Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.3 Earthquake hits near the coast of northern Peru.

The earthquake struck about four miles from the coastal city of Sechura in northern Peru on Saturday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. No damage or injuries were reported in the quake, which happened at a depth of six miles.

5.5 Earthquake hits Libertador O’Higgins, Chile.

5.2 Earthquake hits Taiwan.

5.0 Earthquake hits Kepulauan Barat Daya, Indonesia.

Environment

New Chemicals Found Eating Up Ozone Layer

Four mysterious and previously unidentified man-made compounds have been found that can destroy Earth’s upper-atmosphere ozone, possibly preventing the ozone hole from healing.

The production of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases came under restriction worldwide in the mid-1980s after the compounds were found to be creating the hole above Antarctica.

A total global ban on production came into force in 2010. But researchers say the four newly discovered chemicals, also powerful greenhouse gases, may be leaking from insecticide production and from solvents used in cleaning electronic components.

Scientists now caution that many others probably exist. “They might well add up to dangerous levels, especially if we keep finding more,” said Johannes Laube at the University of East Anglia.

Since the ozone-killing chemicals take decades to break down in the atmosphere, their impact on climate and the ozone hole is long-lasting.

Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, researchers say the three new CFCs and one hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) were detected in air bubbles trapped since the mid-1970s in the Greenland snowpack.

“I was surprised no-one had picked these up before,” said Laube.

Environment

Smog-Busting Drones to Clear Beijing Air

Outbreaks of smog around Beijing have become so acute that officials are testing a new, more efficient type of drone to be used to spray smog-clearing chemicals, primarily around airports.

The South China Morning Post reports that drones equipped with parasails can carry about 1,500 pounds of the unspecified smog-busting compounds, which are said to have the capacity to cleanse the air in a 3-mile radius.

The vehicles will reportedly spray chemicals that “freeze pollutants,” causing them to fall to the ground.

But environmental advocates warn that such a process would simply coat the city’s surfaces with still-toxic pollutants.

They add that the government is tackling the symptom rather than the root cause of pollution.

China has tested aircraft and fixed-wing drones to spray smog-dispersant chemicals for several years, but found those delivery vehicles to be prohibitively expensive.

New design of unmanned vehicle will spray chemicals that freeze floating particles, allowing them to fall to ground.

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Disease

Drought and disease afflict desert region of Pakistan

As the death toll from the latest outbreak of poverty-driven diseases in Pakistan’s Thar desert nears 100 children, experts are warning that corruption and a dysfunctional political system make a repeat of the disaster almost inevitable.

The desert region in Tharparkar, one of Pakistan’s poorest districts, spreads over nearly 20,000 square kilometres in the country’s southeast. It is home to some 1.3 million people, including a large population of minority Hindus.

Between March 2013 and February this year, rainfall was 30 per cent below usual, according to government data, with the worst-hit towns of Diplo, Chacro and Islamkot barely touched by a drop of water for months.

Experts warn of further disaster in poverty-hit area with 40 per cent Hindu population struck by lack of rainfall and death of livestock.

Life in the desert is closely tied to rain-dependent crops and animals, with farmers relying on beans, wheat and sesame seeds for survival, bartering surplus in exchange for livestock.

The drought is not the only reason for the recent deaths. Observers say they have come about as a result of endemic poverty, exacerbated by the drought and an outbreak of disease killing livestock.

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