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Fri, 01 Dec 2023
The World for People who Think

Earth Changes


Sun Makes History: First Spotless Month in a Century

The sun has reached a milestone not seen for nearly 100 years: an entire month has passed without a single visible sunspot being noted.

©Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)
The record-setting surface of the sun. A full month has gone by without a single spot.

Cloud Lightning

New Zealand: Magnitude 5.8 quake causes no damage

A moderate magnitude 5.8 earthquake rattled New Zealand's central North Island on Monday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injury.

Cloud Lightning

US: Gustav slams Louisiana coastline west of New Orleans

New Orleans - A weakened Hurricane Gustav slammed into the heart of Louisiana's fishing and oil industry Monday, avoiding a direct hit on flood-prone New Orleans and boosting hope that the city would avoid catastrophic flooding.

©AP Photo/Bill Haber
Water is pushed over the flood wall into the upper 9th Ward from the effect of Hurricane Gustav, in New Orleans, Monday, Sept. 1, 2008.

Wind-driven water was sloshing over the top of the Industrial Canal's floodwall, but city officials and the Army Corps of Engineers said they expected the levees, still only partially rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina, would hold. The canal broke during hurricanes Betsy and Katrina, flooding St. Bernard Parish and the Lower 9th Ward.

"We are seeing some overtopping waves," said Col. Jeff Bedey, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers' hurricane protection office. "We are cautiously optimistic and confident that we won't see catastrophic wall failure."

Of more immediate concern to authorities was a barge that broke loose from its moorings and crashed into two anchors scrapped ships. The was no damage to the canal.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Gustav hit around 10:30 a.m. EDT Monday near the Cocodrie, a low-lying community in Louisiana's Cajun country about 72 miles southwest of New Orleans. Forecasters once feared a storm that chased nearly 2 million from the coast would arrive as a devastating Category 4 with much more powerful winds.

While New Orleans avoided a direct hit, the storm could be devastating where it did strike. For most of the past half century, the bayou communities that thrived in the Barataria basin have watched their land literally disappear. A combination of factors - oil drilling, hurricanes, river levees, damming of rivers - have destroyed marshes and swamps that once flourished in this river delta.


The 'consensus' on climate change is a catastrophe in itself

As the estimated cost of measures proposed by politicians to "combat global warming" soars ever higher - such as the International Energy Council's $45 trillion - "fighting climate change" has become the single most expensive item on the world's political agenda.

As Senators Obama and McCain vie with the leaders of the European Union to promise 50, 60, even 80 per cent cuts in "carbon emissions", it is clear that to realise even half their imaginary targets would necessitate a dramatic change in how we all live, and a drastic reduction in living standards.

All this makes it rather important to know just why our politicians have come to believe that global warming is the most serious challenge confronting mankind, and just how reliable is the evidence for the theory on which their policies are based.

Bizarro Earth

Update: Death toll in China quake rises to 22

The death toll in the earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale that hit southwest China's Sichuan province on Saturday rose to 22, officials said.


India: Slight intensity earthquake hits Arunachal Pradesh

New Delhi: A slight intensity earthquake, measuring 4.8 on the Richter Scale, shook parts of Arunachal Pradesh on Saturday.

Bizarro Earth

Magmatically Triggered Slow Earthquake Discovered At Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii

From June 17-19th 2007, Kilauea experienced a new dike intrusion, where magma rapidly moved from a storage reservoir beneath the summit into the east rift zone and extended the rift zone by as much as 1 meter.

Kilauea Volcano
©James Foster, HIGP/SOEST
A schematic cross-section from north to south through Kilauea Volcano, showing the structure of the volcano and the mobile south flank. The June 17 dike intruded into the East Rift Zone and triggered the slow-slip event, that most likely occurred on the decollement fault between the volcano and the pre-existing sea floor, approx. 15 to 20 hours later.

Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM), Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory have now discovered that the 2007 dike intrusion was not the only action going on: the dike also triggered a "slow earthquake" on Kilauea's south flank, demonstrating how magmatism and earthquake faulting at Kilauea can be tightly connected.

Slow earthquakes are a special type of earthquake where fault rupture occurs too slowly (over periods of days to months) to produce any felt shaking. Slow earthquakes of magnitude 5.5-5.7 have been previously found to periodically occur on the flanks of Kilauea, and have been identified by ground motion data on Global Positioning System (GPS) stations. A general understanding of slow earthquake initiation, however, is still unresolved.

Cloud Lightning

Philippines: Aftershocks felt in Bicol region

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck the Bicol region Saturday evening, followed by an aftershock Sunday morning, reports from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) showed.


Baltic States Failing To Protect Most Damaged Sea

Nine Baltic sea states all scored failing grades in an annual WWF evaluation of their performance in protecting and restoring the world's most damaged sea.

Baltic Sea
©iStockphoto/Janno Vään
The poor state of the Baltic Sea environment has received attention this summer because of the extensive algal blooms caused by eutrophication and for recent scientific reports on the vast "dead zones" on the sea bottom.

The assessment, presented today at the Baltic Sea Festival, graded the countries on how well they are doing in six separate areas - biodiversity, fisheries, hazardous substances, marine transport and eutrophication - and on how they have succeeded in developing an integrated sea-use management system.

The best grade (an F for just 46 per cent) was received by Germany, followed by Denmark (41 per cent) and the worst were Poland (25 per cent) and Russia (26 per cent).

"It is a shame no country could be given a satisfactory total score," said Lasse Gustavsson, CEO of WWF Sweden. "The Baltic Sea is influenced by a multitude of human activities, regulated by a patchwork of international and national regulations and authorities.


Shot In The Arm For Sumatran Elephants And Tigers

The Indonesian government is to double the size of a national park that is one of the last havens for endangered Sumatran elephants and tigers.

© iStockphoto/Afriadi Hikmal
Encroachment by palm oil plantations into elephant habitat have greatly increased conflicts between humans and elephants.

Tesso Nilo National Park was created in 2004 with 38,000 hectares of forest. Today's declaration will see that figure increase to 86,000 by the end of this year.

"This is an important milestone toward securing a future for the Sumatran elephant and tiger," said Dr. Mubariq Ahmad, WWF-Indonesia's Chief Executive. "To ensure the commitment is effectively implemented we must redouble our efforts to eliminate poaching and illegal settlements within this special forest."

With more than 4,000 plant species recorded so far, the forest of Tesso Nilo has the highest lowland forest plant biodiversity known to science, with many species yet to be discovered.