Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.3 Earthquake hits Guam.

5.2 Earthquake hits Lombok, Indonesia.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Alamagan region in the North Mariana Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits Guam.

Storms and Floods

Flooding in Calgary, Canada

A state of local emergency has been declared in Calgary because of the significant flooding in the area.

Much of Calgary is still awash in muddy floodwaters today in the morning sun as empty office towers stood in an eerily quiet downtown after the evacuations. The city is expected to remain without power for several days.

Calgary flooding photo 2013

Tropical Storm Bebinca makes landfall in China

At least four fishermen are missing as tropical storm Bebinca makes landfall in South China. Train and shipping services across the Qiongzhou Strait have been suspended.

Floods in Northern India – Update

Relief teams were racing against time Saturday to rescue tens of thousands of stranded people in rain-ravaged northern India as the death toll from flash floods and landslides neared 600.

Wildlife

Pesticides for Agriculture Killing Aquatic Insects in the Wild

New research has found that the use of common pesticides in Europe and Australia has killed up to 42 percent of invertebrates, which make up about 95 percent of all animal species.

A team of German and Australian researchers studied the impact of the chemicals on the biodiversity of invertebrates in flowing waters of Germany, France and the Australian state of Victoria.

The study examined the effects of insecticides and fungicides that have been deemed “safe” for widespread use.

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists report considerable losses in the biodiversity of aquatic insects and other freshwater invertebrates because of the use of the chemicals, as compared to the species in non-contaminated areas.

They warn that some of the insects being killed, like mayflies, caddisflies and dragonflies, are important food sources for other animals.

This means their losses affect animals up the food chain to birds and fish. Companies that manufacture the pesticides are required to prove that they break down quickly and have only limited effects on the ecosystem.

But researchers point out that those tests are mostly conducted in laboratory conditions that don’t always accurately reflect what happens in the wild.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – Colorado, USA

Three wildfires sparked by lightning raged out of control in rugged Colorado mountain terrain on Friday, prompting the evacuation of two towns and menacing a third.

The West Fork Fire Complex – consisting of two separate fires in Rio Grande County in southern Colorado – forced 600 residents of South Fork to flee as high winds helped the blazes grow from 12,000 acres to 30,000 acres overnight.

Farther east in Huerfano County, a wind-driven blaze forced the evacuation of about 800 residents of the town of La Veta. The fire was bearing down on Walsenburg, a community of 3,000.

Another Huerfano County fire that forced about 200 people to flee a Boy Scout camp this week has grown to 9,100 acres and destroyed nine structures and four outbuildings.

Environment

World’s Population Projected to Be Nearly 10 Billion by 2100

The world’s population has grown from only 5 million in 8000 B.C. to the current level of about 7 billion.

The world’s population is likely to increase from 7.2 billion people to 8.1 billion by 2025, and to 9.6 billion by 2050, according to the United Nations.

While the statistician who authored the UN report says more needs to be done to address imbalances in population growth between poorer and wealthier countries, the new upward estimates should not be cause for panic.

John Wilmoth says the world was able to more than double its food production as the population doubled between 1960 and 2000.

But others say that energy supplies and those of other natural resources may not be able to keep up with the demands of a growing global population.

“These new findings show that we need to renew policies, such as increasing access to family planning and expanding education for girls, to address rapid population growth in Africa,” said Adrian Raftery, a co-author of the report and a statistician from the University of Washington.

The vast majority of the report’s projected population increase is estimated to take place in developing countries, with over half anticipated in Africa alone.

In contrast, in many developed countries in Europe and East Asia, fertility rates have fallen to the point where the number of people who die each year is roughly equal to the number of babies that are born. This can lead to its own unique set of problems, says Wilmoth.

“These populations are aging rapidly and face challenges in providing care and support to their growing ranks of older persons,” he said.

Wilmoth went on to stress that the projects are based on certain assumptions about birthrates, mortality rates, and migration patterns, and therefore carry with them “enormous uncertainty.”

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