Earth ChangesS


Indonesia: Drought severely hits rice paddies

Months before another El Ni*o, expected to deepen drought around the country, hundreds of rice paddies have already produced failed harvests. Data from the Agriculture Ministry showed that 26,388 hectares of rice paddies suffered from drought in the April to June period due to water shortages.

"However, the figure is still far lower than it was in the 2003 to 2007 period when an average of 82,472 hectares of rice paddies suffered from drought each year," Ati Wasiati, director for the protection of food crops at the Agriculture Ministry told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

She remained optimistic about the target to plant rice in 5 million hectares up until September despite the expected impacts of the El Ni*o phenomenon.


Nature not man responsible for recent global warming

Three Australasian researchers have shown that natural forces are the dominant influence on climate, in a study just published in the highly-regarded Journal of Geophysical Research. According to this study little or none of the late 20th century global warming and cooling can be attributed to human activity.

The research, by Chris de Freitas, a climate scientist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, John McLean (Melbourne) and Bob Carter (James Cook University), finds that the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a key indicator of global atmospheric temperatures seven months later. As an additional influence, intermittent volcanic activity injects cooling aerosols into the atmosphere and produces significant cooling.


Alien-Wasp Swarms Devouring Birds, Bugs in Hawaii

© Erin Wilson Invasive western yellowjacket wasps in Hawaii (above, a wasp eats an unidentified insect near another wasp) are munching their way through an "astonishing diversity" of creatures, from caterpillars to ring-necked pheasants.
Attacking from nests as big as pickup-truck beds, invasive western yellowjacket wasps in Hawaii are munching their way through an "astonishing diversity" of creatures, from caterpillars to pheasants, a new study says.

Adult yellowjackets consume only nectar. But they kill or scavenge prey to deliver needed protein to their growing broods.

"They basically just carry it in their mandibles - you see them flying with their balls of meat," said lead study author Erin Wilson, who just finished her Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego.

In their native habitat in the western U.S., the wasps die off in winter. But in Hawaii the wasps survive the winter, possibly due to mild year-round temperatures or subtle genetic changes.

Bizarro Earth

5.6 Earthquake Jolts Tibet

An earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale hit Nyima county in Nagqu prefecture, southwestern China's Tibet Autonomous Region, at 11:11 a.m. on Friday, according to the national seismological network.

No casualties have yet been reported.

At a depth of 33 kilometers, the quake struck on the line between Nyima and Coqen county of Nagri prefecture, according to the regional seismological bureau of Tibet.

The epicenter was located at Ceri township in Coqen county, where telecommunication links were cut, the regional bureau said.

Sogrin, deputy head of the bureau, said the quake caused cracks in some houses made of sun-dried mud bricks at the county seat of Coqen, but no tremor was felt at the county seat of Nyima.

Bizarro Earth

West of the United States faces water 'catastrophe'

A new study projects that all reservoirs along the Colorado River -- which provide water for 27 million people in seven Western states, including Utah -- could dry up by 2057 because of climate change and overuse.

If warming led to a 10 percent reduction in the river's flow, it would create a 25 percent chance of depletion, according to the University of Colorado research released this week. Warming resulting in a 20 percent reduction would raise the chance of depletion to 50 percent, the study found.

"In the short term, the risk is relatively low," said Balaji Rajagopalan, associate professor of civil environmental and architectural engineering at the university and lead author on the study, which was accepted for publication by the American Geophysical Union.


Study Finds Chimps Die From Simian AIDS, Dispelling Widely Held Belief

For the first time, scientists have shown that chimpanzees in the wild become sick and die from the simian version of AIDS.

The finding upsets a widely held scientific belief that chimpanzees, the closest relatives to humans, can get the virus that causes simian AIDS but without harm.

It also suggests that an outbreak of AIDS is contributing to the declining chimpanzee population in Africa, said the leader of the research team, Dr. Beatrice Hahn of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.


Met Office winter 'forecast' 2009-10 attacked as 'reckless misleading nonsense

"It should be ignored absolutely. The opposite to whatever the Met Office says in long range has been what happened for the last three years!" Piers Corbyn, astrophysicist of WeatherAction said today, 23 July:

"The Met Office long range forecast attempts at seasonal and world developments totally failed to predict ANY of the 5 notable weather developments since 2007. They predicted the opposite to what occurred for the wet summers 2007, 2008, and 2009, the icy snowy winter 2008/09, and world temperature decline over recent years. On the other hand our WeatherAction Solar Weather Technique predicted all these major situations correctly and did it ahead of the Met Office prognoses.

Their score of zero out of five is lamentable. It could not be worse. They should stop issuing these reckless 'forecasts' which only serve to mislead the public, commerce and emergency authorities and cause unnecessary misery, danger and possible death.

Their forecast for a mild winter in 08/09 disarmed the emergency services and Councils and led directly to the UK running out of road salt, transport chaos and extra road accidents when the snow deluges predicted by us at WeatherAction hit Britain and Ireland. The Met Office stupidity cost the economy billions of pounds. "The recent heavy rains and weather prospects spell failure for the Met Office forecast of a 'barbecue summer' which we advised our own forecast users would fail. For how much longer will government, 'opposition' and much of commerce continue to follow failed methodology which is without scientific basis?


Pacific Northwest Snow Pack - the True Story

Snow ack PNW
© Mark Albright, University of Washington

Washington Governor Gregoire recently sent a letter to the Washington House delegation in which she stated that the snow pack has declined 20% over the past 30 years: "Last month, a study released by the University of Washington shows we've already lost 20% of our snow pack over the last 30 years."

Actual snow pack numbers show a 22% INCREASE in snow pack over the past 33 years across the Washington and Oregon Cascade Mountains.


Welcome to Solar Minimum

Much to the chagrin of President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats in Washington pushing for massive taxes on greenhouse gas emissions, the Midwest and Northeast United States has been experiencing uncooperatively cold temperatures this past summer.

New York City did not top 85 degrees last month for only the third time ever, Chicago just had its coolest month of June in 40 years, and Boston is already predicting the coming winter to be the snowiest in at least 8 years.

We've all heard the stories about the coming carbon dioxide caused global warming disaster that was going to melt the ice sheets, transform much of the surface of the earth into uninhabitable desert, and raise the oceans by 50 feet in the next 100 years or so.

And yet it is July and many Americans are already referring to this as the "year without true summer". Regardless of what Al Gore says, it's kind of hard to ignore your own senses that tell you that temperatures are definitely not rising.


Hundreds battle wildfire in Spain that killed four firefighters

© Agence France-PresseFiremen try to extinguish a blaze near the eastern Spanish village of Ures de Medina, close to Medinaceli on July 23, 2009.
Horta De Sant Joan -- Some 500 people were battling Wednesday a wind-fuelled wildfire in northeastern Spain which claimed the lives of four firefighters and seriously injured two others, Defence Minister Carme Chacon said Wednesday.

"We are working against the clock with all the human and material means which are capable of working in an area of difficult access," she told public radio RNE from the site of the blaze in Els Port national park near Tarragona.

The four veteran firefighters were killed Tuesday when the direction of the wind suddenly changed, whipping up the blaze and surrounding the men by flames.

It was the worst tragedy in Spain involving firefighters battling a wildfire since 11 were killed in 2005 as they fought a blaze that destroyed about 13,000 hectares (32,000 acres) of pine forest near the central city of Guadalajara.

One of the two firemen is in "very serious condition" in hospital with kidney failure, the head of the health service in Catalonia, Marina Geli, told reporters. The 31-year-old suffered burns to 50 percent of his body.