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Geopolitics

Strange Foam Blankets Australia's Shoreline - Frothy Fun Or Toxic Risk?

ABC AUSTRALIA, THE BRISBANE TIMES, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (Australia)

Worldcrunch

SUNSHINE COAST- While some spots in the northern hemisphere are covered in snow, the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia has been covered in something that looks a little bit like it - sea foam.

Revellers on the Sunshine Coast lap up yesterday's foam-tacularbit.ly/WtlLHp#bigwet Pic: brandonrooney.comtwitter.com/newscomauHQ/st…

— news.com.au (@newscomauHQ) January 28, 2013

This phenomenon occurs every few years and is caused by the agitation of seawater (Tropical Cyclone Oswald in this case) especially when it contains higher concentrations of dissolved organic matter. As the seawater is churned by the waves, bubbles are formed and they stick to each other through the surface tension. As the foam has a low density and persistence, the onshore winds can blow it inland from the beaches, according to Wikipedia.

The Brisbane Times reports that Toxicologist, Professor Barry Noller has warned against playing in the foam for fear that it may contain pollutants, toxins and sewage. ABC Australia also writes that Professor Rodger Tomlinson is also warning against it because of "what lies beneath" the foam.

"You don't know whether there are rocks under there, broken glass... so I think there's a real concern about safety.” Among the various videos circulating on YouTube expand=1] (scroll down), there's one of two police officers almost being hit by a car that had suddenly burst out from the foam.

Drinking supplies risk running out in Brisbane, and authorities have asked people to cut back on water usage according to ABC.

These floods, which come just a week after some of the hottest temperatures on record in Australia, which have left four Queenslanders dead and two missing. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that 1,200 homes have been damaged.

As the rain continues, flood warnings are in place for 14 rivers in the neighboring state New South Wales, leaving 41,000 people cut off. This morning Sydney received 10 centimeters of water in just 24 hours.

Just found this pic on the SEQ flood update facebook page... nice work cows! #bigwettwitter.com/James_L_Bennet…

— James Bennett (@James_L_Bennett) January 29, 2013

Video via YouTube expand=1]

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Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

Photo of women walking in Ecuador

Women walking in Guangaje Ecuador

Camila Albuja

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

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