Earth Changes


New meat-eater emerges in Madagascar

© Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
This feisty cat-sized creature from Madagascar is the first new species of carnivorous mammal to be discovered in 24 years.

Durrell's vontsira (Salanoia durrelli) was found in the threatened Lac Alaotra wetlands in central eastern Madagascar in 2004. Zoologists took photos of it at the time, and have now confirmed it is a new species after comparing it to specimens of the closely related brown-tailed vontsira (Salanoia concolor).

Named in honour of the late conservationist Gerald Durrell, the new vontsira weighs just over half a kilogram and belongs to a family of carnivores - Eupleridae - only known in Madagascar. It is likely to be one of the most threatened carnivores as their Lac Alaotra wetland habitat becomes threatened by agricultural expansion, burning and invasive plants and fish.

Bizarro Earth

One dead, thousands affected in Philippine floods

© Unknown
One person has drowned and thousands of people have been affected by floods that have swamped a rain-soaked island in the central Philippines, police said Saturday.

Floodwaters rose south of Naujan lake on Mindoro island after heavy rain began falling in the area before dawn Friday, national police spokesman Senior Superintendent Agrimero Cruz told reporters.

In addition to the drowned person, an undetermined number of farm animals was also lost in floodwaters that reached an average of three feet (0.91 metres), he added.

Some 8,148 families were affected in the towns of Socorro and Pinamalayan, and police are on standby to conduct rescues or evacuations where necessary.


US physics professor: 'Global warming is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life'

© Unknown
Newton: "Fie on you, Hansen, Mann, Jones et al! You are not worthy of the name scientists! May the pox consume your shrivelled peterkins!"
Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Here is his letter of resignation to Curtis G. Callan Jr, Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society.

Anthony Watts describes it thus:
This is an important moment in science history. I would describe it as a letter on the scale of Martin Luther, nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door. It is worthy of repeating this letter in entirety on every blog that discusses science.
It's so utterly damning that I'm going to run it in full without further comment. (H/T GWPF, Richard Brearley).

Comment: The reader may be interested in this article: Bilderbergers Warming To A New Idea?

Bizarro Earth

Wall of Hungary sludge lake will fall

© AP Photos/MTI, Lajos Nagy
Hungarian soldiers wearing protective gear are washed by water jets in Devecser, 164 kms southwest of Budapest, Hungary, Saturday Oct. 9, 2010. Five days ago more than 750,000 cubic meters of toxic sludge spilled out of a nearby reservoir flooding seven villages.
The wall of a reservoir filled with caustic red sludge will inevitably collapse and unleash a new deluge of red sludge that could flow about a half-mile (1 kilometer) to the north, a Hungarian official said Sunday.

That would flood parts of the town already hit by the industrial waste on Monday but stop short of the next town to the north.

Environmental State Secretary Zoltan Illes said recently discovered cracks on the northern wall of the reservoir at the alumina plant have temporarily stopped widening because of favorable weather conditions but will continue to expand, especially at night.

Disaster agency spokesman Tibor Dobson said engineers didn't detect any new cracks overnight, and the older cracks were being repaired, but that it was too soon to consider lowering the current state of alert. Protective walls were being built around the reservoir's damaged area to hold back any further spills and a 2,000-foot (620-meter) long dam was under construction to save the areas of the town of Kolontar not directly hit by Monday's disaster.

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake Experts See the 'Big One' Getting Bigger

© Unknown
The "Big One" that has been forecast for the San Andreas fault could end up being bigger than earthquake experts previously thought.

Recent research showing that a section of the fault is long overdue for a major earthquake has some scientists saying the southern portion of the fault is capable of a magnitude 8.1 earthquake that could run 340 miles from Monterey County to the Salton Sea.

That's significantly stronger and longer than the southern San Andreas' last major rupture, in 1857. Such a temblor would cause much more damage because with a larger stretch of the fault rupturing, a larger area would be exposed to the quake and the shaking would last longer.

Whether such a quake would happen in our lifetime had been a subject of hot debate among scientists. That's because until recently, experts believed that a part of the southern San Andreas that runs through the Carrizo Plain 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles would remain dormant for at least another century.

Better Earth

Tune in to the live whale song network

© Reinhard Dirscherl/Visuals Unlimited/Getty
Do you do requests?
Just 2 minutes ago, a sperm whale swam by about 4 kilometres south of Cassis on the French Mediterranean coast. From my desk in London, I heard its whistle. Thanks to a new website, so can you.

The LIDO (Listening to the Deep Ocean Environment) site offers a live feed to 10 hydrophones sprinkled around European waters, and one in Canada. Several more are scheduled to come soon in Canada and in Asia.

The network's primary aim is to record and archive long-term subsea noise so that researchers can study the effects of human activity on whales and dolphins.

It is the brainchild of Michel André, a bioacoustician at the Technical University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain. He and his colleagues have spent the past 10 years placing hydrophones on the seabed, on existing research platforms that monitor earthquakes and tsunamis, for instance, or detect neutrino particles from space.


Warming to misanthropy

© Unknown
Misanthropy: n. Hatred or mistrust of humankind.

Man-made global warming theory [AGW] says that climate change is caused by the CO2 emissions from the use of fossil fuels. As the human population increases the inexorable need for energy from fossil fuels increases and therefore the level of AGW increases.

AGW is similar to the theory of Thomas Malthus, the 18th century clergyman who thought that human population would outstrip natural resources and that natural calamity would be visited on humankind through disease, starvation and pestilence. Malthus's theory could never have understood what a person like Norman Borlaug achieved in applying agricultural technology to farming to greatly increase food production or how modern medical technology has saved billions of people.


'Microcosmos' Brings Microscopic Life To Light

Quite what this industrious little wood ant is planning to do with this microchip is not known, but how appropriate it is that he appears to have a scientific interest.

Because the insect features in a stunning new book featuring the art of the coloured scanning electron micrograph - in the case of this chap magnified 22 times.

Microcosmos takes readers into a secret world of extreme close-ups. Some subjects have been magnified by as much as 22million times.

Detailed descriptions of the subjets are contained within. The wood ant, for example, is a social creature, and acts as a slave for the blood-red ant Formica sanguinea.
© Science Photo Library/Barcroft
Holding steady: The wood or heathland ant holding a microchip in its toothed (serrated) mandibles. The wood ant is social, and acts as a slave for the blood-red ant Formica sanguine

Better Earth

UK To Be Hit By Severe Winter - Blizzards and -20 Degrees C

© Press Association
A local UK council has offered shovels to residents and told them to 'dig themselves out'
Council chiefs have sparked outrage after proposing residents dig themselves out of the snow as Britain braces itself for another winter of Arctic conditions.

As long-range forecasts suggest the country will be hit by blizzards and temperatures plummeting to -20c, bosses at Camden Council prepared to hand out spades.

But their solution to the bitter weather has been slammed by those who remember the headache of last year's gritting crisis which brought widespread disruption and left people trapped in their homes.

The north London council's proposal involves a 'self-help' scheme in which people can ring and request a shovel.


Hurricane Otto forms in the Atlantic

Otto has reached hurricane strength over the Atlantic on a path that's expected to take it farther out to sea.

Hurricane Otto has maximum sustained winds Friday near 75 mph (120 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says some additional strengthening is expected but Otto is forecast to weaken by late Saturday.

A day earlier, raging floodwaters from then-Tropical Storm Otto overturned cars, toppled power lines and washed out roads in the northeastern Caribbean.