Archive for December, 2009

Published by Rosalind on 27 Dec 2009

Satellite, satellite…

NASA’s Terra satellite has been orbiting for ten years, taking measurements of the earth with many sensors. People say, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and these satellite images definitely fit the description. Right now, my house is in the snowy region of the Northeastern US. Looking at this image gives me a sense of sympathy for all the other folks in the wintry, snowy parts of the northern hemisphere — and it shows me where they are!

NASA satellite image of global snow cover, posted December 18, 2009

NASA satellite image of global snow cover, posted December 18, 2009

Check this link for more Terra images: Terra Turns Ten: snow, clouds and sunlight.

Published by Rosalind on 26 Dec 2009

UN Climate Summit a “disappointment” – but still a “beginning”

So what happened at the Copenhagen Climate Summit? Read what US President Obama thinks here: Obama agrees that Copenhagen was a disappointment.

Why was it a disappointment? The main reason was that no global treaty was agreed on. The progress that was made came as 5 nations agreed on climate  goals. As United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, the accord marks an “essential beginning” in which some important countries, including Brazil and China, pledged to limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.

Published by Rosalind on 15 Dec 2009

Copenhagen Climate Summit continues

As of December 15, it looks like talks in Copenhagen are nearing a deal to help countries be compensated for preserving forests, swamps and other natural areas that help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. So far, this looks like one of the few agreements likely to come out of the negotiations. Read about it here: Possible Forest and Landscape Preservation Agreement.

On December 14, UN leader Ban Ki-moon addressed the conference and tried to remind participants of its importance. “We do not have another year to deliberate,” he said. “Nature does not negotiate.”

The Will Steger Foundation and its youth delegates have twitter feeds, blog entries, photos and videos live from Copenhagen. Find out what’s going on each day during the conference at Expedition Copenhagen.

Published by Rosalind on 08 Dec 2009

Breathing may not be good for you – but the Climate Summit may lead to new approaches to the problem

The United States has declared that greenhouse gases may be threatening to human health — as well as to planetary health.

The announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency has been welcome for many climate activists, and also for world leaders gathered at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. 192 countries including the US are represented in Copenhagen.

The Summit will continue until December 18, and hopefully will result in a strong world agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions.  For more on the Climate Summit, you can check out BBC coverage:Copenhagen.

You can also read Tweets from Copenhagen by New York Times environmental reporter Andy Revkin here:Revkin Tweets.

Published by Diana on 05 Dec 2009

Another step in the evolutionary process

Last week I wrote about snakes in Asia, and how they are evolving to take advantage of the local snails. This week it’s birds in Europe.

Blackcap warblers in central Europe have a genetically determined migration route that takes them to the Mediterranean when the weather cools in the fall. Well, it used to take them to Spain… now some populations go to England instead.

Why England? Bird feeders. People feed birds during the winter in England, and the birds evolved to take advantage of that. 30% of blackcap warblers now migrate to England.

Since food is readily available during the winter in England, and it’s a shorter route back to their summer home in Germany and Austria, the birds get to summer nesting sites earlier, and the English-winter birds mate with each other and not with the Spanish-winter birds.

This is called “reproductive isolation” and it’s one of the first steps in creating new species. The warblers are still the same species–they can still mate and produce fertile children–but they’re beginning to look different, fly differently, and eat a different diet.

More details, and some excellent photos here: Feeding Birds Could Create New Species.

Published by Diana on 04 Dec 2009

Pretty Pictures

The New York Times published a wonderful slide show of science photos. Check it out here: Science in Pictures: Jellyfish Venom and Tick Saliva.