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The troglodyte bat bird of South America

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© The Lilac Breasted Roller
Batty
Species name: Steatornis caripensis

Habitat: Caves, in woodland areas in the north of South America

"Raucous shrieking and frightful retching... which might express the sufferings of sea-sick demons." Not a passage from Milton, though this description by the early 20th-century zoologist John Golding Myers does describe his entry to a kind of earthly hell: a cave of roosting oilbirds.

This split-personality, cave-dwelling oddity, known to North Americans as the guacharo, doesn't seem to know whether it is bat or bird. It echolocates like a bat to perceive its surroundings, but as well as this crude form of sonar, the oilbird has the most sensitive eyes of any vertebrate.

It has feathers and a wingspan of 90 centimetres. It sports a menacing hooked beak. OK - it's a bird, though a weird one. And new evidence suggests that it plays a major role in preserving the forests where it lives.

As Myers noted, oilbirds spend much of their time squabbling in caves, in colonies numbering up to 20,000 birds. Because of the immense numbers living there, the floor is carpeted with guano, which supports a host of insects and other small animals. The birds also put the guano to good use during the breeding season: they build nests with it.

Cloud Lightning

32 reported dead in storm on Portuguese island of Madeira

Flooding and landslides swept away cars and knocked down houses as a violent storm killed at least 32 people Saturday on the Portuguese island of Madeira, a news agency reported.

The Lusa agency quoted the vice president of the Madeira regional government, Joao Cunha e Silva, as saying another 68 people have been hospitalized in the island's main city, Funchal.

Madeira is the main island of a Portuguese archipelago of the same name, in the Atlantic off the northwest coast of Africa.

Floods tore down houses as the storm hit early Saturday. Roads were blocked by fallen trees and rocks carried by flood waters, and some bridges were also downed, Lusa said.

Phone lines were knocked out, forcing emergency rescue services to appeal over local radio stations for off-duty doctors and nurses to report for duty.

Local authorities called in employees to operate heavy machinery like bulldozers to clear roads and remove debris. People in low-lying areas of Funchal fled as flood waters rose, Lusa said.

Coffee

We're drowning in climate stupidity

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© ThePeoplesCube.com
Here's a question Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who could become our next PM, should ask the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

To wit: How could it possibly get the amount of land in the Netherlands that's below sea level wrong by a factor of more than 100%?

The relevance for Canadians is that this is such a basic, stupid, mistake, it raises concerns about what else the IPCC has wrong.

Pointing out the growing list of IPCC blunders isn't some climatic version of Trivial Pursuit, as warmists claim.

The IPCC has enormous influence on politicians poised to spend billions of our dollars, allegedly attempting to "fix" man-made global warming.

IPCC reports on climate change are a major reason Canada and the U.S. plan to set up a cap-and-trade market in carbon dioxide emissions, despite the fact it's been a disaster in Europe that has (a) raised the cost of living for ordinary people (b) funnelled undeserved profits into giant energy corporations and hedge funds (c) incubated massive frauds and (d) done nothing to help the environment.

Light Sabers

Czechgate: Part Two - The GISS rape of Prague

I am proud to add Dr. Jan Zeman's authoritative addendum to substantiate the claims made in my Czechgate article. With Dr. Zeman's permission I have edited and revised his paper slightly for publication.

THE KLEMENTINUM RECORD - UHI AND LOCAL WARMING
by Jan Zeman

The "global warming agencies" literally raped the data from Prague Klementinum. On the graph we see the data from GISS although the NOAA and CRU versions are very similar. What has been stripped out from the record is the most valuable part going from the 1770's to the latter half of the 19th century. Thereafter, it is cut again in 1939 so that the decade of the 1940's is also left out. Then GISS cynically attached a wholly different record from another station at Prague Ruzyne airport. The "amputations" have then been renamed.

Gear

Now IPCC hurricane data is questioned

More trouble looms for the IPCC. The body may need to revise statements made in its Fourth Assessment Report on hurricanes and global warming. A statistical analysis of the raw data shows that the claims that global hurricane activity has increased cannot be supported.

Les Hatton once fixed weather models at the Met Office. Having studied Maths at Cambridge, he completed his PhD as meteorologist: his PhD was the study of tornadoes and waterspouts. He's a fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, currently teaches at the University of Kingston, and is well known in the software engineering community - his studies include critical systems analysis.

Hatton has released what he describes as an 'A-level' statistical analysis, which tests six IPCC statements against raw data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) Administration. He's published all the raw data and invites criticism, but warns he is neither "a warmist nor a denialist", but a scientist.

Magnify

Study Debunks Millennia-Old Claims of Systematic Infant Sacrifice in Ancient Carthage

A study led by University of Pittsburgh researchers could finally lay to rest the millennia-old conjecture that the ancient empire of Carthage regularly sacrificed its youngest citizens. An examination of the remains of Carthaginian children revealed that most infants perished prenatally or very shortly after birth and were unlikely to have lived long enough to be sacrificed, according to a Feb. 17 report in PLoS One.

The findings -- based on the first published analysis of the skeletal remains found in Carthaginian burial urns -- refute claims from as early as the 3rd century BCE of systematic infant sacrifice at Carthage that remain a subject of debate among biblical scholars and archaeologists, said lead researcher Jeffrey H. Schwartz, a professor of anthropology and history and philosophy of science in Pitt's School of Arts and Sciences and president of the World Academy of Art and Science. Schwartz and his colleagues present the more benign interpretation that very young Punic children were cremated and interred in burial urns regardless of how they died.

Igloo

Northern Hemisphere Snow Extent Second Highest on Record

According to Rutgers University Global Snow Lab, last week's Northern Hemisphere winter snow extent was the second highest on record, at 52,166,840 km2. This was only topped by the second week in February, 1978 at 53,647,305 km2. Rutgers has kept records continuously for the last 2,227 weeks, so being #2 is quite an accomplishment.
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© Rutgers University Global Snow Lab
Daily Snow – February 13, 2010 (Day 44)

According to Rutgers University data through mid February, Northern Hemisphere winter snow extent has been increasing at a rate of over 100,000 km2 per year.

Gear

IPCC gate Du Jour - Antarctic Sea Ice Increase Underestimated by 50%

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© Comiso and Nishio, 2008
Figure 1. Trend in Antarctic ice extent, November 1978 through December 2006
From World Climate Report:

Another IPCC Error: Antarctic Sea Ice Increase Underestimated by 50%

Several errors have been recently uncovered in the 4th Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These include problems with Himalayan glaciers, African agriculture, Amazon rainforests, Dutch geography, and attribution of damages from extreme weather events. More seem to turn up daily. Most of these errors stem from the IPCC's reliance on non-peer reviewed sources.

The defenders of the IPCC have contended that most of these errors are minor in significance and are confined to the Working Group II Report (the one on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability) of the IPCC which was put together by representatives from various regional interests and that there was not as much hard science available to call upon as there was in the Working Group I report ("The Physical Science Basis"). The IPCC defenders argue that there have been no (or practically no) problems identified in the Working Group I (WGI) report on the science.

We humbly disagree.

Snowman

Britain on course for coldest February for 24 years, winter transport chaos continues

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© Press Association
Global Warming 2010: Snowboarders in a park in Birmingham
The big chill is set to tighten its grip over the weekend as forecasters say we could be on for the coldest February in nearly a quarter of a century.

Temperatures in the first two weeks of the month averaged just 2.1c (35.8f) - meaning Britain has been far colder than Vancouver, where the organisers of the Winter Olympics have been forced to truck in snow.

The freezing conditions will continue over the weekend with some areas experiencing overnight lows of -6c (21f).

The latest blast of wintry weather led to problems for travellers today, with forecasters predicting further snow over the weekend.

Document

New study links drilling to Indonesia mud volcano

Jakarta - A team of scientists said in a report on Friday that they had found the strongest evidence yet linking a devastating mud volcano in Indonesia to drilling at a gas exploration well by local energy firm PT Lapindo Brantas.

Lapindo has denied triggering the disaster through its drilling activities, arguing the mud volcano near Indonesia's second-biggest city of Surabaya was triggered by an earthquake.

The hot mud started spewing from the East Java drilling site in 2006 and has now displaced nearly 60,000 people.