Earth ChangesS


Alaska: Oil spills at Slope's Milne Point

The North Slope had one of its largest crude oil spills this week.

So far there's no evidence that any oil from the 24,400-gallon spill at BP's Milne Point oil field on Monday morning contaminated the tundra, though it's possible that some saline water may have escaped on the snow, state regulators said.

The spill is the biggest on the Slope since BP's record 201,000-gallon oil spill at Prudhoe Bay in 2006, which resulted in congressional hearings and criminal prosecution of BP. That spill did contaminate the tundra.


US: Why are the western white pines dying?

Everett, Washington - Sharon Collman's quest for answers started at her childhood home.

There, in Shoreline, 60 years ago, her mother planted a tiny Western white pine sapling that would grow strong and sure until a few years ago, when it inexplicably began to die.

Collman, an extension educator and entomologist, knows a few things about trees. A healthy, well-cared-for tree in her mother's front yard should live at least 200 years.

She didn't know it then, but she had stumbled on a problem that has the potential to devastate certain species of pines across Western Washington. It's already killing Western white pines from Mill Creek to Seattle.


Bird flu comes to Nepal, confirms UK laboratory

There has been an outbreak of bird flu for the first time in the country today. The deadly H5N1 strain of virus has been detected at Kakarbhitta, which shares a border with West Bengal in India, in Jhapa district.

An emergency cabinet today meeting declared the affected zone 'bird flu crisis-hit area'.

"No bird flu symptoms in human have been detected till now. But we are planning to monitor the health of the people in the affected area. Preliminary estimates suggest that the virus will be eliminated within a month," said Tek Bahadur Thapa, secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC).

Bizarro Earth

US: Quakes rattle western, south-central Wyoming

Cheyenne -- A minor earthquake jolted the western Wyoming town of Alpine, startling people and pets. No damage was reported.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude 3.7 quake struck about 9:15 p.m. Thursday. The quake was centered in the Snake River Canyon about seven miles east of Alpine.

John Bellini with the Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., says the quake had nothing to do with the recent swarm of small earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park roughly 100 miles north of Alpine.

Better Earth

Arctic Heats Up More Than Other Places

Temperature change in the Arctic is happening at a greater rate than other places in the Northern Hemisphere, and this is expected to continue in the future.

As a result, glacier and ice-sheet melting, sea-ice retreat, coastal erosion and sea level rise can be expected to continue.

A new comprehensive scientific synthesis of past Arctic climates demonstrates for the first time the pervasive nature of Arctic climate amplification.

The U.S. Geological Survey led this new assessment, which is a synthesis of published science literature and authored by a team of climate scientists from academia and government. The U.S. Climate Change Science Program commissioned the report, which has contributions from 37 scientists from the United States, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom and Denmark.


Russia issues tsunami warning after quake-RIA

Russia has issued a tsunami warning in the Far Eastern coastal city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky after a large earthquake off the Kuril Islands, RIA news agency reported.

The news agency did not immediately give details.

A Reuters witness in the city said he had felt the earthquake.


Genetically Modified Crops Implicated in Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder

As the disappearance of honeybees continues, researchers are trying desperately to discover the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). General concensus at this point is that there is more than once cause and the latest culprit may be genetically modified crops. This is one area of research being neglected as mainstream scientists insist GM crops are safe.

For the last 100 years, beekeepers have experienced colony losses from bacteria, (foulbrood), mites (varroa and tracheal) and other pathogens. These problems are dealt with by using antibiotics, miticides and and other methods of pest management. Losses are slow and expected and beekeepers know how to limit the destruction. This new mass die-off is different in that it is virtually instantaneous with no warning of the impending collapse.

John McDonald, a bee keeper in Pennsyvania with a background in biology, speculated that genetically modified crops could play a role in CCD. Although the government constantly reassures us that these genetic manipulations are safe for both humans and the environment, his hope is that looking more closely at these issues might raise questions about those assumptions.


Sharks, Not Humans, Most at Risk in Ocean

Three shark attacks in Australia in two days this week sparked a global media frenzy of "Jaws" proportions, but sharks are more at risk in the ocean than humans with man killing millions of sharks each year.

Sharks are the top of the marine food chain, a powerful predator which has no match in its watery realm, until man enters the ocean.

Commercial fishing and a desire for Asian shark fin soup sees up to 100 million sharks, even protected endangered species of sharks, slaughtered around the world each year, says the Shark Research Institute (Australia).

Yet in contrast, sharks, apparently, do not like the taste of humans. Very few shark attacks involve the shark actually eating the human, unlike a land-based predator like a lion or tiger.

Cow Skull

Texas Drought Worsens, Cattle Dying

Drought conditions in Texas are so bad cattle are keeling over in parched pastures and dying.

Drought conditions worsened significantly in the past week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday. Seventy-one percent of the state is now in some stage of drought, up from 58.3 percent last week.

A week ago the two worst drought designations - extreme and exceptional - covered 9.1 percent of the state. This week the two categories cover 15.1 percent of the state, with a circle near San Antonio and Austin widening in all directions. Only the eastern and southeastern parts of Texas are without any drought status.


Mystery of the British penguins that are marching towards oblivion

An endangered species of penguin is mysteriously disappearing from a remote British island in the South Atlantic at a rate of 100 birds every day. About two million northern rockhopper penguins have vanished from Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island, part of the British overseas territory of St Helena, in half a century.

The once huge penguin populations on the islands have dwindled so dramatically that they are now threatened with extinction, and the British Government was accused yesterday of contributing to the decline.