News In Brief

Posted on December 14, 2011

OrangutanAnyone for Orang pot-roast

As if it were not enough that your home gets destroyed by effectively unrestricted slash-and-burn demolition, it now seems that Orang-Utan are also being eaten at a staggering rate as well. A survey of 6,983 people from 687 villages carried out by Erik Meijaard of People and Nature Consulting International in Jakarta, Indonesia, between April 2008 and September 2009 suggests that roughly 1,000 orangs each year are eaten as bushmeat out of the mere 69,000 remaining in the wild.

When tallied, the survey indicates that between 750 and 1,800 were eaten this way in the year up to April 2008/ In previous years things were even worse, with around 3,100 being killed per year in the years up to 1950. Of these, the survey suggests that around 54% were killed for food.

Soyuz fills the gap

A Soyuz-FG rocket launching a Soyuz-TMA spacec...

ust a single week before the International Space Station would have been left empty for the first time, Russia has launched a Soyuz rocket with a crew for the ISS. This is the first such launch since crewed missions were halted after a crash of an unmanned mission in August last year. The launcher blasted off on Monday 14th November 2011 from Baikonur in Kazakhstan and carried two Russians and an American to relieve the existing crew of the ISS.

This is the first human-crewed space mission since the American shuttles were retired back in July and the Russian cargo-carrier crashed in August. Frankly, here at Changed Times we are forced to wonder if the extremely reliable Ariane V launcher used by ESA should perhaps be adapted to carry human crews.

Hold the gloop

Sand Hills, Nebraska

Back in our first issue of Changed Times we covered the issue of shale gas drilling in Blackpool here in the UK, but that is far from the only or the worst of the new high-pollution versions of oil and gas extraction going on around the world these days. One of the worst, long-beloved by science-fiction writers as an example of how the world could choose the worst of all possible extraction methods, is tar sands extraction such as that being carried out in Canada.

A highly controversial pipeline from the Canada tar sands is planned to take the bitumen “gloop” via the Keystone XL pipe, through the Nebraska Sand Hills and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico for refining. A decision on the pipeline had been expected from Barack Obama later this year but much to the relief of conservationists everywhere is now liekly to be delayed until 2013 – after the Presidential elections.

The final insanity

English: Map with members International Energy...

And finally in our brief round-up of the crazy news this week, at a time when governments the world over are trying – admittedly with varying degrees of sincerity – to stop global temperatures rising above a disastrous 2°C it has taken the International Energy Agency to point out out the obvious.

To you and us it may seem clear that negotiating emission cuts is somewhat incompatible with building new fossil fuel power stations, but that is exactly what seems to be happening. Already, the goal of keeping temperature rise below the 2°C level seems to be virtually out of reach even without new power stations and the point is finally made crystal clear by the IEA in its 2011 edition of “World Energy Outlook” which calculates that existing energy infrastructure will already provide 80% of the carbon dioxide needed to hit that catastrophic rise.