Earth ChangesS


On the Brink of Climatic Disaster: the Coming Ice Age

Politicians can't talk enough of carbon taxes and credits and cleaner technologies, but are they just fiddling while Rome freezes?

If the climate were a sentient adversary with a will, he might be laughing right now. Because while mankind is doing a Chicken Little worrying about anthropogenic global warming (AGW), nature just might be preparing an attack we least expect: another ice age.

For sure, many Americans feel like we're already in one. While last winter's frigid temperatures - with record cold in many parts of the world (South America experienced its coldest winter in 90 years) - might seem a tough act to follow, Old Man Winter has risen to the occasion. Parts of Alaska have experienced temperatures reaching 78 degrees below zero, North Dakota had record December snow, a Minnesota sled-dog race was actually canceled due to heavy snow, and Ohio ski resorts have called a recent winter storm "a stimulus package for their industry." Yet, critics may point out that this is anecdotal evidence and thus not scientifically significant. This would be true, only, in this case the science happens to coincide with the anecdotes. As Gregory F. Fegel at tells us:

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 6.7 - Kermadec Islands, New Zealand


* Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 14:11:46 UTC
* Monday, January 19, 2009 at 02:11:46 AM at epicenter

Location 30.046°S, 177.951°W

Depth 10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program


* 89 km (55 miles) S (185°) from Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands

* 1026 km (638 miles) SSW (195°) from NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga

* 3193 km (1984 miles) WSW (239°) from PAPEETE, Tahiti, French Polynesia


Scientists Find New Creatures of Australian Deep

© UnknownOne of Australia's deepest residents a carnivorous sea squirt, or ascidian, standing half a meter tall on the seafloor on the Tasman Fracture Zone at a depth of 4006 metres.
Scientists said Sunday they had uncovered new marine animals in their search of previously unexplored Australian waters, along with a bizarre carnivorous sea squirt and ocean-dwelling spiders.

A joint US-Australian team spent a month in deep waters off the coast of the southern island of Tasmania to "search for life deeper than any previous voyage in Australian waters," lead researcher Ron Thresher said.

What they found were not only species new to science -- including previously undescribed soft corals -- but fresh indications of global warming's threat to the country's unique marine life.


UK: Crab riddle on Thanet beaches

Velvet crabs
© UnknownVelvet swimming crabs
Mysterious circumstances surround the beaching of thousands upon thousands of crabs on the isles beaches.

Last week the bodies of velvet swimming crabs were washed up on shores all around the Thanet coast but no definitive reason can be found.

Some think the sudden death of the velvet swimming crabs could be due to the cold weather.

Tony Child of the Thanet Coast project said: "It does seem to be linked to the weather, as it's been particularly cold.

It is something which happened three or four years ago. It's very strange."

However, he added that some crabs have been taken away to test for disease and "it was odd that no other species had been affected" by the cold.

Crab numbers had just started to recover from the last wave of deaths.

Cloud Lightning

US: Mysterious bird deaths solved?

A rash of brown pelican deaths and illnesses was probably caused by a severe mid-December storm in the Pacific Northwest, state wildlife officials believe.

An estimated 400 birds turned up dead, injured or sick along the California coast beginning about Dec. 19. The episode has largely faded, state officials said.

"It doesn't appear severe (poisoning) or disease appears to be doing this. It appears to be more weather-injury and nutrition-related," said David Jessup, senior wildlife veterinarian for the California Department of Fish and Game.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 5.4 - Chiapas, Mexico


* Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 02:57:33 UTC

Location 15.854°N, 92.483°W

Depth 178.5 km (110.9 miles)

Distances 60 km (35 miles) SW of Comitan, Chiapas, Mexico

100 km (65 miles) S of San Cristobal d/l Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

250 km (155 miles) WNW of Guatemala City, Guatemala

810 km (500 miles) ESE of Mexico City, D.F., Mexico


Alaska: Oil spills at Slope's Milne Point

The North Slope had one of its largest crude oil spills this week.

So far there's no evidence that any oil from the 24,400-gallon spill at BP's Milne Point oil field on Monday morning contaminated the tundra, though it's possible that some saline water may have escaped on the snow, state regulators said.

The spill is the biggest on the Slope since BP's record 201,000-gallon oil spill at Prudhoe Bay in 2006, which resulted in congressional hearings and criminal prosecution of BP. That spill did contaminate the tundra.


US: Why are the western white pines dying?

Everett, Washington - Sharon Collman's quest for answers started at her childhood home.

There, in Shoreline, 60 years ago, her mother planted a tiny Western white pine sapling that would grow strong and sure until a few years ago, when it inexplicably began to die.

Collman, an extension educator and entomologist, knows a few things about trees. A healthy, well-cared-for tree in her mother's front yard should live at least 200 years.

She didn't know it then, but she had stumbled on a problem that has the potential to devastate certain species of pines across Western Washington. It's already killing Western white pines from Mill Creek to Seattle.


Bird flu comes to Nepal, confirms UK laboratory

There has been an outbreak of bird flu for the first time in the country today. The deadly H5N1 strain of virus has been detected at Kakarbhitta, which shares a border with West Bengal in India, in Jhapa district.

An emergency cabinet today meeting declared the affected zone 'bird flu crisis-hit area'.

"No bird flu symptoms in human have been detected till now. But we are planning to monitor the health of the people in the affected area. Preliminary estimates suggest that the virus will be eliminated within a month," said Tek Bahadur Thapa, secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC).

Bizarro Earth

US: Quakes rattle western, south-central Wyoming

Cheyenne -- A minor earthquake jolted the western Wyoming town of Alpine, startling people and pets. No damage was reported.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude 3.7 quake struck about 9:15 p.m. Thursday. The quake was centered in the Snake River Canyon about seven miles east of Alpine.

John Bellini with the Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., says the quake had nothing to do with the recent swarm of small earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park roughly 100 miles north of Alpine.