‘Australian wallabies are eating opium poppies and creating crop circles as they hop around “as high as a kite”, a government official has said.
Lara Giddings, the attorney general for the island state of Tasmania, said the kangaroo-like marsupials were getting into poppy fields grown for medicine.
She was reporting to a parliamentary hearing on security for poppy crops. [..]
Rick Rockliff, a spokesman for poppy producer Tasmanian Alkaloids, said the wallaby incursions were not very common, but other animals had also been spotted in the poppy fields acting unusually.
“There have been many stories about sheep that have eaten some of the poppies after harvesting and they all walk around in circles,” he added.’
‘The bat, seen clinging to the external fuel tank of the Space Shuttle Discovery before its launch on Sunday, apparently clung for dear life to the side of the tank as the spaceship lifted off.
And what a ride.
The shuttle accelerates to an orbital velocity of 17,500 milers per hour, which is 25 times faster than the speed of sound, in just over eight minutes. That’s zero to 100 mph in 10 seconds.
Did it make it into space? No one knows yet. [..]’
‘Scientists have identified the single chance encounter about 1.9 billion years ago to which almost all life on Earth owes its existence.
It saw an amoeba-like organism engulf a bacterium that had developed the power to use sunlight to break down water and liberate oxygen.
The bacterium was probably intended as prey but instead it became incorporated into its attacker’s body – turning it into the ancestor of every tree, flowering plant and seaweed on Earth. The encounter meant life on the planet could evolve from bacterial slime into the more complex forms we see today. “That single event transformed the evolution of life on Earth,” said Paul Falkowski, professor of biogeochemistry and bio-physics at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “The descendants of that tiny organism transformed our atmosphere, filling it with the oxygen needed for animals and, eventually, humans to evolve.”’
‘It is the baby turtle that proves two heads really are better than one.
While its siblings grow at a the usual steady pace, this tiny creature is speeding ahead.
The reason for its extraordinary growth spurt is simple: having two heads mean it eats twice as fast. [..]
Water World spokesman Jimmy Hu said: ‘We got it two weeks ago and it’s growing fast, probably because it can eat twice as fast as the others.
‘It was mixed among many other turtles and we only discovered it this week.’
Mr Hu added: ‘It’s very rare to see a turtles with two heads, we plan to keep it and raise it carefully for future research.”
‘If there was any doubt about the terrible threat that global warming poses to humanity, then it can now be dismissed – as this shocking photograph proves that climate change is turning icebergs into giant penises.
The cockberg was photographed by Andy Rouse* in the Bransfield Strait near Antarctica.
Experts now believe** that it is only a matter of time before an armada of penis-shaped chunks begin to break off the Antarctic ice floes, and then roam the oceans wreaking havoc and luring sailors to their doom.’
‘Queensland will become hotter and super-cyclones will batter the coast as far south as Brisbane by 2070, the nation’s top scientists have warned.
In a top-level ministerial briefing note seen by The Courier-Mail, the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, the co-ordinating body for the nation’s 15 peak scientific bodies, offers stark predictions about climate change. [..]
The latest climate change projections predict that by 2030: Average annual temperature will increase by between 0.6C and 1.2C, and that after 2030, the rate of increase will be highly dependent on emission levels.
Also, cyclones will be stronger, more frequent and last longer, and the region of cyclone activity will shift southwards, affecting areas 300km further south by 2070.
Local sea levels will be 13 to 20cm above 1990 levels, and 49 to 89cm above 1990 levels by 2070.’
‘The planet Earth has dismissed claims it is in danger from global warming, stressing the worst that could happen is the extinction of the human race.
The Earth spoke out after a series of books, television programmes and environmental campaigns urged people to do everything in their power to ‘Save the Planet’.
Earth, 4,000,000,000, said last night: “I’ll be absolutely fine, seriously. I might get a bit warmer and a bit wetter, but to be honest, that actually sounds quite nice.
“Try living through an ice age. Pardon my French, but it’s absolutely fucking freezing.”
The planet, based 93 million miles from the Sun, said it was ‘sick and tired’ of being drawn into arguments about human behaviour.’
‘”Flabbergasted” NASA scientists said on Thursday that Martian soil appeared to contain the requirements to support life, although more work would be needed to prove it.
Scientists working on the Phoenix Mars Lander mission, which has already found ice on the planet, said preliminary analysis by the lander’s instruments on a sample of soil scooped up by the spacecraft’s robotic arm had shown it to be much more alkaline than expected.
“We basically have found what appears to be the requirements, the nutrients, to support life whether past present or future,” Sam Kounaves, the lead investigator for the wet chemistry laboratory on Phoenix, told journalists.
“It is the type of soil you would probably have in your back yard, you know, alkaline. You might be able to grow asparagus in it really well. … It is very exciting for us.”‘
‘Biologists at Harvard University have determined that some African frogs carry concealed weapons: When threatened, these species puncture their own skin with sharp bones in their toes, using the bones as claws capable of wounding predators. [..]
“It’s surprising enough to find a frog with claws,” says Blackburn, a doctoral student in Harvard’s Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. “The fact that those claws work by cutting through the skin of the frogs’ feet is even more astonishing. These are the only vertebrate claws known to pierce their way to functionality.”
“Most vertebrates do a much better job of keeping their skeletons inside,” he adds.
Blackburn first became aware of the clawed frogs while conducting fieldwork in the central African nation of Cameroon. When he picked up one of the hulking fist-sized frogs, it flailed its hind legs violently, scratching him and drawing blood.’
‘Long-tailed macaques eat mostly fruit — but when resources are scarce, they’ve been known to get creative with their cuisine. When living near humans, they raid gardens and learn to beg for food. Sometimes they even steal food from inside houses.
Now, for the first time, scientists have observed long-tailed macaques fishing with their bare hands. [..]
The macaques’ eyes scanned the water. After about three minutes, one of the macaques reached into the river. With her bare hands, she pulled out a fish and quickly ate it. Other macaques watched her — and one even tried unsuccessfully to catch a fish herself.
“Clearly it may raise the question of whether there is some sort of learning going on,” says Meijaard. “If perhaps a couple of generations back, one primate caught a fish and it was subsequently copied.”’
‘A footage of the first polar bear seen in Iceland in 20 years being shot dead by police has been posted online.
The bear, an adult male weighing around 250kg, was presumed to have swum some 300km from Greenland or from a distant chunk of Arctic ice to Skagafjordur in northern Iceland.
It was planned to sedate the animal and move it back to Greenland but the police decided it was safest to kill the bear immediately.
“There was fog up in the hills and we took the decision to kill the bear before it could disappear into the fog”, said police spokesman Petur Bjornsson.’
‘Climate models predicted it wouldn’t happen until the end of the century.
So Seattle researchers were stunned to discover that vast swaths of acidified sea water are already showing up along the Pacific Coast as carbon dioxide from power plants, cars and factories mixes into the ocean.
In surveys from Vancouver Island to the tip of Baja California, the scientists found the first evidence that large amounts of corrosive water are reaching the continental shelf — the shallow sea margin where most marine creatures live. In some places, including Northern California, the acidified water was as little as four miles from shore.
“What we found … was truly astonishing,” said oceanographer Richard Feely, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle. “This means ocean acidification may be seriously impacting marine life on the continental shelf right now.”‘
‘To prevent rain over the roofless 91,000-seat Olympic stadium that Beijing natives have nicknamed the Bird’s Nest, the city’s branch of the national Weather Modification Office–itself a department of the larger China Meteorological Administration–has prepared a three-stage program for the 2008 Olympics this August.
First, Beijing’s Weather Modification Office will track the region’s weather via satellites, planes, radar, and an IBM p575 supercomputer, purchased from Big Blue last year, that executes 9.8 trillion floating point operations per second. It models an area of 44,000 square kilometers (17,000 square miles) accurately enough to generate hourly forecasts for each kilometer. [..]’
‘Miklós Zágoni isn’t just a physicist and environmental researcher. He is also a global warming activist and Hungary’s most outspoken supporter of the Kyoto Protocol. Or was.
That was until he learned the details of a new theory of the greenhouse effect, one that not only gave far more accurate climate predictions here on Earth, but Mars too. The theory was developed by another Hungarian scientist, Ferenc Miskolczi, an atmospheric physicist with 30 years of experience and a former researcher with NASA’s Langley Research Center.
After studying it, Zágoni stopped calling global warming a crisis, and has instead focused on presenting the new theory to other climatologists. The data fit extremely well. “I fell in love,” he stated at the International Climate Change Conference this week.’
‘The task of cutting greenhouse gas emissions enough to avert a dangerous rise in global temperatures may be far more difficult than previous research suggested, say scientists who have just published studies indicating that it would require the world to cease carbon emissions altogether within a matter of decades.
Their findings, published in separate journals over the past few weeks, suggest that both industrialized and developing nations must wean themselves off fossil fuels by as early as mid-century in order to prevent warming that could change precipitation patterns and dry up sources of water worldwide.
Using advanced computer models to factor in deep-sea warming and other aspects of the carbon cycle that naturally creates and removes carbon dioxide (CO2), the scientists, from countries including the United States, Canada and Germany, are delivering a simple message: The world must bring carbon emissions down to near zero to keep temperatures from rising further.’
‘A playful New Zealand dolphin used to swimming with humans has amazed conservationists by guiding two distressed whales back to sea.
The dolphin led the two pygmy sperm whales 200 metres along the beach and through a channel to the open sea, Department of Conservation worker Malcolm Smith said today.
The two whales, a mother and her young calf, were found stranded on Mahia Beach, on North Island’s east coast on Monday morning, Smith said. [..]
“They obviously couldn’t find their way back past it to the sea,” Smith said.
Four attempts by volunteers to refloat the pair failed and it was becoming highly likely they would have to be euthanised, he said.
Then the dolphin, named Moko by local residents, swam up.’
‘Eat a whale and save the planet, a Norwegian pro-whaling lobby said on Monday of a study showing that harpooning the giant mammals is less damaging to the climate than farming livestock.
Environmental group Greenpeace dismissed the survey, saying almost every kind of food was more climate friendly than meat.
The survey, focused on whale boats’ fuel use, showed that a kilo (2.2 lbs) of whale meat represented just 1.9 kilo (4.2 lbs) of greenhouse gases against 15.8 for beef, 6.4 for pork and 4.6 for chicken.
“Basically it turns out that the best thing you can do for the planet is to eat whale meat compared to other types of meat,” said Rune Froevik of the High North Alliance, which represents the interests of coastal communities in the Arctic.’
‘Mister Splashy Pants, or Mr. Splashypants, is the name of a humpback whale in the South Pacific Ocean. It’s being tracked with a satellite tag by Greenpeace as a part of its Great Whale Trail Expedition, which was working to raise awareness about whales threatened by the Japanese Fisheries Agency’s plan to kill 50 humpback whales. The whale’s name was chosen in an online poll that garnered attention from several websites, including Boing Boing and Reddit, and quickly became an internet meme. [..]
The massive leap in votes for the name attracted the attention of b3ta.com, 4Chan /b/, BoingBoing, reddit, Digg, and numerous blogs. Though Greenpeace removed the extra votes from the results, users from the social networking sites flocked to vote for the name, and the percentage moved quickly from 5 percent to 75 percent in less than a day. In response to the spike, Greenpeace decided to hold the competition open for an extra week, until the 7th of December. Reddit took the voting so seriously that they temporarily changed their logo to feature Mr. Splashy Pants. Facebook also began garnering interest, and a Facebook application was created with the tagline “Vote your conscience, vote Splashy Pants.” On the 30th, Fark.com posted a thread linking to the voting as well, and for a few days internet traffic on the Greenpeace server spiked to almost untenable levels.’
‘After a long, dry decade, La Nina has arrived at last, bringing drenching rains across most of Queensland and stretching into NSW and Victoria.
Cattle farmer Fred Ahern and his family were airlifted from their Murweh Station property on the banks of the Warrego River, south of Charleville, yesterday. They were forced out by rising floodwaters that have reduced their homestead to an island invaded by snakes. But Ahern couldn’t be happier. The rain means he’ll be able to return to his normal stocking level of 1200 breeders after reducing the herd to 700 because of drought.
“Am I happy? Am I ever,” Ahern says. ‘
‘Malaria has long been endemic to Kenya’s humid coast and swampy lowland regions, but it has only rarely reached Njoki’s village on the slopes of Mount Kenya (see Kenya map).
In recent decades, however, scientists have noted an increase in epidemics in the region, as well as in sporadic cases like Njoki’s.
Many medical and environmental experts attribute the spike in malaria to climate change, in the form of warmer temperatures and variations in rainfall patterns. (See a map of global warming’s effects.)
“We are now finding malaria in places that we did not expect to find it, particularly the highland regions that used to be too cool for malaria,” said Dorothy Memusi, deputy director of the Malaria Division in Kenya’s Ministry of Health.’
‘We’re guessing that headline caught your attention! Cow farts are a source of greenhouse gases, while kangaroo farts are methane free thanks to a particular bacteria in their stomachs. Now, in a bizarre twist of science-reality, scientists from Australia are trying to neutralize cow-produced methane by transferring that kangaroo bacteria to cattle and sheep’s guts. According to the government of Queensland, almost 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions from Australia come from cow farts, so this seemingly silly idea could actually make a big difference.’
‘If you’ve ever blistered your bare feet on a hot road you know that asphalt absorbs the sun’s energy. A Dutch company is now siphoning heat from roads and parking lots to heat homes and offices.
As climate change rises on the international agenda, the system built by the civil engineering firm, Ooms Avenhorn Holding BV, doesn’t look as wacky as it might have 10 years ago when first conceived.
Solar energy collected from a 200-yard stretch of road and a small parking lot helps heat a 70-unit four-story apartment building in the northern village of Avenhorn. An industrial park of some 160,000 square feet in the nearby city of Hoorn is kept warm in winter with the help of heat stored during the summer from 36,000 square feet of pavement. The runways of a Dutch air force base in the south supply heat for its hangar.’
‘Got some leftover drugs — the kind that someone else might want to use, such as painkillers or stimulants? Wrap them up in used kitty litter or other pet droppings, the government advises.
A pilot program at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is looking at ways people can safely dispose of unused prescription drugs that are liable to be abused. [..]
Of course some people do not drink coffee. But maybe they have a pet ferret.
“Ferret waste, like nearly any other form of pet waste, can be effectively used to help prevent the abuse of unused prescription drugs,” SAMHSA spokesman Mark Weber said.
This news delighted the American Ferret Association.’
‘A giraffe that strayed into a township close to Zimbabwe’s capital has been rescued after residents tried to kill it for its meat, local media reported.
The animal was put under police guard before wildlife officers removed it.
A dry spell has forced wild animals into urban areas in search of grazing, animal welfare experts say.
Zimbabwe is suffering chronic food shortages and the animal protection society is investigating claims that a number of pets have been slaughtered.’
‘The building is protected by access codes, cameras and even tornado-proof walls. So what’s inside?
The answer is plant seeds. Billions of them. In fact, there are around 370,000 different species accounted for in the vault.
For each species, 3,000 seeds are placed in a sac.
“All the storage sacs are bar coded. Also, they’re labeled with the name of the type of plant material that’s in each of these sacs,” said Harvey Blackburn, who is the acting director of the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation.
The next question might be, why? The answer has to do with national security.’
‘Sergei Zimov bends down, picks up a handful of treacly mud and holds it up to his nose. It smells like a cow pat, but he knows better.
“It smells like mammoth dung,” he says.
This is more than just another symptom of global warming.
For millennia, layers of animal waste and other organic matter left behind by the creatures that used to roam the Arctic tundra have been sealed inside the frozen permafrost. Now climate change is thawing the permafrost and lifting this prehistoric ooze from suspended animation.
But Zimov, a scientist who for almost 30 years has studied climate change in Russia’s Arctic, believes that as this organic matter becomes exposed to the air it will accelerate global warming faster than even some of the most pessimistic forecasts.’
‘Permanent water restrictions for Sydney have been announced by the NSW Government in a bid to combat climate change.
Called Long-term Water Saving Rules, they will remain in effect regardless of dam levels or downgrades of the current water restrictions scheme.
The rules include restrictions on watering between 10am and 4pm (AEST), the fitting of trigger nozzles on hoses and no hosing of hard surfaces.
Premier Morris Iemma said today the permanent restrictions reflected the Government’s commitment to conserving water in the long term.’
‘It sounds too good to be true – not to mention the fact that it violates almost every known law of physics.
But British scientists claim they have invented a revolutionary device that seems to ‘create’ energy from virtually nothing.
Their so-called thermal energy cell could soon be fitted into ordinary homes, halving domestic heating bills and making a major contribution towards cutting carbon emissions. [..]
Even the makers of the device are at a loss to explain exactly how it works – but sceptical independent scientists carried out their own tests and discovered that the 12in x 2in tube really does produce far more heat energy than the electrical energy put in.’
‘Hundreds of athletes participating in a popular Orlando triathlon this weekend are being required to sign waivers notifying them of the dangers of swimming in hot lakes and can skip the water portion of the event in the wake of several recent amoeba-related deaths.
Warnings were issued to Central Florida swimmers this month after a 14-year-old boy died of amoebic meningitis and two others died of amoebic encephalitis after spending time in lakes.
A portion of the OUC Downtown Orlando Triathlon Saturday will involve swimming through Lake Underhill which is hotter than 80 degrees.
Officials with the Central Florida Sports Commission said they have been investigating the best way to handle the situation for months.’
Followup to Brain-Swelling Amoeba Blamed For 2nd Child’s Death.