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Sat, 09 Dec 2023
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Earth Changes

Bizarro Earth

Rising energy, food prices major threats to wetlands as farmers eye new areas for crops

700 leading experts meeting in Brazil urge policy makers to resist pressure to convert wetlands.

Critical food shortages and growing demand for bio-fuels and hydro-electricity due to high fossil fuel prices rank among the greatest threats today to the preservation of precious wetlands worldwide as farmers and developers look for new areas for agriculture, energy crop plantations and hydro dams.

However, resisting pressures to convert wetlands is vital to avoid destroying ecosystems that provide a suite of services essential to humanity, including safe, steady local water supplies, preserving biodiversity and the large-scale capture and storage of climate warming greenhouse gases, according 700 leading world experts concluding a week-long meeting in Cuiaba, Brazil.


Global Cooling: Extreme water restrictions 'gone for good' in Queensland

Australia - Southeast Queenslanders have been promised they will never again face the extreme water restrictions they have endured through the long drought.

Deputy Premier Paul Lucas said today that while "we can't control the rainfall...we can certainly make sure we will never face extreme level water restrictions again".

Global Cooling
©Courier Mail
Snow business ... Nat Burton, of the Bella Rosa Tea Rooms at Thulimbah, near Stanthorpe, rugged up yesterday.


How a tiny bug is ravaging Colorado's forests

©Ed Andrieski / AP (left); Jen Chase / Colorado State Forest Service-AP
Tiny Pest, Big Damage: About the size of a grain of rice, the mountain pine beetle (left) is destroying great swaths of pine trees in Colorado (reddish brown areas at right)

Summer at Colorado's Beaver Creek Resort is usually a time of hot days, cool nights, verdant views and the peaceful sound of the Rocky Mountains. Not this year. The area's idyllic silence is being disturbed by the sound of chainsaws cutting down large swaths of dead or dying trees in this gated community. "We have no illusions, no choice," says Tony O'Rourke, executive director of Beaver Creek's Home Owners Association. "We can't stem the tide." O'Rourke's dire tone comes from the resort's lost battle with a bug--the mountain pine beetle--that is destroying much of Beaver Creek's lush green vistas and reducing them to barren brown patches.

After ravaging 22 million acres of pine trees in Canada over the last 12 years, the rice-sized insects have been feasting their way southward. Their favorite meal: the majestic lodgepole pine, which makes up 8 percent of Colorado's 22 million acres of forests. Before landing in Beaver Creek, the pine beetles tore through neighboring Vail, Winter Park, Breckenridge and several areas around Steamboat Springs. So far, say state foresters, the beetles have eaten through 1.5 million acres, about 70 percent of the all the state's lodgepole pines. The tree's entire population will be wiped out in the next few years, Colorado state foresters predict, leaving behind a deforested area about the size of Rhode Island.


Unknown disease killing off Florida's state tree

©Wilfredo Lee/AP
The sabal palm, Florida's state tree, is under attack by a microscopic killer that has scientists mystified.

MIAMI - The sabal palm, Florida's state tree, is under attack by a microscopic killer that has scientists stumped.

An unknown but growing number of sabal palms in the Tampa Bay area have died from a mysterious disease that researchers are struggling to identify. Even after scientists pinpoint the disease - and that could take years - they will have to learn what insect spreads it. The disease will be tough to stop.

"It's not simply a matter that we will be able to eradicate," said Monica Elliott, a University of Florida plant pathologist. "That's not very likely."


Bear mauls girl during mountain bike race

Anchorage, AK - A 14-year-old girl riding in a mountain bike race was attacked in the dark of night by a bear Sunday and severely injured, but she was able to make a brief 911 call that eventually resulted in her rescue.

The girl suffered head, neck, torso and leg wounds. She underwent surgery and was in critical condition Sunday afternoon at Providence Alaska Medical Center, police said.


Grizzly bear attacks woman in Alaska

Anchorage - A 21-year-old woman was attacked by a grizzly bear about 25 yards from an Alaskan lodge.

Abby Sisk, of Utah, was attacked late Wednesday as she returned from a hike to the Kenai Princess Lodge in Cooper Landing.

Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said a guest at the lodge saw the bear on top of Sisk, a seasonal worker, and ran outside to help. Ipsen says the guest scared the bear off.


Powerful aftershocks hit China quake area, 1 dead

BEIJING - At least three powerful aftershocks hit southwest China's quake area on Thursday, killing one elderly person and injuring more than a dozen, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Cloud Lightning

Flooding feared along US - Mexico border from Dolly

Brownsville, TX - After Hurricane Dolly unleashed a fury of damaging winds and wicked rain on the US-Mexico coastline and diminished to a tropical storm, widespread flooding along the populous Rio Grande Valley became the top concern on Thursday.

Dolly, the first hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic storm season to make landfall, dumped up to 12 inches of rain in the first few hours after coming ashore at the barrier island of South Padre Island, where it ripped off roofs, snapped trees and left about 155,000 residents without power across the region.

©REUTERS/Tomas Bravo
A woman shields her baby from the rain after evacuating from a flooded neighbourhood in Matamoros July 23, 2008.

Residents emerged from their homes and shelters to walk through streets littered with debris, toppled street lights and downed power poles.

"Everything is gone. Everything got wet," said Amber Acevado, who runs a flooring store on South Padre Island. "You stand here inside the store, you can see right through to the outside."


Kamchatka: Bears besiege Russian mine after killing guards

Terrified workers at a mining compound in one of Russia's most isolated regions are refusing to go to work after a pack of giant bears attacked and ate two of their colleagues.

At least 30 of the hungry animals have been seen prowling close to the mines in northern Kamchatka in search of food, where the mangled remains of the two workers, both guards, were found last week.

The co-workers at the compound in the Olyotorsky district are trapped and frightened: the gruesome discovery has left them too scared to venture out. A team of snipers, with orders to shoot the bears, is now being dispatched to confront the invasion after government officials authorised an off-season hunt.

Cloud Lightning

Climate change a convenient half-truth

One of the latest bits of nonsense to emerge from our benighted Scottish Executive is the assertion that "Scots cause five times more damage to the planet than the average Chinese".

Feeling guilty? Then don't! According to one of my constituents, a lady of no mean intellect, 'climate change' is the new, 21st Century tyranny. Marx, Stalin and Tommy Sheridan are replaced by the gurus of the G8 stage and a vast new industry of high-salaried, taxpayer-funded, environmental jobsworths.