Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Iranian Navy receives stealth-capable submarine - national TV

Iranian Navy receives stealth-capable submarine - national TV

28/ 11/ 2007

TEHRAN, November 28 (RIA Novosti) - Iran's Navy commissioned Wednesday a domestically designed and produced light submarine featuring extended stealth capability and strong firepower, state television reported.
The submarine, dubbed Ghadir, is reportedly fitted with noise-reduction features and is capable of firing missiles and torpedoes simultaneously.
"This submarine is equipped with advanced weapons and electronics systems. It has been developed in the last decade by [Iranian] scientists and engineers," a TV program quoted Navy commander, Admiral Habib Sayyari, as saying.
The admiral also said the Navy commissioned a destroyer and a missile boat.
According to various intelligence reports, Iran has been spending a considerable share of its defense budget on modernizing its naval forces over the last decade.
"The Iranian Navy - surface ships, submarines and naval bases - is equipped with all the necessary modern weaponry, including missiles," Sayyari said. "Their [the missiles] range is sufficient to protect effectively our southern flank in the Persian Gulf."
In a separate development, Iran, which received no invitation to the Mideast peace conference in Annapolis, announced on Tuesday that it had produced a ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles). The missile's range would allow it to reach Israel, as well as United States military bases in the Middle East.

Russia to sell advanced air defense systems to Iran - 2

Russia to sell advanced air defense systems to Iran - 2

26/ 12/ 2007

(Adds Russian official's quote, details on Tor-M1 crew training in paras 13-14)
TEHRAN, December 26 (RIA Novosti) - Iran signed a contract with Russia on Tuesday for the delivery of advanced S-300 air defense missile systems to the Islamic Republic, an Iranian news agency reported on Wednesday.
An advanced version of the S-300 missile system, called S-300PMU1 (SA-20 Gargoyle), has a range of over 150 kilometers (about 100 miles) and can intercept ballistic missiles and aircraft at low and high altitudes, making this system an effective tool for warding off possible air strikes on Iran.
"S-300 air defense systems will be delivered to Iran under an earlier contract signed with Russia," the Fars news agency quoted Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar as saying.
The minister provided no contract details or a schedule for future deliveries, Fars said.
The signing of the deal follows last week's session of the Russian-Iranian commission on military-technical cooperation in Tehran, where the sides reviewed existing agreements and discussed future steps to extend cooperation in the military sphere.
The closest western equivalent of the S-300 is the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot system or the U.S. Navy RIM-66 Standard Missile 2 (SM-2).
U.S. authorities have repeatedly called on Russia to stop arms deliveries to countries whose political regimes Washington disapproves of, including Iran.
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in October that Russia would not take into consideration attempts to impose arms deal restrictions "based on unilateral and politicized assessments".
He also said deliveries of Russian weapons were aimed exclusively at increasing the defense capability of the countries receiving them, and at maintaining their stability.
Russia earlier supplied Iran with 29 Tor-M1 air defense systems under a $700-million contract signed in late 2005.
In February, Tehran successfully tested Tor-M1s during a military exercise by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in southern Iran.
The Iranian defense minister said on Wednesday that during last week's meeting Russian and Iranian officials discussed the possibility of using Russian experts to train the crews of Iranian Tor-M1 systems in the Islamic Republic.
Meanwhile, a senior Russian military official said that dozens of Iranian Tor-M1 specialists, including radar operators and crew commanders had already completed training in Russia in 2006 and 2007.
"They [the Iranians] have successfully completed the training program and returned home," said Colonel General Nikolai Frolov, commander of the Ground Forces' air defense.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

XDR-TB is taking its toll on patients

XDR-TB is taking its toll on patients
14 November 2007, 09:23
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By Louise FlanaganSouth Africa has identified 481 extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis patients so far - and nearly half have died.Statistics from the Department of Health show that 216 XDR-TB patients died by the end of last month, while almost 90 percent of the survivors - 235 - were in hospital. The department recorded just five patients who defaulted on treatment and three more who had not started treatment.Gauteng has seen 37 patients, or 8 percent of the total. Of these, 11 have died and 20 are being treated in hospitals.The biggest caseload is in KwaZulu Natal, the province where the disease was first identified in early 2005. It has seen 188 cases, or 39 percent of the country's total.The Eastern Cape has the second-highest burden, with 157 patients (33 percent), followed by the Western Cape with 64 (13 percent) and then Gauteng.The department said the statistics reflected only true XDR-TB cases.XDR-TB is TB which is resistant to the two first-line drugs used against TB plus at least two of the six main classes of second-line drugs.The Health Ministry emphasised yesterday that all confirmed XDR-TB patients would be admitted to multi-drug-resistant TB units until they tested negative, which usually took at least six months.
This article was originally published on page 2 of The Star on November 14, 2007

Why quarantine may backfire

Why quarantine may backfire
Created: Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Recently a patient was shot and a guard stabbed when XDR-TB patients were protesting at the Sizwe hospital in Edenvale. According to reports the patients were unhappy with some of the medicines they were receiving and wanted passes allowing them to leave the hospital.

AdvertisementThe incident illustrates some of the difficulties regarding enforced isolation of XDR-TB patients and is symbolic of what some critics consider to be the department of health's harsh response to the threat posed by XDR-TB.In fact, at some sessions at last week's 38th Union World Conference on Lung Health the general feeling seemed to be that forced isolation is not the most effective way to face the threat of XDR-TB.
According to Nathan Geffen, spokesperson for the Treatment Action Campaign,incarceration is a bad idea for various reasons, which he lists as follows:
It is at hospitals and clinics that most XDR infections are taking place.
It can never be done on a scale that would make a significant difference to the epidemic.
It scares people off getting screened for TB and therefore might have a very deleterious effect on managing the epidemic.
People who get locked up without having committed a crime realise their human rights are being breached. Sometimes they riot, as happened at Sizwe hospital. It's particularly cruel to incarcerate people with fatal diseases for six months or more, especially children.
In a statement on the issue, the South African Medical Research Council warns that, "Public anxiety coupled with the risk that XDR-TB may rise to epidemic levels in SA is putting increased pressure on government and public health authorities for quarantine of patients and coercive measures to curtail the spread of XDR-TB. The dual stigma associated with TB and HIV, now compounded by XDR-TB, poses a real risk of driving the XDR-TB problem underground, especially if isolation measures are coercive. This is a situation that SA can ill afford."
Perspective on the diseaseAccording to Judy Seidman, writing in the Mail and Guardian, quarantine of actively infectious people forms a standard part of the medical response to drug-resistant TB. The emphasis here is very strongly on "actively infectious."
She points out that, "many people with TB (and even XDR-TB) are not infectious. Patients who do not cough do not spread infection through the air. Patients who respond to treatment are no longer infectious after the drugs take effect. Patients need to be quarantined only until the drugs start to work - for days, not weeks or months."
On a similar note, much of the societal concern with drug-resistant forms of TB seems to be based on misconceptions regarding the disease.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), drug-resistant forms of TB are not more infectious than strains that are not drug resistant. In fact since they are less prevalent, the risk of being infected is much lower.
According to the WHO, "the majority of healthy people with normal immunity may never become ill with TB, unless they are heavily exposed to infectious cases who are not treated or who have been on treatment for less than about one week. Even then, 90% of people infected with TB bacteria never develop TB disease. This applies to XDR-TB as well as to ‘ordinary’ TB."
Why HIV ups the riskThus, unless your immunity is compromised and you are in relatively close contact with an infected person in a closed space, the risk of infection is very low. This is why there is a particularly high risk of drug-resistant forms of TB spreading in hospitals. The compromised immunity is also what places HIV-infected people at a higher risk.
The WHO writes that, "People with HIV infection, however, in close contact with a TB patient, are more likely to catch TB and fall ill. The TB patients whom they meet should be encouraged to follow good cough hygiene, for example, covering their mouths with a handkerchief when they cough, or even, in the early stages of treatment, using a surgical mask, especially in closed environments with poor ventilation."
The way forwardVoices at the conference generally seemed to be in favour of a decentralised, community-based model in the fight against drug-resistant TB.
According to Geffen, "What we've got to do is improve infection control in health facilities."
"XDR patients should be educated on infection control measures (e.g. cough etiquette, maybe wearing masks and a few other simple measures) that can reduce the risk of them passing on the disease," he said.
Government not budgingThe department of health, however, seems very much to be keeping the focus on the isolation of infected persons.
Presenting South Africa's new plan to fight TB at last week's conference, the director general of the department of health, Thami Mseleku, said the department is looking for ways to make it easier to commit people with drug-resistant tuberculosis to treatment facilities against their will.
Until now, health authorities had to get a high court order every time they wanted to commit someone who posed a danger to the community.
"We're still exploring the alternatives," he said. The department was looking for clauses in existing legislation that would allow "a general approach to the matter".
On the legality of enforced isolation, the MRC writes that, "current health legislation in SA empowers authorities to detain patients with infectious diseases until the disease no longer poses a public health threat, thereby allowing quarantine restrictions to be enforced for a limited period. Herein lies the dilemma: many XDR-TB patients may have untreatable disease and confinement would have to be until death or, conceivably, could be indefinite. From a human rights perspective prolonged isolation could, without sufficient procedural safeguards, violate several SA Constitutional rights and international human rights law."
According to Seidman, the media's response, like that of the government, has been rather one-dimensional. She writes, " These articles present arguments saying we should protect ourselves by harsh “control” of sick people, even where this negates their human -- and constitutionally guaranteed -- rights. This theme has become our most common response to XDR-TB."
False sense of securityIn the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers write that, "excessive reliance on compulsory measures can lull the public into a false sense of security and at the same time prompt people who are at risk to do exactly what Speaker did — run." (Andrew Speaker is an American man who fled from authorities after being diagnosed with drug-resistant TB.)
They continue writing that, "fortunately, most persons infected with tuberculosis want treatment and have no desire to infect others. When clinicians and health officials work with patients and have their trust, most will co-operate. By ensuring that coercion is used only when less restrictive alternatives will not work and with due regard for the rights of those detained, the law can foster public trust, minimizing the need for compulsion and laying the groundwork for the comprehensive and costly control programs needed to prevent the spread of XDR tuberculosis and other contagious pathogens."
- (Marcus Low, Health24)

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Struggling with soaring cereal prices

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Struggling with soaring cereal prices
Photo: IRIN
Bread is not on the menuJOHANNESBURG, 12 October 2007 (IRIN) - Record high wheat prices globally are forcing consumers in Southern Africa to dig deeper into their pockets: the price of bread has almost doubled since the beginning of the year, and according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), have already caused food riots in some parts of the world.Wheat and maize prices have been at their highest in the past few months: the price of yellow maize doubled from an average of US$88 per metric tonne (mt) in 2000 to $177 per mt in February 2007, while the price of wheat rose from an average of $119 per mt in 2000 to $277 per mt in August 2007. The combination of higher export prices and soaring freight rates has pushed up domestic prices of bread and other basic foodstuffs in importing developing countries, hitting the group of Low-Income Food-Deficit countries particularly hard, said Paul Racionzer, of the FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System. A drop in production has been reported in major exporting countries – which are also among the leading stockholders – notably the United States, where stocks are forecast to sink to a 10-year low of 11 million mt, as well as in Australia, Canada and the European Union (EU), said the FAO's Crop Prospects and Food Situation report for October. "Among other countries, sharply smaller stocks are forecast for Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, and nearly all major wheat producing countries in the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States]." Racionzer said lower wheat production in major exporting countries was expected to result in a drawdown of at least 14 million mt in world inventories to 143 million mt, the lowest in 25 years. Consequently, the price of wheat has shot up to an all-time high of $343 per mt, compared to $208 per mt at the same time in 2006. "Those high prices have spilled over to other markets, impacting on the prices of most other cereals," he commented. "Higher grain prices are wearing through the food chain, increasing the cost of many basic food items, which has already led to social unrest in some countries such as Uzbekistan, Yemen and Morocco." Drought-hit Southern African countries are net importers of wheat, and in Namibia and Botswana the price of bread has almost doubled since January. But the FAO is particularly concerned over the impact of high wheat prices on Swaziland and Lesotho, which had their worst-ever harvest. "The cost of importing the wheat will put a huge strain on their economies," said James Breen, the FAO's Regional Emergency Agronomist.
Higher grain prices are wearing through the food chain, increasing the cost of many basic food items, which has already led to social unrest in some countries such as Uzbekistan, Yemen and Morocco Swaziland's annual cereal production this year was 22kg per head, while Lesotho produced 38kg per head, against an annual requirement of 180kg per head in both countries, according to the report on a joint FAO and World Food Programme crop and food supply assessment mission. Unable to access maizemeal, their staple food, the Swazis and the Basotho have had to buy bread, which has become at least 20 percent more expensive since the beginning of 2007. In South Africa the cost of wheat is 125 percent higher than it was in 2005, a local magazine, The Farmers' Weekly, pointed out. Phumzile Mdladla, who heads the Southern Africa office of the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS-NET), said the price of wheat had almost doubled, from $246 per mt in October 2006 to an average of $455 per mt last week, which was higher than the international price. Earlier in the year, political organisations in South Africa suggested fixing the price of bread, but this was ruled out by the government. "Food security has two legs, namely availability and affordability," said Jannie de Villiers, head of the South African Chamber of Baking, the national millers' association, who welcomed the government’s response. "The free market in agriculture has proven very successful in assuring the availability of food to all South Africans. We have, however, in the past ten years of deregulation experienced two cycles of very high food prices, which seriously impact on the affordability of food to especially the poor and vulnerable groups in our communities." The industry had not only had to contend with sharply higher wheat prices, but ever-increasing fuel costs. "The distribution cost constitutes almost a third of the total cost of baking and distributing bread," said de Villiers. "We are doing our utmost to delay passing on these huge spikes in our wheat and flour prices." The outlook According to the FAO's Racionzer, production could improve next year. "In the United States, conditions are generally favourable for fieldwork, and although planting has got off to a slower start than normal, early indications all point to the likelihood of a record area." Winter wheat crops for harvest in 2008 are already being planted.
Unable to access maizemeal, their staple food, the Swazis and the Basotho have had to buy bread, which has become at least 20 percent more expensive since the beginning of 2007 The EU has removed its 10 percent obligatory set-aside requirement for 2008, which could return up to an estimated three million hectares of arable land to production for the season, he added. Under the requirement, producers had to set aside a defined percentage of their declared areas to limit cereal production in the EU. In a press release in late September, the EU said removal of the set-aside should increase the 2008 cereals harvest by at least 10 million mt; intervention stocks have shrunk from 14 million mt at the beginning of 2006/07 to around one million mt at present. Racionzer said, "Early indications from the large producing areas in eastern Europe also suggest that farmers have intentions to plant larger wheat areas if weather and inputs allow." However, based on the latest forecasts for world production and utilisation in the FAO's latest Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, global cereal stocks, including wheat, are expected to stand at 420 million mt by the close of the seasons in 2008. This is unchanged from the reduced opening levels, and only three million mt above the 20-year low in 2004. "The food price situation is not going to improve any time soon," said the FAO's Breen

FEWS Southern Africa Food Security Outlook Oct 2007 - Mar 2008

FEWS Southern Africa Food Security Outlook Oct 2007 - Mar 2008
This report covers the period from 9/13/2007 to 10/30/2007
The FEWS NET Outlook for Southern Africa incorporates the findings from six country outlooks for the period October 2007 to March 2008. This outlook provides a basis for regional and global resource allocation and contingency planning, as well as in-country planning. This report summarizes the results of this process for Southern Africa, highlighting what FEWS NET believes are the major threats to food security in the period October 2007 to March 2008.
The most likely regional food security scenario between October 2007 and March 2008 is a continued decline in food security conditions in areas now facing moderate to high levels of food insecurity as noted above. The exception is Zimbabwe, where the situation as at end of September is expected to improve marginally between October and December, as the number of areas with high levels of food insecurity declines as a result of improvements in emergency interventions. The situation will however deteriorate again between January and March, during which the hunger season peaks, and more districts become moderately food insecure. This analysis takes into account the regional seasonal forecast which in general indicates a normal to above normal rainfall season for the period of the outlook.
The worst case scenario would arise if the assumptions under the most likely scenario do not hold, and instead, conditions deteriorate leading to extremely high levels of food insecurity, particularly in Zimbabwe and southern and central Mozambique, countries which face moderate to extreme food insecurity even in the most likely scenario. The situation would be further exacerbated if rainfall performance is poor with a delayed start and/or lengthy dry spells. Extreme levels of food insecurity will arise in parts southern Mozambique in the period October to December; while in Zimbabwe, most extreme levels would occur in the January to March 2008 period.
In Lesotho and Swaziland, where widespread food insecurity has been assessed, the situation is likely to be mitigated through on-going emergency interventions targeted at vulnerable households. However adequate assistance will depend on improvements in the responses to appeals for resources by governments and humanitarian agencies. Currently the UN appeals for emergency assistance are 18 percent funded in Swaziland, and 49 percent in Lesotho.

Uganda: Forecast for 2008 - Famine, Floods, Fear And Fighting

COLUMN21 September 2007Posted to the web 21 September 2007
Timothy Kalyegira
For most of the year since about February, something strange has come over Kampala. A city, usually warm and pleasant all year round, has taken on the chilly weather often associated with high altitude western Ugandan towns like Kabale and Fort Portal.
A few of us who enjoy sleeping nude can no longer do so. We are now experiencing the much-dreaded effects of the climate change, so long forewarned about.
At the beginning of August as the rainy season started, the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organisation, in a report, spoke optimistically about the prospects for a good food harvest in several countries of West Africa.
Sure enough the rain came. But this was not rain. It was something maniacal. When you start getting 12 inches of rain in a week, it becomes the worst of nightmares. In this case, they are worst nightmares in living memory for Africa.
The casual and often quoted remarks by some politicians from northern Uganda that should the National Resistance Movement government continue to neglect the north, it will break off and form a Nile Republic, appeared to inadvertently come to reality.
Vital bridges over rivers in Acholi and Teso have been destroyed by the greatest floods in more than 60 years, if not more. Access by road to many parts of the north has become impossible. By an act of nature, a Nile Republic virtually cut off from the rest of Uganda has been created.
The government this week declared a state of emergency. (The last time such a state was declared was in December 1969 over Buganda, in the aftermath of the attempted assassination of president Milton Obote.)
Take a look at a map and see the African countries that have most been affected by the current deluge of rain: Uganda, Mali, Rwanda, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Senegal, Chad, Ghana, Sudan, Kenya, Niger, Togo, the Gambia, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, and Mauritania.
By some strange coincidence, these are the same countries that are either in the grip of civil war, are on the verge of or in a delicate state in which civil war is always possible or live in the neighbourhood of centres of conflict.
Even away from my endless talk of a seer's predictions, more conventional sources speak much the same thing. In its annual review of the year 1984, Compton Encyclopedia stated: "In 1984 famine continued to threaten millions of Africans, particularly in the southern, eastern, and Sahelian regions of the continent....The drought damaged the economies of almost half of the continent's 51 countries and contributed to further reductions in food production."
It continues: "Forecasting the situation by 2008, the UN Economic Commission for Africa warned of 'unimaginable poverty and a proliferation of shanty town full of beggars, delinquents, and job-hunters engaged in a desperate struggle for survival.'" (Compton's Yearbook, 1985, page 5).
What does all this mean?
Already, a crisis that seldom makes front-page news has been creeping upon the world. It is the rising world food prices. As world oil prices have risen and the Middle East remained unstable, there has been a move away from fossil fuels like petroleum to increasing experimentation with fuel extracted from ethanol.
Most ethanol is taken from maize, wheat, and cow dung. Because of this, a large stock of world maize (or in American English, corn) production has been diverted to the production of ethanol.
So, the world has sought to fight high oil prices and the pollution of the earth's climate by turning to cereals --- which is now, most ironically, producing a new crisis, the shortage of food and increase in world food prices.
What are the costs of this?
In Africa, 18 countries (a third of the 53 countries) have seen their harvest devastated by massive flooding. Much of the world, from Asia to Europe and North America, has also experienced abnormal heavy rains and floods, with millions of acres of farm land destroyed.
After these massive rains will obviously come an extended period of drought and dry conditions. This means that in the next two years, even the World Food Programme will start finding it difficult to raise the emergency food it needs to help stricken areas.
Relevant Links
East Africa Climate Sustainable Development Uganda
Imagine a combination of a world food shortage, high and rising world food prices, extremes of weather that is either dust or floods, then world oil prices recently reaching new record highs of more than 83 US dollars a barrel (or drum).
To all this, add the civil wars gathering steam in or near the same 18 African countries that have been treated to a Biblical Noah-like floods and suddenly (if it had not yet occurred to you, 2008) starts looking like a year of disaster with no compare.
We are about to witness the social conditions portrayed in Charles Dickens' novels or depressing urban life, with millions of people reduced to a grim, animal-like existence.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


By Gary W. Harding
The relationship between humans and the state of the ecosystem is not only dependent upon how many people there are, but also upon what they do. When there were few people, the dominant factors controlling ecosystem state were the natural ones that have operated for millions of years. The human population has now grown so large that there are concerns that they have become a significant element in ecosystem dynamics. One of these concerns is the relationship between human activities and climate, particularly the recent observations and the predictions of global warming, beginning with the alarm sounded by W. Broecker (1975).
The relationships among humans, their activities and global temperature can be assessed by making the appropriate measurements and analyzing the data in a way that shows the connections and their magnitudes. Human population can be closely estimated and the consequences of their activities can be measured. For example, the volume of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions is an indicator of human's energy and resource consumption. An examination of population size, atmospheric concentrations of these gases and global temperature relative to time and with respect to each other is presented here to demonstrate the relations among these factors.
Many of us have seen linear graphs of human population showing the enormous growth in the last two centuries. However, significant changes in population dynamics are lost in the exponential growth and long time scales. If the data are replotted on a log-population by log-time scale, significant population dynamics emerge. First, it is apparent that population growth has occurred in three surges and second, that the time between surges has dramatically shortened (Deevey, 1960).
Figure 1. Population (Log-population verses log-time since 1 million years ago). Time values on x-axis, ignoring minus sign, are powers of 10 years before and after 1975 (at 0). Vertical dashed-line at 1995. Filled circles for known values are to left of 1995 and open circles on and to right of 1995 are for projected values. (Data updated from Deevey, 1960).
Deevey's 1960 graph has been brought up to date in Figure 1 to reflect what has been learned since then. The data have been plotted relative to 1975 with negative values before 1975 and positive values thereafter. The reason for this will become clear below. The values of the time scale, ignoring the minus signs, represent powers of 10 years.
It has been argued that a population crash occurred about 65,000 years ago (-4.8, Fig. 1), presumably due to the prolonged ice-ages during the preceding 120,000 years (Gibbons, 1993). Humans came close to perishing and Neanderthal became extinct. However, by 50,000 years ago (-4.6, Fig. 1), humans had generated population mini-explosions all around the planet. Deevey's data for population size since 500 years ago have been replaced with more recent estimates taken from The World Almanac, (1992 - 1995) including population projections out to 2025. A vertical dashed-line has been placed at 1995. Filled symbols for the known values are to the left of it and open symbols on and to the right of it are for values projected into the short-term future.
The first surge coincides with the beginning of the cultural revolution about 600,000 years ago, interrupted by the population crash 65,000 years ago. Population size rebounded 50,000 years ago and then growth slowed considerably. The second surge began with the agricultural revolution about 10,000 years ago and was followed by slow growth. Deevey argued that moving down the food chain was the underlying cause of this large and rapid spurt. The timing of the present surge matches the rise of the industrial-medical revolution 200 years ago.
A relation between innovation and population growth is embedded in the log-log plot. There was rapid growth at the start of each surge. Then, growth rate slowed as people adapted to the precipitating innovations. Each surge increased the population more than 10-fold. It appears that we are nearing the end of the present surge as recent growth rates have declined. After the initial spurt, subsequent innovations did not perpetuate growth rates. The only significant innovations were those that produced the next surge. However, accumulated innovations during the surges may have played a role in the eventual decline in population growth rates. Starting with high birth and death rates, death rate declines and longevity increases, but birth rates stay high. Some time later, birth rates decline so that eventually, net births minus deaths produces slow growth. The result is a spurt in population size. When referring to the industrial revolution, this phenomenon has been called the "demographic transition". It appears that this dynamic may have occurred twice before.
The decreases in time between surges suggests that, if past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, we are due for another surge. It may have already begun, as indicated by the upturn in the projections at the right end of the curve in Figure 1. What might the basis for another surge be? One can think of several possibilities, including the "green revolution" and the "global economy". A dominant element in past surges has been innovations in energy use (e.g., fire, descending the food-chain, beasts of burden, fossil fuels, high-energy agriculture). Thus, the development of an abundant and cheap energy source would have a profound effect. Another 10-fold (or more) surge would produce a population of 60 to 125 billion.
Figure 2. Greenhouse Gases and Mean Global Temperature (Greenhouse gas concentrations and mean global temperature verses time). Time scale same as in Fig. 1. Gas-concentration data have been normalized to the 0 to 1 scale on left: CO2 (squares) - 190 to 430 ppm; CH4 (triangles) - 600 to 2400 ppb; N2O (diamonds) - 280 to 340 ppb. Mean global temperature (circles) plotted relative to oC on right. Vertical dashed-line at 1995, horizontal dotted line at maximum CO2 concentration and global temperature over human history before 1990. Filled and open symbols same as in Fig. 1. Projections in short-term future are based upon continuation at current growth rates. (Data measured from graphs in Gribbin, 1990 and Khalil and Rasmussen, 1992).
Mean-global-temperature (MGT) is related to the concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, water vapor and other trace gases) in the atmosphere. The most prevalent greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2). It has been shown that there is a strong relation between the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and MGT over the last 160,000 years (Gribbin, 1990). It has been suspected that the burning of fossil fuels and the clearing of land has reached such proportions that these activities have precipitated a significant increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration. The concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have been directly measured since about 1960 and have been determined over the more distant past from air-bubbles trapped in old Antarctic, Greenland and Siberian ice and from deep-sea sediments. Mean-global-temperature has also been measured directly over the last few decades. Estimates of global temperature in the distant past have been deduced from a variety of sources. From these data, the relation among atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations, MGT and time is illustrated in Figure 2.
The time scale in Figure 2 is the same as that in Figure 1. Because CO2, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) concentrations have different scales, the data have been normalized on a 0 to 1 scale on the left. For CO2 (squares; Gribbin, 1990), 0 is equivalent to 190 parts per million (ppm) and 1 is equivalent to 430 ppm. For CH4 (triangles; R. Cicerone in Gribbin, 1990), the range is 600 to 2400 parts per billion (ppb). For N2O (diamonds; Khalil and Rasmussen, 1992), the scale is 280 to 340 ppb. Mean global temperature (circles; Gribbin, 1990) has been graphed relative to the degrees-centigrade scale on the right. The vertical dashed-line is the same as that in Figure 1. The horizontal dotted-line is the highest CO2 concentration and temperature in human history before 1990. Greenhouse-gas concentrations and MGT in the short-term future are based upon continuation at the current growth rates. This will be justified in another context below.
Figure 3. Population and Global Warming (CO2 concentration and mean global temperature verses log-population) CO2 concentration (circles) and mean global temperature (squares) plotted relative to their absolute scales, ppm on the left and oC on the right, respectively. Vertical dashed line at 1995. (Data from Figs. 1 and 2)
It is clear that the concentrations of all three gases have increased exponentially since 1950 (-1.4, Fig. 2) and that MGT has done so since 1975. Carbon dioxide concentration began to rise in conjunction with the use of fossil fuels after 1850. Although methane comes from a variety of sources, including plant decay, termites and bovine flatulence, CH4 concentration rises at the same time as CO2. This is probably due to its association with fossil-fuel production. Nitrous oxide concentration does not begin to rise until 1950. At this time, the use of human-made fertilizers and internal-combustion-engine exhaust increased dramatically. Ten thousand years ago (-4, Fig. 2), MGT increased substantially just as the agricultural revolution got started. Over the previous 200,000 years, the ecosystem was dominated by ice-ages. Projected MGT in 2025 (1.7, Fig. 2) is about 17oC, 1.5oC higher than in human history prior to 1990.
We have seen in Figures 1 and 2 that recent population, atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations and MGT have grown exponentially over about the same time-course. The relation of CO2 and MGT relative to population size can be observed by graphing these variables as above. Figure 3 shows this graph, where the log of population replaces log-time and CO2 concentration (circles) and MGT (squares) are plotted relative to their absolute scales, ppm on the left and oC on the right, respectively. The vertical dashed-line denotes 1995, as in Figures 1 and 2. When the population reached 4 billion in 1975, the converging relation between population and the other two variables becomes apparent.
The magnitude of the relations in Figures 2 and 3 can be determined by calculating the correlation coefficient between pairs of variables. Table 1 lists these coefficients for the population, greenhouse-gas concentration and MGT variables that we have been examining. The coefficients for the relations during the industrial revolution, 1800 through 1994, are above the diagonal of the table. The coefficients since 2000 years ago through 1994 are below the diagonal. Over the past 2000 years, there is a nearly perfect correlation between the concentration of greenhouse gases and population and between the greenhouse gases themselves. However, the correlations between both population and greenhouse-gas concentrations and MGT (bottom row) are not as strong. After 1800, the latter correlations increase to near perfection (rightmost column). The conclusion from the graphs and table is that there is a strong relationship among population size since 1800, greenhouse-gas concentrations and MGT.
TABLE 1. Correlation coefficients among population size, atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations and mean global temperature (1800 through 1994 above the top-left to bottom-right diagonal, n=10; 2000 years ago through 1994 below the diagonal, n=15).
Pop CO2 CH4 N2O Temp
Pop .996 .984 .977 .916
CO2 .990 .994 .974 .942
CH4 .991 .992 .949 .945
N2O .959 .943 .942 .932
Temp .718 .716 .728 .829
Determining that there is a strong relation between population size and global warming does not tell us what the underlying mechanisms are. However, documentation of the relationship between human activities and the release of greenhouse gases produces a strong inference that population size and global warming are closely related (Gribbin, 1990).
Forecasting the future is risky business. Growth rates for greenhouse-gas concentrations and MGT could decline from those at present due to unanticipated innovations or natural events. For example, volcanoes can spew enough ash into the atmosphere to block sunlight and temporarily reduce MGT slightly. However, short-term continued growth at current rates is probably an underestimate. Although population growth rate has slowed, the population is still growing. The dominating factor is that per-capita energy and resource consumption rates are increasing much faster than the population. This is not only due to anticipated increases in standards of living in underdeveloped countries, but also to future increases in the demand for energy in the developed countries (e.g., air conditioning) as summer temperatures rise. Since most of the energy will come from fossil fuels, at least for the next few decades, we can expect the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and MGT to rise in the short-term future at a faster rate than they have recently. As MGT rises, water vapor, another greenhouse component, will become a more and more significant factor due to increased evaporation.
Although a 1.5oC increase in MGT above where we were in 1990 (1990 to 2025 in Fig. 2) does not seem like much of a change, it is enough to precipitate major changes in climate. A 1.5oC drop in MGT from where we were in 1990, for example, would put the ecosystem on the verge of an ice-age. Already, there is a suspicion that, since 1975, the persistent El Nino is the first sign of the relation between global warming and climate (Kerr, 1994). As MGT increases further, we can expect more frequent and severe hurricanes and perpetual summertime droughts in many places, particularly in the US Midwest. Paradoxically, more intense winter storms will occur in some places and climatic conditions for agriculture will improve in some areas, such as in Russia (Gribbin, 1990; Bernard, 1993).
There has been considerable debate over the ecosystem's carrying capacity for humans. If we define that carrying capacity as the level that the ecosystem can support without changing state more than it has over the duration of human history, then Figures 2 and 3 indicate that we exceeded that capacity in 1975. This is the point in time where exponential growth began to push MGT along a path which has taken it outside the previous range. This does not necessarily mean that humans could not survive if MGT is about 2oC higher than it has ever been in their history. However, we will have to adapt to a radically different climate pattern and, if MGT goes any higher than that, there could be disastrous problems.
If MGT continues to increase beyond 2025 to 4oC above that in 1990, high-northern-latitude temperatures could be as much as 10oC higher than at the equator. The Arctic ice-cap would begin to melt and the permafrost under the tundra would start thawing out. As a consequence, a thick layer of rotting peat would contribute further to atmospheric CO2 and CH4 concentrations (Gribbin, 1990). With a number of human-made and natural positive-feedback elements in operation simultaneously, a threshold could be crossed (Meyers, 1995; Overpeck, 1996). Are these risks that we should be willing to take for the sake of short-term gains?
Bernard, H. W. Jr., "Global Warming Unchecked", Indiana Univ. Press, Bloomington, 1993
Broecker, W., Science, 189:460, 1975
Deevey, E. S., Scientific American, 203:195, 1960
Gibbons, A. , Science, 262:27, 1993
Gribbin, J. , "Hothouse Earth", Grove Weidenfeld, New York, 1990
Kerr, R. A., Science, 266:544, 1994
Khalil, M. A. K. and R. A. Rasmussen, J. Geophys. Res., 97:4651, 1992
"The World Almanac", Pharos, New York, 1992 - 1995
Meyers, N. Science 269:358, 1995
Overpeck, J. T. Science, 271:1820, 1996
Post Script
After this document was written (about a 2 years ago), two books came out which provide much more detail relevant to some of these issues:
HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN THE EARTH SUPPORT? by Joel E. Cohen; Norton, 1995.
DIVIDED PLANET: THE ECOLOGY OF RICH AND POOR by Tom Athanasiou; Little Brown, 1996.
Both are superbly done and provide a much more comprehensive and up to date treatment of the population and economic topics included here.
Recent evidence (Mora et al.; SCIENCE 271:1105, 1996) indicates that the possibility of a "greenhouse runaway" on Earth is much more remote than indicated at the end of the previous version of this document. Therefore, the former apocalyptic ending has been changed. Although the data presented points to a catastrophic conclusion, this was (perhaps) an overstatement of the case.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Food prices: Africa shows first signs of trouble

Recent violent unrest over soaring food prices in several West African nations points to new signs of trouble on a continent where nearly half the people live on a dollar a day, experts warn.After Mauritania and Morocco, Senegal this week was the latest country hit by violent protests.The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation chief Jacques Diouf last month warned of a "risk of social and political troubles in Third World nations in the months or years to come" due to the global rise in cereal prices."Soaring international prices have obviously had much more impact in the countries that depend a lot on imports for their [food] needs," UN World Food Programme (WFP) spokesperson for West Africa Stephanie Savariaud told Agence France-Presse.The mounting demand for biofuels and escalating prices of fossil fuels mean farmers cultivate less food in preference of fast cash-spinning biofuel crops.And the internationally rising oil prices are reflected in imported food costs."The growing demand for biofuels and the high prices of fossil fuel have a dramatic impact on millions of people," said Savariaud."Food prices in Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal shot up steeply in 2007," she said, citing countries that depend heavily on imported staples.In the vast and arid Mauritania, where national cereal output is less than 30% of needs, the price of imported flour shot up nearly 100% -- from $200 per ton last year to $360 in September, according to WFP.Shops there were vandalised and torched earlier this month to protest spiralling food prices, leaving one person dead and 17 wounded.In Morocco, about 50 people were injured during September food protests.Escalating food prices have affected almost every nation on the continent, but so far without sparking the kind of violent outbreaks witnessed in West Africa, home to the greatest number of the world's most poverty-stricken countries.Chances of controlling the high food bills are not easy in the short term, warned FAO chief of Global Information and Early Warning System, Henri Josserand."It is something that cannot be changed quickly," he said."Prospects are not good for countries that strongly rely on imports because in the short-to-medium term, we forecast that food prices will remain extremely firm, at least in the next 10 years," Josserand said.Countries are therefore left with no choice but to change dietary habits by substituting imports with local produce, said Josserand. But home-grown food production is also threatened by climate change, with the continent facing desertification and in cases oscillating between extreme conditions of droughts and floods.Climate change might mean African countries that depend on rain for food production would harvest half their normal output 12 years from now, WFP chief Josette Sheeran warned during a visit to West Africa last week.Climate change, rising food prices and population growth could combine to create a "perfect storm" on the continent, she said.Already in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, three-quarters of the 60-million people don't have enough food and 1,5-million are actually facing hunger, according to WFP.And so far, the leading coping mechanism is hunger.From Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa to Southern Africa's worst-hit Zimbabwe, already buckling under the world's highest inflation rate, families have no option but to skip a meal or two a day in an effort to stretch the little available. -- Sapa-AFP

This is biblical ---- Famine will take 1/3

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Russian Military Chief Calls America "Evil"

'Russias top military chief has dubbed America "evil" while cautioning that the "insidious" U.S. missile defense shield weapons system has nothing to do with countering Iran and is aimed squarely at Moscow, as tensions continue to heat between the two superpowers.';

Russian Military Chief Calls America "Evil" Baluyevsky says U.S. missile defense is aimed at Moscow as tensions rise
Prison Planet November 13, 2007 Paul Joseph Watson
Russia's top military chief has dubbed America "evil" while cautioning that the "insidious" U.S. missile defense shield weapons system has nothing to do with countering Iran and is aimed squarely at Moscow, as tensions continue to heat between the two superpowers.
The Chief of the Russian General Staff, Gen. Yury Baluyevsky told Russia Today , an English-language state TV channel, that Washington's plans to place a radar in the Czech Republic and ten missile interceptors in Poland supposedly to counter Iran was just a pretext to deploy weaponry close to Russia's borders.
"If the Americans deploy the radar by 2011 and anti-ballistic missiles by 2012-2013, they will certainly be directed against Russia, and we can easily prove it," said Baluyevsky.
(Article Continues Below)

"There will be no Iranian threat to the United States in the near future. Iran will be unable to create intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States until at least 2020," he added.
In the same interview , Baluyevsky labeled America as "evil" and swore to defend Russian military interests while absolving Russia of the responsibility of defending the rest of the world against American imperialism.
"Today, there is no need to be afraid of the Russian Armed Forces. However, I do not believe that the Russian military is obliged to defend the world from the evil Americans," he said.
Baluyevsky's inflammatory comments are likely to sour increasingly hostile relations between Washington and Moscow and they come just a month after Russian President Vladimir Putin compared the Pentagon's plan to deploy weapons in central Europe to the Soviet Union's 1962 deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba, which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis and brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

Soviet plan for WW3 nuclear attack unearthed

Soviet plan for WW3 nuclear attack unearthedBy Henry Samuel in Paris
Last Updated: 3:54am BST 21/09/2007
Chilling Soviet plans to launch massive nuclear strikes in Europe followed by a ground offensive in Germany and southern France have been unearthed by a Nato historian.

Soviet troops were to storm across Europe
According to scenarios drafted in 1964, Warsaw Pact forces planned to use 131 tactical nuclear missiles and bombs to sideline NATO armaments and destroy Western Europe’s political and communications centres, in the event of an “imperialist” strike.
In an alarming insight into the “Doctor Strangelove” mindset of Soviet strategists, the Czechoslovak People’s Army, CSLA, was then expected to immediately march over deadly radioactive landscape and invade Nuremburg, Stuttgart and Munich, then bastions of West Germany.
On the ninth day the troops would take Lyon, south eastern France.
Soviet reinforcements would then continue the offensive towards the Pyrenees in the west.

Historian Petr Lunak from NATO’s information office in Brussels, found the 17-page Warsaw Pact plan while sifting through declassified communist-era documents in Prague’s military archives.
“Russians outlined the general (war) plan, while the (leaders of) individual Warsaw Pact armies prepared precise military blueprints, with details on front lines, deployment of troops and arms,” said Mr Lunak.
The text, written in Russian and entitled CSLA Plan of Action for a War Period, was signed by the Czech defence minister of the time and carried president Antonin Novotny’s stamp of approval.
According to Mr Lunak, the plan was still an option until 1986, three years before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
It was shelved by Vaclav Havel in 1990 when he was elected Czech president.
While most Western planners were convinced that any first strike would lead to total mutual destruction, the plan - written in matter-of-fact language - shows that Warsaw Pact nations presumed a massive ground war would follow nuclear attacks.
Mr Lunak described the military plans as “fairy tale” thinking based on World War II warfare: “They (the Soviets) really planned to send ground troops out in the field and have them fight for a few days until they died from radiation,” he said.
The final draft of the invasion plan was completed under Soviet Communist Party chief Nikita Khrushchev, shortly after the 1961 Cuban missile crisis, when the United States and the Soviet Union had teetered on the brink of war.
According to the Prague documents, Moscow’s commanders fully expected western “imperialists” to make the first nuclear strike.
Mr Lunak includes the plans, as well as interviews with Czech generals of the time in his book, Planning the Unthinkable: Czechoslovak War Plans, 1950-1990.
The first English translation of the text was published earlier this month by the Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security, which analyses and publishes declassified NATO and Warsaw Pact archives.
Vojtech Mastny, a senior fellow at the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C., who coordinates the project, said the 1964 document is the first such detailed war plan to come to light. “There’s no doubt that the plan would have been used if the green light was given from above - the political leadership of the communist bloc,” he said.

Russia abandons arms treaty

Russia abandons arms treaty

Geskryf deur Yahoonews
Saterdag, 17 November 2007
The Russian senate voted Friday to suspend compliance with a key Cold War treaty limiting conventional military forces across Europe, drawing renewed Western criticism.The unanimous vote in the upper house Federation Council followed last week's decision in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, to freeze Moscow's participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty from December 12.The 1990 CFE treaty places strict limitations on the deployment of tanks and other military hardware across Europe.President Vladimir Putin ordered the moratorium on July 13 amid a row over US plans to install an anti-missile shield in eastern Europe.In a statement, the Federation Council said Russia had been forced to look at suspending the treaty "for as long as all the countries of NATO have not ratified" an adapted version of the accord.General Yury Baluyevsky, Russia's chief of the general staff, said the move was "the correct, logical step from the political and military point of view," ITAR-TASS news agency reported.Responding to Friday's vote the Western military alliance NATO reiterated earlier criticism it had made."Any measure which takes forward the process by which Russia would unilaterally withdraw from the treaty is regrettable," said NATO spokesman James Appathurai.The state-run RIA Novosti news agency said Russia could still return to the CFE if Putin reversed parliament's decision.But a NATO diplomat, requesting anonymity, questioned what Russia meant by suspending the treaty, saying it contained no provision for suspension and that Moscow was intentionally muddying the waters."Russia's decision to use the term 'suspension' only adds an element of doubt," he said."Does this mean the CFE treaty is dead? Nothing is clear. It's an ambiguous situation that could satisfy both parties," he said.The treaty's demise highlights deteriorating relations between Moscow and countries of the Atlantic alliance as Putin's administration pushes to reassert Russia on the international stage."This will be an indicator of Russia's seriousness in its uncompromising stand on ensuring its defensive capabilities, including in answer to US plans to put anti-missile defences in eastern Europe," State Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky told ITAR-TASS.Last week Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Kolmakov said that plans were being considered for boosting troop deployments on the western flank, something impossible under the CFE.This is not the first indication of a return to Cold War-style tensions.Russia has also this year renewed long-distance strategic bomber patrols, threatened to retarget nuclear missiles at European cities, and to withdraw from other bedrock disarmament treaties.Moscow says the CFE is not working because an updated version agreed on in 1999 has been ratified by Russia, but not by NATO countries.NATO members, led by the United States, say they cannot ratify the pact because of Russia's military presence in ex-Soviet Georgia and Moldova.But for NATO, Appathurai stressed: "NATO countries want to see the adapted treaty enter into force as soon as possible."Although Russia this week handed over a third Soviet-era base to the pro-Western Georgian authorities, there is controversy over a fourth.Although Russia says that the base has been decommissioned, Georgian officials are unable to inspect the facility because it is in the Russian-backed separatist Abkhazia region.Adding to the tension is the growing unease in the West with wide-ranging limitations imposed by Putin on democratic reforms and what critics call Russia's aggressive use of massive energy resources.Moscow accuses Washington of interfering in Russia's backyard and attempting to rule the world as the sole superpower.Speaking about the decision to quit the CFE, Baluyevsky said: "The US and NATO political leadership hoped that Russia would flinch at the last moment and not take the decision about introducing a moratorium," RIA Novosti reported

Friday, November 16, 2007

S.African Farm Murders: Who is actually behind them?

From the News Archives of: WWW.AfricanCrisis.OrgDate & Time Posted: 12/30/2006
S.African Farm Murders: Who is actually behind them?
[Here is another piece concerning Farm Murders and what I was told directly by someone senior in one of the few remaining Commando Units. The Govt will be shutting down ALL of the Commando units. So far, 70 of the 90 commando units have already been shut down.The Commando units have been in existence for over a century and they are volunteer groups who protect the rural areas. The man I spoke to spoke from personal experience of things he had seen and operations he had been on.He told me that while the "Commandos" have been offered positions in the Police Reserve, that most of them will NOT join the Police Reserve. He said that the view of many of them is that the Police PART OF THE PROBLEM. They feel that shutting down the commandos is a way of "disarming" them and that in the long term, they expect this to cause the Farm Murder rate to pick up once more!He told me that in the course of his Commando duties, he and many others were sent on courses and they interacted with other specialists. He told me a fascinating thing which I did not know. He said that both the Police and the South African Army have got specialised units that investigate Farm Murders! (I never knew this and never saw it mentioned in the news). He said there are specialists who go to the scene of every single farm murder and they take photos and get video footage. They gather STACKS of data quietly. He said one guy once showed them on his laptop photos of farm murders. He said you could name any farm murder incident and this guy would pull up photos of the murder. He said he saw all sorts of horrific stuff including people with pieces of wire around their throats, etc. *ALL* Farm murders are documented - but its just not available to the public.He said these officers are very interested in defeating this farm murder scourge. But he said that in discussions with some of these people, he realised that they are very unhappy themselves and that they know they will be worked out of the system - and ultimately removed from the Army, etc. They have in the course of their duties come across very fascinating information. He said that informally, when "chatting", some of these people have hinted at their "belief" that Farm Murders are orchestrated by particular political forces. I use the word "belief" above, but later you'll see some of the hard evidence they have uncovered. He said there is talk about "communism" being behind the farm murders - and I will deal on the possible Eastern European connection in another post. There is also a whole "underground crime organisation" that may be linked to farm murders and all these things may work together. However, he said there is "talk" that three particular people connected to the ANC are actually the driving force behind the Farm Murders. The three names he has heard people talk of are:-1. Jacob Zuma (former Deputy President that Mbeki fired but whom the commies love and who will try to stand for President in 2009).2. Jackie Selebi - the man who heads our national Police force. (In recent months the Mass Media has been bringing up hard evidence showing Jackie Selebi's connections to organised crime). 3. Mosiuoa Lekota - the Minister of Defense here in S.Africa. (Interestingly, when I spoke to PW Botha shortly before his death he also mentioned that he thinks Lekota is a very dangerous man. He did not elaborate on what made him think that. The Media love him, but PW had another view of him which surprised me).My informant told me that some of these people in these specialised Police/Army Farm Murder units are themselves very demoralised and they know that their careers won't last. Jan]

In Subprime Crisis, the Worst Is Yet to Come

In Subprime Crisis, the Worst Is Yet to Come
By Beat Balzli and Frank Hornig
The consequences of the US real estate crisis are far greater than previously suspected. Wall Street could face losses of over $200 billion, and German banks are unlikely to escape unscathed. The full extent of the disaster will not be known for months.

The full extent of the fall-out from the subprime crisis is still not known.Only a few weeks ago, in October, the world still seemed a fairly orderly place to Charles Prince, the chairman and CEO of Citigroup. Although the bank's earnings were already heading south as a result of the subprime crisis (more...), Citigroup's largest individual shareholder, Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, wasn't losing his cool. What was happening on the financial markets was a "mere hiccup," the Arab multibillionaire explained.
A short time later, at the beginning of last week, it was time for another Citigroup executive to take the company jet to the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh for some urgently needed damage control. Until 2003, Sandy Weill (more...) was chairman of Citigroup, the world's biggest bank at the time. Weill, who is now 74, is credited with having expanded the company in the 1990s into the broadly diversified financial services conglomerate it is today. Now his life's work was in jeopardy.
Find out how you can reprint this DER SPIEGEL article in your publication. Weill knew that the "hiccup" had quickly turned into a serious threat. "We discussed the situation, what was wrong and why things are happening like that," Prince Alwaleed told the magazine Fortune, describing his crisis meeting with Weill.
News of the meeting in Saudi Arabia sent faraway Wall Street into turmoil. Only a few days after Merrill Lynch CEO Stan O'Neal was let go, Citigroup chief executive Prince was also asked to clear his desk.
Both executives were guilty of a fundamental miscalculation. As a result, the two companies will each be forced to write off between $8 billion and $11 billion in bad debt. But, as dramatic as the events at Merrill Lynch and Citigroup were, they do not mark the end of the banking nightmare that began in mid-summer.
That was when the first financial institutions and hedge funds began issuing warnings that the US real estate bubble was on the verge of bursting. Many homeowners who had borrowed heavily against the equity in their homes, confident that real estate prices would continue to rise, were suddenly faced with the realization that they could no longer afford to keep up their mortgage payments.

Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (6 Photos)The repercussions of the crisis have mushroomed since then, with billions at stake now instead of millions. And despite ongoing efforts by politicians and central banks to bring calm to the market, a crisis that began among smaller banks has since spread to the industry's giants.
The effects of the disaster on almost every major Wall Street institution and many European banks have been far more severe than previously supposed. The 10 biggest losers have already reported losses of more than $40 billion, and even this is only the beginning.
"I believe that we are still not aware of all the risks," said Alexander Dibelius, the head of investment bank Goldman Sachs's German office, only two weeks ago -- shortly before the CEOs at Citigroup and Merrill were let go.
Economists and central bankers are already predicting total losses in excess of $200 billion. "The bloodbath in credit and financial markets will continue and sharply worsen," Nouriel Roubini, a highly regarded American economist, recently wrote on his blog.
His fears stem from the fact that so far banks have only published their results for the third quarter of 2007, which, for most institutions, ended in August or September. The real estate crisis has worsened since then, with even greater losses expected for the fourth quarter.
The true scope of the debacle will likely become apparent only after annual financial statements are published next spring. Quarterly statements are an imperfect indicator, because they enable banks to defer their losses relatively unnoticed.

It's been a nasty few weeks for the global banking giants.One of the results of the dismal news is that, after weeks of rising prices, the US's leading stock market index, the Dow Jones, took a sharp downward turn in recent days. The central banks' efforts to improve the situation by increasing liquidity and lowering interest rates have evaporated like drops of water on a hot stone. Fear and suspicion are the prevailing sentiments on the world's stock markets. A banker in Frankfurt predicts: "We are just at the beginning of the second tsunami wave."
Its effects will likely extend beyond the banking sector. AIG, America's largest insurance group, is already reporting a 27-percent loss for the third quarter. In addition to the now notorious high-risk subprime mortgages, financial worries in the United States are now also being stoked by concern over subprime credit cards and subprime auto loans. For consumers unable to pay their mortgages, the monthly credit card bill or the car loan are also likely to present a problem.
With the price of oil close to the $100 mark and the dollar in a nosedive, the outlook for the US economy -- and the world economy -- is becoming increasingly bleak.
In a hearing before the US Congress last Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned lawmakers of the consequences of the crisis: higher inflation, declining consumer spending and lower growth rates. On the same day, Bernanke's counterpart in the European Union, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, expressed concern over what he called the "brutal moves" in the euro-dollar exchange rate.
To make matters worse, the banks' mortgage problem is developing into a crisis of confidence reminiscent of the collapse of the scandal-plagued US corporations Enron and WorldCom. The first investor lawsuit has already been filed, and the US market watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), is taking a closer look at questionable accounting practices. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has also launched his own investigations.

Part 2: Foolhardiness and Greed

But as complex as today's banking transactions are, the motives behind key players' actions are as simple as ever: foolhardiness and greed.
Take Stan O'Neal, for example. As chairman of Merrill Lynch, he pushed the company into increasingly risky real estate deals. Highly profitable in the short term, these deals earned O'Neal handsome bonuses. The fact that the entire model stood on shaky ground was water off a duck's back to O'Neal, who left the company with $162 million in severance pay.

Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (6 Photos)To meet their profit goals, banking executives and their brokers had repeatedly delayed performing risk assessments of their financial instruments. "What would happen if Boeing Co. or Johnson & Johnson rolled out products with similar defect rates?" the Wall Street Journal asked rhetorically. The subprime crisis, the paper writes, acts as "a vital portal onto Wall Street, helping us understand just how upside-down the place has become."
In addition, the banks' boards of directors, blinded by the celebrity status of their senior executives, neglected to draft recruitment scenarios for top-level positions. The consequences of their neglect are now coming home to roost, as they face a limited selection of qualified candidates. The few remaining prospects, like Deutsche Bank Chairman Josef Ackermann, are suddenly in high demand.
Other US banks are also feeling the pinch. Morgan Stanley and Wachovia reported write-offs of $3.7 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively -- and those were only the numbers being reported late last week.
While Wall Street brokers are worried about their usually lavish Christmas bonuses, analysts at market research company CreditSights are busy calculating expected losses for the fourth quarter. Their predictions include a loss of $5.1 billion at Goldman Sachs, $3.9 billion at Lehman Brothers and $3.2 billion at Bear Stearns, whose CEO, James Cayne, has also faced heavy criticism. Trouble is also brewing at British bank Barclays.
Meanwhile Germany has by no means remained untouched by the fiasco. Despite posting substantial write-offs, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and Hypo Real Estate managed to report earnings growth in the last quarter. Nevertheless, this has by no means eliminated the uncertainty.
Only after their annual reports have been audited will "they all be able to breathe easier," says a risk management expert. "In other words, all kinds of things can reappear in the last quarter." According to the risk management expert, so far the Germans have taken a less hard line in their assessments than the Americans or Swiss banks like UBS. Does this mean that it's all just a question of valuation?
The valuation of complex credit products, for which there are currently almost no market prices, is a hotly debated issue among bankers, auditors and industry groups. Neither the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) nor the Institute of Public Auditors in Germany (IDW) has offered clear guidelines. The resulting vacuum creates the temptation to doctor the numbers.
Fraudulent labeling is a hotly discussed issue at the moment, especially among Germany's state-backed banks, which are currently revising their accounting rules. Under the proposed new rules, the types of assets banks used to acquire purely for trading purposes, to earn a quick euro, so to speak, could now be declared as a long-term capital investment. The advantage of this approach is it would allow painful market losses in trading positions to be posted directly to the profit and loss statement. Securities held to maturity, however, would not have to be valued at current market prices, but instead at their acquisition prices. It's the perfect recipe for concocting an accounting fairy tale.

Part 3: 'Buy, Buy, Buy'
But the fear of time bombs on balance sheets raises worries on precisely the financial markets on which banks lend money to each other. Despite all efforts by central banks to intervene, everyone in these markets distrusts everyone else.

Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (6 Photos)The year-end rally over funds that won't have to be repaid until January is already underway. No bank wants to risk no longer being able to guarantee its daily monetary transactions. "That's because most of them close their books starting in mid-December," says a London banker. "There's hardly any money available after that."
This scarcity makes borrowing money more costly. Financial managers use freshly borrowed cash primarily to plug the holes in their bank's sizeable investment funds. But the different possible solutions present the funds with a painful choice. Fund managers can either inject new cash, which could easily be consumed in no time, or they could face the prospect of devastating forced sales, which would lead to yet another broad decline in prices for credit products.
This is precisely the acute danger facing Sachsen Funding I, a €2 billion fund. In the next four weeks, Landesbank Baden-Württemberg and other investors will have to decide whether to inject additional cash or close the fund.
A rescue operation is already underway at an investment firm called Ormond Quay, which was responsible for the emergency sale of SachsenLB to Landesbank Baden-Württemberg.
To prevent a collapse, a consortium of German savings banks provided Sachsen Funding I with a €17.3 billion emergency funding package several weeks ago. Of German bank DekaBank's €6 billion share of the package, only about €500 million has been used to date.
WestLB, another German state bank, is also involved in an extensive bailout effort. According to a spokesman, WestLB had to provide its €3.3 billion Kestrel fund with "a credit line to support liquidity."
The credit line, says the WestLB spokesman, "guarantees the full repayment of all debt securities." It has also saved the fund from being downgraded by ratings agency Moody's.
WestLB believes that the prices in the Kestrel portfolio will recover. This reflects the current focus on faith in a world normally dominated by hard numbers. The situation is also tense at Harrier Finance, another WestLB company with assets of $11 billion.
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Is Harrier about to face a complete fire sale? This would be all too convenient for some financial jugglers. The first vultures hoping to turn a profit from the debacle are already circling.
One of them is market guru Bill Gross. For the past few days, Gross, who founded German insurance conglomerate Allianz's PIMCO pension fund, has been buying up the supposedly junk securities at bargain-basement prices.
Giants like Goldman Sachs and the Royal Bank of Scotland have been doing the same thing, investing their wealthy customers' money. If the market bounces back, these high stakes players could end up raking in huge profits in the global financial casino.
"If I had the money," says an envious chairman of a German state bank, "all I would do now is buy, buy, buy."
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan,1518,517139,00.html


from Crawford2000 Website
"Iron rods will be built and iron monsters will bark though the wilderness. Cars without horses and shaft will come, and man will fly through the air like birds "....

"The catholic faith will almost completely disappear, the religiousness will be quite badly respected, they will not earn any respect due to their way of living, there won't be many good Christians among the people, the Commandments of God are no longer respected by the aristocracy as well as by the smallest worker, one will not think the greatest unfairness to be a sin. When the faith disappears also the love of the next one will completely lose itself, one will not estimate the justice, often the poor one will not be given right and he will be less respected than a dog. After this a mischief will arise that has to be regretted, there will be no order among the people""When in the outskirts of the forest the iron road will be finished, and there the iron horse will be seen, a war will begin, to last twice two years ...It would be fought with iron fortresses that move without horses". Two or three decades after the first war it will come one a Second War still larger. Almost all the nations of the world will be involved. Millions of men will die, without being soldiers. The fire will fall from the sky and many great cities will be destroyed. And after the end of the Second Great War, a third universal conflagration will come, so that it will determine everything. There will be weapons totally new. In one day, more men will die than in all the previous wars. The battles will be accomplished with artificial weapons. Gigantic catastrophes will happen. With the open eyes, the nations of the planet will go through these catastrophes. They won't know what is happening, and those that know and tell, will be silenced. Everything will be different from before, and in many places the Earth will be a great cemetery. The third war will be the end of many nations".

"You, my children, won't experience the largest mischief, you, my grandchildren, won't also experience it, but the third stock, that will easily experience it." "Over night it will take place - in a pub in Zwiesel many people will be together, and outside the soldiers will ride over the bridge." ........

"The people will run out of the forest. Those, who hide themselves at the "Fuchsenriegel" or at the "Falkenstein", remain spared. Who survives must have an iron heading. The people become ill, and nobody can help them... however it will continue, and what follows then, is the end of the world. Sky and earth burn, because it is the time, when everything comes to an end. And this time will be, when the wild hunt with fire and sulphur roars over the country. But it is still long time, till it will happen, then no humans will know anymore, where "Zwiesel" and where "Rabenstein" (German towns) have been. Of all frights the this will be the last. When the people fall off the bank like the flies off the wall, the last time begins. It will be horrible." ........

"But when however someone at the whole Danube stream finds still another cow, then she is worth it to be attached with a silver bell by the owner." ....

"After these events it will be a miracle, if one still sees two or three rulers going together, after these events the clarity will be anew, and those who survived, will face a good time for hope".
from Millennium Book of Prophecy by John Hogue

Railroads, Cars, and Planes
"Iron roads will be built, and iron monsters will bark through the wilderness. Cars without horses and shaft will come, and men will fly though the air like birds."
World War 1
"When in the outskirts of the forest the iron road will be finished, and there the iron horse will be seen, a war will begin, to last for twice two years. It will be fought with iron fortresses that move without horses, and with powers that come from the earth and fall from the sky."
According to Hogue:
"The day WW1 began was pinpointed two centuries before it happened by a simple and reclusive cowherd in the Bavarian forests bordering Czechoslovakia. On Aug. 1, 1914, a new railroad line between Kalteneck and Deggendorf (running on the edge of Stormberger's forest) officially opened -the day hostilities began. The war did last four years and saw the introduction of terrible new weapons such as mines "from the earth", poison gas "falling from the sky" and tanks-"iron fortresses" that move.
1929: The Stock Market Crash
"Right after this horrible war there will come a time when money will have no value. For 200 guilders not even a loaf of bread will be available, and yet there shall be no famine. Money will be made of iron, and gold shall become so valuable that for a few gold coins a small farm can be bought."
The Interval Between World Wars
"Two or three decades after the first great war will come a second, still greater war. Almost all nations of the world will be involved. Millions of men will die, without being soldiers. Fire will fall from the sky and many great cites will be destroyed."
"And after the second great struggle between the nations will come a third universal conflagration, which will determine everything. There will be entirely new weapons. In one day more men will die than in all previous wars combined. Battles will be fought with artificial weapons. Gigantic catastrophes will occur. With open eyes will the nations of the Earth enter into these catastrophes. They shall not be aware of what is happening, and those who will know and tell, will be silenced.Everything will become different than before, and in many places the Earth will be a great cemetery. The third great war will be the end of many nations."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

SA will be better if I’m president - Zuma

Published:Nov 15, 2007
ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma said the country would become even better if he became president, according to a newspaper report.
Speaking at the 1926 Club at Johannesburg’s Rand Club, Zuma’s response to those who were thinking of leaving SA if he became president was: "I can assure you that this country will become even better."
He reportedly denied that either he or his spokesman had told a Johannesburg weekend newspaper that if he went down, he would take the ANC with him.
Zuma said that if one examined the article closely, it attributed the remark to one of his supporters. However, he did not say whether the remark accurately reflected his sentiments, the Star said.

He said that he wanted the ANC congress next month to introduce term limits for its presidents, with the aim of prevent two conflicting centres of power emerging within the ruling party.
Zuma reportedly said the party had at its Mafikeng congress (1997) briefly debated whether it should introduce term limits by bringing the ANC and national presidential terms into line - but it decided against this.
He believed terms limits had become an issue again and should be debated in Polokwane - "rather than leaving matters to chance".

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mboweni favours a rate hike

Mboweni favours a rate hike
By Michael Hamlyn, I-Net Bridge
Published:Nov 14, 2007
Reserve Bank governor, Tito Mboweni.
Reserve Bank governor, Tito Mboweni, gave a very strong signal that another interest hike is on the way when he told members of parliament that in his view rates should go up.
Speaking to the finance portfolio committee, Mboweni said: "If I was the only member of the Monetary Policy Committee, I would definitely increase rates in December."
The bank staff’s forecast for inflation in the coming months shows inflation increasing above the 6% target for part of 2008 before dropping back into the target range before the end of the year.
He told the committee: "The inflation picture for South Africa is that pressures are on the upside, whether from electricity or vegetables. When the forecasts indicate that inflation is likely to stay above the target, the task of the central bank is to tighten monetary policy."
He said that there was a period recently when the Monetary Policy Committee should have tightened rates, but did not do so. "It was an error," he said.
But he also reminded members that he was not the only member of the committee, and it was not certain that they would take his advice.
He joked with the members that Trevor Manuel, the finance minister, would complain that he would ruin people’s Christmas, but he said it was not up to him. He did not fix the target range, he said.

And GOD Said ---" I will take all the welth they have stolen away from them( BEE deals )"

Kunene shooting: attempted murder case opened

Kunene shooting: attempted murder case opened
Published:Nov 14, 2007
Police are investigating a case of attempted murder after Muziwendoda Kunene, the man caught up in the "hoax email" saga, was shot in Pretoria today.
National spokeswoman Director Sally de Beer said Kunene sustained a flesh wound when he was shot in the hand at around 8am in Lynwood Road.
Kunene received medical attention on the scene and was taken to a local hospital for further treatment.
A full investigation would be conducted by experienced detectives and anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stop on 086-001-0111.
702 Talk Radio said it was understood that two men came up to Kunene and accused him of fraternising with the media. He then ran away and was shot in the hand.
The incident comes hours after Kunene claimed that senior members of the African National Congress (ANC) were plotting to assassinate him.
The ruling party today dismissed his claims as a "conjured up story".
"It is a completely conjured up story... the ANC has nothing to do with him, he has nothing to do with the ANC and he is not a member of the ANC and he is not part of any ANC structures," said the party’s head of the presidency, Smuts Ngonyama.
Kunene told 702 that while working for the National Intelligence Agency, he came across information linking senior politicians to corruption and bribery - which is why they wanted to kill or frame him.
He said he was under constant surveillance and that his recent hijacking was proof that he was being targeted.
Kunene stands accused under the Intelligence Services Oversight Act of withholding information from the Inspector General of Intelligence by failing or refusing to provide a response on questions put to him.
The saga involves fake e-mails between ANC leaders, discrediting ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma.
The e-mails allegedly implicated senior ANC members in a conspiracy against ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma and ANC secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe.

Eish , this 2009 election just aint gona hjappen without some blood on the wall's and in the streets of capetown and pretoria


Paradise for Saleby Carl N. McDaniel and John M. Gowdy, University of California Press, 2000."The number of people who can live sustainably on the planet is an open question. The rate of growth of the population accelerated for a long time. For example, it took about 180 years to double from half a billion (1650) to one billion (1830), while to go from two billion (1930) to four billion (1975) took only 45 years. Although the future is uncertain, the growth rate is no longer accelerating; that is, the time it takes for the human population to double is lengthening. If the trend continues, the population will eventually stop growing. While this is good news in the long term, over 80 million additional humans are still being added to the population each year, and similar increases are projected for many years.Although most people accept that there is a limit to the number of people the earth can support, that limit cannot be precisely determined. Why? Because the variables are so many and, to make matters worse, because unknown variables always lurk in the background. When Antoni van Leeuwenhoek predicted in 1679 that maximum human population was about 13 billion, he did not know that human activities were causing a mass biodiversity extinction, that cutting down tropical forests could change local and global climates, or that tractors would allow one person to till hundreds of acres. Despite these many variables, scientists and others have made numerous predictions; 65 factually based calculations have a low median of 8 billion people and a high median of 16 billion, with a mean of about 12 billion. These values are of immediate concern because many demographers have calculated that the population will plateau around 12 billion sometime in the second half of the twenty-first century.However, none of these calculations takes sustainability into account; that is, the calculations are essentially for a population size at a certain time, not for one that could be maintained for thousands of years. If we cannot do the calculation precisely for a point in time, we have no hope of performing a dynamic calculation that would be valid for hundreds or thousands of years. Both types of calculations are worthwhile, however, because the results give us a sense of reality -- the threshold of monumental disaster. The maximum population size numbers tell us that as the world population reaches 6 billion we are approaching disaster, because this population size is most likely not sustainable for very many generations.The number of organisms in an ecosystem is the result of interaction between the species' biological growth potential and the environmental resistance that prevents all organisms from realizing their potential. Under ideal conditions, for instance, one bacterium could increase to 2.2 x 10 to the 43 bacteria in 48 hours with a mass roughly a thousand times that of the earth. Environmental resistance-climate, abiotic resources like water and nutrients, toxic waste buildup, and biological factors like parasites, predators, and competition for resources -- prevent every population of organisms from realizing its growth potential.An animal species may have several long-term stable population sizes, each depending on unique environmental resistance factors. And each of these stable populations, or carrying capacities, represents the number of individuals of a species that the ecosystem can support under the specified conditions. If the environmental resistance factors do not change, the ecosystem does not change and the population size remains stable. Things never stay the same, of course. Over time major factors in the environmental resistance will vary and the population size will change.The carrying capacity concept has predictive value in managing wildlife and in determining the sizes of populations in natural ecosystems. You might ask, if carrying capacity applies to pheasants, deer, and grizzly bears, why doesn't it apply to humans? It does. Like all organisms, humans are subject to the laws of ecology, but we can't calculate the carrying capacity for humans with any precision because we can manipulate our ecosystems in profound ways. We have become extremely adept at tapping stored-up natural resources, especially energy, water, and soil fertility; and in doing so we establish what appears to be a higher carrying capacity. With the domestication of animals and plants and the emergence of agriculture 10,000 years ago, stored-up resources were used first within local ecosystems. Over the last two centuries, however, the earth's resource stockpiles have been used globally. This worldwide exchange of resources, as well as exceedingly clever technologies, have increased a region's carrying capacity by overcoming local constraints.Life on earth is possible because energy flows from the sun; despite exceptions, essentially all the energy that runs the earth's biotic enterprise is captured in photosynthesis by plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. We have been able to increase our numbers by coopting about 40 percent of the net land photosynthesis and a smaller fraction from aquatic environments -- 10,000 years ago the estimated world population of four million humans used less than 0.005 percent of net land photosynthesis. Consider again, for example, the great plains of North America where, prior to European habitation, 40 million bison and thousands of humans and smaller animals lived off the energy supplied by the grasses and other plants. We now farm and ranch that land, and in doing so we probably support an even larger biomass of animals -- primarily chickens, pigs, and cows, as well as millions of humans -- by employing industrial agriculture.It may sound good that we have improved the ecosystem's productivity by relying on industrial agriculture. Closer analysis, though, indicates that this may be a short-term phenomenon. When microorganisms, invertebrates, grasses, bison, deer, antelope, and native Americans were the prime players in the ecosystem, the whole system ran on sunshine and was biologically stabler. The ecological "books" were in balance, and some items like topsoil usually were improving. Industrial agriculture has increased the apparent carrying capacity by using vast amounts of fossil fuels to make fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides, in addition to the fuels used to raise seeds and to run the machinery that works the soil and disperses seeds and chemicals. For each calorie of food produced, close to three calories of fossil fuel energy are consumed on the farm -- energy that did not come from this year's sunshine. In addition, water is pumped from the ground for irrigation; some of this water comes from aquifers that are drained faster than they are filled. These farming methods have led to a massive loss of topsoil through water, wind, and splash erosion. Over the past 150 years Iowa has lost 50 percent of its fertile topsoil to erosion, while the current rate of loss is 30 tons per hectare per year compared to a formation rate of 1 ton per hectare per year. In contrast, undisturbed grasslands and forests have erosion rates of .02 and .07 tons per hectare per year, respectively. In the long run this kind of agriculture reduces the carrying capacity of ecosystems, as it has done already in many areas around the world, primarily in ecosystems less resilient than parts of the Great Plains. The apparent success of current industrial agriculture has led people to believe that the earth's long-term human carrying capacity is far greater than it really is.Biologists also have indirect evidence that puts the size of our current population in an ecological category of its own. How many individuals exist in a population within a certain area depends on the organism's size. Bacteria are small and billions of many species exist in 1 square meter of forest soil. Field mice are much larger than bacteria and only thousands exist in 1 square kilometer of grass land. Deer are about the size of humans and 4 deer per square kilometer is a normal distribution in a forest-meadow habitat. Primates like howler monkeys and mountain gorillas are rare, and their density of habitation is a fraction of an individual for many square kilometers. A human is a large primate weighing about 50 kilograms, so we would predict human densities similar to those of primates or at least similar to those of other large animals like deer, wolves, or bears. When we compare the current human population with that of 50-kilogram or larger nondomesticated land vertebrates, however, the global human population density is now 100 times greater than that of any other similar-sized animal, past or present. Our global population size is an ecological aberration. The reason is simply explained: First, directly or indirectly, humans use huge amounts of the energy acquired by plants at the expense of other species; second, intelligence and communication have enabled huge human populations to exist almost everywhere on the planet by cleverly employing technologies to increase present-day carrying capacities.Not only is the human population enormous, but our local densities are gigantic, too. In cities like New York City or Hong Kong humans have densities of tens of thousands per square kilometer. In an entire country like Holland, an average of 440 people live in each square kilometer -- a phenomenal density when compared with other large animals. The current Dutch population could not maintain its lifestyle, or most likely any lifestyle, if it was limited to subsisting on resources from Holland alone. The Dutch would need at least fifteen times more area to obtain the resources they currently use. Such densities are possible in cities and most countries because people are taking resources from elsewhere.In 1798 Thomas Malthus, a British political economist, warned western industrial society that human population growth would be halted by natural processes unless we controlled our numbers. Humans have failed, however, to establish a stable population because beliefs and economic incentives support contrary behavior and because our technologies enable us to overcome local limits in the present. The export of Western culture and economies eliminated constraints on population growth in many places around the planet. The result? A world population that has doubled in just over forty years.Over the past hundred years, though, the patterns of change experienced by populations around the globe have exhibited enormous variability. In the early twentieth century, the populations in western European countries were growing rapidly, but by the early 1980s some had completed a demographic transition to zero population growth. Over a one-hundred year period birth rates had dropped to equal death rates because of availability of contraceptive technologies, widespread education, lower child mortality, higher living standards, and the depletion of places to export excess population.For most of the twentieth century nonindustrialized countries have witnessed tremendous jumps in their populations, but in the last several decades fertility rates in many have fallen even faster than were experienced during the demographic transition in European countries. This is not because living standards have risen; contraceptives, greater education and economic opportunities primarily for women, and media information on population and family planning have paved the way. Other situations, like economic and social deterioration in the former Soviet Union, have resulted in dramatic fertility declines. Although trends can be identified, the world is composed of myriad cultures, with each expressing a dynamic pattern of population change."While the foregoing makes it clear that calculating a precise human carrying capacity for earth will not be accomplished, it is absolutely certain that growth of the human population will stop. Simple mathematics tells us at recent annual increases of about 1.6% (a doubing time of 45 years) that in less than 1,000 years each person will have only one square meter of land and that in less than 2,000 years the human population will equal the mass of the earth -- both impossible. The tragic consequence of humans occuppying and using ever larger percentages of the earth's ecological space is that all of the rest of life -- except those weedy species that do well in human created habitats -- has no where to go except extinct. As a result, we humans are causing the sixth mass biological diversity extinction episode of the last 600 million years. Realizing biological diversity is what makes earth habitable and supportive of human civilization in the first place, this current extinction episode takes on overwhelming significance in human affairs.

FURTHER READINGJoel E. Cohen: HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN THE EARTH SUPPORT? New York: Norton. 1995. Joel E. Cohen: POPULATION GROWTH AND EARTH'S HUMAN CARRYING CAPACITY. 1995. Science 269:341-346.Clive Ponting: A GREEN HISTORY OF THE WORLD: THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE COLLAPSE OF GREAT CIVILIZATIONS. New York: Penguin Books. 1991.David Quammen: PLANET OF WEEDS. Harper's Magazine, October 1998, pp 57-69.Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees: OUR ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT: RELIEVING HUMAN IMPACT ON THE EARTH. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers. 1996.Peter Ward: THE END OF EVOLUTION. New York: Bantam Books. 1994.Edward O. Wilson: THE DIVERISTY OF LIFE. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 1992.Edward O. Wilson: THE DIVERSITY OF LIFE (Book Excerpt). Discover, September 1992, pp 45-68.