- Homa Therapy
- Agnihotra Timetables
- Scientific Validation
- Homa Communities
- Climate Engineering
- Activations & Cleansings
- Homa Therapy Worldwide
News & Information for Planet Earth
Updated: 1 hour 5 min ago
Few Long-Lasting Impacts Found
The latest independent monitoring report, plus $2m of Government funding to help improve New Zealand’s maritime response capability, coming two years after the wreck of MV Rena, is welcome news. The report shows few long-lasting impacts on Bay of Plenty maritime habitats. MV Rena, a Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned container ship that grounded on Otaiti (Astrolabe Reef) just 7 km off the coast of Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty on the North Island.
According to University of Waikato Chair in Coastal Science Professor Chris Battershill, “While there is still some evidence from time to time of heightened Rena-sourced contaminant levels in kaimoana (seafood) species on some of the beaches, and northern parts of Motiti [Island], the vast majority of kaimoana and other species have survived, and no evidence has been found of any catastrophic die-off,” he said.
The monitoring is part of the Government’s $2.4 million Rena Long Term Environmental Recovery Plan. The 460-page report’s main goal is an unusual one in the existing world view, which generally focuses on the monetary aspects of any major project that involves government agencies, NGO’s, the public and especially, indigenous people.
In this case, it is heart-warming and in keeping with New Zealand’s strong environmental consciousness. The Report’s opening paragraphs spell it out.
“The Rena Long-term Environmental Recovery Plan sets the goal and objectives of the long-term environmental recovery following the grounding of Rena on Otaiti (Astrolabe Reef). It describes the environmental issues and outlines the action that will be undertaken to address them.‘Toitu te Moana a Toi. Toitu te Iwi’: if the mana (force) of Te Moana (the sea) a Toi (summit) is restored, so the mana of the iwi (tribe) is strengthened. The Long-term Environmental Recovery Plan is critical to restoring the affected environment, including its people. ‘Whakarongo ki a Tangaroa. He tohu.’ Listen to Tangaroa (god of the sea). He will give a sign. This saying means you must stay in touch with the environment.”
Initially, when MV Rena hit the rocky, sacred Maori reef, spewing containers and heavy fuel-oil into the sea, killing hundreds of birds and sending the oil creeping onto the pristine beaches, the Motiti Islanders were devastated. Their island was inundated with press, workers on the salvage rigs and government officials all wanting to see for themselves. Their traditions and their matauranga (traditional wisdom) were ignored all the while their sacred reef was being damaged by the wreck and debris.
That changed over the first few months, as iwi from around the area independently went ahead cleaning beaches and helping in the restoration work, using their innate knowledge of the sea, the area and their culture. Coordinating entities began asking for advice and when the Recovery Plan was presented on 26 January 2012, it was clear the authorities had been listening. Dr Kepa Morgan, a bi-cultural Professor at the University of Auckland launched the project “How do we return the mauri (life principle of the area) to its pre-Rena state?”
Dr Morgan has developed a Mauri Model that “assesses the environmental impact of decision choices as indicators grouped in four equally weighted mauri dimensions: environmental, cultural, social and economic well-being. The impact upon mauri is determined as the change in life supporting capacity of the indicator being considered.” The model combines both scientific knowledge and cultural aspects in equal parts.
Although this model is still not used extensively throughout the New Zealand government, with the Rena Long-term Environmental Recovery Plan, there is hope that these principles will soon be included in many more projects as the results provide proof over the years, that incorporating the Mauri Model, in whatever culture it is used, is beneficial to all.Some Rena Facts Courtesy Maritime New Zealand
- At the height of the response, around 800 people were involved in the oil spill response team, including members of the incident command centre (ICC), and beach clean-up and wildlife response teams.
- Around 500 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel were involved at the height of the response.
- Around 8,000 volunteers joined the response, contributing more than 19,000 hours to the clean-up.
- Around 150 local businesses and organisations provided support to the response.
- Beach clean-up crews collected more than 1,000 tonnes of oily waste from the coastline.
- A team of about 90 salvors from Svitzer and SMIT were actively engaged in the operation.
- 1,733 tonnes of heavy fuel oil (HFO) on board Rena when it grounded, with around 350 tonnes estimated to have been lost overboard in the first week and further smaller amounts subsequently.
- 1368 containers were listed on the original manifest. Salvors have recovered 1039, with 329 unrecovered, either trapped in inaccessible parts of the wreck or lost to the sea.
- Oiled wildlife treatment and rehabilitation facility set up by The National Oiled Wildlife Response Team, led by Massey University, capable of housing 500 birds.
- 407 birds in care at the facility at the peak of the response,
- A total of 375 little blue penguins cleaned and released in a staged process from 22 November 2011.
- 60 endangered New Zealand dotterels were pre-emptively caught to protect them from oil, and progressively released from 25 November 2011.
- A total of 2030 dead birds collected, of which 1367 were oiled.
Typhoon Haiyan, the thirtieth named storm of the 2013 Pacific typhoon season, slammed the central Philippine provinces on November 8, with winds peaking around 314 km/h (195 mph) and a six meter (20 ft) storm surge. Known in the Philippines as Yolanda, Haiyan is the strongest tropical cyclone making landfall on record, surpassing Atlantic Hurricane Camille’s record of 305 km/h (190mph) in 1969. It is also the second deadliest, and the toll of human loss and damage continues to rise.
Today people are just trying to survive after all that was built by human hands had been destroyed by one of nature’s fiercest climatic events. Yet, the extent of the devastation remains unknown as local officials claim the death toll in Leyte, the worst hit province, exceeds 10,000, while President Benigno Aquino III estimated the overall death toll was more likely between 2,000 and 2,500. As devastating as the loss of life is with either estimate, it could have been much worse if not for the efforts of PAGASA, the Philippines’ meteorological agency, which broadcast warnings two days before Haiyan hit, leading to the evacuation of approximately 750,000 residents.
Over 13 million people have been affected by Haiyan including 9.8 million residents of the Philippine Islands. Nearly a half-million homes were damaged or destroyed. The storm continued to wreak havoc west of the Philippines before dissipating over China on November 11. The loss of human life, lack of sanitation, skyrocketing prices and a shattered economy are only the beginning of the human toll at nature’s hands.
Yet, the full impact of this massive storm is yet to be realized and could have significant environmental impact affecting the human condition for years to come. While the storm leaves in its wake thousands of uprooted trees and untold environmental damage, the carbon dioxide (CO2) the storm released by uprooting trees and topsoil, where CO2 is stored, is massive.
A study from 2007 found that the 320 million trees uprooted by Hurricane Katrina along the northern Gulf coast, released back into the atmosphere half of the CO2 annually absorbed by trees in the US. CO2 release is expected to be even higher in the Philippines, as the string of islands has denser average forest coverage than the region hit by Katrina.
Many scientists believe that such storms act as part of a positive feedback cycle, in that climate change is causing more significant natural disasters, which in turn release more CO2 further contributing to increased climate change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global CO2 levels surpassed 400 parts per million due in part to human activity but also due to Mother Nature.
According to the World Bank, in 2008 CO2 emissions per capita for the Philippines was nearly one metric ton per year leading to an approximate total of 85,000 kilotonnes (kt). Yet Typhoon Haiyan is expected to have released more than 105,000 kt of carbon, the amount released by Katrina. Only time will tell how much CO2 was actually released and what the continued effects of the storm will be.
It is clear that typhoons and hurricanes are natural parts of Earth’s continuing climate change. The Philippine Islands are located in a region where climate change can significantly alter weather and sea levels and thus the impact of such climatic events are experienced with greater severity than most parts of the world.
Animated gifs courtesy of NOAA
This dramatic mosaic showing Saturn and its backlit rings was created from 141 photographs captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft as it passed behind the planet in July, 2013.
Also visible in the highly detailed image are seven of Saturn’s moons, and in the distance, the inner planets Mars, Venus and Earth (see enlarged, labeled version).
Photographs used to create the mosaic were taken over a 4-hour period when the spacecraft was about 1.2 million kilometers (746,000 miles) from Saturn. Since images were captured over a period of time as the moons, planets and stars were in motion, the positioning of objects relative to one another is not accurate.
The core of the outermost E ring lies about 240,000 km (149,000 mi ) from Saturn; the panorama covers a field approximately 652,000 km (405,000 mi) wide.
Although the mosaic appears in natural color, the faintest rings, moons, planets and stars were brightened to enhance visibility. It is only the third photograph of Earth taken from the outer solar system.
Launched in 1997, the Cassini spacecraft and Huygens probe it carried were designed to explore Saturn and its distinctive system of rings and moons. Of particular interest were the moons Titan and Enceladus. Both have atmospheres and exhibit geological activity.
Titan is the second largest moon in the solar system (after Jupiter’s Ganymede) and composed largely of water ice and rocky material. Enceladus, Saturn’s fifth largest moon, has liquid water beneath its icy surface, which it ejects from cryovolcanos or geysers at its southern pole. Ejected water that does not fall back to the moon as “snow” is believed to have formed Saturn’s outer E ring.
In January of 2005, Cassini launched the Huygens probe, which successfully landed on Titan to return a wealth of new information – including the discovery of liquid hydrocarbon lakes at the moon’s polar regions. Having completed its initial mission, Cassini continues to explore the Saturn system and is now on its second extended mission.
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and after Jupiter is the second largest in the solar system. In addition to its distinctive rings composed of ice and rocky debris, Saturn is surrounded by more than 60 moons and countless moonlets.
With a diameter roughly 9 times that of Earth, Saturn is 95 times more massive, yet its density is so low that it would float in water. Saturn’s distance from Earth varies from 1.2 to 1.7 billion km (0.7 to to 1.0 billion mi).
High-resolution images and a detailed description of objects in the image are available from NASA.
In 1996 Jim Kor began conceptualizing and designing a vehicle intended for urban use, powered by electric motors and a small, ethanol fueled combustion engine; these concepts paved the way for a name, Urbee. Kor designed the odd, jellybean like car with aerodynamics in mind; Urbee’s coefficient of drag (Cd) is around 0.149, as compared to the Prius which has a Cd of 0.25. With such a low drag, and a hybrid engine, Urbee gets nearly 300 mpg. Urbee was originally intended to be built out of fiberglass; however, this required an intensive process that required building a full scale model, creating molds, and laying and fitting the fiberglass which would have taken 10 months to complete. This is when a member of the design team, Terry Halajko, directed Kor to Stratasys, a global additive manufacturing (or 3D printing) company. Kor contacted Stratasys in mid-2010, and by November of the same year was in Las Vegas for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show with a functioning Urbee.
Soon after that show, plans for Urbee 2 began crossing Kor’s mind. The design for Urbee 2 consists of a three wheeled car, steered by the single rear wheel and is capable of 70 mph (113 kmh). The car will have a single cylinder 7-hp engine using either diesel or ethanol along with a network of batteries driving two electric motors procuring the equivalent of 16 hp. The chassis will be constructed based on the structure of racing cars, such as in NASCAR, using chrome-moly steel tubing to ensure the safety of passengers. One of Kor’s proudest achievement is that 50% of the car, nearly everything you see or touch will be produced through 3D printing. The use of 3D printing makes the car more sustainable than current cars, as well as cheaper and cleaner for the environment. Kor has set a goal for his two sons, Cody and Tyler, to be able to undertake a cross country trip in the Urbee 2 within two years using only 10 gallons of fuel.
By Chad HansonLarge, intense fires have always been a natural part of fire regimes in Sierra Nevada forest
Since the Rim fire began in the central Sierra Nevada on August 17, there has been a steady stream of fearful, hyperbolic, and misinformed reporting in much of the media. The fire, which is currently 256,000 acres in size and covers portions of the Stanislaus National Forest and the northwestern corner of Yosemite National Park, has been consistently described as “catastrophic”, “destructive”, and “devastating”. One story featured a quote from a local man who said he expected “nothing to be left”. However, if we can, for a moment, set aside the fear, the panic, and the decades of misunderstanding about wildland fires in our forests, it turns out that the facts differ dramatically from the popular misconceptions. The Rim fire is a good thing for the health of the forest ecosystem. It is not devastation, or loss. It is ecological restoration.
What relatively few people in the general public understand at present is that large, intense fires have always been a natural part of fire regimes in Sierra Nevada forests. Patches of high-intensity fire, wherein most or all trees are killed, creates “snag forest habitat,” which is the rarest, and one of the most ecologically important, forest habitat types in the entire Sierra Nevada. Contrary to common myths, even when forest fires burn hottest, only a tiny proportion of the aboveground biomass is actually consumed (typically less than 3 percent). Habitat is not lost. Far from it. Instead, mature forest is transformed into “snag forest”, which is abundant in standing fire-killed trees, or “snags,” patches of native fire-following shrubs, downed logs, colorful flowers, and dense pockets of natural conifer regeneration.
This forest rejuvenation begins in the first spring after the fire. Native wood-boring beetles rapidly colonize burn areas, detecting the fires from dozens of miles away through infrared receptors that these species have evolved over millennia, in a long relationship with fire. The beetles bore under the bark of standing snags and lay their eggs, and the larvae feed and develop there. Woodpecker species, such as the rare and imperiled black-backed woodpecker (currently proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act), depend upon snag forest habitat and wood-boring beetles for survival.
One black-backed woodpecker eats about 13,500 beetle larvae every year — and that generally requires at least 100 to 200 standing dead trees per acre in patches at least 200 to 300 acres in size for each pair. Black-backed woodpeckers, which are naturally camouflaged against the charred bark of a fire-killed tree, are a keystone species, and they excavate a new nest cavity every year, even when they stay in the same territory. This creates homes for numerous secondary cavity-nesting species, like the mountain bluebird (and, occasionally, squirrels and even martens), that cannot excavate their own nest cavities. The native flowering shrubs that germinate after fire attract many species of flying insects, which provide food for flycatchers and bats; and the shrubs, new conifer growth, and downed logs provide excellent habitat for small mammals. This, in turn, attracts raptors, like the California spotted owl and northern goshawk, which nest and roost mainly in the low/moderate-intensity fire areas, or in adjacent unburned forest, but actively forage in the snag forest habitat patches created by high-intensity fire — a sort of “bedroom and kitchen” effect. Deer thrive on the new growth, black bears forage happily on the rich source of berries, grubs, and small mammals in snag forest habitat, and even rare carnivores like the Pacific fisher actively hunt for small mammals in this post-fire habitat.
In fact, every scientific study that has been conducted in large, intense fires in the Sierra Nevada has found that the big patches of snag forest habitat support levels of native biodiversity and total wildlife abundance that are equal to or (in most cases) higher than old-growth forest. This has been found in the Donner fire of 1960, the Manter and Storrie fires of 2000, the McNally fire of 2002, and the Moonlight fire of 2007, to name a few. Wildlife abundance in snag forest increases up to about 25 or 30 years after fire, and then declines as snag forest is replaced by a new stand of forest (increasing again, several decades later, after the new stand becomes old forest). The woodpeckers, like the black-backed woodpecker, thrive for 7 to 10 years after fire generally, and then must move on to find a new fire, as their beetle larvae prey begins to dwindle. Flycatchers and other birds increase after 10 years post-fire, and continue to increase for another two decades. Thus, snag forest habitat is ephemeral, and native biodiversity in the Sierra Nevada depends upon a constantly replenished supply of new fires.
It would surprise most people to learn that snag forest habitat is far rarer in the Sierra Nevada than old-growth forest. There are about 1.2 million acres of old-growth forest in the Sierra, but less than 400,000 acres of snag forest habitat, even after including the Rim fire to date. This is due to fire suppression, which has, over decades, substantially reduced the average annual amount of high-intensity fire relative to historic levels, according to multiple studies. Because of this, and the combined impact of extensive post-fire commercial logging on national forest lands and private lands, we have far less snag forest habitat now than we had in the early twentieth century, and before. This has put numerous wildlife species at risk. These are species that have evolved to depend upon the many habitat features in snag forest — habitat that cannot be created by any other means. Further, high-intensity fire is not increasing currently, according to most studies (and contrary to widespread assumptions), and our forests are getting wetter, not drier (according to every study that has empirically investigated this question), so we cannot afford to be cavalier and assume that there will be more fire in the future, despite fire suppression efforts. We will need to purposefully allow more fires to burn, especially in the more remote forests.
The black-backed woodpecker, for example, has been reduced to a mere several hundred pairs in the Sierra Nevada due to fire suppression, post-fire logging, and commercial thinning of forests, creating a significant risk of future extinction unless forest management policies change, and unless forest plans on our national forests include protections (which they currently do not). This species is a “management indicator species”, or bellwether, for the entire group of species associated with snag forest habitat. As the black-backed woodpecker goes, so too do many other species, including some that we probably don’t yet know are in trouble. The Rim fire has created valuable snag forest habitat in the area in which it was needed most in the Sierra Nevada: the western slope of the central portion of the range. Even the Forest Service’s own scientists have acknowledged that the levels of high-intensity fire in this area are unnaturally low, and need to be increased. In fact, the last moderately significant fires in this area occurred about a decade ago, and there was a substantial risk that a 200-mile gap in black-backed woodpeckers populations was about to develop, which is not a good sign from a conservation biology standpoint. The Rim fire has helped this situation, but we still have far too little snag forest habitat in the Sierra Nevada, and no protections from the ecological devastation of post-fire logging.
Recent scientific studies have caused scientists to substantially revise previous assumptions about historic fire regimes and forest structure. We now know that Sierra Nevada forests, including ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer forests, were not homogenously “open and parklike” with only low-intensity fire. Instead, many lines of evidence, and many published studies, show that these areas were often very dense, and were dominated by mixed-intensity fire, with high-intensity fire proportions ranging generally from 15 percent to more than 50 percent, depending upon the fire and area. Numerous historic sources, and reconstructions, document that large high-intensity fire patches did in fact occur prior to fire suppression and logging. Often these patches were hundreds of acres in size, and occasionally they were thousands — even tens of thousands — of acres. So, there is no ecological reason to fear or lament fires like the Rim fire, especially in an era of ongoing fire deficit.
Most fires, of course, are much smaller, and less intense than the Rim fire, including the other fires occurring this year. Over the past quarter-century fires in the Sierra Nevada have been dominated on average by low/moderate-intensity effects, including in the areas that have not burned in several decades. But, after decades of fear-inducing, taxpayer-subsidized, anti-fire propaganda from the US Forest Service, it is relatively easier for many to accept smaller, less intense fires, and more challenging to appreciate big fires like the Rim fire. However, if we are to manage forests for ecological integrity, and maintain the full range of native wildlife species on the landscape, it is a challenge that we must embrace.
Encouragingly, the previous assumption about a tension between the restoration of more fire in our forests and home protection has proven to be false. Every study that has investigated this issue has found that the only way to effectively protect homes is to reduce combustible brush in “defensible space” within 100 to 200 feet of individual homes. Current forest management policy on national forest lands, unfortunately, remains heavily focused not only on suppressing fires in remote wildlands far from homes, but also on intensive mechanical “thinning” projects — which typically involve the commercial removal of upwards of 80 percent of the trees, including mature trees and often old-growth trees —that are mostly a long distance from homes. This not only diverts scarce resources away from home protection, but also gives homeowners a false sense of security because a federal agency has implied, incorrectly, that they are now protected from fire — a context that puts homes further at risk.
The new scientific data is telling us that we need not fear fire in our forests. Fire is doing important and beneficial ecological work, and we need more of it, including the occasional large, intense fires. Nor do we need to balance home protection with the restoration of fire’s role in our forests. The two are not in conflict. We do, however, need to muster the courage to transcend our fears and outdated assumptions about fire. Our forest ecosystems will be better for it.
Chad Hanson, the director of the John Muir Project (JMP) of Earth Island Institute, has a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of California at Davis, and focuses his research on forest and fire ecology in the Sierra Nevada. He can be reached at email@example.com, or visit JMP’s website at www.johnmuirproject.org for more information, and for citations to specific studies pertaining to the points made in this article.
Officials of Assumption Parish were monitoring a sinkhole near Bayou Corne, Louisiana, on Wednesday, when a stand of 40-foot cyprus trees suddenly began to list and, within seconds, disappeared beneath the surface of the swamp.
As captivating as the certain-to-go-viral video may be, the story of how the sinkhole came to be is even more remarkable.
Ground near Bayou Corne began to give way last August, following months of local seismic tremors and gas bubbling from the depths of the bayou. On the morning of August 3, 2012, a one-acre hole opened up, accompanied by the strong, unmistakable odor of crude oil. Upon order of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, the tiny community of Bayou Corne was immediately evacuated.
In the year since, the sinkhole has grown in size from one to 28 acres. In places, it is estimated to be 750 feet deep, and some 350 residents of Bayou Corne remain displaced. According to scientists familiar with the underlying geology, subsidence could go on for years.
Obviously, this is no ordinary sinkhole.
A mile below the bayou sits a collapsing salt dome operated by Texas Brine, LLC, believed to be the cause of the sinkhole.
Earlier this month, on the first anniversary of the sinkhole’s appearance, the State of Louisiana filed charges against Texas Brine seeking reimbursement of $12 million incurred by the state to date, along with civil penalties and the future costs of repairing wetlands damage.
According to the lawsuit, “The conduct and operations of the defendants resulted in the brine mining of the salt cavern to the point that the cavern became structurally unstable, thereby causing the collapse of the cavern and damage to Louisiana’s waters, natural resources and the state’s Coastal Zone.”
Prior to the collapse, Texas Brine had been drilling for salts using a process that brings brine to the surface by injecting high-pressure freshwater into the salt cavern. Apparently, the company was unaware that it was drilling close to the edge of the salt dome, which happens to be surrounded by a layer of oil and natural gas.
In a comprehensive, must-read published earlier this month at Mother Jones, Tim Murphy describes Bayou Corne as “the biggest ongoing disaster in the United States you haven’t heard of.”
The city of Kagoshima in southern Japan was covered in volcanic ash on Sunday when Mt. Sakurajima erupted, spewing a cloud of smoke and ash 5 km into the sky. Aerial photography showed a landscape painted gray with dust.
Located 10 km east of Kagoshima (pop. 680,000), Sakurajima is the most active volcano in Japan and one of the most active in the world. Sunday’s eruption was the largest since 1955 and the 500th this year.
Lava was recorded flowing as far as 1 km from the fissure, but no injuries or major damage were reported.
Japan’s Meteorological Agency expects activity at the highly monitored site to continue as it has for the past 58 years, but did not interpret Sunday’s event as a precursor to larger eruptions in the near future.
Japan is located a area of extreme crustal instability within the Pacific Ring of Fire, and is home to approximately 10% of all active volcanoes.