7 insects you’ll be eating in the future

LiveScience
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    Mealworms and spring onions are stir-fried to be used in a quiche at the Rijn IJssel school for Chefs in Wageningen. (REUTERS/Jerry Lampen)

As the human population continues to inch closer to 8 billion people, feeding all those hungry mouths will become increasingly difficult. A growing number of experts claim that people will soon have no choice but to consume insects.

As if to underscore that claim, a group of students from McGill University in Montreal has won the 2013 Hult Prize, for producing a protein-rich flour made from insects. The prize gives the students $1 million in seed money to begin creating what they call Power Flour. “We will be starting with grasshoppers,” team captain Mohammed Ashour told ABC News on Sept. 30.

Earlier this year, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released a report titled, “Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security.” The document details the health and environmental benefits derived from a diet supplemented by insects, a diet also known as “entomophagy.” Gleaned from the FAO document and other sources, here’s a list of seven edible insects you may soon find on your dinner plate. [Eat This! 7 Perfect Survival Foods]

Mopane caterpillars

Mopane caterpillars — the larval stage of the emperor moth (Imbrasia belina) — are common throughout the southern part of Africa. Harvesting of mopane caterpillars is a multi-million dollar industry in the region, where women and children generally do the work of gathering the plump, little insects.

The caterpillars are traditionally boiled in salted water, then sun-dried; the dried form can last for several months without refrigeration, making them an important source of nutrition in lean times. And few bugs are more nutritious: Whereas the iron content of beef is 6 mg per 100 grams of dry weight, mopane caterpillars pack a whopping 31 mg of iron per 100 grams. They’re also a good source of potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, manganese and copper, according to the FAO.

Chapulines

Chapulines are grasshoppers of the genus Sphenarium, and are widely eaten throughout southern Mexico. They’re often served roasted (giving them a satisfying crunch) and flavored with garlic, lime juice and salt, or with guacamole or dried chili powder. The grasshoppers are known as rich sources of protein; some claim that the insects are more than 70 percent protein.

Researchers have noted that the gathering of Sphenarium grasshoppers is an attractive alternative to spraying pesticides in fields of alfalfa and other crops. Not only does this eliminate the environmental hazards associated with pesticide sprays, it also gives the local people an extra source of nutrition and income, from the sale of grasshoppers. [Gallery: Dazzling Photos of Dew-Covered Insects]

Witchetty grub

Among the aboriginal people of Australia, the witchetty grub is a dietary staple. When eaten raw, the grubs taste like almonds; when cooked lightly in hot coals, the skin develops the crisp, flavorful texture of roast chicken. And the witchetty grub is chock full of oleic acid, a healthful omega-9 monounsaturated fat.

Though people often refer to the larvae of several different moths as witchetty grubs, some sources specify the larval stage of the cossid moth (Endoxyla leucomochla) as the true witchetty grub. The grubs are harvested from underground, where they feed upon the roots of Australian trees such as eucalyptus and black wattle trees.

Termites

Want to get rid of the termites gnawing at your floorboards? Just do like they do in South America and Africa: Take advantage of the rich nutritional quality of these insects by frying, sun-drying, smoking or steaming termites in banana leaves.

Termites generally consist of up to 38 percent protein, and one particular Venezuelan species, Syntermes aculeosus, is 64 percent protein. Termites are also rich in iron, calcium, essential fatty acids and amino acids such as tryptophan.

African palm weevil

A delicacy among many African tribes, the palm weevil (Rhychophorus phoenicis) is collected off the trunks of palm trees. About 4 inches (10 centimeters) long and two inches (5 cm) wide, the weevils are easily pan-fried because their bodies are full of fats, though they’re also eaten raw.

A 2011 report from the Journal of Insect Science found that the African palm weevil is an excellent source of several nutrients such as potassium, zinc, iron and phosphorous, as well as several amino acids and healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Stink bugs

Their name certainly doesn’t lend itself to culinary appeal, but stink bugs (Hemiptera order) are consumed throughout Asia, South America and Africa. The insects are a rich source of important nutrients, including protein, iron, potassium and phosphorus.

Because stink bugs release a noxious scent, they are not usually eaten raw unless the head is first removed, which discards their scent-producing secretions. Otherwise, they are roasted, or soaked in water and sun-dried. As an added benefit, the soaking water — which absorbs the noxious secretions — can then be used as a pesticide to keep termites away from houses.

Mealworms

The larvae of the mealworm beetle (Tenebrio molitor) is one of the only insects consumed in the Western world: They are raised in the Netherlands for human consumption (as well as for animal feed), partly because they thrive in a temperate climate.

The nutritional value of mealworms is hard to beat: They’re rich in copper, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc and selenium. Mealworms are also comparable to beef in terms of protein content, but have a greater number of healthy, polyunsaturated fats.

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Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Wisconsin bridge support beam sinks into the ground, causing huge dip in roadway

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    Sept. 25, 2013: The Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge is pictured after a support pier sank, causing a dip in the roadway. (AP/PRESS-GAZETTE MEDIA)

This is one bumpy road!

A support pillar for a busy Wisconsin bridge that serves an interstate highway has sank into the ground, causing a dip in the roadway that’s hundreds of feet long.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials said Wednesday the Leo Frigo Bridge near Green Bay could be closed for up to a year as engineers work to repair the 400-foot stretch of road, Fox 11 reports.

DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb said the bridge is “not in any danger of collapse,” and previous inspections revealed no flaws in the bridge’s structure.

Travelers called 911 early Wednesday to report the dip in the bridge. It was later shut down by police while an investigation continues.

“That bridge is sagging in the center. I came over with a tractor-trailer and she jumped that, the wheels came off. There’s something that’s not quite right,” one caller told 911.

The Leo Frigo Bridge is supported by dozens of concrete piers that are dug deep into the ground, but one of the piers sank 3 feet, Fox 11 reports.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said the cost of repairing the bridge is unknown.

Click for more from Fox 11 News.

Deadly Pakistan quake creates new island

FoxNews.com
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    Sept. 25, 2013: An island that rose from the sea following an earthquake is pictured off Pakistan’s Gwadar coastline in the Arabian Sea . (REUTERS/STRINGER)

  • New island off Pakistan people.jpg

    Sept. 25, 2013: People walk on an island that rose from the sea following an earthquake, off Pakistan’s Gwadar coastline in the Arabian Sea. (REUTERS/STRINGER)

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    Map locating the area of a strong earthquake in Pakistan. (AFP/GRAPHICS)

KHUZDAR, PAKISTAN –  A new island appeared off Pakistan after a deadly 7.7-magnitude quake struck Tuesday afternoon in Baluchistan province’s Awaran district — a dirt-poor expanse of land that is roughly the size of Wales.

“The island, which is up to 100 feet high and 200 feet wide, surfaced after the earthquake hit parts of Baluchistan,” senior local administration official Tufail Baluch told AFP.

He said a similar island had appeared at the same place in the sea about 60 years ago but disappeared after some time, meaning the current island is unlikely to last long.

That didn’t stop locals from hoping boats to explore the island, which is likely mainly mud and sand. Television channels showed images of the rocky terrain rising above the sea level, as well as a crowd of bewildered people gathering on the shore to witness the rare phenomenon.

The new island was created by the pressure of the earthquake, seismologist John Armbruster told NBC News. He said such mud formations are a known occurrence following strong earthquakes of magnitude of seven or eight.

The U.S. Geological Survey issued a red alert on Tuesday, warning that heavy casualties were likely based on past data, and the provincial government declared an emergency in Awaran.

“The number of dead from the earthquake has reached 208 now. The injured are over 382,” Asad Gilani, one of the province’s most senior administration officials, told AFP.

“The rescue teams are working to recover dead bodies and injured, but our priority is to shift injured to hospitals as soon as possible,” he said.

“There are not many doctors in the area but we are trying to provide maximum facilities in the affected areas,” Jan Muhammad Baledi, a spokesman for the Baluchistan government, said on the ARY news channel.

Television footage showed collapsed houses, caved-in roofs and people sitting in the open air outside their homes, the rubble of mud and bricks scattered around them.

In April a 7.8-magnitude quake in southeast Iran, close to the border with Baluchistan, killed 41 people and affected more than 12,000 on the Pakistan side of the border.

Iran’s Red Crescent reported no damage from the latest quake over the border from Pakistan.

Baluchistan, Pakistan’s largest but least populous province, is believed to have substantial gas and oil reserves, but it is violent and unstable.

It is a flashpoint for growing violence against minority Shiite Muslims and has suffered attacks blamed on Taliban militants.

It also suffers from an ongoing separatist insurgency which began in 2004 when Baluch rebels rose up to demand a greater share of profits from the province’s mineral resources.

News wires contributed to this report.

New study says threat of man-made global warming greatly exaggerated

Doug McKelway

FoxNews.com

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A peer-reviewed climate change study released Wednesday by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change finds the threat of man-made global warming to be not only greatly exaggerated but so small as to be “embedded within the background variability of the natural climate system” and not dangerous.

Armed with the new findings, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee grilled administration environmental policy officials about the economic consequences of its aggressive regulatory crackdown on the fossil fuel industry.

The 1,000 page study was the work of 47 scientists and scholars examining many of the same journals and studies that the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC) examined, producing entirely different conclusions.

“This volume provides the scientific balance that is missing from the overly alarmist reports from the IPCC, which are highly selective in their review of climate science,” the authors write.

The study was done under the auspices of the Heartland Institute, which claims it “has no formal attachment to or sponsorship from any government or governmental agency.”

The Heartland Institute’s president, Joseph Bast, said of the study, “The big issue in the global warming debate is how large is the human impact on climate. And this report shows that it is very small, that natural variability, the variability that’s caused by natural cycles of the sun and other factors, way outweigh anything the human impact could have.”

The report comes in advance of the expected release later this month of a new U.N. report on climate change. Leaked drafts of that report show surface temperature increases have been statistically insignificant for the last 15 years, and that Antarctic sea ice is increasing, not decreasing.

In addition, new satellite measurements of Arctic sea ice show it has increased this year.

At the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Wednesday, Republicans particularly wanted to know what President Obama planned to do to address those fossil fuel workers who’ve lost their jobs as a result of administration policy.

In a major address at Georgetown University last June, Obama promised there would be a special plan for those workers.

“So I would ask either one of you what are the special plans in the president’s action plan to help address these people who are losing their jobs, ” Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) asked EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

“I’m not familiar with the details of those plans, but I am familiar from reading the climate action plan that the president sees this as both a challenge and an economic opportunity,” McCarthy replied.

That exchange led to a testy retort by Ralph Hall (R-Tex.). “You got a better answer than I received from Mrs. McCarthy about a year ago before the science committee,” Hall told McCarthy. “I may have asked you a question you didn’t like and your answer was, ‘I’m not in the business of creating jobs.’”

Committee Democrats, along with McCarthy and Moniz, set out to counter Republican skepticism about the impact of climate change.

“The evidence is overwhelming and the science is clear,” said Moniz. “The threat from climate change is real and urgent. The basic science behind climate change is simple. Carbon dioxide makes the earth warmer, and we are admitting more and more of it into the atmosphere.”

Moniz added that any stabilization of surface temperatures in recent years was an indication of a “hiatus” of global warming, not an end to global warming.

Told of Moniz’s remarks, astrophysicist  Willy Soon, one of the NIPCC’s leading scientists, reacted incredulously. “So tell us when is it going to rise again?” he asked. “This is a question that not only me, as a scientist, is asking , but all the lay persons should begin asking.”

The Heartland Institute’s Bast told Fox News that there are no climate models used by proponents of global warming that predict a lull in warming.

“Point to the model that predicted this hiatus,” he said. “No increase in violent weather , no increase in hurricanes. All of this and we’re still supposed to believe the models… models they picked because they supported their political interests, not because they represented good science.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/09/19/new-study-says-threat-global-warming-greatly-exaggerated/#ixzz2fVRUz23s

Planet good for another 1.75 billion years, scientists say

LiveScience

Earth could continue to host life for at least another 1.75 billion years, as long as nuclear holocaust, an errant asteroid or some other disaster doesn’t intervene, a new study calculates.

But even without such dramatic doomsday scenarios, astronomical forces will eventually render the planet uninhabitable. Somewhere between 1.75 billion and 3.25 billion years from now, Earth will travel out of the solar system’s habitable zone and into the “hot zone,” new research indicates.

 

‘If we ever needed to move to another planet, Mars is probably our best bet.’

– Andrew Rushby, of the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom

 

These zones are defined by water. In the habitable zone, a planet (whether in this solar system or an alien one) is just the right distance from its star to have liquid water. Closer to the sun, in the “hot zone,” the Earth’s oceans would evaporate. Of course, conditions for complex life including humans would become untenable before the planet entered the hot zone. [The Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth]

But the researchers’ main concern was the search for life on other planets, not predicting a timeline for the end of life on this one.

The evolution of complex life on Earth suggests the process requires a lot of time.

Simple cells first appeared on Earth nearly 4 billion years ago. “We had insects 400 million years ago, dinosaurs 300 million years ago and flowering plants 130 million years ago,” lead researcher Andrew Rushby, of the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.”Anatomically modern humans have only been around for the last 200,000 years so you can see it takes a really long time for intelligent life to develop.”

Rushby and his colleagues developed a new tool to help evaluate the amount of time available for the evolution of life on other planets: a model that predicts the time a planet would spend in its habitable zone. In the research, published today (Sept. 18) in the journal Astrobiology,they applied the model to Earth and eight other planets currently in the habitable zone, including Mars.

They calculated that Earth’s habitable-zone lifetime is as long as 7.79 billion years. (Earth is estimated to be about 4.5 billion years old.) Meanwhile, the other planets had habitable-zone lifetimes ranging from 1 billion years to 54.72 billion years.

“If we ever needed to move to another planet, Mars is probably our best bet,” Rushby said in a statement. “It’s very close and will remain in the habitable zone until the end of the sun’s lifetime 6 billion years from now.”

While other models have been developed for Earth, they are not suitable for other planets, he added.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/09/19/how-much-longer-can-earth-support-life/#ixzz2fVQvt6Md

Warming whoops: Scientists debate the falling rate of rising temperatures

FoxNews.com
  • UN IPCC AR5 report, Working Group I.jpg

    The cover of a forthcoming part of the world’s most authoritative climate report, compiled every six years by the United Nations. (UN)

The world has warmed 0.05 degrees Celsius (0.09 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade over the past 15 years, a fraction of the 0.2ºC (0.36ºF) per decade rate confidently predicted by the U.N. six years ago, according to a leaked copy of the foremost climate report in the world.

That report, which is updated every six years by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is called the Assessment Report, and the fifth version (AR5) will be released Sept. 27. FoxNews.com has obtained a leaked copy of the first part of AR5 — and data in it appears to acknowledge that the world’s temperatures haven’t skyrocketed as many had feared.

“The rate of warming over the past 15 years (0.05°C per decade) is smaller than the trend since 1951 (0.12°C per decade),” the draft report states.

2007’s AR4 observed a similar warming trend (0.13°C per decade) since 1951, yet the report incorrectly asserted that global temperatures would soar by 0.2°C per decade through 2037 — and several climate reporters took the failed prediction to mean alarm about global warming had been raised decades before the problem hit crisis levels.

 

‘The idea of producing a document of near-biblical infallibility is a misrepresentation of how science works.’

– Professor Myles Allen, the director of Oxford University’s Climate Research Network

 

“Scientific forecasts of imminent doom were drastically wrong,” wrote the Daily Mail’s David Rose.

Jonathan Lynn, a spokesman for the IPCC group that compiles the report, said Rose misinterpreted it.

“As usual, David Rose’s article is wrong,” Lynn told FoxNews.com. But the 2007 report did in fact predict greater warming than it had been measuring for decades — the higher, 0.2ºC value.

One of the report’s own authors, Professor Myles Allen, the director of Oxford University’s Climate Research Network, said this should be the last such assessment.

“The idea of producing a document of near-biblical infallibility is a misrepresentation of how science works, and we need to look very carefully about what the IPCC does in future,” Allen said.

Don Wuebbles, coordinating lead author of the forthcoming report and a professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Illinois, disagreed with how the Mail characterized the study.

“There’s been a lot of playing around with this by the denialist community in the last few weeks,” he told FoxNews.com. Many people seek to spin the report and end up confusing short term planetary responses with long term ones, he noted.

“People tend to look at short term cycles and say the models don’t match. To me that’s not surprising,” Wuebbles told FoxNews.com.

The problem lies in the hotly debated “pause” in global warming over the last decade or more, which many have taken as an indication that a warming cycle has ended. Wuebbles confirmed that the upcoming report would address the pause, something the group is still struggling to mesh with climate models.

“We discuss the hiatus and issues about that in IPCC … but we still have incomplete information until some of the new studies come out that put the nail in that coffin,” he told FoxNews.com, citing current research that still needs to be synthesized into the draft.

Meanwhile the dozens of editors and writers collaborating on the report continue to revise it daily, he said, meaning the leaked copies seen by the Mail and FoxNews.com have likely already changed.

“There are definitely going to be wording changes that occur before it is published,” he said.

But the leaked report’s conclusion appear to align with a key new study in the journal Nature Climate Change, which revealed that nearly all climate models are dramatically inaccurate.

That report compared 117 climate predictions made in the 1990’s to the actual amount of warming. Out of 117 predictions, the study’s author told FoxNews.com, 3 were roughly accurate and 114 overestimated the amount of warming. On average, the predictions forecasted two times more global warming than actually occurred.

And it was also confirmed by Matt Ridley, a member of the British House of Lords and a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

“For the first time since these reports started coming out in 1990, the new one dials back the alarm,” Ridley wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

Wuebbles took issue with Ridley’s portrayal of the report as well.

“That was kind of a distorted look at it,” he told FoxNews.com. “That’s not what’s in the assessment.”

The challenge the group faces is in taking complex science and making it simple for the world to understand. People reading early copies of the report are twisting it to their own purposes, he said.

“It’s leading to a lot of distorted information getting out there.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/09/17/is-global-warming-actually-far-lower-than-scientists-predicted/#ixzz2fDjafZan

Iowa farmer says he’s grown the perfect American pig

FoxNews.com

Ionia, IA –  From California’s Silicon Valley to the cornfields of Iowa, former computer engineer and now pig farmer, Carl Blake is reinventing the way that Americans eat their pork. Through his technology-based approach and good ol’ fashioned farming, he says he has bred the perfect tasting American pig.

“We’re raising our pigs differently because we’re raising them how grandma and grandpa used to raise them,” said Blake, owner of Rustik Rooster Farms.

 

“This is an American pig that I developed in America and I developed it here in Iowa.”

– Carl Blake, Rustik Rooster Farms

 

Blake breeds Swabian Hall pigs. Originally a German pig from the 1800s, the Swabian Hall is a combination of Russian Wild Boar and a Chinese Meishan pig. He calls the pigs he breeds the Iowan Swabian Hall.  While he says the pigs may not be from traditional domestic breeds,  they were developed in America, and they’re the only ones like it in the U.S.

The Swabian Hall pigs and others like what Blake has are called heritage pigs because they were raised on a small farm. The pork from this type of pig is fattier, the meat is juicer, and it’s colored deep red, not a whiter color like most mass produced pork – called confinement pork.

Blake said that there is “no comparison” between confinement raised pork and the meat from his pigs. “If you wanted white meat, you buy a chicken. Pork is not meant to be a white meat,” said Blake.

As word got out about the meat from Rustik Rooster Farms, restaurants have been eager to get the pork in their kitchens. Scott Stroud, corporate chef for Orchestrate Hospitality, uses the pigs in the restaurants he oversees in Des Moines, Iowa. One of those restaurants, Django, is the only restaurant in Iowa that can legally cure its own pork. Stroud says that’s only possible because of Blake’s pigs.

“A confinement [pig] is going to be dry. There’s going to be a different flavor there of the unknown; where was it raised, what was it fed, how was it killed. To Carl’s pig, when you cook it up you can literally wring it out there’s so much moisture and flavor from that fat,” said Stroud, “You can only have an excellent end product with an excellent beginning product.”

Many of the pigs are bred on Blake’s own land. But he also works with small farms and the Amish. Blake said one young Amish boy took a few of the piglets to raise and when Blake went to pick them back up when they were ready for market, they were the “finest” Swabian Hall pigs he’d ever seen.

The quality of the pork also has to do with what the pigs are fed. Blake uses hydroponic technology, which grows fresh food in water. He is able to pay about $100 for seeds that will grow one-ton of food in six days. Compare that to the price tag of conventional feed prices of $500-$600 per ton. Blake said he doesn’t understand why more farms don’t use the same technology but hopes that it will eventually catch on.

Plus, the vegetables that Blake grows in the hydroponic chamber are completely edible for humans.  He says it’s more affordable and healthier for raising pigs, plus then he can have some of the food for his own kitchen.

“I’m trying to bring pig farmers back from extinction. And bring back the Heritage pig, and bring back pig farmers from the confinement days,” said Blake.

He has gained some notoriety for his efforts.  He’s was featured on the Travel Channel’s show “Bizarre Foods” in March, and was later invited to be a guest on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report.”

“I have a beef with your pork,” Stephen Colbert said to Blake in the interview, ribbing him about the Chinese-Russian mix of his breeds. “Why do you need two Commie pigs?”

But Blake takes his mission to grow the perfect American pig seriously, and he said that he’s gotten tremendous support for his efforts. In particular, one elderly man wants to gift a book of original recipes — including the original recipe for Jimmy Dean’s sausages.

Blake said its that kind of support that keeps him going even when he faces challenges in his own state of Iowa for processing the meat. If Blake wants to slaughter a pig to sell, he has to take it to other states that still have processing plants that small farmers can use.

“This is an American pig that I developed in America and I developed it here in Iowa. It’s just that the markets and things have changed to eliminate the farmer. Period. All there is left is corporate farmers,” Blake said, adding, “It’s a classic David and Goliath story.”

 

Lauren Blanchard is part of the Junior Reporter program at Fox News. Get more information on the program here and follow them on Twitter: @FNCJrReporters

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/09/17/proof-is-in-pork/#ixzz2fDjDKfGU

Climate models wildly overestimated global warming, study finds

FoxNews.com
  • Measuring Global Warming

    The predicted temperature changes (darker red indicating greater change) due to global warming, based on data that scientists, policymakers and the public are now questioning.

Can you rely on the weather forecast? Maybe not, at least when it comes to global warming predictions over short time periods.

That’s the upshot of a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change that compared 117 climate predictions made in the 1990’s to the actual amount of warming. Out of 117 predictions, the study’s author told FoxNews.com, three were roughly accurate and 114 overestimated the amount of warming. On average, the predictions forecasted two times more global warming than actually occurred.

Some scientists say the study shows that climate modelers need to go back to the drawing board.

“It’s a real problem … it shows that there really is something that needs to be fixed in the climate models,” climate scientist John Christy, a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, told FoxNews.com.

 

‘I looked at 73 climate models going back to 1979 and every single one predicted more warming than happened in the real world.’

– John Christy, a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville

 

But other scientists say that’s making a mountain out of a molehill.

“This is neither surprising nor particularly troubling to me as a climate scientist,” Melanie Fitzpatrick, a climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, told FoxNews.com. “The work of our community is constantly to refine our understanding of the climate system and improve models based on that,” she added.

The climate models, Fitzpatrick said, will likely be correct over long periods of time. But there are too many variations in climate to expect models to be accurate over two decades.

But John Christy says that climate models have had this problem going back 35 years, to 1979, the first year for which reliable satellite temperature data exists to compare the predictions to.

“I looked at 73 climate models going back to 1979 and every single one predicted more warming than happened in the real world,” Christy said.

Many of the overestimations also made their way into the popular press. In 1989, the Associate Press reported: “Using computer models, researchers concluded that global warming would raise average annual temperatures nationwide 2 degrees by 2010.”

But according to NASA, global temperature has increased by less than half that — about 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit — from 1989 to 2010.

And in 1972, the Christian Science Monitor reported: “Arctic specialist Bernt Balchen says a general warming trend over the North Pole is melting the polar ice cap and may produce an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the year 2000.” That also proved wrong.

But people should still be concerned about global warming, Fitzpatrick says.

“The paper in no way diminishes the extensive body of observations that global warming is happening and that it is largely due to human activity,” she added.

“Global surface temperature is still rising … 2012 was in the top ten warmest years on record. The period 2001-2010 was the warmest on record since instrumental measurements began,” she added.

Christy agrees that there has been some warming over time, but says man-made greenhouse gasses are not as big of a driver of climate change as many think — and that many scientists are in denial about their mistakes.

“I think in one sense the climate establishment is embarrassed by this, and so they’re trying to minimize the problem,” he said. “The fundamental thing a climate model is supposed to predict is temperature. And yet it gets that wrong.”

The study authors did not answer questions from FoxNews.com about the policy implications of their research.

Why were the predictions off? The study authors list many possible reasons, from solar irradiation and incorrect assumptions about the number of volcanic eruptions to bad estimates about how CO2 effects cloud patterns.

Christy said he believes the models overestimate warming because of the way they handle clouds.

“Most models assume that clouds shrink when there is CO2 warming, and that lets in more sun, and that’s what heats up the planet – not so much the direct effect of CO2, but the ‘feedback effect’ of having fewer clouds. In the real world, though, the clouds aren’t shrinking,” he said.

The study also says that an overestimate of the power of CO2 as a greenhouse gas could be why the models over-predict, but that they do not know why the models are wrong at this point.

Christy said he is not optimistic about the models being fixed.

“The Earth system is just too complex to be represented in current climate models. I don’t think they’ll get it right for a long time.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/09/12/climate-models-wildly-overestimated-global-warming-study-finds/#ixzz2ejs8dOSb

Auctioneer shows off 118-carat ‘world’s greatest’ white diamond in NYC

Associated Press
  • WhiteDiamonAuction.jpg

    Sept. 4, 2013: A 118-carat white diamond is on display at Sotheby’s, a New York auction house. (AP)

NEW YORK –  A New York auction house is showing off what it calls the world’s greatest white diamond on the block — a 118-carat stone from Africa the size of a small egg.

The oval diamond glistened in its glass case Wednesday at Sotheby’s Manhattan headquarters, not yet mounted after it was mined and cut two years ago. It will be auctioned in Hong Kong on Oct. 7 and has a pre-sale estimate of $28 million to $35 million.

In terms of size, quality, polish and color, “this is the greatest white diamond we’ve ever had the privilege to sell,” said Quek Chin Yeow, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Asia and an international diamond expert.

The stone was discovered in 2011 as a 299-carat rough diamond in a southern African country whose name Sotheby’s declined to disclose.

When asked why they could not give the exact source, auction house officials said the owner wishes to remain anonymous and that was the agreement.

The current record for any white diamond is $26.7 million. That pear-shaped stone was over 101 carats. It was sold at Christie’s in Geneva last spring.

Three other white diamonds over 100 carats were auctioned by Sotheby’s — in 1990, 1993 and 1995.

The white stone is part of a lineup of jewels up for auction that also includes a flawless, round, vivid blue diamond, worth an estimated $19 million at 7.6 carats.

It’s the largest, most significant such diamond graded by the Gemological Institute of America.

The reason these stones are going on the block in Hong Kong, Quek said, is that it has become a center for jewelry sales and it’s there that the $1.7 million record price per carat for vivid blue diamonds was set — with the sale of a 6-carat blue diamond for $10.2 million in 2011.

Blue diamonds — more rare than white ones — are from the same color family as the famed Hope Diamond, though a different hue. The Hope Diamond, which belongs to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, is not for sale.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/09/04/auctioneer-shows-off-118-carat-world-greatest-white-diamond-in-nyc/#ixzz2e4uuAhsy

New explanation for mysterious ‘fairy circles’ in African desert

LiveScience
  • fairy-circles-1

    Fairy circles are circular patches of perennial grasses with a barren center that emerge in the deserts along the southwest coast of Africa. Here, numerous tracks of Oryx antelopes crossing fairy circles in an interdune pan, shown in this aeria (Image courtesy of N. Juergens)

The bizarre circular patches of bare land called “fairy circles” in the grasslands of Africa’s Namib Desert have defied explanation, with hypotheses ranging from ants to termites to grass-killing gas that seeps out of the soil. But the patches may be the natural result of the subsurface competition for resources among plants, new research suggests.

Grasslands in the Namib Desert start off homogenous, but sparse rainfall and nutrient-poor soil spark intense competition between the grasses, according to the new theory. Strong grasses sap all of the water and nutrients from the soil, causing their weaker neighbors to die and a barren gap to form in the landscape.

The vegetation gap expands as the competition ensues, and the grass-free zone becomes a reservoir for nutrients and water. With the additional resources, larger grass species are then able to take root at the periphery of the gap, and a stable fairy circle develops. [See Photos of Mysterious Fairy Circles of the Namib Desert]

“It’s a really good theory because it accounts for all the characteristics of fairy circles,” including the presence of tall grass species, Florida State University biologist Walter Tschinkel, who was not involved in the study, told LiveScience. “No other proposed cause for fairy circles has ever done that.”

A lingering mystery
Fairy circles have been a mystery to scientists for decades. Last year, Tschinkel discovered that small fairy circles last for an average of 24 years, whereas larger circles can stick around for up to 75 years. However, his research didn’t determine why the circles form in the first place, or why they disappear.

 

‘It accounts for all the characteristics of fairy circles.’

– Florida State University biologist Walter Tschinkel

 

Earlier this year, University of Hamburg biologist Norbert Juergens claimed to have found evidence for a termite theory of fairy circles. Essentially, he discovered colonies of the sand termite, Psammotermes allocerus, were nearly always found in the centers of fairy circles, where he also found increased soil moisture. He reasoned that the termites feed on the grasses’ roots, killing the plants, which usually use up the soil’s water, and then slurp up the water in the resulting circular patches to survive during the dry season.

But Tschinkel is critical of the work, stressing that Juergens confused correlation with causation.

Michael Cramer, a biologist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and lead researcher of the current study, which was published recently in the journal PLOS ONE, also thinks the termite theory falls short.

“I think the major hurdle that explanations have to overcome is explaining the regular spacing of the circles, their approximate circularity and their size,” Cramer told LiveScience. “There’s no real reason why termites would produce such large circles that are so evenly spaced.”

Scientists have also previously proposed that fairy circles are an example of a “self-organizing vegetation pattern,” which arises from plant interactions. In 2008, researchers developed a mathematical model showing the vegetation patterning of fairy circles could depend on water availability.

A fierce competition
To test this theory, Cramer and his colleague Nichole Barger from the University of Colorado at Boulder first measured the size, density and landscape occupancy of fairy circle sites across Namibia, using both Google Earth and ground surveys. They then collected soil samples at various depths from inside and outside the circles, and analyzed them for water and nutrient content. Finally, they plugged the information, along with climate data such as seasonal precipitation and temperatures, into their computer models. [Images: The 10 Strangest Sights on Google Earth]

“We found that the size of the circle, the density and degree to which they occupy the landscape are all associated with the amount of resources available,” Cramer said. Specifically, fairy circles are smaller if they have more resources, such as soil nitrogen and rainfall.

This makes sense, Cramer explained, because the taller grasses won’t need a large reservoir of resourcesto get started and survive if water and nutrients are already available in the environment. On the other hand, the grasses require a large reservoir to sustain themselves if the soil is poor in water and nutrients.

The researchers also discovered that rainfall strongly determines the distribution of the fairy circles across Namibia, with circles only appearing in areas where there is just the right amount of rain (not too little, but not too much). If there’s too much rain, the bountiful resources would “relax” the competition for resources and the circles would close up; but if there’s too little rain, the competition would become too severe and the circles would again disappear, Cramer said. Because the circles can only occur in this narrow moisture range, differences in rainfall from year to year may cause them to suddenly disappear and reappear in an area over time. With this information, they found that they could predict the distribution of the fairy circles with 95 percent accuracy.

Additionally, the regular spacing between fairy circles may be the result of inter-circle competition, with grasses from each circle “battling” with other circle grasses for resources, Cramer said.

Experimental tests
Cramer notes that termites may still be involved in fairy circles. “What sets up the circles is the competition between plants,” he said. “Termites are a secondary phenomenon, and their role is to serve as a maintenance for the circles by killing off the grasses that spring up in the center of the circles.”

Yvette Naud, a chemist at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, who was not involved in the study, thinks it’s refreshing to see a noninsect hypothesis for fairy circles, though she expressed some doubts about its validity.

“It is unclear how peripheral grass resource-competition could induce such abrupt and synchronized plant mortality over an entire patch,” Naud, who has previously studied fairy circles, told LiveScience in an email. (Cramer actually thinks the plant mortality starts off small, and the patch grows as the competition continues.) “The answer to the enigma [of fairy circles] remains elsewhere.”

To examine whether the theory is correct, Cramer plans to conduct experimental tests, as his study only provides correlative evidence for the competition theory.

“If fairy circles really do develop from a shortage of water and nutrients, then simply watering and fertilizing the circles should cause them to close up with vegetation,” Tschinkel said.

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Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/09/05/mysterious-fairy-circles-in-african-desert-get-new-explanation/?intcmp=features#ixzz2e4iohD8Z