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Fri, 28 Oct 2016
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Earth Changes


Living Planet reports mass extinction of animals looms

© Chinchilla News
A young pygmy elephant walking near her dead mother in Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in Malaysia's sabah state on Borneo Island.
The world is hurtling towards the first mass extinction of animal life since the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago, according to the most comprehensive survey of wildlife ever carried out.

By 2020, the populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and other vertebrate species are on course to have fallen by more than two-thirds over a period of just 50 years, the Living Planet report found.

The current rate of extinction is about 100 times faster than is considered normal - greater than during some of the previous five mass extinctions in the Earth's history.

While the dinosaurs probably died out because a giant meteor hit the planet, just one species is the cause of the current problems: humans.

This is one of the reasons why geologists are close to declaring a new epoch, called the Anthropocene after the Greek for human, because the fossils of so many extinct animals will one day form a noticeable, global band in the rocks of the future.

The Living Planet report, produced by conservation charity WWF and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), analysed data for 3,706 species in what was described as the most comprehensive study of the state of wildlife globally.

They found that between 1970 and 2012, the average decline in population was 58 per cent.

And at the current rate this figure will hit 67 per cent by 2020, the year by which the world has pledged to halt the loss of wildlife.

Dr Mike Barrett, director of science and policy at WWF-UK, said: "For the first time since the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, we face a global mass extinction of wildlife.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning bolt kills woman in Tamil Nadu, India

A 55-year-old woman died when lightning struck her while she was standing in a bus shelter in a village in Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu on Thursday.

Police said heavy thundershowers lashed many parts of the Tuticorin district on Thursday. Lakshmi, wife of Isakki of West Street of Thirumalayapuram near Kayatharu, took shelter in a bus shelter with her granddaughter Abinaya,9, and Ayyammal, 59, wife of Shanmugam of the same village.

Lakshmi died on the spot when lightning struck her. Abinaya and Ayyammal, who were injured, were admitted to Tirunelveli Government Hospital.


Shallow 5.4 magnitude earthquake rattles central Italy; shakes buildings in Rome

Map of the earthquake's epicenter
An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.4 rattled a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome, on Wednesday (Thursday NZT), just two months after a powerful temblor toppled villages, killing nearly 300 people.

There were no immediate reports of damage.

Italy's National Vulcanology Center said the epicenter was near Macerata, near Perugia. The US Geological Survey said it had a depth of some 10 kilometres, which is relatively shallow.

The quake was felt across a broad swath of central and southern Italy, shaking centuries-old palazzi in Rome's historic centre.

The Aug. 24 quake destroyed hilltop village of Amatrice and other nearby towns.


Update: Man dies following bear attack in Kashmir, India

An elderly man who was injured in a bear attack at Hokhletri village of central Kashmir's Budgam district late Tuesday evening succumbed at SK Institute of Medical Sciences Soura late last night.

Abdul Gaffar Bhat, 65, had suffered injuries in his neck, head and lower abdomen after a bear attacked him.

"Bhat was rushed to District Hospital Budgam where from he was removed to Soura where he breathed his last around 10 pm last night," said a local Nawaz Alam.

Pertinently, another person Nazir Ahmad Wani of Pethkoot village of Beerwah was also injured in a bear attack on Tuesday. He is being treated at SDH Beerwah.

The residents made a plea to the wildlife department to tranquilize the wild animals roaming in Najan, Pethkoot, Dasan, Ramhama, Hokhletri and Chanapora villages.

Comment: See also: Man severely injured in bear attack in Beerwah, India


Elderly man dies in hospital following attack by pack of dogs at his house in Kerala, India

Stray dogs continue to be a big menace in Kerala, with incidents of the canines attacking human beings getting reported from different parts of the state every other day. A 90-year-old man was attacked by a pack of stray dogs at his house near Varkala in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, October 26. He succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

The victim, Raghavan, was attacked by six dogs at around 4.30 am when he was sitting in the verandah of his house.
He was soon taken to Taluk Hospital in Varkala and later shifted to medical college in Thiruvananthapuram, where he passed away.

Philanthropist Kochouseph Chittilappilly, who has been often criticised by animal lovers all over Kerala, has shared two gory photos of the nonagenarian, questioning Women & Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, who is also a vociferous animal rights activist, if this is what she means by protecting people in Kerala.

Stray dogs


Stray dogs unleash terror in Srinagar, India; 50,000 people bitten in past four years

According to the Health department figures, more than 50000 people mostly children have been bitten by stray dogs in the past four years.

Records at Srinagar's Anti-Rabies Clinic show 12 dog bite-related deaths in the five years alone.

However the Municipal authorities blame people for the dog menace. "People throw food packets on the streets. Dogs come to eat. When someone tries to clear it, they bite. There is a need to keep the premises clean," one of the officials of the SMC Srinagar said.

Meanwhile, resentment is brewing among the Srinagarites against the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) for failing to curb the dog menace. "The stray dog population has witnessed manifold increase in various areas including city-centre Lal Chowk. Bemina, Qamarwari, Batmalloo, Rawalpora, Khaniyar, Razikadal, Jawaharnagar, Padshahibag and other parts of the city from the last one month," people from these areas informed.

They said that the canines have been storming streets, chasing cars, pulling down bicycle riders and often attacking pedestrians.


USGS: 5.6 magnitude earthquake strikes off Tonga

© earthquake.usgs.gov
A 5.6 magnitude undersea earthquake struck 130 kms (80 miles) northwest of the South Pacific island nation of Tonga on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The quake was originally reported as 6.1 magnitude but was later downgraded by the USGS.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries and there was no tsunami warning issued after the quake, which struck at a shallow depth of 42 kms (26 miles). Its location was also recorded as 392 km (243 miles) west southwest of Samoa.


Unusual weather continues in Haines, Alaska with first snowfall of the season

© Abbey Collins
The first snowfall hit Haines after a 17-day dry spell.
It's been a weird few weeks of weather for Southeast Alaska. After an unusually long dry spell, Haines had its first snowfall of the season. This much snow before Halloween has only happened a handful of times on record.

"It's definitely not a fall pattern for Southeast Alaska," says David Levin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Juneau.

"The string of dry days that we had is probably about just as equally unusual as the snow amounts that we've been seeing," says Levin. "Definitely an unusual October pattern for sure."

Most of the snow fell Sunday into Monday, and downtown Haines recorded over 12 inches. That's following 17 dry days. Last year, the first snow fell on November 3. But Levin says it's not surprising for the first snowfall to come in October.

"But as far as the amounts go it's a little bit out of the ordinary for us to receive this much," says Levin.

Snowfall used to be recorded at the airport. Now it happens downtown, so there's some discrepancy when comparing this snowfall to others historically. But, it can still provide some perspective. Levin says the most snowfall ever recorded in Haines in one day was 15 inches, and that was in 1926. He says 12 or more inches have only been recorded in October about four times. This is one of those times.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning strike kills teenager in Uganda

A primary seven candidate at Okuture primary school in Pabbo Sub County, Amuru district was on Sunday evening struck dead by lightning.

Richard Okeny, 17, was struck by lightning at around 6:00pm while digging at their garden in Pogo-ceri village.

The deceased was among 75 pupils of Okuture school preparing to sit for the Primary Leaving Examinations-PLE early next month.

The LCIII Chairperson Pabbo Sub County, Christopher Odongokara, regretted the incident and tasked parents to always be on the lookout for their children when rains threaten.

"I met up with the grieving family and we are yet to have another meeting to discuss when the burial will take place," Mr Odongokara said.

In 2014, lightning struck in Pabbo Sub County and killed a couple both aged 25.


Twin ice avalanches in Tibet 'unprecedented' say scientists

This image shows both ice avalanches in false color, as seen from space on Oct. 4, 2016.
Glaciologists were just beginning to wrap their heads around an enormous ice avalanche that occurred in Tibet on July 17. Then, on Sept. 24, it happened again, and scientists are struggling to figure out why.

The two avalanches occurred at Tibet's Aru Range, just a few kilometers apart, according to NASA's Earth Observatory. What's strange about the avalanches - the first of which killed nine people - is that temperatures were close to average leading up to the slides, and the glacier sat on fairly flat terrain, the report added.

"Even one of these gigantic glacier avalanches is very unusual," Andreas Kääb, a glaciologist at the University of Oslo, told NASA. "Two of them within close geographical and temporal vicinity is, to our best knowledge, unprecedented."