Earth ChangesS

Light Sabers

Aboriginal whaling quotas renewed

The International Whaling Commission renewed a five-year whaling quota for indigenous people in the United States and Russia on Tuesday, allowing Alaska Natives to continue hunting bowhead whales for subsistence purposes.

By a consensus vote, Alaska Natives and the indigenous people of Chukotka, Russia, were allocated a shared catch limit of 280 bowhead whales over a period ending in 2012. The proposal maintained previous catch limits.

The whaling commission is holding its annual meeting near the icy coasts where Alaska Natives use whale meat as a staple in their diet and for cultural practices. The commission's U.S. delegation said its top priority was to obtain a renewal of their quota.

Magic Wand

Flashback Moths drink the tears of sleeping birds

A species of moth drinks tears from the eyes of sleeping birds using a fearsome proboscis shaped like a harpoon, scientists have revealed. The new discovery - spied in Madagascar - is the first time moths have been seen feeding on the tears of birds.

©Roland Hilgartner / Mamisolo Raoilison
The moth uses its barbed proboscis (close-up below) to penetrate the eyelid of sleeping birds and drink tears

Arrow Down

I Was On the Global Warming Gravy Train

I devoted six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian government to estimate carbon emissions from land use change and forestry. When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty conclusive, but since then new evidence has weakened that case. I am now skeptical.

Cloud Lightning

Arizona, Get Ready For Long, Hot Summer

Get ready for a long, hot summer in the Valley.

"The long-term forecast from the National Weather Service, the outlook for the summertime here, are for above normal temperatures centered pretty much right over Arizona, so we can expect most of this summer to be in the 100-degree range and above," said Arizona State University climatologist Randy Cerveney.

Red Flag

Strong quake in eastern Indonesia, cuts power

A strong undersea earthquake has struck Indonesia's Mollucas islands, blacking out power in the town of Labuha, but not triggering a tsunami warning, officials at the country's meteorology agency said on Tuesday.


Moscow breaks another heat record

Another heat record has fallen as Russia's capital city continues to bake in unseasonable May weather, with a temperature of 32.1 degrees Celsius (89.7 degrees Fahrenheit) beating a 116-year-old maximum, the Moscow meteorological service said Tuesday.

"At 4:00 p.m. Moscow time (noon GMT), a temperature of 32.1 degrees Celsius was recorded, surpassing a reading of 31.8 degrees Celsius (89.2 degrees Fahrenheit) set in 1891," the service said.

"We will only know this evening by how much that record has been beaten, as temperatures will continue rising several tenths of a degree," it said.


Florida: Giant lizard shot, still eludes police

Police say they're sure they shot a four-foot-long, 80-pound monitor lizard that had been lurking in an Orlando suburb for months. Still, neighbors aren't ready to let their children or pets back outside until they see a carcass.

The lizard didn't bite anyone, but police officers were authorized to kill it because of the potential danger it posed to small children and animals.

An officer shot the reptile twice Sunday but wasn't close enough to catch it before the animal scampered into a retention pond, said Lt. Dennis Stewart of the Casselberry Police Department.

"If they did shoot it, I'm sure it's going to be angry if it comes out now," said Ilene Gothelf, whose home borders the pond about 10 miles from Orlando. "I want to know that it is safe for the kids to come out."

Bizarro Earth

Who killed the honeybees?

A round table of experts answer all our pressing questions about the sudden death of the nation's bees. What they have to say has a bigger sting than we ever expected.


Possible culprit identified in decline of honeybees

They are among the most sensitive and hardest-working creatures in nature. Ancient navigators of the air, honeybees are guided between hive and flower by the angle and direction of the sun. Their internal clock signals the time of day a particular flower's nectar is flowing. And daily changes in the earth's magnetic cycle alert those in the darkened hive to sunrise and sunset.

A mysterious ailment, however, is causing the great pollinators to lose their way home. The disorder, called "colony collapse," has resulted in the deaths of millions of honeybees worldwide and up to half of the 2.5 million colonies in the United States.

The chief suspect, say many scientists, is the most commonly used insecticide on the planet: imidacloprid.

Cloud Lightning

Stronger hurricanes not necessarily linked to global warming

Soil samples from the Grande Playa lagoon in Puerto Rico have given US scientists insight into the last 5,000 years of Atlantic hurricanes. The samples suggest that recent devastating storms may not necessarily be linked to global warming.