Recent Entries in Eco

Ruh-roh!

I joke about there being 6-10 feet of snow still on the ground up here, but this is real.

ice_shelf_disappearing.jpg

Photo Slideshow | Reuters.com

Satellite images show that a large hunk of Antarctica's Wilkins Ice Shelf has started to collapse in a fast-warming region of the continent, scientists said on Tuesday. This series of satellite images shows the Wilkins Ice Shelf as it begins to break up. The large image is from March 6. The images at right, from top to bottom, are from Feb. 28, Feb. 29 and March 8. The images were processed from the MODIS satellite sensor flying on NASA's Earth Observing System Aqua and Terra satellites.

You guys like swarms of things, right?

Truck crash unleashes millions of bees | Metro.co.uk

Millions of swarming honey bees are on the loose after a truck carrying crates of the insects flipped over on a California highway.

The California Highway Patrol says somewhere 8- and 12million bees escaped Sunday from the crates in which they were stored and swarmed over an area of Highway 99 and stung officers, firefighters and tow truck drivers trying to clear the accident.

The flatbed was carrying bee crates each filled with up to 30,000 bees, which had been used in the San Joaquin Valley to pollinate crops.

This doesn't bode well for us.

Maya May Have Caused Civilization-Ending Climate Change

Self-induced drought and climate change may have caused the destruction of the Maya civilization, say scientists working with new satellite technology that monitors Central America's environment.

One conventional theory has it that the Maya relied on slash-and-burn agriculture. But Sever and his colleagues say such methods couldn't have sustained a population that reached 60,000 at its peak.

The researchers think the Maya also exploited seasonal wetlands called bajos, which make up more than 40 percent of the Petén landscape that the ancient empire called home.

Hubba hubba, just in time for Valentine's Day.

National Geographic News Photo Gallery: Gorillas Mate Face-to-Face in First Photos

As the female's daughter looks on, two western lowland gorillas in Congo's Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park embrace before mating face-to-face, as seen in photos released today.

Lowland gorillas had never before been seen mating face-to-face, and no wild gorilla had ever been photographed using this behavior, the Wildlife Conservation Society announced. The mating style, though, is seen among gorillas in captivity.

I loved this ad. It made me feel like a chump when I threw bags of garbage out of my car window.

Check out the straight dope on him here.

YouTube - RETRO Anti-Pollution Ad with Native American - 1970s

  Platypus Lived with Dinos

Interestingly, the platypus is also concrete proof against Intelligent Design.

Platypus Much Older Than Thought, Lived with Dinos

Australia's duck-billed platypus has been around much longer than previously thought, according to a new fossil study that found the egg-laying mammal's origin traces back to the dinosaur days.

Platypuses and their closest evolutionary relatives, the four echidna species, were thought to have split from a common ancestor sometime in the past 17 million to 65 million years.

Hey, does anyone else have a bad feeling about this?

Escalating Ice Loss Found in Antarctica

The new findings come as the Arctic is losing ice at a dramatic rate and glaciers are in retreat across the planet. At a recent annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, Ohio State University professor Lonnie Thompson delivered a keynote lecture that described a significant speed-up in the melting of high-altitude glaciers in tropical regions, including Peru, Tibet and Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya.

Thompson, who has studied the Quelccaya glacier in the Peruvian Andes for 30 years, said that for the first half of that period, it retreated on average 20 feet per year. For the past 15 years, he said, it has retreated an average of nearly 200 feet per year.

"The information from Antarctica is consistent with what we are seeing in all other areas with glaciers -- a melting or retreat that is occurring faster than predicted," he said. "Glaciers, and especially the high-elevation tropical glaciers, are a real canary in the coal mine. They're telling us that major climatic changes are occurring."

While the phenomenon of ice loss worldwide is well documented, the dynamics in the Antarctic are probably the least understood. Glaciers and ice sheets are sometimes miles deep, and researchers do not know what might be happening at the bottom of the ice -- but it clearly is being lost along the peninsula and West Antarctic coast.

We all know this is Al Gore's fault. Still, it might be a good idea to start buying property up on a hill somewhere.

Arctic Sea Ice Gone in Summer Within Five Years?

An already relentless melting of the Arctic greatly accelerated this summerâ..a sign that some scientists worry could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point.

One scientist even speculated that summer sea ice could be gone in five years.

Greenland's ice sheet melted nearly 19 billion tons more than the previous high mark, and the volume of Arctic sea ice at summer's end was half what it was just four years ago, according to new NASA satellite data obtained by the Associated Press (AP).

"The Arctic is screaming," said Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the government's snow and ice data center in Boulder, Colorado.

  The Ethyl-Poisoned Earth

The same guy responsible for leaded gasoline also introduced CFCs to aerosols. Nice guy.

Damn Interesting - The Ethyl-Poisoned Earth

The sharp decline in US crime rates which began in the early 1990s dovetails perfectly with the reduction of leaded gasoline in the early 1970s; and other countries which followed suit saw similar declines, also delayed by twenty years. It seems that the lawmakers who claim credit for crime-reducing legislation during that time are probably misplacing their congratulations. In another study, Pittsburgh University researchers found that juvenile delinquents had lead levels four times higher on average than law-abiding adolescents.

As for Thomas Midgley, the father of leaded gasoline continued his distinguished career by inventing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the refrigerants and aerosol propellants which famously destroyed a considerable section of the Earth's ozone layer before they were banned. Along the way Midgley received an awesome array of awards for his contributions to chemistry, many of which were later regretted upon discovering the damage done by his innovations.

I hate these people.

Say, has the butler cleaned the trout yet? - Los Angeles Times

The Bondicks, who live in a sprawling home on the edge of a state park outside Boston and hire a personal chef at home, shelled out $595 a night -- plus an additional $110 per person per day for food.

It's a hefty price to sleep in a tent, but the perks include a camp butler to build their fire, a maid to crank up the heated down comforter at nightfall and a cook to whip up bison rib-eye for dinner and French toast topped with huckleberries for breakfast.

The number of visits to U.S. national parks is declining, but "glamping" -- glamorous camping -- is on the rise in North America after gaining popularity among wealthy travelers in Africa and England, where luxury tents come with Persian rugs and electricity to power blow dryers.

A list of vestigial organs and parts on humans. I would have included some peoples' heads.

What Evolution Left Behind On Humans

* Extrinsic Ear Muscles o These three muscles most likely made it possible for prehominids to move their ears independently of their heads (again, like a cat or dog). Again, we still have these muscles which is why most people can learn how to wiggle their ears.

* Toes
o Technically, humans donâ..t need any of our toes except our big toe (for balance). Our toes were used for grasping and climbing.

* Neck Rib
o This is a set of cervical ribs commonly thought to be left-overs from the age of reptiles. They still appear in less than 1% of humans. Unfortunately these can cause nerve and artery problems. Talk about bad luck.

Top 10 Useless Limbs (and Other Vestigial Organs) | LiveScience

In Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859) and his next publication, The Descent of Man (1871), he referred to several "vestiges" in human anatomy that were left over from the course of evolution. These vestigial organs, Darwin argued, are evidence of evolution and represent a function that was once necessary for survival, but over time that function became either diminished or nonexistent.

The presence of an organ in one organism that resembles one found in another has led biologists to conclude that these two might have shared a common ancestor. Vestigial organs have demonstrated remarkably how species are related to one another, and has given solid ground for the idea of common descent to stand on. From common descent, it is predicted that organisms should retain these vestigial organs as structural remnants of lost functions. It is only because of macro-evolutionary theory, or evolution that takes place over very long periods of time, that these vestiges appear.

Huh. Dude was just up here yelling at Ontario's premiere.

Resignation hurts 'green' Schwarzenegger - Independent Online Edition > Americas

The executive director of California's air-quality board, which is responsible for implementing the state's landmark environmental emissions law, has resigned amid allegations that the office of the Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has been deliberately getting in the way of its work.

The unexpected ruckus is deeply embarrassing for a governor who has visited capitals worldwide, including London last week, touting his state as an example to everyone because of its supposed commitment to cutting noxious emissions by 25 per cent by 2020.

Catherine Witherspoon announced she was stepping down from the board just days after the Governor fired its chairman, Robert Sawyer, on the grounds he was dragging his feet in imposing the cuts on industry. He, however, has claimed the contrary - that he was moving too fast and that aides to the Governor were trying to hold up measures that would hurt business.

The early onset of Daylight Savings Time in the United States this year may have been for naught.

The move to turn the clocks forward by an hour on March 11 rather than the usual early April date was mandated by the U.S. government as an energy-saving effort.

But other than forcing millions of drowsy American workers and school children into the dark, wintry weather three weeks early, the move appears to have had little impact on power usage.

Early U.S. Daylight Savings a bust in power savings - Reuters.com

Castro wrote, ``you need 320 million tons of corn to produce 35 billion gallons of ethanol,'' and that it is dangerous to offer financial incentives to ``poor countries'' to produce ethanol from corn. The ``sinister idea'' of converting food into fuel has been ``definitively established as the economic line of U.S. foreign policy,'' Castro said in the article.

``Apply this idea to Third World countries and you will see how many people among the hungry masses of this planet stop eating corn,'' Castro wrote.

Recycling all cars is an ``elemental and urgent necessity for all humanity,'' Castro said. Castro ceded authority to his brother Raul on July 31 after undergoing surgery for an intestinal hemorrhage. Castro's disappearance from public view during his recovery prompted speculation he was near death. He then appeared on state television on Jan. 30 with visiting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Bloomberg.com: Latin America

The big cats prowling the jungles of Borneo and Sumatra had long been assumed to be the same clouded leopards that are found in mainland Asia.

Genetic analysis and comparisons of fur patterns have now shown the two animals to be as distinct as the lion and the tiger, the WWF announced yesterday. Among the findings that convinced scientists was the realisation that the Bornean cat has changed the number and prominence of its spots.

The cats have now been reclassified as the Bornean clouded leopard, with the name Neofelis diardi, to distinguish them from other clouded leopards, Neofelis nebulosa.

The two species, both endangered, are shown by genetic analysis to have separated 1.4 million years ago, after the animals used a land bridge, now covered by water, from mainland Asia to reach Borneo and Sumatra.

New big cat comes out of the jungle | Science & nature | The Australian

Granted, we will all be dead in 200 years ...

BBC NEWS | Health | Blondes 'to die out in 200 years'

The last natural blondes will die out within 200 years, scientists believe.

A study by experts in Germany suggests people with blonde hair are an endangered species and will become extinct by 2202.

Researchers predict the last truly natural blonde will be born in Finland - the country with the highest proportion of blondes.

But they say too few people now carry the gene for blondes to last beyond the next two centuries.

Australia has announced it will ban incandescent light bulbs in three years in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, becoming the first country to do away with this technology, which has been in use for more than a century.

Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull made the announcement Tuesday, saying replacing incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs would cut 800,000 tonnes from Australia's current emissions levels by 2012.

"It'll be illegal to sell a product that doesn't meet [an energy efficiency] standard, so that will happen by 2009 [or] 2010," Turnbull told ABC radio in Australia. "So by that stage, you simply won't be able to buy incandescent light bulbs because they won't meet the energy standard."

Australia says lights out to incandescent bulbs

This is very cool. A story about a guy spending 6 years on a deserted island. Apparently there's a tourism company which will take you to this and other islands as well. Their website is at http://www.pacific-expeditions.com/:

Our ecotourism, filming, diving, and scientific expeditions operate in the Central Pacific's key wilderness areas. Our Expeditions help protect and nurture these wild places. We run a quality business, ensuring that the Central Pacificâ..s most pristine islands are sustainably protected, while delivering a great wilderness experience for our clients.

Mad Professor

In the 1950s, a 50-year-old New Zealander named Tom Neale moved to a tiny island called Suwarrow (AKA Suvarov) in the Cook Islands. He was the only human inhabitant, and his story of survival is absolutely fascinating. I read Robinson Crusoe and was disappointed; An Island to Oneself is the real deal.

Neale eked subsistence out of a garden and by fishing, and carefully used his supplies of spices and tea (he used the leaves over and over again). He had zero contact with the outside world, and since Suwarrow wasn't in a shipping lane, visitors were very rare.


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