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Thu, 01 Jun 2023
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Earth Changes


Changes to Endangered Species Act Called Bad Science

bald eagle
The bald eagle is one of the Endangered Species Act's successes. The iconic bird of prey was officially delisted on June 28, 2007.

Changes that the Bush administration is proposing to make to Endangered Species Act regulations just aren't sound science, various scientists and conservation groups say.

They're concerned that the loss of scientific oversight resulting from the changes will leave some species vulnerable to federal projects that could damage habitats.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA), signed into law by President Nixon on Dec. 28, 1973, does more than just provide for the creation of the Endangered Species List. The act also requires that "recovery plans" be drawn up and implemented to protect and ultimately restore the populations of endangered species, and it charges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service with detailing and enforcing these plans.

Bizarro Earth

Anatahan still unsafe; Fitial extends emergency

Due to continued volcanic activity on the island of Anatahan, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial issued a 30-day extension of his May 13, 2003, state of disaster emergency declaration for the island.

The issuance of the extension period is in accordance with the Emergency Management Office and the U.S. Geological Survey recommendations.

The extension means all travel to Anatahan is restricted except for scientific expeditions.

The latest update from the U.S. Geological Survey dated Aug. 21 said that seismicity remains low though occasional low-amplitude tremor bursts lasting minutes occasionally occur. No plumes have been reported.

Prior to that, on Aug. 20, there were a few low-amplitude tremor bursts lasting for two minutes.

Also on Aug. 21, there were two episodes of volcanic tremor that lasted for five minutes starting at about 4pm and 50 minutes of tremor starting at 4:50pm. It said, however, that subsequent seismicity returned to background levels.

Cloud Lightning

Tropical storm Gustav kills 59 in Caribbean, aims at U.S

Kingston - Tropical Storm Gustav hit Jamaica with near hurricane-force winds on Thursday after killing at least 59 people elsewhere in the Caribbean, and was on a path to reach New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico oil fields as potentially a powerful hurricane.

As Gustav churned through the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Hanna formed in the Atlantic Ocean with 40-mph (65-kph) winds and took a track that could threaten the Bahamas and Florida, also next week, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Energy companies prepared for Gustav to deliver what could be the hardest hit to the heart of the U.S. Gulf oil patch since the devastating 2005 hurricane season.

Oil prices rose above $120 a barrel in early trade on Thursday, adding to two days of gains as Gustav aimed deep into the heavy concentration of oil and natural gas platforms off Louisiana and Texas.


Bayer in the Dock Over Pesticide Linked to Colony Collapse Disorder

©Autan via flickr

Last week we reported on a lawsuit filed by the NRDC which seeks to force the EPA to turn over test results for a Bayer CropScience insecticide which may be linked to colony collapse disorder. The insecticide in question, clothianidin, was banned in Germany in May because of its potential harmful impact on bees.


Protection Zones In The Wrong Place To Prevent Coral Reef Collapse

Conservation zones are in the wrong place to protect vulnerable coral reefs from the effects of global warming, an international team of scientists warn.

Seychelles Islands.
©iStockphoto/Alain Couillaud
Seychelles Islands.

Now the team - led jointly by Newcastle University and the Wildlife Conservation Society, New York - say that urgent action is needed to prevent the collapse of this important marine ecosystem.

The research, recently published in the journal PLoS ONE, is the largest study of its kind to have been carried out, covering 66 sites across seven countries and spanning over a decade in the Indian Ocean.


Yellowstone's Ancient Supervolcano: Molten Plume Of Material Cooler Than Expected

The geysers of Yellowstone National Park owe their existence to the "Yellowstone hotspot"--a region of molten rock buried deep beneath Yellowstone, geologists have found.

©U.S. Geological Survey
Yellowstone National Park and its famous geysers are the remnants of an ancient supervolcano.

In an effort to find out, Derek Schutt of Colorado State University and Ken Dueker of the University of Wyoming took the hotspot's temperature.

The scientists published results of their research, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s division of earth sciences, in the August, 2008, issue of the journal Geology.

"Yellowstone is located atop of one of the few large volcanic hotspots on Earth," said Schutt. "But though the hot material is a volcanic plume, it's cooler than others of its kind, such as one in Hawaii."

When a supervolcano last erupted at this spot more than 600,000 years ago, its plume covered half of today's United States with volcanic ash. Details of the cause of the Yellowstone supervolcano's periodic eruptions through history are still unknown.


Australia's top solar physicist says we may be in for decades of global cooling

Climate change has been the most important and complex issue on my plate in 15 years as a science and technology correspondent for The Canberra Times. So an appropriate topic for a farewell commentary for this newspaper is an emerging scientific debate with the potential to complicate the already difficult relationship between scientists and politicians on this issue.

Bizarro Earth

Arctic sea ice drops to 2nd lowest level on record

More ominous signs Wednesday have scientists saying that a global warming "tipping point" in the Arctic seems to be happening before their eyes: Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is at its second lowest level in about 30 years.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported that sea ice in the Arctic now covers about 2.03 million square miles. The lowest point since satellite measurements began in 1979 was 1.65 million square miles set last September.

With about three weeks left in the Arctic summer, this year could wind up breaking that previous record, scientists said.

Cloud Lightning

New Orleans mulls evacuation as Gustav looms

New Orleans -- Three years after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Louisiana coast, New Orleans residents on Wednesday again confronted the prospect of an evacuation as Tropical Storm Gustav loomed.

©REUTERS/Evens Felix
A woman walks during rainfall caused by Hurricane Gustav in Port-au-Prince August 26, 2008.

Not since Katrina struck on August 29, 2005, have residents faced a forced departure from their homes and businesses as many still struggle to rebuild their lives in a city famed for its jazz clubs and Mardi Gras festival.

Storm levees broke under the onslaught of Katrina, flooding 80 percent of New Orleans and killing almost 1,500 people in the city and along the Gulf of Mexico coast. The hurricane caused $125 billion in wind and flood damage.

With Tropical Storm Gustav swirling near Cuba and likely to enter the Gulf of Mexico as a hurricane this weekend, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said an evacuation could begin as early as Friday -- three years to the day after Katrina inundated New Orleans.

Comment: Gustav can be tracked here.

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake Zone Off Oregon Coast Surprisingly Active

Oregon State University scientists have completed a new analysis of an earthquake fault line that extends some 200 miles off the southern and central Oregon coast that they say is more active than the San Andreas Fault in California.

The Blanco Transform Fault Zone likely won't produce the huge earthquake many have predicted for the Pacific Northwest because it isn't a subduction zone fault. But the scientists say an earthquake of magnitude 6.5 to 7.0 is possible, if not probable in the near future, and their analysis suggests that the region may be under some tectonic stress that potentially could affect the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

Results of the study were just published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

During the past 40 years, there have been some 1,500 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater along the Blanco Transform Fault Zone, and many thousands of smaller quakes. The Blanco fault is the boundary between the Juan de Fuca and the Pacific plates. As the Juan de Fuca plate moves to the east, it is subducted beneath the North American plate at the rate of about 1.5 inches per year. But as it moves, it must break free of the adjacent Pacific plate.