Nearly 1.3 million hectares of farmland in three southern US states have been submerged by flood waters from the Mississippi River and its tributaries – North America’s largest river system – Reuters reported. Caused by melting snow and heavy spring rains, the floods add to troubles in seeding this year’s crops in the world’s top grain exporter and come at a time of already soaring prices.
Along the 3,730-kilometre length of the Mississippi, communities braced for further flooding, The Washington Post said. After cresting just below the 1937 record level in Memphis, Tennessee, the river was taking aim at one of the poorest parts of the United States – the Mississippi Delta – as it flowed toward the Gulf of Mexico.
In the central Canadian province of Manitoba, officials considered whether to punch a 65-metre hole in a dike along the swollen Assiniboine River to allow a “controlled release” of water, according to The Globe and Mail. By flooding farmland and hundreds of homes, officials hope to avoid the destruction of much more property.
Chubu Electric agreed to shut down reactors at the Hamaoka nuclear plant, which supplies much of Japan’s auto industry, until the facility can be better defended against tsunamis, Reuters reported. The move followed an unprecedented request by prime minister Naoto Kan.
Methane levels in water supplies close to shale gas-extraction sites in the states of Pennsylvania and New York are up to 17 times higher than normal, The Guardian said, citing US research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The study – which found contamination in about 85% of drinking-water wells within one kilometre of a natural gas well -- is the latest to challenge efforts to sell natural gas as a cleaner, safer source of energy.
The United Nations said its Clean Development Mechanism is growing steadily, having registered 3,000 carbon-cutting energy projects to date, according to Reuters. Under the CDM scheme, companies invest in emissions-reduction projects in developing countries and receive credits in return.
Ten airlines are expected to begin investing in CDM projects this year, industry officials said as Kenya Airways became the first African carrier to enlist. Reuters said the rapid expansion of the aviation sector – which now contributes about 2% of global carbon emissions -- is likely to pose a climate-change challenge.
Renewable sources such as solar and wind could supply up to 80% of the world’s energy needs by 2050 and play a significant role in addressing global warming, the Associated Press cited the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as saying. But, the panel said, more money and new policies will be needed.
In a development symbolising fresh hope for an ancient culture, two Native American (Indian) tribes of north-eastern Montana are preparing for the return of wild buffalo, Reuters reported. Dozens of buffalo, or bison, from Yellowstone National Park are to be transferred to the Indians’ custody for cultivation on tribal lands.