Earth ChangesS

Alarm Clock

Honey Bees in Danger

© Getty ImagesIndustrial, pesticide-dependent agricultural practices in the United States are creating a death trap for the honeybee and threatening the human-bee symbiotic relationship forged over milieu.
When I was teaching at Humboldt State University in northern California 20 years ago, I invited a beekeeper to talk to my students. He said that each time he took his bees to southern California to pollinate other farmers' crops, he would lose a third of his bees to sprays. In 2009, the loss ranges all the way to 60 percent.

Honeybees have been in terrible straits.

A little history explains this tragedy.

For millennia, honeybees lived in symbiotic relationship with societies all over the world.

The Greeks loved them. In the eighth century BCE, the epic poet Hesiod considered them gifts of the gods to just farmers. And in the fourth century of our era, the Greek mathematician Pappos admired their hexagonal cells, crediting them with "geometrical forethought."

Better Earth

The snow monkeys of Hell's Valley

© Heather Angel
This photograph of Japanese macaques relaxing in a hot bath was taken on a winter morning by wildlife photographer and zoologist Heather Angel. The pool is in the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, Nagano, Japan, in a place known as Hell's valley because of its steep cliffs, dense forests and the boiling water that spurts from the frozen ground. It was built 30 years ago when it was discovered that the monkeys, like us, like to bathe in hot water.

Japanese macaques - also known as snow monkeys - live further north than any other non-human primate. Snow covers the ground in Hell's Valley for four months of the year and temperatures often drop to -20 °C. Thermal pools - both natural and man-made - help the monkeys survive the harsh climate.

Snow monkeys are not only renowned for their love of hot baths, but for using tools and washing their food. In 1953, an 18-month-old female called Imo was spotted washing sweet potatoes to remove the mud before eating them. Ten years later the rest of the troop were also doing this, and had passed on the skill to the next generation. It was the first report of a learned tradition in a non-human species.

Cloud Lightning

US: 2 tornadoes spotted in Florida as storms plague South

© AP Photo/Tallahassee Democrat, Phil SearsTim McDonald turns onto Withia Bluffs Way in his kayak to head to check on his house Thursday, April 9, 2009 in eastern Madison County, Fla. Initial reports so far show the rising waters have destroyed or caused major damage to nearly 200 homes and minor damage to more than 500 in Florida since the flooding
Tampa - Forecasters reported two tornadoes touched down in the Tampa Bay area as a line of storms Tuesday ripped roof shingles off homes, uprooted trees and forced the evacuation of school children in trailer classrooms on Florida's west coast.

No injuries were immediately reported. It was the latest round of bad weather to hammer the South after heavy rain and strong winds Monday that hit Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and northern Florida, still reeling from storms and tornados last week.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for 20 Florida counties until Tuesday afternoon.

"To our knowledge, there's been no true structure damage and no injuries," said Jim Martin, Emergency Management Director for Pasco County, where at least one twister was spotted Tuesday morning near Holiday, about 30 miles northwest of Tampa.


Slave ants keep a taste for revenge

Forget Spartacus - you need look no further than an ant colony for a slave mutiny.

Some ant species raid colonies of smaller species, killing the queen, scaring away worker ants and stealing larvae. Kidnapped larvae grow up as slaves.

Susanne Foitzik of the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, has evidence the slaves have evolved an unusual weapon in the fight for survival: mutiny.

Bizarro Earth

Canada: Manitoba's ice age

Ice jams wreaked havoc on riverside communities north of Selkirk early yesterday, destroying homes and forcing evacuations.

Rapidly rising flood waters along the Red River forced several residents and emergency responders onto the tops of homes and vehicles to await rescue in Breezy Point and the Rural Municipality of St. Clements.

Bizarro Earth

Seismologist deems California quakes 'curious'

U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough says the recent small earthquakes in California's China Hills are curious incidents.

Hough said the series of minor earthquakes, which included three small tremors during the weekend, are outside the norm in relation to seismological activity, The Orange County (Calif.) Register said Sunday.

It's curious in the sense that it's one of those sequences that doesn't fit neatly into a well recognized mold, Hough said. If it's a swarm then it certainly isn't a typical one -- not that we understand what a swarm is, or why they happen!

Better Earth

Driller thriller: Antarctica's tumultuous past revealed

The midnight sun hangs low in the sky on this November evening. A plain of flat ice sweeps in all directions and mountains rise in the distance. Perched on the sea ice is a massive, teepee-shaped tent. A mechanised rumble emanates from within.

Inside the tent, men in hard hats tend a rotating shaft of steel. This drill turns day and night through 8 metres of sea ice covering the surface of McMurdo Sound, off the coast of Antarctica, and through 400 metres of water beneath it and into the seabed.

Comment: See also: US Military research site shows Arctic ice thickening over last 12 months


Sunbird learns to hover for sweet reward

Dogs might be resistant, but it turns out you can teach an old bird new tricks. An African bird has learned to hover so that it can collect nectar from flowers, just as hummingbirds do in the Americas. The bird has an unlikely trainer: an invasive South American plant that has made its way to South Africa.


US: High winds kill 2, knock out power in Southeast

High winds are causing power outages for parts of the Southeast and are responsible for the death of a teen in Tennessee and another person in Atlanta.

An Etowah teenager has been killed when a strong gust of wind blew a tree onto his family's home.

McMinn County Sheriff's Detective Jerry Wilson said the 18-year-old was still in bed when a tree fell onto the house around 6 a.m. ET Monday and a limb penetrated it, killing him.

Better Earth

U.S. Military research site shows Arctic ice thickening over last 12 months

US MIL Arctic buoy locations
© Cold Regions Research and Engineering LaboratoryUS MIL Arctic buoy locations

The WUWT Arctic Ice Thickness Survey has been conducted from the comfort of a warm living room over the last half hour, without sponsors, excessive CO2 emissions or hypothermia. The data is collected from the US military web site. All of the active military buoys show significant thickening ice over the past six months to a year, as at right.
Catlin Arctic Survey Team position
Location of Catlin team relative to buoy 2008D and the North Pole