Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 Earthquake hits the Banda Sea.

5.4 Earthquake hits the Kuril islands.

5.4 Earthquake hits Kepulauan Taluad, Indonesia.

5.1 Earthquake hits Lake Baykal, Russia.

5.0 Earthquake hits Maule, Chile.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits southeast of Easter Island.

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical depression 28w (Melor), located approximately 492 nm east-southeast of Manila, Philippines, is tracking west-northwestward at 11 knots.

NewsBytes:

Ireland – A number of houses,a secondary school and a number of cars were flooded in the Corbally area of Limerick city last night.

Global Warming

Nations Approve Landmark Climate Accord in Paris

With the sudden bang of a gavel Saturday night, representatives of 195 nations reached a landmark accord that will, for the first time, commit nearly every country to lowering planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions to help stave off the most drastic effects of climate change.

The deal, which was met with an eruption of cheers and ovations from thousands of delegates gathered from around the world, represents a historic breakthrough on an issue that has foiled decades of international efforts to address climate change.

Traditionally, such pacts have required developed economies like the United States to take action to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but they have exempted developing countries like China and India from such obligations.

The accord, which United Nations diplomats have been working toward for nine years, changes that dynamic by requiring action in some form from every country, rich or poor.

“This is truly a historic moment,” the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said in an interview. “For the first time, we have a truly universal agreement on climate change, one of the most crucial problems on earth.”

The new deal will not, on its own, solve global warming. At best, scientists who have analyzed it say, it will cut global greenhouse gas emissions by about half enough as is necessary to stave off an increase in atmospheric temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That is the point at which, scientific studies have concluded, the world will be locked into a future of devastating consequences, including rising sea levels, severe droughts and flooding, widespread food and water shortages and more destructive storms.

But the Paris deal could represent the moment at which, because of a shift in global economic policy, the inexorable rise in planet-warming carbon emissions that started during the Industrial Revolution began to level out and eventually decline.

At the same time, the deal could be viewed as a signal to global financial and energy markets, triggering a fundamental shift away from investment in coal, oil and gas as primary energy sources toward zero-carbon energy sources like wind, solar and nuclear power.

The final language did not fully satisfy everyone. Representatives of some developing nations expressed consternation. Poorer countries had pushed for a legally binding provision requiring that rich countries appropriate a minimum of at least $100 billion a year to help them mitigate and adapt to the ravages of climate change. In the final deal, that $100 billion figure appears only in a preamble, not in the legally binding portion of the agreement.

Despite the historic nature of the Paris climate accord, its success still depends heavily on two factors outside the parameter of the deal: global peer pressure and the actions of future governments.

Disease

Fearing unrest, Iranian regime hides deadly swine flu outbreak

The swine flu presently sweeping across Iran is a full fledged outbreak. It has already spread to many provinces in the country, including highly populated areas such as the capital city, Tehran. Yet despite its increasing severity, the Iranian regime has yet to take any credible step to fight the outbreak.

Fearing social unrest, the regime is publishing contradictory figures and false reports on the number of those afflicted, including a mounting death toll.

While, the regime’s leaders claim that just a few have been affected and that the disease is under control, the regime’s Ministry of Health is sending a contradictory message. The Ministry of Health alleges that following the outbreak in Kerman and Sistan-Baluchistan provinces, the deadly disease will spread to Kurdistan, Lorestan, Khuzestan, Chaharmahal Bakhtiari, Esfahan, Tehran, Semnan and Northern Khorassan provinces in the coming weeks.

The regime’s Ministry of Health announced after two weeks that the number of people who have died of the flu is 33.

There are also reports that several people lost their lives to swine flu in the city of Mehran in Ilam border province, but regime’s officials deny the existence and outbreak of the disease in Ilam and cities in border region.

The budget allocated to health and medical treatment or fundamental investments in public health in Iran ranks amongst the worst in the world while the figures of victims of diseases ranks among the highest globally.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Etna (Sicily, Italy): The NE crater started again to produce puffs of ash, generating small plumes drifting southwest.

Veniaminof (Alaska Peninsula, USA): The Alaska Volcano Observatory lowered the volcano’s alert status back to normal/green: “Seismic activity, indicative of unrest, at Veniaminof has decreased to near background levels during the past two weeks. Minor steaming from the intracaldera cone has not been observed since November 16. As a result, AVO is lowering the Aviation Color Code to Green and the Volcano Alert Level to Normal.” (AVO)