Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Did volcanoes kill the dinosaurs?

Since 1980, scientists have believed a meteorite impact in the Yucatan caused a mass extinction of species, including the dinosaurs. But geologist Gerta Keller of Princeton disagrees.
Gerta Keller: This impact didn’t cause any species extinctions.
According to 20 years of research by Keller and her team, this impact happened 300 thousand years after the dinosaurs disappeared. Keller believes that — instead of a space rock — volcanoes might have killed the dinosaurs.
Gerta Keller: Now we find that the other catastrophe, which is Deccan Volcanism, which has not had much attention paid to it, may be the real culprit.
She’s talking about volcanic eruptions on India’s Deccan plateau between 63 and 67 million years ago. The volcanoes spewed huge amounts of sulfur dioxide into the air. Keller’s team studied geologic core samples from the area. With each subsequent volcanic flow, Keller said, less evidence of life appears within the cores.

Program #5715 of the Earth & Sky Radio Series with hosts Deborah Byrd, Joel Block,Lindsay Patterson and Jorge Salazar.

Birds being forced north by climate change

Studies show alarming shifts in ranges for hundreds of species.

Already hammered by increasing wildfire, Orange County's plummeting population of coastal cactus wrens might face even harder times ahead: a new study shows global warming could evict the species from 30 percent more of its range by the end of the century.
A famously threatened species, the California gnatcatcher, could lose as much as 56 percent of its range.
The dire forecasts are part of a newly released study by Audubon California predicting dramatic shifts in the ranges of bird species in coming decades.
A companion study by national Audubon Society scientists shows the unmistakeable trend: more than half of the 305 bird species in North America they studied have shifted their ranges an average of 35 miles northward in response to global warming over the past 40 years.

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Which is the bigger polluter – humans or volcanoes?

"Scientists Hugh Corr and David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey believe that volcanoes underneath Antarctica may be melting the continent’s ice sheets from below, just as warming air temperatures from human-induced emissions erode them from above."

According to the US Geological Survey, all the world’s volcanoes – on land and undersea – generate about 200 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, while our automotive and industrial activities create some 24 billion tons of CO2 emissions every year worldwide. Those facts speak for themselves: Greenhouse gas emissions from volcanoes are less than 1 percent of those generated by today’s human endeavors.
Another indication that human emissions dwarf those of volcanoes is the fact that atmospheric CO2 levels, as measured by sampling stations around the world set up by the federally funded Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, have gone up consistently year after year regardless of whether or not there were major volcanic eruptions in specific years.

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Earthquake rocks Peru

LIMA, Feb 10, 2009 (UPI via COMTEX) -- A strong earthquake rocked northern Peru Monday registering a 6.1 on the Richter Scale, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The quake rocked homes and prompted people to flee buildings. However, despite the strong trembling there were no reports of injury or damage, El Comercio newspaper reported online.
Local geologists said the quake's epicenter was in the Pacific Ocean off the coast from the country's northwestern coastal town of Punta Negra.

Top 10 EcoPrinciples for Communities

With the economy in turmoil, a real estate prices dropping, green communities and green building will become more important. It’s easy to see how broken our current community model is in terms of the urban sprawl; the average American commute continues to grow longer. Between 1969 and 2001, the number of vehicle miles traveled for commuting jumped from 4,180 to 5,720.
The Sierra Club notes that today’s average American driver spends what amounts to 55 eight hour workdays behind the wheel every year. Gas won’t stay at the current level so we need to look at developing more sustainable communities.

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Global warming could spark more deadly fires in Australia, expert warns

Jim Gould picked up the paper Sunday and was smacked with the news that more than 100 of his countrymen had perished the day before in raging wildfires.
One of Australia's top bushfire experts, Mr. Gould is currently seconded to Canada's federal forestry service. As he began to puzzle over how deadly fires were allowed to eat up nearly 400,000 hectares of his homeland over the weekend, it occurred to Mr. Gould that he may have missed the natural disaster of his lifetime.
Or, if his grim hunch is correct, maybe not.
"If global warming continues, we could be expecting more and more of these types of events," he said. "It's quite shocking that in this day and age ... we're still experiencing these things. It just goes to show you the power of nature with fires and floods. Sometimes you just can't manage that."

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

New Book Focuses On Self-Sustainability

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

Made from Scratch” by Jenna Woginrich, 2008, Storey Publishing, $20.95/$28.95 Canada, 192 pages: Eggs have gone up in price. So have fruit, milk and cheese. Vegetables, too. In fact, everything you put on your table costs more these days than it ever did before. You try to bargain shop and get the best deals, but budgeting is a sure challenge. And clothes? Don’t even mention clothes. Every lost mitten or cap, every outgrown pair of jeans means a needed replacement, and replacements aren’t exactly free. Another trip to the store gets you thinking. Maybe you could start a garden somewhere. You could learn to sew. Or, if the timing is good, you could shuck the city and move to a homestead where you’d live like a pioneer. It might be cheaper, right?Cheaper, maybe not. But definitely more satisfying, as you’ll read in the new book “Made from Scratch” by Jenna Woginrich.After moving from Tennessee to Idaho for the sake of a job, Woginrich began to think about self-sustainability.

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In a Planet of Our Own: a Vision of Sustainability From Across Six Continents

The "In a Planet of Our Own" event is scheduled to be held at Mumbai, India from 16th to 22nd of March 2009 and is being hosted by the Industrial Design Centre (IDC), at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, Mumbai.This international event is aimed at creating design awareness on sustainability and simultaneously offers a platform for interaction for the design community.The events are centered around the interests of students, educationists and practicing professional designers. In a Planet of Our Own has been designed to be lively, interactive and thought provoking and will provide great opportunity to converse with grandmasters of design, interact with thought leaders and listen to visions by outstanding speakers.The event is expected to throw light on the role of design in an interconnected global world within the context of sustainability.

GrandMasters and Speakers

Earthquakes: Seattle and Japan

Sign of More to Come? North Kitsap Hit by Minor Earthquake

Japan Rocked by Magnitude 6.0 Earthquake, USGS Says (Update1)

Calif. facing worst drought in modern history

ECHO SUMMIT, Calif. (AP) — State officials reported a Sierra Nevada snowpack smaller than normal on Thursday and said California may be at the beginning of its worst drought in modern history. Residents were immediately urged to conserve water.
The snowpack was about 61% of its usual depth across the 400-mile-long mountain range, according to the state Department of Water Resources, which released the findings as part of the second snow survey of the season.
Department Director Lester Snow said the results indicate California could be heading for a third dry year.
"We may be at the start of the worst California drought in modern history," Snow said in a statement. "It's imperative for Californians to conserve water immediately at home and in their businesses."

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Mount Redoubt Volcano highlights danger of the Ring of Fire

"Taking things in another direction, the recent outbreaks of volcanoes and earthquakes have been seen by many as signs of major Earth changes predicted by various prophecies."

by Patricia Phillips, Space News Examiner

Scientists continue to monitor Alaska's volatile Mount Redoubt Volcano, expected to erupt at just about any time. There's been no increase in activity this morning, according to the monitors at the Alaska Volcano Observatory.
Reader Janet Martin Dobler asked: "Am I the only one noticing a pattern of volcanic eruptions around the globe?"
That's a topic that invites both scientific research and also less-traditional approaches to "what in the heck is going on around here"? Janet, years ago I tracked links between earthquakes and volcanoes around the world. The synopsis of this very informal look: sometimes if a volcano or earthquake occurred at Point A, then one would occur at Point B on roughly the other side of the globe.

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