Here is some rather worrying news if you live in Houston Texas; giant meningitis carrying snails are heading into town. The giant African snails should not be touched as they "may" carry meningitis. The disease is so feared though who would want to take the risk?The reality is that the snails
carry the bacteria or the virus which can lead to meningitis. That news however will not reassure worried residents. With snails there is always the problem of what they leave behind. Sticky silver snail trails may be tounched, sniffed or licked by pets, other animals or children often without even knowing.Local experts are advising locals to wash their hands thoroughly after any contact with the snails. Perhaps more frequent and thorough handwashing would be a good idea, until the snail problem is resolved Then again perhaps that should be par for the course in these treacherous days?
The Mail Onlne reports "the snails ‘can cause a lot of harm to humans and sometimes even death,’ Autumn Smith-Herron, director of the Institute for the Study of Invasive Species at Sam Houston State University told local NBC affiliate KPRC.
The snails often contract the worms by eating rat feces, scientists say".
A woman in the area discovered the first snail invader Tuesday but it got away before scientists arrived in response to her call. The problem of giant African snails in Houston will not simply go away. The snails can grow up to 8 inches in length and up to 4 inches in diameter and lay 100 eggs per month. There is the potential then for an epidmeic of the creatures. Source:Mail Online
These days in the UK austerity is the order of the day. We are also urged to be environmentally friendly and recycle what we can. The idea behind this is it will save us money and also help the environment. Some cremation service workers have being doing their bit since 2004 and recycling metal body parts. The Telegraph reports
Steel hips, plates and screws from legs and skulls are collected after a person is cremated and sent off for recycling. Even metal plates from false teeth and tiny fragments from fillings can be recovered and re-used, together with metal fittings on coffins. High value metals which survive the 1000-degree cremation are then sold for use in the automobile and aeronautical industries. They include cobalt and titanium, found in some implants and dental work. Cobalt is used in aircraft engines.
But other less valuable metals are smelted down and sold for more general use - including road signs, motorway barriers and lamp posts. The salvaged metal from cremations is put in large wheelie bins and collected by contractors who take it to specialist plants for recycling.
All good so far? Well sort off but the money raised could surely be used to reduce cremation costs for hard pressed loved ones. The other gripe is that it is a Dutch company behind the recycling scheme. Is it beyond the realms of possibility that the UK could run and manage such companies?
260 UK crematoriums have signed up to the scheme which is currently generating 75 tonnes of metal a year.The bereaved are consulted. Before a cremation the family is asked if they want to keep any metal parts. I imagine most people will say no. Why would you want to a metal knee replacement, for example? Of course if you were asked do you want to sell the parts toward the cost of the funeral you might say yes.Cemeteries had to find a solution for metal body parts which historically were buried following cremations. New legislation will ban that practice.
The Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management.makes sure recycling schemes meet strict criteria. According to the Telegraph
"The project has raised almost £1million for charity since it began in Britain in 2004" and of course it has utilised metal and prevented waste.Sources:BBC NewsTelegraph
Early in March TEK reported on the volcanic activity of Mount Etna. This volcano on the Italian island of Sicily is always volatile but recently it has gone through a very active phase.In our earlier report we wrote, "Is Europe's tallest active volcano, Mount Etna, displaying its wrath in 2013? Its current eruption is the sixth this year. It is a wonder that conspiracy theorists have not tied Etna's activity to the pope's retirement from office or other world events. Italy's Mount Etna has erupted 24 times since 2011. At 11,000 feet tall any eruption is spectacular. It can be viewed even at a distance. What has triggered this particularly active phase is not clear. What is known is that "Etna's eruptions are caused by the African tectonic plate sliding below the Eurasian plate. The Eurasian plate is melting as it moves downwards and hot magma is being forced up to the surface". It does not sound as if any resolution is possible".Last week a new pope was elected, Pope Francis I, but Etna remains volatile. The latest eruption has allowed some spectacular images to be captured, as firey plumes pitch up to a mile into the sky.
The latest eruption has provided spectators in Catania below the latest outburst with stunning views, but surely some people must feel a little anxious?Sicilians have grown used to Etna's angry outbursts and have learned to live in its shadow. However there have been damaging eruptions in the past.The red sky Etna has painted over Sicily may look awesome but it could be a warning of worse to come.
As the UK struggles to get any sunshine or dry weather at the other side of the world, in the Land of Oz, a heatwave has led to the threat of bushfires. Most of Australia, 80% according to official figures, is experiencing the worst heatwave for many a year.Temperatures have soared often reaching above
40C. As the heatwave looks set to continue there are warnings to take care this coming weekend. The danger of bushfires is increased with such heat plus people, however used to hot weathe,r need to stay safe. The elderly and very young are more prone to health problems in extremely hot weather.That is not to say that all age groups should not remain vigilant. Drinking plenty of fluids and staying in the shade will be essential.According to SkyNews
"Adelaide in southern Australia registered a top temperature of 45C (113 Fahrenheit) on Friday, its fourth-hottest day on record". That is just "too darn hot".As the extreme hot air travels across Australia the risk of bushfires will intensify.
Current temperatures look set to soar and break records. Aussie Prime Minister Julia Gillard has warned people, in true 21st Century style, by tweeting "Take care and stay safe as we face extreme heat around our nation. Listen to warnings on the high bushfire risk. JG"People have also been reminded to not leave children, an elderdly or vulnerable person, or pets unattended in locked cars. In such extreme heat fatalities are possible.Heatwaves in Summer in Australia are not uncommon what is unusal is the wide area affected. More extreme weather it seems.
Venice is flooded. No this is not a joke. Yes we know Venice is a city built with canals and waterways as a huge part of its infrastructure but this historic city is also experiencing modern day weather changes.Each year, around this time, water levels in Venice rise. This can cause flooding. This year the waters have continued to rise making movement around Venice tricky. Where there are paths and pavements the water is already almost waist deep. The people of Venice are attempting to go about their daily business as uusual but it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so. Temporary walkways and bridges have been constructed to try and alleviate "transport" issues.
Consider though canal side paths that are knee high in water. How on earth will you tell where the path ends and the canal begins?Venice's seasonal flooding each Autumn is called
‘acqua alta'. Venetians are obviously resourceful people. They would have to be to live in such a city as Venice. The new challenges pose problems though, not least for tourists and the tourist trade. You may long to see Venice and its watery canals but would you want the few streets to be awash also? Probably not.The "Venetian Lagoon" is prone to flooding each year in Spring and Autumn. Building in such a place was always going to result in some problems.
Currently a big swathe of America and most of the Caribbean Islands
are still recovering from their extreme weather last weekend. For Venice it may be business as usual but surely in a few more years this individualistic piece of Italy will be unsustainable?According to the Mail online, "Earlier this year, scientists warned that Venice may soon have to ditch its nickname - The Floating City - as it is sinking into the water more than five times quicker than previously thought. The city is also tilting to the east and heading out to the Adriatic Sea, as it is hit by more floods than ever before, according to experts. Previous studies had shown water-levels in the former capital of the Maritime Venetian Republic had stabilised. But research by Scripps Institution Of Oceanography at UC San Diego, and published in March, claimed it has actually submerged, and tilted to the east, by an unprecedented 2mm per year over the last decade."Travel advice must be to visit Venice when and whilst you can if it is a place you long to visit.More here
Whether you believe that extreme weather is man-made or a natural phenomenon
there is no doubting that we have abused this planet for years. Modern life takes its toll on many things not least the environment. Our "conveniences" come at a high price as we decimate rain forests, contaminate areas with radiation following nuclear testing and carelessly dispose of huge amounts of possibly contaminated waste. Some of this will leave a terrible legacy for the future but some will have an effect now. Extreme weather could be a result of this abuse.2012 will be memorable for many people as one of extreme weather. Floods, torrential rain and drought have been experienced by many people across the globe.Today there is news of a 7.7 earthquake of the coast of Canada triggering a tsunami which hit Hawaii
, thousands of miles away, In the end both the tsunami and the earthquake appear to have had little effect on Canada
or Hawaii. The Tsunami waves were relatively small compared to what had been predicted. Early warning systems had given residents in Hawaii the chance to make provisions for their safety. A cautious approach is bound to be better when you consider the dreadful 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami
which caused massie damage and loss of life in parts of Southern Asia.North American
is also "battening down the hatches" in preparation for what has been described " Frankenstorm"
. In the US this will cause a headache, to say the least, for Presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It could affect voters and the campaign trail of both. It will be tougher for Obama as President as he will have "business as usual" to do whilst Romney can concentrate on his election campaign. Both may in some ways utilise the storm for their own ends Bible thumpers in the US may utilise the storm for their own ends choosing to see it as a sign from their God. The people experiencing the brunt of this storm will be the losers. They stand to lose incomes, businesses, homes, loved ones and more.According to Reuters reporting on the Canadian earthquake, "The U.S. Geological Survey said an earthquake with a 7.7 magnitude had hit the province, centered 123 miles south-southwest of Prince Rupert at a depth of 6.2 miles. Earthquakes Canada said the quake in the Haida Gwaii region has been followed by numerous aftershocks as large as 4.6 and said a small tsunami has been recorded by a deep ocean pressure sensor.
"The Canadian earthquake is a reminder of why protesters are still opposing the Oil Pipelines in Canada. There is always the risk that a "natural" phenomenon such as an earthquake will result in a huge environmental disaster especially where oil is involved.
Worth the risk? Hardly unless you stand to gain financially and care nothing about the environment.
When we think of countries wth terrible carbon emissions we tend to think of China and developing nations. You may be surprised to read that Australia has a terrible track record. In relation to its population head count Australia is the worst carbon emmitter in the world. The current Australian government has acted to limit the country's carbon emissions but this has received a mixed response.Some claim that the newly implemented carbon tax is a necessary evil but it seems far more Australians believe the tax is flawed and will cost Australian industry dearly. It could also cost Aussie PM Gillard dearly as many see the implementation of this tax as the final nail in her political coffin.Industries in Australia highlighted as the worst offenders currently, are set to pay a huge carbon tax which is much higher than that paid in Europe.
"The law forces about 300 of the worst-polluting firms to pay a A$23 (£15; $24) levy for every tonne of greenhouse gases they produce."Reuters has reported, "The scheme allows emissions trading from 2015, when polluters and investors will be able to buy overseas carbon offsets, or ultimately trade with schemes in Europe, New Zealand and possibly those planned in South Korea and China.Prime Minister Julia Gillard's minority government says the plan is needed to fight climate change and curb greenhouse gas pollution. Australia has amongst the world's highest per capita CO2 emissions due to its reliance on coal-fired power stations.Yet even as it starts, the scheme's future is in doubt. The conservative opposition has vowed to repeal it if they win power in elections due by late next year and have whipped up a scare campaign saying the tax will cost jobs and hurt the economy.Gillard, her poll ratings near record lows and her Labor party heading for a heavy election defeat, hopes that the campaign will quickly run out of steam once the scheme starts."Cats will still purr, dogs will still bark," Gillard said after Opposition leader Tony Abbott's visit to an animal shelter to warn of higher electricity prices on charities. "The leader of the opposition's fear campaign will collide with the truth.""The Australian carbon tax has been in the planning some time. It has been resisted by the government's opposition. Gillard claims that people will not hurt financially, as they might, due to protections put in place for those on low incomes. The opposition continue to maintain the new tax will be too costly and result in increased energy bills and more.
Any new taxes are always controversial. In time many are simply taken for granted. The problem with taxes supposedly aimed at helping the environement is do they do so? Western efforts are like a drop of rain in a huge ocean unless all coutries play the same game. The Global environment is not selective. If a country abuses the environment other countries suffer. That is a fact. Certainly there may be some instances when a polluion problem hits only a single country initially but in the long run most damage our beloved planet. In the end Australians, like the rest of the World's population, will have to decide between money and the environment.The UK in the fifties had chimneys such as those shown above pumping poison into the air. They have long gone. The ones above are Australian. Environmental change is costly, there is no doubt. Ignoring the damage we do to our environment will be more costly in real terms.Tags: Australian carbon tax, PM Gillard, Aussie carbon emissions, Chins, global economies, Australia
, green issues
If the pundits have it right the UK is in for a mini-ice age
. This will involve the UK experiencing much more severe winters
and the prediction is that the ice-age will last for the next ten years.Blimey for an old codger, like me, that's a long time.The weather has certainly been strange in many parts of the world of late and not least in the UK.. Returning to the UK from a Menorcan vacation on September 30, 2011, the UK was
sizzling in glorious sunshine with temperatures around the 30 degree mark. Not typical autumn weather by a long shot but not totally alien. However temperature records were broken in the UK over that weekend.
By the end of the week in Yorkshire the temperature had plunged down by 20 degrees. It certainly makes it hard for a gal to decide to wear.We have all gotten used to hearing and reading gloomy weather predicitons, which are blamed on mankind's damage to the environment. Although these days some people are sceptical about this, common sense tells you our behaviour on this planet is not "environmentally friendly".This earth of ours has continued to spin and survive through all our wars, experiements, inventions and changes. One day it will expire but that should be a long way off. Some now say that these changes are just part of the World's ever changing cycles and patterns of weather.Scientists have predicted that a severe cold spell could hit the UK by the end of October, if not before. It is also envisaged that the record low temperature recorded in the UK last year, that of -20 degrees, will be broken. Scientists are putting the blame for these potential weather changes down to
a disruptive weather pattern called La Nina. It occurs every few years and tends to cause problems.So the advice must be to stock up of winter warming foods and clothes now. Once the demand is high, for items such as Wellington Boots to wear and Porridge to eat,
prices will sky rocket.Keeping warm and fit will be vital, especially for older citizens. If you think your energy bills will be too high consider changing providers. Remember there are agencies out there willing and able to help you cope with keeping warm in winter and they will offer constructive advice into the bargain. For now it is a case of "least said soonest mended".