Blue Marble

Weird Weather Watch: Omnibus Edition

| Tue Jul. 10, 2007 5:03 PM EDT

It snowed in Buenos Aires for the first time in 90 years yesterday. (The good news is, it is winter in the southern hemisphere.)

Meanwhile, the East Coast of the United States is sweltering in 90-plus degree heat with high humidity to boot. A similar heat wave last year killed 40.

It's hot out West, too. The heat is fueling a wildfire burning 35,000 acres of forest in the Sierras and another incinerating nearly 10,000 acres in Los Padres National Forest. Another major blaze covers nearly 100 square miles in Nevada. Less rain and more heat across the Southwest are to blame for the region's increasing susceptibility to wildfire.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Australia To Build Cross-Continent Corridor For Wildlife

| Mon Jul. 9, 2007 7:47 PM EDT

Australia will create a wildlife corridor spanning the continent to allow animals and plants to flee the effects of global warming. Reuters reports that the 1,740 mile climate "spine," approved by state and national governments, will link the country's entire east coast, from the snow-capped Australian alps in the south to the tropical north Queensland. "A lot of that forest and vegetation spine is already there. But there are still blockages," David Lindenmayer, a professor of conservation biology, told Reuters. Climate scientists have predicted temperatures rising by up to 12 degrees Fahrenheit by 2080 in the country's vast outback interior. The corridor will link national parks, state forests and government land, and help preserve scores of endangered species. . . For an in-depth look at plans for similar corridors in the U.S., check out the work of the Wildlands Project in Gone, in the May/June 2007 issue of MoJo. JULIA WHITTY

Dutch Bike Ridership Increasing

| Mon Jul. 9, 2007 7:15 PM EDT

The distance the average Dutch person bicycles every day has increased by nearly 10 percent in the past five years. This in a nation already renowned for its love of bikes, says the Environmental News Network in an AP story. Holland's Central Bureau for Statistics, accounting for every woman, man, and child in the country, reports the Dutch rode an average of 1.5 miles per person per day in 2006, more than 8.7 billion miles in all. The Dutch Biker's Union says increased bike usage is tied to increased traffic congestion around cities and the difficulty of finding parking places in city centers. The trend also reflects the growing popularity of bakfiets, bicycles with sturdy wooden boxes on the front capable of carrying loads of groceries or children up to 175 pounds. The Dutch are apparently also slimmer and healthier than Euro-neighbors thanks to their bike miles. JULIA WHITTY

Climate Change The Root Of Armed Conflicts?

| Mon Jul. 9, 2007 5:53 PM EDT

Climate change and its resultant shortage of ecological resources could be to blame for armed conflicts in the future. According to a paper published in Human Ecology, changing temperatures and dwindling agricultural production correlated with warfare frequency in eastern China in the past. The authors reviewed warfare data from 899 wars in eastern China between 1000 and 1911, and cross-referenced these data with Northern Hemispheric climate data for the same period. They found that warfare increased significantly when temperatures fluctuated enough to affect food crops. Their conclusion: in times of ecological stress, warfare could be the ultimate means of redistributing resources. JULIA WHITTY

Epuron

| Mon Jul. 9, 2007 1:38 PM EDT

An element speaks.

JULIA WHITTY


Live Earth Concert Kicks Off, Critics Weigh In

| Sat Jul. 7, 2007 4:52 PM EDT

LE%20image.jpg

Live Earth, the 24-hour concert, part of a larger multi-year campaign called Save Our Selves -- The Campaign for a Climate in Crisis (see video below), kicked off today on all seven continents across the globe. The event, organized by former U.S. Veep Al Gore and the Alliance for Climate Protection, features nearly 150 artists, including U2, Snoop Dogg, and Madonna, who play to trigger a "global movement to solve the climate crisis."

But regardless of the star power, some are critical. Live Aid/Live 8 creator Bob Geldof says, "It's just an enormous pop concert or the umpteenth time that, say, Madonna or Coldplay get up on stage." Keith Farnish, a British environmentalist and the founder of the Earth Blog is "not sure events like this make a difference."

Some are more harsh. Matt Helder, the drummer of Arctic Monkeys, a British Indie rock band, thinks the execution is hypocritical. "We're using enough power for ten houses just for lighting," he notes. This type of skepticism is being echoed by many, but Treehugger, an environmental blog that touts bringing sustainability to the mainstream, reports that steps have been made to make the concert greener and proceeds do go to create a foundation to combat global warming, which will be led by the Alliance for Climate Protection.

The concert does have its supporters (it is estimated that 2 billion people will be reached). Vocalist Patrick Stump of the alt rock band Fallout Boy is hopeful. "If we spread out the influence as much as we can and if we hit some people with some really big ideas, there might be a kid there that will totally eradicate fossil fuel." And of course, Gore is a big, big fan. He says, "the task of saving the global environment is a task we should all approach with a sense of joy."

We want to know what you think?

—Anna Weggel

Advertise on MotherJones.com

SOS For Live Earth

| Fri Jul. 6, 2007 7:12 PM EDT

The concerts. You know. 7/7/07. New York, London, Johannesburg, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Sydney, Hamburg. JULIA WHITTY

Gray Whales Going Hungry

| Fri Jul. 6, 2007 4:21 PM EDT

Scientists are reporting an unusually high number of undernourished whales for the first time since malnourishment and disease claimed a third of the gray whale population in 1999 and 2000. Ken Weiss at the Los Angeles Times reports that so far this year scientists haven't seen a decline in numbers. Nor are they sure what's causing the whales to waste. But they suspect the same thing that triggered a die-off eight years ago &mdash a rapid warming of the whales' Arctic feeding waters. Gray whales consume tons of small crustaceans in order to pack on the pounds for their long migration to Mexican breeding lagoons. But as Arctic ice recedes, the crustaceans on the Bering Sea floor are disappearing. . . Add this to the bad news for gray whales on the other side of the Pacific too. JULIA WHITTY

CO2 Weakens Soybeans

| Fri Jul. 6, 2007 3:37 PM EDT

Elevated atmospheric CO2 may negatively impact the relationship between some plants and insects. A new study from the University of Illinois finds that soybeans exposed to elevated levels of CO2 become more susceptible to attack by Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica), reports the American Society of Plant Biologists. Furthermore, as the beetles consume the weakened soybeans, the insects' invasive abilities also intensify. . . So how will the naysayers spin this? JULIA WHITTY

Organic Tomatoes Richer In Antioxidants

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 7:38 PM EDT

Levels of two kinds of flavonoids were found to be 79 to 97 per cent higher in organic tomatoes. These flavonoids (quercetin and kaempferol) are known antioxidants and have been linked to reduced rates of cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancer, and dementia, reports New Scientist. The 10-year study from the University of California, Davis, suggests chemical fertilizers diminish flavonoid production because flavonoids are triggered as a defense against nutrient deficiency. . . Next question: do flavonoids make tomatoes juicier, tastier, and more flavorful, too? Because organics win out on that score as well. JULIA WHITTY