Four at Four

  1. The Guardian reports the Number of Earth’s species known to scientists rises to 1.9 million, “according to the world’s most comprehensive catalogue of plants and animals. The new figure has been boosted by 114,000 new species discovered since the catalogue was last compiled by Australian researchers three years ago – a 6.3% increase.”

    The ‘Number of Living Species in the World’ report compiled ford the Australian government claims to be the world’s “only comprehensive catalogue of plants and animals in the world”. The report estimates the actual number of species on earth is closer to 11 million.

    Elsewhere, Wired reports Megafauna extinctions were not entirely humans’ fault. “Studies that have mostly blamed the arrival of humans for die-offs among Australia’s large mammals 50,000 years ago missed the role played by a changing climate, new research suggests.” The “long-term drop in diversity also appeared among small creatures, and the types of species that disappeared suggest climate change played a role”.

  2. Nature News reports China’s Three Gorges dam may be a methane menace. “Marshland created when China’s Three Gorges Reservoir is partially drained during the summer may be a significant source of the powerful greenhouse gas methane, researchers say.”

    “Scientists have become increasingly concerned about the greenhouse gases released by submerged grass and trees when land is flooded to create dams. When such organic matter decays, it releases methane and carbon dioxide, which contribute to global warming. Methane is particularly troublesome as it has more than 20 times the warming impact of CO2.”

    While in Canada, the Globe and Mail report that Researchers seek a ‘preheater’ for oil sands. As early as five years from now, Canadian and German researches plant to use geothermal energy in northeastern Alberta “as a sort of ‘preheater’ for major oil sands mines, which use 40-degree Celsius water to separate oil from sand.” Seven percent of Canada’s natural gas output is now used to heat the water and the demand is expected to “grow substantially”.

  3. The Guardian reports an Increase in sea levels due to global warming could lead to ‘ghost states’ “with governments in exile ruling over scattered citizens and land that has been abandoned to rising seas”.

    “As independent nations they receive certain rights and privileges that they will not want to lose. Instead they could become like ghost states,” said Francois Gemenne, of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations. “Industrialised countries have a duty to provide adaptation funding to make sure the costs of migration do not have to be met by the countries where the migration will happen.”

    Nature News adds Climate change will hit developing world harvests the hardest. “Developing countries could see large drops in crop yields by 2050 if climate change is left unchecked, according to a US report, potentially leaving as many as 25 million more children malnourished compared to a world without global warming.”

    “The results show that southern Asia will be hit particularly hard by climate change, with some of the largest losses in crop production. In a worst-case scenario, the models show that farmers in this region could see a nearly 50% drop in wheat production by 2050 compared with potential production with no climate change.”

  4. The LA Times reports census data show falling income in the U.S. and the Percentage of people living in poverty has reached an 11-year high. “In 2008, the median household income in the United States plummeted 3.6% from the year before… In 2007 it was $52,163. A year later it dropped to $50,303, the lowest level since 1997. The nation’s poverty rate, meanwhile, rose to 13.2%, the highest level since 1997.”

    “The new data also cast a spotlight on the recession’s principal victims: children, minorities and those who weren’t born in the United States. The number of children younger than 18 living in poverty increased from 13.3 million in 2007 to 14.1 million in 2008, the census says, with minority children more likely to be poor. Last year, 34.7% of black children and 30.6% of Latino children lived below the poverty line, compared with 10.6% of white children.”

    Elsewhere, the Globe and Mail reports Deflation may be taking root in global economies. “Fuelled by continuing overcapacity, shrinking credit, reduced corporate spending and falling consumer demand, deflation is on the rise in its old stomping ground of Japan and taking root in the battered U.S. and European economies.”


  1. Toxic fumes from American burnpits gave him cancer, he believes

    Anthony Roles spent more than 12 years in the U.S. Air Force. But the veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom had to hang up his uniform shortly after returning from Iraq. Now, after being diagnosed with a rare cancer and suffering a heart-attack at age 30, he is fighting for his life again. Mr. Roles, his wife and his doctors believe his life-threatening disease was caused by toxic fumes from burnpits being operated by the U.S militarys contractors in Iraq.

    More information is available at

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