Earth ChangesS


Solar-powered sea slug harnesses stolen plant genes

It's the ultimate form of solar power: eat a plant, become photosynthetic. Now researchers have found how one animal does just that.

Elysia chlorotica is a lurid green sea slug, with a gelatinous leaf-shaped body, that lives along the Atlantic seaboard of the US. What sets it apart from most other sea slugs is its ability to run on solar power.
Elysia chlorotica, the solar-powered sea slug
© PNASElysia chlorotica, the solar-powered sea slug, is about 3 cm long.

Mary Rumpho of the University of Maine, is an expert on E. chlorotica and has now discovered how the sea slug gets this ability: it photosynthesises with genes "stolen" from the algae it eats.


Conservationists plan 'doomsday vault' for frog sperm

The freezer could be the future for frogs and other amphibians. Efforts announced today are currently underway around the world to boost amphibian numbers with cryopreservation and assisted reproduction.

Breeding frogs and their cousins to increase numbers could help vulnerable species survive looming extinctions. But getting amphibians to mate is not always straightforward, so researchers are developing other techniques to give them a helping hand.
© David Tipling/Image Bank/GettyFreezing frog sperm might help bolster numbers.

One proposal resembles the doomsday seed vault which opened this year in Norway. Only instead of plant seed, the amphibian vault would store sperm, guaranteeing amphibian genetic diversity for times of dwindling populations.

Cloud Lightning

Floods kill dozens in Brazil

At least 33 people have been killed by floods in southern Brazil after days of torrential rain.

The storms, which also triggered mudslides, have forced 20,000 people from their homes in Catarina state.

Teams have been working around the clock using helicopters and motorboats to rescue those left stranded by the floods.

More than ten people died in Blumenau, where town officials declared a state of emergency late on Sunday. Seven more died in the town of Jaragua do Sul.

At least one town has been forced to ration water due to purification problems and 250,000 have been left without power.


A Climate Gift for Future Generations: Ecuador Seeks to Commercialize Rainforest

Ecuador is the first country in the world to announce plans to leave the oil reserves beneath its rainforests in the ground. The country wants foreign businesses, including German companies, to compensate it for making this sacrifice.

There are as many different types of wood growing on each hectare in the Yasuni rainforest in the northwestern Amazon as there are species in all of North America. Even rare species of animals, like the mountain tapir and the brown-headed spider monkey, exist in the region. This paradise is also home to a number of native tribes now living in complete isolation from the outside world.

There is more biological diversity in the Yasuni rainforest than almost anywhere else in the world. The virgin forest is protected by its status as a national park and UNESCO biosphere reserve, but for how much longer? Several oil companies are pressuring the government in the Ecuadoran capital of Quito to finally issue drilling licenses for the biosphere.


Update: Icy conditions as snow hits Britain

Large parts of the UK were waking up to a blanket of snow as an Arctic front swept across the country in the first prolonged cold snap of the winter.

Motorists were warned to be prepared for hazardous driving conditions with up to 10 centimetres (4in) of snow predicted to fall in eastern England.
Icy conditions as snow hits Britain
© UnknownIcy conditions as snow hits Britain

But MeteoGroup UK, the weather division of the Press Association, said much of the snow would be washed away by rain as the day progresses, with milder air coming from the south west.

Bizarro Earth

Colombian volcano sets off landslides

Bogota - Landslides triggered by a volcanic eruption injured nine people and destroyed more than 20 homes and five bridges in southwest Colombia, prompting a red alert for more activity.

President Alvaro Uribe flew with disaster officials over the volcano Friday, and ordered the air force to create an "air bridge" to supply cut off towns along the Rio Paez.

Bizarro Earth

6.8 earthquake strikes off Indonesian coast

Jakarta -- A magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck just off the coast of southern Sumatra, Indonesia, on Saturday evening, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

No agencies reported any damage or injuries, and a tsunami was not expected.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a "destructive widespread tsunami threat does not exist based on historical earthquake and tsunami data.

"However, there is a very small possibility of a local tsunami that could affect coasts located usually no more than 100 kilometers from the earthquake epicenter," the tsunami warning center said in a statement.

The quake happened about 11 p.m., the USGS said. It was centered about 147 kilometers (91 miles) west-southwest of Bengkulu, Sumatra, and 671 kilometers (417 miles) from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.


The Earth's Not Flat, and It's Not Warming

It boggles the mind. Years after global temperature rises peaked around 1998 - and the world has been cooling ever since - we're still hearing shrill warnings that we are doomed to be deep fried by Mother Nature.

It's almost like insisting the world is flat even after Columbus made it to the New World without plunging over the edge of the earth.

And the warming alarmists have the gall to compare the growing number of scientists and others who scoff at their specious claims to flat-earth believers.

Whatever warming that took place as the world slowly emerged from the last little ice age has stopped. The cold hard fact of the matter is that the world is getting cooler. Spring and fall seasons are getting shorter, and all the evidence points to the onset of a new little ice age, if not a big one.

We don't have to worry about proving the case for global cooling. Mother Nature is doing the job for us. I'm willing to bet that as this winter gets underway, she's going to put on a real winter carnival for us, with blizzards of unprecedented fury, shoulder-high snow falls, and temperatures so cold as to be in some cases life-threatening.

Global warming is a fraud.


US: Cold wave brings record low to Athens

The waves of cold, Canadian air washing over the eastern United States brought a record low to Athens this morning, breaking a low-temperature mark that stood for 117 years.

The official temperature in Athens sank to 20 degrees, breaking a record set in 1891, said Frank Taylor, spokesman for the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City.


Freezing weather blasts Britain

Freezing winds from the Arctic are blasting Britain, with much of the country braced for snow showers.

Several roads have been closed in northern Scotland after heavy snow made driving conditions treacherous.

Snow showers are spreading down eastern England, affecting north Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. Snow could hit more areas on Sunday.

Drivers are being warned of black ice on roads, with snow and rain due to fall on frozen surfaces overnight.