Earth ChangesS


New Butterfly Discovered with Mustache Disguise

© Natural History Museum, LondonThe Splendeuptychia ackeryi butterfly, or Magdalena valley ringlet, whose distinguishing feature is unusually hairy mouthparts.
A mustache on a butterfly has tipped off curators at the Natural History Museum in London that a specimen in their collection for 90 years actually belongs to a new species.

A curator found the disguised insect, initially collected from the dry Magdalena valleys of Colombia, among the 3 million butterfly specimens at the museum where it had lain undiscovered.

Blanca Huertas compared the mustachioed specimen with a recently found wild specimen, allowing her to identify the older specimen as Splendeuptychia ackeryi, or Magdalena valley ringlet, whose distinguishing feature is unusually hairy mouthparts. (The name ackeryi is dedicated to Phil Ackery, the former collection manager of the butterfly collections at the museum.)

Cloud Lightning

There's the snow ... now for rain

Great Wall
© APTourists get a cool view of the Great Wall
Beijing - China's normally dry capital lay covered in a white blanket for a third day yesterday, with Beijing residents and tourists basking in an unusual, artificially produced snowfall.

The snow was a product of cloud-seeding, a method used by the Government to induce rain to try to end a three-month drought that has gripped at least 12 Chinese provinces.


US: "Right" Whales Battling Back from Edge of Endangerment

Strong Population of 400 Gets Constant Monitoring

Right whale
© Wikipedia Commons/Public DomainDrawing of Northern Pacific Right Whale
When I first saw the term "right whale," I immediately thought of the term "left whale." Reading that I was wrong, I considered the "right whale" may be the "correct whale" and I was "right." Well, not the right "whale" but just plain right. Now I'm confused.

John D. Sutter of has posted an article, "Volunteers, scientists guard endangered whales," that reports that researchers, volunteers and scientists are routinely standing guard on beaches to identify right whales.

Bizarro Earth

Ban on mountaintop mining overturned

Even as public opinion in the US turns against coal, judges have overturned a ban on blasting away mountaintops to get at seams.

In the central Appalachians, including West Virginia, mining companies have lopped up to 300 metres off hundreds of mountains, destroying biologically diverse hardwood forest. The debris is often dumped into valleys, sometimes burying streams in the process.

A lawsuit filed by the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC) based in Huntington, West Virginia, argued that such valley fills violate the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, and a US district court ruled in their favour in March 2007. But on 13 February, a Court of Appeals panel voted 2:1 to reverse the decision.

Bizarro Earth

Lake Michigan Fish Populations Threatened by Decline of Tiny Creature

The quick decline of a tiny shrimp-like species, known scientifically as Diporeia, is related to the aggressive population growth of non-native quagga mussels in the Great Lakes, say NOAA scientists.

As invasive mussel numbers increase, food sources for Diporeia and many aquatic species have steadily and unilaterally declined.

A recent research study from NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Laboratory published this week in Freshwater Biology documents the recent decline of Diporeia and the explosive growth of quagga mussels in Lake Michigan. Over the past five years quagga mussels have displaced native Diporeia as the dominant bottom dwelling organism, leading to a major disruption in the lake's food web.

"Quagga mussels have displaced other more energy-rich food sources and leave fish and other aquatic species with fewer food options," said Tom Nalepa, NOAA research biologist. "The invasive mussels are low in calories and their shell has no nutritional value. Fish feeding on quagga mussels expend considerable energy crushing and passing the indigestible shell."


3rd Earthquake In As Many Weeks Rattles New Jersey

For the third time in three weeks, a small earthquake has rattled an area of north-central New Jersey.

No damage or injuries were reported from the 2.3 magnitude quake, which was recorded shortly before 1:42 a.m. Wednesday.

Scott DiGiralomo, a coordinator with the county's office of emergency management, says the epicenter was just over a mile outside Dover. It was felt mostly by people in Denville and Randolph.

The quake is the third to hit Morris County since Feb. 2.

Bizarro Earth

US: Earthquake Rattles Nevada Town

A small earthquake rattled nerves in Wells last night, but otherwise caused no damage or injuries. The 3.5 magnitude temblor was reported at 7:12 p.m. and was centered 7 miles northeast of the small eastern Nevada community along Interstate 80.

Bizarro Earth

US: Earthquake reported west of Maplesville, Alabama

An earthquake measuring 2.2 on the Richter scale occurred about 11 miles west of Maplesville early yesterday morning.

No damage was reported as a result of the earthquake, which the U.S. Geological Survey recorded at 2:14 a.m. An earthquake of such a slight magnitude is generally not felt by the public, but is recorded by seismic instruments. The actual location of the earthquake was in a rural area, 32.805°N, 87.069°W, according to the USGS Earthquake Center.

Bizarro Earth

US: Morris County, New Jersey earthquakes puzzling for geologists

Minor earthquakes, including three in Morris County during a 15-day span, are relatively common in the northeastern United States but puzzle geologists because the nearest active fault line is hundreds of miles away under the Atlantic Ocean.

"The cause of these earthquakes is really a big mystery because they really don't fit in with the geologist image of plate tectonics," said Catherine Riihimaki, a geologist who teaches at Drew University in Madison.

Comment: Is there a connection? US: Lights over Morris County, New Jersey skies once again


Glimmer of hope for consensus climate honesty is short-lived

For one giddy, almost magical moment, I thought the "consensus" climate science community, or at least a small portion of it, had finally come to its senses. I should have known better.

The almost-magical moment came on reading a headline in the U.K. Guardian online. It read: "Scientists must rein in misleading climate change claims: Overplaying natural variations in the weather diverts attention from the real issues." The article was by Dr. Vicky Pope of the British Meteorological (Hadley) Centre, one of the four major centres monitoring climate.

Finally! I thought. The consensus climate scientists who believe, passionately but with almost no scientific evidence beyond computer models, that the planet is warming, that it's all humanity's fault, and that we're heading for oblivion, are willing to admit they've been wildly exaggerating the threat of warming to places like the Arctic.

Comment: Looks like there are more people all the time practicing their seeing skills.

Paul MacRae and SOTT pretty much nailed this one.

See: "Apocalyptic Climate Predictions" Mislead the Public, Say Experts