Dienstag, 28. März 2006

Mit Kind ohne Arbeit: Firmen drängen Mütter aus dem Job

28.03.2006

//www.zdf.de/ZDFde/inhalt/19/0,1872,3918131,00.html

Frontal21

Immer mehr Schwangere und junge Mütter müssen nach Ansicht von Experten um ihren Arbeitsplatz fürchten. Und das, obwohl sie nach dem Gesetz eigentlich unkündbar sein sollen.

Von Anke Becker-Wenzel, Astrid Randerath und Anke Lang

"Wir können beobachten, dass in den vergangenen sechs Jahren die Zahl der gekündigten oder zur Kündigung vorgesehenen Schwangeren sich etwa verdoppelt", sagt Robert Rath vom Berliner Landesamt für Arbeitsschutz, Gesundheitsschutz und technische Sicherheit zu Frontal21. Andere Frauen werden mit unrealistischen Arbeitszeit-Angeboten oder Abfindungen aus dem Job gedrängt.

Mehr dazu
Frontal21, Dienstag, 28.03.2006, 21.00 Uhr

Bundesweit stieg die Zahl der Anträge auf Kündigung während des Mutterschutzes oder der Elternzeit nach Angaben der zuständigen Arbeitsschutzbehörden von 1999 bis zum Jahr 2004 um rund 20 Prozent.

Verdoppelung der Kündigungen Allein in Berlin hat sich die Zahl der Kündigungsversuche seit 1998 etwa verdoppelt, so Rath. Im Landesamt wird über Anträge zur Kündigung entschieden: "Im Jahr 1998 waren das noch etwa 200 Entscheidungen, die wir zu treffen hatten", sagt er. "Im Jahr 2004 waren es knapp 400 Entscheidungen." Er gehe davon aus, dass es außerdem eine große Dunkelziffer gebe.

Bei vielen Frauen waren die Kündigungen Rath zufolge nicht berechtigt. In mehr als der Hälfte der Fälle seien die Entscheidungen zu Kündigungsanträgen während des Mutterschutzes zwar so ausgefallen, dass ihnen stattgegeben werden musste. Aber in der anderen knappen "Hälfte der Fälle waren die Anträge nicht gerechtfertigt - unter fadenscheinigen Gründen sollten die Frauen aus dem Arbeitsmarkt entfernt werden."

Zweifelhaftes Angebot Jana Wehr, medizinisch-technische Assistentin aus Hamburg, hat sich gewehrt - und einen Auflösungsvertrag ihres Arbeitgebers abgelehnt. Nach der Geburt ihres zweiten Kindes sollte sie gegen eine Abfindung ihren Arbeitsplatz aufgeben.

Wehr weigerte sich und wollte vor Gericht ziehen. Daraufhin wurde ihr eine Arbeitszeit von 14 bis 19 Uhr angeboten - Zeiten, die mit Kindertagesstätte und Schule nicht zu vereinbaren sind. "Das ist für mich ganz klar, das macht man, um mich aus der Firma rauszubekommen, ganz einfach, weil sie auch wissen, dass man sich auf so was nicht einlassen kann", glaubt Wehr. "Das habe ich auch schon mehrfach gehört, dass Müttern wirklich solche Angebote gemacht werden."

"Total aussichtslos, total frustrierend" Schließlich gibt Wehr doch auf und akzeptiert die Abfindung. "Das ist einfach total aussichtslos, total frustrierend, weil es fast ausgeschlossen ist, jemals wieder in diesen Beruf reinzukommen", sagt die 37-Jährige. Heute arbeitet sie auf 400-Euro-Basis als Arzthelferin.

Auch für eine junge Wirtschaftsprüferin, die anonym bleiben möchte, bedeutete die Geburt ihrer Kinder das vorläufige Ende der Karriere. Ihr Arbeitgeber habe eine Teilzeitstelle abgelehnt, weil man sie damit nicht an die Kunden "verkaufen könne", berichtet die Anwältin Jutta Glock, die die Frau vertritt.

Keine Alternative Ihre Mandantin klagte zunächst auf Teilzeitbeschäftigung und suchte innerhalb des Unternehmens nach einer anderen Stelle, bei der sie nicht so viel reisen müsste und familienfreundlichere Arbeitszeiten hätte. "Es wurde auch nie überhaupt über eine Alternative auch nachgedacht", sagt sie. Sie selbst habe viele Möglichkeiten in dem Unternehmen gesehen. Schließlich lässt auch sie sich auf eine Abfindung ein und gibt ihren Arbeitsplatz auf.

Anwältin Glock sieht die jungen Frauen - und die Unternehmen - in einem wachsenden Konflikt. "Ich würde sagen, dass Klima hat sich sehr verschärft in den vergangenen Jahren, was sich zwangsläufig durch den wirtschaftlichen Druck ergibt", erklärt sie. Zum einen die wirtschaftlichen Anforderungen auf der Arbeitgeberseite, zum anderen die Knappheit an Arbeitsplätzen aus Arbeitnehmersicht. "Diese beiden Konstellationen führen dazu, dass eine Arbeitnehmerin versuchen muss, wirklich ihren Arbeitsplatz zu behalten, koste es, was es wolle."

Quadratur des Kreises Gleichzeitig gibt es weitere Erwartungen, die schwer zu vereinbaren sind: "Einerseits wird auf die Mutter projiziert, sie soll Kinder kriegen, andererseits wird aber auf sie projiziert, sie soll sich um die Kinder kümmern, soll es nicht nur dem Staat überlassen, die Erziehungsseite, aber letztlich soll sie natürlich aber auch im Arbeitsprozess drin bleiben dürfen, und sie soll auch Karriere machen dürfen", sagt Glock. "Und das alles immer zu vereinbaren ist fast schon manchmal eine Quadratur des Kreises."

Die fehlende Kooperationsbereitschaft der Unternehmen führt bei immer mehr Frauen dazu, dass sie den Spagat zwischen Kindern und Beruf gar nicht erst ausprobieren - und den Kampf gegen ihren Arbeitgeber und um ihren Job aufgeben. Jana Wehr kennt viele solche Fälle. "Diese Entwicklung finde ich wahnsinnig erschreckend, weil es eben auch vielen Müttern in meinem Freundeskreis ähnlich gegangen ist", sagt sie.

"Es wird nichts getan" "Die Rückkehr an ihren Arbeitsplatz sei ihnen erschwert oder gar unmöglich gemacht worden. Das macht Jana Wehr wütend: "Alle jammern rum - unsere Gesellschaft veraltet, und das ist ja ein ganz großes Thema im Moment - aber es wird nichts dafür getan, dass die jungen Menschen auch wieder bereit sind zu sagen: So, ich möchte jetzt Kinder haben."

© ZDF 2006

//www.zdf.de/ZDFde/inhalt/19/0,1872,3918131,00.html

Greenpeace sieht China in Schlüsselrolle bei Urwaldvernichtung in Südostasien

Illegaler Holzhandel: Greenpeace sieht China in Schlüsselrolle bei Urwaldvernichtung in Südostasien (28.03.06)

Ein am Dienstag in Peking veröffentlichter Greenpeace-Report kommt zum Ergebnis, dass China eine zentrale Rolle im Handel mit illegal gefälltem Holz aus Südostasien spielt. Der Handel werde angetrieben durch den wachsenden chinesischen Eigenbedarf wie auch durch den Weiterverkauf in die USA, nach Europa und Japan. Greenpeace fordert, im Rahmen des UN-Übereinkommens über Biologische Vielfalt (CBD) den Handel mit illegal und zerstörerisch gefälltem Holz zu verbieten sowie ein globales Netz von Urwald-Schutzgebieten einzurichten.

Die ganze Nachricht im Internet: //www.ngo-online.de/ganze_nachricht.php?Nr=13264

Bavaria bans cell phone use in schools

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 · Last updated 7:24 a.m. PT

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

MUNICH, Germany -- The German state of Bavaria on Tuesday announced a ban on the use of cell phones in schools to prevent students from viewing images of pornography and extreme violence.

Students can still carry their phones, but will have to leave them switched off during school hours, including during breaks, state education minister Siegfried Schneider said.

The ban comes after police recently found pornography and violent images on cell phones seized from students at schools in the Bavarian towns of Augsburg and Immenstadt.

"School is no place for phoning and certainly not for distributing concoctions that endanger youth," Schneider said.

©1996-2006 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

//seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1103AP_Germany_Phone_Porn.html


Informant: James River Martin

Schools mull phone usage

Published: Mar 28, 2006 - 08:57:34 am EST

By Jason Rhodes,
Special to the Crisfield Times

WESTOVER — Cellular telephones are a way of life for many Americans in the 21st century. However, that way of life soon may end for students in Somerset County Public Schools.

Last week, Dr. Karen-Lee Brofee, superintendent of schools, announced the Somerset County Board of Education may reconsider its student cell phone policy, which currently permits students to carry phones in schools for emergencies and parental convenience.

“This is being very badly abused to the point that students are text messaging each other all day and getting calls from parents in the middle of class,” she said.

Besides disrupting classes with cell phone use, some students may be using the devices - particularly camera phones — to help others cheat on tests, Dr. Brofee said. Camera phones may give students the opportunity to photograph tests and quizzes and pass on the questions to students in other classes.

“This is not just a problem in Somerset County. It’s a problem throughout the United States,” the superintendent said.

She also said lack of support from parents in minimizing classroom cell phone disruption compounded the problem. When cell phones are taken away from students, they are turned in to school offices, where parents may retrieve them, she said. Often when parents pick up the phones, they give them back to the students, and the cycle repeats itself.

Dr. Brofee said she planned to submit recommendations for a revised cell phone policy to board members at a future meeting.

//www.newszap.com/articles/2006/03/28/dm/eastern_shore_of_maryland/crs03.txt

All Rights Reserved - Independent Newspapers, Inc.

Informant: James River Martin

Internationale Proteste begleiten die traditionelle Robbenjagd an Kanadas Atlantikküste

//www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/22/22335/1.html

Mahnwache gegen Armut

Der Landtag wird am 30.3. über den Antrag der Linke.pds und SPD zum Vergabe- und Mindestlohngesetz entscheiden. Heute durften wir erfahren, dass davon auszugehen ist, dass die CDU-Mehrheit es ablehnen wird.

Deshalb muss genügend Druck von BASIS geschaffen werden. Die MAHNWACHE direkt vor dem Landtag gegen Armut und Billiglohn (29.3., ab 18 Uhr bis 30.3. bis zum start der DEMO), ist ein wichtiges Mittel um Druck auszuüben.

Wenn der Druck auf die SozialKahlSchläger nicht stärker wird, darf man sich nicht wundern, dass die Armut, soziale Ungerechtigkeit und die Rechtsentwicklung wächst.

Deshalb mitmachen!

Weitere Infos: //www.gegenbilliglohn.de

Bürgergeld statt Bürgerkrieg: Manager als Sozialreformer

"Netzwerk Grundeinkommen"

7. Newsletter des Netzwerks Grundeinkommen vom März 2006 (pdf) //www.grundeinkommen.info/fileadmin/Text-Depot/Newsletter7/NL_07.pdf


ELO Initiative und Erwerbslosenausschuss ver.di Südbaden zum „Einkommen zum Auskommen“ 10 Thesen des Bezirkserwerbslosenausschusses ver.di Südbaden zu den Forderungen des LEA „Eckpunkte Beschäftigungspolitik“

Thesen zu gewerkschaftlicher Erwerbslosenarbeit verabschiedet vom Bezirksvorstand ver.di Südbaden und eingebracht in LEA ver.di Ba Wü im Oktober 2005 (pdf) //www.labournet.de/diskussion/arbeit/existenz/elo1.pdf


„Für Existenzsicherung mit und ohne Erwerbsarbeit“

Beitrag von Ingrid Wagner vom 16.09.2005 //www.labournet.de/diskussion/arbeit/existenz/elo.html


Paradiesische Zustände – Wertediskussion und Wachstumszwang

Referat von Ingrid Wagner, gehalten auf der MVV Netzwerk Grundeinkommen am 26.11.06 (pdf) //www.labournet.de/diskussion/arbeit/existenz/elo2.pdf


Bürgergeld statt Bürgerkrieg. Manager als Sozialreformer

Artikel von Ines Eck in "Der Linke Berliner" vom 15.3.2006 //www.linker-berliner.de/volltexte/w0603161.html


Aus: LabourNet, 28. März 2006

Logging puts 17 species at risk

study says

Old-growth cutting in southwestern B.C. blamed for decline in animal population

//tinyurl.com/ralqx

TPStory/Environment

MARK HUME

VANCOUVER -- The continued logging of old-growth forests in southwestern British Columbia may lead to the regional extinction of 17 species of mammals, birds, amphibians and fish, according to a new study published in the conservation journal Biodiversity.

While it has been widely accepted that spotted owls are at serious risk of disappearing in B.C. largely because of old-growth logging, it has not been clear previously that so many other species are also in trouble.

But the researchers, Dr. Stephen Yezerinac, of Bishop's University, and Dr. Faisal Moola, of the David Suzuki Foundation, said their study found habitat destruction is threatening a whole spectrum of species, including tailed frogs, coastal marbled murrelets, northern goshawks, fishers and others.

"We found the threat of pervasive endangerment . . . is all across the food web," Dr. Moola said in an interview.

He said the reasons for the population decline of the different species are varied, but there is little doubt that logging of old-growth forests is the main cause for all species.

"The commonality is the shared old-growth habitat," Dr. Moola said. "This study shows that one-quarter of all animals dependent on remaining old-growth forests in southwestern B.C. are threatened [with extirpation]."

He said that while the B.C. government is preparing a spotted-owl recovery program, it's unlikely those efforts will do anything to help the other species that are also threatened.

"There is talk of a captive breeding program, of feeding owls in the winter and shooting predators [of the owls]," he said. "But these efforts will do nothing for the other species."

Dr. Moola said environmental managers should develop a "flagship fleet" of indicator species and then tailor prescriptive measures to ensure they all survive.

He said this means protecting habitat -- and that could lead to considerable restrictions on logging in some areas.

There appears to be no alternative because the animals can't survive unless their habitat is protected, he added.

"Logging was the main factor threatening all of these species at risk," he said.

He said the spread of logging roads and clear-cut zones is fragmenting the forest at an alarming rate.

"The old-growth habitat in southwest B.C. has declined by half [from historic levels], and logging is continuing," Dr. Moola said. "We're looking at an entire ecosystem that's being literally ripped apart."

The researchers studied scientific literature dealing with 138 species in B.C. and identified 119 specific threats to them.

"Timber harvesting was the most commonly stated threat, followed in frequency by a set of threats that indirectly arise from timber harvesting (road building, forest fragmentation, and herbicide application to tree plantations). Timber harvesting plus indirect effects of timber harvesting comprised 41 per cent and 44 per cent of all identified threats to species classified as at risk and secure, respectively," the paper states.

"The pattern of threats to species at risk did not differ noticeably from the threats to species classified as secure. Moreover, the pattern of threats varied little among taxonomic groups.

"Timber harvesting was the most common single threat for amphibians (50 per cent of 6 threats), birds (38 per cent of 40 threats), vascular plants (40 per cent of 20 threats), and fish (14 per cent of 35 threats), whereas human disturbance was the most common threat for mammals (28 per cent of 18 threats)."

During the past decade, the number of spotted owls has declined by nearly half, leaving only 22 known birds in the province, which holds Canada's entire population of the rare birds.

Dr. Moola said the plight of spotted owls has drawn a lot of attention to the management of old-growth forests, but neither the federal nor the provincial governments have moved to adequately protect them or the other species at risk in the forests.

He said half the species at risk in British Columbia have been assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada; therefore, only those are eligible for protection under Canada's new Species at Risk Act.

The research paper is in the current issue of Biodiversity, Journal Of Life On Earth, a quarterly, international publication.

- END -


-- Tim Hermach
Native Forest Council
PO Box 2190 Eugene, OR 97402
541.688.2600 541.461.2156 fax
web page: //www.forestcouncil.org
DEFENDING LIFE, LAND & LIBERTY
* Honest & Fully Costed Accounting,
* Voices of Integrity, Hope & Reason
* Honest & Uncompromised Education, Advocacy & Litigation
* Real Protection for 650 Million Acres of Federal Land, Rivers & Streams

See for yourself at: //forestcouncil.org/learn/aerial/index.html


Informant: Scott Munson

Biotech Crops Will Hurt U.S. Family Farmers and Deepen the Energy Crisis

Monday, March 27 2006 @ 06:02 AM

PST Biotech Crops Will Hurt U.S. Family Farmers and Deepen the Energy Crisis

By: John E. Peck

As concerns about peak oil mount, the latest group to jump on the renewable energy bandwagon has been the biotech industry. In a March 13th 2006 press release building towards their national convention in early April in Chicago, Jim Greenwood, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), proclaimed that a new wave of genetically engineered technologies “will end our national addiction to oil.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Family farmers and others who have already suffered from the first wave of biotech crops can only shudder at what lurks within this latest Pandora’s Box. Thanks to Monsanto, farmers are now stuck producing vast quantities of low quality Bt corn that has hardly any market. This unwanted biotech corn must then be dumped - at taxpayer expense - into domestic ethanol production, factory livestock farms, or abroad in places like Mexico where it contaminates indigenous varieties, undercuts peasant farmers, and creates desperate people who have no choice but to cross the border. And in the wake of the Starlink disaster, one can only imagine the consumer safety threat posed by fields of high starch low fiber biotech corn, genetically engineered with an ethanol enzyme, growing adjacent to other corn across the Midwest.

The conventional ethanol industry is already under the thumb of Archers Daniel Midland (ADM), and many family farmers have lost their shirts investing in co-op ethanol projects that end up being gobbled up by ADM when times get tough, such as happened to MN Corn Processors. And, in tune with its slogan about being the supermarket to the world, ADM could care less about energy independence at a national level. They have already pledged to import sugarcane ethanol from Brazil under new “free trade” deals and leave U.S. corn producers high and dry if the price is right. Adding biotech ethanol crops into this corporate-driven quasi-monopoly will only tip the scales further against family farmers.

Another lucrative “solution” to the energy crisis being promoted by the biotech industry is to engineer microbes to produce enzymes that can then be added to switchgrass or crop wastes such as corn stover or wheat straw in largescale biorefineries – a process known as cellulosic ethanol production. Of course, the environmental impact of such unprecedented industrial facilities is unknown. And beyond all the hype, one is still left with the same Enron style scheme dependent upon potentially dangerous patented technologies, abusive one-sided supply contracts, and commodity markets manipulated by corporate cartels.

Patented seed varieties and large bioenergy facilities serving corporate profit margins are hardly a recipe for sustainable rural development or national energy independence. In fact, given all the problems created by existing biotech crops, this misguided approach will only make matters worse. For this reason and many others, family farmers, consumer advocates, and other concerned citizens will also be gathering in Chicago over the weekend of April 7th - 10th for Bioethics 2006, an open public event to educate each other and further strategize about how best to defend our food/farm system from contamination and cooptation by private agribusiness interests.

Rather than going to war overseas or trusting in corporate biotech to secure our fuel supply, the United States would do much better by investing in comprehensive energy conservation, decentralized energy production, and genuine renewable alternatives such as wind, solar, and biodiesel that rely on open source science under local democratic control.

John E. Peck is executive director of Family Farm Defenders
tel. 608-260-0900 //www.familyfarmdefenders.org


Informant: Reclaim the Commons

UK diplomat outlines Iran strategy

//www.globalresearch.ca/PrintArticle.php?articleId=2177

Amerikaner und Engländer steuern in den Krieg

//www.globalresearch.ca/PrintArticle.php?articleId=2177

Die amerikanische und die englische Regierung bemühen sich aktuell darum, den Weg in den Krieg mit einer UN-Resolution gegen den Iran zu ebnen. Bei den bevorstehenden Gesprächen in Berlin wird sich möglicherweise herausstellen, ob Deutschland ebenfalls in den Krieg marschiert.

In der Veröffentlichung eines vertraulichen Memos eines Diplomaten in der Times-Online wird die Strategie aufgedeckt, mit der England und die USA den Weg für einen Krieg frei machen wollen. Es häufen sich mittlerweile die Indizien, dass dieser Krieg nicht auf den Iran beschränkt sein wird, sondern China und möglicherweise Russland miteinbezieht, und deshalb mit Atomwaffen geführt werden könnte.

In führenden Wirtschaftszeitungen, wie der Financial Times und der Welt wurden Anlegern bereits Hinweise übermittelt, wie sie sich im Fall eines Kriegs verhalten sollten, um Verluste zu vermeiden. Dass mit dem Iran auch China in den Fokus eines Angriffs rückt, bestätigte unter anderem der Investmentexperte Marc Faber in der Financial Times.

Es besteht eine zunehmend verschärfte Konkurrenz auf dem globalen Rohstoffmarkt zwischen den Industriestaaten Europas, den USA und China sowie Japan. China und Japan betreiben umfangreiche Projekte der Ölexploration im Iran im Wert von mehreren hundert Milliarden Dollar um ihre Energieversorgung zu sichern, die insbesondere von seiten der USA als unerwünscht angesehen werden.

Mit Russland wurde die Lieferung eines Abwehrraketensystems vereinbart, das in den nächsten Monaten im Iran installiert werden soll.

Eine Schlüsselrolle für die Entscheidung über den von seiten der englischen und amerikanischen Regierung beabsichtigten Kriegs liegt bei der Berliner Regierung. Falls diese sich gegen einen Krieg entscheidet, wird die Wahrscheinlichkeit gering, dass er - wie der Irakkrieg - allein von England und den USA geführt wird, da beide mit dem Irak bereits stark belastet sind. Die französische Regierung, die ebenfalls die Bereitschaft zeigt, sich an einem Krieg zu beteiligen, wird sich vermutlich zurückhalten, falls Deutschland nicht mit von der Partie ist, da ansonsten der Gegenwind der öffentlichen Meinung ihr nicht den erforderlichen politischen Spielraum dafür geben dürfte.

Innerhalb der deutschen Politik wird es besonders auf das Verhalten der SPD ankommen: auf seiten der CDU ist eine deutliche Mehrheit für einen Krieg abzusehen, ebenso, wie vermutlich bei der FDP und bei den Grünen. Bei der SPD ist von außenpolitischen Exponenten, wie etwa Hans Ulrich Klose ebenso, wie von Außenminister Steimeier eine Befürwortung des Kriegs zu erwarten, während sich Parteichef Platzeck bisher abwehrend verhält. Für die SPD wird es vermutlich erforderlich sein, die bisherigen Kriegsgegner mit einer fingierten Medieninszenierung (s.a. in der Vergangenheit der kuwaitische Babymord oder der sogenannte "Hufeisenplan " zu überzeugen, oder einen iranischen Terroranschlag glaubhaft zu machen, nach dem Muster, wie sie etwa in den Plänen des amerikanischen Generalstabs für die "Operation Northwoods " enthalten waren.

Von Wolfgang Schäuble war bereits die Möglichkeit eines Anschlags mit einer schmutzigen Bombe angedeutet worden, und auch in einem vertraulichen Memo, das Ende 2005 unter der Führung der republikanischen Partei in Washington kursierte, war die Möglichkeit eines Terroranschlags zur Aufbesserung der Stimmung zugunsten der Partei bereits thematisiert worden.

Für die deutsche Politik ist aktuell die Behinderung einer Kriegspolitik durch die Rücksichtnahme auf bevorstehende Landtagswahlen ausgeräumt.

Ob es in dieser "günstigen " Situation zu der Entscheidung für einen Krieg mit der Tendenz, ganz Eurasien in einen nahezu unbegrenzten militärischen Konflikt einzubeziehen, kommen wird, erscheint derzeit unentschieden.

Dafür sprechen die umfangreichen politischen Pfründe der Westmächte in Deutschland, wie unter anderem die Pressemacht des Springerkonzerns sowie eine Mehrzahl der großen Medien darüber hinaus, sowie die weitreichenden "transatlantischen " Seilschaften in der Politik und in der Schwer- und Rüstungsindustrie.

Dagegen stehen die regionalen wirtschaftlichen Interessen, die durch einen Krieg stark in Mitleidenschaft gezogen würden, ebenso, wie die Belange der Bevölkerung insgesamt, die jedoch bei einer Entscheidung über Krieg und Frieden höchstens marginale Berücksichtigung beanspruchen können.

Link zum Beitrag / Hintergrundinfo oder Pressehinweis: //www.hh-online.com?lid=23816 und //links.net-hh.de?lid=23816


Infopool / metainfo hamburg //www.hh-online.com

The Pollution Gap

Over 70 million Africans and an even greater number of farmers in the Indian sub-continent will suffer catastrophic floods, disease and famine if the rich countries of the world fail to change their habits and radically cut their carbon emissions.

//www.truthout.org/issues_06/032706EB.shtml

Nurse fights on over mast blunder

by Malcolm Prior BBC News, Eastleigh

When nurse Karen Royce found out a mobile phone mast was to go up close to her home, she was outraged.

Concerns over the health risks and the impact on property values were at the front of the mother-of-two's mind.

Yet she knew the mast's erection was far from a certainty - and her local council would have to listen to her and her neighbours' objections.

But the Hampshire villagers' efforts ended in failure, because the council made one simple administrative error.

Eastleigh Borough Council is among the dozens across the country that have fallen foul of a legal loophole that allows mobile phone operators to put up masts if they do not hear from a local authority within 56 days.

A Freedom of Information Act investigation by the BBC News website has revealed that councils in the BBC South region have made the simple mistake 68 times.

Missed deadlines: worst councils # Horsham - 14 times # Southampton - six times # Oxford - six times # Bracknell Forest - six times # Brighton - five times

Eastleigh Borough Council has made the mistake twice, once in 2001 and again last year, when Vodafone applied to put up a mast in the village of Allbrook.

Local residents immediately banded together to raise concerns over the siting of the mast with the council, raising a 100-signature petition.

"Because there had been so many objections the council said it would hold a meeting," said Mrs Royce, 42, of Allbrook Knoll.

"We were all ready to attend this meeting when we then got a letter saying the 56-day limit ran out before this meeting so it didn't even get held.

"We were really angry and felt very let down by them when we heard."

It's the stubbornness in me that keeps me going Karen Royce

The mistake allowed the company to assume it had consent and - despite negotiations to find a different site - the mast went up towards the end of the year.

The council says extra training has been given to councillors and staff since the mistake.

And two officers have been tasked specifically to deal with phone mast applications and a new numbering and coding system has been introduced.

A spokesman said: "The council apologised to residents for missing the statutory deadline.

"The proposal for this mast complied with the council's development plan policies, met national guidelines, including health guidelines for telecommunications masts, and the local area committee would have been recommended to give consent."

A spokeswoman for Vodafone said: "We have operated within the planning regulations."

But for Mrs Royce, the battle is not over - she now intends to take her fight to the European Court of Human Rights.

She said: "It's the stubbornness in me that keeps me going. I do not see why I should have to suffer health hazards and see my property devalued when I do not even use a mobile phone."

Story from BBC NEWS:
//news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/england/4840670.stm

Published: 2006/03/28 05:00:43 GMT

© BBC MMVI

Earth Is at the Tipping Point

Time Cover Story

No one can say exactly what it looks like when a planet takes ill, but it probably looks a lot like Earth. Never mind what you've heard about global warming as a slow-motion emergency that would take decades to play out. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us.

//www.truthout.org/issues_06/032706EA.shtml

Towns, Cities Pass Resolutions Urging Impeachment

//www.commondreams.org/news2006/0327-03.htm



//omega.twoday.net/search?q=impeach
//freepage.twoday.net/search?q=impeach

Council mast blunders uncovered

By Malcolm Prior
BBC News

Council blunders have allowed dozens of mobile phone masts to win planning permission across southern England, a BBC News investigation has revealed.

On 66 occasions, councils have fallen foul of a legal loophole allowing masts to be approved if an operator is not sent an answer within a set time limit.

In 37 of those cases, the council had intended to object to the application.

A catalogue of errors has been uncovered across the BBC South region using the Freedom of Information Act.

They include decisions being sent by second-class mail instead of first, letters being given the wrong date-stamp, officers calculating the time period incorrectly, the wrong decision notices being sent out and officers forgetting to state clearly enough that the application had actually been refused.

Missed deadlines: worst councils
# Horsham - 14 times
# Southampton - six times
# Oxford - six times
# Bracknell Forest - six times
# Chichester - three times

The mistakes were revealed after the BBC News website made Freedom of Information requests to 41 councils covering Berkshire, Hampshire, Dorset, the Isle of Wight, Oxfordshire and West Sussex.

The news of the extent of the mistakes has been met with anger by anti-mast campaigners.

Karen Barratt, spokesperson for action group Mast Sanity, said: "I think it's absolutely shocking. You expect your local officers to be efficient on what are very serious matters."

Charmaine Despres has collected almost 900 petition signatures in protest at a mast which won permission after a council blunder made in Bournemouth, Dorset.

She said: "I'm not surprised to hear this because [the council officers] are a law unto themselves. They work for us, they are getting paid to do a job yet they are not doing that job properly."

Current legislation allows mobile phone companies to assume masts below 15m in height have been given planning approval if they do not hear in writing from a council within 56 days.

The council is legally obliged to write to the companies within the given time, outlining whether the mast actually needs prior approval and whether or not the council objects to its siting and appearance.

We should have been getting it right. One time is one too many
Michael Crofton-Briggs, Oxford's head of planning

Among the various reasons given for the errors, Eastleigh Borough Council said "an oversight" meant that "documents were not date-stamped properly".

Arun District Council gave the reason that "although the letter was sent out in time, it was sent by second-class post" and East Dorset District Council admitted "the incorrect decision notice was sent out".

Horsham District Council admits to failing to contact the applicant 14 times, although it emphasises that in each case it only intended to inform the company that prior approval was not required.

A spokesperson said: "All subsequent applications in the last six years to date have been dealt with in time.

"We appreciate the current deadlines and consider that we have satisfactory measures in place to deal with all applications."

Oxford City Council has made the slip-up six times over the years but Michael Crofton-Briggs, the council's head of planning, said that only one of the masts objected to has so far been put up.

He admitted: "The 56-day mechanism has been running for four or five years so we should have been getting it right.

"One time is one too many. I am not complacent about this at all."

John Silvester, spokesman for the Planning Officers Society, which represents those working in council planning departments, said: "Sometimes it can be genuine human error and people can make mistakes but there should be procedures in place.

"It's not rocket science to work out when the period finishes. Things should not be taken to the wire - they should be determined in good time."

Some believe the whole system of allowing operators to assume permission - an assumption rarely found elsewhere in the planning system - needs overhauling.

The decision should be made for the right planning reasons rather than because of some artificial time constraint
Alan Sayle, Southampton City Council

"We feel that operators have far too much freedom - they should have to go through a full planning process," said Ms Barratt.

Alan Sayle, development control manager for Southampton City Council, which has fallen foul of the time limit six times, said: "Is the legislation unfair? Yes, I think so.

"The decision should be made for the right planning reasons rather than because of some artificial time constraint."

But both the government and the UK's mobile phone network operators insist that the system is fair.

A spokeswoman for the Mobile Operators Association said: "The operators undertake the same amount of pre-application consultation on a proposed prior approval development as on a larger proposed full planning development.

"Local communities can, and do, comment on both types of applications in exactly the same way."

A spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said: "Local planning authorities have the opportunity to deal with prior approval applications in the same way as a normal planning application, so long as they act within eight weeks."

Story from BBC NEWS:
//news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/england/4838152.stm

Published: 2006/03/28 04:59:54 GMT

© BBC MMVI

Health Dangers From Wireless Laptops

//www.care2.com/news/go/65780

Mobilfunkpakt Kärnten

Lieber Miha!

Ganz besonders wichtiger Obmann unseres Ludmannsdorfer Umweltausschusses!

Von meiner einmonatigen Reise nach Nordindien und Nepal zurückgekehrt, fühle ich mich leider wieder sofort in den Daseinskreislauf unserer relativen Wirklichkeit zurückgeworfen.

Der Grund ist der Mobilfunkpakt, den das Land Kärnten mit der Mobilfunklobby abgeschlossen hat. Aus der bezüglichen Presseaussendung vom 15.03.06 war zwar schon zu ersehen, was da für heiße Luft zum Nachteil der Bevölkerung und im Interesse der Mobilfunklobby verbreitet wird. Ganz arg und eiskalt läuft es Dir aber den Rücken herunter, wenn Du diesen Pakt im Detail, Absatz für Absatz, genau liest. Vorweg:

1) Die Mobilfunklobby kann danach weiterhin machen, was sie will.

2) Wenn die sogenannten Paktpartner nicht nach ihrer Pfeife tanzen, dann wird eben durchgesetzt, was die Mobilfunkbetreiber wollen.

3) Sie richten sich bei Ihren Vorhaben weiterhin nach den „Schein“-Ö-normen und den Empfehlungen der WHO – beide Institutionen arbeiten bekanntlich eng mit der Mobilfunkindustrie zusammen und haben keinerlei Rechtsverbindlichkeitskompetenz – nur um ganz offensichtlich weiterhin auf die behauptete Unschädlichkeit der gepulsten Hochfrequenzstrahlung verweisen zu können.

4) Praktisch alle Vorhaben, wie etwa die der Mastenreduzierung, stellen sich als fromme Wünsche dar, die, wenn nicht eingehalten, sanktionslos bleiben.

Als Beilage sende ich Dir vorweg diesen Pakt, mit dem Ersuchen, zu verhindern, dass die Gemeinde Ludmannsdorf sich diesem Pakt anschließt. Sie würde nämlich nur scheinbar Rechte einer Mitsprache erhalten und in eine enorme Zwickmühle mit der betroffenen Bevölkerung und insbesonders mit mir geraten. (Du weißt inzwischen, ich habe vor nichts und niemanden Angst!!!)

//www.buergerwelle.de/pdf/mobilfunkpakt_kaernten_unterfertigung.pdf

In Wahrheit bleibt alles beim Alten (hier ist nicht der Haider gemeint), außer daß sich die Mobilfunklobby bei ihren weiteren Ausbauplänen der Unterstützung des Landeshauptmanns bedienen kann. Ich hatte letzteren bisher als hervorragenden Juristen eingeschätzt. Nach Durchsicht dieses Paktes habe ich aber enorme Zweifel bekommen.

Ich werde diesen “Pakt“ Punkt für Punkt kommentieren, und aus kautelarjuristischer Sicht erläutern, wie dabei zum alleinigen Vorteil und zum ausschließlichen Nachteil der betroffen Bevölkerung herumgemogelt wird und danach alle namhaften Stellen informieren.


Bis bald und mit lieben Grüßen

Erwin
[Dr. Erwin Tripes]

P.S: Wegen der eminenten Gefahrenlage, mit der u.a. die Bevölkerung durch solche Pakte eingelullt werden soll, werde ich diese Vorinfo auch an mir bekannte kritische Denker weiterleiten. Deshalb auch Deine ausdrückliche Anrede als Umweltobmann der Gemeinde Ludmannsdorf/Kärnten.

--------

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren!

Als Obmann des Vereins "Risiko-Elektrosmog- Kärnten" //www.risiko-elektrosmog.at bin ich natürlich regelmäßiger Leser der Nachrichtenredaktion Bürgerwelle/BI Omega.

Ich darf Ihnen so auch zur Information über unsere Aktivitäten als Attachment unsere Stellungnahme zum "Mobilfunkpakt Kärnten" zumailen.

//www.buergerwelle.de/pdf/mobilfunkpakt_3.pdf

Besuchen Sie uns auch auf unserer obangeführten Homepage.

Glück auf

Dr. Erwin Tripes

BE WORRIED, BE VERY WORRIED

By Jeffrey Kluger With reporting by Greg Fulton / Atlanta Dan Cray / Los Angeles Rita Healy / Denver Eric Roston / Washington David Bjerklie, Andrea Dorfman / New York Andrea Gerlin / London Time Magazine

March 26, 2006

//www.time.com/time/magazine/printout/0,8816,1176980,00.html

The climate is crashing, and global warming is to blame. Why the crisis hit so soon--and what we can do about it


No one can say exactly what it looks like when a planet takes ill, but it probably looks a lot like Earth. Never mind what you've heard about global warming as a slow-motion emergency that would take decades to play out. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us.

It certainly looked that way last week as the atmospheric bomb that was Cyclone Larry -- a Category 5 storm with wind bursts that reached 180 m.p.h. -- exploded through northeastern Australia. It certainly looked that way last year as curtains of fire and dust turned the skies of Indonesia orange, thanks to drought-fueled blazes sweeping the island nation. It certainly looks that way as sections of ice the size of small states calve from the disintegrating Arctic and Antarctic. And it certainly looks that way as the sodden wreckage of New Orleans continues to molder, while the waters of the Atlantic gather themselves for a new hurricane season just two months away. Disasters have always been with us and surely always will be. But when they hit this hard and come this fast -- when the emergency becomes commonplace -- something has gone grievously wrong. That something is global warming.

The image of Earth as organism -- famously dubbed Gaia by environmentalist James Lovelock -- has probably been overworked, but that's not to say the planet can't behave like a living thing, and these days, it's a living thing fighting a fever. From heat waves to storms to floods to fires to massive glacial melts, the global climate seems to be crashing around us. Scientists have been calling this shot for decades. This is precisely what they have been warning would happen if we continued pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, trapping the heat that flows in from the sun and raising global temperatures.

Environmentalists and lawmakers spent years shouting at one another about whether the grim forecasts were true, but in the past five years or so, the serious debate has quietly ended. Global warming, even most skeptics have concluded, is the real deal, and human activity has been causing it. If there was any consolation, it was that the glacial pace of nature would give us decades or even centuries to sort out the problem.

But glaciers, it turns out, can move with surprising speed, and so can nature. What few people reckoned on was that global climate systems are booby-trapped with tipping points and feedback loops, thresholds past which the slow creep of environmental decay gives way to sudden and self-perpetuating collapse. Pump enough CO2 into the sky, and that last part per million of greenhouse gas behaves like the 212th degree Fahrenheit that turns a pot of hot water into a plume of billowing steam. Melt enough Greenland ice, and you reach the point at which you're not simply dripping meltwater into the sea but dumping whole glaciers. By one recent measure, several Greenland ice sheets have doubled their rate of slide, and just last week the journal Science published a study suggesting that by the end of the century, the world could be locked in to an eventual rise in sea levels of as much as 20 ft. Nature, it seems, has finally got a bellyful of us.

"Things are happening a lot faster than anyone predicted," says Bill Chameides, chief scientist for the advocacy group Environmental Defense and a former professor of atmospheric chemistry. "The last 12 months have been alarming." Adds Ruth Curry of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts: "The ripple through the scientific community is palpable."

And it's not just scientists who are taking notice. Even as nature crosses its tipping points, the public seems to have reached its own. For years, popular skepticism about climatological science stood in the way of addressing the problem, but the naysayers -- many of whom were on the payroll of energy companies -- have become an increasingly marginalized breed. In a new TIME/ ABC News/ Stanford University poll, 85% of respondents agree that global warming probably is happening. Moreover, most respondents say they want some action taken. Of those polled, 87% believe the government should either encourage or require lowering of power-plant emissions, and 85% think something should be done to get cars to use less gasoline. Even Evangelical Christians, once one of the most reliable columns in the conservative base, are demanding action, most notably in February, when 86 Christian leaders formed the Evangelical Climate Initiative, demanding that Congress regulate greenhouse gases.

A collection of new global-warming books is hitting the shelves in response to that awakening interest, followed closely by TV and theatrical documentaries. The most notable of them is An Inconvenient Truth, due out in May, a profile of former Vice President Al Gore and his climate-change work, which is generating a lot of prerelease buzz over an unlikely topic and an equally unlikely star. For all its lack of Hollywood flash, the film compensates by conveying both the hard science of global warming and Gore's particular passion.

Such public stirrings are at last getting the attention of politicians and business leaders, who may not always respond to science but have a keen nose for where votes and profits lie. State and local lawmakers have started taking action to curb emissions, and major corporations are doing the same. Wal-Mart has begun installing wind turbines on its stores to generate electricity and is talking about putting solar reflectors over its parking lots. HSBC, the world's second largest bank, has pledged to neutralize its carbon output by investing in wind farms and other green projects. Even President Bush, hardly a favorite of greens, now acknowledges climate change and boasts of the steps he is taking to fight it. Most of those steps, however, involve research and voluntary emissions controls, not exactly the laws with teeth scientists are calling for.

Is it too late to reverse the changes global warming has wrought? That's still not clear. Reducing our emissions output year to year is hard enough. Getting it low enough so that the atmosphere can heal is a multigenerational commitment. "Ecosystems are usually able to maintain themselves," says Terry Chapin, a biologist and professor of ecology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. "But eventually they get pushed to the limit of tolerance."

CO2 AND THE POLES

As a tiny component of our atmosphere, carbon dioxide helped warm Earth to comfort levels we are all used to. But too much of it does an awful lot of damage. The gas represents just a few hundred parts per million (p.p.m.) in the overall air blanket, but they're powerful parts because they allow sunlight to stream in but prevent much of the heat from radiating back out. During the last ice age, the atmosphere's CO2 concentration was just 180 p.p.m., putting Earth into a deep freeze. After the glaciers retreated but before the dawn of the modern era, the total had risen to a comfortable 280 p.p.m. In just the past century and a half, we have pushed the level to 381 p.p.m., and we're feeling the effects. Of the 20 hottest years on record, 19 occurred in the 1980s or later. According to NASA scientists, 2005 was one of the hottest years in more than a century.

It's at the North and South poles that those steambath conditions are felt particularly acutely, with glaciers and ice caps crumbling to slush. Once the thaw begins, a number of mechanisms kick in to keep it going. Greenland is a vivid example. Late last year, glaciologist Eric Rignot of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and Pannir Kanagaratnam, a research assistant professor at the University of Kansas, analyzed data from Canadian and European satellites and found that Greenland ice is not just melting but doing so more than twice as fast, with 53 cu. mi. draining away into the sea last year alone, compared with 22 cu. mi. in 1996. A cubic mile of water is about five times the amount Los Angeles uses in a year.

Dumping that much water into the ocean is a very dangerous thing. Icebergs don't raise sea levels when they melt because they're floating, which means they have displaced all the water they're ever going to. But ice on land, like Greenland's, is a different matter. Pour that into oceans that are already rising (because warm water expands), and you deluge shorelines. By some estimates, the entire Greenland ice sheet would be enough to raise global sea levels 23 ft., swallowing up large parts of coastal Florida and most of Bangladesh. The Antarctic holds enough ice to raise sea levels more than 215 ft.

FEEDBACK LOOPS

One of the reasons the loss of the planet's ice cover is accelerating is that as the poles' bright white surface shrinks, it changes the relationship of Earth and the sun. Polar ice is so reflective that 90% of the sunlight that strikes it simply bounces back into space, taking much of its energy with it. Ocean water does just the opposite, absorbing 90% of the energy it receives. The more energy it retains, the warmer it gets, with the result that each mile of ice that melts vanishes faster than the mile that preceded it.

That is what scientists call a feedback loop, and it's a nasty one, since once you uncap the Arctic Ocean, you unleash another beast: the comparatively warm layer of water about 600 ft. deep that circulates in and out of the Atlantic. "Remove the ice," says Woods Hole's Curry, "and the water starts talking to the atmosphere, releasing its heat. This is not a good thing."

A similar feedback loop is melting permafrost, usually defined as land that has been continuously frozen for two years or more. There's a lot of earthly real estate that qualifies, and much of it has been frozen much longer than two years -- since the end of the last ice age, or at least 8,000 years ago. Sealed inside that cryonic time capsule are layers of partially decayed organic matter, rich in carbon. In high-altitude regions of Alaska, Canada and Siberia, the soil is warming and decomposing, releasing gases that will turn into methane and CO2. That, in turn, could lead to more warming and permafrost thaw, says research scientist David Lawrence of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo. And how much carbon is socked away in Arctic soils? Lawrence puts the figure at 200 gigatons to 800 gigatons. The total human carbon output is only 7 gigatons a year.

One result of all that is warmer oceans, and a result of warmer oceans can be, paradoxically, colder continents within a hotter globe. Ocean currents running between warm and cold regions serve as natural thermoregulators, distributing heat from the equator toward the poles. The Gulf Stream, carrying warmth up from the tropics, is what keeps Europe's climate relatively mild. Whenever Europe is cut off from the Gulf Stream, temperatures plummet. At the end of the last ice age, the warm current was temporarily blocked, and temperatures in Europe fell as much as 10 °F, locking the continent in glaciers.

What usually keeps the Gulf Stream running is that warm water is lighter than cold water, so it floats on the surface. As it reaches Europe and releases its heat, the current grows denser and sinks, flowing back to the south and crossing under the northbound Gulf Stream until it reaches the tropics and starts to warm again. The cycle works splendidly, provided the water remains salty enough. But if it becomes diluted by freshwater, the salt concentration drops, and the water gets lighter, idling on top and stalling the current. Last December, researchers associated with Britain's National Oceanography Center reported that one component of the system that drives the Gulf Stream has slowed about 30% since 1957. It's the increased release of Arctic and Greenland meltwater that appears to be causing the problem, introducing a gush of freshwater that's overwhelming the natural cycle. In a global-warming world, it's unlikely that any amount of cooling that resulted from this would be sufficient to support glaciers, but it could make things awfully uncomfortable.

"The big worry is that the whole climate of Europe will change," says Adrian Luckman, senior lecturer in geography at the University of Wales, Swansea. "We in the U.K. are on the same latitude as Alaska. The reason we can live here is the Gulf Stream."

DROUGHT

As fast as global warming is transforming the oceans and the ice caps, it's having an even more immediate effect on land. People, animals and plants living in dry, mountainous regions like the western U.S. make it through summer thanks to snowpack that collects on peaks all winter and slowly melts off in warm months. Lately the early arrival of spring and the unusually blistering summers have caused the snowpack to melt too early, so that by the time it's needed, it's largely gone. Climatologist Philip Mote of the University of Washington has compared decades of snowpack levels in Washington, Oregon and California and found that they are a fraction of what they were in the 1940s, and some snowpacks have vanished entirely.

Global warming is tipping other regions of the world into drought in different ways. Higher temperatures bake moisture out of soil faster, causing dry regions that live at the margins to cross the line into full-blown crisis. Meanwhile, El Nino events -- the warm pooling of Pacific waters that periodically drives worldwide climate patterns and has been occurring more frequently in global-warming years -- further inhibit precipitation in dry areas of Africa and East Asia. According to a recent study by NCAR, the percentage of Earth's surface suffering drought has more than doubled since the 1970s.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Hot, dry land can be murder on flora and fauna, and both are taking a bad hit. Wildfires in such regions as Indonesia, the western U.S. and even inland Alaska have been increasing as timberlands and forest floors grow more parched. The blazes create a feedback loop of their own, pouring more carbon into the atmosphere and reducing the number of trees, which inhale CO2 and release oxygen.

Those forests that don't succumb to fire die in other, slower ways. Connie Millar, a paleoecologist for the U.S. Forest Service, studies the history of vegetation in the Sierra Nevada. Over the past 100 years, she has found, the forests have shifted their tree lines as much as 100 ft. upslope, trying to escape the heat and drought of the lowlands. Such slow-motion evacuation may seem like a sensible strategy, but when you're on a mountain, you can go only so far before you run out of room. "Sometimes we say the trees are going to heaven because they're walking off the mountaintops," Millar says.

Across North America, warming-related changes are mowing down other flora too. Manzanita bushes in the West are dying back; some prickly pear cacti have lost their signature green and are instead a sickly pink; pine beetles in western Canada and the U.S. are chewing their way through tens of millions of acres of forest, thanks to warmer winters. The beetles may even breach the once insurmountable Rocky Mountain divide, opening up a path into the rich timbering lands of the American Southeast.

With habitats crashing, animals that live there are succumbing too. Environmental groups can tick off scores of species that have been determined to be at risk as a result of global warming. Last year, researchers in Costa Rica announced that two-thirds of 110 species of colorful harlequin frogs have vanished in the past 30 years, with the severity of each season's die-off following in lockstep with the severity of that year's warming.

In Alaska, salmon populations are at risk as melting permafrost pours mud into rivers, burying the gravel the fish need for spawning. Small animals such as bushy-tailed wood rats, alpine chipmunks and pinon mice are being chased upslope by rising temperatures, following the path of the fleeing trees. And with sea ice vanishing, polar bears -- prodigious swimmers but not inexhaustible ones -- are starting to turn up drowned. "There will be no polar ice by 2060," says Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation. "Somewhere along that path, the polar bear drops out."

WHAT ABOUT US?

It is fitting, perhaps, that as the species causing all the problems, we're suffering the destruction of our habitat too, and we have experienced that loss in terrible ways. Ocean waters have warmed by a full degree Fahrenheit since 1970, and warmer water is like rocket fuel for typhoons and hurricanes. Two studies last year found that in the past 35 years the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide has doubled while the wind speed and duration of all hurricanes has jumped 50%. Since atmospheric heat is not choosy about the water it warms, tropical storms could start turning up in some decidedly nontropical places. "There's a school of thought that sea surface temperatures are warming up toward Canada," says Greg Holland, senior scientist for NCAR in Boulder. "If so, you're likely to get tropical cyclones there, but we honestly don't know."

WHAT WE CAN DO

So much for environmental collapse happening in so many places at once has at last awakened much of the world, particularly the 141 nations that have ratified the Kyoto treaty to reduce emissions -- an imperfect accord, to be sure, but an accord all the same. The U.S., however, which is home to less than 5% of Earth's population but produces 25% of CO2 emissions, remains intransigent. Many environmentalists declared the Bush Administration hopeless from the start, and while that may have been premature, it's undeniable that the White House's environmental record -- from the abandonment of Kyoto to the President's broken campaign pledge to control carbon output to the relaxation of emission standards -- has been dismal. George W. Bush's recent rhetorical nods to America's oil addiction and his praise of such alternative fuel sources as switchgrass have yet to be followed by real initiatives.

The anger surrounding all that exploded recently when NASA researcher Jim Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a longtime leader in climate-change research, complained that he had been harassed by White House appointees as he tried to sound the global-warming alarm. "The way democracy is supposed to work, the presumption is that the public is well informed," he told TIME. "They're trying to deny the science." Up against such resistance, many environmental groups have resolved simply to wait out this Administration and hope for something better in 2009.

The Republican-dominated Congress has not been much more encouraging. Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman have twice been unable to get through the Senate even mild measures to limit carbon. Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman, both of New Mexico and both ranking members of the chamber's Energy Committee, have made global warming a high-profile matter. A white paper issued in February will be the subject of an investigatory Senate conference next week. A House delegation recently traveled to Antarctica, Australia and New Zealand to visit researchers studying climate change. "Of the 10 of us, only three were believers," says Representative Sherwood Boehlert of New York. "Every one of the others said this opened their eyes."

Boehlert himself has long fought the environmental fight, but if the best that can be said for most lawmakers is that they are finally recognizing the global-warming problem, there's reason to wonder whether they will have the courage to reverse it. Increasingly, state and local governments are filling the void. The mayors of more than 200 cities have signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, pledging, among other things, that they will meet the Kyoto goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions in their cities to 1990 levels by 2012. Nine eastern states have established the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative for the purpose of developing a cap-and-trade program that would set ceilings on industrial emissions and allow companies that overperform to sell pollution credits to those that underperform -- the same smart, incentive-based strategy that got sulfur dioxide under control and reduced acid rain. And California passed the nation's toughest automobile-emissions law last summer.

"There are a whole series of things that demonstrate that people want to act and want their government to act," says Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense. Krupp and others believe that we should probably accept that it's too late to prevent CO2 concentrations from climbing to 450 p.p.m. (or 70 p.p.m. higher than where they are now). From there, however, we should be able to stabilize them and start to dial them back down.

That goal should be attainable. Curbing global warming may be an order of magnitude harder than, say, eradicating smallpox or putting a man on the moon. But is it moral not to try? We did not so much march toward the environmental precipice as drunkenly reel there, snapping at the scientific scolds who told us we had a problem.

The scolds, however, knew what they were talking about. In a solar system crowded with sister worlds that either emerged stillborn like Mercury and Venus or died in infancy like Mars, we're finally coming to appreciate the knife-blade margins within which life can thrive. For more than a century we've been monkeying with those margins. It's long past time we set them right.


Informant: NHNE

6,300 Baby forest elephants have been kidnapped and tortured into slave-loggers in Myanmar

A message from Eleanor:

PLEASE SIGN URGENTLY AND FORWARD!

March 28, the signed petition will be sent to Myanmar's representatives at the U.N.

//www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/400800882?ltl=1122012959

6,300 Baby forest elephants have been kidnapped and tortured into slave-loggers in Myanmar. Only 1,500 forest elephants remain - their babies at high risk. Could you forward it to as many people as possible, I only have 1390 signatres but time is running out for the elephants,

Thanks.Laura

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