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The bizarre new creatures discovered at the bottom of Atlantic Ocean
The News - Weird-Strange
July 06, 2010

Oddly-shaped, brightly-coloured or even transparent these are some of the bizarre creatures that scientists did not even know existed until recently.

They are among a host of new animals that scientists have just uncovered in the hidden depths of the Atlantic Ocean during a new study which has 'revolutionised' thinking about deep-sea life.

Scientists believe they have discovered more than 10 new marine species by using the latest diving technology during the groundbreaking study. [ DAILYMAIL UK ]

weird ocean creatures
Storm off Louisiana packing tropical force winds
The News - Natural Disasters
July 05, 2010
  • Storm off Louisiana coast headed for landfall soon
  • Likely to become cyclone before hitting land - NHC
  • Separate system brewing over southeastern Gulf

A storm packing heavy winds in the Gulf of Mexico is likely to strengthen into a tropical cyclone before it tears into coastal Louisiana on Monday evening, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It said the storm, centered about 50 miles (80 km) south-southeast of Morgan City, Louisiana, was already packing sustained winds near tropical storm force. There was a "high chance" it will become the second named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season before it makes landfall in the Terrebonne Parish area near Caillou Bay early Monday evening, the Miami-based hurricane center said. Forecasters at the hurricane center were also keeping close watch over an area of disturbed weather in the southeastern Gulf that could strengthen into a tropical depression later this week, potentially hampering oil spill clean-up efforts.
Should BP nuke its leaking well?
The News - Climate-Environment
July 02, 2010
nuke gulf oil spill
His face wracked by age and his voice rasping after decades of chain-smoking coarse tobacco, the former long-time Russian Minister of nuclear energy and veteran Soviet physicist Viktor Mikhailov knows just how to fix BP's oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

"A nuclear explosion over the leak," he says nonchalantly puffing a cigarette as he sits in a conference room at the Institute of Strategic Stability, where he is a director. "I don't know what BP is waiting for, they are wasting their time. Only about 10 kilotons of nuclear explosion capacity and the problem is solved."

A nuclear fix to the leaking well has been touted online and in the occasional newspaper op-ed for weeks now. Washington has repeatedly dismissed the idea and BP execs say they are not considering an explosion -- nuclear or otherwise. But as a series of efforts to plug the 60,000 barrels of oil a day gushing from the sea floor have failed, talk of an extreme solution refuses to die. [ YAHOO NEWS ]

Gulf Oil Spill Update: The Facts
The News - Climate-Environment
July 02, 2010

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is in its third month with no end in sight. Here's where things stand now in the Gulf of Mexico.

How much oil is still gushing?

No one knows exactly how much oil is escaping BP's oil collection system (series of pipes drawing oil from leak to surface ships) and entering Gulf waters. Government estimates peg the leak at 35,000 to 60,000 barrels per day, which translates to between 1.5 million and 2.5 million gallons.

Of that, BP is now collecting upward of 20,000 barrels per day. On June 29, the company recovered 25,220 barrels, bringing the total collected since the beginning of the spill to 508,700 barrels.  [ LIVE SCIENCE ]

Oil spill update for 4th of July Weekend
The News - Climate-Environment
July 02, 2010
boucing oil cap
A cap on BP's ruptured undersea well appeared to be bouncing in the water Friday, raising the possibility that BP has been capturing less oil than in past days.

The cap is meant to capture oil gushing from the well into the Gulf of Mexico. It was bouncing in the water Friday, moving more freely than it has in the past.

The implication is that less oil is being captured, said Steven Wereley, a member of the Flow Rate Technical Group, which is meant to provide scientifically sound information about how much oil is spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.

Officials have noted a slight drop-off in how much oil has been collected in recent days. [ Feds taking the weekend off in oil fight? ] - [ Why Is the Gulf Cleanup So Slow? ]

Jobless Rate Falls to 9.5%
The News - Economy
July 02, 2010
economy in the crapper

The US economy lost 125,000 jobs in June, more than economists had forecast, as thousands of temporary census jobs ended and private hiring grew less than expected.

And though the unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 9.5% from 9.7%, the lowest in a year, it was largely due to more people dropping out of the labor force.

The report was the latest sign that the economic recovery may be faltering. "Overall what this does is it reinforces the market's view that the U.S. recovery is losing steam,'' said Greg Salvaggio, vice president of trading at Tempus Consulting in Washington. [ CNBC ]

Oil and tar driven by Hurricane Alex fouls public beach at Gulf Shores
The News - Climate-Environment
July 01, 2010
gulf oil spill beach
The tide and rough water pushed tar and oil onto the white sands of the Gulf Shores public beach today.

At midday, the oil was present about two-thirds of the way up the beach from the shoreline. A worker at the nearby Hangout restaurant said that this was the farthest oil has intruded onto the beach since the crisis began.

The oil was driven ashore by high winds and rough seas fueled by faraway Hurricane Alex. By this afternoon, the sprawling remains of the storm had drenched much of northern Mexico.


Hurricane Alex strengthens to Category 2; winds at 100 mph
The News - Natural Disasters
June 30, 2010
hurricane alex category 2
The first Atlantic hurricane of the year has strengthened to a Category 2 storm with sustained winds of near 100 mph (155 kph) as it plows ahead toward a collision with the Mexican Gulf coast and south Texas.

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Alex will make landfall in northeastern Mexico sometime Wednesday night.

The storm is far from the Gulf oil spill, but cleanup vessels were sidelined by the hurricane's ripple effects. Six-foot waves churned up by the hurricane splattered beaches in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida with oil and tar balls.

Hurricane Alex flooded roads and forced thousands of people to evacuate fishing villages.The eye was about 55 miles (90 kilometers) northeast of La Pesca, Mexico, and about 105 miles (170 kilometers) south of Brownsville, Texas. [ NOAA ]

The other side : Oily rain and cracks in the earth
The News - Natural Disasters
June 30, 2010
As the prospect of an active hurricane season adds a new dimension to the on-going BP Gulf oil spill disaster, on-line media is awash with rumors of impending worst-case scenarios for the region. Viral Internet myths range from a collapsing seabed to oily rain to contaminated seafood.

Here are a few oil spill myths and misconceptions, addressed by scientists, experts, and official sources: • The blown oil well has spewed so much oil and gas from the substrata of the Gulf floor that the earth around the wellhead could sink and crack, opening multiple oil gushers that could never be stopped. A variation of this scenario involves a sinkhole forming under the well that could collapse, sending tidal waves ashore, or a giant methane gas bubble exploding to similar effect. According to Gary Byerly, a professor of geology at Louisiana State University, none of this could occur.

Hurricane Alex spins past oil rigs toward Mexico
The News - Natural Disasters
June 30, 2010
hurricane alex oil spill
Hurricane Alex picked up strength in the Gulf of Mexico as it headed for land on Wednesday, flooding parts of the Mexican coast but staying clear of oil fields to the relief of crude markets.

The first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic season, Alex's winds of 85 mph bent over palm trees near the port city of Matamoros across from Brownsville, Texas, while its rains swamped beaches. Soaked Mexican marines in towns in Tamaulipas state ushered residents and fisherman into shelters as 10-foot (3-meter)-high waves slammed into the shore.

"We're getting out of here, this looks really ugly," said a 50-year-old housewife who gave her name as Juana as she packed belongings into a truck in the beach town of Playa Bagdad. Alex looked set to grow into a robust Category 2 storm as it slams into Tamaulipas later on Wednesday then weaken back to a storm on Thursday, but its rains had already flooded highways as far inland as the industrial city of Monterrey. [ YAHOO NEWS ]

BP didn't consider hurricanes in its response plan
The News - Natural Disasters
June 30, 2010
Rep. Edward Markey says BP's disaster response plan for an oil spill doesn't mention hurricanes or tropical storms .Markey says the omission is yet another example of what the oil giant was not prepared to handle.

The Massachusetts Democrat's comments came during a congressional hearing on a law to improve technology intended to prevent disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Officials responding to the oil spill in the Gulf Coast are scrambling to prepare for Hurricane Alex , which is expected to touch the lower half of the Rio Grande Valley tonight. The center of the storm is expected to hit 100 miles south of the U.S. border. [ KPLCTV.com ]

Visiting an asteroid: What's the point?
The News - Science-Astronomy
June 30, 2010
space asteroid visit

Why should we, as a race, support human spaceflight? This is one of the key questions hanging over the world's space agencies in these hard economic times. It turns out that one answer is very simple: to protect Earth from civilization-ending asteroid impacts .

Recently, President Obama spoke at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to announce his new proposed direction for the US space agency: skip the moon, send man to a near-Earth asteroid (NEO) by the mid 2020's and use this new technological know-how to get humans to our ultimate goal — Mars.

Although the reasons for landing astronauts on asteroids are sound, NASA's proposed redirection has been met with fierce opposition. Most of this opposition is purely political, but the message is clear: We're no closer to replacing the space shuttle and there's no clear incentive to support an expensive manned space program. Just because we've proven we can live in space for long periods, for many policy makers, it doesn't mean we need to do it. Unfortunately, we probably won't understand the need to push into space until it is far too late . [ MSNBC ]

Strong Earthquake Hits Southern Mexico
The News - Natural Disasters
June 30, 2010
A strong earthquake has rattled southern Mexico, sending people fleeing into the streets in Pacific coast towns and in the nation's capital. The US Geological Survey said the 6.2-magnitude quake was centred in a sparsely populated, mountainous area of Oaxaca near the southern Pacific coast.

"It felt strong, very strong," said Tomas Herrera Sanchez, a police officer on duty in Santiago Pinotepa Nacional, the closest sizable town to the quake's centre. "There are people who got scared and left their houses," but there were no immediate reports of damage, he said.
Gulf beaches hit as distant hurricane pushes oil
The News - Natural Disasters
June 30, 2010
Rough seas generated by Hurricane Alex pushed more oil from the massive spill onto Gulf coast beaches as cleanup vessels were sidelined by the far-away storm's ripple effects.

The hurricane was churning coastal waters across the oil-affected region on the Gulf of Mexico. Waves as high as 6 feet and winds over 25 mph were forecast through Thursday just off shore from the Mississippi Delta in Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

In Louisiana, the storm pushed an oil patch toward Grand Isle and uninhabited Elmer's Island, dumping tar balls as big as apples on the beach. "The sad thing is that it's been about three weeks since we had any big oil come in here," marine science technician Michael Malone said. "With this weather,we lost all the progress we made."

Where will Tropical Storm Alex make landfall?
The News - Natural Disasters
June 29, 2010

Tropical Storm Alex is expected to intensify into Hurricane Alex in the coming hours, and become the first hurricane of the season, according to NOAA.

As of 10 a.m. CDT on Tuesday, Alex was about 355 miles (571 km) southeast of Brownsville, Texas, and had top wind speeds of 70 mph (112 kph). Tropical storms whose wind speeds increase to more than 74 mph (119 kph) are designated as hurricanes.

Alex is expected to continue on its northwestward path, and is currently moving at 12 mph (19 kph). The storm should stay on this course, with a slow turn toward Mexico anticipated overnight or Wednesday, according to NOAA. It is expected that the storm will make landfall late Wednesday night or in the early morning hours on Thursday, said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesperson for NOAA's National Hurricane Center in Miami. The storm will likely cross onto land in northern Mexico, just south of the Texas border. [ YAHOO NEWS ] - [ PREDICTED CONE IMAGE ]

Rescuers search for 107 in China landslide
The News - Natural Disasters
June 29, 2010
china landslide june 29
Hope of finding survivors was diminishing Tuesday as rescuers used heavy machinery including bulldozers to search for at least 107 people trapped under a landslide in rain-hit southwestern China.

Villagers huddled in tents set up at the site as rescuers searched for their family members. But there appeared to be little hope for survival, with no word on casualties or survivors by noon Tuesday, said Tian Maosheng, an official from Guizhou Communist Party Propaganda Department, who is helping with the rescue.

"The number 107 remains unchanged, and there is still no sign of life here," he said. [ YAHOO NEWS ]

Alex Update : Set to Become Hurricane as Swells Reach Gulf Spill
The News - Natural Disasters
June 29, 2010

Tropical Storm Alex, the first named system of the Atlantic hurricane season, strengthened today over open waters, forcing the evacuation of rigs in the Gulf of Mexico while pushing swells toward the worst U.S. oil spill.

The storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 70 miles (110 kilometers) per hour, was 380 miles southeast of Brownsville, Texas, heading north-northwest at 12 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a 7 a.m. CDT advisory. The circulating winds approached hurricane status of 74 mph.

A hurricane warning was issued for the coast of Texas near Padre Island to the mouth of the Rio Grande and south of the Mexico border to La Cruz, the hurricane center said. The storm will intensify and turn more to the northwest today, moving further from the oil spill, it said. BP Plc said efforts to contain the spill may be disrupted as weather conditions worsen.

Nature's Wrath in 2009 Tallied by Country
The News - Natural Disasters
June 29, 2010
natural disasters 2009

Asia took the brunt of natural disasters in 2009, experiencing more than 40 percent of Mother Nature's havoc, with the Americas coming in second, according to a new report. The Philippines, China and the United States were the countries most often hit by notable natural disasters last year.

Overall in 2009, 335 natural disasters were reported worldwide, killing 10,655 people and affecting more than 119 million others. The economic damages from these events exceeded $41.3 billion in U.S. dollars. The number of disasters is actually down compared with the 2000-2008 annual average of 392, mostly because there were fewer storms and other meteorological disasters last year. Stories of hurricane winds and rain lashing the coasts of Florida, Louisiana and other southeastern states pop up in the news constantly during the summer, but warnings of Pacific storms such as Jimena are few and far between.

While there weren't any so-called mega-disasters , residents did feel the Earth shaking and burping scorching magma. The highest number of reported deaths was due to the earthquake in Sumatra, Indonesia on Sept. 30, which left 1,117 dead and more than 2.5 million others affected. The floods in July in Southern and Central China impacted the most individuals (39.4 million people).   In fact, only one hurricane is thought to have ever struck California, and that was clear back in 1858. Could it happen again? Not impossible, but also extremely unlikely in any given year.

Nuclear Bombs Could Save Earth from Asteroids
The News - Science-Astronomy
June 29, 2010
asteroid impact nuclear explosion

If a massive asteroid is hurtling toward Earth and threatening to sterilize the entire planet, blasting it to pieces with nuclear bombs might seem fit for a Hollywood movie. But, it could, in fact, be a viable solution to the potentially apocalyptic event , according to scientists who have studied asteroids and possible solutions to prevent Earth impacts .

There are some strings attached: The interloping space rock would have to pose a definite asteroid threat to Earth in a relatively short timeframe to justify such a drastic option, the scientists said. And blowing up an asteroid runs the risk of creating more debris to worry about later, they added.

If an asteroid was expected to collide with Earth within the next 50 years , using nuclear explosives to divert or disperse the hostile space rock could be the best alternative, explained David Dearborn, a research physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif.

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