Brown Recluse Spider: Range Could Expand in N. America With Changing Climate

ScienceDaily (Apr. 23, 2011) — One of the most feared spiders in North America is the subject a new study that aims to predict its distribution and how that distribution may be affected by climate changes. When provoked, the spider, commonly known as the brown recluse (Loxosceles reclusa), injects powerful venom that can kill the tissues at the site of the bite. This can lead to a painful deep sore and occasional scarring.

Weather turning against Texas wildfire fighters

Hundreds of weary firefighters were racing against the clock on Sunday, pushing back massive brush fires that have destroyed near-record swatches of Texas countryside. Fire fighters were hoping to make as much progress as possible before low humidity and strong winds set the stage for more potential flare-ups late Monday and Tuesday. "We have gotten rain, but more importantly, we have gotten moister air, and that has been very, very helpful," Marq Webb, a spokesman for the Texas Forest Service, said on Sunday. Webb said the amount of acreage burned in Texas in 2011 is almost at the record level set in 2006, when nearly 2 million acres were burned by wildfires. So far this year, more than 1.8 million acres have burned. "We're only in April, with some of the worst wildfire months still to come," he said. "We will certainly break that record."

Texas wildfires still raging, but weather may help bring them under control

Substantially higher humidity, lighter winds, and the possibility of drenching thunderstorms had firefighters battling the huge PK Complex brush fire in north Texas more optimistic on Saturday than they have been in days, officials said. The weather could also help control some of the other fires that have been ravaging parts of the state. The monstrous PK Complex brush fire has charred 148,000 acres and destroyed nearly 300 structures, including 167 homes. "Everyone is optimistic, things are looking good," Haven Cook, Public Information Officer for the Southern Area Incident Management Team, said at a media briefing Saturday morning. The management team is leading the tanker trucks, aircraft and more than 400 firefighters arrayed against the fire, Cook said the fire -- actually a combination of four separate fire covering two counties which merged near the resort community of Possum Kingdom Lake about 70 miles west of Ft. Worth -- is listed at 25 percent contained.

Good News, more pine barrens, last Long Island wilderness, protected!

New York state officials chose Earth Day on Friday to announce purchase of a large tract of land in Long Island's pine barrens as a preserve for hikers and other naturalists and a source for pure drinking water. The land, mostly surrounded by publicly owned property, had been sought for years by preservation advocates as an essential part of the 100,000-acre pine barrens in Suffolk County in eastern Long Island. Calling the pine barrens a "beautiful natural resource" as well as "an important source of clean drinking water," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the acquisition would preserve the area, in the heart of the Carmans River watershed, for generations. The 99-acre parcel was purchased from a local nursery, and will be paid for with New York state's Environmental Protection Fund's land acquisition fund.

Earth Day 2011 – for individuals, AND for businesses!

Throughout its 40 plus year history Earth Day has been a rallying point for millions of personal acts intended to help save the environment. It has sparked rallies and marches, demonstrations and parades, contests and car washes, and with the aid of the Internet and social media tools it has become a global moment in time to signal the importance of living more sustainably. Earth Day street and stream clean ups, recycling drives, letter writing campaigns and similar calls to reduce, reuse, and recycle have shaped the minds of two generations of eco-conscious youth on the importance of protecting our natural environment. And of course, it has sparked endless political speeches with buttons, banners and policy oriented statements. Even businesses have been involved, not only through sponsorships of this annual celebration, but also by cutting wastage, lowering the energy use, and changing the way they operate to become more ecologically balanced. This year's theme for Earth Day 2011 is "A Billion Acts of Green: Personal, organizational and corporate pledges to live and act sustainably". Like its more recent companion Earth Hour, Earth Day has shown that for one brief moment, we can come together in common cause to make a difference, to show that change is indeed possible.

Chesapeake Energy stems flow from blown Pennsylvania gas well

Chesapeake Energy has stemmed the flow of leaking drilling fluids from a natural gas well that suffered a blow-out late on Tuesday in Pennsylvania and prompted the company to suspend a controversial gas production technique in the state. Chesapeake, one of Pennsylvania's biggest shale gas producers, used a mix of plastic, ground-up tires and heavy mud to plug the well -- an operation that echoes BP's "top kill" effort to seal its ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well last year. "Late Thursday afternoon, efforts to seal the leak and regain control of well pressure were successful," Chesapeake said in a statement on Thursday evening. The company said it still did not know the cause of the blowout nearly two days after it occurred. It was planning to start an investigation into the accident, the statement said.

Newegg Launches Eco-Friendly “1 Ton Challenge” Campaign

Newegg Inc.,ENN sponsor of the month, in partnership with Gazelle, is launching a "1 Ton Challenge" campaign to divert one ton of consumer electronics from landfills through its trade-in and recycling program. The campaign coincides with Earth Month and runs now through April 30, 2011. During this time, Newegg visitors trade-in their used electronic items, such as cell phones, laptops, gaming consoles, MP3 players, digital cameras and more for valuable Newegg gift cards. The weight of the traded items will be counted toward the landfill diversion goal. In addition to rewarding consumers with Newegg gift cards for participating in the program, Newegg and Gazelle will also contribute $1 for every box of used consumer electronics gear it receives from Newegg customers to EarthEra Renewable Energy Trust, a program created by NextEra Energy Resources to help individuals and companies reduce their carbon impact and participate in the development of future renewable projects.

Earth Recovered from Prehistoric Global Warming Faster Than Previously Thought

ScienceDaily (Apr. 21, 2011) — Earth may be able to recover from rising carbon dioxide emissions faster than previously thought, according to evidence from a prehistoric event analyzed by a Purdue University-led team. When faced with high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and rising temperatures 56 million years ago, Earth increased its ability to pull carbon from the air.

New Islands

What is an Island? Land that is surrounded by water. Islands are always being created and sometimes destroyed. Earth has 657 more barrier islands than previously thought, according to a new global survey by researchers from Duke University and Meredith College. The researchers identified a total of 2,149 barrier islands worldwide using satellite images, topographical maps and navigational charts. The new total is significantly higher than the 1,492 islands identified in a 2001 survey conducted without the aid of publicly available satellite imagery. The 2,149 barrier islands measure 20,783 kilometers in length, are found along all continents except Antarctica and in all oceans, and make up roughly 10 percent of the Earth's continental shorelines. Seventy-four percent of the islands are found in the northern hemisphere.

DigitalGlobe Partners with Extreme Ice Survey to Monitor World’s Glaciers

A new report released this week by high-resolution satellite imagery provider DigitalGlobe in partnership with Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) reveals environmental changes as told by the world’s climate change barometers – glaciers. Using a combination of on-the-ground photography with satellite imagery to monitor the state of the world’s glaciers, the organizations issued the "Worldwide Glacier Monitoring Report," a first in a series of reports that depict satellite images from the last three years to show how three glaciers – Khumbu Glacier at Mt. Everest, the Ilulissat Glacier in Greenland and the Breidamerkurjökull Glacier in Iceland – have changed over time. Glaciers are a clear indicator of the state of the environment and a thermometer of local and regional climate conditions. Since 1995, Ilulissat Glacier, the largest producer of icebergs in Greenland, doubled its flow speed and volume of ice discharged due to warming air and ocean temperatures. The combined effect of ice loss in mountains and ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica will produce at least 3 feet of sea level rise by 2100, dislocating at least 150 million people. As the planet becomes warmer, sea levels will continue to rise.