Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pakistan tops 2010 list for weather impact - Pakistan, Guatemala and Colombia topped the league table in 2010 for countries that were worst hit by extreme weather events, according to a “climate risk index” published on Tuesday. But over a 20-year span, the countries that were most vulnerable were Bangladesh, Myanmar and Honduras. The index, compiled by a European NGO called Germanwatch, is an annually-published pointer of which countries are most in need of shoring up defences against floods storms, drought and heatwaves, which UN climate scientists say will worsen this century. It factors in the cost of the event in terms of human lives and absolute losses in dollar terms, but also the relative cost according to the country’s level of prosperity.
Pakistan in 2010 was hit by the worst floods in its history, with 84 of 121 districts affected. Guatemala was rocked by hurricanes and flooding struck Colombia. Russia ranked fourth on the list, after a heatwave in July that caused massive forest and peat fires and led indirectly to 55,000 deaths. Scientists are loath to pin single weather events to the longer-term trends of climate change.
Across the world, more than 710,000 people died from 1991 to 2010 from 14,000 extreme weather events, incurring economic losses in today’s terms of more than 2.3 trillion dollars, it said. When seen across this 20-year period, not a single developed country features in the top 10 for climate risk. Only one – Russia – featured in the top 20, and this was as a result of the 2010 heatwave. “These results underscore the particular vulnerability of poor countries to climatic risks, despite the fact that the absolute monetary damages are much higher in rich countries.'
Meanwhile, 13 of the warmest years recorded have occurred within the last decade and a half, the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation said on Tuesday. The year 2011 caps a decade that ties the record as the hottest ever measured. “Our science is solid and it proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities. Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached new highs and are very rapidly approaching levels consistent with a 2 to 2.4 Celsius rise in average global temperatures.” Scientists believe that any rise above the 2.0 threshold could trigger far-reaching and irreversible changes on Earth over land and in the seas.

**Follow your heart, and whatever the truth is
you can at least be certain that you have been true to yourself.**

This morning -

Yesterday -
11/29/11 -

More quakes hit central Vietnam - The Song Tranh 2 hydropower dam is suspected to have triggered off some minor earthquakes in Quang Nam Province. A minor earthquake, the third in a month, shook the central province of Quang Nam Sunday night. There were many aftershocks until early the following morning. Many residents had rushed out of their houses for fear of being crushed by furniture. The magnitude of the earthquake is not known yet.
Also Sunday evening a small quake lasting 30 seconds shook Nam Tra My District in Quang Nam. No damage was reported. On Nov 17 a 3.5-magnitude earthquake accompanied by subterranean noises shook the Bac Tra My District. Terrified residents fled their homes in the middle of the night as the sounds lasted more than six hours until early the following morning. Scientists said the quake could have been caused by the construction of the Song Tranh 2 Hydropower Plant in the vicinity. The earthquake could have occurred because water from the Song Tranh 2 reservoir had been absorbed into the faultline in the area and caused the seismic waves and the explosions. The local authorities had reported to the Quang Nam Province Department of Science and Technology, but it had yet to arrive at a conclusion about the cause of the earthquakes.

In the Pacific -
Tropical cyclone 05a was located approximately 485 nm south-southwest of Karachi, Pakistan.


CANADA - Toronto drenched in RECORD-BREAKING RAINFALL. The city was expected to get 40 millimetres by 7 pm. Environment Canada issued a special weather statement about the potential for heavy rainfall which encompassed a large swath of southern Ontario.

ENGLAND - Woman hurt as 'tornado' hits Greater Manchester. Trees were blown over and a chimney toppled in Heaton Moor. A woman has been taken to hospital after what has been described as a "tornado" struck part of Greater Manchester.
A sudden gust of wind toppled a chimney in Heaton Moor near Stockport at about 14:30 GMT. There are also reports of wind damage in Blackburn, Lancashire. "It went almost pitch black. The wind suddenly turned up about 20 notches to the point when it became quite frightening. It felt like you were in the middle of a hurricane and then it all died down and outside you could just hear car alarms."
"It looked like a scene out of the Wizard of Oz. The sky went black and I saw it all whirling around. It was as if you could see the wind itself. It was going around and round. It doesn't surprise me that it was a tornado. It was like something that you've never seen before." Several properties were damaged in Darwen. "Also, a number of chimneys have been reported damaged, one of which collapsed." In Lancashire, the A666 road between Blackburn and Darwen was closed after tiles were "ripped off" the roof of a pub.


Turtle embryos 'talk' egg to egg - How do baby turtles know to hatch at roughly the same time? They communicate with each other while still inside their eggs. A research team based at the University of Western Sydney has found more advanced turtles can signal their developmental status to their less-advanced counterparts. This induces the slower developers to increase their growth rates.
The team believes this is an UNUSUAL PHENOMENON in ectothermic animals such as turtles, whose body temperature depends on their surroundings. "Life in a nest is more complex than many people think. This experiment clearly shows that turtle eggs can manipulate developmental rates somewhat independent of temperature in response to other eggs in the nest." The experiment concluded that the less advanced embryos only increased their metabolic rates late in their development, in response to the more advanced eggs nearby.

Ravens Use 'Hand' Gestures to Communicate - The finding marks the first time researchers have seen gestures used in this way in the wild by animals other than primates. Ravens use their beaks and wings much like humans rely on our hands to make gestures, such as for pointing to an object.
From the age of 9 to 12 months, human infants often use gestures to direct the attention of adults to objects, or to hold up items so that others can take them. These gestures, produced before children speak their first words, are seen as milestones in the development of human speech. Dogs and other animals are known to point out items using gestures, but humans trained these animals, and scientists had suggested the natural development of these gestures was normally confined only to primates. Even then, comparable gestures are rarely seen in the wild in our closest living relatives, the great apes for instance.
Still, ravens and their relatives such as crows and magpies have been found to be remarkably intelligent over the years, surpassing most other birds in terms of smarts and even rivaling great apes on some tests. Researchers saw the ravens use their beaks much like hands to show and offer items such as moss, stones and twigs. These gestures were mostly aimed at members of the opposite sex and often led those gestured at to look at the objects. The ravens then interacted with each other — for example, by touching or clasping their bills together, or by manipulating the item together. As such, these gestures might be used to gauge the interest of a potential partner or strengthen an already existing bond. "Most exciting is how a species, which does not represent the prototype of a 'gesturer' because it has wings instead of hands, a strong beak and can fly, makes use of very sophisticated nonvocal signals." Ravens are known to possess a relatively high degree of cooperation between partners. These findings suggest that gestures evolved in a species that demonstrates a high degree of collaborative abilities, a discovery that might shed light on the origin of gestures within humans.
"Gesture studies have too long focused on communicative skills of primates only. The mystery of the origins of human language, however, can only be solved if we look at the bigger picture and also consider the complexity of the communication systems of other animal groups." As to whether or not these findings suggest that ravens are smarter than dogs, "I am not an advocate of proposing that a given species is smarter than another one. In my view, all species have adapted to distinct social and ecological settings and niches, and thus, a given species might behave in a distinct situation 'smarter' than another one in the same situation and vice versa. In my opinion, it is much more interesting to investigate why one species can solve a given task better than another one and how and why this behavior evolved."