Category Archives: EARTH WATCH

Global Living Planet Index


By Tom Randall – If animals were stocks, the market would be crashing.

To say the index of animals is underperforming humans is an understatement. More than half of the world’s vertebrates have disappeared between 1970 and 2010.

Humans are currently drawing more from natural resources than the Earth is able to provide. It would take about 1.5 planet Earths to meet the present-day demands that humanity currently makes on nature, according to the WWF (pdf).

If all the people of the world had the same lifestyle as the typical American, 3.9 planet Earths would be needed to keep up with demand. more> http://tinyurl.com/mdb9wjg

Afghanistan’s Failed Transformation


By Ahmed Rashid – John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, apparently is the only official in Washington who dares speak truth to power.

In a Sept. 12 speech at Georgetown University, he said that Afghanistan “remains under assault by insurgents and is short of domestic revenue, plagued by corruption, afflicted by criminal elements involved in opium and smuggling, and struggling to execute basic functions of government.”

His comments were largely ignored by the American media.

And yet anything less than a heavy dose of honesty and fresh thinking by Afghans and their Western supporters will almost certainly mean the relapse of Afghanistan into civil war and the emergence of groups even more extreme than the Taliban, as has happened in Iraq and Syria. more> http://tinyurl.com/qz7uuwb

Views from the Solar System (226)


Florida to Louisiana Viewed From the International Space Station

NASA – NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman captured this image of Florida to Louisiana just before dawn, taken from the International Space Station, and posted it to social media on Friday, Sept. 12. Wiseman, Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst began their first full workweek Monday as a three-person crew aboard the space station, while the three additional flight engineers who will round out the Expedition 41 crew spent the day training for next week’s launch to the orbiting complex.

Views from the Solar System (225)


Flying Through an Aurora

NASA – European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst posted this photograph taken from the International Space Station to social media on Aug. 29, 2014, writing, “words can’t describe how it feels flying through an #aurora. I wouldn’t even know where to begin….”

Crewmembers on the space station photograph the Earth from their unique point of view located 200 miles above the surface. Photographs record how the planet is changing over time, from human-caused changes like urban growth and reservoir construction, to natural dynamic events such as hurricanes, floods and volcanic eruptions. Crewmembers have been photographing Earth from space since the early Mercury missions beginning in 1961. The continuous images taken from the space station ensure this record remains unbroken.

On Tuesday, Sept. 9 aboard the space station, cosmonaut Max Suraev of Roscosmos takes the helm when Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson hands over control during a Change of Command Ceremony at 5:15 p.m. EDT. Suraev will lead Expedition 41 and stay in orbit until November with Gerst and NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman. Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov, Swanson and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev will complete their mission Wednesday, Sept. 10 at 7:01 p.m. when they undock in their Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft from the Poisk docking compartment for a parachute-assisted landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan a little less than 3.5 hours later.

Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Alexander Gerst

Obama is picking his targets in Iraq and Syria while missing the point


By Andrew J. Bacevich – Destroying what Obama calls the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant won’t create an effective and legitimate Iraqi state.

It won’t restore the possibility of a democratic Egypt.

It won’t dissuade Saudi Arabia from funding jihadists.

It won’t pull Libya back from the brink of anarchy.

It won’t end the Syrian civil war.

It won’t bring peace and harmony to Somalia and Yemen.

It won’t persuade the Taliban to lay down their arms in Afghanistan.

It won’t end the perpetual crisis of Pakistan.

It certainly won’t resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. more> http://tinyurl.com/qyp4ya7

Related>

As the seas rise, a slow-motion disaster gnaws at America’s shores


By Ryan McNeill, Deborah J. Nelson and Duff Wilson – Since 2001, water has reached flood levels an average of 20 days or more a year in Annapolis, Maryland; Wilmington, North Carolina; Washington, D.C.; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Sandy Hook, New Jersey; and Charleston, South Carolina.

Before 1971, none of these locations averaged more than five days a year.

Annapolis had the highest average number of days a year above flood threshold since 2001, at 34. On the Delmarva Peninsula, the annual average tripled to 18 days at the Lewes, Delaware, tide gauge.

“In the U.S., you have best data set on what’s happening in the world, and yet it’s not used in public policy,” said Robert Nicholls, professor of coastal engineering at the University of Southampton in England. more> http://tinyurl.com/kqqojj4

Views from the Solar System (224)


An Astronaut’s View from Space

NASA – NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman tweeted this photo from the International Space Station on Tuesday morning, Sept. 2, 2014. “My favorite views from – just past over the ocean,” the Expedition 40 astronaut tweeted.

The Expedition 40 crew has been busy aboard the Space Station, recently performing health checks and humanoid robot upgrades. In the meantime, a trio of orbital residents is packing up gear as they prepare to return home in less than two weeks. Commander Steve Swanson powered down and stowed Robonaut 2 after wrapping up its mobility upgrades this week. He installed new legs on the humanoid robot including external and internal gear as well as cables. This sets the stage for more upgrades in the fall before Robonaut takes its first steps as an assistant crew member. Robonaut was designed to enhance crew productivity and safety while also aiding people on Earth with physical disabilities.

Image Credit: NASA/Reid Wiseman (@astro_reid)