the problem, Nepal Airlines opted for a more goat-centric approach.
The goats were sacrificed in front of the troublesome aircraft Sunday at Nepal’s only international airport in Kathmandu in accordance with Hindu traditions, according to an official at the company.
‘The snag in the plane has now been fixed and the aircraft has resumed its flights,’ said Raju K.C., a senior airline official, without explaining what the problem had been.
Local media last week blamed the company’s woes on an electrical fault, rather than a superabundance of goats.
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