Earth ChangesS

Better Earth

Rescue efforts on large beached whales 'futile'

Large whales that strand themselves should be killed, as any attempts to save them are probably futile and likely to cause more suffering, according to animal welfare specialists.

The results of a series of autopsies of beached whales carried out by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have led veterinarians to conclude that sperm whales and beaked whales have little chance of survival if they become stranded.

"Euthanasia can be a very emotive issue," says Adam Grogan of the UK's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), "but it is often in a stranded whale's best interests." It is normally carried out by lethal injection.

The statement, made by the Marine Animal Rescue Coalition, a group of organisations including the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the RSPCA, comes as rescuers were trying to save 90 long-finned pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins that had beached themselves on the west coast of Australia. At time of writing, only 10 of the animals were still alive.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude-4.7 quake shakes near Salton Sea, California

Bombay Beach, California - A moderate earthquake struck Tuesday on the edge of the Salton Sea in Southern California's Imperial County, but there were no immediate reports of any injuries or damages.

The magnitude-4.7 quake struck at 4:55 a.m. at a depth of about 3.5 miles, said seismologist Amy Vaughn of the U.S. Geological Survey. It was centered three miles south of the small town of Bombay Beach, or 90 miles east of San Diego.


Bees and ants are true team players

© Frantnieks
Bees and ants are true team players unlike other creatures who seek safety in numbers for selfish reasons, according to researchers.

Scientists from Edinburgh and Oxford Universities used mathematical models to study "swarm behaviour". They found that bison or fish want to get to the centre of large groups to keep themselves safe from predators.

Ants and bees worked together as a single unit, and were prepared to die for the greater good of the colony.


Bad weather conditions in Balkans forced planes to land at Northern Greek airport

The bad weather conditions in the Balkans forced airplanes to land at Thessaloniki airport Macedonia, Greek Eleftheros Typos daily writes on its Internet site.

A British Airways plane from London to Pristina and an Austrian Airlines plane from Vienna to Skopje were forced to land in Thessaloniki on Friday as they failed to reach their destinations due to the bad weather. Most of the Austrian Airlines passengers continued their traveling by road. 11 passengers from the Pristina flight continued towards their destination, while the rest returned to London.


Alaska volcano Mount Redoubt erupts 4 times

Anchorage - Alaska's Mount Redoubt volcano erupted four times overnight, sending an ash plume more than 9 miles into the air in the volcano's first emission in nearly 20 years.

Residents in the state's largest city was spared from falling ash, though fine gray dust was falling Monday morning on small communities north of Anchorage.

Bizarro Earth

Alert level raised for Alaska volcano

Mount Redoubt
© AP Photo/AVO,USGSIn a January 27, 2009 file photo provided by the Alaska Volcano Observatory/U.S.G.S. steam and gas rise from a large fumerole on the north flank of Mount Redoubt, a 10,197-foot volcano in the Chigmit Mountains, in Alaska. Geologists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory Sunday increased the official alert level on the volcano to orange, the stage just before eruption.

Increased earthquake activity has prompted scientists to raise the alert level for Alaska's Mount Redoubt volcano.

Geologists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory said Sunday that seismic activity had increased over the past two days. On Sunday morning, 40 to 50 earthquakes were being recorded every hour.

Scientists said conditions may evolve rapidly and culminated in an eruption within days to weeks at the volcano roughly 100 miles southwest of Anchorage.

A steam plume rising about 1,000 feet above the mountain peak was observed Saturday.


Climate change: Less CO2, less jobs. It's that simple.

If you want to know what an economy that pumps out less carbon dioxide is like, look at Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. Factories closed, growing numbers of jobless, people driving less because they have nowhere to go, government deficits.

As it happens, it's the U.S. debt crisis that's done it to us. When the air comes out of the tires of your biggest trading partner, look out.

However, it's also what a well-meaning climate-change lobby felt was pain worth risking for the sake of the planet, when it recommended a regimen of emission caps and/or carbon taxes to reduce C02 emissions in Canada.

How do you like it so far?

Not so much, at this desk.

This is not the whole story as it doesn't include coal and natural gas, but there are some provocative specifics in a recent Statistics Canada document. (Link)


Africa's first bird extinction likely within four years

The modest plumage of the Sidamo lark may not catch the eye, but the bird could achieve the worst sort of fame - as the first contemporary African bird to go extinct, a new study warns.

The lark is adapted to Ethiopia's "rangeland" - the savannah of native grasses that traditionally covered large parts of east Africa, but is now rapidly disappearing. If the rangeland goes, so will the lark, says Claire Spottiswoode from the University of Cambridge.

"Rangeland degradation is often overlooked by conservationists, but it is not just the birds that suffer from the change in land use. The native people, the Borana pastoralists, also rely on intact rangeland to support their nomadic lifestyle," she says.

Better Earth

Algal blooms dump toxins on the ocean floor

Toxic algal blooms are bad enough on the ocean surface, but now it turns out that the toxin in them sinks to the ocean floor - where it persists for weeks.

Far from degrading soon after the bloom, as previously assumed, new research suggests that the neurotoxin that causes shellfish poisoning, domoic acid, sinks to the ocean floor and could poison marine mammals, birds and humans.

"The first signs of an algal bloom are often birds washing up on the shore or seals acting funny, aggressive and twitching, looking as if they were drunk," says Claudia Benitez-Nelson of the University of South Carolina.


US: Environmental disaster - every single bat may soon be dead

Alabama farm
© Associated Press/Elizabeth DalzielBats protect Alabama farms from insects.
While the media made a big deal out of honey bees dying last year, bats are quietly suffering a similar fate. And the death of bats is an environmental disaster in the making. Every single bat in the United States may soon be dead. White-nose syndrome (WNS), a mysterious fungus that kills bats wiped out about 90 percent of the bats in Connecticut this past winter and the syndrome is now headed to Alabama and other southern states.

According to a report in the Hartford Courant (Bats Die), officials from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection have found "veritable bat catacombs" in the state's caves. The wildlife inspectors discovered thousands of dead bats stacked up along the ledges of cave walls.