latest report card on the health of the planet

Hong Kong (CNN) — From high above the earth, an astronaut launched the latest report card on the health of the planet which once again paints an alarming image of over-consumption and exploitation.

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In a recorded message, Andre Kuipers, an astronaut with the European Space Agency on his second mission to the International Space Station, said he had a unique view of the earth which he orbits 16 times a day.

“From space, you see the forest fires, you see the air pollution, you see erosion,” he said, launching the World Wildlife Fund‘s Living Planet Report for 2012.

The biennial survey shows the world is still consuming far more than the Earth can replenish, along with a widening and “potentially catastrophic” gap between the ecological footprints of rich and poor nations.

Italian astronaut, Paolo Nespoli captured a series of remarkable images of Earth during a six-month stay on the International Space Station.

An astronaut's view of Earth

An astronaut’s view of Earth

An astronaut’s view of Earth

“The report is clear that we’re still going downhill, that our ecological footprint, the pressure we put on the earth’s resources, continues to rise so we’re now using 50% more resources that the earth can replenish and biodiversity continues to decline,” said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International.

The report includes a list of the world’s top 10 polluting countries topped by Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East. They’re followed by Denmark, Belgium and the United States. Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and Ireland make up the remainder.

Countries are ranked on their consumption of renewable resources versus their biocapacity, or ability to produce renewable resources and absorb CO2 emissions. Dominating the list are high-income countries, whose average ecological footprint is now five times that of low-income nations.

And the gap is increasing. Between 1970 and 2008, the ecological footprint of high-income nations rose seven percent, the report said. Over that period, the same index for poor countries tumbled 60%.

The disparity indicates richer nations are buying resources from poorer countries which have natural resources available to exploit, the report said.

“What one of the things that we as a global community have been slow to realize is that even in an industrialized economy will still demand very directly on the health of natural systems to provide the water we drink and to keep the climate stable,” said Leape.

“As you see forest loss continue, as you see the depletion of rivers, you are undercutting the foundation for economic development in those countries,” he said.

Leape said there are signs some large business and governments are taking steps to reduce their burden on the environment. Denmark, for example, number four on the list of worst polluters, has pledged to double the nation’s windpower and to wean itself off fossil fuels by 2050.

Top 10 polluting countries:

  1. Qatar
  2. Kuwait
  3. United Arab Emirates
  4. Denmark
  5. Belgium
  6. United States
  7. Australia
  8. Canada
  9. Netherlands
  10. Ireland

“What you see now is companies and governments who are on the vanguard beginning to make shifts but those shifts have to be driven down into entire markets and across all governments. We’re not yet getting to the scale required to begin to bend the curves,” said Leape.

The impact of rich nations worldwide is clear in figures showing that the steepest drop in biodiversity over the past 40 years has occurred in poorer countries. The decline, the report said, demonstrates “how the poorest and most vulnerable nations are subsidizing the lifestyles of wealthier nations.”

“Growing external resource dependencies are putting countries at significant risk,” said Mathis Wackernagel, President of Global Footprint Network, which collaborated with the WWF and the Zoological Society of London on the report.

“Using ever more nature, while having less is a dangerous strategy, yet most countries continue to pursue this path,” he said.

The main feature of the Living Planet Report is the Living Planet Index which tracks the health of the world’s ecosystems by monitoring 9,000 populations of more than 2,600 species.

It shows a near 30% drop in biodiversity since 1970, and an even faster decline in the tropics of 60%. However, the index for temperate regions rose 31%, as some species showed signs of recovery after huge biodiversity losses the previous century.

“The read down on the temperate zone masks much more precipitous declines in other parts of the world. You see a huge loss of biodiversity across the tropics and in the poorest countries and I think that’s the most alarming fact in those indices,” said Leape.

The report was released just five weeks before the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, otherwise known as Rio +20.

“We need to see real leadership from the governments of the world coming together to commit themselves to step up to this challenge,” said Leape.

“They can take some decisions in Rio that really would make a difference in terms of setting a new course for the global economy.”

Solar flare- waves of plasma and charged particles reach Earth

Solar flare sent plasma and charged particles toward Earth

A big flash in the sun’s surface, agitated by the storm season, sent waves of plasma and charged particles

Solar flare sent plasma and charged particles toward Earth

Solar Flare headed to earth

WASHINGTON, March 5. – A powerful flash in the sun’s surface, stirred by periodic storm season, sent waves of plasma and charged particles reach Earth, said the Space Climate Prediction Center (SWPC, for its acronym in English).

The SWPC, operated by the National Weather Service said the flash X1.1 class, the most powerful solar flare, occurred at 04.13 GMT on Monday.

It is expected that the shock wave plasma and solar particles reach the Earth in two or three days and possibly increase the Northern Lights.

Solar flares affect the Earth’s magnetic field and whose waves have forced move some commercial aircraft flying over the poles whose path will continue to intensify, experts say.

The sun goes through regular cycles of activity and every 11 years or so the activity intensifies and storms occur sometimes deform and even cross the Earth’s magnetic field.

Experts have noted that the current storm season is the strongest recorded since September 2005 and, that causes unique visual effects like the aurora borealis, also it affects aircraft.communications and other.

This also implies the electricity transmission networks, radio communications and satellite systems, although NASA has said that the astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are not compromised.

In January, scientists detected two flashes in the course of four days followed by shock waves of billions of tons of plasma traveling at about 8 million miles per hour.

Wave caused by the second of the two flashes reached Earth about 34 hours after the flash, instead of two or more days that usually takes for this displacement.

Radiation wave from Sun-Flare hits Earth

Radiation hits earth January 23rd

Radiation wave from Sun-Flare hits Earth

Radiation wave from Sun-Flare hits Earth

NASA recorded the largest solar flare in six years and it is anticipated that the process will take until the middle of the week


WASHINGTON, January 23 .- The sun is bombarding the Earth with radiation from the largest solar flare in more than six years and anticipates that it will continue until mid-week.

The solar flare occurred at about 0400 GMT on Monday and the radiation is affecting our planet with three different effects at three different times, said Prediction Center Space Weather National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Radiation affects all satellites and astronauts in space. Communication can cause problems to aircraft in flight recorders, a physicist at the Center said Doug Biesecker.

Radiation Sunday’s storm arrived at Earth an hour later and will probably continue until Wednesday. The levels are considered severe, but there have been other storms stronger. It is the most intense radiation from about May 2005.

The radiation-in the form of protons, arrives from the sun 150 million kilometers (93 million miles) per hour.

“The entire volume of space between here and Jupiter is filled with protons and one of them is not released just like that,” said Biesecker. That is why the effects will last a couple of days.

Surgeons solar space and NASA experts studied the possible effects and determined that the six astronauts in the International Space Station in orbit need not do anything to protect against radiation, said spokesman Rob Navias.

The solar flare is followed by three movements, said Antti Pulkkinen, a physicist at NASA in Maryland and Catholic University.

First there is electromagnetic radiation. After the protons are emitted. Finally it is clear the plasma of the solar surface, which usually travels at 1.6 to 3.2 million kilometers (1 to 2 million miles) per hour, but this storm is particularly fast and fires 6.4 million km (4 million miles) per hour, said Biesecker.

Is the plasma that causes many of the problems on Earth, such as power failure. A 1989 solar storm caused a massive blackout in Quebec.

This detachment is likely to be moderate, although the possibility of intensified, he said!