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What A Week It Was: Apocadocuments from
View By Scenario:
Species Collapse:(1)
Plague/Virus:(2)
Climate Chaos:(4)
Resource Depletion: (1)
Biology Breach:()
Recovery:(3)
This Week's Top Ten Very Scary Tags:
alternative energy  ~ bad policy  ~ deniers  ~ governmental idiocy  ~ food crisis  ~ bioremediation  ~ water issues  ~ corporate malfeasance  ~ pandemic  ~ stupid humans  ~ climate impacts  



ApocaDocuments (14) for the "Biology Breach" scenario from this week
[see full week] ~ [see full Biology Breach scenario and stories]
Mon, Jan 28, 2008
from Science:
The Ocean's Deserts
"The Sahara, the Gobi, the Chihuahuan--all are great deserts. But what about the South Pacific's subtropical gyre? This "biological desert" within a swirling expanse of nutrient-starved saltwater is the largest, and least productive, ecosystem of the South Pacific. Together with the subtropical gyres in other oceans, biological deserts cover 40 percent of Earth's surface. But their relative obscurity may be about to change. Researchers are reporting that the ocean's biological deserts have been expanding, and they are growing much faster than global warming models predict." ...


Hovering above these ocean deserts are mirages that look like sand.

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Mon, Jan 28, 2008
from The Independent:
Big business says addressing climate change rates very low on the agenda
"Global warming ranks far down the concerns of the world's biggest companies, despite world leaders' hopes that they will pioneer solutions to the impending climate crisis, a startling survey will reveal this week. Nearly nine in 10 of them do not rate it as a priority, says the study, which canvassed more than 500 big businesses in Britain, the US, Germany, Japan, India and China. Nearly twice as many see climate change as imposing costs on their business as those who believe it presents an opportunity to make money. And the report's publishers believe that big business will concentrate even less on climate change as the world economy deteriorates. The survey demolishes George Bush's insistence that global warming is best addressed through voluntary measures undertaken by business ..." ...


So if world leaders can't do it, and big business isn't interested, then we figure it's up to us little people to take care of the planet. Of course, we might have to move the world leaders and big business out of the way...

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Mon, Jan 28, 2008
from National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration:
2007 Was Tenth Warmest For U.S., Fifth Warmest Worldwide
"The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. in 2007 is officially the tenth warmest on record, according to data from scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The agency also determined the global surface temperature last year was the fifth warmest on record. The average U.S. temperature for 2007 was 54.2F; 1.4F warmer than the 20th century mean of 52.8F." ...


And whose bright idea was it come up with an acronym -- NOAA -- that evokes the dude with the ark?

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Sat, Jan 26, 2008
from Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research:
Extra Power From Private Wind and Solar Generation Can Be Given Back To Grid More Easily
"An increasing number of people use wind or solar energy as a power source, and at times, they have extra power available that could be sold to the electricity grid. Dutch-sponsored researcher Haimin Tao examined how this externally generated energy can be better stored and transferred." ...


I'd sure like to figure what to with my private wind.

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Sat, Jan 26, 2008
from Pak Tribune:
US scientists close to creating artificial life: study
"WASHINGTON (AFP) - US scientists have taken a major step toward creating the first ever artificial life form by synthetically reproducing the DNA of a bacteria, according to a study published Thursday. The move, which comes after five years of research, is seen as the penultimate stage in the endeavour to create an artificial life form based entirely on a man-made DNA genome -- something which has tantalised scientists and sci-fi writers for years. The research has been carried out at the laboratories of the controversial celebrity US scientist Craig Venter, who has hailed artificial life forms as a potential remedy to illness and global warming." ...


A "celebrity US scientist": Can anybody spell a-n-t-i-c-h-r-i-s-t?

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Fri, Jan 25, 2008
from AFP:
India worst bird flu outbreak spreads
"KOLKATA, India (AFP) - India's worst outbreak of bird flu spread as health authorities battled on Friday to stop it reaching the densely populated city of Kolkata amid heavy rain that hampered culling efforts. Authorities reported the disease had affected two more districts, bringing the number hit by avian flu to 12 out of West Bengal state's total of 19. "We're afraid bird flu may spread to many areas -- it has already spread to two more districts," said state animal resources minister Anisur Rahaman in Kolkata, which has 13.2 million people, many of whom live in congested slums." ...


Late in the article we learn 2.2 million birds will be slaughtered -- that's a LOT of chickens with their heads cut off!

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Wed, Jan 23, 2008
from New York Times:
U.S. Given Poor Marks on the Environment
"WASHINGTON -- A new international ranking of environmental performance puts the United States at the bottom of the Group of 8 industrialized nations and 39th among the 149 countries on the list. European nations dominate the top places in the ranking, which evaluates sanitation, greenhouse gas emissions, agricultural policies, air pollution and 20 other measures to formulate an overall score, with 100 the best possible. The top 10 countries, with scores of 87 or better, were led by Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Finland. The others at the top were Austria, France, Latvia, Costa Rica, Colombia and New Zealand, the leader in the 2006 version of the analysis, which is conducted by researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities." ...


Our marks might be poor but hey we're popular, athletic and havin' our way with the ladies.

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Wed, Jan 23, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Is this the end of cheap food?
"Walton ... forecasts two further years of similar increases, at least. All the indicators, the prices of every food staple, are on the up - wheat doubled in price at one point last year. 'It's something the industry has expected and is thus, hopefully, a manageable cycle,' he says. 'No hunger riots. But we have enjoyed food prosperity for a long time, and we're seeing the end of that.' Others offer an even more bleak assessment. Jacques Diouf, head of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, spoke recently of a 'very serious crisis' brought about by the rise in food prices and the rise in the oil price. Various global economic bodies are forecasting rises of between 10 per cent and 50 per cent over the next decade." ...


Those of us in the overdeveloped world might get a little less overly, um, "developed." Those in the underdeveloped world, well, they're just not smart shoppers!

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Wed, Jan 23, 2008
from Marianas Variety (Micronesia):
2008 is International Year of the Coral Reef
"DIFFERENT environmental groups and government agencies gathered on Friday at the SandCastle of the Hyatt Regency Hotel Saipan to declare 2008 as the International Year of the Coral Reef.... The symposium also recognized the medicinal value of reef organisms, and the different threats to coral reefs such as improper watershed development, sedimentation, marine debris, over-fishing, global warming, among other problems." ...


Not unlike the Lifetime Achievement Awards they give to great underappreciated actors, hopefully before they die. Note: 2007 was "International Polar Year."

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Mon, Jan 21, 2008
from University of California - Davis:
Math Models Snowflakes In Extraordinary Detail
"Three-dimensional snowflakes can now be grown in a computer using a program developed by mathematicians at UC Davis and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. No two snowflakes are truly alike, but they can be very similar to each other, said Janko Gravner, a mathematics professor at UC Davis. Why they are not more different from each other is a mystery, Gravner said. Being able to model the process might answer some of these questions." ...


It's so encouraging to know that when all the snow has disappeared we can always grow them in a computer!

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Mon, Jan 21, 2008
from Montana State University:
Renewed Interest In Turning Algae Into Fuel
"The same brown algae that cover rocks and cause anglers to slip while fly fishing contain oil that can be turned into diesel fuel, says a Montana State University microbiologist. Drivers can't pump algal fuel into their gas tanks yet, but Keith Cooksey said the idea holds promise. He felt that way 20 years ago. He feels that way today. "We would be there now if people then hadn't been so short-sighted," Cooksey said." ...


Well, good news for everybody but the algae!

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Mon, Jan 21, 2008
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Bacteria race ahead of drugs
"...Dr. Jeff Brooks has been director of the UCSF lab for 29 years, and has watched with a mixture of fascination and dread how bacteria once tamed by antibiotics evolve rapidly into forms that practically no drug can treat. "These organisms are very small," he said, "but they are still smarter than we are." Among the most alarming of these is MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a bug that used to be confined to vulnerable hospital patients, but now is infecting otherwise healthy people in schools, gymnasiums and the home. Last week, doctors at San Francisco General Hospital reported that a variant of that strain, resistant to six important antibiotics normally used to treat staph, may be transmitted by sexual contact and is spreading among gay men in San Francisco, Boston, New York and Los Angeles. "We are on the verge of losing control of the situation, particularly in the hospitals," said Dr. Chip Chambers, chief of infectious disease at San Francisco General Hospital. ...


If a hospital staff can't control staph then what other homonyms of horror await us.

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Mon, Jan 21, 2008
from Living on Earth:
From toilet to tap
"Orange County will soon use purified wastewater to replenish sinking groundwater. Orange County, CA has opened what is likely the largest sewage purification plant for drinking water in the world. The community is on board, and the idea is already being copied elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad. 'The squeamish call it 'toilet to tap.' The correct term is 'indirect potable water reuse.' That's a mouthful. And in a few days 2.3 million people in Orange County California will begin quenching their thirst with it. Living on Earth's Ingrid Lobet reports.'" ...


If we can start drinking our own urine, perhaps we can start breathing our own carbon monoxide and eating our own ... okay, I'll stop.

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Mon, Jan 21, 2008
from Telegraph.co.uk:
PostApoc Fashion
"The post-Apocalyptic mood was reinforced by the assemblage of detritus which decorated the clothes, as if the wearers had rummaged through piles of discarded junk, finding old cassette tapes, robot toys, computer innards, bits and pieces of old electrical equipment, feathers, beads and old cables and saved them as talismans, glueing, stitching and tying them to their jackets and coats." ...


More like "Zoolander"'s Derelique than "MadMax," but still it's scary to imagine prêt-à-porter of this ilk.

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