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UN alarmed at huge decline in bee numbers
The News - Climate-Environment
March 10, 2011
bee decline disaster crops
The UN on Thursday expressed alarm at a huge decline in bee colonies under a multiple onslaught of pests and pollution, urging an international effort to save the pollinators that are vital for food crops.

Much of the decline, ranging up to 85 percent in some areas, is taking place in the industralised northern hemisphere due to more than a dozen factors, according to a report by the UN's environmental agency. They include pesticides, air pollution, a lethal parasite that only affects bee species in the northern hemisphere, mismanagement of the countryside, the loss of flowering plants and a decline in beekeepers in Europe.

"The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century," said UNEP executive director Achim Steiner.

"The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the world's food, over 70 are pollinated by bees," he added. Honey bee colony declines in recent years have reached 10 to 30 percent in Europe, 30 percent in the United States, up to 85 percent in Middle East, said scientist Peter Neumann, one of the authors of the first ever UN report on the issue. [ BREITBART ]

 
March 19th 'Supermoon' - Trigger Natural Disasters?
The News - Natural Disasters
March 09, 2011
supermoon natural disasters march 19

On March 19, the moon will swing around Earth more closely than it has in the past 18 years, lighting up the night sky from just 221,567 miles (356,577 kilometers) away. On top of that, it will be full. And one astrologer believes it could inflict massive damage on the planet.

Richard Nolle, a noted astrologer who runs the website astropro.com, has famously termed the upcoming full moon at lunar perigee (the closest approach during its orbit) an "extreme supermoon."

When the moon goes super-extreme, Nolle says, chaos will ensue: Huge storms, earthquakes, volcanoes and other natural disasters can be expected to wreak havoc on Earth. (It should be noted that astrology is not a real science, but merely makes connections between astronomical and mystical events.)

But do we really need to start stocking survival shelters in preparation for the supermoon? The question is not actually so crazy. In fact scientists have studied related scenarios for decades. Even under normal conditions, the moon is close enough to Earth to make its weighty presence felt: It causes the ebb and flow of the ocean tides.
 
Magnitude 7.2 earthquake shakes Japan, triggers tsunami
The News - Natural Disasters
March 09, 2011
japan earthquake tsunami march 2011

A significant magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck off the coast of northeastern Japan Wednesday morning rattling Tokyo and prompting a tsunami warning. A sedsadsaries of strong aftershocks have continued since the main quake as officials watch developments closely.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) reports that the initial quake struck at 11:45 a.m. local time (02:45 UTC) at a depth of 8.8 miles. The epicenter was 104 miles east of Sendai, Honshu, Japan or 265 miles northeast of sadasdasdasTokyo.

The shaking was felt across much of Japan’s main island of Honshu but no significant damage or injuries have been reported by the quake or the subsequent aftershocks. Some train lines in the Iwate prefecture were halted temporarily but have since resumed service. No damage was seen at the Tohoku Electric Power nuclear power facility. 

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) issued a tsunami warning immediately following the earthquake. A 24-inch tsunami reached the town of Ofunato on the coast and other towns reported similar rises in the water level approximately 30 minutes after the quake. Seventeen aftershocks between magnitude 4.7 and 5.7 have occurred since the initial temblor. 

 
Solar flare warning for South Africa
The News - Science-Astronomy
March 08, 2011
solar flare south africa

The Hermanus Space Weather Warning Centre (SWWC) on Sunday said a large solar flare was currently being experienced in South Africa. The solar flare would result in higher radiation levels from the sun.

SWWC’s forecaster Kobus Olckers said people should be careful when they go outside.

"People must wear high sunscreen factor at the moment or preferably go shopping," he said.

A powerful solar flare could overwhelm high-voltage transformers with electrical currents and short-circuit energy grids, with one such event in 1989 disrupting power across the Canadian province of Quebec.

However, solar flares are nothing new, with the first major solar flare being recorded by British astronomer Richard Carrington in 1859.

 
Doomsday campers travel the country preaching the Apocalypse
The News - Religion
March 08, 2011
apocalypse may 21  2011 armageddon doomsday apocalypse

Most people like to push thoughts about the end of the world to the back of their minds, hoping that the apocalypse, if it ever comes, will be a long way off. But for one group of not-so happy campers, doomsday is a lot sooner...May 21 to be precise.

According to the predictions of the Family Radio ministry, on that date a massive earthquake will shake the world apart, littering the ground with 'many dead bodies'.

Those who believe in Jesus will be carried into heaven, while the rest of humanity will endure 153 days of 'death and horror' before the world ends on October 21.

The group of 10 Christians from Oakland have set out across the country in a convoy of caravans to bring the 'awesome' message of impending doom to as many people as possible. [ DAILY MAIL UK ]

 
How Britain's cities could be devastated by flood water
The News - Natural Disasters
March 07, 2011

These dramatic images show how floods could devastate major cities across Britain leaving thousands of homes underwater if no flood defences were put in place.The centres of London, Birmingham, Cardiff and Liverpool would be completely submerged with properties wrecked and businesses shutdown in the event of major flooding.

Extraordinary photographs of the devastation flooding could cause were released by the Environment Agency today to warn of the dangers of natural disasters .

Major rehearsals for a possible disaster are to begin involving 10,000 people as Government tests how they, the emergency services and communities will respond. £1.8million is being spent on the test exercises which will involve ten government departments and utility companies in what ministers say is the 'largest civil defence exercise ever' in Britain.

Over the next week Exercise Watermark will test how agencies deal with flash flooding, overflowing rivers, a reservoir threatening to burst and even a North Sea tidal surge in different parts of the country. The 'dry runs' were recommended by Sir Michael Pitt when he carried out an official review into flooding in 2007 which hit parts of Yorkshire, the Midlands and the West Country.

Ministers will take part in mock emergency Cobra meetings and 'local resilience forums', which include police, fire and rescue services, local authorities and public bodies, will test their response to a potential disaster. [ DAILY MAIL UK ]

britain flooding future map disaster prediction

 
Christchurch earthquake mapped from space
The News - Natural Disasters
March 07, 2011
christchurch earthquake map satellite image

The upheaval wrought by the 22 February earthquake in Christchurch, NZ, is illustrated in new radar imagery.

The Magnitude 6.3 tremor killed more than 160 people and shattered a city already reeling from a previous seismic event in September.

Data from the Japanese Alos spacecraft has been used to map the way the ground deformed during the most recent quake.

It shows clearly that the focus of the tremor was right under the city's south-eastern suburbs. The type of image displayed on this page is known as a synthetic aperture radar interferogram.

It is made by combining a sequence of radar images acquired by an orbiting satellite "before" and "after" a quake. The technique allows very precise measurements to be made of any ground motion that takes place between the image acquisitions. The coloured bands, or fringes, represent movement towards or away from the spacecraft. In this interferogram, the peak ground motion is almost 50cm of motion towards the satellite. [ BBC NEWS ]

 
Solar Storm - Repeat of 1859 Carrington Event would devastate modern world
The News - Science-Astronomy
March 06, 2011
solar storm modern world 1859 carrington event

On February 14 the sun erupted with the largest solar flare seen in four years - big enough to interfere with radio communications and GPS signals for airplanes on long distance flights.

As solar storms go, the Valentine's Day flare was relatively modest. But the burst of activity is only the start of the upcoming solar maximum, set  to peak in the next couple of years.

"The sun has an activity cycle, much like hurricane season," Tom Bogdan, director of the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, said earlier this month at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.

"It's been hibernating for four or five years, not doing much of anything." Now the sun is waking up, and even though the upcoming solar maximum may see a record low in the overall amount of activity, the individual events could be very powerful. In fact, the biggest solar storm on record happened in 1859, during a solar maximum about the same size as the one we're entering, according to NASA.

 
Earthquake shakes northern Chile - Magnitude 6.2
The News - Natural Disasters
March 06, 2011

A magnitude-6.2 earthquake on Sunday shook a northern region of Chile that has felt several frightening but inconsequential tremors in recent days. No injuries or major damage were reported.

The quake was centered in Putre, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) east of the port of Arica near the border with Peru, and nearly 1,400 miles (2,200 kilometers) north of the capital, Santiago, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake happened about 9:30 a.m. local time (7:30 a.m. EST; 1231 GMT) and had a depth of about 70 miles (110 kilometers), the agency said. Some people ran out of homes and churches into the streets when they felt the shaking, but there were no reports of injuries or damage, Chile's national emergency agency said.

Several quakes have rattled northern Chile recently, most of them with a magnitude of 5 or less. Chilean and foreign scientists have warned that the region is long overdue for a significant quake. The nation is prone to major earthquakes like the magnitude-8.8 temblor that shook central Chile on Feb. 27, 2010, generating a tsunami and killing 524 people.

 
No Such Thing as a Dormant Volcano?
The News - Natural Disasters
March 06, 2011
dormant volcano

Until now it was thought that once a volcano's magma chamber had cooled down it remained dormant for centuries before it could be remobilized by fresh magma. A theoretical model developed by Alain Burgisser of the Orléans Institute of Earth Sciences (Institut des Sciences de la Terre d'Orléans -- CNRS/Universités d'Orléans et de Tours) together with a US researcher , was tested on two major eruptions and completely overturned this hypothesis: the reawakening of a chamber could take place in just a few months. This research should lead to a reassessment of the dangerousness of some dormant volcanoes. It is published in the journal Nature dated 3 March 2011.

A magma chamber is a large reservoir of molten rock (magma) located several kilometers beneath a volcano, which it feeds with magma. But what happens to the magma chamber when the volcano is not erupting? According to volcanologists, it cools down to an extremely viscous mush until fresh magma from deep inside Earth 'reawakens' it, in other words fluidizes it by heating it through thermal contact. The large size of magma chambers (ranging from a few tenths to a few hundred cubic kilometers) explains why, according to this theory, it takes several hundred or even thousand years for the heat to spread to the whole reservoir, awakening the volcano from its dormant state. [ SCIENCE DAILY ]

 
NASA Scientist Claims Evidence of Alien Life on Meteorite
The News - Science-Astronomy
March 05, 2011
life meteorite nasa

We are not alone in the universe -- and alien life forms may have a lot more in common with life on Earth than we had previously thought.

That's the stunning conclusion one NASA scientist has come to, releasing his groundbreaking revelations in a new study in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology.

Dr. Richard B. Hoover, an astrobiologist with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, has traveled to remote areas in Antarctica, Siberia, and Alaska, amongst others, for over ten years now, collecting and studying meteorites. He gave FoxNews.com early access to the out-of-this-world research, published late Friday evening in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology. In it, Hoover describes the latest findings in his study of an extremely rare class of meteorites, called CI1 carbonaceous chondrites -- only nine such meteorites are known to exist on Earth.

Though it may be hard to swallow, Hoover is convinced that his findings reveal fossil evidence of bacterial life within such meteorites, the remains of living organisms from their parent bodies -- comets, moons and other astral bodies. By extension, the findings suggest we are not alone in the universe, he said. [ FOX NEWS ]

 
Nuclear Simulator - See the immense area destroyed by a nuclear firestorm
The News - War-Draft
March 02, 2011

nuclear weapon simulator nuke sim

Choose a city or location (type in an address) and select the size or type of nuclear weapon to be detonated. Depending on the weather conditions, the size of the certain and probable area of the nuclear firestorm, created by the nuclear explosion, will vary. The model used to approximate the size of the firestorm is accurate in the range of 10 to 20%. The simulator can produce this degree of accuracy for explosions that range from 15 kilotons to 2000 kilotons (2 Megatons or 2 MT). 

Nuclear detonations create mass fires or firestorms, which are set simultaneously over very large areas. Unlike ordinary fires, which burn in a line and only have a fraction of a square mile burning at any given time, everything burns at the same time within the area of a firestorm.

The explosion of a 550 kiloton strategic nuclear weapon over a large city, under average weather conditions, can instantly start fires over a total area of about 100 square miles (200 square kilometers). Within minutes after the detonation, enormous volumes of hot air would rise rapidly over the fire zone and created a huge chimney effect, causing incoming air from outside the fire zone to be sucked in towards the fire's center from all directions. These winds would fan the fires, causing them to increase in intensity and spread, generating still larger volumes of hot rising air, which would accelerate the incoming winds to hurricane force.

These superheated, inrushing winds would drive the flames from burning buildings horizontally towards the ground, filling city streets with hot flames and firebrands, and causing the fire to jump hundreds of feet to engulf anything that was not yet violently burning. Average air temperatures in the firestorm would quickly rise to well above the boiling point of water. The entire fire zone would become a huge hurricane of fire from which there would be no escape. Anyone in the streets would be incinerated, and those seeking shelter in basements would either be suffocated or die from the heat. [ NUCLEAR DARKNESS ]

 
MPs demand greater involvement of scientists in national emergencies
The News - Natural Disasters
March 02, 2011
scientist involvement national emergency disaster

The UK government failed to use scientific advice early enough in its response to the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland last year, according to an inquiry by MPs. The delay meant that authorities were not fully prepared for the event, which grounded aircraft for nearly a week in April and cost the UK economy hundreds of millions of pounds.

In a report on the use of science in national emergencies, published on Wednesday, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee recommended that the government involve scientists more in planning for emergencies.

"Scientific advice and evidence play a key role in the prediction and assessment of risks as well as the resolution of an emergency once it occurs," said the report. "We have been left with the impression that while science is used effectively to aid the response to emergencies, the government's attitude to scientific advice is that it is something to reach for once an emergency happens, not a key factor for consideration from the start of the planning process."

The MPs examined the use of scientific advice in four emergency situations: the 2009-10 H1N1 influenza (swine flu) pandemic, the April 2010 volcanic ash disruption, and potential damage from space weather and cyber attacks. [ GUARDIAN UK ]

 
Humans on Verge of Causing 6th Great Mass Extinction
The News - Current Events
March 02, 2011

Are humans causing a mass extinction on the magnitude of the one that killed the dinosaurs?The answer is yes, according to a new analysis - but we still have some time to stop it.

Mass extinctions include events in which 75 percent of the species on Earth disappear within a geologically short time period, usually on the order of a few hundred thousand to a couple million years. It's happened only five times before in the past 540 million years of multicellular life on Earth. (The last great extinction occurred 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs were wiped out.) At current rates of extinction, the study found, Earth will enter its sixth mass extinction within the next 300 to 2,000 years.

"It's bittersweet, because we're showing that we have this crisis," study co-author Elizabeth Ferrer, a graduate student in biology at the University of California, Berkeley, told LiveScience. "But we still have time to fix this."

Others aren't so optimistic that humans will actually do anything to stop the looming disaster, saying that politics is successfully working against saving species and the planet. [ YAHOO NEWS ]

 
Largest earthquake in 35 years hits Arkansas
The News - Natural Disasters
March 01, 2011
arkansas earthquake swarm
The central Arkansas town of Greenbrier has been plagued for months by hundreds of small earthquakes, and after being woken up by the largest quake to hit the state in 35 years, residents said Monday they're unsettled by the increasing severity and lack of warning.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded the quake at 11 p.m. Sunday, centered just northeast of Greenbrier, about 40 miles north of Little Rock. It was the largest of more than 800 quakes to strike the area since September in what is now being called the Guy-Greenbrier earthquake swarm.

The activity has garnered national attention and researchers are studying whether there's a possible connection to the region's natural gas drilling industry. The earthquake activity varies each week, though as many as nearly two dozen small quakes have occurred in a day.

"You don't know what to expect. It's unnerving," said Corinne Tarkington, an employee at a local flower and gift shop. "I woke up last night to the sound of my house shaking." [ YAHOO NEWS ]

 
Dangerous Asteroids - Orbits of Near Earth Objects
The News - Science-Astronomy
March 01, 2011
Tens of thousands of near-earth objects - asteroids and comets - pass by our planet in regular orbits. A subset, known as potentially hazardous objects, could possibly hit us and are big enough to cause considerable damage if they did.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory tracks these worrisome rocks in awesome detail. For example, the diagram below shows the Earth's position on February 7, 2011, and the five most recent close-approaches of hazardous objects leading up to that date.

All of JPL’s orbit data are available on an easy-to-use site, which includes tables showing past and future close approaches for all near-earth objects and highlights hazardous objects that will be closest to Earth in the upcoming weeks. The tables list size, brightness and velocity of every object, and the orbit diagrams—updated daily—include each object’s current position and distance from Earth.near earth asteroid neo impact crossing
 
We're all aliens... how humans began life in outer space
The News - Science-Astronomy
March 01, 2011
life on earth

As scientific mysteries go, this is the big one. How did life on Earth begin? Not how did life evolve, but how did it start in the first place? What was the initial spark that lit the fire of evolution?

Charles Darwin solved the mystery of life's wondrous diversity with his theory of natural selection. But even he was flummoxed by the ultimate mystery of mysteries: what led to the origin of life itself?

In trying to answer the problem, scientists have turned to the stars, or at least the "builders' rubble" of meteorites and comets left over from the formation of our solar system some five billion years ago. These space rocks, they believe, could help to explain why life began here on Earth. In fact, a growing body of evidence is now pointing to deep space as the possible source of the raw materials that formed the building blocks of life. The latest study, which focused on a class of meteorites that fell on to the Antarctic ice sheet, also suggests that life's origins may have been extraterrestrial. [ INDEPENDENT UK ]

 
California earthquake risk lowered
The News - Natural Disasters
February 28, 2011

It is highly unlikely that large destructive earthquakes will rock central California along the San Andreas Fault because the minerals there are weak, a new study finds.

This weakness causes the fault to regularly creep along instead of suddenly rupturing in dramatic catastrophes, researchers explained. (Those living along northern and southern portions of the San Andreas Fault, however, still remain at risk for major quakes.)

Investigators analyzed rock samples from a zone 1.6 miles deep in an actively slipping part of the San Andreas Fault, which runs along the coast of and through California for about 800 miles.

"This section of the San Andreas Fault is known for small, magnitude 2 repeating earthquakes," said researcher Brett Carpenter of Penn State University. "It is thought that in these events, a small patch breaks repeatedly about every two years."

 
Which Nations Are Most at Risk from Climate Change?
The News - Climate-Environment
February 25, 2011
climate change risk

Is it worse to be swallowed by the sea or racked by famine?

As climate change tightens its grip on the world, institutions charged with protecting the most vulnerable nations could be faced with just such a question. Because there is no international consensus for ranking the possibilities of future devastation -- and because there are limited dollars lined up to help cope with climate change -- some countries already are battling over who will be considered most vulnerable.

"This is a major, major topic of discussion and debate at the moment," said Saleem Huq, head of the climate change group at the U.K.-based International Institute for Environment and Development.

Judging who is most threatened has real-world implications. Those at the top of the list -- if ever such a list is developed and agreed upon internationally -- could decide who is first in line to tap a multibillion-dollar Green Climate Fund. [ SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN ]

 
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