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EARTH NEWS: WEEK ENDING JUNE 16, 2006

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Warming Evolution
Scientists said evidence is
mounting that climate
change has led to genetic
modifications in a range of
creatures, including birds, squirrels
and mosquitoes. Writing in the journal
Science, professor William Bradshaw
and researcher Christina
Holzapfel of the University of Oregon
said the evolution is due to global
warming producing longer growing
seasons while simultaneously alleviating
winter cold stress without
imposing summer heat stress. Animal
species have responded with heritable,
genetic changes as they have
extended their range toward the poles
while developing or reproducing earlier,
according to the report.

Anthrax Outbreak
Wildlife authorities in
South Africa’s Kruger
National Park say an outbreak
of anthrax has
killed 15 animals near the park’s border
with Zimbabwe. Park spokesman
Raymond Travers said staff have
found kudu, nyala, buffalo and
giraffe that died of the disease, which
occurs naturally. He attributed the
outbreak to recent heavy rainfall that
followed unusually dry conditions in
the park — conditions regarded as
typical for such anthrax outbreaks. In
the event of a spread, the area might
have to be burned or cattle might have
to be vaccinated against the disease,
he added.

Andean Winter Storm
A snowstorm in
Argentina’s Mendoza
province blocked traffic
through an Andean highway
tunnel, trapping more than 2,000
vehicles. Another 1,500 trucks were
forced to delay their assent over the
mountain before reaching the
affected area.

Chinese Flood Disaster
Fifty-five people were
left dead or missing after
flash floods ripped
through southwestern
China’s Guizhou province. The Xinhua
news agency reported that nearly
1,300 homes collapsed in Wangmo
and Luodian counties after 8.4 inches
of rain fell during a four-hour downpour.
The latest disaster came after at
least 93 people were reported to have
died over the previous two weeks in
torrential rains that have battered
parts of southern China.

Volcanoes
Five villagers living on the
slopes of Indonesia’s
Mount Merapi were
reported missing and two
others became trapped in a bunker as
the mountain sent clouds of superheated
gas cascading down its slopes.
Officials placed Merapi on the highest
level of alert, warning that a violent
eruption could occur at any time.
• One man in the eastern Philippines
died from an asthma attack triggered
by the ash eruptions of Mount
Bulusan in Sorsogon province. Residents
of four nearby villages were
told to wear facemasks to avoid inhaling
ash particles in the air.

Antarctic Blast
A violent and chilling
windstorm plunged much
of New Zealand’s largest
city into darkness when
power lines were brought down by
the tempest. Auckland’s businesses
shut their doors, hospitals canceled
all but emergency services and the
city center was gridlocked as 300 sets
of traffic lights went dark. Hurricaneforce
winds in Wellington ripped
roofs from houses and smashed windows.
The main international airport
at Christchurch was forced to halt
operations due to heavy snow.

Hurricane Season
Tropical Storm Alberto,
the season’s first named
storm in the Atlantic
basin, swamped western
Cuba and parts of the Florida peninsula
before losing force along the
U.S. East Coast. A hurricane warning
was briefly issued for Florida.

Earthquakes
A sharp temblor that
jolted western and southern
Japan injured seven
people and disrupted
transport. The shaking halted some
local rail lines, while bullet trains
were forced to run at reduced speed
as safety checks were conducted.
• Earth movements were also felt
in Sumatra, New Zealand’s North
Island, northern Pakistan, southern
Albania, the Aleutian Islands and the
San Francisco Bay Area.

Sail Power
A German company has
begun selling an airborne
sail that it says will dramatically
reduce the consumption
of fuel on ships that install
the system. SkySails of Hamburg
says its device uses a 1,700-squarefoot
kite, and is designed to pull ships
along their route where winds are
favorable. SkySails founder Stephan
Wrage estimates that the sail,
attached to the ship by a towing cable,
could be used by vessels on half of
their days at sea, saving about $1,200
in fuel costs each day that it is
deployed. Using less fuel would also
mean the ship would generate fewer
greenhouse gas emissions during the
voyage, Wrage says. The Beluga
Shipping company of Bremen says
that in 2007, it will launch the first
ship to use the sail.

Distributed by: UPS
Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
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