Earth ChangesS


The lowdown on topsoil: It's disappearing

Disappearing dirt rivals global warming as an environmental threat

The planet is getting skinned.

While many worry about the potential consequences of atmospheric warming, a few experts are trying to call attention to another global crisis quietly taking place under our feet.

Call it the thin brown line. Dirt. On average, the planet is covered with little more than 3 feet of topsoil -- the shallow skin of nutrient-rich matter that sustains most of our food and appears to play a critical role in supporting life on Earth.


Cold, snow kills 300 people in Afghanistan

More than 320 people and thousands of livestock have been killed in Afghanistan this month in freezing weather and the heaviest snowfalls for 15 years, the country's disaster authority said Monday.

The latest figure from Afghanistan's National Disaster Management Authority is triple that issued by the agency five days ago.

The hardest-hit areas have been in the western province of Herat and its neighbouring provinces of Farah, Badghis and Nimroz -- all remote and mountainous regions near the Iranian border, the authority said.



Deadly snowfall disrupts China New Year travel

At least 21 people have been killed in east-central China by freezing temperatures and heavy snow that have disrupted the annual New Year travel rush, state media said Monday.

Eleven people were killed and 51 injured when an overloaded bus rolled off an icy road in eastern Anhui province late Sunday near Mingguang city, Xinhua news agency said.

It said the passengers were mostly migrant workers returning home to celebrate the Spring Festival on February 7, China's most important holiday.

The driver of the bus has been arrested for carrying 72 passengers, 21 more than allowed, it said.


Evil Rays

Two earthquakes occur in Sakhalin and Kuriles, no victims

Two earthquakes occurred in Sakhalin and Kuriles over the past 24 hours.

According to a report of the press service of the Far Eastern Regional Centre of the Ministry for Emergency Situations, one earthquake was registered in the area of the port of Kholmsk (western coast of Sakhalin). The epicentre was situated under the bottom of the Tatar Strait at a depth of 33 kilometres, an earthquake with the three-point magnitude was felt in Kholmsk and the village of Pravda of the Kholmsk region, there are no victims or destructions.


Concerns about Asteroid 2007 TU24

I believe that the greatest potential for danger will come in the form of TU24 being an asteroid whose plasma discharge with Earth may cause great chaos, even though it is hundreds of thousands of kilometers away.

Comment: An interesting speculation on the effect of asteroid 2007 TU24's close passage on our planet. It is also interesting to note that there are no articles on this event from the mainstream media, whereas Ron Paul's campaign team released a YouTube video. All the available articles on the net are from bloggers and forum members.


Deep freeze hits northern states

Portland, Maine - Temperatures dropped to breathtaking levels, well below zero, in extreme northern sections of Maine early Monday.

Thermometers registered 34 degrees Fahrenheit below zero at Van Buren, 27 below at Presque Isle and 26 below at Allagash, the National Weather Service reported.

Comment: In case you missed where this chill is coming from: Siberian Express brings Arctic blast across the States

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.