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Here's the mix: Climate change, solar flares, political mismanagement, and the pivotal, prophetic year of 2012 getting closer with each passing day.  All these elements point to a world that is drastically being changed and perhaps even coming to the brink of collapse.  Mass extinctions have become commonplace.  Dispite these signs of global breakdown we continue to extract and plunder world resourses in the name of progress and profit.
Personally, I do not agree with Al Gore and his cohorts.  I do not believe that car fumes and farting cows have any effect on the ice caps of Mars, yet the Martian ice caps are melting along with ours.  What I believe is happening is cyclical in nature; it has happened in the past and will continue to occur in the future, regardless of the imposition these changes might create to human needs or wants.  An excellent book on this is Fractal Time by Gregg Braden.  It explains what 2012 is about and why seemingly strange changes in weather and other global matters are happening around the world at this particular time in history.
Here's a site that pinpoints the most dire aches and pains the planet is enduring on any given day.
And here's a chart that indicates recent earthquakes of 6 and 8 magnitudes have been on the increase in a big way.
A 2007 movie, The Great Global Warming Swindle, argues against human input in the major causes of climate change.  Worth watching.

This is a must see video:

The following message from StopGlobalWarming.org comes a little too late and completely off the mark.  Notice how they focus on terrestrial offenders and leave the sun completely out of the picture.  They fail to recognize that even without human imput it would still be happening simply because we are in that cycle:

This might be an old article, but California, my home state, is still feeling it between the legs...
  By Patrick O'Driscoll
  June 8, 2007
Drought, a fixture in much of the West for nearly a decade, now covers more than one-third of the continental USA. And it's spreading.
As summer starts, half the nation is either abnormally dry or in outright drought from prolonged lack of rain that could lead to water shortages, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Welcome rainfall last weekend from Tropical Storm Barry brought short-term relief to parts of the fire-scorched Southeast. But up to 50 inches of rain is needed to end the drought there, and this is the driest spring in the Southeast since record-keeping began in 1895, according to the National
Climatic Data Center.
California and Nevada just recorded their driest June-to-May period since 1924, and a lack of rain in the West could make this an especially risky summer for wildfires.
Coast to coast, the drought's effects are as varied as the landscapes:
- In central California, ranchers are selling cattle or trucking them out of state as grazing grass dries up. In Southern California's Antelope Valley, rainfall at just 15% of normal erased the spring bloom of California poppies.
- In South Florida, Lake Okeechobee, America's second-largest body of fresh water, fell last week to a record low -- an average 8.89 feet above sea level. So much lake bed is dry that 12,000 acres of it caught fire last month. Saltwater intrusion threatens to contaminate municipal wells for Atlantic coastal towns as fresh groundwater levels drop.
- In Alabama, shallow ponds on commercial catfish farms are dwindling, and more than half the corn and wheat crops are in poor condition.
Dry episodes have become so persistent in the West that some scientists and water managers say drought is the "new normal" there. Reinforcing that notion are global-warming projections warning of more and deeper dry spells in the Southwest, although a report in last week's Science magazing challenges the climate models and suggests there will be more rainfall worldwide later this century.
"It seems extremely likely that drought will become more the norm" for the West, says Kathy Jacobs of the Arizona Water Institute, a research partnership of the state's three universities. "Droughts will continue to come and go, but higher temperatures are going to produce more water stress." That's because warmer temperatures in the Southwest boosts demands for water and cause more to evaporate from lakes and reservoirs.
"The only good news about drought is it forces us to pay attention to water management," says Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, a think tank in Oakland that stresses efficient water use.
This drought has been particularly harsh in three regions: the Southwest, the Southeast and northern Minnesota.
Severe dryness across California and Arizona has spread into 11 other Western states. On the Colorado River, the water supply for 30 million people in seven states and Mexico, the Lake Powell and Lake Mead reservoirs are only half full and unlikely to recover for years. In Los Angeles County, on track for a record dry year with 21% of normal rain downtown since last summer, fire officials are threatening to cancel Fourth of July fireworks if conditions worsen. On Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa urged residents to voluntarily cut water use 10%, the city's first such call
since the 1990s.
In Minnesota, which is in its worst drought since 1976, the situation is improving slowly, although a wildfire last month burned dozens of houses and 115 square miles in the northeastern part of the state.
The Southeast, unaccustomed to prolonged dry spells, may be suffering the most. In eight states from Mississippi to the Carolinas and down through Florida, lakes are shrinking, crops are withering, well levels are falling and there are new limits on water use. "We need 40-50 inches of rainfall to get out of the drought," says Carol Ann Wehle of the South Florida Water
Management District.
Despite a recent storm, water hasn't flowed in Florida's Kissimmee River, which feeds Lake Okeechobee, in 212 days. The district has imposed its strictest water-use limits ever in 13 counties, cutting home watering to once a week and commercial use by 45%.
The drought also has provided an occasional benefit: Okeechobee's record low level allowed crews to clean out decades of muck and debris.
And some stricken areas are recovering. Texas and Oklahoma, charred by wildfires in the dry winter of 2005-06, are drought-free.
Even in California, where winter snowpack in the Sierra Nevada range was only 27% of normal this year, plentiful runoff from last year's snows filled many reservoirs, so shortages are unlikely this year. But another dry winter would tax supplies.
Gleick says water managers are not reacting forcefully enough to the drought: "The time to tell people that we're in the middle of a drought and to institute strong conservation programs is today, not a year from now."  The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is doing that. Last
month, it began a "Let's Save" radio campaign.
After nearly a decade of drought in parts of the West, the nation's fastest-growing region wrestles with rising water demands and declining supply.
Donald Wilhite of the National Drought Mitigation Center says the Southwest and Southeast are "becoming gradually more vulnerable to drought" because the rising population will need more water. "We think of water as an unlimited resource," he says. "But what happens when you turn on the tap and it's not there?"

By Susan Page
USA Today
June 28, 2007

WASHINGTON - Environmental problems such as global warming increasingly are seen as the leading threat the world faces, according to a massive survey of global public opinion released Wednesday. The United States is given much of the blame for those problems and the responsibility to respond to them.


The Pew Research Center poll, taken in 46 countries and the Palestinian territories, found that people in countries as diverse as Canada, Peru, Ukraine, China and India identified environmental degradation as the greatest world danger, outranking concerns about nuclear weapons, ethnic hatred and AIDS.
The study, the largest sampling of global public opinion ever taken, also shows the United States in general and President Bush in particular as increasingly isolated in the world, especially over the war in Iraq. In 43 of the 47 countries -- including the United States -- a majority favored the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq as soon as possible.


In 34 countries, the proportion of those who said they had "a lot of confidence" in Bush to "do the right thing" was in single digits.


Electing a new president next year won't automatically ameliorate the world's concerns, says Andy Kohut, director of the non-partisan Pew center.


"People will look at the United States and say 'what next?'" Kohut says. "Discontent with our policies has changed opinions about America's power."


Bush, speaking Wednesday at the Islamic Center of Washington, blamed religious extremists in the Middle East for fueling anti-American attitudes.


"This enemy falsely claims that America is at war with Muslims and the Muslim faith," he said, "when in fact it is these radicals who are Islam's true enemy."


Nukes worry Americans


The survey found that positive attitudes toward the United States had plummeted since 2002, when the first in a series of Pew Global Attitudes surveys was taken. Those with favorable views of the United States have fallen from 60 percent to 30 percent in Germany, 61 percent to 29 percent in Indonesia and 30 percent to 9 percent in Turkey.


More than 45,000 people were interviewed by phone or face-to-face for the survey, which used nearly 60 languages or dialects.


The poll found sharply rising concern about environmental problems as the world's biggest threat. Majorities or pluralities in 34 of 37 countries where the question was asked identified the U.S. as the chief culprit.


In the United States, pollution was ranked lower as a concern than in any other industrialized nation. Thirty-seven percent in the U.S. identified environmental issues as the top global threat, compared with 70 percent in China, 55 percent in Peru and 52 percent in France. Americans were more likely to call nuclear proliferation or religious and ethnic hatred as leading dangers to the planet.


Global concerns varied by region. The spread of nuclear weapons was an increasing concern in the Middle East while AIDS and other diseases continued to be seen as the dominant threat in Africa.


The study found growing concern about China's economic and military might, mixed views of Russia and wide suspicion of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.



Here's an interesting piece: 
  By Carol J. Williams
  Los Angeles Times
  January 3, 2007
MIAMI - Frustrated with people and politicians who refuse to listen or learn, National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield ends his 34-year
government career today in search of a new platform for getting out his unwelcome message: Hurricane Katrina was nothing compared with the big one yet to come.
Mayfield, 58, leaves his high-profile job with the National Weather Service more convinced than ever that U.S. residents of the Southeast are risking unprecedented tragedy by continuing to build vulnerable homes in the tropical storm zone and failing to plan escape routes.
He pointed to southern Florida's 7 million coastal residents.
"We're eventually going to get a strong enough storm in a densely populated area to have a major disaster," he said. "I know people don't want to hear this, and I'm generally a very positive person, but we're setting ourselves up for this major disaster."
More than 1,300 deaths across the Gulf Coast were attributed to Hurricane Katrina, the worst human toll from a weather event in the United States since the 1920s.
But Mayfield warns that 10 times as many fatalities could occur in what he sees as an inevitable strike by a huge storm during the current highly active hurricane cycle, which is expected to last another 10 to 20 years.
His apocalyptic vision of thousands dead and millions homeless is a different side of the persona he established as head of the hurricane
Mayfield attained national celebrity status during the tempestuous 2004 and 2005 seasons, appearing on network television with hourly updates as hurricanes Charley, Ivan, Frances and Wilma bore down on the Caribbean and the Southeast. His calm demeanor and avuncular sincerity endeared him to millions of TV viewers seeking survival guidance.
And he argues that his dire predictions don't have to become reality.
The technology exists to build high-rise buildings capable of withstanding hurricane-force winds and tropical storm surge more powerful than those
experienced in the last few years. Much of Hong Kong's architecture has been built to survive typhoons, and hotels and apartments built in Kobe, Japan, after a 1995 earthquake devastated the city are touted as indestructible, he said.
What is lacking in the United States is the political will to make and impose hard decisions on building codes and land use in the face of resistance from the influential building industry and a public still willing to gamble that the big one will never hit, he said.
"It's good for the tax base" to allow developers to put up buildings on the coastline, Mayfield said in explaining politicians' reluctance to deter housing projects that expose residents to storm risks.
"I don't want the builders to get mad at me," he said, "but the building industry strongly opposes improvement in building codes."
Consumers also have yet to demand sturdier construction, Mayfield added. A builder gets a better return on investment in upgraded carpet and appliances than for safety features above and beyond most states' minimal requirements, he said.
As a senior civil servant, Mayfield was prohibited from making job inquiries in the private sector while still in the government's employ. But he said on Tuesday, his last day in office, that he hoped to launch a second career as a consultant in emergency planning and disaster response. He has particular interest in a potential public-private initiative to mine natural disaster scenes for their educational value.
He envisions a natural disaster assessment service like the National Transportation Safety Board, which probes the causes and consequences of aviation and other transport accidents.
"If the NTSB finds some structural problem is the cause of an air crash, you would never see that plane continue to be built with the same problems," he said.
With natural disasters, though, the same mistakes that put lives at risk are repeated year after year in unsafe construction and inadequate planning, he said.
Mayfield said he also was pondering collaboration with advocates of tougher building standards and land use rules.
"It's not just about the forecasting. Whatever I do, I want to help change the outcome," he said, conceding frustration with persistent public
disregard of federal and local government campaigns to boost hurricane awareness and preparation.
Even after the devastating hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005, he said, fewer than 50% of those living in storm-prone areas have a hurricane
evacuation plan.
While he has been critical of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's response to Katrina's devastation of New Orleans, he warns against depending on the federal government after natural disasters. He was dismayed to see
federal agencies handing out water and ice in South Florida after Hurricane Wilma hit in October 2005, when stores were open and tap water was usable.
"You don't want the federal government to be your first-responders," he said. "The government can't do everything for people and it shouldn't, or
else you create a culture of dependence."
Mayfield praises the Florida state government for its well-oiled disaster-response program and steps toward improving building safety, in contrast with other states along the Gulf of Mexico that he says still have no statewide building standards.
Though Mayfield's name and face recognition are the envy of some presidential hopefuls, he laughs out loud at the notion of running for office.
"Oh, good gosh, no! That is just not my thing," he says.
At the hurricane center on the Florida International University campus, Mayfield will be succeeded by Bill Proenza, the National Weather Service's
director for the Southern region. Home to 77 million, the region has "the most active and severe weather in the world," according to the weather
service's parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Proenza, 62, began his meteorological career at the Miami office as an intern in 1963. As director of 50 regional offices and 1,000 employees in
the Southern region for the last eight years, he has long experience collaborating with the hurricane center staff on forecasts and tracking.
"That's why I don't have any problem walking out the door," said Mayfield, declaring himself fearful that the mild 2006 hurricane season left those in
the storm zone ever more complacent.

  By David Perlman
  San Francisco Chronicle
  Friday, August 11, 2006
The vast ice cap that covers Greenland nearly three miles thick is melting faster than ever before on record, and the pace is speeding year by year, according to global climate watchers gathering data from twin satellites that probe the effects of warming on the huge northern island.

The consequence is already evident in a small but ominous rise in sea levels around the world, a pace that is also accelerating, the scientists say.

According to the scientists' data, Greenland's ice is melting at a rate
three times faster than it was only five years ago. The estimate of the melting trend that has been observed for nearly a decade comes from a University of Texas team monitoring a satellite mission that measures changes in the Earth's gravity over the entire Greenland ice cap as the ice melts and the water flows down into the Arctic ocean.

"We have only been watching the ice cap melt during a relatively short period," physicist Jianli Chen said Thursday, "but we are seeing the strongest evidence of it yet, and in the near future the pace of melting will accelerate even more."

The same satellites tracking Greenland's ice cap also are monitoring the melt rate of Antarctica's ice cover, and there too the melting is adding to the global rise in sea level, according to another team of scientists.

Next to Antarctica, Greenland, a self-governing Danish territory, is the largest reservoir of fresh water on Earth and holds about 10 percent of the world's supply. The increasing flow of fresh water -- most of it from glaciers melting on Greenland's eastern coast -- is already beginning to change the composition of the ocean's salt water currents flowing past Northwestern Europe, the scientists say.

The result could be a critical change in the composition of the main ocean current that flows past Europe's northern edge, blocking off warmer waters that normally flow there and -- ironically -- making Northern Europe's weather colder than normal, at least temporarily, while the rest of the globe continues warming.

The report on Greenland is being published today in the on-line edition of the journal Science by the University of Texas scientists at Austin, including Chen, aerospace engineer Byron Tapley and geologist Clark Wilson.

According to the researchers, surface melting of Greenland's ice cap reached 57 cubic miles a year between April of 2002 and November of 2005, compared to about 19 cubic miles a year between 1997 and 2003.

"The sobering thing is to see that the whole process of glacial melting is stepping up much more rapidly than before," said Tapley in a statement.

If the Greenland ice cap ever melted completely -- a highly unlikely event, at least in the foreseeable future -- the scientists estimate it would raise world's sea level by an average of 6.5 meters, or about 21 feet, more than enough to drown all the world's low-lying islands and even some entire nations, like Holland.

The possibility of future sea level rises becomes even more evident when Antarctica's huge ice sheets are considered.

Only last March two University of Colorado physicists used the same satellite system to measure melting of ice on the Antarctic continent. Although earlier evidence using other techniques appeared to show that the East Antarctica ice sheet was actually thickening, satellite data gathered by Isabella Velicogna and John Wahr at Boulder found that melting -- primarily from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet -- had turned at least 36 cubic miles of ice to fresh water each year from 2002 to 2005.

A recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- known as the IPCC -- estimated that during all of the past century worldwide melting ice from global warming had raised sea levels by only two-tenths of a millimeter a year, or about 20 inches for the entire century.

But, according to Chen and his Texas team, the melting of Greenland's ice cap is already raising global sea levels by six-tenths of a millimeter each year, and the Colorado group estimates that melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet alone is adding up to four-tenths of a millimeter of fresh water to sea levels each year. In other words, the global sea level, due to melting of the ice in Greenland and Antarctica combined, is already rising 10 times faster than the IPPC's tentative estimates, the two analyses indicate.

Both the Texas and Colorado groups have been obtaining their data from two satellites known as GRACE, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, which fly in orbit 137 miles apart and determine with extraordinary accuracy just how the mass of even small regions of the Earth change as ice melts and flows away from the land to the sea.

The GRACE satellite mission is due to end next year, but the Texas team is awaiting NASA approval for a new and improved satellite system to continue the work, using laser beams rather than microwaves to measure ice cap melting, Chen said.

In a recent summary of the ice cap melting problem and its effect on sea levels reported by Richard Kerr in Science, geoscientist Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton said, "The time scale for future loss of most of an ice sheet may not be millennia," as glacier models have suggested, "but centuries."


By John Roach
National Geographic News
August 10, 2006

The Greenland ice sheet is melting three times faster today than it was five years ago, according to a new study.

The finding adds to evidence of increased global warming in recent years and indicates that melting polar ice sheets are pushing sea levels higher, the authors report.

According to the study, Greenland ice loss now amounts to more than 48 cubic miles (200 cubic kilometers) each year.

"Significant melting has a significant impact on sea level rise," said Jianli Chen, a research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin wholed the study.
The finding, reported today by the online edition of the journal Science, closely agrees  with another study on the rapid wasting of Greenland's glaciers published in the journal in February.

Both studies suggest the shrinking ice sheet now contributes about 0.02 inch (0.5 millimeter) a year to global sea level rise.

"That's a very big number," Chen said.

Losses and Gains

Global sea levels have risen by about 0.1 inch (2.8 millimeters) a year over the past decade.

If all the ice on Greenland were to melt into the North Atlantic Ocean, global sea levels would rise by about 21.3 feet (6.5 meters).

Thus scientists are keen to understand if the Danish-owned Arctic island (Greenland map) is losing more ice mass through melting and discharge of glaciers than it is gaining from fresh snowfall.

Richard Alley is a glaciologist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park who was not involved with the study.

He says the new study fits well with other recent studies showing a Greenland meltdown.

"It really does appear that the ice sheet is losing mass," he said in an email.

"Looking at the history of these measurements, the ice sheet was probably near balance a couple of decades ago and has begun shrinking recently," he continued.

"This parallels recent warming."

Full of GRACE

The new study is based on an analysis of gravity measurements collected by a pair of twin wedge-shaped satellites that orbit the Earth in tandem.

The satellites are part of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), which was launched in March 2002 and is run by a team of experts in the U.S. and Germany.

GRACE measures landmass based on its gravitational pull. The denser a region is, the stronger its pull and the faster the satellites will move above it.

The satellites are separated by a distance of 137 miles (220 kilometers) when they are in stable orbit. As the front satellite crosses over an area of strong gravity, it speeds up, increasing the distance between the two   satellites.

"Any tiny change in the distance can be used to infer the surface mass change,"  Chen said.

Liquid water is generally denser than ice and so has a stronger gravitational pull.

Chen and his University of Texas colleagues analyzed the gravity measurements over Greenland between April 2002 and November 2005, separating the mass change from other signals.

The team found that Greenland is now losing between 52 and 63 cubic miles (216 and 262 cubic kilometers) of ice mass each year.

The current wasting is about three times the rate gleaned from an earlier study of the first two years of GRACE data.

Jay Zwally is a glaciologist with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

He agrees that Greenland ice loss has accelerated in recent years.

But based on he and his colleagues' unpublished analysis of the latest GRACE data, he believes the current ice loss rate is less than half what Chen's team reports.

Nevertheless, he says, Greenland does appear to be losing more ice mass than it gains.

"I would say Greenland now is beginning to contribute significantly to sea level rise," Zwally said. "There's been a significant change in a relatively short period of time."

As methods for analyzing GRACE data are refined and combined with other techniques, scientists will reach agreement over just how quickly the continent is wasting away, Zwally adds.

Historical Perspective

GRACE has only been orbiting Earth for three and a half years, not long enough to determine if the increase in melting is due to global warming or natural variability, the University of Texas's Chen says.

Longer term trends, and confidence in data interpretation, must wait until several more years of data are collected, he says.

According to Alley, the Pennsylvania State glaciologist, increasing snowfall, increasing melting, and increasing flow of glaciers into the ocean are all expected to result from global warming.

Historical analyses indicate that Greenland shrank when changes in Earth's orbit gave more summer sunshine to the island a few thousand years ago and about 130,000 years ago, he says.

"History and physics and recent observations tie warming to ice shrinkage,"
he said.

And projections of future climate change indicate continued warming over Greenland if greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked.

"So shrinkage seems likely," Alley said.



July 29, 2006, 2:15AM: Killer heat waves here to stay, global warming researchers say.  Phenomenon not solely to blame but is contributing to the deadly trend

In Fresno, Calif., the morgue is full of victims from a California heat wave. A combination of heat and power outages killed a dozen people in Missouri. And in parts of Europe, temperatures are hotter than in 2003 when a heat wave killed 35,000.

Get used to it.

•For the next week, much of the nation should expect more "extreme heat," the National Weather Service predicts.
•In the month of August, most of the United States will see "above normal temperatures," forecasters say.
•For the long term, the world will see more and worse killer heat waves because of global warming, scientists say.
The July burst of killer heat waves around the world can't be specifically blamed on global warming.

A persistent high-pressure system in the upper atmosphere prevents cooler jetstream air from making it into the West, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dennis Feltgen.

"You can't tie global warming into one single event," he said.

But global warming has made the nights warmer in general and the days drier, which help turn merely uncomfortably hot days into killer heat waves, said Kevin Trenberth, climate-analysis branch chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

Much of global warming science concentrates on average monthly and yearly temperatures, but studies in the past five years show that climate change is at its most dangerous during extreme events, such as high temperatures, droughts and flooding, he said.

"These (heat) events always occur. What global warming does is push it up another notch," Trenberth said.

And the computer models show that soon, we'll get many more — and hotter — heat waves that will leave the old Dust Bowl records of the 1930s in the dust, said Ken Kunkel, director of the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the Illinois State Water Survey.

The way to really judge will be when scientists look back a decade from now, not at a single heat wave but at the frequency and extremes of all of them, said Mike Wallace, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington. That's when scientists likely will see a statistically significant increase in heat waves and their severity, he said. In fact, he said, that can be seen a bit now.

In the past 25 years, most of the world has seen summer nights getting much warmer with far less evening heat relief, according to a study published earlier this year in the peer-reviewed Journal of Geophysical Research.

George Luber, an epidemiologist who studies heat-wave deaths for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the situation is on track to be "the most active one that I can recall" in terms of heat deaths.

A new analysis by Luber this week shows that between 1999 and 2003, the United States averaged nearly 900 heat-related deaths each year. This year, with 132 reported in central California alone, could be worse, he said.

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