Earth ChangesS


Endangered Black-footed Ferrets Sired By Males That Died 8 Years Ago

Two black-footed ferrets at the Smithsonian's National Zoo have each given birth to a kit that was sired by males who died in 1999 and 2000. These endangered ferrets - part of a multi-institutional breeding and reintroduction program - were artificially inseminated in May with frozen semen from the two deceased males, each giving birth to a kit on June 20 and 21 respectively.

black-footed ferret
©Jessie Cohen, Smithsonian's National Zoo
A two-month-old black-footed ferret (right) is pictured with its mother at the National Zoo's Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal. Va. on Aug. 18, 2008. The mother gave birth to the kit on June 21 after National Zoo reproductive scientists inseminated her with previously frozen semen from a male that died in 1998. Successful inseminations with frozen semen are extremely rare -- until now only three black-footed ferret kits have been born from this method.

The sperm samples were collected and frozen in 1997 and 1998. Successful inseminations with frozen semen are extremely rare - until now only three black-footed ferret kits have been born from this method.

The black-footed ferret is one of the most endangered animals in the world. Once inhabiting the grasslands of the western Great Plains, the black-footed ferret population declined with the loss of the North American prairie ecosystem. Prairie dogs are the ferret's primary prey, and only 2 percent of the original prairie dog habitat remains today. A recent outbreak of sylvatic plague (also known as bubonic plague) in a prairie dog population in South Dakota also threatens to decimate ferret populations there.

Cloud Lightning

Greece: Storms cause heavy flooding

Storms and heavy rainfall hit much of the country over the weekend, causing serious flooding in places.

The eastern port of Volos was one of the worst hit areas, with rainwater turning streets into virtual torrents and damaging ground-floor homes and stores. The fire service received hundreds of telephone calls to pump out water from flooded basements.


Indian military struggling to end flood chaos

Troops and aid workers are scrambling to reach hundreds of thousands of stranded people across flood-devastated northern India in one of the country's largest-ever relief efforts, as hungry villagers began to riot, desperate families swam for their lives and widespread chaos ruled.

Nearly half of the 1.2 million people left homeless when the Kosi River burst its banks in Nepal two weeks ago, spilling over north India's vast plains, had been rescued said Prataya Amrit, a top disaster management official in Bihar state. Despite disjointed efforts, officials hoped to reach the rest in the next two days.

The massive relief effort was the first to deploy all three branches of India's military - the army, the navy, and the air force, Amrit said.

Cloud Lightning

Hanna becomes hurricane off Bahamas

MIAMI - Tropical Storm Hanna on Monday developed into a full-fledged hurricane east of the Bahamas in the Atlantic ocean, US officials reported, as deadly Hurricane Gustav pounded the Gulf Coast near New Orleans.

Cloud Lightning

Storm may follow Gustav evacuees, dump heavy rain

DALLAS, Texas - For some of the 2 million people seeking safety from Hurricane Gustav, they could run but they couldn't hide.


Sun Makes History: First Spotless Month in a Century

The sun has reached a milestone not seen for nearly 100 years: an entire month has passed without a single visible sunspot being noted.

©Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)
The record-setting surface of the sun. A full month has gone by without a single spot.

Cloud Lightning

New Zealand: Magnitude 5.8 quake causes no damage

A moderate magnitude 5.8 earthquake rattled New Zealand's central North Island on Monday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injury.

Cloud Lightning

US: Gustav slams Louisiana coastline west of New Orleans

New Orleans - A weakened Hurricane Gustav slammed into the heart of Louisiana's fishing and oil industry Monday, avoiding a direct hit on flood-prone New Orleans and boosting hope that the city would avoid catastrophic flooding.

©AP Photo/Bill Haber
Water is pushed over the flood wall into the upper 9th Ward from the effect of Hurricane Gustav, in New Orleans, Monday, Sept. 1, 2008.

Wind-driven water was sloshing over the top of the Industrial Canal's floodwall, but city officials and the Army Corps of Engineers said they expected the levees, still only partially rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina, would hold. The canal broke during hurricanes Betsy and Katrina, flooding St. Bernard Parish and the Lower 9th Ward.

"We are seeing some overtopping waves," said Col. Jeff Bedey, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers' hurricane protection office. "We are cautiously optimistic and confident that we won't see catastrophic wall failure."

Of more immediate concern to authorities was a barge that broke loose from its moorings and crashed into two anchors scrapped ships. The was no damage to the canal.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Gustav hit around 10:30 a.m. EDT Monday near the Cocodrie, a low-lying community in Louisiana's Cajun country about 72 miles southwest of New Orleans. Forecasters once feared a storm that chased nearly 2 million from the coast would arrive as a devastating Category 4 with much more powerful winds.

While New Orleans avoided a direct hit, the storm could be devastating where it did strike. For most of the past half century, the bayou communities that thrived in the Barataria basin have watched their land literally disappear. A combination of factors - oil drilling, hurricanes, river levees, damming of rivers - have destroyed marshes and swamps that once flourished in this river delta.


The 'consensus' on climate change is a catastrophe in itself

As the estimated cost of measures proposed by politicians to "combat global warming" soars ever higher - such as the International Energy Council's $45 trillion - "fighting climate change" has become the single most expensive item on the world's political agenda.

As Senators Obama and McCain vie with the leaders of the European Union to promise 50, 60, even 80 per cent cuts in "carbon emissions", it is clear that to realise even half their imaginary targets would necessitate a dramatic change in how we all live, and a drastic reduction in living standards.

All this makes it rather important to know just why our politicians have come to believe that global warming is the most serious challenge confronting mankind, and just how reliable is the evidence for the theory on which their policies are based.

Bizarro Earth

Update: Death toll in China quake rises to 22

The death toll in the earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale that hit southwest China's Sichuan province on Saturday rose to 22, officials said.