Wednesday Morning Science Supplement

From Yahoo News Science

1 Envoys more optimistic for climate treaty

by Shaun Tandon, AFP

Tue Apr 28, 10:52 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Top climate envoys said they were more optimistic about sealing a global warming deal this year after a US-led meeting of major economies, but they sparred on the level of their commitments.

US President Barack Obama, who champions aggressive action against global warming, invited negotiators from 17 other major economies including developing powers such as China and India to meet in Washington.

The talks came as the clock ticks to a December meeting in Copenhagen that is meant to approve a new global treaty to slow down the planet’s rising temperatures.

2 Gore pleads for rapid action to halt ice melt

by Pierre-Henry Deshayes, AFP

Tue Apr 28, 4:24 pm ET

TROMSOE, Norway (AFP) – Nobel prize-winning climate champion and former US vice president Al Gore called Tuesday for rapid action to prevent the potentially irreversible melting of the planet’s ice.

Gore told the first conference devoted to melting ice, held in the Norwegian town of Tromsoe ahead of the UN meeting in Copenhagen in December, that melting was worse than the worst-case scenarios presented by experts a few years ago.

“This conference is a global wake-up call,” Gore said. “The scientific evidence for action in Copenhagen in December is continuing to build up week by week.”

3 Tourists, hunters in quest for Iceland’s whales

by Delphine Touitou, AFP

Tue Apr 28, 12:29 am ET

REYKJAVIK (AFP) – Tourists bundled up in heavy parkas board a whale-watching boat docked in Reykjavik’s port, excited at the thought of glimpsing the mighty animal. Across the harbour, whalers prepare their ships for the hunting season.

“It’s quite strange to have these two boats in front of each other,” says Angela Walk, a 37-year-old tourist guide for one of nine Icelandic companies that offers whale-spotting tours off the coast of this island in the middle of the North Atlantic.

Walk, a native of Germany who settled in Iceland 12 years ago, says her company “is against whaling.”

4 Obama vows return to US science prominence

by Michael Mathes, AFP

Mon Apr 27, 3:29 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama pledged Monday to return the United States to a “high water mark” of scientific achievement, announcing a goal to commit three percent of GDP to research and development.

Obama laid out a deck of initiatives in a speech at the National Academy of Sciences, where he vowed to implement what he described as the largest-ever US investment in scientific research and a dramatic reversal of the ideology-driven policies of his predecessor George W. Bush.

The clarion call for the country to regain its position as the world leader in scientific research and innovation came as the Obama administration faced its first major global health crisis with a deadly swine flu outbreak in Mexico and the United States that threatens to burst into a pandemic.

5 US ‘ready to lead’ climate change fight: Clinton

by Lachlan Carmichael, AFP

Mon Apr 27, 4:09 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told envoys from 17 major economies meeting here Monday that the United States is ready to lead the fight against global climate change.

President Barack Obama “and his entire administration are committed to addressing this issue and we will act,” Clinton told delegates from major European countries, China, India, Indonesia and other powers.

“The United States is fully engaged and ready to lead and determined to make up for lost time both at home and abroad,” she told a forum Obama set up to build political momentum for the climate talks in December in Copenhagen.

6 Obama keeps climate pledge, but Congress is key

by Jean-Louis Santini, AFP

Mon Apr 27, 3:37 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – During his first 100 days, US President Barack Obama has kept his word to reverse the environmental policies of his predecessor. But the success of his battle over global warming ultimately depends on Congress.

“The president has laid out ambitious goals for climate policy,” said Michael Levi, climate change expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In addition to measures promoting environmentally-friendly industries contained in Obama’s economic stimulus package, the US Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month declared carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases a health risk, a landmark U-turn that could impact climate change regulation.

7 Rising seas threaten renowned French coast

by Suzanne Mustacich, AFP

Sun Apr 26, 2:49 am ET

BORDEAUX, France (AFP) – France’s Aquitaine coast stretches north from the Spanish border to the Gironde river estuary, encompassing rocky bluffs, giant lagoons, deltas, beaches and Europe’s largest dune.

Now climate change has laid siege to this natural oasis, dramatically speeding up the erosion of the 270 kilometre-long (168 miles) Atlantic coastline and threatening local communities.

A study published in 2006 by the European LIFE program identified 13 coastal communities as erosion “hotspots”.

8 Bahrain pounces on trade in wild animals

by Mohammad Fadhel, AFP

Sat Apr 25, 3:20 am ET

MANAMA (AFP) – Bahraini authorities are seeking to tame a roaring trade in wild animals, which are being smuggled in to meet fierce demand for exotic creatures in the tiny Gulf archipelago.

“Our teams have managed to confiscate monkeys, crocodiles, young tigers and various types of snakes of different sizes,” Salman Abdulnabi, an official at the ministry of municipalities, told AFP.

The problem reared its head last week when a stray wild cat caused panic by entering a company building in the capital Manama. The cat, a lynx, was later caught.

9 Study: SE Asia will be hit hard by climate change

By MICHAEL CASEY, AP Environmental Writer

Mon Apr 27, 5:15 am ET

BANGKOK – Southeast Asia will be hit particularly hard by climate change, causing the region’s agriculture-dependent economies to contract by as much as 6.7 percent annually by the end of the century, according to a study released Monday.

The Asian Development Bank study focused on Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Those countries are especially vulnerable because they have large coastal populations facing rising sea levels and rely heavily on rice and other agriculture products which could suffer from water shortages as well as floods. Vietnam was found to be the most vulnerable.

“Climate change seriously threatens Southeast Asia’s families, food supplies and financial prosperity,” said Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, the ADB’s vice president for knowledge management and sustainable development. “If Southeast Asian nations delay action on climate change, their economies and people will ultimately suffer.’

10 Arkansas reclaims its status as the Bear State

By JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press Writer

Sat Apr 25, 2:45 am ET

OZARK NATIONAL FOREST, Ark. – The bear cub could be heard but remained unseen among the barren trees and dried leaves blanketing the forest floor.

The wheezing sounds of her suckling grew louder as a pair of state wildlife officials drew closer to a rock outcropping sheltering the black bear cub and her mother in the gray light of the March morning.

Myron Means, a bear biologist with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, loaded a tranquilizer dart into an air rifle and took aim at the mother, who only stared back as he pulled the trigger.

11 A chicken coup: Group seeks to protect rare breeds

By TRACIE CONE, Associated Press Writer

Fri Apr 24, 4:17 am ET

FRESNO, Calif. – At about the time Foghorn Leghorn appeared on the Looney Toons drawing board in 1946, he began disappearing from America’s dinner tables.

Now the bird on which the rooster cartoon character was modeled is among 66 types of old-fashioned chickens the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is trying to save from extinction as factory-raised cross varieties command 90 percent of the market.

“When we can identify something in danger, we need to protect it,” says Barbara Bowman of Sonoma County, an original board member of Slow Food USA who has a dozen of the last 510 Delaware breeding stock chickens in existence. “The old breeds provide really sturdy genetics that we have to guard.”

12 Pentagon may reach satellite analysis goal early

By Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters

Tue Apr 28, 7:31 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military may reach its goal of doing collision analysis on 800 maneuverable satellites before October, and is examining the possibility of tracking 500 more satellites that cannot be maneuvered, a top Air Force general said on Tuesday.

Lieutenant General Larry James, who heads U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Functional Component Command for Space, said the Air Force was working to respond to an increasingly complex and congested space environment, but many challenges remained.

He said the Air Force was adding dozens of analysts and more computer processors to better track satellites and space junk after a dead Russian military communications satellite and a commercial U.S. satellite owned by Iridium crashed in space on February 10.

13 Cache of mummies unearthed at Egypt’s Lahun pyramid

By Cynthia Johnston, Reuters

Sun Apr 26, 11:19 am ET

LAHUN, Egypt (Reuters) – Archaeologists have unearthed a cache of pharaonic-era mummies in brightly painted wooden coffins near Egypt’s little-known Lahun pyramid, the site head said on Sunday.

The mummies were the first to be found in the sand-covered desert rock surrounding the mud-brick Lahun pyramid, believed to be built by the 12th dynasty pharaoh Senusret II, who ruled 4,000 years ago. The team expects to announce more finds soon.

The site was first excavated more than a century ago.

14 CDC predicts U.S. fatalities from swine flu outbreak

By Tony Pugh and William Douglas, McClatchy Newspapers

Tue Apr 28, 7:17 pm ET

WASHINGTON – As the number of confirmed U.S. swine flu cases jumped from 45 to 64 on Tuesday, a federal health official said it’s only a matter of time before the highly contagious disease claims its first American fatality.

“As we continue to investigate cases here, I expect that we will see deaths in this country,” said Richard Besser , the acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , during a press conference on Tuesday.

Besser’s prediction reflects the growing threat posed by the mysterious swine flu virus and the inability of health officials both here and abroad to contain its spread.

15 What Is Dark Energy?

Clara Moskowitz, Staff Writer SPACE.com

Mon Apr 27, 9:31 am ET

Dark energy is the name given to an unexplained force that is drawing galaxies away from each other, against the pull of gravity, at an accelerated pace.

Dark energy is a bit like anti-gravity. Where gravity pulls things together at the more local level, dark energy tugs them apart on the grander scale.

Its existence isn’t proven, but dark energy is many scientists’ best guess to explain the confusing observation that the universe’s expansion is speeding up. Experts still don’t know what’s driving this force, but the quest to learn more about dark energy is one of cosmologists’ top priorities.

16 Outbreak Like Mexican Swine Flu Predicted 14 Months Ago

Robin Lloyd, LiveScience Senior Editor

Mon Apr 27, 4:30 pm ET

A team of scientists predicted more than a year ago that Mexico and other tropical locales were emerging “hotspots” for so-called zoonotic diseases that jump from animals to humans, getting it right on the newly reported swine flu.

This week, the scientists are analyzing the patterns of the new swine flu virus’s spread and trying to predict its next moves. The researchers “should have preliminary findings by the weekend,” team leader Peter Daszak of the Wildlife Trust told LiveScience.

Daszak and his colleagues cautioned in February 2008 that infectious disease-fighting resources are not effectively deployed around the globe and that the U.S. government has not always accurately investigated how flu strains will arrive here.

17 Swine Flu Vaccine Could Take 6 Months

Clara Moskowitz, LiveScience Staff Writer

Mon Apr 27, 5:15 pm ET

A vaccine for the new swine flu in humans could take at least six months to manufacture and distribute widely, a British doctor said.

The reason: Vaccines must be developed from the specific flu strain, tested for safety, sent to manufacturers for mass production, and then distributed around the world. By the time this is done, the first wave of a pandemic flu might already be over, said Iain Stephenson, a doctor in the Infectious Diseases Unit of the Leicester Royal Infirmary in England.

Scientists do not know if the current swine flu outbreak originating in Mexico will become a pandemic. But health officials in the United States and around the world have already taken emergency steps to thwart the virus’ spread out of concern it could go global in a deadlier fashion.

10 comments

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  1. Big Presser tonight.  I think I’ll watch Lie to Me.

  2. all this science gibberish should include a Wednesday Morning Prayer Supplement:

    Dear Heavenly Father,

    Heed our cries, O Lord, in the face of these goofy scientific theories!

    Such as the whinin’ crybabies in story number 2,

    Complainin’ about all that polar ice that’s meltin’,

    While missin’ the big picture in Your divine plan:

    New beachfront property in Alaska to exploit!

    Also, Lord, please remind our heathen socialist President,

    that the “return to scientific prominence” in story number 4,

    is an obvious slap in the face to You and your Christian children,

    and we won’t take this science crap lyin’ down.

    If you thought Kansas school board meetings were contentious,

    just wait until the teabaggin’ crowd finds out about the $5 billion

    that Obama plans to spend funding math and science teachers,

    without ONE PENNY goin’ to the teaching of Creationism!

    But let’s end on a positive note, Lord,

    Like the destruction of France in story number 7,

    That should teach those rude, smelly socialists,

    That turnin’ their backs on Ya will cost ’em beaucoup tourism dollars.

    Good one, Lord!  That sure is some righteous justice there.

    Amen.

    • Edger on April 29, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Homeland Security is preparing to quarantine people with confirmed swine flu infections, according to a newly released memo obtained by CBS News.

    [The memo] says: “The Department of Justice has established legal federal authorities pertaining to the implementation of a quarantine and enforcement. Under approval from HHS, the Surgeon General has the authority to issue quarantines.”

    McGaw appears to have been referring to the section of federal law that allows the Surgeon General to detain and quarantine Americans “reasonably believed to be infected” with a communicable disease. A Centers for Disease Control official said on Tuesday that swine flu deaths in the U.S. are likely.

    Federal quarantine authority is limited to diseases listed in presidential executive orders; President Bush added “novel” forms of influenza with the potential to create pandemics in Executive Order 13375. Anyone violating a quarantine order can be punished by a $250,000 fine and a one-year prison term.

    In 2005, the Bush administration prepared guidelines similar to what’s currently being circulated by DHS.

    In the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza (PDF link), it outlined “public health guidance” that includes barring people from social gatherings and travel.

    As of this writing, there are no confirmed deaths linked directly to swine flu, though U.S. officials believe it only a matter of time.

    In the mean-time, this is not something to get panicked over. Even the Centers for Disease Control has stopped short of issuing travel restrictions and said that border closures — the likes of which were enforced during the SARS outbreak — are not necessary.

    Finally, and this one’s a little dose of reality, over 13,000 Americans have died just this year from the “regular” flu and complications thereof.

    — RawStory

  3. seems to be drawing not only galaxies apart but humans as well. Perhaps the driving force is not one that can be busted out of it’s whole. Too bad our perspective only see’s the bits and pieces and the scientists scoff at the unseen. Lost in minutia, junk in space collides, pigs and filth breed disease, energy burns, and we seem stuck on our own perceptions that are so ego driven we seek to dismantle the inner workings that keep the whole in play.

    The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.    

    Carl Sagan    

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