Earth ChangesS

Black Cat

US: Mountain lion spotted in Spooner, Wisconsin

© Courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural ResourcesAn adult male mountain lion weighing between 120 and 130 pounds, in a tree near Spooner, Wis. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources attempted to sedate the animal with tranquilizer darts, but it escaped.
An extremely rare sighting of a mountain lion has been confirmed near Spooner, Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The animal, an adult male weighing between 120 and 130 pounds, was first seen Tuesday by a homeowner about 15 miles northwest of Spooner in Burnett County. Dogs were used to track the animal and chase it up a tree.

After the DNR was notified, officals from the department joined in the search, and on both Wednesday and Thursday the mountain lion was chased up trees. Two attempts to sedate the animal with a tranquilizer dart failed, and the mountain lion was not captured.

Bizarro Earth

4.1 Earthquake Hits New Zealand South Island

An earthquake measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale struck near Sheffield in New Zealand South Island's mid-Canterbury region early Thursday, China's Xinhua quoted the GNS Science as reporting.

New Zealand's Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences said the quake, occurred at 03:41 a.m. local time (1441 GMT Wednesday), was centered 20 km east of Sheffield at a focal depth of 33 km.

There were no reports of casualties or damages.

Bizarro Earth

California: Two Earthquakes Strike West of San Jose

The U.S. Geological Survey has reported that two earthquakes struck within 30 minutes of each other near San Jose late Wednesday.

The first shook the Los Altos Hills approximately 14 miles west of San Jose City Hall at about 11:15 p.m., and was recorded with the preliminary magnitude of 2.3, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A second earthquake with the preliminary magnitude of 2.6 reportedly hit the same region at about 11:45 p.m., approximately 13 miles west of San Jose City Hall.

Bizarro Earth

Australia: 3.5 Earthquake Hits Flinders South Australia

The Flinders Ranges have been shaken by a minor earthquake felt up to 30km from the epicentre near Wilmington.

The quake was felt around 9.50am today and measured 3.5 on the Richter scale.

It is the second-largest quake in SA this year and follows a magnitude 4.5 event north-east of Peterborough on January 26.

Primary Industries and Resources SA seismologist David Love said quakes in the ranges were not uncommon.

"Last year, about 250 earthquakes were recorded in the state and 80 per cent of lose were located in the Flinders and North mount Lofty Ranges," he said.


UK: Bee parasite devastates colonies as hives go unregistered and uninspected

© Associated Press/Haraz GhanbariA colony of honeybees
Millions of insects could be wiped out because thinly staffed inspectorate does not know where half the country's beekeepers are

A deadly Asian parasite that threatens to wipe out millions of bees across England and Wales has become endemic because Whitehall does not know the location of more than half the hives in the country, the National Audit Office reveals today.

The auditors estimate that at least 20,000 beekeepers are unregistered, which means they are never inspected and no action can be taken to eradicate the parasite before it destroys the bee colony, the report warns. The registered number of beekeepers stands at 17,000.

Failure to act could wipe out the country's ยฃ100m apple harvest and seriously damage pear, raspberry, strawberry and runner bean crops because they are highly dependent on bees for pollination.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs describes the pest as varroa, "a serious Asian parasitic mite of honey bees".


Study: Modified genes contaminated Mexican corn

One of the more acrimonious scientific debates of the decade may have ended with the publication of a study showing that genetically modified material did contaminate native corn in the crop's birthplace in southern Mexico, scientists said Wednesday.

But Elena Alvarez Buylla, author of the article published in the February edition of Molecular Ecology, said the difficult atmosphere surrounding the original debate - which threatened the reputations of some scientists - persists.

The controversy started in 2001 with an article in the journal Nature, which said that biotech genetic material had been detected in native Mexican corn in the southern state of Oaxaca, where the crop was first developed thousands of years ago.


Global Warming Teach-In

Global warming is not a crisis, but it may be creating a crisis of intellectual integrity.

Last month, college campuses held a "National Teach-in on Global Warming Solutions." The thrust of the message was that there is a crisis because global temperatures are rising, endangering the world's future, and humans are to blame.

I agree that there may be a crisis, but I don't believe that it is a crisis of impending heat; it is, rather, a crisis of intellectual integrity.

First, let me point out something that most people may not realize. Since 1998, there has been no trend in world temperatures, neither up nor down, in spite of population growth, greater resource use, and lots of carbon dioxide production. True, 1998, was the warmest year on record, and we are still in a warm period, but world temperatures are no higher than when today's college seniors began middle school. The likelihood of the catastrophic effects that gave Al Gore a Nobel Peace Prize is weak.

The crisis that concerns me stems from the way that scientists are addressing the issue. Ever since 1988, when James Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, alerted a congressional committee to global warming, climate change has been a political issue.

Evil Rays

Warming might be on hold, study finds

For those who have endured this winter's frigid temperatures and today's heavy snowstorm in the Northeast, the concept of global warming may seem, well, almost wishful.

But climate is known to be variable - a cold winter, or a few strung together doesn't mean the planet is cooling. Still, according to a new study, global warming may have hit a speed bump and could go into hiding for decades.

Earth's climate continues to confound scientists. Following a 30-year trend of warming, global temperatures have flatlined since 2001 despite rising greenhouse gas concentrations, and a heat surplus that should have cranked up the planetary thermostat.

"This is nothing like anything we've seen since 1950," Kyle Swanson of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee said. "Cooling events since then had firm causes, like eruptions or large-magnitude La Ninas. This current cooling doesn't have one."

Comment: The strength of the global warming psychology jumps out at the reader in this article. Buried within the text is the point that the planet is in a cooling phase.

But the behavioral reinforcement (mind training) of the global warming meme is so strong that the scientists and journalists can not even hear the absurdity in their own words.
But climate is known to be variable - a cold winter, or a few strung together doesn't mean the planet is cooling.
But climate is known to be variable - a hot summer, or a few strung together doesn't mean the planet is warming.
Following a 30-year trend of warming, global temperatures have flatlined since 2001 despite rising greenhouse gas concentrations, and a heat surplus that should have cranked up the planetary thermostat.
The greenhouse gas model has failed.
"This is nothing like anything we've seen since 1950," Kyle Swanson of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee said. "Cooling events since then had firm causes, like eruptions or large-magnitude La Ninas. This current cooling doesn't have one."
The current cooling does have a cause. The scientists just don't understand climate the way they assume they do. The current climate models have failed.
The discrepancy gets to the heart of one of the toughest problems in climate science - identifying the difference between natural variability (like the occasional March snow storm) from human-induced change.
From human-induced change??? The 1930s were some of the warmest years on record.
James Hansen of NASA GISS:
The U.S. has warmed during the past century, but the warming hardly exceeds year-to-year variability. Indeed, in the U.S. the warmest decade was the 1930s and the warmest year was 1934.
The Medieval Warm Period was warmer. How can the scientists model all the dozens of warming and cooling cycles in the past without invoking CO2 and human-induced change? Why is the current warming and now cooling cycle different and only because of CO2 and human-induced change? Nonsense.
But just what's causing the cooling is a mystery. Sinking water currents in the north Atlantic Ocean could be sucking heat down into the depths. Or an overabundance of tropical clouds may be reflecting more of the sun's energy than usual back out into space.
The current climate models have failed. For all their science and models and mathematical algorithms, now they haven't got a clue as to what is going on. That should provide the reader with a lot of confidence.
"It is possible that a fraction of the most recent rapid warming since the 1970's was due to a free variation in climate,"

"Suggesting that the warming might possibly slow down or even stagnate for a few years before rapid warming commences again."

he warned that it's just a hiccup, and that humans' penchant for spewing greenhouse gases will certainly come back to haunt us.

"When the climate kicks back out of this state, we'll have explosive warming,"

"Thirty years of greenhouse gas radiative forcing will still be there and then bang, the warming will return and be very aggressive."
The disconnect is amazing!

Better Earth

Inbreeding sabotages rare species' sperm

© Clive Postlethwaite/RexInbreeding among Asiatic lions hampers their reproductive success by sabotaging their sperm.

It's a triple whammy for male animals on the brink of extinction: not only are there fewer mates around to have sex with, but, to make things worse, their sperm are more likely to carry genetic abnormalities and less likely to be good swimmers, research shows.

"It is logical that endangered species are inbred and suffer reductions in fitness, but we don't have a clear idea of what is the driving force behind this," says John Fitzpatrick of the Centre for Evolutionary Biology at the University of Western Australia in Perth.

Fitzpatrick and colleague Jonathan Evans compared existing data on sperm fitness for 20 endangered and non-endangered species of mammals, including the Florida panther, Asiatic lion and cheetah. Scientists have previously observed extreme reductions in sperm quality for each of these big cats - all of which also suffered huge reductions in population size that led to inbreeding.


Lazy Spider Steals From the Mouths of Ants

© Simon PollardMenemerus bivittatus is one of three species of jumping spider that steal food from ant columns.
Forget stealing from the mouths of babes, zoologists have observed a similarly heinous crime - spiders stealing food from the mouths of ants.

At Mbita Point on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya, the walls of the buildings and other surfaces are covered with insects, including thousands of tiny lake flies. Within the throng lurks Menemerus, one of the jumping spiders or saltacids.

These predatory spiders adopt an approach similar to the big cats when hunting. They move very slowly, with their body close to the ground, before leaping on their prey.

Stalking is helped by extremely good vision: there are eight eyes in total, and importantly, two that face forward. These anterio-medial eyes have a visual acuity about one sixth as good as humans and let them "see like a primate and hunt like a lion," says Simon Pollard from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, who led the study.

Jumping spiders are also are known to be capable of solving cognitively complex tasks.