Earth ChangesS


'Eating wildlife is a part of Chinese culture'

© Lü Zhi/Shan Shui Conservation CentreLü Zhi has studied pandas for two decades and is director of conservation biology at Peking University
Lü Zhi is the director of the Center for Nature and Society at Peking University, Beijing, China.

Are attitudes to the environment in China changing as people's wealth increases?

There are two trends. One is a greater awareness. For instance, a group of young Chinese entrepreneurs is calling for an end to the consumption of shark fin soup. But there is also a rise in the number of affluent people who want to show off their wealth. Eating wildlife is a part of Chinese culture, so when people get richer they eat more wildlife. They need something to persuade them. I think culture is the most effective tool. A respect for life is part of the Buddhist tradition, which has had a big influence on Chinese culture, though sometimes people forget it.

Is it possible to preserve biodiversity in the world's fastest-developing country?

It depends. If you take pandas as an example, then yes, it is. But if you take the Yangtze river dolphin, which was declared functionally extinct in 2006, then no, it isn't. The critical point is to make conservation relevant to others. The panda has no practical value to people but its looks help ensure its survival.

What about the vast majority of wildlife that lacks the emotional draw of the panda?

We use the panda as a flagship to protect all the other creatures and plants where it lives. But what is really needed is a new economic system that recognises and pays for the value of nature.

Better Earth

The truth about krill harvesting and krill oil supplements

You may be aware that I was one of the primary supporters responsible for promoting krill as a healthier and far more sustainable alternative for animal based omega-3 fats.

Recently there have been a number of unfounded scare tactics stating krill is endangered, and whales are being threatened by krill harvesting. Sites that sell competing sources of omega-3 will reference any type of negative information - such as a more recent article stating that krill oil is banned off the coast of California.

Partial truths like this are shared to confuse the issue. I strongly believe it is appropriate that krill harvesting should be banned in many areas not suitable for harvesting. What these competitors fail to admit is that this localized krill problem in California has nothing to do with the global krill population.

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake Magnitude 5.5 - Southern Iran

© US Geological Survey
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 03:53:04 UTC
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 07:23:04 AM at epicenter

26.828°N, 55.782°E

19.4 km (12.1 miles) (poorly constrained)

70 km (45 miles) NW of Al Khasab, Oman

80 km (50 miles) SW of Bandar-e Abbas, Iran

95 km (60 miles) NNW of Ra's al Khaymah, United Arab Emirates

445 km (275 miles) NW of MUSCAT, Oman


El Nino Now Official - Possible Implications

Sea Temps
© NOAA/NESDISTropical Pacific sea surface temperatures this week.

The official El Nino criteria has been met. Now the meteorological world looks to see how strong and how long this lasts. Count on CPC and other forecast centers to go for a warm winter as a result of El Nino but as we have shown, there are differences in El Ninos depending on the overall mode in the Pacific Basin (the PDO). The tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures this week are shown here.

You can see the warm plume along the tropical easterly belt along the equator. The depth cross section shows the pool of warm water that has suppressed the thermocline in the eastern Pacific.
Sea Temp
© NOAAWarm plume along the tropical easterly belt along the equator.

Evil Rays

Australia: Turnbull needs to recognise the tide is turning on climate change

Malcolm Turnbull today, in the headlines for the wrong reason, does not seem to know which way to jump on climate change.

He's now floated a new strategy but the suggestions are that he doesn't have shadow Cabinet support for it.

Well, may I direct his attention to a piece in the Wall Street Journal at the end of last month.

Rick Shaffer has a television job in America called the Money Show.

He's an attorney, a graduate of Boston College and Northeastern University School of Law.

And he referred his viewers/listeners to a column that recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal pointing out and explaining the growing scepticism amongst scientists and politicians around the world, including the United States, over the accuracy of the so-called unarguable fact that global warming is occurring, is caused by mankind and can be cured by mankind.


US: Nashville Ties Or Breaks Low Temperature Record 3 Straight Mornings

Cool weather has broken a previous low temperature for July 21 in Nashville that was set when Rutherford B. Hayes was president.

When the temperature at the National Weather Service station dipped to 58 degrees at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, it wiped out the previous record low for the date of 60 degrees, which was set in 1877.

NWS forecaster Bobby Boyd noted it was the third consecutive morning when Nashville either tied or broke a daily low temperature record.

Temperatures were cool, but did not break records at several Tennessee cities.

Knoxville dropped to 59 degrees Tuesday morning, Chattanooga had 60 degrees, Tri-Cities recorded 58 degrees and Memphis was 69 degrees.

Nashville dropped to 59 degrees early Monday and Knoxville bottomed out at 60 degrees -- both tying records for the date.

Better Earth

US: Cities take dip into low-temp record book over weekend

Omaha missed out on temperature record-setting Sunday.

Lincoln, however, had a second consecutive day of record low temperatures for July - a month more associated with sweating than sweaters.

According to the National Weather Service, a low temperature of 51 degrees at 6:15 a.m. Sunday at Lincoln Municipal Airport broke the city's 1947 record of 53 degrees.

Saturday, a temperature of 53 degrees at 6:45 a.m. at Eppley Airfield had broken Omaha's 1873 record of 57 degrees. But Omaha's low temperature of 53 degrees Sunday morning wasn't enough to break the 1873 record of 51 degrees.

Meteorologist Cathy Zapotocny of the National Weather Service's office in Valley said temperatures vary from area to area because of development and elevation. Urban areas tend to stay warmer and rural areas cooler, she said.


Republicans Demand EPA Administrator Jackson Give Full Response on Suppression of Dissent

Washington - All Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Investigations Subcommittee, including the full committee's ranking member, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, and the subcommittee's ranking Republican, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, joined Thursday in pressing EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to explain why and how a career EPA official's views were suppressed when he questioned Democrats' policy on global warming.

Their letter marks the second attempt to get information from EPA since a series of bizarre e-mails became public and demonstrated that a long-term EPA official was ordered not only to stop dissenting, but to stop working on global warming issues altogether.

"Questions about the process and treatment of critical opinion and debate within EPA have only increased since we wrote three weeks ago," the lawmakers wrote. "Since that time, you or EPA spokesmen have issued statements at once minimizing the critical comments by a senior career employee, Dr. Alan Carlin, on the quality of the agency's basis for the proposed endangerment finding, and ignoring the substantive questions about the integrity of the EPA process raised by the alleged suppression of Dr. Carlin's report.


In Provo, a call to action against federal climate bill

Tom Tripp
© Lance Booth/Daily HeraldTom Tripp, of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, speaks at the Utah Farm Bureau conference, held at the Marriott, in Provo, on Thursday, July16th.

The U.S. effort to counteract climate change is poised to not only destroy the U.S. economy, but dramatically increase global carbon dioxide levels.

That was the message, on Thursday, from Tom Tripp, a magnesium specialist from Utah who gave a 45-minute keynote address in Provo at the Utah Farm Bureau Midyear Conference.

Beyond magnesium, Tripp has one other distinction to his name -- he is one of 2,000 members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who share half a Nobel Prize, the other half owned by former vice president Al Gore.

But though Tripp and Gore may share the same Nobel honor, Tripp's message on climate change is Gore's polar opposite.

The public, Tripp said, should be warned that the climate bill that just passed the House and is headed for the Senate could bring America to its knees.


Flashback Temblors Rattle Cleburne Texas

© Robert Nickelsberg/Getty ImagesFive small earthquakes this month have become the talk of Cleburne, Texas, where a natural gas boom has brought drilling closer to residential areas

This small city at the epicenter of the region's natural-gas boom has been shaken by another arrival from underground: earthquakes.

Five small temblors this month have some people pointing the finger at technology that drilling companies use to reach deep into the earth to shatter rock and release new stores of natural gas -- the same technology that has made many of the locals rich.

Thousands of wells have been drilled in the past five years. Now, a wave of small earthquakes is leading some residents in the north Texas town to link the two developments and some seismic experts to wonder about the cause.

The industry says there isn't any evidence linking the quakes to gas production. Even geophysicists, who take the residents' concerns seriously and are deploying seismic sensors in the area, say they can't prove a connection between the drilling and the quakes.