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NEWS OF THE EARTH…NEWS OF THE EARTH…FROM AROUND THE WORLDResearch Shows: Less Trees, Less RainAustralianscientists havefound thatdeforestationalong the AmazonRiver in SouthAmerica wasreducing rainfalland causingclimate change inthe region.EPA Orders Smog, SootReductions to BenefitPeople Downwind fromPower PlantsWASHINGTON — The USadministration has orderedreductions in smog and sootpollution across 28 states in theEast, South and Midwest with thegoal of making the air cleaner tobreathe for people downwind ofcoal-burning power plants.Consumers who get electricityfrom the companies' plants canexpect their monthly power billsto increase eventually by up to $1to pay for the changes.The Environmental ProtectionAgency's new regulations setpollution quotas for 28 states andthe District of Columbia on smogformingnitrogen oxides and soot-Cambodia Seeks toTighten Regulations onPesticide UsePHNOM PENH, Cambodia —Cambodia must tighten itspolicy regarding pesticide usein farming, which poses seriousrisks not just for public healthand the environment but alsofor trade with other countries,officials said."Cambodia is the easiest place"compared to other countries touse toxic pesticides because itlacks legal restrictions, CheaChan Veasna, an AgricultureMinistry official.Agriculture Minister Chan Sarunsaid pesticides were a "verypopular" means of increasingcrop output, but posed serioushealth risks to farmers who lackproper protective gear.Long-term effects of exposureto pesticides, by handlers andconsumers, are believed toinclude damage to brain nerves,infertility, genetic mutationsand cancer.SOURCE: Associated Press (AP)Australia Announces Plan toName Polluting BusinessesAustralia will namemajor polluters in anattempt to cut thenation's greenhouse gasoutput, despiteCanberra's refusal toratify the Kyoto Protocol,a senior governmentofficial has said.Under the program,businesses can have thegovernment certifyproducts and services asnot contributing to globalwarming.But rather than beingpenalized for poorperformance as the Kyotoplan calls for, Australiancompanies would facepublic shame by havingthe government publishtheir names and pollutionrecords published on theInternet. Starting in July2006, large corporateusers of diesel fuel willhave to report to thegovernment each year onhow much greenhouse gasthey produce and whatplans they have inreducing the output.Australia and the UnitedStates are the only majorindustrialized countriesthat have refused to ratifythe Kyoto pact, which setstargets for greenhouse gasreduction. But despite thefact that Australia has notsigned, EnvironmentMinister Ian Campbell saidit will meet the Kyototarget of allowingemissions of just 8 percentabove the country's 1990level by 2012.SOURCE: Associated Press (AP)A study in the Amazon found that aloss of forests meant less waterevaporated back into theatmosphere, resulting in less rainfall,said Ann Henderson-Sellers, Directorof Environment at the AustralianNuclear Science and TechnologyOrganization.Key to the study was plotting thecycle of a heavy molecular version ofwater common in the Amazon thatevaporates more readily throughplants than from lakes and rivers.Water from household taps consists oftwo "regular" hydrogen atoms and one"regular" oxygen atom, explainedHenderson-Sellers, but some watermolecules see the second hydrogenatom replaced by a heavier versioncalled deuterium."Plants transpire the water moleculesand pumps them back into the air,without discriminating between heavyor regular molecules," Henderson-Sellers.SOURCE: Reutersproducing sulfur dioxide. Most ofthe states are east of theMississippi River.The agency envisions that theclean air rule will prevent 17,000premature deaths and 700,000cases annually of bronchitis,asthma and other respiratoryailments, while also improvingthe air in parks and forests.SOURCE: Associated Press (AP)China RaisesEnvironmental Bar forHeavy IndustryChina is raising theenvironmental bar on theconstruction of heavilypolluting factories and plantsin a move that could bolsterefforts to limit investment andcool the economy.China has suffered severeenvironmental damage in recentdecades as economicdevelopment has accelerated,but the government has sinceadopted a series of measures tocool the world's seventh largesteconomy, which grew 9.5percent last year.Steel, cement, aluminium, ironalloy, calcium carbide and cokeproducingplants would undergostricter environmentalassessments before constructioncould begin, Xinhua newsagency said.The stricter policy also appliedto projects already under way,Pan Yue, vice minister of theState Environmental ProtectionAdministration, was quoted assaying."Projects that have beencompleted and put intooperation illegally must upgradetheir facilities in line withenvironmental protectionregulations within a limitedperiod of time, or they will beshut down," Pan said.The administration in Januaryordered the suspension ofconstruction at 30 majorinfrastructure projects, includingthree related to the ThreeGorges Dam, the world's largesthydro-electric project, becausethey had not undergoneenvironmental impactassessments.SOURCE: ReutersSomalia's Environment Minister Callsfor Investigation of Suspicious WasteSomalia's newenvironment ministerasked the United Nationsto investigate possiblehazardous waste thatwas washed ashore bylast year's tsunami andmay be causing illnessesamong local people.Mohamed Osman Maye, aminister in Somalia's newgovernment based inneighboring Kenya, saidstrange objects washedashore all along hiscountry's coastline, thelongest in Africa, when atsunami struck on Dec.26, 2004.Maye said that he had noevidence to back upunconfirmed reports thatradioactive waste mayhave come ashore whenthe tsunami hit Somalia.But he called on the U.N.Environment Program,also based in Nairobi, forassistance sincehundreds of people werereporting unusualillnesses.Foreign fishing vesselshave also causedirreparable harm byoverfishing in Somaliterritorial waters andinternational interventionwas needed to stopthem, Maye said.SOURCE: Associated Press (AP)1819

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