Earth ChangesS


Australia: Hundreds Evacuated From Flood-Bound Charleville

Queensland Floods 2
© ABC: Paul LockyerCooper Creek has been in flood since heavy rain in western Queensland late last year
Hundreds of people will be evacuated from flood-affected Charleville in Queensland's south-west, as heavy rain and flooding continues across the state's inland region.

A monsoonal low has dumped more than 130 millimetres of rain over parts of south-west Queensland overnight.

That has led to flooding in Bradley's Gully, which cuts through the centre of Charleville.

Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts says around a third of Charleville will be evacuated.

"For the town today ... expect potentially up to 500 people to be evacuated from their homes, which is quite significant," he said.


Common weed-killer chemically castrates frogs: study

chemicals castrating frogs
© AFP/File/Jeff PachoudFile photo shows a frog at the Besancon Natural History Museum. One of the most common weed-killers in the world, atrazine, causes chemical castration in frogs and could be killing off amphibian populations worldwide, a study published showed.
One of the most common weed-killers in the world, atrazine, causes chemical castration in frogs and could be killing off amphibian populations worldwide, a study published showed.

Researchers compared 40 male control frogs with 40 male frogs reared from the moment they hatched from eggs until full sexual maturity in atrazine concentrations in the range that animals experience year-round in areas where the chemical herbicide is found.

Ninety percent of the male frogs exposed to atrazine had low testosterone levels, decreased breeding gland size, feminized laryngeal development, suppressed mating behavior, reduced sperm production and decreased fertility, while the control group showed features typically found in male frogs.

And what happened to the remaining 10 percent of atrazine-exposed frogs was deemed "the most dramatic finding" of the study by the researchers, led by Tyrone Hayes of the University of California at Berkeley: they developed into females that copulated with males and produced eggs.

The larvae from those eggs were all male, the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) found.

"Many studies have focused on death from disease and its role in global amphibian declines and sudden disappearances of populations, but virtually no attention has been paid to the slow, gradual loss of amphibian populations due to failed recruitment," the study said.


Tsunami sweeps away entire towns on Chilean coast

boat marooned by tsunami
© AP Photo/ Natacha PisarenkoA boat lies marooned on a street in Talcahuano, Chile, Monday, March 1, 2010. An 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Chile early Saturday triggering a tsunami that hit coastal communities.
Talcahuano - When the shaking stopped, Marioli Gatica and her extended family huddled in a circle on the floor of their seaside wooden home in this gritty port town, listening to the radio by a lantern's light.

They heard firefighters urging Talcahuano's citizens to stay calm and stay inside. They heard nothing of a tsunami - until it slammed into their house with an unearthly roar about an hour after Saturday's magnitude 8.8 quake.

Gatica's house exploded with water. She and her family were swept below the surface, swirling amid loose ship containers and other massive debris that smashed buildings into oblivion all around them.

"We were sitting there one moment and the next I looked up into the water and saw cables and furniture floating," Gatica said.

She clung to her 11-year-old daughter, Ninoska Elgueta, but the rush of water ripped the girl from her hands. Then the wave retreated as suddenly as it came.

Better Earth

Best of the Web: BBC Horizon - How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth?

"In a Horizon special, naturalist Sir David Attenborough investigates whether the world is heading for a population crisis.

Comment: The other parts are here:
BBC Horizon - How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth ? Part 2
BBC Horizon - How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth ? Part 3
BBC Horizon - How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth ? Part 4
BBC Horizon - How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth ? Part 5
BBC Horizon - How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth ? Part 6

Bizarro Earth

Volcanic explosions expected in Chile quake's wake

Llaima Volcano
© STR/AFP/GettyLlaima, one of the largest and most active volcanoes in Chile, is back on the watch list.
Besides aftershocks, Chile's magnitude 8.8 earthquake on 27 February may also leave a legacy of volcanic explosions. "We expect to see an upsurge in volcanic activity over the next 12 months," says David Pyle, a volcanologist at the University of Oxford.

Charles Darwin was among the first people to suggest a link between large earthquakes and increased volcanic activity. In his records, he notes that a large earthquake off Chile's coastline in February 1835 appeared to resurrect previously inactive volcanoes, and cause active ones to increase their eruption rates.

Last year, Pyle and his colleagues confirmed that this was a real effect in Chile, showing that increases in volcanic activity have occurred following other large earthquakes along its coastline.

In particular, they found that after a magnitude 8.3 in 1906 and a magnitude 9.5 earthquake in 1960, there were three or four more volcanic eruptions within about 500 kilometres of the epicentre in the following year than would normally be expected.

Bizarro Earth

Nearly 200K without power after Northeast storm

© Reuters A woman jogs past a puddle of melting snow in Central Park a day after a snow storm in New York
Portland, Maine - Nearly 200,000 homes and businesses were still without power Monday as restoration efforts continued days after a slow-moving storm battered the Northeast with heavy snow, rain and high winds.

More than 83,000 utility customers still lacked electricity early Monday in New Hampshire, the hardest-hit state. New York had about 87,000 outages, and Maine had about 16,000.

At the peak of the storm, more than a million utility customers throughout the region had lost power.

Hundreds of utility crews from as far away as Michigan and Maryland continued removing trees that knocked down power lines and replacing utility poles that snapped during last week's storm.

Dozens of shelters provided warmth and food at fire departments, schools and other places.

Even after spending three nights at a shelter in New Paltz, N.Y., 28-year-old Keith Crum of Marlboro, N.Y., said he was understanding of the ongoing power outage. He recently moved back to the area from South Carolina, where he worked cutting trees away from power lines.

Bizarro Earth

France declares 'catastrophe' in deadly storm's wake

woman waits on a chair atop a table
© AFP, GettyA woman waits on a chair atop a table for rescuers in her kitchen on February 28, 2010, as a result of heavy floods which swamped her house, in La Faute-sur-Mer western France.

Paris - France will formally declare the storm that battered its Atlantic coast, killing at least 45 people and flooding several towns, a "natural catastrophe", Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Sunday.

Fillon held an emergency meeting of ministers to assess the disaster before announcing the decision, which will free up state funds to help local communities rebuild in the wake of the disaster.

"It's a national catastrophe and my first thoughts are therefore for the families of the victims, to whom I would like to present condolences from the government and the nation," he said.

Arrow Up

Quake, tsunamis kill more than 700 in Chile

A massive earthquake and tsunamis killed 350 people in one Chilean coastal town, doubling the total death toll on Sunday as the government tried to get aid to hungry survivors and halt looting.

President Michelle Bachelet said at least 708 people had been killed and called for calm as people desperate for food and water looted stores in some areas worst hit by Saturday's 8.8-magnitude quake, one of the world's biggest in a century.

Television images showed houses washed away by swirling waters, cars tossed into shattered buildings and boats lifted into the streets in coastal towns including Pelluhue and Constitucion, where 350 deaths alone were reported.

"It's an enormous catastrophe ... there's a growing number of missing people," Bachelet said, adding that food and medical aid was being sent to help the roughly 2 million people affected by the quake.

Better Earth

Flashback The World Has Never Seen Such Freezing Heat

© Getty ImagesA sudden cold snap brought snow to London in October
A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

Better Earth

Flashback The catastrophe behind climate change

As the estimated cost of measures proposed by politicians to "combat global warming" soars ever higher - such as the International Energy Council's $45 trillion - "fighting climate change" has become the single most expensive item on the world's political agenda.

As Senators Obama and McCain vie with the leaders of the European Union to promise 50, 60, even 80 per cent cuts in "carbon emissions", it is clear that to realise even half their imaginary targets would necessitate a dramatic change in how we all live, and a drastic reduction in living standards.

All this makes it rather important to know just why our politicians have come to believe that global warming is the most serious challenge confronting mankind, and just how reliable is the evidence for the theory on which their policies are based.