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Condition of our planet slowly worsening

Special Report
Sept 20, 2006
It's hard to imagine how things will be in 20 years. What will our generation say to its children? How will it explain the death of victims from events like Hurricane Katrina and the Indonesian tsunami? Will it be able to say it was because of global warming?Tor Lacy explains that global warming always happens. That global warming is a process that happened on earth even before man was around.
The way it works it works is that the sun heats up the earth through energy. The atmosphere acts like a layer that bounces back some of that energy out and absorbs energy in, so that the earth can remain at a comfortable temperature. Although the earth's temperature fluctuates, Lacy says that, "the temperature of the earth is rising at an unnatural rate. (And that) it is not normal." There are certain gasses in the earth, specifically carbon dioxide, that traps heat that's normally released by earth. With more greenhouse emissions being released into the atmosphere that layer is beginning to thicken and less heat is being bounced back out into space. Therefore, causing the earth's temperature to rise.


El Niño Returns
The U.S. weather agency
NOAA announced that the
returning El Niño ocean
warming phenomenon in
the Pacific is likely to strengthen during
the next few months and has
already affected the hurricane season.
“The weak El Niño is helping to
explain why the hurricane season is
less than we expected ... because it
tends to suppress hurricane activity in
the Atlantic,” said Gerry Bell, a hurricane
forecaster for NOAA. During
the last 30 days, drier-than-average
conditions have been observed across
all of Indonesia, Malaysia and most
of the Philippines, which are usually
the first areas to experience El Niñorelated
impacts. NOAA’s Climate
Prediction Center believes the ocean
warming will last well into 2007,
bringing a warmer winter to western
and central parts of the United States
and Canada. Wetter-than-normal
weather is expected from Texas to

Arctic Retreat
The Arctic Ocean’s permanent
sea ice shrank
abruptly by 14 percent
between 2004 and 2005,
according to a new report published
in the journal Geophysical Research
Letters. Such “perennial” ice has
often been 10 feet thick or more, but
it has been replaced by new seasonal
ice that is only about 1 to 7 feet thick,
according to satellite observations.
Researchers from NASA say that if
the sea ice cover continues to decline,
the surrounding ocean will warm, further
accelerating summer ice melts
and impeding fall freeze-ups. This
could result in even further disappearance
of permanent ice. A combination
of climate change and strong
winds blowing the ice out of the Arctic
are believed to be responsible for
the trend.

New Zealand Fireball
An explosion from a
meteor or piece of space
debris entering the atmosphere
above New
Zealand’s South Island was so loud
that people ran from their homes and
workplaces to see what had rattled the
buildings. Eyewitnesses said they
saw a bright white trail in the sky with
pieces breaking off. A commercial
pilot flying over the region said he
saw an object similar to a meteor —
“but different” — flashing in front of
his cockpit. The pilot said he did not
believe it was a meteor because it was
spinning, and reminded him of the
debris from the United States Space
Shuttle Columbia when it exploded.
An object thought to be a fragment of
the fireball was discovered on a farm
south of Christchurch.

Tropical Cyclones
Hurricane Florence ripped
off roofs and downed
power lines as it passed
near Bermuda. Florence
later skirted Newfoundland, where it
also knocked down power lines.
• Hurricane Gordon formed far
from any land areas in the mid-
Atlantic. Tropical Storm Helene
gained strength after developing to
the south of the Cape Verde Islands.
• Mexico’s southern Baja California
was on alert for approaching
Tropical Storm Lane.
• Typhoon Shanshan was bearing
down on Japan’s southernmost
islands late in the week.

A magnitude 6.0 temblor
centered beneath the Gulf
of Mexico was felt over a
wide area from Florida to
Louisiana and Tennessee. Firefighters
in Orlando said the shaking burst
pipes in one of the Florida city’s
apartment buildings.
• Earth movements were also felt
in Israel and the Palestinian territories,
southern Iran, the India-Myanmar
border region, Hong Kong, Tasmania,
northern New Zealand and
central Chile.

Volcano Alerts
Volcanoes on three separate
Indonesian islands displayed
enough signs of
unrest that officials put
areas surrounding them on alert.
Mount Talang in West Sumatra,
Mount Bromo in East Java and Mount
Karang Etang in North Sulawesi are
all exhibiting dangerous activity. Mt.
Talang was the latest to be put on alert
as dark clouds billowed from its
• The more than 30,000 people
who fled Mount Mayon in the central
Philippine province of Albay during
August have begun to return to their
homes after a 10-day drop in the level
of activity within the volcano.

World’s Tallest
Scientists have discovered
three trees in a
remote area of California’s
Redwood National
Park that are taller than the tree previously
believed to be the world’s
tallest living thing. The tallest of the
new discoveries was given the name
Hyperion, and towers 378.1 feet
above the forest floor. That makes it
8 feet taller than the tree previously
thought to be the tallest. The newly
discovered redwoods were found by
a team of researchers in a tract of forest
added to the park during President
Jimmy Carter’s administration.
George Koch, a biology professor at
Northern Arizona University, said he
believes this protection kept them
from being cut down for timber.

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Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
© 2006, Earth Frenzy Rights Reserved

Drop in frog population could be bad omen for environment

Colour plate from Ernst Haeckel's 1904 Kunstformen der Natur, depicting frog species that include two examples of parental care.

Environmental News
Sept 17, 2006
The frog population is slowly declining, and scientists say that could have a profound effect on the environment.
In the past 20 years, nine species of frogs have gone extinct while 113 others have not been found in the wild in recent years.
Frog populations have been on the decline — a drop of about 43 percent to be exact — for various reasons that range from disease to climate changes to deforestation and chemical pollution.
Christopher Phillips, assistant professional scientist at the Illinois Natural History Survey, Center for Biodiversity, says frogs are important to our ecosystem.
"An individual frog can consume thousands of insects in a year, including mosquitoes and other human disease vectors," he said. "Frogs also provide a source of food for other animals, including game fish, wading birds, etc."
Joe Coelho, biology professor at Quincy University, says the decline of frogs and other amphibians has been well-known among the scientific community for at least 15 years.
"Its causes are thought to be numerous and complex, but there is no doubt that it is happening," he said. "For example, in Missouri, a huge salamander called the hellbender is in terrible peril. Once abundant, there are relatively few remaining."
Amphibians often are the first to encounter defects when an ecosystem is endangered.
"What's scary is that amphibians may be an indicator species for negative environmental change," Coelho said. "In other words, things could be getting worse for all of us.

Drought As The New Norm For The Weather

Earth News
Canberra, Australia (SPX) Sep 15, 2006
Droughts are slow, tortuous emergencies that seem to sneak up on us. It doesn't have to be that way, say a climatologist and a political scientist who point to a better way. It's perfectly possible to plan for droughts and minimize the losses they cause. In fact Australia has set in place policies that blaze a trail for the US follow to some extent, says Linda Botterill, a political scientist at the Australian National University in Canberra.
Botterill is presenting drought policy lessons learned in Australia at the Geological Society of America conference entitled Managing Drought and Water Scarcity in Vulnerable Environments: Creating a Roadmap for Change in the United States. The meeting takes place 18-20 September at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Longmont, Colorado.
"In policy terms drought is no longer considered a disaster," said Botterill, of the fundamental change in perspective when Australia adopted a national drought policy in 1989. The shift made perfect sense because of Australia's climate, in which drought is always an issue. (photo above: a drought -affected river, Arkansas.)

Indonesian Bird Flu Toll Increases Further

London (UPI) Sep 13, 2006
Indonesia, the country whose population has been worst hit by avian influenza, has had its death toll officially revised by the World Health Organization, taking the figure to 49. This latest increase represents the death of a 5-year-old boy who was felled by the disease six months ago, WHO officials announced Wednesday.
Sari Setiogi, a WHO spokeswoman based in Jakarta, explained that the boy's death was added to the country's fatalities when the United Nations' health agency revised its definition of human bird-flu infection.
Last week the WHO added three more deaths to Indonesia's toll -- one from June this year and two from 2005 -- following the revision of its definitions.
The boy, who has not been named, died March 19 following respiratory infection with avian-flu-like symptoms. He came from Bekasi, on the eastern edges of the capital Jakarta, in West Java, which is one of the Indonesian regions worst hit by bird flu. Prior to the child's death, there had been reports of widespread deaths among the region's birds; his neighborhood had been particularly badly hit by the outbreak.
While it is not known how the boy contracted the fatal infection, it is believed that he fell ill after coming into contact with dead or infected poultry, the most common cause of human H5N1 infection.

The heat is on

The uncertainty surrounding climate change argues for action, not inaction. America should lead the way
Sept 06
FOR most of the Earth's history, the planet has been either very cold, by our standards, or very hot. Fifty million years ago there was no ice on the poles and crocodiles lived in Wyoming. Eighteen thousand years ago there was ice two miles thick in Scotland and, because of the size of the ice sheets, the sea level was 130m lower. Ice-core studies show that in some places dramatic changes happened remarkably swiftly: temperatures rose by as much as 20°C in a decade. Then, 10,000 years ago, the wild fluctuations stopped, and the climate settled down to the balmy, stable state that the world has enjoyed since then. At about that time, perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, mankind started to progress.
Man-made greenhouse gases now threaten this stability. Climate change is complicated and uncertain, but, as our survey this week explains, the underlying calculation is fairly straightforward. The global average temperature is expected to increase by between 1.4°C and 5.8°C this century. The bottom end of the range would make life a little more comfortable for northern areas and a little less pleasant for southern ones. Anything much higher than that could lead to catastrophic rises in sea levels, increases in extreme weather events such as hurricanes, flooding and drought, falling agricultural production and, perhaps, famine and mass population movement.

Nature of warming problem and solutions
By Emma Duncan
THE world's climate has barely changed since the industrial revolution. The temperature was stable in the 19th century, rose very slightly during the first half of the 20th, fell back in the 1950s-70s, then started rising again. Over the past 100 years, it has gone up by about 0.6°C (1.1°F).
So what's the fuss about? Not so much the rise in temperature as the reason for it. Previous changes in the world's climate have been set off by variations either in the angle of the Earth's rotation or in its distance from the sun. This time there is another factor involved: man-made “greenhouse gases”.
When the sun's energy hits the Earth, most of it bounces back into space. But carbon dioxide and around 30 other greenhouse gases, such as methane, help create a layer that traps some of the heat from the sun, thus warming the planet. And, because of the burning of fossil fuels, which contain the CO2 that the original plants breathed in from the atmosphere, levels of CO2 have increased from around 280 parts per million (ppm) before the industrial revolution to around 380ppm now. Studies of ice cores show that concentrations have not been so high for nearly half a million years. At the current rate of increase, they will have reached 800ppm by the end of this century. Given that CO2 being emitted now stays in the atmosphere for up to 200 years, getting those concentrations down will take a long time

English Country Gardens Under Attack From Global Warming

CLIMATE CHANGE: United Kingdom
London (AFP) Sep 12, 2006
English gardeners were witnessing changes in dates of leaf emergence, flowering, and the appearance of many species of butterflies in spring
Britain's legion of gardening fanatics were warned Tuesday to get ready for global warming which threatens to spoil the traditional English country garden of legend. The immaculately mown lawns and flourishing flowers found in gardens across the country may become a thing of the past if stereotypically rainy Britain continues to struggle with drought and warmer weather.
Environment Minister Ian Pearson told the estimated 27-million strong green-fingered army, some 40 percent of the population, that they had to face up to the challenges of climate change if they wanted to keep their cherished gardens looking splendid.
In Britain, 10 of the warmest years on record have occured since 1990, and July was the hottest month since records began. The last two winters have been the driest in over 80 years in parts of southern England.
Pearson said the situation was likely to become worse.
"If the majority of scientific opinion is right, and I think it is, these conditions will become commonplace in the future. They will put gardeners in the front line of climate change," he said.

Forest Fires Sweep Indonesian Borneo and Sumatra

Environmental News: Indonesia
Sept 11, 2006
Officials in Indonesia say illegal burning to clear land has caused rampant wildfires across Borneo and Sumatra. Fires have destroyed millions of hectares of forest and farmland over the last month, and environmentalists and the government disagree over who is responsible for the destruction.
Officials of Indonesia's Forestry Ministry say eight million hectares have gone up in smoke over the last month, and fires are still burning out of control on the island of Borneo.
Government officials point to small farmers who use fires to clear land quickly and cheaply. But environmentalists blame Indonesia's failure to enforce logging controls and a ban on land-clearing fires.
The fires are a recurring problem in Indonesia. As in the past, a thick haze of smoke now threatens to disrupt air traffic in the affected area, and is causing health problems for people in nearby Malaysia and Singapore. Windborne smoke in Singapore is also worrying organizers of a meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank this week.

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Greenhouse Gas Surge
A new in-depth analysis of
air bubbles trapped in a 2-
mile-long core of Antarctic
ice shows that carbon
dioxide levels are substantially
higher now than at any time in the last
800,000 years. The new core samples
give a climate record 150,000 years
farther back in time than in more shallow
previous core drillings. Dr. Eric
Wolff, from the British Antarctic Survey,
told the BBC: .Over the last 200
years, human activity has increased
carbon dioxide to well outside the
natural range.. The greatest increase
in the greenhouse gas observed in the
sample occurred during the past 30
years, according to Wolff.

Nuclear Test
The United States said it
carried out its second
.sub-critical. nuclear
blast of the year at an
underground test site in Nevada. The
National Nuclear Security Administration
said in a statement that the subcritical
tests do not involve nuclear
explosion because they are designed
to .examine the behavior of plutonium
as it is strongly shocked by
forces produced by chemical high
explosives.. The blasts were conducted
in underground caverns that
are said to prevent any nuclear contamination
from reaching the surface.

Amazon Deforestation
The Brazilian government
announced that the
rate of deforestation in the
Amazon rain forest
appears to be declining in 2006. The
region lost 6,450 square miles of
woodland between 2005 and 2006, a
decrease of 11 percent over the year
before, the environment ministry
said. It is the first significant fall in
the rate of deforestation since 1997.
The ministry said studies also showed
that destruction levels are expected to
continue to fall this year, thanks to
beefed-up enforcement of more stringent
environmental regulations.

Caribbean Explosions
Montserrat.s Soufriere
Hills volcano blasted more
columns of ash and steam
into the eastern Caribbean
sky as officials warned that the island
could see a further increase in activity
from the mountain. Residents said
the blast sounded like jets flying overhead.
The Montserrat Volcano
Observatory raised the warning level
even though the activity did not affect
the northern side of the island, where
all of Montserrat.s remaining 5,000
residents live. More than half of the
British territory.s 12,000 inhabitants
have moved away since the volcano
roared to life in 1995, eventually devastating
many parts of the island.

A moderate earthquake
rocked parts of northeastern
India on Tuesday,
causing a brief panic
among residents in the states of
Assam and Meghalaya.
. Earth movements were also felt
in the southern Philippines, eastern
Papua New Guinea, northern New
Zealand, Tokyo, Russia.s Kamchatka
Peninsula, the Aleutian
Islands, south-central Alaska, southeastern
Idaho, the desert resorts of
Southern California and Panama.

Killer Bee Attack
Vicious attacks by bees
at a South Africa animal
shelter left 22 dogs dead,
including 12 puppies.
The deaths occurred at the Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
(SPCA) in Newcastle, about 120
miles south of Johannesburg. One of
the animals was stung more than 200
times. The Beeld newspaper reported
that Janine de Waal, one of the committee
members who rushed to the
SPCA.s offices to help, received at
least 50 bee stings herself. .It was
pandemonium,. said SPCA chairperson
Beulah Engelbrecht. never
experienced anything like it. The
puppies tried to burrow into the soil
to get away from the bees.. The
newspaper said no one knows what
caused the swarm to attack.

Tropical Cyclones
Hurricane John roared
ashore on Baja California
.s southern tip as a Category-
2 hurricane after
paralleling Mexico.s Pacific coastline
from the south. Officials said at
least five people died due to flash
flooding caused by the storm.
. Typhoon Ioke ended a 17-day
passage across half the width of the
Pacific Ocean when it lost force off
northeastern Japan.
. Hurricane Florence formed over
the central Atlantic Ocean.

Monkey Cull
Animal control officers in
central Uganda said they
killed 50 monkeys in an
attempt to prevent further
damage to plantations by the animals,
which threatens to bring on a famine.
The Daily Monitor reports that
Mukono district.s member of parliament
recently said that monkeys were
also disrupting public education in
his jurisdiction because children
were forced to stay home to guard
crops instead of attending class. A
local community development officer
told the newspaper that the animal
control guards were only able to
kill a small number of the overall
monkey population because they ran
out of bullets.

Distributed by: UPS
Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
© 2006, Earth Frenzy Rights Reserved

Are we moving toward a new ice age?

Alternative Radio Series: Earth & Sky
There's agreement among climate scientists that, on average, Earth will become warmer in the coming century. Part of this warming is due to humans burning fossil fuels and releasing greenhouse gases into the air.
If Earth warms up beyond a certain threshold, ocean circulation patterns could change. That could mean that the north Atlantic region -- which is usually warmed by water from the tropics -- could actually experience a "mini ice age."
In other words, places like the northeastern U.S., eastern Canada, Greenland, Great Britain and northern Europe -- could all become colder -- even as the rest of the world becomes warmer.

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Earth’s crust and poles wander, drift and shift

The globe above is not an optical illusion or trick of the eye.
This is not a mistake of positioning on the page.
This is the way the earth could be positioned after the Pole Shift

The black line shows the current equator
The red line shows the new equator

Steve Hammons
Sept 08, 2006
Dangerous days ahead?
Have the Earth’s frozen poles wandered, drifted or shifted in the ancient past?
Has the planet’s outer crust moved, a little or a lot, millions or even thousands of years ago?
Was the continent of Antarctica always at the South Pole and covered by ice?
These types of questions have been the subject of much research and speculation. The ideas of crustal movement over the fluid layer of molten rock that lies beneath the hard surface layer of our planet have been called “true polar wander,” “pole drift,” “pole shift” and “crustal displacement.”
The concept of pole wander and drift was the subject of a scientific research paper in the September-October edition of the Geological Society of America Bulletin.
A geological team led by Princeton University’s Adam Maloof and Galen Halverson of Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, France, claims that our planet did experience a significant pole rebalancing approximately 800 million years ago.
Part of their research involved testing magnetic minerals within ancient rocks located in the sediment in Norway.
Maloof and Halverson claim that the North Pole has shifted more than 50 degrees (approximately about the distance between the equator and Alaska) in less than 20 million years.

Satellites Track Migratory Birds In Fight Against Avian Influenza

Rome, Italy (SPX) Sep 08, 2006
Wearing light solar-powered GPS satellite transmitters, wild swans from Mongolia are winging their way across Eurasia, while land-bound scientists tracking the birds' journeys on computers say that these unique studies will shed light on how wild birds may be involved in the spread of avian influenza.
In August, a team of international scientists from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) joined the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Mongolian Academy of Sciences (MAS) in the surveillance project, which is part of the Wild Bird Global Avian Influenza Network for Surveillance (GAINS) program funded by USAID. The team attached the GPS transmitters to wild whooper swans in an effort to track the birds to their wintering grounds.
Such research is providing information on migration routes and informs governments about potential threats from diseases such as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). The HPAI strain known as H5N1 is highly lethal for a variety of species, especially poultry and some waterfowl species. When transmitted to people through close contact with infected birds, the virus can be deadly. Leaders across the world are concerned about a potential pandemic threat should the virus become transmissible among humans.

Hot Dust And Moisture Collide To Fuel Asian Summer Rainy Season

Image: Dust and smoke from fires (red points) over northwestern India/Pakistan may contribute to a change in rainfall patterns over the region. Credit: NASA

Greenbelt MD (SPX) Sep 08, 2006
Who would think that something like dust in the air could trigger rain? According to a new NASA study, this is just what's happening over South Asia's Tibetan Plateau. Very small dust particles called aerosols blow in from desert regions and collect in the atmosphere over the plateau's slopes early in the region's monsoon season, helping trigger rainfall.
A monsoon is a seasonal shift in wind direction that alternately brings very wet and then very dry seasons to India and much of Southeast Asia.
William Lau, research scientist at NASA's Goddard Space flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. and his team studied the aerosols using computer models. They found aerosols in the form of dust lofted from the desert surface and transported to the monsoon region can heat the air by absorbing the sun's radiation, altering the Asian monsoon water cycle. Black carbon particles from industrial emissions, bio-fuel burning and forest fires can add to this warming effect by absorbing the sun's radiation and heating the air currents transporting those aerosols.

Greenhouse Gas Bubbling From Melting Permafrost Feeds Climate Warming

Global Warming
Tallahassee FL (SPX) Sep 07, 2006
A study co-authored by a Florida State University scientist and published in the Sept. 7 issue of the journal Nature has found that as the permafrost melts in North Siberia due to climate change, carbon sequestered and buried there since the Pleistocene era is bubbling up to the surface of Siberian thaw lakes and into the atmosphere as methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
In turn, that bubbling methane held captive as carbon under the permafrost for more than 40,000 years is accelerating global warming by heating the Earth even more --- exacerbating the entire cycle. The ominous implications of the process grow as the permafrost decomposes further and the resulting lakes continue to expand, according to FSU oceanography Professor Jeff Chanton and study co-authors at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
"This is not good for the quality of human life on Earth," Chanton said.

Image Above: Methane bubbles trapped in lake ice during the first few days of ice formation on a Siberian thermokarst lake. Courtesy of Jeff Chanton, FSU Oceanography Department.

The Subtleties Of Tropical Forest Demise

Washington DC (SPX) Sep 06, 2006
"It's not just that tropical forests are being rapidly destroyed, but also that most of the remaining forests and nature reserves are being severely degraded," said William Laurance of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, who co-edited the book along with Carlos Peres, a Brazilian biologist with the University of East Anglia, U.K.
"It's astonishing how insidious many of the threats are," said Peres. "We rely on satellite images or aerial photos to tell us how fast tropical forests are disappearing, but many of the new and emerging threats are virtually invisible, unless you're on the ground." (photo: The aftermath of slash and burn farming in the Amazon.)

Effects of Climate Change on Forests
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Aug 29, 2006A NASA-funded study shows that satellites can track the growth and health of forests and detect the impact of a changing climate on them

Image: Global tree cover as measured by the NASA's MODerate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites, showing areas with little or no tree cover (white shades) to considerable tree cover (green shades). Credit: NASA/University of Maryland.

Hanging in the balance

Environmental News
Sept 03, 2006
Trampling feet. Belching tailpipes. Are Yosemite's millions of visitors wreaking irreversible damage?

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, California- Yosemite Valley gets a lot of love. But with a lot of love comes a lot of hurt.Yosemite National Park officials are trying to balance that love and that hurt. Their strategy is to give the millions who adore Yosemite's grand granite domes and endless waterfalls unfettered access to the valley while also reducing the damage done by trampling feet, belching tailpipes, noise and sewage.It is an exercise in crowd management. About 70 percent of the park's 3.5 million annual visitors come to this narrow valley.Among recent changes in the park are trails converted to boardwalks so visitors won't trample fragile meadows and stream beds, and the establishment of a fleet of shuttle buses so guests won't pollute the seven-mile-long valley's air with car exhaust.Nature has done its part, too, as 400 campsites and 200 hotel rooms were destroyed in the 1997 floods. Yosemite officials have said the majority will not be replaced. (photo above: Dozens of tourists look out Thursday across the Yosemite Valley, where breathtaking scenery, granite domes and cascading waterfalls draw more than 3 million visitors each year.)

Ice shows greenhouse gas soaring

"There is an urgent need to find innovative technologies to reduce the impact we are having on our climate"
Professor Peter Smith,University of Nottingham,UK

Sept 05, 2006
Air samples from the world's oldest ice core confirm that human activity has dramatically increased levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere.
Bubbles of air in the 800,000-year-old ice, drilled in the Antarctic, show levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) changing with the climate. But the present levels are out of the previous range.

On Monday, Eric Wolff, leader of the science team for the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica, said: "It is from air bubbles that we know for sure that carbon dioxide has increased by about 35% in the last 200 years."

Wolff, speaking at the British Association Festival of Science in the UK, said: "Before the last 200 years, which man has been influencing, it was pretty steady.

"The natural level of carbon dioxide for most of the past 800,000 years has been 180-300 parts per million by volume (ppmv) of air. But today it is at 380 ppmv.

"The most scary thing is that carbon dioxide today is not just out of the range of what happened in the last 650,000 years but already 100% out of the range."

Global changes alter the timing of plant growth, scientists say

Sept 04, 2006
Any gardener knows--different plant species mature at different times. Scientists studying plant communities in natural habitats call this phenomenon "complementarity." It allows many species to co-exist because it reduces overlap in the time period when species compete for limited resources. Now, in a study posted online the week of Sept. 4 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ecologists working at Stanford's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve report evidence that climate change may alter this delicate balance.
"In the natural world, species have evolved to be finely attuned to the seasons--timing is everything," said lead author Elsa Cleland, who performed this research as part of her doctoral dissertation at Stanford and is now a postdoctoral fellow at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, Calif. "If climate change alters the timing of plant activity, then it could have a domino effect, impacting the feeding, breeding or migration patterns of the animals that rely on particular plant species."
Cleland's co-authors include Nona R. Chiariello, research coordinator of the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve; Scott Loarie, who assisted with this research while a Stanford undergraduate; Christopher B. Field, director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology (located on the Stanford campus) and faculty director of Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, and Harold A. Mooney, the Paul S. Achilles Professor of Environmental Biology at Stanford.
The findings are part of the ongoing Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiment, launched in 1998 and designed to demonstrate how a typical California grassland ecosystem may respond to future global environmental changes. Researchers from Stanford and the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology conducted the experiment in about two fenced-off acres of the 1,189-acre Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. The experiment was designed to simulate environmental conditions within the range that climate experts predict may exist 100 years from now--a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide; a temperature rise of 2 degrees Fahrenheit; a 50 percent increase in precipitation; and increased nitrogen deposition--as a likely byproduct of fossil-fuel burning.
Scientists applied each of the four experimental treatments--elevated carbon dioxide, warming, increased precipitation and nitrogen deposition--to intact grassland plots both singly and in all possible combinations. The experiment included control plots that did not receive any treatments. Each of 16 possible scenarios was replicated eight times to allow the researchers to tease apart the separate influences of factors and test the statistical significance of their results. Data reported in this study were obtained from 1999 through 2003.
"Under today's conditions, grasses flower early in the growing season and wildflowers flower later, but when we increased the concentration of carbon dioxide to simulate future conditions, the two groups flowered at the same time," Cleland said.

"Red Devil" squid, jellyfish point to ocean upsets

OSLO (Reuters) - South American "Red Devil" squid found off Alaska and jellyfish plaguing the Mediterranean may point to vast disruptions in the seas linked to global warming, pollution or over-fishing, experts say.
Fish such as salmon and mackerel have also been spotted in the Arctic, far north of their normal ranges, in a possible vanguard of wrenching billion-dollar shifts in world fish stocks this century caused by warming oceans.
"There will be some places where ocean productivity will increase," said Ron O'Dor, senior scientist of the Census of Marine Life, a 10-year project in more than 70 nations to map the diversity of the oceans.
"The story of global warming is going to be good for some people and bad for others," he added.
Many scientists say that gases emitted by burning fossil fuels -- coal, gas and oil -- are blanketing the planet and driving up temperatures, threatening to spur more floods, heatwaves, erosion and rising sea levels.
Warmer oceans are likely to add to older marine threats such as pollution and over-fishing and upset the habitats of everything from crabs and Mediterranean jellyfish to "Red Devil" squid and whales. (photo above: A jellyfish moves in the Mediterranean sea on the south coast of the Balearic island of Mallorca, Spain August 20, 2006. Sweltering temperatures sweeping Europe have brought a plague of jellyfish to Spain's eastern seashores, forcing holidaymakers to stay out of the sea. REUTERS/Dani Cardona)

Fossils Suggest Chaotic Recovery from Mass Extinction

Earth Science
Sept, 2006
Insect bite marks in ancient leaf fossils are shedding new light on how nature bounced back after an asteroid impact killed off the dinosaurs and much of life on Earth 65 million years ago.
Plant and insect biodiversity is strongly linked today: Where there are many types of plants, there are many insects to eat them. But after the mass extinction, the devastated plant and insect populations might not have been so in sync, according to a new study.
"The recovery from a mass extinction was more interesting and chaotic than we thought," said study leader Peter Wilf, a paleontologist at Pennsylvania State University.

Kenyan Rangers Kill Rogue Jumbos After Fatal Human Attacks

Nairobi (AFP) Aug 31, 2006Kenyan wildlife rangers in choppers killed a pair of rogue elephants this week after a series of fatal attacks on people in incidents highlighting growing human-animal conflict, officials said Thursday.
The rampaging bulls, blamed by locals for leading larger groups of jumbos onto farms to raid crops, were shot dead on Sunday and Wednesday near the famed Maasai Mara National Reserve and a ranch in central Kenya, the officials said
Conflict between humans and wildlife, particularly elephants, is on the increase in Kenya as population pressures, drought and other weather conditions push farmers onto once unused land in many parts of the country.

Cholera Spreads in Sudan, Threatens Chad and Ethiopia

Alternative Radio Broadcast: African Disease Spreading
By Joe De Capua
30 August 2006

De Capua interview with WHO mp3

De Capua interview with WHO ra

The World Health Organization says it’s concerned about a strong re-emergence of cholera in Africa. The latest outbreak of the water-borne disease is in Sudan.
Dr. Claire-Lise Chaignat is head of the WHO’s Global Task Force on Cholera Control. From Geneva, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about outbreak in Sudan, where there have been more than 24,000 cases and 730 deaths.
“The outbreak there started in January and it slowly moved all across the country. And now we have a majority of states which are affected. The states that had been first affected are now showing a clear decrease in cases. There are still new states which are affected and that in fact is our concern,” she says.
The cholera case fatality rate of 3.2 percent, which Dr. Chaignat calls “quite high.” And there’s fear the cholera outbreak could spread to other countries.
“Bacteria and viruses don’t need any visas to cross borders. We are very much concerned because the outbreak is now moving more toward the west of Sudan and very, very much concerned about neighboring Chad. So, it is the same with Ethiopia. We’re very much concerned that the outbreak might move to Ethiopia,” she says.

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