Earth ChangesS

Better Earth

Best of the Web: Our climate numbers are a big old mess

"Why is the news on global warming always bad? Perhaps because there's little incentive to look at things the other way. If you do, you're liable to be pilloried by your colleagues. If global warming isn't such a threat, who needs all that funding? Who needs the army of policy wonks crawling around the world with bold plans to stop climate change?

But as we face the threat of massive energy taxes - raised by perceptions of increasing rates of warming and the sudden loss of Greenland's ice - we should be talking about reality."

©Getty Images
Disko Bay, Greenland: Temperatures on the island are no warmer than they were in the mid-20th century.

Cloud Lightning

Early typhoon hits southern China

More than 100,000 people had to be evacuated as Typhoon Neoguri battered China's southern province of Hainan. The typhoon - the first to threaten China this year - also left 3,000 passengers stranded at an airport after 76 flights were cancelled.

It began lashing Wenchang late on Friday night with winds of up to 108km/h (67 mph), and reports say it caused a black-out in the city. Neoguri has since been downgraded to a tropical storm.


US: Avalanches knock out power to Alaska's capital

Massive avalanches destroyed transmission lines and support towers to a dam that supplies 85 percent of the electricity for Alaska's capital, and utility rates could quintuple for months until repairs are made, officials said.

The series of avalanches hit at 4 a.m. Wednesday, taking out 1.5 miles of power transmission line and destroying or severely damaging five support towers along a steep mountainside outside the Snettisham Hydroelectric Facility, about 40 miles from downtown Juneau.


China evacuates 120,000 people as Typhoon Neoguri nears

About 120,000 people have been evacuated from fish farms and low-lying coastal areas to safer places in south China's Hainan Province as Typhoon Neoguri approaches the island.

The Hainan flood control authorities said that as of mid-day on Friday, 42,000 residents had been displaced in Wenchang, Qionghai, Wanning, Lingshui and Sanya. The evacuation of 5,500 others was still under way.

The island's fishing authorities have removed 80,000 fishermen from boats or fish farms.

Evil Rays

5.4 earthquake rocks Illinois; felt 350 miles away

WEST SALEM, Ill. - A 5.4 earthquake that appeared to rival the strongest recorded in the region rocked people awake up to 350 miles away early Friday, surprising residents unaccustomed to such a powerful Midwest temblor.


Presumed Extinct Javan Elephants May Have Been Found Again - In Borneo

The Borneo pygmy elephant may not be native to Borneo after all. Instead, the population could be the last survivors of the Javan elephant race - accidentally saved from extinction by the Sultan of Sulu centuries ago, a new publication suggests.

The origins of the pygmy elephants, found in a range extending from the north-east of the island into the Heart of Borneo, have long been shrouded in mystery. Their looks and behaviour differ from other Asian elephants and scientists have questioned why they never dispersed to other parts of the island.

Pygmy elephant
©Jan Vertefeuille
Pygmy elephant with radio collar.

Better Earth

Ice Sheet 'Plumbing System' Found: Lakes Of Meltwater Can Crack Greenland's Ice And Contribute To Faster Ice Sheet Flow

Researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of Washington (UW) have for the first time documented the sudden and complete drainage of a lake of meltwater from the top of the Greenland ice sheet to its base.

From those observations, scientists have uncovered a plumbing system for the ice sheet, where meltwater can penetrate thick, cold ice and accelerate some of the large-scale summer movements of the ice sheet.

WHOI glaciologist Sarah Das
©Ian Joughin, UW Polar Science Center
WHOI glaciologist Sarah Das stands in front of a block of ice that was raised up 6 meters by the sudden drainage of a meltwater lake in Greenland.

Bizarro Earth

Mercury In River Moves Into Terrestrial Food Chain Through Spiders Fed To Baby Birds

Songbirds feeding near the contaminated South River are showing high levels of mercury, even though they aren't eating food from the river itself, according to a paper published by William and Mary researchers in the journal Science.

somg birds
© iStockphoto/Ronnie Wilson
Pollutant - mercury-laden spiders are eaten by birds, and also fed by parent birds to their nestlings.

Cloud Lightning

New Zealand: Police have released the name of a man killed by lightning in Northland on Tuesday

Roger Francis McGill, 61, of Kaukapakapa, was riding with the Northland Hunt on a farm near Dargaville when struck by a bolt of lightning during a violent electrical storm. He died instantly.

Cloud Lightning

Myths and facts about lightning

Myth: If it isn't raining, there is no danger from lightning.

Fact: Lightning often strikes away from heavy rainfall. It may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.