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Thu, 27 Jan 2022
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It's Back: More Dust Blankets Australian East Coast

Dust Sotrm
© AAP/John Pryke
Dust to dust: Sydney landmarks have been covered again
Dust storms are moving through Brisbane and other parts of south-east Queensland this evening for the second time this week.

Residents in Brisbane say they can taste the dust in the air and it is visible at Robina on the Gold Coast.

Earlier today it caused more health problems in New South Wales.

Snowman

Leading global warming proponent pulls an about face

Imagine if Pope Benedict gave a speech saying the Catholic Church has had it wrong all these centuries; there is no reason priests shouldn't marry. That might generate the odd headline, no?

Or if Don Cherry claimed suddenly to like European hockey players who wear visors and float around the ice, never bodychecking opponents. Or Jack Layton insisted that unions are ruining the economy by distorting wages and protecting unproductive workers.

Or Stephen Harper began arguing that it makes good economic sense for Ottawa to own a car company. (Oh, wait, that one happened.) But at least, the Tories-buy-GM aberration made all the papers and newscasts.

When a leading proponent for one point of view suddenly starts batting for the other side, it's usually newsworthy. So why was a speech last week by Prof. Mojib Latif of Germany's Leibniz Institute not given more prominence?

Bizarro Earth

US: Earthquake Magnitude 4.1 - Eastern Montana

Image
© USGS
Date-Time:
Friday, September 25, 2009 at 15:11:34 UTC

Friday, September 25, 2009 at 09:11:34 AM at epicenter

Location:
45.016°N, 104.207°W

Depth:
4.5 km (2.8 miles)

Distances:
48 km (30 miles) NE (40°) from Hulett, WY

48 km (30 miles) NW (324°) from Belle Fourche, SD

56 km (35 miles) NW (314°) from Fruitdale, SD

69 km (43 miles) N (11°) from Sundance, WY

501 km (311 miles) N (8°) from Fort Collins, CO

591 km (368 miles) N (6°) from Denver, CO

Binoculars

Fanged Frog, 162 Other New Species Found in Mekong

Goniurosaurus catbaensis
© AP Photo
In this photo taken Jan. 1, 2008, released by The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) a Cat Ba leopard gecko, known by its scientific name Goniurosaurus catbaensis, is seen in Cat Ba Island National Park in northern Vietnam.
A gecko with leopard-like spots on its body and a fanged frog that eats birds are among 163 new species discovered last year in the Mekong River region of Southeast Asia, an environmental group said Friday.

WWF International said that scientists in 2008 discovered 100 plants, 28 fish, 18 reptiles, 14 amphibians, two mammals and one bird species in the region. That works out to be about three species a week and is in addition to the 1,000 new species catalogued there from 1997 to 2007, the group said.

"After millennia in hiding these species are now finally in the spotlight, and there are clearly more waiting to be discovered," said Stuart Chapman, director of the WWF Greater Mekong Program.

Researchers working for WWF warned that the effects of climate change, including an upsurge in droughts and floods, threaten the diverse habitat that supports these species. That is on top of traditional threats such as poaching, pollution and habitat destruction.

Light Saber

U.N. climate meeting was propaganda: Czech president

Czech President Vaclav Klaus sharply criticized a U.N. meeting on climate change on Tuesday at which U.S. President Barack Obama was among the top speakers, describing it as propagandistic and undignified.

"It was sad and it was frustrating," said Klaus, one of the world's most vocal skeptics on the topic of global warming.

"It's a propagandistic exercise where 13-year-old girls from some far-away country perform a pre-rehearsed poem," he said. "It's simply not dignified."

At the opening of the summit attended by nearly 100 world leaders, 13-year-old Yugratna Srivastava of India told the audience that governments were not doing enough to combat the threat of climate change.

Better Earth

Drastic climate therapy could make things worse

Better, perhaps, to let the earth look after itself than try to regulate its system through mirrors, clouds and artificial trees

The idea of serious scientists and engineers gathering to discuss schemes for controlling the world's climate would a mere 10 years ago have seemed bizarre, or something from science fiction. But now, well into the 21st century, we are slowly and reluctantly starting to realise that global heating is real. We may have cool, wet summers in the UK, but we are fortunate compared with the Inuit, who see their habitat melting, and Australians and Africans who suffer intensifying heat and drought. We should not be surprised that public policy is edging ever nearer to geoengineering, the therapy our scientists are considering for a fevered planet.

Our senior scientific society, the Royal Society, met at the start of the month to launch the report "Geoengineering the Climate" and to hear from its representative scientists. The meeting was hosted by the president, Lord Rees, and the chairman was Professor John Shepherd, who chaired the study group. The goal, as Prof Shepherd explained in the Guardian in April, was to investigate theories of "intervening directly to engineer the climate system, so as to moderate the rise of temperature" and to "separate the real science from the science fiction".

Comment: Finally. Some common sense regarding "climate change".


Bizarro Earth

Mexico: Earthquake Magnitude 6.4 - Off Coast of Jalisco

Image
© USGS
Date-Time:
Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 07:16:24 UTC

Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 12:16:24 AM at epicenter

Location:
18.992°N, 107.350°W

Depth:
35 km (21.7 miles) set by location program

Distances:
285 km (175 miles) SW of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico

315 km (195 miles) W of Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

325 km (200 miles) WSW of Autlan, Jalisco, Mexico

855 km (530 miles) W of MEXICO CITY, D.F., Mexico

Frog

Cockroaches Control Their Breathing to Save Water

Cockroach
© Allen Moore
A cockroach mom shelters her newborn babies.
Many insects have been known for decades to hold their breath when resting, but the reasons have not been well understood. A new study on cockroaches suggests the insects reduce their breathing to conserve moisture.

Cockroaches can hold their breath for up to seven minutes. Their respiratory system is highly efficient but there are no lungs. Instead, the insects draw in air through external valves called spiracles and transport the air directly to the cells via tubes called trachea. To stop breathing, they simply close the spiracles.

The new study, reported in the Journal of Experimental Biology tested the major hypotheses put forward to explain the practice of holding the breath for long periods. One hypothesis is that the insects are trying to build up the carbon dioxide produced during respiration, which makes it easier to expel from the body. Another idea is that they stop breathing to protect themselves from high oxygen concentrations (which can be toxic). The third hypothesis is that the practice aims to regulate water loss.

Frog

Spider-Man lookalike lizard is latest exotic pet craze

Spider-Lizard
© Cater Nrews
Spider-Lizard, Spider-Lizard, does whatever a Spider-Lizard does
A lizard that looks startlingly like Spider-Man - Mwanza flat-headed rock agama - has become the latest fashionable pet.

The vivid red-and-blue colouring is almost uncannily like that of the Marvel superhero, and comic book fans have been flocking to exotic pet shops to snap them up.

Agamas like the Spider-Lizard, as it has become known make good pets, as they become tame and docile if handled regularly. However, they require specialist equipment in the UK to maintain their temperature.

Control Panel

Wild Weather In Australia: Quakes, Hail, Fires and Dust

Australia sand storm
© Elizabeth Stevenson
A dust storm covered a large area of southern Australia
Two small earthquakes struck Melbourne's south-east in quick succession last night, adding to a series of wild weather incidents around the country.

A quake measuring 2.6 on the Richter scale occurred about 20 kilometres south of Frankston around 6:20pm AEST.

A magnitude 3.0 tremor struck further south 14 seconds later.

Residents have reported hearing a loud noise and feeling the ground shake, but the State Emergency Service says it has not received any reports of damage.

Comment: The dust storm was particularly severe and affected all Australian states along the eastern seaboard due to a sudden southerly wind change.

The following video was taken at Broken Hill - watch the day turn into night in less than a minute.

Also see:
Australia: Worst Dust Storm on Record Blankets Sydney, Disrupts Transport