• Brisbane under water

    Brisbane, a city of two million and Australia’s third largest, is flooded; roads are inundated, railway lines have been cut, and sewage is spreading into the waters; dozens of suburbs are under three meters of waters, with some factories and homes only visible by their roofs; more than 100,000 properties had their power cut as a precaution against flooding of electricity substations; the worst affected area was the town of Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, where residents described an 8-meter “instant inland tsunami” ripping through the streets on Monday; the flood zone in northern Australia now covers are larger than Germany and France combined

  • World Bank: Coastal cities in Asia face devastating floods

    Thirteen of the twenty largest cities in the world are located on the coast, with more than a third of the world’s population living within 100 miles of a shoreline; a World Bank report finds that Asia’s major coastal cities will experience more devastating floods; damage due to flooding could be as high as 6 percent of regional GDP in 2050; developing cities will be most heavily affected; the report urges the threatened cities immediately to begin developing and implementing long-term plans to harden critical infrastructure to withstand and mitigate the effects of increased flooding

  • New spacecraft to help break the climate debate gridlock

    NASA plans to settle the climate debate with a fleet of Earth-orbiting spacecraft keeping tabs on the planet’s changing climate; the fleet has two tasks: first: take the total amount of energy coming to Earth from the sun, subtract what gets reflected back or re-radiated from particles in the atmosphere, and see what you have left; if more energy is coming in than going out, it is getting hotter; second: figure out what fraction of these atmospheric particles stems from natural phenomena, such as wind-blown dust and volcanic eruptions, and what is coming from things we can control — our industrial processes, business pursuits, and recreational pass-times

  • Pentagon prohibited from purchasing Chinese solar panels

    Obama signs military appropriations bill that prohibits the Pentagon from purchasing Chinese solar panels; the “Buy American” provision is part of a larger trade dispute with China over subsidies; the Pentagon is investing heavily in solar to reduce its energy consumption and increase fighting effectiveness; the bill is likely to raise costs for the military

  • Day of drinking recycled water nears

    Aussie researchers show that storm water collected from the aquifer into which urban water flows, after undergoing treatment, had dramatically lower levels of all hazards and contaminants; further supplemental treatment was needed to remove some hazards, though the process shows potential if improvements are made

  • Taiwan wants pigs potty-trained to curb pollution

    The Taiwanese government reports that experiments in potty-training pigs proved successful: a breeder of 10,000 pigs has established special pig “toilets” on the farm; the toilets were smeared with feces and urine to attract the pigs; within weeks, 95 percent of all pig waste was collected in the toilets, making the farm — as well as nearby rivers and fields — much cleaner; additional benefits: the cleaner farm helped reduce illness among the pigs and boosted their fertility by 20 percent

  • China may need 300 years to reverse desertification

    Huge population pressures, scarce rainfall, and climate change have made China the world’s biggest victim of desertification, a problem that could take 300 years to reverse at the current rate of desertification reversing; 27 percent of China’s total land mass, or about 2.6 million square kilometers (1.04 million square miles), are considered desertified land, while another 18 percent of the nation’s land is eroded by sand

  • Australian floods spread to forty towns, threaten Great Barrier Reef

    The floods in Australia continue to spread; forty towns have been flooded so far, affecting 200,000 people; as tons of toxic sludge are being washed into the sea, the famous Great Barrier Reef is now threatened; economists say the disaster could potentially shave about 0.5 percent off Australia’s annual GDP; snakes and marauding crocodiles are among the hazards for the besieged residents of steamy Queensland state, along with disease-carrying mosquitoes and the possibility of looting

  • Aussie flood zone covers area bigger than France and Germany combined

    More than 200,000 people have been affected by relentless flooding in northeast Australia, with the flood zone now stretching over an area bigger than France and Germany combined; Heavy rains and flooding in northeast Australia is common during the southern hemisphere summer, but the scope of the damage from the recent downpours is extremely unusual

  • Border security advocates criticize wilderness area restrictions

    A proposal to consolidate a swath of 250,000 acres of wilderness study areas in New Mexico has sparked an outcry from groups fearing an influx of illegal immigrants and drugs from Mexico; the Border Patrol says the designation has little effect on its work

  • U.S. water contains large amounts of the carcinogen hexavalent chromium

    Drinking water in thirty-five American cities contains the carcinogen hexavalent chromium; in twenty-five of those cities, the levels exceeded the goal proposed in California, which has been trying aggressively to reduce the chemical in its water supply, a probable carcinogen; the chemical compound was first made famous in the hit 2000 Hollywood movie “Erin Brockovich”

  • Biting winters driven by global warming: scientists

    A string of freezing European winters scattered over the last decade has been driven in large part by global warming; the culprit, according to a new study, is the Arctic’s receding surface ice, which at current rates of decline could to disappear entirely during summer months by century’s end; the mechanism uncovered triples the chances that future winters in Europe and north Asia will be similarly inclement, the study reports

  • DHS to address climate change as homeland security issue

    DHS has a new task force to battle the effects of climate change on domestic security operations; DHS secretary Janet Napolitano explained that the task force was charged with “identifying and assessing the impact that climate change could have on the missions and operations of the Department of Homeland Security”; a June 2010 DHS Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan states: “climate change has the potential to accelerate and intensify extreme weather events which threaten the nation’s sustainability and security”

  • China to step up efforts to control Mother Nature

    China is facing increasingly sever water shortages; the Chinese government is expanding it activities to combat extreme weather such as droughts, exploring airborne water resources, bringing water from he sea inland, and other measures to secure stable water supplies for cities, industry and agriculture

  • Freshwater sustainability challenges shared by Southwest and Southeast

    Twenty-five years ago, environmentalist Marc Reisner published Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, which predicted that water resources in the West would be unable to support the growing demand of cities, agriculture, new research offers new support for most of Reisner’s conclusions, using data and methods unavailable to him in 1986