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Sat, 26 Sep 2020
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Fish

Jumbo squid swims north, imperilling British Columbia hake

Persistent sightings have some calling for an expedition to determine how many of the predatory creatures exist in Canadian waters.

VANCOUVER - When British Columbia's hake fleet sets off to trawl the deep ocean off the West Coast later this month, the crews will be on alert for a strange, voracious squid that is invading the north Pacific.

The Humboldt, or jumbo squid, is usually found off Mexico, but there is a heightened alert on the B.C. fishing grounds this year because the species has been making its way up the coast of North America, devastating hake stocks as it goes.

"I don't know much about them but they sound like quite a predator," said Brian Mose, director of the Deep Sea Trawlers Association of British Columbia.

Mr. Mose is sending a message to all fleet members, asking them to report any encounters they have with the large squid, which has been expanding its range both north and south.

Roses

UN alert: One-fourth of world's wheat at risk from new fungus

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned in March that Iran had detected a new highly pathogenic strain of wheat stem rust called Ug99.

The fungal disease could spread to other wheat producing states in the Near East and western Asia that provide one-quarter of the world's wheat.

Info

Beebe declares disaster in Arkansas, Phillips counties

Stuttgart, Ark. - Governor Beebe has declared Arkansas and Phillips counties as state disasters areas, after a tornado and severe storms swept through on Saturday.

It's the latest of disaster declarations for Beebe. The governor declared disasters in 11 counties after tornadoes on May 2, in 60 counties after widespread flooding in March and April and 13 counties after tornadoes in February.

Better Earth

Global warming brings tropical birds to Hong Kong, watchers say

The sighting of two rarely seen tropical birds in Hong Kong could be down to climate change, bird experts said Saturday. The birds - a great frigate and the white-tailed tropicbird - were both spotted around Po Toi, Hong Kong's southern most island, over the last month.

It was the first time the white-tailed tropic had ever been spotted in Hong Kong and only the fourth sighting of the frigate.

Both birds are usually seen in more tropical climates such as the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Attention

'Severe' damage near China quake epicentre: military official

A town at the epicentre of China's deadly earthquake has suffered "unusually severe" damage, with more than 70 percent of roads damaged and all bridges destroyed, a top military commander said Tuesday.

Better Earth

Vast Chile volcano ash cloud partially collapses

PUERTO MONTT - A towering cloud of hot ash, gas and molten rock spewed miles into the air by a volcano in southern Chile has partially collapsed, raising fears it could smother surrounding villages, an expert said on Tuesday.

Luis Lara, a scientist with the government's geology and mining agency, said the column of ash, which had soared as high as 20 miles, was now about 4.5 miles.

The column of debris, kept aloft by the pressure of constant eruptions, could collapse entirely, smothering the ghost town of Chaiten 6 miles away with hot gas, ash and molten rocks.

"These small collapses which generate minor flows of pyroclastic material are normal, they are not that serious in that they affect a small area, the top part of the volcano," Lara said.

Bizarro Earth

New Zealand volcano more unsettled: scientists

WELLINGTON - Volcanic activity at New Zealand's Mount Ruapehu is increasing and an eruption could occur at any time, scientists warned on Tuesday. The volcano in central North Island, famed as a location in the "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy, last erupted on September 25 2007, spitting 2 meter (6 feet) boulders distances of up to 2 km (1.5 miles).

Ruapehu's elevated alert level has not been changed, but scientists said on Tuesday that activity within the mountain was greater, with high levels of gas spewing out, a warmer than average crater lake and ongoing volcanic tremors.

"The volcano remains in a status of unrest and the possibility of further activity remains. If further eruptions occur, they may occur without warning," Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS) said in a statement.

Better Earth

Solar Variability: Striking A Balance With Climate Change

The sun has powered almost everything on Earth since life began, including its climate. The sun also delivers an annual and seasonal impact, changing the character of each hemisphere as Earth's orientation shifts through the year. Since the Industrial Revolution, however, new forces have begun to exert significant influence on Earth's climate.

Earth and Sun
©NASA
The sun radiates huge amounts of electromagnetic energy in all directions. Earth is only one small recipient of the sun's energy; the sun's rays extend far out into the solar system, illuminating all the other planets.

Ambulance

Update: Death toll in China quake exceeds 12,000

Dujiangyan, China - The toll of the dead and missing soared as rescue workers dug through flattened schools and homes on Tuesday in a desperate attempt to find survivors of China's worst earthquake in three decades.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the death toll exceeded 12,000 in Sichuan province alone, and 18,645 were still buried in debris in the city of Mianyang, near the epicenter of Monday's massive, 7.9-magnitude quake.

Better Earth

Overlooked in the global food crisis: A problem with dirt

Science has provided the souped-up seeds to feed the world, through biotechnology and old-fashioned crossbreeding. Now the problem is the dirt they're planted in.

As seeds get better, much of the world's soil is getting worse and people are going hungry. Scientists say if they can get the world out of the economically triggered global food crisis, better dirt will be at the root of the solution.

Soils around the world are deteriorating with about one-fifth of the world's cropland considered degraded in some manner. The poor quality has cut production by about one-sixth, according to a World Resources Institute study. Some scientists consider it a slow-motion disaster.

Image
©AP/Bullit Marquez
Farm laborers plant rice seedlings at the experimental plots of the International Rice Research Institute, IRRI, at Los Banos, Laguna province 70 kilometers (43 miles) south of Manila, Philippines Saturday May 3, 2008. IRRI scientists are working on better ways to improve rice yields through better soil and water management. Started in 1963, IRRI, planted Saturday its 133rd crop in long term trials in plots with zero fertilizer and nitrogen.

Comment: Although the issue of soil quality is very important, this article fails to properly address the reasons WHY soil quality is deteriorating, and underplays the negative role that modern intensive farming has had in this, for example: the over-use of chemical fertilizers; large-scale monoculture; genetically modified organisms.