Thursday, July 31, 2014

Florida Issues "Flesh-Eating Bacteria" Public Health Warning!

Dahboo77 | Jul 30, 2014

As Ebola spreads mercilessly across the world, it appears Florida has a problem that sounds just as awful. As CBS reports, Florida health officials are warning beachgoers about a seawater bacterium that can invade cuts and scrapes to cause flesh-eating disease. At least 11 Floridians have contracted Vibrio vulnificus so far this year and two have died, according to the most recent state data.

Why are massive numbers of sea creatures dying along the west coast right now?

End of the American Dream | Jul 30, 2014 | Michael Snyder

Never before have we seen so much death along the west coast of North America.  Massive numbers of sea stars, bluefin tuna, sardines, anchovies, herring, oysters, salmon, marine mammals and marine birds are dying, and experts are puzzled.  We are being told that we could even see “local extinctions” of some of these sea creatures.  So are all of these deaths related?  If so, what in the world could be causing this to happen?  What has changed so dramatically that it would cause massive numbers of sea creatures to die along the west coast?

The following are 15 examples of this phenomenon.  Most scientists do not believe that these incidents are related.  But when you put them all together, it paints quite a disturbing picture…

#1 A “mystery plague” is turning sea stars all along the west coast of the United States and Canada into piles of goo…
Sea stars, commonly referred to as starfish, have been dying off in alarming numbers along the entire West Coast, from Baja, Mexico, to Alaska. According to reports from the Seattle Aquarium, some parts of Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands have seen population declines of up to 80 percent.

On the Oregon coast, according to CoastWatch Volunteer Coordinator Fawn Custer, “Last December, we had less than 1 percent of sea star wasting. By May 1, more than 5 percent of sea stars were affected. Now, I would say, in some areas, it is up to 90 percent.”
A marine epidemiologist at Cornell University says that this is “the largest mortality event for marine diseases we’ve seen“.

#2 The population of bluefin tuna in the Pacific Ocean has declined by 95 percent.  Mexico has already banned fishing for bluefin tuna for the rest of the year, and the U.S. government is considering doing the same thing.

#3 Sardine, anchovy and herring populations have dropped dramatically along the west coast in recent years…
Pacific sardine populations have shown an alarming decline in recent years, and some evidence suggests anchovy and herring populations may be dropping as well.

The declines could push fishermen toward other currently unmanaged “forage fish,” such as saury, smelt and sand lance, stealing a critical food source relied on by salmon and other economically important predators.

In response, the Pacific Fishery Management Council is considering an ecosystem-based management approach that recognizes the fundamental role of forage fish in the Pacific marine food web. Tiny, but abundant, these small schooling fish feed on plankton and, in turn, fill the bellies of Oregon’s iconic marine species, including salmon, sharks, whales, sea lions and sea birds.
#4Record numbers of distressed sea lions have washed ashore in California” for the second year in a row.  One news report described these distressed sea lions as “malnourished and dehydrated, too weak to find food on their own“.

#5 Marine birds are “disappearing” in the Pacific northwest…
From white-winged scoters and surf scoters to long-tailed ducks, murres, loons and some seagulls, the number of everyday marine birds here has plummeted dramatically in recent decades.

Scoters are down more than 75 percent from what they were in the late 1970s. Murres have dropped even more. Western grebes have mostly vanished, falling from several hundred thousand birds to about 20,000.
#6 Those that work in the seafood industry on the west coast are noticing some very “unusual” mutations.  For example, a red king crab that was recently caught in Alaska was colored bright blue.

#7 Pelicans along the California coastline are “refusing to mate“.  This is being blamed on a lack of fish for the pelicans to eat.  As a result, we are seeing less than one percent of the usual number of baby pelicans.

#8 The oyster population in the Pacific is falling so fast that it is being called “the great American oyster collapse“.

#9 The population of sockeye salmon along the coast of Alaska is at a “historic low“.

#10 Something is causing herring off the coast of British Columbia to bleed from their gills, bellies and eyeballs.

#11 Scientists have discovered very high levels of cesium-137 in plankton living in the waters of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the west coast.

#12 Back in May, more than six tons of anchovies died in Marina Del Ray over a single weekend.

#13 Just a few days ago, thousands of dead fish were found on Capitola Beach.  Authorities are trying to figure out what caused this.

#14 Earlier this month, thousands of dead fish were found on Manresa Beach.

#15 According to a study conducted by researchers at Oregon State University, radiation levels in tuna caught off the coast of Oregon approximately tripled in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Could it be possible that at least some of these deaths are related to what has been happening at Fukushima?

We do know that fish caught just off the shore from Fukushima have been tested to have radioactive cesium that is up to 124 times above the level that is considered to be safe.

And we also know that a study conducted at the University of South Wales concluded that the main radioactive plume of water from Fukushima would reach our shores at some point during 2014.

Is it so unreasonable to think that the greatest nuclear disaster in human history could have something to do with the death of all of these sea creatures?

Just consider what one very experienced Australian boat captain discovered when he crossed the Pacific last year.  According to him, it felt as though “the ocean itself was dead“…
The next leg of the long voyage was from Osaka to San Francisco and for most of that trip the desolation was tinged with nauseous horror and a degree of fear.

“After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead,” Macfadyen said.

“We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.

“I’ve done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I’m used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen.”

In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes.

“Part of it was the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Japan a couple of years ago. The wave came in over the land, picked up an unbelievable load of stuff and carried it out to sea. And it’s still out there, everywhere you look.”
What do you think?

Is Fukushima to blame, or do you think that something else is causing massive numbers of sea creatures to die?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

Freak flood footage: Romania ravaged by deadly deluge

RT | Jul 30, 2014

Two people died and several hundreds were forced to evacuate as surging floodwaters submerged villages in Romania on Tuesday. Footage filmed in Arges County on Wednesday showed emergency workers rescuing people stranded by the floods, wrecked buildings and overflowing rivers.

Asteroid Vesta Shatters Planet Formation Theory | Space News | Jul 29, 2014

In the previous Space News, we discussed astronomer’s recent admission that they now need a whole new theory to explain how planets form. Today yet another discovery has shattered conventional ideas about planet formation and the so-called early solar system. Scientists studying data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft have learned some astonishing details about the asteroid Vesta. The Standard Model states that the asteroid came into existence at the same time as the solar system. However, key predictions of this model have been falsified by the Dawn data.

Source story: Asteroid Vesta to reshape theories of planet formation

Previous Space News on planet formation:

Previous Space News on asteroid formation:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Win! U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to Ban Use of Bee, Bird and Butterfly-Killing Neonicotinoids

© Natural Society
Natural Society | Jul 28, 2014 | Christina Sarich

Due in part to a petition submitted by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), one government agency has come to its senses, agreeing to eliminate bee and butterfly-toxic neonicotinoids in the Pacific Region of the NW Wildlife Refuges.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) very quietly announced that it will phase out neonicotinoid insecticides (neonics) in wildlife refuges in the Pacific Region, including Hawaii and other Pacific Islands, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

Within the new policy, all refuge managers will be asked to exhaust all alternatives before allowing the use of neonics within the lands of the National Wildlife Refuge System. This will be the first US government agency to actually move toward a complete ban that is needed to protect our pollinating insects and birds from possible extinction due to pesticide use.

This monumental step has happened due to a February, 2014 petition filed by CFS asking FWS to ban the use of neonicotinoids on wildlife refuges. (You can see more than 10 other wildlife refuges on the FWS site, here.) The remaining sites will still be unprotected from neonic use. This is; however, a step which could be built upon itself.

Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety states:
“FWS has taken a responsible and necessary first step in the Pacific region, but the agency must permanently institute this policy on all refuge lands across the country. As our legal challenges have repeatedly stated, the costs of these chemicals severely outweigh the benefits; we must eliminate their use immediately.”
The FWS admits to “broad-spectrum adverse effects” of using neonicotinoids, and found the practice at odds with FWS’s policy of Integrated Pest Management (IMP). A study released by CFS earlier this year found that neonicotinoid seeds treatment rarely improved yields for corn and soybeans, corroborating the findings of FWS. Perhaps they can submit their findings to the US Agricultural Department for their review.

The phase out of neonics is to occur by 2016, and refuge managers will have to have an approved Pesticide Use Proposals (PUP) and completed Endangered Species Act consultation documentation before using neonicotinoid pesticides, including the planting of neonicotinoid-treated seed to grow agricultural crops. This is far from a complete ban, but again, a step in the right direction.

Worldwide Water Shortage by 2040?

© Activist Post
Activist Post | Jul 29, 2014 | Kevin Sampson

New study concludes that water shortages may be a bigger problem than we thought.

Fresh water supplies are under assault on multiple fronts. We are seeing the continuing fallout from the droughts in the Western U.S. and Brazil - both are incredibly important areas to the global food supply.

At the same time, corporate hoarding of fresh water is on the rise. Nestle's former CEO clearly stated that water supplies should be privatized and that the right to fresh, clean water is not an essential human right.

Knowing that both the climate and corporate influence are converging to restrict and/or dramatically increase the cost of fresh water, two new reports reinforce that there isn't much time left to find solutions. In fact, for an increasing number of people, water might not be available at any cost. 

Three years of research show that by the year 2040 there will not be enough water in the world to quench the thirst of the world population and keep the current energy and power solutions going if we continue doing what we are doing today. It is a clash of competing necessities, between drinking water and energy demand. Behind the research is a group of researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark, Vermont Law School and CNA Corporation in the US.
The team of researchers conducted their research focusing on four different case studies in France, the United States, China and India respectively. Rather than reviewing the situation on a national level, the team narrowed in and focused on specific utilities and energy suppliers. The first step was identifying the current energy needs, and then the researchers made projections as far as 2040, and most of the results were surprising. All four case studies project that it will be impossible to continue to produce electricity in this way and meet the water demand by 2040.

"If we keep doing business as usual, we are facing an insurmountable water shortage – even if water was free, because it's not a matter of the price. There will no water by 2040 if we keep doing what we're doing today. There's no time to waste. We need to act now", concludes Professor Benjamin Sovacool. (emphasis added)
It is becoming impossible to say that it is fear-mongering to suggest a near-term calamity, and that the way our water supply is currently managed is a guaranteed-to-fail system. However, these new reports focus purely on the failures of the energy sector; recommendations from the researchers highlight the need for increased investment into wind and solar, while increasing energy controls:

  • Improve energy efficiency 
  • Better research on alternative cooling cycles 
  • Registering how much water power plants use 
  • Massive investments in wind energy 
  • Massive investments in solar energy 
  • Abandon fossil fuel facilities in all water stressed places (which means half the planet)
While it is true that wind and solar do not require cooling cycles and would reduce power consumption and overall water usage, these industries have other deficiencies, as well as being susceptible to the same level of government control and corruption. On a mass scale they are still centralized systems prone to manufactured shortages and extreme inefficiency.

The reports' conclusions actually wind up highlighting the problems of regulations and control, rather than making a strong case for new regulations and even more control.

Perhaps it is time to quickly seek out local solutions, such as the ingenious model being developed in one of the world's most permanently drought-stricken places: Ethiopia. Inventor Arturo Vittorini calls his device Warka Water. It is easy and fast to assemble ... and inexpensive. Each tower can provide 25 gallons of water per day harvesting water directly from the air.

Singapore is another place that was presented with unique challenges and could be a microcosm of solutions to the greater problem.

In the ’60s and ’70s, Singapore was heavily reliant on imported water from Malaysia and faced urbanisation challenges such as polluted rivers, water shortages and widespread flooding.
They instituted the following 4 measures, which highlight how the situation might be handled in heavily populated, modern urban environments. While these might not be permanent solutions that could apply everywhere, such measures have certainly extended the timetable for Singapore, giving them time to develop even better technological solutions with the goal of complete self-sufficiency.
  1. Local catchments - With separate systems for drainage and sewerage, Singapore’s rainwater is collected via a comprehensive network of drains, rivers and canals, and stored in 17 reservoirs.
  2. Recycling - NEWater (or recycled water) is produced from treated used water that is further purified using membrane technologies (microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection).
  3. Desalination - Desalination is the process of treating seawater with reverse osmosis. Last year, Singapore’s second desalination facility opened – Tuaspring Desalination Plant. Boasting a combined capacity of 100 million gallons of water a day, the two plants meet up to 25 per cent of the current water demand.
  4. Importing - One of the earliest solutions to Singapore’s water problems was to import water from nearby Johor in Malaysia. To facilitate this, two bilateral agreements were signed in 1961 and 1962 and, since then, water has been piped in via the Johor-Singapore Causeway. While imported water once comprised a significant portion of Singapore’s water supply, by the time the second agreement runs out in 2061, it is expected that Singapore will have progressed significantly towards self-sufficiency.
Read entire account here.
In another study, 1200 experts in 80 countries offered their solutions to water scarcity (read here).  Predictably, many focused on regulations, mitigation of climate change, and population control, but other solutions focused on grassroots local community organization with a heavy emphasis on new technology.

Water scarcity is an alarming prospect for all of us. The extended droughts, cumulative aspects of general human pollution, and corporate hoarding are just some of the challenges creating a global problem in the coming decades. With each new report coming from disparate sources, we can all at least agree upon the need for a solution. Please tell us yours in the comment section below.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Earth is headed for its sixth mass extinction - study

AFP Photo / NASA
RT | Jul 28, 2014

The rapid depletion of Earth’s biodiversity indicates that the planet is in the early stages of its sixth mass extinction of life since becoming habitable 3.5 billion years ago, according to a new study published in Science.

Human activity, including a doubling of its population in the past 35 years, has driven the decline of animal life on Earth, the researchers concluded.

There has been a 25 percent average decline rate of remaining terrestrial vertebrates, and a 45 percent decline rate in the abundance of invertebrates. These losses will continue to have innumerable impacts on species that depend on the delicate balance of life on Earth for their own survival.

“We tend to think about extinction as loss of a species from the face of Earth, and that’s very important, but there’s a loss of critical ecosystem functioning in which animals play a central role that we need to pay attention to as well,” said Rodolfo Dirzo, lead author of the study and a biology professor at Stanford University.

“Ironically, we have long considered that defaunation is a cryptic phenomenon, but I think we will end up with a situation that is non-cryptic because of the increasingly obvious consequences to the planet and to human wellbeing.”

The “Anthropocene defaunation,” as some researchers have dubbed this era, is hitting large animals such as elephants, polar bears, and rhinoceroses the hardest, as these megafauna are the subject of some of the highest rates of decline on Earth. This trend matches previous mass die-offs of the Big Five extinction periods.

Megafauna usually have lower population growth rates that need larger habitat areas to maintain their populations, thus they are particularly affected by human growth and desire for their meat mass. Losses among these animals often mean dire impacts for other species that depend on them within an ecosystem.

Past studies have found that the loss of larger animals means a spike in rodents, as grass and shrubs proliferate and soil compaction decreases, all while the risk of predation also declines, notes. As rodent populations increase, so do the disease-transporting ectoparasites that come with them.

“Where human density is high, you get high rates of defaunation, high incidence of rodents, and thus high levels of pathogens, which increases the risks of disease transmission,” said Dirzo.

“Who would have thought that just defaunation would have all these dramatic consequences? But it can be a vicious circle.”

About 16 to 33 percent of all vertebrate species are considered threatened or endangered, the review found.

Invertebrate loss also has far-reaching ripple effects on other species. For example, the continued disappearance of vital honeybee populations across the globe will have bleak consequences for plant pollination, and thus on the world’s food production, as RT has previously reported.

Insects pollinate about 75 percent of the world’s food crops, according to Futurity.

Overall, of the world’s more than 71,000 species, 30 percent of them are threatened, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Based on this assessment - and without drastic economic and political measures to address the current die-off - the sixth mass extinction could be cemented by 2400 A.D., University of California, Berkeley geologist Anthony Barnosky told Harper’s magazine.

Solutions to the die-off are complicated, the study posits, as reducing rates of habitat change and overexploitation of lands must come through regional and situational strategies.

"Prevention of further declines will require us to better understand what species are winning and losing in the fight for survival and from studying the winners, apply what we learn to improve conservation projects," said Ben Collen, a lecturer at the University College of London and a co-author of the study. "We also need to develop predictive tools for modelling the impact of changes to the ecosystem so we can prioritize conservation efforts, working with governments globally to create supportive policy to reverse the worrying trends we are seeing."

Researchers from University of California, Santa Barbara; Universidade Estadual Paulista in Brazil; Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico; the Natural Environment Research Council Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in England; and University College London are coauthors of the new study.

Gulf of Mexico dying from polluted and poisoned bioterrain, thanks to BigAg, Big Oil and BigPharma | Jul 28, 2014
The State Of The Bioterrain Always
Dictates The Most Likely Outcomes
"Countless kinds of harmful contaminants and toxic chemicals find their way into the Gulf via the Mississippi which comes from many different sources. ...This mighty river and it's many tributaries carry a tremendous chemical burden in the form of industrial waste, as well as rain runoff laden with every chemical imaginable from suburbia and cityscapes alike. Agribusiness has seen to it that enormous amounts of chemical fertilizers and soil fortifiers, pesticides and insecticides, mosquitocides and larvicides, fungicides and herbicides, weedkillers and defoliants, bovine growth hormone and animal antibiotics end up in the Mississippi. Likewise, a whole assortment of pharmaceutical drugs, over-the-counter medications, nutraceutical products, as well as all the chemical compounds utilized in the typical American household eventually find their way into the sewers of the nation's midsection."
There have been several significant developments over the past few decades in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) which now require special and immediate attention. The multitude of oil spills - both large and small - require extraordinary remediation measures, as well as the application of safe and proven technologies which will not make the existing hydrocarbon pollution worse. There are other major sources of water pollution in the GOM which have also became apparent, particularly since the eye-opening 2010 BP oil spill.

The Gulf of Mexico is Dying: A Special Report On The BP Gulf Oil Spill

The BP Gulf Oil Spill drew the world's attention to the GOM for a variety of reasons. The sheer volume of oil spilt was unprecedented, as were its profound and lasting effects on a large geographic area. Because it occurred in such a large body of water, many population centers were adversely impacted as they continue to be up to this very day. However, it was the incompetent and negligent oil spill response from BP that received the justified scrutiny of the entire world.

Some have since advanced the notion that global oil spill response has been forever changed for the better, because of how profoundly BP mismanaged the spill for all to see. In this regard, they speak of a literal sea change regarding the methodologies and modalities, process and procedure, science and technology that are now accepted by many of the nations of the world.

The entire world watched in horror as millions of gallons of the dispersant Corexit were used to 'disappear' the gushing oil in the Macondo Prospect throughout 2010 and beyond. Disappearing the oil actually meant sinking it, after micronizing it, so that both BP and the US Federal Government could be 'applauded' for a successful response. However, the known health risks/dangers and environmental damage caused by Corexit became so well publicized that it has now been banned in those countries which have learned from the BP fiasco.

Read more..

Monday, July 28, 2014

Martial Law and the Global Energy Clampdown with Zero Point Author Nafeez Ahmed

TheLipTV | Jul 27, 2014

Zero Point, author Nafeez Ahmed speaks about the energy and economic crisis that faces the world, and how martial law and political clampdown is looming by the globe’s governments. Sustainable energy, the fossil fuel recessions, protests (both through peaceful social media as well as more violent measures), and the need for optimism that will transform society for the better is all dealt with in this Lip News interview hosted by Mark Sovel.


Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is a bestselling author, investigative journalist, international security scholar, policy expert, filmmaker, strategy & communications consultant, and change activist.The focus of Ahmed's work is to catalyse social change in the public interest by harnessing radical, systemic approaches to understanding the interconnections between the world's biggest problems, while developing and highlighting holistic strategies for social transformation. Whether it be foreign policy and terrorism, climate change and energy, or food and the economy, Nafeez deploys the techniques of critical, rigorous and interdisciplinary analysis to join the dots and challenge power, with a view to bring forth constructive change.

Nafeez is an environment writer for The Guardian, the world's third most popular newspaper website, where he reports, comments and analyses the geopolitics of interconnected environmental, energy and economic crises at his Guardian hosted blog, Earth Insight.

He is founding Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development (IPRD), an independent nonprofit digital transmedia think tank for the public interest. Currently, he is also Co-Director of The Concordia Forum, an independent nonprofit think tank and leadership network working to strengthen trans-Atlantic civil society partnerships.

Nafeez's journalistic work combines insider information from senior government, intelligence, industry and other sources with interdisciplinary analysis of specialist literature. Over the last decade, he has broken exclusives on FBI whistleblowers and pre-9/11 intelligence warnings; the role of energy in the 2003 Iraq War; pre-7/7 intelligence failures; the 2006 liquid bomb plot; the link between the 'Arab Spring' and ecological, economic and energy crises in the Middle East and North Africa; the depletion of strategic mineral energy resources; cutting-edge climate science; counter-terrorism strategy in the AfPak region; sustainable rural development in Pakistan; the role of energy crisis in the Israel-Palestine conflict; among many others.

Nafeez is co-producer, writer and presenter of the critically-acclaimed documentary feature film, The Crisis of Civilization (2011), adapted by director and producer Dean Puckett from Nafeez’s latest book, A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (Pluto, Macmillan, 2010). Nafeez's other books include The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry(Duckworth, 2006); The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism (Interlink, 2005); Behind the War on Terror: Western Secret Strategy and the Struggle for Iraq (New Society, 2003) and The War on Freedom: How & Why America was Attacked, September 11, 2001 (Progressive, 2002). The latter is archived in the ‘9/11 Commission Materials’ Special Collection at theUS National Archives in Washington DC – it was among 99 books made available to each 9/11 Commissioner of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States to use during their investigations.


Protecting Community Forests Important Key in Biodiversity and a Healthy Planet - Study Says

In the Brazilian Amazon, deforestation rates
are 11 times lower in community forests
than in other forested areas.
Environment360 | Jul 24, 2014

Expanding and strengthening the community forest rights of indigenous groups and rural residents can make a major contribution to sequestering carbon and reducing CO2 emissions from deforestation, according to a new report. The World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Rights and Resources Initiative said that indigenous people and rural inhabitants in Latin America, Africa, and Asia have government-recognized rights to forests containing nearly 38 billion tons of carbon, equal to 29 times the annual emissions of all the world’s passenger vehicles. By enforcing community rights to those forests, the study said, governments can play a major role in tackling climate change. In the Brazilian Amazon, for example, deforestation rates are 11 times lower in community forests than in forests outside those areas. In areas where community forest rights are ignored, deforestation rates often soar. The report made five major recommendations, from better enforcement of community forest zones to compensating communities for the climate and other benefits their forests provide.

WRI and the Rights and Resources Initiative studied 14 forest-rich countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Nepal, Niger, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia. Indigenous people and other local communities currently have legal or official rights to 513 million hectares of forest, or about one-eighth of the world’s forest cover. But the report said those rights are frequently ignored by national or local governments, leading to severe deforestation. The report cited the example of three indigenous forest lands in the Amazon region of northwestern Peru. Despite supposed recognition of those rights, the Peruvian government allocated indigenous lands to mining and oil and gas drilling, leading to deforestation rates of 24 to 51 percent in those three community forest areas from 2000 to 2010.

In Papua New Guinea, the report said, all forests are owned by communities, but the Papuan government has given leases to private companies — often for oil palm plantations — on about 4 million hectares, an area the size of Switzerland. Indonesia, which has one of the world’s worst deforestation records, legally recognizes only 1 million of the 42 million hectares of forest reputedly controlled by local communities.

By contrast, Brazil, which has half of the world’s remaining tropical forests, is more rigorous about recognizing and protecting community forests, the report said. Roughly 300 indigenous territories have been legally recognized in Brazil, and protection of these areas, while not perfect, is far better than in some other countries, according to the report. That protection is crucial: The report noted that from 2000 to 2012, forest loss was 0.6 percent inside indigenous territories, compared to 7 percent outside.

In parts of the Mexican Yucatan, deforestation rates are 350 times lower than in unprotected areas, the report said. In Guatemala’s Peten region, deforestation rates are 20 times lower.

“The bottom line is clear,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of the Climate and Energy Program at WRI. “Strengthening community forest rights is a critical policy approach to mitigate global climate change through reduced deforestation and carbon sequestration.”

For example, the report said that fully protecting indigenous territories and government forest reserves in the Brazilian Amazon could prevent 27.2 million hectares from being deforested by 2050 — an area larger than the United Kingdom. If the carbon in those forests were released as CO2, it would amount to 12 billion tons of carbon dioxide — equivalent to three years of CO2 emissions from Latin America and the Caribbean.

The report made five major recommendations to enhance the ability of community forests to slow climate change:
  • Give communities legal recognition of their forest rights.
  • More rigorously enforce community forest rights, including mapping boundaries and evicting trespassers.
  • Provide forest communities with technical assistance to sustainably manage their forests and get forest products to market.
  • Involve forest communities in decisions involving investments in their forests.
  • Compensate communities for the benefits provided by their forests, including mitigating climate change.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

GMOs promote poverty and dependency in Africa

image source | Jul 25, 2014 | Nnimmo Bassey, Million Belay, and Mariam Mayet

The recent article, GM scaremongering in Africa is disarming the fight against poverty, published in the Guardian’s PovertyMatters Blog on 21 July 2014, is a thinly veiled attack on those of us in Africa and elsewhere who are deeply skeptical of the supposed benefits that genetically modified (GM) crops will bring to the continent. Based on a report by London-based think-tank Chatham House, it represents paternalism of the worst kind, advancing the interests of the biotechnology industry behind a barely constructed façade of philanthropy.

The report itself, compiled from an ‘expert roundtable’ and interviews with donors, policy-makers, scientists, farmers and NGOs (none of whom are identified), makes several erroneous and contradictory arguments concerning the lack of uptake or impact of GM crops in Africa. Firstly, with breathtaking arrogance, it dismisses the massive groundswell of opposition to GM crops emerging across the globe (including here in Africa) as a European-led phenomenon. It further credits lack of uptake to a concerted campaign of ‘misinformation’ by opponents of GM crops and onerous biosafety regulation, resulting in negative political judgments and a ‘treadmill of continuous field trials’.

To take each in turn, perhaps the report’s authors were simply unaware of global opposition to GM crops, or missed the recent Malawian civil society response to Monsanto’s application to commercialise Bt cotton on the country? Or dismissed the recent mass community protestors in Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda as merely puppets of European NGOs? That Mexico, the centre of origin of maize, has banned the cultivation of GM maize within its borders was similarly overlooked, as was Peru’s 10-year moratorium on GM crops, enacted in 2012. In 2013 India’s Supreme Court declared an indefinite moratorium on all GM food crops, citing major gaps in the country’s regulatory system, while protests led by farmer groups in the Philippines have curtailed field trials of GM Brinjal (aubergine).

Even in the United States public opposition to GM crops has been growing for some time. Over 500,000 people have written to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling for the rejection of Dow Chemical’s application for several GM crops tolerant to 2,4-D based herbicides. Unperturbed by the prospect of legal action from the biotechnology industry, several States are pressing ahead with laws for the labeling of GM food.

To argue that onerous laws and political expediency has created a situation of ‘continual field trials’, as the Chatham House report does, misunderstands or misrepresents several key issues at play. For example, the report cites ‘stringent’ liability laws across the continent as major hindrance to the research process.

Moreover, the vast majority of GM crops grown worldwide are either tolerant to the application of herbicides, produce their own pesticides (Bt crops) or are a combination of the two. There is good reason that the ‘pipeline’ of new GM crops and traits, such as drought tolerant or nutritionally enhanced African ‘orphan’ crops, has not materialized; they are all profoundly more complex process than what has so far been commercialized. The fabled ‘Golden Rice’ (engineered with extra vitamin A) has been in development since the early 1990s. While this has been going on, the government of the Philippines (one the target countries) has been remarkably successful in lowering vitamin A deficiency using cheap, low-tech solutions.

And here we get to the crux of the matter as citizens of Africa and the global south. The obsession in promoting GM crops in Africa, exemplified in this instance by the new Chatham House report, diverts attention and resources away from a plurality of genuine and localized solutions and flies in the face of the recommendations of independent science.

The landmark IAASTD report of 2008 (resulting from the input of over 400 global scientific and agricultural experts) was highly dismissive of the potential of GM crops to benefit the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities, and called for a shift towards agro-ecological practices. These sentiments have since been echoed by numerous individuals and organisations, from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food to the United Nation’s Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report of 2013, titled ‘wake up before it is too late’.

Research by the ETC group has shown that small-holder farmers produce 75% of the world’s food, but only use about 25% of the world’s agricultural resources. The industrial agriculture chain only produces about 25% of the world’s food but uses 75% of the planet’s agricultural resources. Imagine the gains that could be made if even a fraction of the resources propping up the industrial food system were channeled into alternative systems.

Africans reject GMOs because the technology has not delivered on any of its promises and poses significant long-term threats to our environment and peoples. Though the issue of risk is given little attention in the report, lest we forget that in late 2013 nearly 300 scientists and legal experts from around the world signed a statement affirming that there is “no scientific consensus on GMO safety”. That GM’s proponents can claim to the contrary merely reflects the undue influence the biotechnology industry has on the scientific process.

Further, are the philanthropists who are supporting GM development and pressuring Africa to open up also heavy investors in the biotech sector? For example, the relationship between Monsanto and the Gates Foundation is well documented. Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta are all heavily involved in the G8 New Alliance on Food Security and Nutrition, the sharp end of the Green Revolution push in Africa. No matter how much these forces maneuver to seem altruistic rather than predatory, the smoking gun always seems to be visible. The combined forces of Big Agribusiness and Big Philanthropy have been so effective at pressuring our governments that some of them see biosafety laws as mere instruments to opening up our nations to the biotech industry and their local surrogates.

The bottom line is that this is a fight for food sovereignty – for the rights of people to grow food that suits their environment, protects their biodiversity and serves their ability to eat foods that are wholesome and culturally acceptable. Policies must support systems of agriculture and food production that does not distort or damage local economies.

We must not blindly or willfully promote policies that build neocolonial structures that lock in poverty by upturning tested local agricultural knowledge, promoting land grabs through large-scale industrial farming and create dependency on artificial seeds and chemicals. True food security can only be assured by food sovereignty.
Nnimmo Bassey is Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nigeria. He chaired Friends of the Earth International 2008-2012. E-mail:

Million Bellay is Coordinator of African Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA). E-Mail:

Mariam Mayet is Director of African Centre for Biosafety. E-mail:

World's biggest aquatic insect claimed by China

'With its wingspan measured as 21 centimetres, the
insect won the title of the largest aquatic insect in the
world,' reported, the official English-language
service of the state-run China News Service.
(Zhong Xin/China News Service) | Jul 24, 2014

An insect with huge horn-like jaws and a wingspan similar to a sparrow's has been reported by Chinese media as a record-breaking find.

"With its wingspan measured as 21 centimetres, the insect won the title of the largest aquatic insect in the world," reported, the official English-language service of the state-run China News Service.

The website posted photos of the insect, which was found in the mountains near Chengdu, in Sichuan province. One shows the insect's lacy, patterned dragonfly-like wings stretched far wider than the palm of the person holding it, and in another, a modest-looking chicken egg sits nearby for scale.

The website says the photos were taken on July 17 and that the insect belongs to the taxonomic group or order Megaloptera (a name that means large, folded wings). The group includes large insects called dobsonflies or fishflies, along with smaller alderflies.

While the insect is claimed as the largest "aquatic" insect, dobsonflies and alderflies only live in the water as a larvae or juvenile – adults live on land. On the other hand, they spend only a few days as adults. While the larvae are ferocious underwater predators, the adults either don't eat or sip only nectar and fruit juice.

The elephant beetle is one of many insects that are
likely far heavier than the new 'largest aquatic insect.'
(Udo Schmidt/Wikimedia Commons)

It also is nowhere near the biggest insect in the world in any dimension. According to the University of Florida Book of Insect Records, the record for biggest wingspan — 30 centimetres —  is held by the white witch moth; and several giant beetles and grasshopper-like creatures called giant wetas  — all of which are huge and have far stockier builds than the new dobsonfly — are the heaviest.

However, an insect quite similar, and not that much smaller than the new Chinese insect, lives right here in Canada. The Eastern dobsonfly Corydalus cornutus has a wing span of 14 centimetres and males have "sickle-shaped and tusk-like mandibles" that are about four centimetres long, according to entomologists Rob Cannings and Geoff Scudder of the Royal B.C. Museum.

"Such males have been seen to 'duel' with each other and to prod the female during courtship," the two wrote in a scientific article about the Megaloptera species in Canada.

Overall, there are 17 species of dobsonflies and alderflies in Canada.

The Eastern dobsonfly has a wingspan of up to 14 centimetres, and males have 'sickle-shaped and tusk-like mandibles.' While it can be found in Quebec, this specimen was collected in Ecuador. (Didier Descouens/Wikimedia Commons)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

42 Civil Rights Groups Support Telecoms against Open Internet

(graphic: Steve Straehley, AllGov)
ALLGOV | Jul 26, 2014 | Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley

Numerous civil rights groups have sided with the internet provider industry on the issue of net neutrality after getting lucrative partnerships and financial support from telecommunications companies.

When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wrapped up its public discussion on a new net neutrality plan, 42 groups representing the interests of several ethnic minority groups had come down on the side of industry, which wants to create faster broadband services for companies willing to pay for them rather than treat the internet like a public utility and allow equal access to all.

The groups claimed “A common carrier approach to broadband regulation would slow down broadband adoption and stifle the growth and innovation of the Internet. Regulating broadband under Title II [giving it common carrier status] would also foster a climate of uncertainty, potentially choke innovation and diminish investment,” in comments to the FCC.

“Simply put, these groups, many of which claim to carry the mantle of Martin Luther King Jr., are saying that Comcast and Verizon should be able to create Internet slow lanes and fast lanes, and such a change would magically improve the lives of non-white Americans,” Lee Fang wrote at Republic Report.

Those organizations siding with the telecoms include the NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Urban League, the National Council on Black Civil Participation and the National Action Network, the Council of Korean Americans and the Japanese American Citizens League.

LULAC “has been a dependable ally of the telecom industry while partnering with Comcast for a $5 million civic engagement campaign,” Fang reports, while another group, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, has received significant contributions from Comcast.

The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC), which acts as a law firm for civil rights organizations on telecom matters, has worked with many of the groups opposing common carrier status for the Internet.

MMTC raised more than $1 million from Verizon, AT&T and other telecom companies at fundraising luncheons from 2011 to 2013, according to The Center for Public Integrity.

To Learn More:

FCC Set to Say Goodbye to Net Neutrality (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Big Oil Threatens Maine City After Tar Sands Export Ban

© | Jul 25, 2014 | Andy Rowell

Big Oil has always been a bad, bad loser.

And it is therefore no surprise that it has threatened to sue a small coastal city in Maine which on Monday night struck an historical blow against the industry by banning the export of tar sands from its harbour.

The decision by South Portland to approve, by 6-1, to ban tar sands exports, has catapulted this small coastal town which is famous for its scenic light-houses against the collective might of the oil industry and Canadian government.

The decision is another blow to the tar sands industry which is desperate to find ways of getting its dirty carbon-munching oil to market.

It effectively bars any attempt by the oil industry to bring oil from Alberta to the city’s port, the second-largest oil terminal on the east coast of the US.

The move has ramifications for the tar sands industry, because it was planning to reverse the flow of the Portland-Montreal pipeline to carry tar sands to the coast.

South Portland Mayor Jerry Jalbert told Reuters the vote was an exercise in local democracy. “From the perspective of a locally elected official, it’s a simple issue. People fear this product could be damaging to the community, and they have asked us to act.”

Hundreds of supporters, wearing light blue T-shirts had packed into the hall where the vote was taking place. They were part of the so-called “Clear Skies Ordinance” worried about local spills and the impact of the tar sands on climate change.

One of the activists, Peg Dilley, from Casco, Maine, said: “This is not just a South Portland issue. This is not just a great state of Maine issue. This is an international issue.”

After the vote, activists were ecstatic, standing to applause the local councillors. “This victory sends an important message to communities around the country,” said Lisa Pohlmann, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “It shows that we can stand up against a dirty, toxic form of energy, and that it’s not inevitable.”

“We may be a small city, but, boy, we’ve done a big thing,” added Mary-Jane Ferrier, spokeswoman for Protect South Portland, who led the campaign. “We know it may not be over yet, and we’re committed to defend this victory from oil industry attacks.”

It is only a matter of time before those legal attacks start coming. The oil industry’s main lobbying organisation and attack-dog, the American Petroleum Institute, earlier this year had warned South Portland officials they would “face strong legal challenges,” if they voted to ban oil exports.

Yesterday, they were said to be considering their options. Tom Hardison, vice president of the company that runs the pipeline, said the vote was “against jobs, energy and the waterfront,” and called it a “rush to judgment.”

One local energy association has also claimed that “The fight is not over.”


Halliburton Fracking Spill Mystery: What Chemicals Polluted an Ohio Waterway?

A dead fish near the site of the recent
fracking-chemical spill in Monroe County, Ohio.
Mother Jones | Jul 24, 2014 | Mariah Blake

A recent accident highlights how state fracking laws protect corporate trade secrets over public safety. 

On the morning of June 28, a fire broke out at a Halliburton fracking site in Monroe County, Ohio. As flames engulfed the area, trucks began exploding and thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals spilled into a tributary of the Ohio River, which supplies drinking water for millions of residents. More than 70,000 fish died. Nevertheless, it took five days for the Environmental Protection Agency and its Ohio counterpart to get a full list of the chemicals polluting the waterway. "We knew there was something toxic in the water," says an environmental official who was on the scene. "But we had no way of assessing whether it was a threat to human health or how best to protect the public."

This episode highlights a glaring gap in fracking safety standards. In Ohio, as in most other states, fracking companies are allowed to withhold some information about the chemical stew they pump into the ground to break up rocks and release trapped natural gas. The oil and gas industry and its allies at the American Legislative exchange Council (ALEC), a pro-business outfit that has played a major role in shaping fracking regulation, argue that the formulas are trade secrets that merit protection. But environmental groups say the lack of transparency makes it difficult to track fracking-related drinking water contamination and can hobble the government response to emergencies, such as the Halliburton spill in Ohio.

According to a preliminary EPA inquiry, more than 25,000 gallons of chemicals, diesel fuel, and other compounds were released during the accident, which began with a ruptured hydraulic line spraying flammable liquid on hot equipment. The flames later engulfed 20 trucks, triggering some 30 explosions that rained shrapnel over the site and hampered firefighting efforts.

Officials from the EPA, the Ohio EPA, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) arrived on the scene shortly after the fire erupted. Working with an outside firm hired by Statoil, the site's owner, they immediately began testing water for contaminates. They found a number of toxic chemicals, including ethylene glycol, which can damage kidneys, and phthalates, which are linked to a raft of grave health problems. Soon dead fish began surfacing downstream from the spill. Nathan Johnson, a staff attorney for the non-profit Ohio Environmental Council, describes the scene as "a miles-long trail of death and destruction" with tens of thousands of fish floating belly up.

Statoil and the federal and state officials set up a "unified command" center and began scouring a list of chemicals Halliburton had provided them for a compound that might be triggering the die off. But the company had not disclosed those ingredients that it considered trade secrets.

Halliburton was under no obligation to reveal the full roster of chemicals. Under a 2012 Ohio law—which includes key provisions from ALEC's model bill on fracking fluid disclosure—gas drillers are legally required to reveal some of the chemicals they use, but only 60 days after a fracking job is finished. And they don't have to disclose proprietary ingredients, except in emergencies.

Even in these cases, only emergency responders and the chief of the ODNR's oil and gas division, which is known to be cozy with industry, are entitled to the information. And they are barred from sharing it, even with environmental agencies and public health officials. Environmental groups argue this makes it impossible to adequately test for contamination or take other necessary steps to protect public health. "Ohio is playing a dangerous game of hide and seek with first responders and community safety," says Teresa Mills of the Virginia-based Center for Health, Environment, and Justice.

Within two days of the spill, Halliburton disclosed the proprietary chemicals to firefighters and the oil and gas division chief, but it didn't give this information to the EPA and its Ohio counterpart until five days after the accident, by which time the chemicals had likely reached or flowed past towns that draw drinking water from the Ohio River. The company says that it turned over the information as soon as it was requested. "We don't know why USEPA and Ohio EPA didn’t have the information prior to July 3," Halliburton spokeswoman Susie McMichael tells Mother Jones. "If they had asked us earlier, we would have provided the information, consistent with our standard practice." The Ohio EPA, on the other hand, maintains that ODNR, emergency workers, and federal and state EPA officials had a representative ask Statoil and Halliburton for a complete list of chemicals just after the spill. Several days later, environmental regulators pressed for the information again and learned that it had already been shared with only ODNR, which according to the EPA report was not deeply involved in the emergency response.

Other key players, including local water authorities, the private company hired to monitor water contamination, and area residents, did not get a full rundown of chemicals, even after the EPA and the Ohio EPA finally received the information.

Ohio state officials maintain that the river water is safe to drink because the fracking chemicals have been so heavily diluted. But environmentalists are skeptical. "Tons of chemicals and brine entered the waterway and killed off thousands fish," says Johnson of the Ohio Environmental Council. "There's no way the drinking water utility or anyone else could monitor those chemical and determine whether the levels were safe without knowing what they were. Even today, I don't think the public can be sure that the water is safe to drink."

Mariah Blake is a senior reporter at Mother Jones.You can e-mail her at mblake [at] motherjones [dot] com. RSS |

Colorado Judge Lets Fracking Trump Public Health

Supporters of Longmont's fracking ban hold signs
ahead of the 2012 vote.  (Photo:
Common Dreams | Jul 25, 2014 | Andrea Germanos

Boulder County district court judge strikes down city of Longmont's fracking ban

A Colorado district court judge on Thursday invalidated the city of Longmont's fracking ban, a decision celebrated by oil and gas industry and denounced by critics who say it prioritizes the extractive process over public health and the environment.

Longmont made a landmark move in 2012 when voters approved with strong support an amendment to the city’s charter to ban fracking.

The vote was promptly followed by a lawsuit by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) challenging the ban. State regulatory body Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and locally-operating oil and gas company TOP Operating later joined the suit.

In his ruling, Judge Mallard stated, "The Court is not in a position to agree or disagree with any of these exhibits that support the Defendants’ position that hydraulic fracturing causes serious health, safety, and environmental risks."

"While the Court appreciates the Longmont citizens’ sincerely-held beliefs about risks to their health and safety, the Court does not find this is sufficient to completely devalue the State’s interest, thereby making the matter one of purely local interest."

There is "an irreconcilable conflict" between the city's interest in banning fracking and the state's interest in extraction," Mallard found.

Longmont's fracking ban "impedes the orderly development of Colorado’s mineral resources," and is invalid, the ruling states.

The judge also ordered the fracking ban to hold during the time allotted for appeals.

Tisha Schuller, head of COGA, said the decision was "something to celebrate for the industry."

But supporters of the fracking ban have vowed to continue their fight.

“While we respectfully disagree with the Court’s final decision, she was correct that we were asking this Court, in part, to place protection from the health, safety, and environmental risks from fracking over the development of mineral resources,” stated Kaye Fissinger, President of Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont, one of the intervenors for the city in the lawsuit.

“It’s tragic that the judge views the current law in Colorado is one in which fracking is more important than public health; reversing that backwards priority is a long-term battle that we’re determined to continue,” Fissinger stated.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Water reserves in western US being drained underground – NASA study

Reuters / David Becker
RT | Jul 25, 2014

As droughts have ravaged the western US for over a decade, much of the water loss has come from underground resources in the Colorado River Basin, a new study has found. The water loss may pose a greater threat to the West than previously thought.

The study by NASA and the University of California, Irvine found that more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. It is the first time researchers have quantified the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states, NASA said.

The research team measured the change in water mass monthly from December 2004 to November 2013, using data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission to track changes in the mass of the Colorado River Basin. Changes in water mass are related to changes in water amount on and below the surface.

Image by University of California
Center for Hydrologic Modeling
In the nine-year study, the basin – which covers Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California – lost nearly 53 million acre feet (65 cubic kilometers) of freshwater, almost double the volume of the nation's largest reservoir, Nevada's Lake Mead. More than three-quarters of the total – about 41 million acre feet (50 cubic kilometers) – was from groundwater, according to a statement by NASA on the project.
"We don't know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don't know when we're going to run out," Stephanie Castle, a water resources specialist at UC Irvine, and the study's lead author, said in the statement. "This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking."

The Colorado River is the only major river in the southwestern United States, and the water source is relied upon by 40 million people. The surface water in the basin is regulated by the US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), but the groundwater is regulated by the individual states. Some states, like California, have no groundwater management rules. Others, like Arizona, have gone so far as to transfer surface water from the Colorado River into underground aquifers for later use, the Washington Post reported.

The USBR, part of the Department of the Interior, allocates water from the basin proportionally among the seven states. A study completed by the agency in 2012 “confirmed what most experts know: there are likely to be significant shortfalls between projected water supplies and demands in the Colorado River Basin in the coming decades,” the USBR said on its website. Since then, the federal government, state governments, local municipalities, and Native American reservations have worked together to augment water supplies, conserve and reuse existing water supplies, and plan for the future of the basin.
"We have made substantial progress addressing Colorado River water management over the past several years," Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor said in a statement. "From the interim guidelines for shortage and surplus in 2007, the 2012 signing of Minute 319 to the treaty with Mexico and the latest WaterSMART funding announcements supporting new projects and studies, we remain focused on wise use and new technologies to address upcoming gaps in supply and demand."

But last week, USBR announced that Lake Mead – the reservoir created by the Hoover Dam – had reached its lowest water level since the lake’s initial filling in the 1930s. Since 2000, the lake has lost 4 trillion gallons of water, according to CBS News. It now sits 130 feet below the high-water mark last reached at the turn of the century, and at 39 percent of total capacity. Scientists have determined that the dry spell since 2000 in the Colorado River Basin is one of the most severe in more than 1,200 years.
"It's time for us to wake up. If this drought continues, we're going to be in a terrible situation within the next 12-24 months," Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told the Desert Sun.

Famiglietti is currently on leave from UC Irvine, and is the senior author of NASA’s groundwater depletion study. He noted that the rapid depletion rate will compound the problem of short supply by leading to further declines in streamflow in the Colorado River, according to the statement.
"The Colorado River Basin is the water lifeline of the western United States," Famiglietti said. "With Lake Mead at its lowest level ever, we wanted to explore whether the basin, like most other regions around the world, was relying on groundwater to make up for the limited surface-water supply. We found a surprisingly high and long-term reliance on groundwater to bridge the gap between supply and demand."

At the current rate of water use by the seven states, the Bureau of Reclamation has estimated that by 2017, there will be a 50-50 chance of lower water levels prompting the declaration of a shortage. Starting in 2018, the estimated likelihood of reaching that threshold – and cutbacks in water deliveries – rises to 60 percent, according to the Desert Sun.