Earth ChangesS

Magic Wand

Americans Discover the Allure of Off-Grid Living

Before power lines, people had no choice. They used lanterns, lit fires for warmth and packed away winter ice against hot summers.

But now, a growing number of Americans are shunning power lines, choosing to live "off the grid," without commercial power -- and still enjoying their computers and large-screen televisions.

In the 250-home Oregon community of Three Rivers, everyone gets most of their power from solar panels on their rooftops or on nearby structures positioned to more efficiently capture the sun.

The solar power easily handles their lights, microwave ovens, refrigerator-freezers and other needs. Some supplement the solar power with windmill-generated energy.


City parks could cool urban areas by 4°C

Creating more parks and green spaces in urban areas could cool cities by up to 4°C - possibly enough to offset the warming from climate change - say researchers.

"If you look at infrared maps of cities, the woodland areas are 12°C cooler than city centres with no trees," says Roland Ennos at Manchester University in the UK, who carried out the study with colleagues.

Ennos's team used the city of Manchester as a template for their study. With two computer models - one to calculate changes in temperature and one to calculate changes in rainwater run-off - they investigated how the urban climate would change if world greenhouse-gas emissions continue to rise at the current rate.


Fish Virus Reaching Epidemic Proportions

A deadly fish virus is approaching epidemic proportions in the Great Lakes and their neighboring waters, lining the beaches of Lake Erie with fish carcasses and threatening New York's $1.2 billion sport-fishing industry, a scientist says.

The Great Lakes "viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus" (VHSV) poses no health threat to humans, but people should always avoid eating fish or game that looks or acts strangely. Not all infected fish, however, exhibit symptoms as they might be carriers and symptoms vary from species to species. The virus causes anemia and internal bleeding in fish, said Paul Bowser, Cornell University professor of aquatic animal medicine.

Cloud Lightning

Volcanic ash cloud stretches for 500 km above Kamchatka

Volcanic ash from an eruption of Eurasia's highest volcano, Klyuchevskoi, on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's Far East, is stretching over 500 km above the Bering Sea, a local volcanology institute spokesman said Monday.

Satellite data show a distinct ash cloud northeast of the volcano at a height of 8.2-8.7 km, which started to erupt on February 15. Although the ash cloud is making monitoring almost impossible, seismic reports suggest that the eruption could escalate.

"Ash is a hazard to aircraft flying into the ash cloud above the Bering Sea," the source said. "Ash particles with a diameter of up to 2mm can destroy engines if they get into turbines."

Better Earth

South Florida Drought Sapping Resources

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - The fairways here are flecked, the greens mottled brown. The PGA National Resort & Spa doesn't look like a marquee golf course.

"We'll talk to people about it in the pro shop when they check in and say, 'You might notice things are a little bit browner today,'" said Joel Paige, managing director at the course.

Florida's bottom half is in an 18-month drought, and signs of the problem are everywhere - from the links to the nursery and sugar cane industries.

Magic Wand

Whales headed in right direction toward Pacific

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A mother and baby whale may have found their bearings in the Sacramento River.

The Coast Guard says the two humpbacks, which traveled some 90 miles up the Sacramento this past week, are heading back toward the Pacific Ocean.

Bizarro Earth

Swarms of Cicadas Emerging in Midwest

CHICAGO - Coming soon: Brood XIII. It sounds like a bad horror movie. But it's actually the name of the billions of cicadas expected to emerge this month in parts of the Midwest after spending 17 years underground.


New Report Challenges Basic Assumptions About Climate Change

A new report has been published which challenges certain basic assumptions about climate change. The report has been written by an independent lay researcher, and is backed by over 20 signatories from diverse backgrounds. The report presents significant ground-based and space-based data which indicates that ongoing illegal and unacknowledged aerosol spraying from aircraft could be affecting our climate. Copies of the report have been sent to Greenpeace, the Civil Aviation Authority, The Royal Air Force and DEFRA, challenging them to investigate the data themselves.

An independent lay researcher, with a background in Software Engineering, from Derbyshire, UK, has published a new report which documents ongoing illegal aerosol spraying activities which could be affecting our climate, our health or both. This activity can be seen in multiple, repeated instances of persistent aircraft trails across our skies.

Andrew Johnson said that, like most other people, he assumed, for many years, that the trails were just ordinary vapour trails (called 'contrails').

"In 2004, I began to notice that these trails did not behave like contrails at all. Then, on 10th June 2005, I witnessed a grid of aircraft trails right outside my window, just before sunset," Andrew has included copies of 2 photographs of this 'grid' in the report. "I sent the picture to the local paper and they published it. I also had it published on a popular website in the USA and I received quite a number of e-mail responses to the picture. Most of the responses described my picture as being of a grid of 'chemtrails' and quite a few people sent me similar pictures they had taken." Andrew then decided to write an article about this 'grid' picture and what the background to it seemed to be. The article was published, online, in September 2005 on the website of Phenomena Magazine.

Red Flag

Lethal Virus Hits U.S. Great Lakes Species, Threatens Fishing

A virus in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. threatens 19 species of fish, including muskellunge, walleye and small-mouthed bass, and may harm New York state's $2 billion-a-year sports-fishing economy.

Life Preserver

Greek gov't unveils action plan for 'tough summer'

Fears of drought, fires and power cuts

The government stressed yesterday that it is fully prepared to tackle likely water shortages, forest fires, floods and power cuts during what promises to be a "tough summer."

During a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, five cabinet ministers outlined the measures they have taken to avert possible problems.