Earth ChangesS

Bad Guys

World Bank pledges to save trees... then helps cut down Amazon forest

A month ago it vowed to fight deforestation. Now research reveals it funds the rainforest's biggest threat.

The World Bank has emerged as one of the key backers behind an explosion of cattle ranching in the Amazon, which new research has identified as the greatest threat to the survival of the rainforest.

Better Earth

The internal 'orchestra' of the earth

Back in the '80s, when he was a seismologist doing research at MIT, John Bullitt tinkered in his spare time with recordings of the earth's internal vibrations, trying to write computer programs that would speed up the data and turn it into sound.

He never quite got what he was looking for out of his recordings (or his other scientific research, for that matter), and soon left the professional science world to study Buddhism.

Two years ago, shortly before he was to turn 50, Bullitt began to feel like he and the earth had some unfinished business. He rented a studio space in Somerville, purchased some high-end sound equipment, and returned to his scientific work.


Weirdest and most endangered creatures

©Arne Hodauc/Network for Giant Salamnader Conservation
Olm (left) a blind salamander and Chinese giant salamander (right) that can grow up to 1.8m in length

They could all merit a place in a gallery of Nature's strangest creatures. But apart from their strange looks and shapes they have one thing in common - they are all in danger of extinction.


Did Oil Canals Worsen Katrina's Effects?

In The Mississippi River Delta - Service canals dug to tap oil and natural gas dart everywhere through the black mangrove shrubs, bird rushes and golden marsh. From the air, they look like a Pac-Man maze superimposed on an estuarine landscape 10 times the size of Grand Canyon National Park.


Siberian Express brings Arctic blast across the States by Steph Ball

Over the last few days high pressure has been continuing to build across Siberia bringing unusually cold weather.

On Wednesday weather warnings were issued by Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry after forecasters predicted a fall of temperature to - 55C
(-67F). On Saturday night the temperature in Ojmjakon, Siberia actually fell to -60.2C (-76F). January temperatures across the larger Siberian cities normally range from - 15C to - 39C (5 to -38F).

Arrow Down

UK: Honeybees may be wiped out in 10 years

Honeybees will die out in Britain within a decade as virulent diseases and parasites spread through the nation's hives, experts have warned.

Whole colonies of bees are already being wiped out, with current methods of pest control unable to stop the problem.


Parasite Makes Ants Resemble Berries

Fruit pickers beware. That red berry might actually be an infested ant's rear end.

Scientists have discovered a parasite in the tropical forests of Central and South America that makes its ant hosts look like juicy, red berries ripe for the picking.

©Steve Yanoviak
A Cephalotes atratus ant infected by a parasitic worm displays its berry-like gaster - the rear part of its abdomen. Scientists have found that the parasites cause the red coloration, probably to make the ants appealing food to birds. Worm eggs then pass unharmed through the birds' digestive track and are eaten up by new ants in new locations.


Huge New Palm Found -- "Flowers Itself to Death"

©John Dransfield
This new species of palm, found recently in northwestern Madagascar, goes out with a bang. Once fully grown, the giant Tahina spectabilis produces a vibrant display of flowers - an act that depletes its nutrients and sparks a slow death. The apparently rare palm lives in areas where habitat has already been degraded, making conservation a priority, scientists say.

A couple on a casual stroll in Madagascar recently discovered a new gigantic palm that flowers itself to death.

Taller than a six-story building, with a trunk 1.5 feet (0.5 meter) in diameter, it is the most massive palm discovered to date in Madagascar.

Better Earth

Siphoning the Globe: Water Exhibit Exposes Worldwide Crisis

Editor's Note:

Water is an architect of the natural world, a building block of our bodies, and the lifeblood of our communities. It is, in short, our most important resource. And yet, each day, we squander it through pollution, mismanagement, neglect, and greed. As regions across Africa, the Middle East, Australia, Asia, and North America, face worsening drought, it is time to increase our understanding of the role of water in sustaining life for all creatures on this planet.

An amazing crew of individuals at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, led by Dr. Eleanor J. Sterling, the museum's Director of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation have made an important contribution to halting the water crisis with their new a ground-breaking exhibit that will change how you think about water. The exhibit was also organized by the Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul, in collaboration with Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland; The Field Museum, Chicago; Instituto Sangari, São Paulo, Brazil; National Museum of Australia, Canberra; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada; San Diego Natural History Museum; and Singapore Science Centre with PUB Singapore.

The exhibit covers a huge amount of ground, including information about how other life forms interact with water, the hydrologic cycle, the history of water use across the world, virtual water facts, the effect of dams, maps of water availability and use, and a whole lot more. Presented with incredible interactive displays, you can feel, taste, hear, and see the affect of water on our lives and how important it is to protect this resource.


Deep-ocean researchers target tsunami zone near Japan

Rice University Earth scientist Dale Sawyer and colleagues last month reported the discovery of a strong variation in the tectonic stresses in a region of the Pacific Ocean notorious for generating devastating earthquakes and tsunamis in southeastern Japan.

The results came from an eight-week expedition by Sawyer and 15 scientists from six countries at the Nankai Trough, about 100 miles from Kobe, Japan. Using the new scientific drilling vessel "Chikyu," the team drilled deep into a zone responsible for undersea earthquakes that have caused tsunamis and will likely cause more. They collected physical measurements and images using new rugged instruments designed to capture scientific data from deep within a well while it is being drilled.