Welcome to Sott.net
Sun, 22 Oct 2017
The World for People who Think

Earth Changes

Bizarro Earth

Pomegranate disease mystery

© Glenn Milne
Mystery: Pomegranate grower Graham Robertson has lost 70 per cent of his trees this year.
Growers remain bewildered by the mysterious death of pomegranate orchards across Australia.

"I've lost 70 per cent of my crops in the past year," Mildura district horticulturalist Graham Robertson said.

"Of the 10,000 trees I put in, I've got about 2500 left."

Pomegranates, a Middle-Eastern native and a traditional homestead fruit tree, have roared back into favour on the back of healthy lifestyle fruit drinks and low-fat snack options.

Australia's rapidly changing ethnic mix in the cities has also been responsible for their newfound popularity.

The fruit was seen by many as a saviour for irrigators who have pulled their grape vines because of the glut in wine.

"The only thing we have got left around here is asparagus farms and horse paddocks," said Mr Robertson, from Cardross.

Pomegranate orchards from Western Australia, Queensland, NSW and now in northern Victoria have fallen victim to a baffling dieback.


Mexico monarch butterfly population smallest in years, study says

© Marjorie Miller, Associated Press
A scientist collects a monarch butterfly near Zitacuaro, Mexico
The amount of land occupied by the migrating creatures shrank 59% from a year ago, scientists say. The decline could hurt tourism and the ecosystem.

Scientists who take the annual measure of Mexican forestland famously occupied by migrating monarch butterflies said Wednesday that the butterfly population is the smallest they have seen in two decades.

The likely cause is unseasonably warm weather recently in the United States, as well as a dramatic loss of habitat in the U.S. Corn Belt, the scientists said.

In a survey carried out in December and January, researchers found nine monarch colonies wintering in central Mexico, occupying a total of 1.19 hectares, or 2.94 acres, a 59% decrease compared with the previous year's study.

It was troubling news for the Mexican states of Michoacan and Mexico, where the yearly arrival of the butterflies is a major tourist attraction. Of even greater concern, experts say, is the potential impact that a diminished butterfly population could have on interconnected habitats and species across North America.

The results were released by the World Wildlife Fund, the Mexican government and giant Mexican cellphone company Telcel, which has supported butterfly habitat conservation.

Cloud Grey

Climategate 3.0 has occurred - the password has been released

A number of climate skeptic bloggers (myself included) have received this message yesterday. While I had planned to defer announcing this until a reasonable scan could be completed, some other bloggers have let the cat out of the bag. I provide this introductory email sent by "FOIA" without editing or comment. I do have one email, which I found quite humorous, which I will add at the end so that our friends know that this is valid. Update - the first email I posted apparently was part of an earlier release (though I had not seen it, there are a number of duplicates in the all.zip file) so I have added a second one.- Anthony

Subject: FOIA 2013: the password

It's time to tie up loose ends and dispel some of the speculation surrounding the Climategate affair.

Indeed, it's singular "I" this time. After certain career developments I can no longer use the papal plural ;-)

If this email seems slightly disjointed it's probably my linguistic background and the problem of trying to address both the wider audience (I expect this will be partially reproduced sooner or later) and the email recipients (whom I haven't decided yet on).

The "all.7z" password is [redacted]

DO NOT PUBLISH THE PASSWORD. Quote other parts if you like.

Releasing the encrypted archive was a mere practicality. I didn't want to keep the emails lying around.

I prepared CG1 & 2 alone. Even skimming through all 220.000 emails would have taken several more months of work in an increasingly unfavorable environment.

Dumping them all into the public domain would be the last resort. Majority of the emails are irrelevant, some of them probably sensitive and socially damaging.


Thousands without electricity in France winter storm

© France24
Cars drive through the snow on March 11, 2013 in Honguemare-Guenouville, northwestern France. More than 68,000 homes were without electricity in France and hundreds of people were trapped in their cars after a winter storm hit with heavy snow.
More than 68,000 homes were without electricity in France and hundreds of people were trapped in their cars after a winter storm hit with heavy snow, officials and weather services said.

An accident near the northern city of Lille involving three cars that skidded in icy conditions on a motorway left 14 people injured, including six firefighters.

Twenty-six regions in northwest and northern France were put on orange alert because of heavy snowfalls, which Meteo France said were "remarkable for the season because of the expected quantity and length of time".

Conditions were forecast to improve early Wednesday.

Bad Guys

Tilling the soil with pesticides

© thelangarhall.com
The ministry of agriculture had organised a conference on Doubling Food Production from February 1-3. The "eminent speakers" invited were not members of International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) or top Indian scientists. Rather they were spin masters of biotechnology industry who claimed to have founded the anti-GMO movement and openly promoted it. The old paradigm of food and agriculture is clearly broken. On April 15, 2008, the IAASTD report findings, carried out by 400 scientists over six years, were released. The report has noted that business as usual is no longer an option. Neither the Green Revolution nor the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can guarantee food security. We need a new paradigm of working with the laws of nature and ecological sustainability.

Snowflake Cold

Unseasonal winter storm strikes northern Europe

Unseasonably severe weather struck much of France on Tuesday, leaving tens of thousands of homes temporarily without electricity and paralysing travel across Europe.

Just when many in France allowed themselves hope that spring may be around the corner, a fresh flurry of heavy snowfall struck much of the country, leaving tens of thousands of homes without electricity and disrupting travel across Europe.

French weather service Metéo France put two regions in the northwest on red alert - the highest possible - and 28 other regions across the country's north and northwest on orange alert because of the winter storm, calling the snowfall "remarkable for the season because of the expected quantity and length of time".

Bizarro Earth

Fairway sinkhole swallows golfer at Waterloo, Illinois course

© golfmanna.com
Hank Martinez , top, Ed Magaletta , right, Russ Nobbe , left, look into the sink hole that swallowed golfer Mark Minhal. Minhal is recovering with a dislocated shoulder from the fall.
Waterloo - It sure wasn't the hole-in-one Mark Mihal had in mind.

While golfing with friends at the Annbriar Golf Course near here Friday, Mihal, 43, a mortgage broker from Creve Coeur, abruptly dropped into the ground on the fairway of the 14th hole. It was the first time a person - and not a ball - has disappeared beneath the turf in the course's 20-year history.

It also was the first time in the memory of folks who study sinkholes in Illinois that a person has fallen into one.

"I was standing in the middle of the fairway," Mihal said Monday. "Then, all of a sudden, before I knew it, I was underground."

Mihal said he fell into the mud floor of an enclosure shaped like a bell, up to 18 feet deep and 10 feet wide. The rescue was precarious, he said, because no one knew whether the surface hole would grow or the enclosure would collapse.

A companion called the course's pro shop, where general manager Russ Nobbe gathered some rope and a ladder and rushed to the rescue. Mihal had dislocated his shoulder, so Ed Magaletta, a friend and a real estate agent, climbed down and put a rope around Mihal's waist so he could be hoisted to safety.

The rescue took less than 20 minutes, but Mihal said his mind quickly went to an incident two weeks ago in Seffner, Fla., where a sleeping man dropped into a huge sinkhole that opened beneath his bedroom. Authorities never recovered the body of that victim, Jeffrey Bush, 36.

"That certainly went through my mind when I was down there," Mihal said. "It looked like it was more room to go down (in the hole). I wasn't too happy to be in there."


Giant mosquito invasion scares Florida

© Image credit University of Florida
Entomologist Phil Kaufman shows the size difference between the invasive Asian tiger mosquito, right, and the native species Psorophora ciliata, sometimes called the gallinipper
You might want to think twice about your beach vacation this year: giant mosquitoes are expected to invade Florida this summer. The insects are 20 times larger than most other mosquitoes and their bites feel like stab wounds.

They attack fish, wild animals and pets. Their larvae are so ferocious they can eat small fish and tadpoles. With bodies the size of a quarter, the giant insects can bite through clothing and are known to attack at all times of the day.

"It feels like you're being stabbed," one Florida resident told Fox Orlando, describing the bites of the gallinipper mosquitoes. And these massive mosquitoes are predicted to plague Florida this summer.

The giant insects usually appear after significant rainstorms or floods. Florida already had a high number of gallinippers last year, and is anticipating even higher numbers this year. After Tropical Storm Debby produced torrential storms and dumped more than 20 inches of rain across some areas of Florida last June, the state's gallinipper mosquitoes were given the perfect breeding ground to lay their eggs. The massive bloodsuckers are expected to hatch in the Sunshine State this year, plaguing their victims with itchy and painful bites.


Dead birds fall out of the sky near Fort Worth, Texas - Second time in 5 months

Arlington Animal Services responded to reports from drivers Tuesday morning of about 150 birds lying dead on Pioneer Parkway.

The birds were found directly under an electrical transmission line starting at the utility pole just east of Walgreens at 2200 E. Pioneer Parkway and running north across Pioneer to the next pole.

The City of Arlington's contract veterinarian, Dr. Jani Hodges, performed an examination of one of the birds to determine the cause of death. The results, however, were inconclusive.

Winds gusts of 40 mph were reported Monday night and lasted through the early hours of Tuesday morning. Winds, coupled with the fact that the birds were found directly under an electrical transmission line, resulted in one theory for the bird deaths.

According to an e-mail from Arlington Office of Communication Director, Rebecca Rodriguez, "The transmission lines touched briefly, causing an arc which could have electrocuted the birds."

There were no reports of power outages or power surges in the area. There was also no evidence of electrical burns on the birds.

Comment: See also:

25 November 2012: Dead birds falling from the sky in Arlington, Fort Worth

Bizarro Earth

20 foot sinkhole forces Pennsylvania family to evacuate as multiple sinkholes open up across Bethlehem Township


It seemed like any other Sunday for Doris Jenkins. The Bethlehem Township resident got up bright and early to walk her dog. As soon as she stepped out of the house however, she immediately saw something that would change the lives of her and her family forever.

"I came around the corner and said, 'oh my God!'" said Jenkins. "My daughter's car was there. I woke her up and told her to get the car out of there!"

A sinkhole had opened up right in the driveway of her house, located on the 1500 block of 2nd Street. Doris, her daughter Inga Jenkins and her granddaughter Claudia Jenkins were forced to evacuate their house.

"I wasn't thinking that this was how I was going to be spend my Sunday afternoon," said Inga while in tears. "It's pretty upsetting to see your driveway start to fall into a hole."