Earth ChangesS

Bizarro Earth

Volcanic explosions expected in Chile quake's wake

Llaima Volcano
© STR/AFP/GettyLlaima, one of the largest and most active volcanoes in Chile, is back on the watch list.
Besides aftershocks, Chile's magnitude 8.8 earthquake on 27 February may also leave a legacy of volcanic explosions. "We expect to see an upsurge in volcanic activity over the next 12 months," says David Pyle, a volcanologist at the University of Oxford.

Charles Darwin was among the first people to suggest a link between large earthquakes and increased volcanic activity. In his records, he notes that a large earthquake off Chile's coastline in February 1835 appeared to resurrect previously inactive volcanoes, and cause active ones to increase their eruption rates.

Last year, Pyle and his colleagues confirmed that this was a real effect in Chile, showing that increases in volcanic activity have occurred following other large earthquakes along its coastline.

In particular, they found that after a magnitude 8.3 in 1906 and a magnitude 9.5 earthquake in 1960, there were three or four more volcanic eruptions within about 500 kilometres of the epicentre in the following year than would normally be expected.

Bizarro Earth

Nearly 200K without power after Northeast storm

© Reuters A woman jogs past a puddle of melting snow in Central Park a day after a snow storm in New York
Portland, Maine - Nearly 200,000 homes and businesses were still without power Monday as restoration efforts continued days after a slow-moving storm battered the Northeast with heavy snow, rain and high winds.

More than 83,000 utility customers still lacked electricity early Monday in New Hampshire, the hardest-hit state. New York had about 87,000 outages, and Maine had about 16,000.

At the peak of the storm, more than a million utility customers throughout the region had lost power.

Hundreds of utility crews from as far away as Michigan and Maryland continued removing trees that knocked down power lines and replacing utility poles that snapped during last week's storm.

Dozens of shelters provided warmth and food at fire departments, schools and other places.

Even after spending three nights at a shelter in New Paltz, N.Y., 28-year-old Keith Crum of Marlboro, N.Y., said he was understanding of the ongoing power outage. He recently moved back to the area from South Carolina, where he worked cutting trees away from power lines.

Bizarro Earth

France declares 'catastrophe' in deadly storm's wake

woman waits on a chair atop a table
© AFP, GettyA woman waits on a chair atop a table for rescuers in her kitchen on February 28, 2010, as a result of heavy floods which swamped her house, in La Faute-sur-Mer western France.

Paris - France will formally declare the storm that battered its Atlantic coast, killing at least 45 people and flooding several towns, a "natural catastrophe", Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Sunday.

Fillon held an emergency meeting of ministers to assess the disaster before announcing the decision, which will free up state funds to help local communities rebuild in the wake of the disaster.

"It's a national catastrophe and my first thoughts are therefore for the families of the victims, to whom I would like to present condolences from the government and the nation," he said.

Arrow Up

Quake, tsunamis kill more than 700 in Chile

A massive earthquake and tsunamis killed 350 people in one Chilean coastal town, doubling the total death toll on Sunday as the government tried to get aid to hungry survivors and halt looting.

President Michelle Bachelet said at least 708 people had been killed and called for calm as people desperate for food and water looted stores in some areas worst hit by Saturday's 8.8-magnitude quake, one of the world's biggest in a century.

Television images showed houses washed away by swirling waters, cars tossed into shattered buildings and boats lifted into the streets in coastal towns including Pelluhue and Constitucion, where 350 deaths alone were reported.

"It's an enormous catastrophe ... there's a growing number of missing people," Bachelet said, adding that food and medical aid was being sent to help the roughly 2 million people affected by the quake.

Better Earth

Flashback The World Has Never Seen Such Freezing Heat

© Getty ImagesA sudden cold snap brought snow to London in October
A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

Better Earth

Flashback The catastrophe behind climate change

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

Thousands of dead fish raise stink at Rio lagoon

Dead Fish
© ReutersDead fish float along the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in Rio de Janeiro.
Thousands of dead fish washed up on the shores of a popular beachside lagoon in Rio over the weekend, offending joggers' olfactory senses and leading the city to fight the stench with disinfectant.

The official state news service Agencia Brasil said about 100 city employees working full-time cleared nearly 80 tons of fish as of Sunday (local time). There was no immediate estimate of how many died, but several species were involved.

Rio's environmental secretary speculated that increased levels of a harmful algae may be the immediate cause of the sudden die-off Friday.

Bizarro Earth

Climate change rhetoric spiraling out of control

Christopher Booker says that the Government must be absolutely sure that their data on climate change is accurate.

It was another bad week for the "warmists", now more desperate than ever to whip up alarm over an overheating planet. It began last weekend with the BBC leading its bulletins on the news that a "leading climate scientist" in America, Professor Chris Field, had warned that "the severity of global warming over the next century will be much worse than previously believed". Future temperatures "will be beyond anything predicted", he told a Chicago conference. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had "seriously underestimated the size of the problem".

The puzzle as to why the BBC should make this the main news of the day only deepened when it emerged that Prof Field was not a climate scientist at all but an evolutionary biologist. To promote its cause the BBC website even posted a video explaining how warming would be made worse by "negative feedback". This scientific howler provoked much amusement and derision on expert US blogs, such as Anthony Watts's Watts Up With That - since "negative feedback" would lower temperatures rather than raise them. The BBC soon pulled its video.


University 'tried to mislead MPs on climate change e-mails'

The university at the centre of the climate change row over stolen e-mails has been accused of making a misleading statement to Parliament.

The University of East Anglia wrote this week to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee giving the impression that it had been exonerated by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). However, the university failed to disclose that the ICO had expressed serious concerns that one of its professors had proposed deleting information to avoid complying with the Freedom of Information Act.


3.9-magnitude earthquake rattles western Quebec, Canada

© Unknown
The earth shuddered closer to home Saturday night when a 3.9-magnitude earthquake hit western Quebec, hours after a devastating quake hit central Chile.

The quake hit at about 10:50 p.m. local time, according to Earthquakes Canada. Its epicentre was 13 kilometres northwest of Lachute, a town of about 12,000 located 75 km northwest of Montreal.

There were no immediate reports of damage.

About 50 km northeast of Lachute, Louise Tremblay was sitting on her couch in Ste. Adele, Que., watching images of destruction from the quake in Chile flash on television when she was startled by a loud and violent noise.