1. Brazil dam burst could devastate the environment for years
River Doce translates as “Sweet River”. After two tailings dams burst the focus was on the local town of Mariana, much of which was swept away. Now the concern has shifted to downstream where 500 km of river is becoming biologically dead, the silt is affecting nearby farmlands and is expected to contaminate fishing grounds when it reaches the sea.
This is what the not so sweet river looked like:
The Krenak tribe of Indians has blocked the railway line Vale uses to ship iron ore to port.
Two more dams may be at risk.
The mine is a joint venture of Australia-based BHP Billiton Ltd, the world’s largest mining company, and Vale, the biggest Brazilian iron ore miner.
The disaster is reminiscent of Ok Tedi, probably not as big, but more people affected.
Obviously there have been calls for stricter mining regulations, which I understand were in the process of being loosened.
There is a class of drugs known as polymyxins which were used as a last resort used to treat infections that resist every other kind of antibiotics. Unfortunately farmers especially in China have been feeding colistin, the most widely used polymyxin, to pigs and chickens. Predictably a gene resistant to colistin has now shown up, but in a form that can move easily from bacterium to bacterium.
Chances are it will go global, no matter what we do.
3. Turning back the boats as we watch
A small boat thought to be carrying about eight people got within a few hundred metres of Christmas Island. Could have been friendly fisher folk or dreaded asylum seekers.
The Australian Navy was not friendly, however, and towed it out to sea after issuing life jackets all around.
Introduction to Saturday salon
Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.
An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.
For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.
The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.
Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.
The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:
The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.