Thursday 31 March 2016

Russia may get a direct route from Caspian to Arabian Sea

Iran Will Need Russia's Help to Build Its Caspian Sea-Persian Gulf Canal
Iran's ambitious project to build a 'trans-Iranian' canal from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf will only be possible with Russia's help, says Bahram Amirahmadiyan, an expert on political geography at the University of Tehran.

30 March, 2016

Over the weekend, media reports recalled Iran's plans to construct an artificial trans-Iranian canal linking the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf. Negotiations on the project are said to be underway, with the canal itself expected to be commissioned in the 2020s.
The project, which faces many potential challenges that must be addressed before and during construction, was endorsed by former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad several years ago, and in 2012, former energy minister Majid Namjoo calculated that the project would cost approximately $7 billion.

Asked to comment on the ambitious scheme, Bahram Amirahmadiyan, a member of the faculty of World Studies at the University of Tehran, told Sputnik that Iran will definitely look for Russia's assistance, and that of other countries in the region, to complete the project.
"We know by the example of other countries that building a canal to connect two major bodies of water is feasible. As an example, there is the Volga-Don Canal." Tehran, the academic added, has also taken an interest in the proposed Russian project to connect the Caspian and Black Seas, known as the Eurasia Canal project.
"For now, due to the reorientation of the geopolitical interests of some countries, this project has not moved beyond the planning stage," Amirahmadiyan noted.
The other project Iran is looking at is the above-mentioned plan to connect the Caspian Sea with the Persian Gulf or, alternatively, the Gulf of Oman. 
"The history of this project dates back several decades, and it is rightly considered to be strategically important, since it would [exit into] international waters. Accordingly, the US military ships which currently operate in the Persian Gulf, and the ships of their allies, would run into certain difficulties in their freedom of movement. Therefore, considering current geopolitical realities, such a canal has strategic significance for Russian-Iranian relations."

Factually, Amirahmadiyan explained, "two variants for the route are being considered. The first is through an area between the city of Gorgan and the Mazandaran province [in the north], toward Sahrud, and from there to the country's central provinces and the Port of Chabahar (Iran's only port in the Gulf of Oman), and on into the Indian Ocean."
"The second option looks shorter on paper, and would connect the southwestern Caspian Sea to Abadan and Khorramshahr (on the border with Iraq) with the Persian Gulf."
Two variants for the Great Persian Canal, the western route (light blue) and the eastern route (dark blue)
Two variants for the Great Persian Canal, the western route (light blue) and the eastern route (dark blue)
"The second option looks more attractive from the financial standpoint, and discussion on the prospects for its implementation has long occupied the minds of Iranian authorities. However, there is still no consensus on the plan's feasibility."  
Russia signals readiness to contribute to the development of Iran's major energy projects
Part of the discussion on the proposed Caspian Sea-Persian Gulf canal, the expert noted, includes focus on proposals to transfer water from the Caspian Sea to central Iran to help address the problems of water scarcity in agriculture. 
"However, such an effort may carry its own negative consequences, such as a disturbance of the ecological system, climate change and other issues."
So far in its history, Amirahmadiyan noted, the financial aspect has always been the main stumbling block when it comes to implementing the Caspian Sea-Persian Gulf canal project.
"For Iran and Russia, if they want to implement the project together, it will be necessary, in the current economic climate, to carefully weigh the costs and to make all the necessary calculations, because the construction costs would require enormous investment."
"Another important element is logistics. When the canal is built, it will be necessary to somehow establish transit links between the territories to its east and west, which will obviously require additional investment and capital expenditures. Another issue [which must be dealt with] is the difference in elevation between the Iranian regions which must be connected."
Finally, "in order for the canal to actually be navigable, it will require a great depth, and a width which is sufficient for the free movement of ships. And that is a big difficulty given the difference in elevation between the Caspian and Persian Gulf area regions. It will be necessary to equip the canal with locks."
In any case, Amirahmadiyan said, if implemented, such a project would be of tremendous strategic importance for Russia, providing, through Iran, a naval route to the Indian Ocean.
A view of Baku
"In the early 2000s," the expert recalled, "countries signed on to the North-South Transport Corridor," a ship, rail and road route linking Russia to India via Iran. "But this project has [so far] remained on paper."

"Therefore, for such a large-scale project to be implemented, it will require a series of very careful and detailed studies, technical calculations, consideration of the economic risks, as well as ecological and even cultural evaluations. After all, our continent has never seen such a project of such magnitude before."
Ultimately, the academic noted, "for Iran, this project is very important. Iranians even call it 'Iran rud' ('Iran's River') –a big 'river' which would flow across the country, linking the south to the north."
, to build canal linking Caspian to Arabian seas.

5:15 AM - 29 Mar 2016
"If the project is implemented, we will become witness to important [economic] changes. First of all, Iran will get an unprecedented new national transport network, which will modernize, optimize, accelerate and simplify sea-based passenger travel and cargo shipping, most importantly the transport of energy resources – oil and gas."
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Iran's ambassador to Russia, Mehdi Sanai (File)

"But the final word on the project falls to the specialists, to politicians and diplomats, who, through a comprehensive approach, can give the project new life. Of course, this will require the intensification of cooperation between the specialized agencies of Iran and Russia, including the joint Iranian-Russian Trade Commission."

Moreover, Amirahmadiyan noted, "the authorities of other Caspian countries too must not stay on the sidelines. States such as Kazakstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan must also take part in the project. I think that if an economic union of Caspian countries were established, their joint efforts would benefit the implementation of a whole range of projects related to the Caspian Sea."

The Police State in New Zealand - warrantless гsurveillance

Spy agency carries out warrantless surveillance
The Security Intelligence Service (SIS) has carried out surveillance without a warrant, the minister responsible for the spy agency has confirmed.

31 March, 2016

The new powers were granted to the agency in a 2014 anti-terror law change.

In the agency's annual review, SIS director Rebecca Kitteridge reported that one authorisation was granted between 1 July and 31 December 2015.

The minister, Chris Finlayson, would not confirm the circumstances that led to the authorisation but said the use of warrantless surveillance was pretty rare.

He said the warrants were issued in urgent or emergency situations.

New research indicates more rapid melting of Antarctic ice sheet

Another bit of modelling that fails to take into account positive feedbacks or the exponential function.

But it HAS made the news on Radio NZ.

Antarctic melt impact 'underestimated' - Global sea levels could rise by more than double the current best estimate, according to a new analysis of climate change in Antarctica.

Climate Model Predicts West Antarctic Ice Sheet Could Melt Rapidly

30 March, 2016

For half a century, climate scientists have seen the West Antarctic ice sheet, a remnant of the last ice age, as a sword of Damocles hanging over human civilization.

The great ice sheet, larger than Mexico, is thought to be potentially vulnerable to disintegration from a relatively small amount of global warming, and capable of raising the sea level by 12 feet or more should it break up. But researchers long assumed the worst effects would take hundreds — if not thousands — of years to occur.

Now, new research suggests the disaster scenario could play out much sooner.

Continued high emissions of heat-trapping gases could launch a disintegration of the ice sheet within decades, according to a study published Wednesday, heaving enough water into the ocean to raise the sea level as much as three feet by the end of this century.

With ice melting in other regions, too, the total rise of the sea could reach five or six feet by 2100, the researchers found. That is roughly twice the increase reported as a plausible worst-case scenario by a United Nations panel just three years ago, and so high it would likely provoke a profound crisis within the lifetimes of children being born today.

Under the Ice Sheet

The vast West Antarctic ice sheet sits on bedrock that dips thousands of feet below sea level. New computer simulations suggest that the warming atmosphere and ocean could attack the ice sheet from above and below, causing sea levels to rise much faster than previously thought.

The situation would grow far worse beyond 2100, the researchers found, with the rise of the sea exceeding a pace of a foot per decade by the middle of the 22nd century. Scientists had documented such rates of increase in the geologic past, when far larger ice sheets were collapsing, but most of them had long assumed it would be impossible to reach rates so extreme with the smaller ice sheets of today.

We are not saying this is definitely going to happen,” said David Pollard, a researcher at Pennsylvania State University and a co-author of the new paper. “But I think we are pointing out that there’s a danger, and it should receive a lot more attention.”

The long-term effect would likely be to drown the world’s coastlines, including many of its great cities.

New York City is nearly 400 years old; in the worst-case scenario conjured by the research, its chances of surviving another 400 years in anything like its present form would appear to be remote. Miami, New Orleans, London, Venice, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sydney, Australia, are all just as vulnerable as New York, or more so.

In principle, coastal defenses could be built to protect the densest cities, but experts believe it will be impossible to do that along all 95,000 miles of the American coastline, meaning that immense areas will most likely have to be abandoned to the rising sea.

The new research, published by the journal Nature, is based on improvements in a computerized model of Antarctica and its complex landscape of rocks and glaciers, meant to capture factors newly recognized as imperiling the stability of the ice.

The new version of the model allowed the scientists, for the first time, to reproduce high sea levels of the past, such as a climatic period about 125,000 years ago when the seas rose to levels 20 to 30 feet higher than today.

That gave them greater confidence in the model’s ability to project the future sea level, though they acknowledged that they do not yet have an answer that could be called definitive.

You could think of all sorts of ways that we might duck this one,” said Richard B. Alley, a leading expert on glacial ice at Pennsylvania State University. “I’m hopeful that will happen. But given what we know, I don’t think we can tell people that we’re confident of that.”

Dr. Alley was not an author of the new paper, though it is based in part on his ideas about the stability of glacial ice. Several other scientists not involved in the paper described it as significant, with some of them characterizing it as a milestone.

But those same scientists emphasized that it was a single paper, and unlikely to be the last word on the fate of West Antarctica. The effort to include the newly recognized factors imperiling the ice is still crude, with years of work likely needed to improve the models.

Peter U. Clark of Oregon State University helped lead the last effort by a United Nations panel to assess the risks of sea level rise; he was not involved in the new paper. He emphasized that the research, like much previous work, highlighted the urgency of bringing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under control.

It was his panel that had estimated an upper limit of three feet or so on the likely sea level rise in the 21st century, while specifically warning that a better understanding of the vulnerability of Antarctic ice could change that estimate.

The new research is the work of two scientists who have been at the forefront of ice-sheet modeling for years. They are Robert M. DeConto of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Dr. Pollard, who is a colleague of Dr. Alley’s at Penn State.

In a lengthy interview on Monday, Dr. DeConto recounted years of frustration. The computer program he had built in a long-running collaboration with Dr. Pollard showed increasing sophistication in its ability to explain the behavior of ice sheets, but it had some trouble analyzing the past.

Unless global temperatures were raised to unrealistic levels, the model would not melt enough ice to reproduce the high sea levels known to have occurred in previous periods when either the atmosphere or the ocean was warmer. The ability to reproduce past events is considered a stringent test of the merits of any geological model.

We knew something was missing,” Dr. DeConto said.

The new idea came from Dr. Alley. He urged his colleagues to consider what would happen as a warming climate attacked huge shelves of floating ice that help to protect and buttress the West Antarctic ice sheet.

Smaller, nearby ice shelves have already started to disintegrate, most spectacularly in 2002, when an ice shelf the size of Rhode Island, the Larsen B shelf, broke apart in two weeks.

The West Antarctic ice sheet sits in a sort of deep bowl that extends far below sea level, and if it loses its protective fringes of floating ice, the result is likely to be the formation of vast, sheer cliffs of ice facing the sea. These will be so high they will become unstable in places, Dr. Alley said in an interview, and the warming atmosphere is likely to encourage melting on their surface in the summer that would weaken them further.

The result, Dr. Alley suspected, might be a rapid shrinkage as the unstable cliffs collapsed into the water. Something like this seems to be happening already at several glaciers, including at least two in Greenland, but on a far smaller scale than may be possible in West Antarctica.

When Dr. DeConto and Dr. Pollard, drawing on prior work by J. N. Bassis and C. C. Walker, devised some equations to capture this “ice-cliff instability,” their model produced striking results.

The obvious next step was to ask the model what might happen if human society continues to warm the planet by pouring huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The answer the scientists got is described in their paper in the dry language of science, but it could easily serve as the plot device of a Hollywood disaster movie. They found that West Antarctica, which is already showing disturbing signs of instability, would start to break apart by the 2050s.

Vulnerable parts of the higher, colder ice sheet of East Antarctica would eventually fall apart, too, and the result by the year 2500 would be 43 feet of sea level rise from Antarctica alone, with still more water coming from elsewhere, the computer estimated. In some areas, the shoreline would be likely to move inland by miles.

The paper published Wednesday does contain some good news. A far more stringent effort to limit emissions of greenhouse gases would stand a fairly good chance of saving West Antarctica from collapse, the scientists found. That aspect of their paper contrasts with other recent studies postulating that a gradual disintegration of West Antarctica may have already become unstoppable.

But the recent climate deal negotiated in Paris would not reduce emissions nearly enough to achieve that goal. That deal is to be formally signed by world leaders in a ceremony in New York next month, in a United Nations building that stands directly by the rising water.

NZ rivers going “down the gurgler”

Clean, Green” New Zealand’s Rivers in Crisis
Tony Orman* Journalist/Editor P O Box 939 BLENHEIM, 7240 New Zealand

*Pic: What legacy are tomorrow New Zealand citizens being left with increasingly depleted and polluted rivers?

26 March, 2016

New Zealand’s rivers are in a crisis stage with Government intent on using the water to set up corporate dairy farmers. Rivers are going “down the gurgler” in terms of flow and water quality.

Last Saturday (19 March) Christchurch-based “The Press” in the South Island featured a front page article about “trashed rivers.” North Canterbury Fish and Game chairman said the trout fishery had suffered years of environmental degradation. Declining river quality particularly close to Christchurch city has seen rivers suitable for swimming drop from 74 percent five years ago to 64 percent today.

Water is a public resource in New Zealand and trout fisheries by Act of Parliament are publicly owned. Rivers are valuable - indeed vital -  commercially recreationally and ecologically. But there is conflict because of New Zealand government bias towards converting low rainfall areas such as the Canterbury Plains and MacKenzie Basin near Mt Cook, into lush green pasture for corporate dairy farming. That grass growth in very low rainfall regions can only be achieved by irrigation from the underground aquifer or water on the surface in the form of rivers.

Dairying in mega-farm, monoculture style also causes nitrate pollution that leaches into aquifers and rivers.

The government obsessed push for massive dairying expansion is an avarice for money and export.

But ironically world dairy prices have plunged making dairying a much, much less attractive economic proposition. Dairy farmers, mostly the Kiwi family farm, are struggling with low returns and increasing debt levels. Corporates will survive and fears are overseas investors will snap up dairy farms as the traditional Kiwi farming families are forced to give up.

A key to government’s aim to increase dairying at the expense of rivers, is reforming the Resource Management Act to lower set standards for water quality. Government intends to “reform” freshwater management by amending the Resource Management Act and has been carrying out a roadshow programme for public meetings. But the itinerary shows government seems little interested in the concerns of a worried public.

Andi Cockcroft co-chairman of the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations (CORANZ) described the itinerary as “underwhelming” with major cities such as Dunedin, Tauranga and New Plymouth left out.

Since freshwater is a publicly owned resource, the token consultation raises deep concern about government’s sincerity and questions about any likely ulterior motives,” he said.

Ken Sims spokesman for NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers said the roadshow series of meetings seemed token consultation.

It’s going through-the-motions exercise without listening,” he said.

Reaction to the proposed reforms has not been supportive of government agenda. Even the Greater Wellington Regional council covering the district of the capital city Wellington and even government’s own environmental watchdog the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright told New Zealand’s Parliament the Bill amending the Resource Management Act (RMA) went too far in stopping people having their say on important environmental matters.”  Proposed amendments include giving the Environment Minister extreme power to shut out certain voices and make changes to local council plans.

The PCE said the powers granted to the Minister were “too wide-ranging.” The RMA is now 25 years old and has been amended many times. Dr Wright also made the point that it may be time for a fundamental rethink about how to protect our environment and how to plan cities.

It is not just dairying that is a factor in declining river quality. A number of urban areas still have inadequate sewage disposal.

All in all however New Zealand’s “clean green” image vital to attracting international tourists and giving New Zealand food exports a “100 percent pure” brand is looking very tattered.

Freshwater ecologist Mike Joy of Massey University has long been a strong advocate for arresting the worsening state of rivers. as to government’s preoccupation with increasing dairying of the corporate kind, he challenges the sustainability of intensive dairy farming in New Zealand, and the myth that the Resource Management Act protects the environment.

“Nitrogen fertiliser use has risen 700 percent in a decade; nitrogen levels at 77 fresh water sites are up.”

Nitrates leaching into rivers and aquifers are a major pollutant.

Back in 2011 Prime Minister John Key was interviewed on BBC Hardtalk about the myth of the country’s “100 percent pure” claim relative to rivers.

John Key found himself having to defend New Zealand’s “100 percent Pure’ slogan as BBC journalist Stephen Sackur grilled him about whether New Zealand really is as clean and green as the tourism campaign suggested.

Stephen Sackur cited Mike Joy, a leading environmental scientist at Massey University, who had said “we (New Zealand government) are delusional about how green and clean we are”.

That might be Mike Joy’s view, but I don’t share that view,” said Mr Key when Mr Sackur presented him with the quote.

Stephen Sackur then pointed out that Mr Joy was a scientist and would have based his comments on research.

Mr Key replied: “Well he’s one academic, and like lawyers I can give you another one that will give a counterview.”

The Prime Minister said that in comparison to the rest of the world New Zealand is ‘100% Pure’, but Mr Sackur disagreed, saying; “100 percent is 100 percent and clearly you’re not 100 percent. You’ve clearly got problems with river pollution, you’ve clearly got problems with species facing extinction.”

Mr Sackur said Mr Joy blamed decades of poor New Zealand government policy.
That was 2011. Now five years later government seems still in a state of denial about the loss of rivers and the myth about “clean and green” and “100 percent pure.” And the public’s river are being sacrificed.

Tony Orman is a New Zealand journalist and author of outdoor books

When Nick Smith said making every river swimmable ‘was not practical’ did a little bit of you die?
By Martyn Bradbury 

13 March, 2016

Neither a rap nor bible verse could sway Environment Minister Nick Smith to consider making waterways swimmable.

Smith visited Palmerston North on Thursday as part the Government’s nationwide fresh water consultation, the night before a new five-year plan to clean up the Manawatu River was due to be released.

As the meeting turned over to the public for questions, a range were posed of the minister ranging from swimmable waterways and the Shannon wastewater treatment plant, to a protest rap, and a reading of a few verses from the book of Genesis.

Smith fielded several questions on why the Government was not aiming for swimmable waterways.

Each time, he responded that it simply was not “practical”.

I do not think a legal requirement for every water body in New Zealand to be swimmable is practical.”

After cheerleading for the dairy intensification that now sees many dairy farms drowning in debt, Nick says it’s not ‘practical’ to ensure our rivers can be swam in.
Did a little bit of you die when you read that NZ?

This is the NZ National voters have built.

The Greens seem to be missing in action here. The Head of Hufflepuff, James Shaw (aka Dr Invisible) looks like a possum stuck in the headlights most interviews. I don’t want to sound like a trolls troll but the Greens communications and political strategy looks as flat footed as a duck. The Wellington clique who are running the Green Party now are great at alienating people on twitter, but don’t seem to be so sharp when it comes to making political gains.

Meanwhile our rivers run brown with cow shit so National Party voters can drown in debt.

Great work NZ.

“Alien fish” caught alive off Pacific coast

PHOTOS: “Alien fish” caught alive off Pacific coast… Bizarre creature resembles “albino shark” with large distended stomach
Doctor: 3 exceedingly rare albino dolphins captured off Japan in one year… Fukushima must be researched as possible cause

30 March, 2016

Pisces Sportfishing Fleet, Mar 29, 2016 (emphasis added): ALIEN FISH IN CABO? Jaime Rendon is the well known and liked local captian [sic] of the panga Dr. Pescado; he is also a great fisherman… he caught this strange creature off of Cabo today. It appears to be some kind of shark. He realized it was something special and RELEASED it him/her back into the Sea… Photos have been sent to local experts to try and find out what it is.

Pete Thomas (former reporter for The Los Angeles Times), Mar 30, 2016: Mysterious, alien-like shark caught off Cabo San Lucas— A Cabo San Lucas sportfishing captain on Tuesday reeled from the depths a mysterious alien-like fish that somewhat resembles an albino shark, or shark fetus. But the bizarre-looking fish, with a distended stomach, was said to be alive when it was caught… 

The photos appeared Tuesday night on the Pisces Sportfishing Fleet’s Facebook page, under the heading, “ALIEN FISH IN CABO?”… Tracy Ehrenberg, Pisces general manager, has sent thephotos to biologists in Mexico, and we’ve sent out inquiries as well, hoping to obtain an identification. The shark – or shark-like fish – is somewhat reminiscent of the infamous one-eyed “Cyclops” shark caught in the Sea of Cortez in [July] 2011… the shark fetus was pulled from either a bull or dusky shark…

Wire Service, Dec 4, 2014: Vet Urges Research into Albino Dolphins Captured in Taiji, Japan — Dr. Luca Giovagnoli [a Veterinary Medicine Surgeon] is urging further research into the impact of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on marine mammals, after three white dolphins were captured in close succession… Albino dolphins are exceedingly rare in the wild, yet in the last 12 months, three white dolphins have been captured… “There are not many albino animals among cetaceans,” said Dr. Luca Giovagnoli, DVM, “and they are not all concentrated in one area.”… According to NOAA Fisheries, there have only been 14 recorded sightings of albino bottlenose dolphins since 1962… “This in itself is already a rare phenomenon,” the vet explained, “but when you tie the capture of many “genetically altered” subjects together we must consider other events. One of the probable causes of these genetically altered subjects must be researched in the Fukushima nuclear нdisaster.”