Volcano disrupts African rose exports

Kenyan flower farmer Jack Kneppers was forced on Monday to throw 6.5 tons of his exquisite roses into a compost pit after flights headed for Europe were canceled because of the ash cloud. Kenya's horticulture industry has already lost $12 million to the European airspace closure and it will take several weeks to recover even if flights resume now, its association of exporters said. Kneppers' farm by picturesque Lake Naivasha in southwest Kenya produces 11 varieties of pristine roses worth tens of thousands of dollars every day. "We have to throw them into big pits and turn them into compost," Kneppers said, standing in front of rows of boxes full of flowers that he fears will meet the same fate.

The Icelandic Cauldron

At this point most people know that a volcano erupted in Iceland spewing forth tons of ash that have grounded countless flights. What is less known is the intense thermal emissions (at least 60 megawatts, or 60 million watts) emanating from the vent at the base of the massive plume. This is just the energy released by heat into the atmosphere. This thermal emission, equivalent to the energy consumption of 60,000 homes, represents only a small proportion of the total energy being released by the volcano as its molten lava interacts violently with ice and water.

Recent Tectonic Activity Shaking Things Up

There seems to have been a rash of high magnitude earthquakes and volcanic eruptions recently on planet Earth. One begs to know if there is an underlying cause behind it, or if it is all merely coincidental. Are the poles reversing? Is our planet stable or should we start building our doomsday caves and space ships? When it seems like there is something abnormal about all this tectonic activity, one needs to defer to the experts on the matter, and they are saying that it is, in fact, nothing unusual.

Mercury surprise: Rice can be risky

Ask toxicologists how best to avoid mercury poisoning and they’ll almost certainly advise against eating too much of the wrong types of fish. (Never mind that there’s considerable confusion about what the wrong types are.) But a new study out of China shows that for millions of people at risk of eating toxic amounts of mercury-laced food, fish isn’t the problem. Rice is.

Biggest mass of living things in the oceans? Microbes.

The ocean depths are home to myriad species of microbes, mostly hard to see but including spaghetti-like bacteria that form whitish mats the size of Greece on the floor of the Pacific, scientists said on Sunday. The survey, part of a 10-year Census of Marine Life, turned up hosts of unknown microbes, tiny zooplankton, crustaceans, worms, burrowers and larvae, some of them looking like extras in a science fiction movie and underpinning all life in the seas. "In no other realm of ocean life has the magnitude of Census discovery been as extensive as in the world of microbes," said Mitch Sogin of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, head of the marine microbe census.

Celebrate Earth Day with NASA!

One of the benefits we noted when man first was able observe the earth from above our atmosphere, from outer space, is that it enabled us to gain a new perspective on how very special our planet is. Viewed from a distance, it is obvious that we are all living in one global environment. And from a distance, this environment doesn't look as vast as it does from our vantage point on earth. The land looks more precious, the seas less like unlimited places to discharge our wastes, and the atmosphere, less like a place to emit air pollution at night so no one sees it, to the fragile envelope which, more than anything, makes earth the special place it is. Indeed, it is the atmosphere that permits life as we know it to flourish on earth. And we owe most of this new knowledge to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)! Begun in 1970, Earth Day is the annual celebration of the environment and a time to assess work still needed to protect the natural resources of our planet. NASA maintains the world's largest contingent of dedicated Earth scientists and engineers in leading and assisting other agencies in preserving the planet's environment. NASA celebrates the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on the National Mall in Washington beginning Saturday, April 17.

Icelandic volcano eases but eruptions continue

An Icelandic volcano that is spewing ash into the air and wreaking havoc on flights across Europe appeared to be easing up on Saturday but could continue to erupt for days or even months to come, officials said. Iceland's Meteorological Office said the cloud of ash above the volcano had shrunk to a height of 5 to 8 kilometers (3.125 to 5 miles) from 6 to 11 km (3.75 to 6.875 miles) when it started erupting earlier this week. The office said that the volume of magma under the volcano appeared to be decreasing and that heavy pulsing earlier in the day had steadied and the volcano appeared less volatile.An Icelandic volcano that is spewing ash into the air and wreaking havoc on flights across Europe appeared to be easing up on Saturday but could continue to erupt for days or even months to come, officials said. Science | Green Business Iceland's Meteorological Office said the cloud of ash above the volcano had shrunk to a height of 5 to 8 kilometers (3.125 to 5 miles) from 6 to 11 km (3.75 to 6.875 miles) when it started erupting earlier this week. The office said that the volume of magma under the volcano appeared to be decreasing and that heavy pulsing earlier in the day had steadied and the volcano appeared less volatile.An Icelandic volcano that is spewing ash into the air and wreaking havoc on flights across Europe appeared to be easing up on Saturday but could continue to erupt for days or even months to come, officials said. Iceland's Meteorological Office said the cloud of ash above the volcano had shrunk to a height of 5 to 8 kilometers (3.125 to 5 miles) from 6 to 11 km (3.75 to 6.875 miles) when it started erupting earlier this week. The office said that the volume of magma under the volcano appeared to be decreasing and that heavy pulsing earlier in the day had steadied and the volcano appeared less volatile.

Bill Clinton Opens Enviro-Expo in Windsor, Ontario

Former US President Bill Clinton got a warm welcome from the mixed American and Canadian audience that paid up to $175 to hear his keynote speech at the first annual Essex County (Ontario) Enviro-Expo. The Enviro-Expo (www.enviro-expo.org) is sponsored by the government of Ontario, Essex Region Conservation Foundation and many private 'green' firms. The 'Expo' is billed as a family friendly, three day event featuring green technologies, dedicated to educate and inspire environmental consciousness. The former president spoke to a nearly full house of 3000, at the Caesars Windsor Convention Center in downtown Windsor. Citing a myriad of world challenges; hunger, water, terrorism, climate change, and global economics, Clinton said all solutions point to the development of sustainable energy on a global scale.

Wind Power Complications with Radar

The U.S. Air Force is threatening to halt construction of a 845-megawatt wind farm in eastern Oregon that would be the world’s largest wind project, citing concerns that the wind turbines would interfere with a nearby military radar station and its ability to detect radar images. Rotating wind turbine blades could impart a Doppler shift to any radar energy reflecting off the blades and cause false images or interference. This has impact on the location of future wind farms but issues remain on how to resolve this problem.

Chemical Safety Reform Gains Momentum in Congress

Two bills in Congress would dramatically strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) ability to regulate chemicals. The bills shift the burden of proof to industry, which would have to demonstrate the safety of existing and new chemicals. That's a major change from the existing system, in which EPA must prove that chemicals are harmful before it can regulate them.