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Thu, 07 Dec 2023
The World for People who Think

Earth Changes


The Missouri River is sinking

Sinking river eroding banks
© AP
Kansas City water supply division assistant manager for operations Mike Klender

The problem is this: Parts of the nation's longest river are losing elevation. The so-called "degradation" process is not affecting the amount of water in the channel, but the water is physically lower on the Earth because the river bottom is washing away.

The water depth is not changing, and the situation is nearly imperceptible from shore. But for engineers, it's a costly headache.

"Part of the whole problem is it's not visible," said John Grothaus, chief of planning for the Army Corps of Engineers in Kansas City, where the river bed has dropped by about 12 feet over the last 50 years.

"It's not in the public eye. You can't see it on the river".


Nightmarish Caterpillar Swarm Defies Control in Liberia

They came by the millions out of the forest.

© Unknown
Achaea catocaloides, the caterpillar that began devouring Liberia's trees and crops in January 2009, turns into a moth that can lay 500 to 1,000 eggs if not killed beforehand. Experts fear the cycle could begin anew if the caterpillars are not contained.
From off in the bush, townspeople at the epicenter of the plague heard a low roar, like the sound of heavy rain cascading down through the leaves. It was caterpillar droppings.

In early January, when the long, black caterpillars reached the creeks that serve as the main water sources for the town of Belefanai in north-central Liberia, the creatures' feces instantly turned streams dark and undrinkable.

Moving through the forest canopy on webs, devouring the leaves as they went, the caterpillars advanced like nothing the townspeople had ever seen.

Cow Skull

China declares emergency as drought bites

Lidong Village - China has declared an emergency over a drought which could devastate crops and farmers' incomes, official media said on Thursday, threatening further hardship amid slumping economic growth.

The drought gripping parts of central and northern China has sent Zhengzhou wheat futures prices CWSK9 up 5 percent this week but physical prices W-EXWZGZ-GEN have not moved, with most investors confident the country's reserves and last year's big harvest can offset any fall in wheat production this spring.

But the drought could hurt the incomes of farmers in Henan, Anhui and other populous provinces when many have lost factory and construction jobs after China's growth faltered in late 2008.


Black Wolves: The First Genetically Modified Predators?

Black Wolf
© Marco Musiani, University of Calgary
Black wolves dominate packs in the forests of North America, while white wolves are more numerous in the treeless tundra.
Emergence of black-colored wolves is the direct result of humans raising dogs as pets and beasts of burden, according to new research by a University of Calgary biologist published today by the prestigious academic journal Science. And dark coloring may also aid the survival of the species as wolf habitat is affected by climate change in the future, the study suggests.

"Although it happened by accident, black wolves are the first example of wolves being genetically-engineered by people," said Marco Musiani, an internationally-recognized expert on wolves and a professor in the U of C's Faculty of Environmental Design. "Domestication of dogs has led to dark-colored coats in wolves, which has proven to be a valuable trait for wolf populations as their arctic habitat shrinks," Musiani said. "It also shows that human activities can help enrich the genetic diversity of wild animal populations, which is a very unexpected finding."


Global warming conference at -6 degrees

Talk about great timing.

Buffalo State College hosts the national teach-in on Global Warming Situations today - a day the local temperature bottomed out at minus 6 degrees.

No evidence of global warming here, at least not this morning, when unofficial reports to the National Weather Service listed temperatures as low as 9 degrees below zero elsewhere in Erie County.

"We didn't have temperatures forecast to be quite that cold," weather service meteorologist David Zaff said this morning. "When you have snowpack on the ground and clear skies, temperatures can plummet. It's called radiational cooling."

That cooling phenomenon, under mockingly clear skies, posed a hardship for some morning commuters and some finger-numbing discomfort for others.


Ancient sponges leave their mark

© D. Fike
The rocks date to a time of dramatic glaciation on Earth.
Traces of animal life have been found in rocks dating back 635 million years.

The evidence takes the form of chemical markers that are highly distinctive of sponges when they die and their bodies break down in rock-forming sediments.

The discovery in Oman pushes back the earliest accepted date for animal life on Earth by tens of millions of years.

Scientists tell Nature magazine that the creatures' existence will help them understand better what the planet looked like all that time ago.


Deadly H5N1 avian flu found in Hong Kong birds

Scientists check ducks
© AFP/de
HK officials check ducks for avian bird flu.
Hong Kong: A dead goose and two dead ducks found on a Hong Kong island last week have tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, officials said on Wednesday.

The birds were found on January 29 and 31 on a beach on Lantau island and preliminary tests showed they had tested positive for H5 avian influenza.

Further tests confirmed it was the H5N1 strain of the virus, a spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said in a statement.


China's Drought May Make Birds More Susceptible to Avian Flu

A drought in northern China that has limited drinking water to almost 4 million people may also be making birds more susceptible to the deadly H5N1 avian-flu strain.

The lack of rainfall in Shandong, Shaanxi and other northern provinces since October causes stress for local fowl, said Hong Kong Veterinary Association President Veronica Leong, who specializes in birds. "Any sort of stress would make birds more susceptible to disease," she said by e-mail today.

Bird flu killed five people in China last month, three of whom were from regions experiencing drought. Lo Wing-Lok, a health adviser to the Hong Kong government, said yesterday China has an outbreak of bird flu among poultry that its government hasn't reported.

Cloud Lightning

No rain in Beijing for 100 days

Drought Reservoir
© Xinhua Photo
Photo taken on Feb. 2, 2009 shows the droughty reservoir in Yiyang County of Luoyang city, central China's Henan Province
Beijing -- It has not rained in Beijing since October 26, a period of 100 days, making this the longest drought on record since 1971. The meteorological department says the dry weather will continue through early February but in the second half of the month the capital may see 4 or 5 millimeters of snow.

The drought has seriously affected the growth of winter wheat in areas round the capital. In the worst hit areas the fields are cracked and dry and the wheat has withered. The China Meteorological Administration (CMA) says the drought is the worst for many years in terms of duration and the area affected.


Propaganda Alert: California farms, vineyards in peril from warming, U.S. energy secretary warns

'We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California,' Steven Chu says. He sees education as a means to combat threat.

Reporting from Washington - California's farms and vineyards could vanish by the end of the century, and its major cities could be in jeopardy, if Americans do not act to slow the advance of global warming, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said Tuesday.

In his first interview since taking office last month, the Nobel-prize-winning physicist offered some of the starkest comments yet on how seriously President Obama's cabinet views the threat of climate change, along with a detailed assessment of the administration's plans to combat it.

Comment: As said at the end of the article, a large amount of real-world data, increasing number of studies, a growing chorus of scientists are showing global warming for what it is: a hoax. And the fact that the new energy secretary of the Obama administration is spreading that lie does not exactly help to inspire our confidence.