Harsh weather conditions hampered the search for 138 people buried under a massive avalanche at a Pakistani army camp high on the Siachen Glacier in Kashmir, The Nation reported. A wall of snow crashed into the Gayari base in the eastern Karakoram mountain range on April 7, smothering a kilometre-square area. Hopes of finding any survivors are slim.
Amid a long-running territorial dispute, Pakistan and India are engaged in a military standoff in the region that is wreaking havoc on the environment as well as costing soldiers’ lives, Agence France-Presse said. The heavy military presence is reportedly speeding up the melting of the glacier, one of the world’s largest outside the polar regions, and leaching poisonous materials into the Indus river system.
The French energy giant Total plans to plug a leak of potentially explosive gas from a stricken North Sea rig by the end of April, Agence France-Presse reported a company executive as saying. Total intends to pump “heavy mud” into the well – which has been leaking since March 25 – to cut off the gas, and to drill two relief wells.
Chevron has discovered an oil seep in an offshore Brazilian field run by Petrobras, near the site of a November leak that led to civil and criminal charges against the US company and its drilling contractor, Transocean, Reuters said. The new leak stokes broader concerns about the safety and speed with which Brazil can develop new offshore resources.
Artemesinin, the world’s most effective malaria drug, is losing its power, threatening the lives of millions of people around the world, The Independent cited a study in The Lancet as finding. Tests along the Thai-Burmese border show that the most deadly form of the malaria parasite has developed resistance to artemesinin, considered for more than a decade to be the best treatment for the disease.
One of the world’s biggest funders of science, the Wellcome Trust, is backing a growing campaign to allow all research papers to be shared online, The Guardian reported. So far, nearly 9,000 researchers have agreed to boycott scientific journals that restrict free sharing. The Wellcome Trust is the second-largest non-governmental funder of medical research, and its support is thought likely to galvanise the “academic spring” movement.
James Hansen of the US space agency NASA, a leading climate-change expert, has urged Britain not to build any more coal-fired power stations, the BBC said. A mixture of new-build nuclear-power generation and renewables is the best combination in addressing global warming, he said.
Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, recently wrote that averting the worst consequences of human-induced climate change is a “great moral issue” on a par with slavery, and he argues, according to The Guardian, that it would be an “injustice of one generation to others” to store up expensive and destructive consequences for the future. He also supports a flat-rate global tax on carbon emissions.
Climatic changes in China, the Middle East and Africa could see more severe outbreaks of locusts devastating food crops