14 October 2017   Leave a comment

Fighting has reportedly broken out between Kurdish and Iraqi forces near the city of Kirkuk.  The Kurdish press is reporting that 70 families were forced to leave their homes by Shiite militias near the city of Khurmatu.  The report identifies the militia as the Asaib Ahl-haq group affiliated with the Hashd al-Shaabi.  These groups are closely identified with Iran and their opposition to the Kurds reflects the Iranian strategic objective of containing the Kurds.  If the reporting is accurate, this battle could be the beginning of the Iraq War, Part III (Part I, the US invasion in March, 2003 and Part II, ISIS takes Mosul, June 2014).


The South Korean newspaper, Dong-A Ilbo, is reporting that US satellites have photographed North Korean missiles being transported on mobile missile launchers.   It may be the case that North Korea is preparing to launch missiles either in retaliation for planned US-South Korean military exercises or in celebration of the 18 October anniversary of the founding of the North Korean Communist Party.  The US-South Korean military exercises include over 40 US naval vessels, including the nuclear submarine, the USS Michigan, and the USS Ronald Reagan, a advanced-class aircraft carrier.

USS Ronald Reagan


NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) is a new tool to record the emissions of carbon dioxide on earth.   The satellite, launched in 2014, “takes about 100,000 direct and daily measurements of CO2 over the tropical forest regions of South America, the tropical forests of Africa and the tropical region of Asia surrounding Indonesia”.   These regions have been under-reported in the past because of the difficulties in taking accurate measurements.  But the satellite was able to measure the effects of droughts in these regions which led to the decomposition of many parts of the forests which in turn led to the release of large amounts of CO2.  According to the report:

“NASA presented new research findings with a teleconference on Oct 12 that featured Liu alongside Michael Freilich, director of the Earth Science Division at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.; Annmarie Eldering, the OCO-2 deputy project scientist at JPL; and Scott Denning, professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University.

“‘In both 2015 and 2016, OCO-2 and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) measured the largest annual increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide in at least 2,000 years,’ Eldering said during the briefing. Using OCO-2 data, Liu quantified that ‘in total, the three tropical land regions released at least 2.5 gigatons more of carbon into the atmosphere than they did in 2011,’ or about a 50 percent increase.”

In the past, many have assumed that the tropical forest have acted as a major sink for CO2.  These findings call that assumption into question.

Posted October 14, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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