Earth ChangesS


Parasites threatening California sea otters

The food some California sea otters eat might carry deadly parasites that come from cats and opossums, a recent study suggests.

Scientists from the University of California-Davis and the U.S. Geological Survey say some marine invertebrates on which sea otters feed can act as transport hosts for lethal pathogens that have made their way into the ocean, confirming a theory that has long been reported.

The risk of exposure to the pathogens is higher among sea otters when clams, fat innkeeper worms and marine snails are part of their diet, researchers said.

Cloud Lightning

High Winds Kill 10 in Spain and France

Spain Collaspse
© Manu Fernandez/The Associated PressRescuers working Saturday after part of a sports center collapsed in high winds, killing four children.

Madrid - At least 10 people, including four children, were killed as high winds struck Spain and France on Saturday, tearing roofs from buildings, blowing down trees and power lines and whipping up huge waves.

The Spanish authorities said the four children were killed and several others injured near Barcelona on Saturday when the roof of a sports center collapsed in high winds. A spokeswoman for the Catalan government said the children had been sheltering from the wind in the sports hall in Sant Boi de Llobregat, just south of Barcelona, when the roof and some of the walls collapsed.

Jaume Bosch, mayor of Sant Boi, said the children were 9 to 12 years old, according to the Web site of La Vanguardia, a Barcelona-based newspaper. The spokeswoman, who spoke on condition of anonymity under government rules, said seven other children and two adults were injured, one of them seriously. Emergency services had pulled everyone free of the rubble of the building by midafternoon, she said.

Better Earth

Children among victims as deadly storm hits Europe

Three children are among several people to have died in extreme weather across parts of Western Europe.

It is reported the youngsters were killed when the roof of a sports centre near Barcelona collapsed in strong winds. In another incident in the same city a woman was fatally injured after a wall fell on her.

On the other side of the country, in the Galicia region, a policeman was killed when his car was struck by a falling tree.


One Whale Survives Mass Australian Beaching

© UnknownA dead sperm whale on the north coast of Tasmania. Three more sperm whales from a group of almost 50 that beached en masse in Australia's south have died, with just two survivors sandwiched among the dead, rescuers have said.
Just one sperm whale from a group of almost 50 that beached en masse in Australia's south has survived, and remains sandwiched among the dead, officials said Saturday.

The pod of 48 whales became trapped this week on a sandbar 150 metres (500 feet) offshore from Perkins Island on the northwest coast of the island state of Tasmania. By the time they were discovered on Thursday almost all had perished.

High winds and ocean swell prevented rescuers from floating the two whales who survived through Friday night out to sea, and by late Saturday rescuer Warwick Brennan said just one was still alive.

"We didn't get a chance to get the whales out so we've just been trying to maintain them, keep them cool, but unfortunately one of them has died during the day so we've only got one alive now," Brennan told AFP.

Cloud Lightning

Fatal Storms Hit Spain and France

Three children have been killed in northern Spain when the roof of a sports hall collapsed amid high winds, local officials say.

Two adults were also reported to have died in other storm-related incidents.

Torrential rains and winds of up to 172km/h (107mph) have been battering northern Spain and south-west France.

At least one million homes in France are without electricity, roads and railways have been blocked and airports ordered closed, authorities there said.

Residents in affected areas in both countries have been warned to stay indoors.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 5.1 earthquake shakes Guatemala

A magnitude-5.1 earthquake has shaken northern Guatemala near the Mexican border, but there are no reports of injuries or major damage. The U.S. Geological Service says the quake occurred at 8:03 a.m. local time and was centered two miles (three kilometers) west-southwest of Huehuetenango city.

Bizarro Earth

Liberia in grip of worst caterpillar plague in 30 years: UN

In what is being described by the UN food agency as Liberia's worst plague in 30 years, caterpillars are destroying crops in the country and posing a major threat to the precarious food security situation there.

The caterpillars, two to three centimetres in length and described by villagers as "black, creeping and hairy," are advancing in the tens of millions, devouring all plants and food crops in their path and in some cases overrunning homes and buildings.

The situation in Liberia is a national emergency and is likely to escalate into a regional crisis involving neighbouring Guinea, Sierra Leone and Coted d'voire, Representative of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Liberia, Winfred Hammond, has reported.

Bizarro Earth

Is the American Southwest Running Dry?

Filmmaker Jim Thebaut talks about the precarious future of the Southwest and the call for a national water plan.

Bizarro Earth

Global Cooling Under-Reported, Says SPPI

The Earth has shown an under-reported cooling trend for eight straight years, raising serious questions about the accuracy of the UN's climate projections, since not one of the computer models on which it relies had predicted so long and steep a cooling, says a new review paper -- Temperature Change and CO2 Change - A Scientific Briefing --from the Science and Public Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank.

The paper posits that "The chief reason for scepticism at the official position on "global warming" is the overwhelming weight of evidence that the UN's climate panel, the IPCC, prodigiously exaggerates both the supposed causes and the imagined consequences of anthropogenic "global warming"; that too many of the exaggerations can be demonstrated to have been deliberate; and that the IPCC and other official sources have continued to rely even upon those exaggerations that have been definitively demonstrated in the literature to have been deliberate.


How Cobras Spit With Perfect Accuracy

© Frank Luerweg/University of BonnSpitting cobra takes aim at a human face
Spitting cobras don't really spit venom. But they are incredibly accurate, hitting a target - the victim's eyes - from 2 feet (60 cm) away with impressive accuracy, studies have shown.

New research confirms how they do it.

Scientists have long known that spitting cobras don't actually spit. Rather, muscle contractions squeeze the cobra's venom gland, forcing venom to stream out of the snake's fangs, explains Bruce Young, a researcher at the University of Massachusetts. The muscles can produce enough pressure to spray venom up to six feet (nearly 2 meters).