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Sun, 01 Oct 2023
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Earth Changes

Bizarro Earth

Boise, Idaho, gets earliest snow on record

Valley shivers as winter weather makes a premature appearance.
Idaho Snow

Big snow flakes fell early Friday evening, turning Downtown Boise into a giant snow globe for people on their way home from work. The snow caught many people off guard, including this bicyclist heading down Idaho Street between 8th and 9th around 5:45 p.m. Across the Treasure Valley, tree branches heavy with wet, snow-covered leaves fell on power lines, causing scattered power outages.


US: Wildfire devastates celebrity enclave near LA.

Los Angeles - A huge wildfire fanned by strong winds destroyed at least 70 multimillion-dollar homes in the celebrity enclave of Montecito, northwest of Los Angeles, officials said.

The brush fire quickly engulfed more than 800 acres in about six hours on Thursday, ripping through entire blocks of mansions in a community dubbed "America's Riviera." Firefighters were largely powerless to stop the destruction.

Montecito, whose 10,000 homeowners include actors John Cleese, Christopher Lloyd and Rob Lowe as well as talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, is about 90 miles from Los Angeles in coastal Santa Barbara County.

About 2,500 residents were forced to flee the flames, and 20,000 people in the wider area were without power. Four minor injuries were reported.


Half a month's rain in one day expected in parts of South Africa

Days of heavy rain across parts of South Africa have caused widespread flooding, leaving more than 5 people dead. Torrential rain has been lashing parts of the country since Sunday, with temperatures plummeting to the mid-teens. Thousands of people are battling the torrents of water, with the city of Bloemfontein one of the worst hit by the rains, which has destroyed schools and roads.

Bizarro Earth

Asian skies poisoned by clouds of pollution

Satellite photo of pollution clouds
© NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
A satellite image shows a dense blanket of polluted air over central eastern China covering the coastline around Shanghai.
A noxious cocktail of soot, smog and toxic chemicals is blotting out the sun, fouling the lungs of millions of people and altering weather patterns in large parts of Asia, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations.

The byproduct of automobiles, slash-and-burn agriculture, wood-burning kitchen stoves and coal-fired power plants, these plumes of carbon dust rise over southern Africa, the Amazon basin and North America but are most pronounced in Asia, where so-called atmospheric brown clouds are dramatically reducing sunlight in many Chinese cities and leading to decreased crop yields in swaths of rural India, says a team of more than a dozen scientists who have been studying the problem since 2002.

Comment: Lest we forget, those deadly pollution clouds are the direct results of the export-oriented economy in Asia, or in other words, "free-market" capitalism.


Species Diversity Of Enigmatic 'Flying Lemurs' Doubled By New Study

Colugos (aka flying lemurs) - the closest living relatives of primates most notable for their ability to glide from tree to tree over considerable distances - are more diverse than had previously been believed, according to a new report published in the November 11th issue of Current Biology.
Coluga gliding with baby
© Norman Lim
Coluga gliding with baby.

Scientists had recognized just two species of these enigmatic mammals, the Sunda colugo and the Philippine colugo. However, the new findings show that the Sunda colugo, found only in Indochina and Sundaland, including the large islands of Borneo, Sumatra, and Java, actually represents at least three separate species.

"We were guessing that we might find that there were different species of Sunda colugo - although we were not sure," said Jan Janecka of Texas A&M University. "But what really surprised us was how old the speciation events were. Some went back four to five million years," making the colugo species as old as other modern species groups (or genera) such as the primates known as macaques and the leopard cats.


Global warning: We are actually heading towards a new Ice Age, claim scientists

© The Daily Mail
A taste of the future: Plunging temperatures around Britain created dramatic 2-ft icicles over Sleightholme River in County Durham
It has plagued scientists and politicians for decades, but scientists now say global warming is not the problem.

We are actually heading for the next Ice Age, they claim.

British and Canadian experts warned the big freeze could bury the east of Britain in 6,000ft of ice.

A taste of the future: Plunging temperatures around Britain created dramatic 2-ft icicles over Sleightholme River in County Durham

Most of Scotland, Northern Ireland and England could be covered in 3,000ft-thick ice fields.

The expanses could reach 6,000ft from Aberdeen to Kent - towering above Ben Nevis, Britain's tallest mountain.

And what's more, the experts blame the global change on falling - rather than climbing - levels of greenhouse gases.


Global Warming Link To Amphibian Declines In Doubt

Evidence that global warming is causing the worldwide declines of amphibians may not be as conclusive as previously thought, according to biologists. The findings, which contradict two widely held views, could help reveal what is killing the frogs and toads and aid in their conservation.
© iStockphoto
Evidence that global warming is causing the worldwide declines of amphibians may not be as conclusive as previously thought, according to biologists.

"We are currently in the midst of a sixth mass extinction event," said Peter Hudson, the Willaman professor of biology at Penn State and co-author of the research study. "And amphibians are bearing the brunt of the problem."

Studies suggest that more than 32 percent of amphibian species are threatened and more than 43 percent face a steep decline in numbers.

Much of the massive declines associated with amphibians appear to be centered in places such as Central America and Australia, said Hudson. "It appears to be linked to a chytrid fungus -- Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) -- which we did not know affected frogs," he added.


Supreme Court Sides With U.S. Navy in Dispute Over Sonar Use, Whale Safety

Justices: National Security Strongly Outweighs Alleged Harm to Marine Mammals

The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the U.S. Navy's need to conduct realistic training with active sonar outweighs the concerns of environmentalists that the sonar could damage marine life.

The decision means the Navy can go forward with exercises off the coast of Southern California and does not have to sharply limit sonar use.

Chief Justice John Roberts began the opinion by quoting George Washington: "To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace."

Better Earth

Deja Vu: Blogger Finds Error in NASA Climate Data

NASA'S Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) is one of the world's primary sources for climate data. GISS issues regular updates on world temperatures based on their analysis of temperature readings from thousands of monitoring stations over the globe.

GISS' most recent data release originally reported last October as being extraordinarily warm-- a full 0.78C above normal. This would have made it the warmest October on record; a huge increase over the previous month's data.

Those results set off alarm bells with Steve McIntyre and his gang of Baker Street irregulars at Climateaudit.org. They noted that NASA's data didn't agree at all with the satellite temperature record, which showed October to be very mild, continuing the same trend of slight cooling that has persisted since 1998. So they dug a little deeper.


Reventador volcano spews lava near Ecuador's capital; 2 volcanos active in Colombia

QUITO - Lava was rising anew in the crater of Ecuador's Reventador volcano on Monday, a day after bursts of ash forced temporary closure of the capital's airport.