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Tue, 30 Aug 2016
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Earth Changes


Black bear attacks girl in Port Coquitlam, Canada

Black bear
A 10-year-old girl is in hospital with critical injuries after a bear attack in Port Coquitlam, B.C., Saturday.

Conservation Office inspector Murray Smith said the girl was attacked by a female black bear with her cub.

The incident took place near Shaughnessy Street and Lincoln Avenue at about 5 p.m. PT., according to B.C. Ambulance, not far from a popular trail along the Coquitlam River that leads to a nearby watershed and wilderness area.

Smith said conservation officers killed the sow when they found her.

"The bear wouldn't leave the location with a lot of human presence at that spot, and so the bear was destroyed," he said.

The cub is still at large, he said, and people are being asked to stay away from the area for the time being.

Arrow Down

Bayer AG makes honeybee contraceptives: Study confirms pesticides significantly reduce reproductive capacity and lifespan of bees

Most will wonder what I mean when I say Bayer AG, the German chemicals and drug company, the same one that just absorbed Monsanto, makes bee contraceptives. This is precisely what a newly-published, peer-reviewed scientific study confirms. Contraceptives for bees are not good for the world, no better than another product invented in the labs of Bayer, namely heroin. Bayer makes a class of insect killers known as neonicotinides. Their free use worldwide threatens bee pollination and the entire food chain.

A study just published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences), identifies a dramatic reduction in sperm count in bees exposed to two of Bayer AG's most widely used pesticides—thiamethoxam and clothianidin. They found that those two neonicotinoids, "significantly reduce the reproductive capacity of male honeybees (drones), Apis mellifera. Drones were obtained from colonies exposed to the neonicotinoid insecticides or controls, and subsequently maintained in laboratory cages until they reached sexual maturity...the data clearly showed reduced drone lifespan, as well as reduced sperm viability (percentage living versus dead) and living sperm quantity by 39%."

The study continues: "Our results demonstrate for the first time that neonicotinoid insecticides can negatively affect male insect reproductive capacity, and provide a possible mechanistic explanation for managed honeybee queen failure and wild insect pollinator decline... As the primary egg layer and an important source of colony cohesion, the queen is intimately connected to colony performance. Increased reports of queen failure have recently been reported in North America and Europe; however, no studies have so far investigated the role of neonicotinoids and male health to explain this phenomenon."

The death and global extinction of honeybees

Perhaps the biggest foreboding danger of all facing humans is the loss of the global honeybee population. The consequence of a dying bee population impacts man at the highest levels on our food chain, posing an enormously grave threat to human survival. Since no other single animal species plays a more significant role in producing the fruits and vegetables that we humans commonly take for granted yet require near daily to stay alive, the greatest modern scientist Albert Einstein once prophetically remarked, "Mankind will not survive the honeybees' disappearance for more than five years."


Tornado strikes Manila as heavy rain swamps Filipino capital

© shinshenanigans / Instagram
A tornado has reportedly made landfall in the Philippines as severe monsoon flooding that has already killed at least five people continues to threaten the island's capital Manila.

Torrential rainfall in recent days has plagued an area known as Metro Manila, which is home to more than 12 million people and a number of the nation's major cities.

Five people have been killed and thousands forced to leave their homes due to the storms, so far.

Cloud Precipitation

More 'historic' US flooding: Three dead and thousands rescued in Louisiana

© AP
Cars and homes have been almost wholly submerged
At least three people have died and thousands have been rescued after "historic" flooding swamped the US state of Louisiana.

The National Guard and emergency teams have used helicopters to rescue people stranded in their homes or cars.

Searches are continuing for missing people, as the rain is expected to continue over the weekend.

The heavy rainfall started on Friday where some areas received more than 17ins (43cm) of rain.

The neighbouring states of Alabama and Mississippi are also experiencing severe weather.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency on Friday. On Saturday he said: "This is an ongoing event. We're still in response mode."

He and his family were relocated after water flooded their basement.

"This is a flood of epic proportions," JR Shelton, the mayor of Central City told The Advocate newspaper. "When we talk about floods now, we'll talk about the great flood of 2016. everything else pales in comparison."

Comment: Torrential rain and floods slam Baton Rouge, Louisiana

In recent months the United States has experienced some extreme rainfall related weather events including: 23 deaths as West Virginia was swamped, "once-in-a-thousand-year" flash flooding in South Carolina; more 'historic' flooding in the southern states, massive flooding and mudslides in southern California and record rainfall in Texas.


Rare red sprites photographed over southern Arizona

© Kevin Rimcoski
A local storm chaser caught a rare phenomenon on camera.

Kevin Rimcoski took this photo from Mount Lemmon's Windy Point on Sunday night. Along with the stars and storms, Rimcoski's picture also captured red sprites. What are these and how do they form?

Red sprites are weak electrical discharges that can form directly above a decaying complex of storms. They occur roughly 50 miles above the Earth's surface. For perspective, most lightning strikes happen within a few miles above the Earth.

Red sprites are also triggered by positive lightning strikes. These are bolts that travel from the tops of the clouds down to the valley floors. Positive lightning strikes can be 10-100 times more powerful than their negative counterparts, due to the amount of required energy to travel through the atmosphere.

Comment: A couple of months ago other 'rare' red sprites were filmed bursting out of supercell storm in Texas. See also:

Red Sprites - A strange and beautiful form of lightning

Bizarro Earth

Drought ravaged Lesotho forced to import food as vital water reserves exported to South Africa

Shephard Ts'olo Lesofe secretly takes his sheep down to drink from the controversial Katse dam in Lesotho, which only provides water to South Africa
For farmer Mohlakoane Molise, the view of the enormous Katse dam from his smallholding high in the mountains of Lesotho taunts him daily.

His country is suffering through its worst drought in 35 years, but the vast and vital water reserves remain out of reach, destined instead for export to neighbouring South Africa.

"I am very angry about that water, because it could benefit us, we could use it to water the crops when there is a drought. But that's not happening," the 65-year-old widower told AFP.

Kneeling in front of his round, thatch-roofed hut, he sorted through his maize, examining each grain, one-by-one.

The operation didn't take long. His total annual harvest filled just two large sacks, in place of the usual dozen.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the 2016 harvest for Lesotho's primary crop maize is estimated at 25,000 tonnes, a dramatic drop from last year's 78,000-tonne haul.

Instead, the mountainous kingdom - - entirely landlocked by South Africa - - must import food from its larger neighbour.


Risso's dolphin that died near San Francisco airport was dehydrated, malnourished

© ABC 7 News/KGO-TV
A Risso's dolphin is stranded in the mud near San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016
Preliminary results from a necropsy show a Risso's dolphin that died in a shallow channel near San Francisco International Airport was severely malnourished and dehydrated, the Sausalito-based Marine Mammal Center said Thursday.

A team from the center, along with the San Francisco Fire Department, retrieved the body of the dolphin Wednesday from the mudflats south of the airport, where the animal became stranded earlier this week.

An analysis of tissue and organ samples will help determine whether there was an underlying illness that caused the dolphin to stop eating. Risso's dolphins are rare visitors to San Francisco Bay. They typically make their home in the open ocean and travel in pods.


Mysterious 'volcano' fire appears in Limpopo, South Africa

© Mbusi Ka-Mphezulu/AENS
The Council for Geoscience is on its way to investigate this strange ground fire in Limpopo.
Scientists from the Council for Geoscience are on their way to Limpopo to investigate the mysterious appearance of a lava-like fire which has injured three people after burning unabated for three weeks at Zaaiplaas Village in Sehlakwane.

In July the Limpopo Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) received a call from the Sekhukune District Municipality regarding the emergence of unusual fire, mud and grey ash in a damp wetland area on the outskirts of the village.

"The PDMC visited the area to conduct rapid assessment. The assessment revealed that the smoke and fires started three weeks ago. There is hot mud and grey ash in the area and three people were burnt by hot ash," said PDMC spokesperson Michael Moja.

The fire has steadily burnt through an area larger than a rugby field, transforming the wetland into what looks like an active volcanic field. A community member, Mbusi Ka-Mphezulu, posted photos on Facebook of a lava-like substance glowing from underneath the ground.


Addressing the 300-pound gater in the room: Man surprised to find 9-foot reptile in his garage in Fulshear, Texas

A man in Fulshear got quite the shock when he opened his garage door Thursday evening. "I took two steps in and his head was literally right there," said Doug Dallmer, describing the nearly 9-foot long alligator that had crawled its way inside the garage. "It was a little nerve-wracking," Dallmer said.

Dallmer called Fulshear police, which in turn called a wrangler to remove the alligator. "It was a big one. We were surprised by how big it was," said Capt. Mike McCoy, Fulshear police. Dallmer recorded video on his cellphone, as a group tried to lasso a rope around the alligator's head. During the recording, the alligator could be heard hissing. It also opened its mouth in an attempt to defend itself.

Alligator sightings are common in Fulshear, as are removals, officials said. Still, this case was odd. "It's unique for an alligator this size. This alligator is quite big," Capt. McCoy said. The official measurement came in at 8 feet, 9 inches long, weighing upwards of 300 pounds.

"It's quite a story. No doubt about it," Doug Dallmer said, breathing a sigh of relief that he and his family are safe. The alligator will be taken to an alligator farm in El Campo, Texas, where it will live on a refuge, officials said. "That was our goal here," said McCoy. "Not to harm the alligator."

Cloud Lightning

Lightning bolt kills man and injures 4 others in Poughkeepsie, New York

© Alex Wagner/The Journal
Emergency personnel put a victim onto a stretcher in Mansion Square Park in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Friday, after a powerful thunderstorm hit the park.
A lightning bolt that struck during a fast-moving storm killed one person and injured four, two critically, at a park in the center of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Friday afternoon, the police and the mayor of the Hudson Valley city said.

The most severly injured of the three unresponsive victims who had been taken to the trauma center at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie died Saturday around 1 a.m., a hospital spokesman, Tim Massie said. The man, who was not immedietely identified, was 50 years old, Mr. Massie said. The two others remained in the hospital's intensive care unit. All three were men in their late 40s to early 50s who had been sitting together on the same park bench, he said.

The other victims were taken to MidHudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie. Their conditions were not immediately available.

Comment: Electric universe: Lightning strength and frequency increasing