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In story: Weekend Open Thread

Re: Weekend Open Thread
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"Find a reason to go to war with Germany": Shocking letter documents how King George V urged his foreign secretary to justify conflict two days before outbreak First World War (Daily Mail)
by das monde on
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In story: Time for Europe to get real

Re: Time for Europe to get real
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In the context of a European supergrid, there is no way a grid could be anything but mixed, and the bigger the grid the more mixed it is.  For instance the Sun rises in Bulgaria c. 3 hours before Spain, and the average diameter of a depression is 500 to 1000 miles and so it is likely that e.g. Spain is windy when Scotland is not.  The building of a supergrid would also reduce the requirement for national grids to have large overcapacity to provide for maintenance/downtime/breakdowns and unusually calm or cloudy weather.  In that context, legacy power stations would provide more than enough load balancing capacity for a very long time to come.

A European wide mixed energy source portfolio therefore probably doesn't need the addition of any carbon based power stations for the foreseeable future.

However there is also a need to increase the proportion of electricity utilization as a % of the total energy mix though e.g. battery, ultra-capacitor, and fuel cell operated transport (which in themselves will offer load balancing capabilities if charged mainly at off-peak times.

I'm sure there are models somewhere which work out how much electricity the EU will need depending on GDP growth rates and changes in energy efficiency, conservation,  and the energy portfolio mix.  I suspect wind and solar alone could provide any incremental energy required for a very long time to come even after factoring in the closure of legacy plants which have reached the end of their lifespan.

So in a real sense, all new capacity can be renewable

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on
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In story: Gaza

Re: Gaza
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I don't know, I think that, whilst the current politicians are in power things will not change, Hillary Clinton has gone on record denying there is anything wrong with Israel's behavior.

But in terms of public opinion, things are changing which will lead to a political change. Europe is turning against Israel and even in the US the tide is turning. Even journalists are being challenged on their pro-Likud propaganda.

If the US ever decides to add strings to that $3 billion or threaten to turn the money and military aid tap off, Likud and their right wing partners are gonna get whiplash.

But even more than that, there are protests in Israel itself. I have long contended that Israel needs external enemies to prevent the tensions within Israeli society boiling over. There are very real problems which are only just about controlled by the national unity an external threat provides. And the wheels are coming off that cart.

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on
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In story: 28 July 2014

Re: Economy and Finance
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U.S. dollar hits eight-month high against euro on weak German Ifo | Reuters

(Reuters) - The U.S. dollar hit an eight-month high against the euro on Friday after weak data on German business sentiment heightened concerns that geopolitical tensions were weighing on the euro zone economy.

Germany's Ifo business climate index, based on a monthly survey of some 7,000 firms, fell to 108.0 in July, marking a third consecutive monthly decline and missing estimates of 109.4, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

"We continue to get strong economic releases out of the United States," said Richard Scalone, co-head of foreign exchange at TJM Brokerage in Chicago. "At the same time, we are getting not-so-great economic releases out of Europe."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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Boko Haram kidnaps wife of Cameroon's vice PM, kills at least three | Reuters

(Reuters) - The wife of Cameroon's vice prime minister was kidnapped and at least three people were killed in an attack by Boko Haram militants in the northern town of Kolofata on Sunday, Cameroon officials said.

A local religious leader, or lamido, named Seini Boukar Lamine, who is also the town's mayor, was kidnapped as well, in a separate attack on his home.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamist militant group, has stepped up cross-border attacks into Cameroon in recent weeks as Cameroon has deployed troops to the region, joining international efforts to combat the militants.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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In story: 28 July 2014

Re: Economy and Finance
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Human Development Report Finds South Asia's Poor on a Knife's Edge | Inter Press Service

COLOMBO, Jul 24 2014 (IPS) - Millions still live in poverty and even those who have gained the security of the middle-income bracket could relapse into poverty due to sudden changes to their economic fortunes in South Asia, the latest annual Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) revealed.

"In South Asia 44.4 percent of the population, around 730 million people, live on 1.25−2.50 dollars a day," said the report, released in Tokyo Thursday.

It went on to warn that despite the region's gains, the threat of more of its citizens being pushed back into poverty was very real and that there were large disparities in income and living standards within nations.

"Many who recently joined the middle class could easily fall back into poverty with a sudden change in circumstances," the report's authors stressed.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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OPINION: The Affinity Between Iraqi Sunni Extremists and the Rulers of Saudi Arabia | Inter Press Service
It is admitted that the occupation of Mosul and vast tracts of the Sunni-dominated portion of Iraq would not have been possible except for the fact that ISIS forged a broad grassroots' alliance expressing deep discontent by Iraq's minority Sunnis with the policies of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's government. Nor would Mosul have fallen but for the dramatic desertion by top-officers of Iraq's state army.

Yet various observers have meanwhile focused on the political economy behind the advance of ISIS. Some experts from U.S. think tanks have discussed the likely sources of ISIS' finance, pinpointing private donors in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Other writers instead have connected ISIS' reliance on black market sales of oil in Kurdish territory with Iranian exports of crude, described as "illegal".

I propose putting the spotlight on the methods of war financing used by ISIS, but first it is necessary to highlight the movement's complete sectarianism.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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In story: 28 July 2014

Re: Economy and Finance
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South Stymies North in Global Trade Talks | Inter Press Service

GENEVA, Jul 26 2014 (IPS) - A group of developing countries brought a tectonic shift at the World Trade Organization on Friday by turning the tables against the industrialised countries, when they offered a positive trade agenda to expeditiously arrive at a permanent solution for food security and other development issues, before adopting the protocol of amendment of the contested Trade Facilitation Agreement.

Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba and India inflicted a huge blow on the dominant actors in global trade by refusing to join consensus on the protocol required for full implementation of the TFA that is being pushed through the WTO with carrots and sticks.

"This is unimaginable, that New Delhi would decide the fate of decisions at the WTO, which has been a preserve of the United States and the European Union for the last 50 years," said a trade envoy from a Western country.

Only seven months ago, the industrialised countries were triumphant at the WTO's ninth ministerial meeting in Bali, Indonesia, after having succeeded in clinching the TFA. At one go, that agreement would harmonise customs procedures in the developing world on a par with the industrialised countries. It would offer enhanced market access for companies in the rich and leading developing countries such as China, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore.

According to former WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, the TFA would cut tariffs in developing countries by 10 percent

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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Thousands of New Yorkers Protest Gaza Killings | Inter Press Service

NEW YORK, Jul 27 2014 (IPS) - Thousands of New Yorkers took to the streets in multiple protests this past week against the Israeli offensive in Gaza, which has left at least 1,049 Palestinians dead and over 6,000 injured since Jul. 8.

Among demonstrators' many demands was that the U.S. government end its massive flow of aid and arms to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), one of the world's most powerful militaries.

The Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation estimates that the United States has shelled out over 100 billion dollars' worth of military and economic aid since 1949.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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Foreigners urged to flee Libya amid clashes - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

European nations have called on their citizens to leave Libya as heavy fighting between soldiers loyal to a renegade general and militias in the eastern city of Benghaz left more than 36 people dead.

France on Sunday called on all its nationals to leave the country due to the deteriorating security situation.

"All our nationals are invited to get in touch as quickly as possible with our embassy in Tripoli," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The United States, the United Nations and Turkey have pulled their diplomats out of the North African country.

The United States evacuated its embassy on Saturday, driving diplomats across the border into Tunisia under heavy military protection because of Tripoli clashes near the embassy compound.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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Tense quiet amid Gaza ceasefire confusion - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Fighting has subsided in Gaza after Hamas said it backed a 24-hour humanitarian truce, but there was no sign of any comprehensive deal to end its conflict with Israel.

Hamas said on Sunday it had endorsed a call by the United Nations for a pause in the fighting in light of the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which will start on Monday.

Some firing of rockets continued after the time that Hamas had announced it would put its guns aside, while Israeli artillery guns also fired barrages into Gaza, Israeli media reported. 

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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Gaza fighting continues as both sides reject others' ceasefire announcements | World news | The Guardian

Fighting between Hamas and Israel continued on Sunday despite a series of ceasefire announcements by both sides, each of which was rejected by the other amid mutual blame and recrimination.

There was no sign of a longer-term deal to end the military confrontation, which began three weeks ago on Tuesday and has claimed around 1,100 lives, the vast majority Palestinian civilians. The US secretary of state, John Kerry, returned to Washington at the weekend after his efforts to forge a ceasefire agreement between the two sides failed.

Rockets were launched from Gaza and Israel carried out airstrikes in the hours following a Hamas call for a 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire from 2pm on Sunday.

Hamas said its pause was to mark Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan and is the most important holiday in the Muslim calendar. In Gaza City, people ventured out to stock up on food and essentials for the three-day holiday, which starts on Monday.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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Satellite images released by US 'show Russian rocket fire into Ukraine' | World news | theguardian.com

The US on Sunday released satellite images it said backed up its claims that rockets have been fired from Russia into eastern Ukraine and heavy artillery for separatists has also crossed the border.

A four-page document released by the State Department seemed to show blast marks from where rockets were launched and craters where they landed. Officials said the images, which were sourced from the US director of national intelligence, showed heavy weapons fired between 21 July and 26 July, after the 17 July downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, over eastern Ukraine.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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Over 40,000 Ukrainian Refugees Remain in Russia's Rostov Region - Emergencies Ministry | World | RIA Novosti

ROSTOV-ON-DON, July 27 (RIA Novosti) - The number of refugees, accommodated in the Rostov region since the Ukrainian conflict began, has exceeded 40,000 people, according to Russia's Emergencies Ministry.

According to the local department of the ministry, about 683 people, including 257 children, have been accommodated in the area in the last 24 hours.

"In total, we found shelter for 40,200 people, of whom 13,200 are children," the statement said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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US Indirectly Admits Ukraine's Missile Systems Present near Donetsk when MH17 Crashed | Politics | RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, July 27 (RIA Novosti) - The United States has indirectly admitted that Kiev's air defense systems were present near Donetsk when the Malaysia Airlines plane crashed, thus confirming the data of Russian satellites, a senior source in the Russian Defense Ministry told RIA Novosti on Sunday.

"In his statement, the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest implicitly acknowledged that Ukraine's air defense systems had been present in the Donetsk area, although he claimed they had not been operating," the source said, commenting on Earnest's words that the missile that hit the flight MH17 was launched from the area controlled by the militia.

The source stressed that the United States thus confirmed the authenticity of the data, provided by the images from Russian satellites at a special briefing of the Russian Defense Ministry on July 21. It was stated during that briefing that Ukraine's air defense forces had four Buk-M1 missile systems near the city of Donetsk.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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France launches EU's first digital infrastructure 'project bond' | EurActiv

A plan to provide superfast broadband to French rural areas will receive EU funding in the form of 'project bonds', EurActiv France reports.

It is the first project bond-funded venture in France and the first used for digital infrastructure in the EU.

The French project will upgrade ADSL and fibre-optic in sparsely populated rural areas, where setting up high-speed networks is not profitable for private operators.

Get on with it!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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BBC News - Ukraine conflict: Russia accuses US of 'smear campaign'

Russia has accused the US of launching a "smear campaign" over its alleged involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.

The foreign ministry in Moscow said on Friday it rejects "unfounded public insinuations" from the US government.

But the Pentagon says it believes the movement of Russian heavy-calibre artillery systems across the border into Ukraine is "imminent."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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BBC News - MH17 crash: Dutch experts cancel Ukraine crash site trip

Dutch experts have cancelled plans to head to the site of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, international officials say.

Fighting between pro-Russia separatists and government troops in the area has prevented access to the site, they add.

Earlier, Malaysia said it had struck a deal with the rebels to allow international police at the site.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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In story: 28 July 2014

Re: Living Off The Planet
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DutchNews.nl - Criminal investigation begun into banned antibiotic in animal feed

The public prosecution department has launched a criminal investigation into the use of a banned antibiotic in Dutch animal feed from a producer near Utrecht.

In a statement on Friday the department said business premises and a private house have been searched as part of the investigation.

Food safety inspectors have shut 102 Dutch pig and veal farms and 11 in Germany because they were delivered feed containing the antibiotic furazolidone, the Financieele Dagblad said earlier on Friday.

Carcenogenic

The feed came from a producer in Lopik which was closed down by inspectors two days ago. Furazolidone is banned in Europe and known to be carcenogenic.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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In story: 28 July 2014

Re: Living Off The Planet
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German NGO says TTIP will undermine global food security | EurActiv

The German aid organisation Brot für die Welt warns that a planned EU-US free trade agreement known as TTIP will undermine local support for smallholders in developing countries and exacerbate the global food crisis. EurActiv Germany reports.

The planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US threatens the concept of sustainable food security, the development NGO Brot für die Welt announced at a presentation of its annual report, in Berlin.

Development politicians agree: The key to fighting world hunger is strengthening smallholders in developing and newly industrialised countries.

"With the planned TTIP agreement, the EU and US are not only defining rules on trade between each other, but indirectly also respective trade with third states," said Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, President of Brot für die Welt.

The two large trade powers "could intensify pressure on states outside the agreement to give up protection and support for their own markets," the aid worker said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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NATO to expand Polish base in response to Russian threat | EurActiv

General Philip Breedlove, NATO's top commander in Europe, has proposed that the Polish city of Szczecin expand its existing base to help the military alliance respond faster to any threat posed by Russia.

According to the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think-tank close to NATO, Britain and other NATO allies backing the general's plans to place supplies -- weapons, ammunition and ration packs -- at a new headquarters in eastern Europe, to enable a sudden influx of thousands of NATO troops to be ready for action in the event of a crisis.

Reportedly, a number of NATO bases are being considered for the role but the leading contender is Multinational Corps Northeast, in Szczecin, Poland. Multinational Corps Northeast was formed in 1999 at Szeczecin as the only multilateral corps of NATO so far, consisting of Polish, German and Danish divisions.

Yep, he's really called Breedlove.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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In story: 28 July 2014

Re: Living Off The Planet
( / )
Obama food aid ravages Third World farmers - The Ecologist

President Obama proclaimed two years ago: "As the wealthiest nation on Earth, I believe the United States has a moral obligation to lead the fight against hunger."

Obama loves to preen about the US government's purported generosity to the world's downtrodden. However, like previous presidents, he has largely ignored how US aid programs clobber recipients.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the sordid history of US food aid. Food for Peace was devised in 1954 to help dump abroad embarrassingly huge crop surpluses fomented by high federal price supports.

The primary purpose of Public Law 480 (in which the program is embodied) has been to hide the evidence of the failure of other farm programs.

Although PL-480 sometimes alleviates hunger in the short run, the program disrupts local agricultural markets and makes it harder for poor countries to feed themselves in the long run.

The EU does this too.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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In story: 28 July 2014

Re: Living On The Planet
( / )
Brazil to release millions of GM-mosquitos to fight dengue

Next week, the biotech company Oxitec, based in Abingdon, England, will begin raising millions of genetically modified mosquitos at a new factory in Campinas, Brazil. The objective: curb the spread of dengue fever.

These new GM-mosquitos won't target dengue specifically, only other mosquitos -- the main vehicle by which the virus travels. These Franken-bugs will mate with females; but their defective sperm will produce offspring that won't make it too adulthood. The logic goes: by slowing rates of mosquito reproduction, there will be less mosquitos and, eventually, less dengue.

But scientists aren't really sure whether it will work.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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In story: 28 July 2014

Re: Living On The Planet
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Wildlife and Habitat Conservation News: New fossils suggest ALL dinosaurs had feathers

The first ever example of a plant-eating dinosaur with feathers and scales has been discovered in Russia. Previously only flesh-eating dinosaurs were known to have had feathers so this new find indicates that all dinosaurs could have been feathered.

The new dinosaur, named Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus as it comes from a site called Kulinda on the banks of the Olov River in Siberia, is described in a paper published today in Science.

Kulindadromeus shows epidermal scales on its tail and shins, and short bristles on its head and back. The most astonishing discovery, however, is that it also has complex, compound feathers associated with its arms and legs.

Birds arose from dinosaurs over 150 million years ago so it was no surprise when dinosaurs with feathers were found in China in 1996. But all those feathered dinosaurs were theropods, flesh-eating dinosaurs that include the direct ancestors of birds.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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In story: Time for Europe to get real

Re: Time for Europe to get real
( / )
It probably can.

But while it can be occasionally interesting to test some hypothesis in the limits like that, nobody sensible would advocate a 100 % anything grid. You want a mixed energy portfolio, for much the same reason you want a mixed investment portfolio, a mixed diet, and a mixed staple crop portfolio.

- Jake

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on
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In story: 28 July 2014

Re: Living Off The Planet
( / )
Rising temperatures hinder Indian wheat production

Geographers at the University of Southampton have found a link between increasing average temperatures in India and a reduction in wheat production. Researchers Dr John Duncan, Dr Jadu Dash and Professor Pete Atkinson have shown that recent warmer temperatures in the country's major wheat belt are having a negative effect on crop yield.

More specifically, they found a rise in nighttime temperatures is having the most impact.

Dr Jadu Dash comments: "Our findings highlight the vulnerability of India's wheat production system to temperature rise, which is predicted to continue in the coming decades as a consequence of climate change. We are sounding an early warning to the problem, which could have serious implications in the future and so needs further investigation."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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In story: 28 July 2014

Re: Living Off The Planet
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Water, water - not everywhere: Mapping water trends for African maize

Today's food production relies heavily on irrigation, but across sub-Saharan Africa only 4 percent of cultivated land is irrigated, compared with a global average of 18 percent. Small-scale farming is the main livelihood for many people in the region, who depend on rainfall to water their crops.

To understand how climate change may affect the availability of water for agriculture, researchers at Princeton University analyzed trends in the water cycle in maize-growing areas of 21 African countries between 1979 and 2010. The team examined both levels of rainfall and the evaporative demand of the atmosphere - the combined effects of evaporation and transpiration, which is the movement of water through plants.

Overall, they found increases in water availability during the maize-growing season, although the trends varied by region. The greater availability of water generally resulted from a mixture of increased rainfall and decreased evaporative demand.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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In story: 28 July 2014

Re: Living Off The Planet
( / )
Wildlife and Habitat Conservation News: Why Seals Might Love Having More Wind Farms

New research reveals that off-shore wind farms are particularly useful for seals as they appear to act like artificial reefs, drawing in large groups of fish.

The study, carried out by researchers at St Andrews University in Scotland and published this month in the journal Current Biology, saw scientists track a group of seals in the North Sea using GPS devices. The purpose of the study was to look at whether man-made changes to the structural ocean environment are affecting marine predator behavior.

To explain that, the scientists highlight that whenever we make changes to the landscape for the purposes of building or reshaping a particular location, those changes can affect local wildlife. For instance, and for a not particularly green example, by creating a landfill, we may attract a variety of animals that can utilize the rubbish we have thrown out. Quite often, the concentrations of these foraging animals can affect change in predator animals, too. They will be drawn to these areas in order to hunt for those animals further down the food chain who are using the area for their own food and habitat needs.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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In story: 28 July 2014

Re: Living Off The Planet
( / )
Climate change and the soil

The planet's soil releases about 60 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, which is far more than that released by burning fossil fuels. This happens through a process called soil respiration.

This enormous release of carbon is balanced by carbon coming into the soil system from falling leaves and other plant matter, as well as by the underground activities of plant roots.

Short-term warming studies have documented that rising temperatures increase the rate of soil respiration. As a result, scientists have worried that global warming would accelerate the decomposition of carbon in the soil, and decrease the amount of carbon stored there. If true, this would release even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it would accelerate global warming.

New work by a team of scientists including Carnegie's Greg Asner and Christian Giardina of the U.S. Forest Service used an expansive whole-ecosystem study, the first of its kind, on tropical montane wet forests in Hawaii to sort through the many processes that control soil carbon stocks with changing temperature. Their work is published in Nature Climate Change.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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In story: 28 July 2014

People and Klatsch
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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on
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News and Views

 28 July 2014

by afew - Jul 27, 31 comments

Your take on today's news media

 26-27 July 2014

by dvx - Jul 25, 50 comments

Your take on today's news media

 Weekend Open Thread

by Fran - Jul 26, 5 comments

It's open, please come in!

 Friday Open Thread

by Helen - Jul 25, 7 comments

Climb your favourite apple tree, try to catch the sun

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