Global Warming Causes Everything

By Michelle Malkin

Good news: The Waldo Canyon fire, which forced 32,000 residents (including our family) to flee, claimed two lives and destroyed 347 homes, is now 100 percent contained. Bad news: Radical environmentalists won’t stop blowing hot air about this year’s infernal season across the West.

Al Gore slithered out of the political morgue to bemoan nationwide heat records and pimp his new “Climate Reality Project,” which blames global warming for the wildfire outbreak. NBC meteorologist Doug Kammerer asserted: “If we did not have global warming, we wouldn’t see this.” Agriculture Department Undersecretary Harris Sherman, who oversees the Forest Service, claimed to the Washington Post: “The climate is changing, and these fires are a very strong indicator of that.”

And the Associated Press (or rather, the Activist Press) lit the fear-mongering torch with an eco-propaganda piece titled “U.S. summer is what ‘global warming will look like.'”

The problem is that the actual conclusions of scientists included in AP’s screed don’t back up the apocalyptic headline. As the reporter acknowledges under that panicky banner:

“Scientifically linking individual weather events to climate change takes intensive study, complicated mathematics, computer models and lots of time. Sometimes it isn’t caused by global warming. Weather is always variable; freak things happen.”

So, this U.S. summer may or may not really look like “what global warming looks like.” Kinda. Sorta. Possibly. Possibly not.

Furthermore, the AP reporter concedes, the “global” nature of the warming and its supposed catastrophic events have “been local. Europe, Asia and Africa aren’t having similar disasters now, although they’ve had their own extreme events in recent years.”

A more hedging headline would have been journalistically responsible, but Chicken Little-ism better serves the global warming blame-ologists’ agenda.

More inconvenient truths: As The Washington Times noted, the National Climatic Data Center shows that “Colorado has actually seen its average temperature drop slightly from 1998 to 2011, when data is collected only from rural stations and not those that have been urbanized since 1900.”

Radical green efforts to block logging and timber sales in national forests since the 1990s are the real culprits. Wildlife mitigation experts point to incompetent forest management and militant opposition to thinning the timber fuel supply.

Another symptom of green obstructionism: widespread bark beetle infestations. The U.S. Forest Service itself reported last year:

“During the last part of the 20th century, widespread treatments in lodgepole pine stands that would have created age class diversity, enhanced the vigor of remaining trees, and improved stand resiliency to drought or insect attack — such as timber harvest and thinning — lacked public acceptance. Proposals for such practices were routinely appealed and litigated, constraining the ability of the Forest Service to manage what had become large expanses of even-aged stands susceptible to a bark beetle outbreak.”

Capitulation to lawsuit-happy green thugs, in others, undermined “public acceptance” of common sense, biodiversity-preserving and lifesaving timber harvest and thinning practices.

Local, state and federal officials offered effusive praise for my fellow Colorado Springs residents who engaged in preventive mitigation efforts in their neighborhoods. The government flacks said it made a life-and-death difference. Yet, litigious environmental groups have sabotaged such mitigation efforts at the national level — in effect, creating an explosive tinderbox out of the West.

Stoking global warming alarms may make for titillating headlines and posh Al Gore confabs. But it’s a human blame avoidance strategy rooted in ideological extremism and flaming idiocy.

Modified Mosquitoes

Huge numbers of genetically modified mosquitoes are to be breed by scientists in Brazil to help stop the spread of dengue fever, an illness that has already struck nearly 500,000 people this year nationwide.

Dengue effects between 50 and 100 million people in the tropics and subtropics each year, causing fever, muscle and joint ache as well as potentially fatal dengue haemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome.

The disease is caused by four strains of virus that are spread by the mosquito Aedes aegypti. There is no vaccine, which is why scientists are focusing so intensely on mosquito control.

The initiative in Brazil will produce large quantities of genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which will be released into nature to mate with females, the health ministry said.

“Their offspring will not reach adulthood, which should reduce the population,” it said in a statement.

The new mosquitoes will be produced in a factory inaugurated on Saturday in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. Four million insects will be churned out per week.

The experiment has already been attempted in two mosquito-infested towns in Bahia, each with about 3,000 inhabitants.

“Using this technique, we reduced the mosquito population by 90 per cent in six months,” the ministry said.

Attribution: UK Telegraph

No Wonder Martians want to come Here.

We might not be able to get there yet, but as NASA says, ‘this is the next best thing’.

From fresh rover tracks to an impact crater blasted billions of years ago, a newly completed view from the panoramic camera on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows the ruddy terrain where the voyaging robot spent the Martian winter.

Scenes recorded from the mast-mounted color camera include the rover’s own solar arrays and deck in the foreground, provides a sense of sitting on top of the rover and taking in the view.

This full-circle scene combines 817 images taken by the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. It shows the terrain that surrounded the rover while it was stationary for four months of work during its most recent Martian winter.

Opportunity’s Pancam took the component images between the 2,811th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s Mars surface mission (Dec. 21, 2011) and Sol 2,947 (May 8, 2012).

Opportunity spent those months on a northward sloped outcrop, ‘Greeley Haven,’ which angled the rover’s solar panels toward the sun low in the northern sky during southern hemisphere winter.

The outcrop’s informal name is a tribute to Ronald Greeley (1939-2011), who was a member of the mission team and who taught generations of planetary scientists at Arizona State University, Tempe. The site is near the northern tip of the ‘Cape York’ segment of the western rim of Endeavour Crater.

Bright wind-blown deposits on the left are banked up against the Greeley Haven outcrop. Opportunity’s tracks can be seen extending from the south, with a turn-in-place and other maneuvers evident from activities to position the rover at Greeley Haven. The tracks in some locations have exposed darker underlying soils by disturbing a thin, bright dust cover.

Other bright, dusty deposits can be seen to the north, northeast, and east of Greeley Haven. The deposit at the center of the image, due north from the rover’s winter location, is a dusty patch called ‘North Pole’. Opportunity drove to it and investigated it in May 2012 as an example of wind-blown Martian dust.

The Endeavour Crater  spans 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter.

Opportunity’s solar panels and other structures show dust that has accumulated over the lifetime of the mission. Opportunity has been working on Mars since January 2004.

During the recent four months that Opportunity worked at Greeley Haven, activities included radio-science observations to better understand Martian spin axis dynamics and thus interior structure, investigations of the composition and textures of an outcrop exposing an impact-jumbled rock formation on the crater rim, monitoring the atmosphere and surface for changes, and acquisition of this full-color mosaic of the surroundings.

The panorama combines exposures taken through Pancam filters centered on wavelengths of 753 nanometers (near infrared), 535 nanometers (green) and 432 nanometers (violet). The view is presented in false color to make some differences between materials easier to see.

Its release coincided with two milestones: Opportunity completing its 3,000th Martian day on July 2, and NASA continuing past 15 years of robotic presence at Mars on July 4.

The new panorama is presented in false color to emphasise differences between materials in the scene.

It was assembled from 817 component images taken between Dec. 21, 2011, and May 8, 2012, while Opportunity was stationed on an outcrop informally named ‘Greeley Haven’. on a segment of the rim of ancient Endeavour Crater.

Pancam lead scientist Jim Bell said: ‘The view provides rich geologic context for the detailed chemical and mineral work that the team did at Greeley Haven over the rover’s fifth Martian winter, as well as a spectacularly detailed view of the largest impact crater that we’ve driven to yet with either rover over the course of the mission.’

Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, landed on Mars in January 2004 for missions originally planned to last for three months. NASA’s next-generation Mars rover, Curiosity, is on course for landing on Mars next month.

Opportunity’s science team chose to call the winter campaign site Greeley Haven in tribute to Ronald Greeley (1939-2011), a team member who taught generations of planetary science students at Arizona State University.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Later this year, the car-sized Curiosity Rover will land on Mars.

Unlike earlier rovers, Curiosity carries equipment to gather samples of rocks and soil, process them and distribute them to onboard test chambers inside analytical instruments.

It has a robotic arm which deploys two instruments, scoops soil, prepares and delivers samples for analytic instruments and brushes surfaces.

Its assignment is to investigate whether conditions have been favorable for microbial life and for preserving clues in the rocks about possible past life.

The goal of the mission is to assess whether the landing area has ever had or still has environmental conditions favorable to microbial life.

Curiosity will land near the foot of a layered mountain inside Gale crater, layers of this mountain contain minerals that form in water.

The portion of the crater floor where Curiosity will land has an alluvial fan likely formed by water-carried sediments.

Curiosity will also carry the most advanced load of scientific gear ever used on Mars’ surface, a more than 10 times as massive as those of earlier Mars rovers.

Curiosity is about twice as long and five times as heavy as NASA’s twin Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, launched in 2003.

Attribution: Mail Online

What’s a Dentist to Do?

A new chemical could make human teeth ‘cavity proof’ – and do away with the need for visits to the dentists forever.

The molecule has been called ‘Keep 32’ – after the 32 teeth in a human mouth.

The chemical was designed by dentists in Chile, and wipes out all the bacteria that cause cavities in just 60 seconds in tests.

The chemical could be added to any current dental care product, turning toothpaste, mouthwash and chewing gum into ‘super cleansers’ that could get rid of the underlying cause of tooth decay.

The chemical targets ‘streptococcus mutans’, the bacteria that turns the sugar in your mouth into lactic acid which erodes tooth enamel.

By exterminating the bacteria, ‘Keep 32’ prevents the damage to teeth before it happens.

Using a product containing the chemical keeps your teeth ‘cavity proof’ for several hours.

The product has been under test for seven years, and is now going into human trials.

It could be on the market in 14 to 18 months, say researchers José Córdoba from Yale University and Erich Astudillo from the University of Chile.

The chemical could even be added to foods to stop bacteria damaging teeth as you eat.

The researchers hope to licence the patent to chemical giants such as Procter and Gamble.

‘We are currently in talks with five interested in investing in our project or buy our patent,’ say the researchers.

Attribution: Mail Online

Soldiers Unearthed

Danish archaeologists have re-opened a mass grave of scores of slaughtered Iron Age warriors to find new clues about their fate and the bloody practices of Germanic tribes on the edge of the Roman Empire.

Bones of around 200 soldiers have already been found preserved in a peat bog near the village of Alken on Denmark’s Jutland peninsula.

Experts started digging again on Monday, saying they expected to find more bodies dating back 2,000 years.

Aarhus University archaeologist Mads Kahler Holst said: “I guess we will end up with a scale that is much larger than the 200 that we have at present.”

Speaking by phone from the site on damp grazing meadows near Jutland’s large lake of Mossoe, he added: “We have only touched upon a very small part of what we expect to be there … We have not seen anything like this before in Denmark, but it is quite extraordinary even in a European perspective.”

The first bones, belonging to people as young as 13, were discovered in 2009.

Cuts and slashes on the skeletons showed they had died violently, said Holst. But nothing was known for sure about the identity of the killers, or their victims.

“That is one of the big mysteries … We don’t know if it is local or foreign – we would expect it to be local,” Holst said.

“We think it is a sacrifice related to warfare and probably the defeated soldiers were killed and thrown into the lake,” he said.

The remains are from the beginning of the Roman Iron Age, though Roman armies never reached so far north.

“It was the time when the Roman Empire had its greatest expansion to the north,” Holst said. But even that push only got the Romans as far as modern day Germany, a few hundred kilometers to the south of the Danish site.

“This conflict could have been a consequence of the Roman expansion, its effect on the Germanic world,” Holst said.

He said the discovery could shed new light on what happened in those centuries beyond the borders of the Roman Empire.

“It will also tell about what level of military organization existed in this northern European area,” he said.

Similar discoveries of sacrificed warriors from a few hundred years earlier have been made at Celtic sites in France, Holst said.

The remains are so well-preserved that experts will be able to analyze their DNA – a rare achievement in remains so old, said Ejvind Hertz, curator of archaeology at Skanderborg Museum.

“Preliminary DNA tests have been carried out at a laboratory on six teeth and two femur bones. There was not much in the femurs but there was in the teeth – teeth are good at preserving DNA,” Hertz said.

The DNA of people who lived at that time would not normally differ from the DNA of today’s Scandinavians. If differences are found, it could point to a foreign army from southern Europe, Hertz said.

Attribution: Daily Mail

Cancer Gets Creamed

WHEN a disease runs skin deep, perhaps all that is needed is moisturizer supercharged with gene-regulation technology.

For skin conditions including melanoma, treatments that are applied directly to the skin are the ideal drug solution: they are easy to use and they affect only the area under which they are applied.

The problem is that our skin is such a successful barrier against toxins that finding substances that penetrate it is a huge challenge, says Amy Paller at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. So until now, clinics have used lasers or ultrasound to help deliver drugs deep into the skin.

Paller and her colleague Chad Mirkin, also at Northwestern, have found a way through the skin barrier. They coated tiny gold spheres with small interfering RNA (siRNA) – tiny pieces of nucleic acid that appear to penetrate the barrier and enter skin cells through an as-yet unspecified pathway. The siRNA is selected to target one of the genes responsible for making cancer cells grow quickly, called epidermal growth factor receptor.

Paller and Mirkin mixed the drug with store-bought moisturizer and applied it to mouse skin. Not only did the nanoparticles penetrate the skin, but they also targeted the intended gene without causing toxicity or other side effects in the surrounding skin.

Attribution: New Scientist

Seaweed Dentistry

Microbes found on seaweed could provide an unexpected weapon in the fight against tooth decay, scientists have said.

They used an enzyme isolated from the marine bacterium Bacillus licheniformis which they were originally researching for cleaning ships’ hulls.

Newcastle University scientists claim that the enzyme can ‘cut through’ plaque on teeth and clean hard-to-reach areas.

The Newcastle University team will tell the Society for Applied Microbiology Summer Conference that it could have a range of medical applications, including teeth cleaning.

While toothpastes are effective, there are still hard-to-reach areas between teeth where the bacteria in plaque can erode enamel, causing cavities.

Dr Nicholas Jakubovics of Newcastle University’s School of Dental Sciences believes better products offering more effective treatment can be made using the enzyme.

He said: ‘Plaque on your teeth is made up of bacteria which join together to colonise an area in a bid to push out any potential competitors.

‘Traditional toothpastes work by scrubbing off the plaque containing the bacteria – but that’s not always effective – which is why people who religiously clean their teeth can still develop cavities. 

‘Work in a test tube has shown that this enzyme can cut through the plaque or layer of bacteria and we want to harness this power into a paste, mouthwash or denture cleaning solution.’

When threatened, bacteria shield themselves in a slimy protective barrier known as a biofilm. 

It is made up of bacteria held together by a web of extracellular DNA which binds the bacteria to each other and to a solid surface – in this case in the plaque around the teeth and gums.

The biofilm protects the bacteria from attack by brushing, chemicals or even antibiotics.

But after studying Bacillus licheniformis, which is found on the surface of seaweed, Newcastle University scientists found that when the bacteria want to move on, they release an enzyme which breaks down the external DNA. That breaks up the biofilm and releases the bacteria from the web.

Professor Burgess, who led the research, said: ‘It’s an amazing phenomenon. The enzyme breaks up and removes the bacteria present in plaque and importantly, it can prevent the build up of plaque too.

‘When I initially began researching how to break down these layers of bacteria, I was interested in how we could keep the hulls of ships clear but we soon realised that the mechanism we had discovered had much wider uses.

‘If we can contain it within a toothpaste we would be creating a product which could prevent tooth decay.

‘This is just one of the uses we are developing for the enzyme as it has huge potential such as in helping keep clean medical implants such as artificial hips and speech valves which also suffer from biofilm infection.’

The team will now look to collaborate with industry to carry out more tests and product development.

Attribution: Daily Mail

Love is Like Oxygen

Scientists have discovered a new way of administering oxygen to the blood which could allow people to stay alive without breathing.

The amazing breakthrough could change medical science by eliminating the need to keep patients breathing during complex operations.

The procedure, which works by injecting oxygen molecules enclosed in fatty molecules directly into the bloodstream, could grant people an extra 30 minutes of life when they cannot breathe.

John Kheir, of the Boston Children’s Hospital, was inspired to begin his groundbreaking research after he experienced a patient’s tragic death, according to ScienceDaily.

He was operating on a young girl whose pneumonia led to fatal brain damage after doctors were unable to place her on a breathing apparatus in time to save her.

In response, Dr Kheir started working on the idea of bypassing the pulmonary system and inserting oxygen directly into the blood.

Early experiments showed that the intervention could in theory be very successful, he said: ‘We drew each other’s blood, mixed it in a test tube with the microparticles, and watched blue blood turn immediately red, right before our eyes.’

However, injecting pure oxygen into the bloodstream in gas form failed miserably when it was attempted 100 years ago, as it formed dangerous bubbles in the veins.

Much of Dr Kheir’s research therefore involved finding a substance which could enclose the oxygen and allow it to be suspended in a liquid for injection into the body.

He found that using fatty molecules called lipids was the best way to retain oxygen after using sound waves to trap the two substances together into particles so small they can only be seen with the help of a microscope.

The particles were then made up into a liquid which is very heavily oxygenated – carrying ‘three to four times the oxygen content of our own red blood cells’, according to Dr Kheir.

When the liquid solution was injected into animals with abnormally low levels of blood oxygen, their blood returned to normal within seconds.

And when it was administered to animals which were entirely unable to breathe, they remained alive for 15 minutes and were at lower risk of health complications.

When used on humans, the oxygen could probably last for up to 30 minutes, though injecting it for any longer could damage the patient’s blood.

‘This is a short-term oxygen substitute – a way to safely inject oxygen gas to support patients during a critical few minutes,’ Dr Kheir said.

He added that he thought the technique could become routine for doctors and parademics dealing with emergency situations.

‘Eventually, this could be stored in syringes on every code cart in a hospital, ambulance or transport helicopter to help stabilise patients who are having difficulty breathing,’ he said

Attirbution: Mail Online, Science Daily

Island Reemerges

Not so long ago, many islands rose above the brackish waters of the Chesapeake Bay near Virginia.

But these small islands, part of an estuary on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, began to vanish, thanks to the forces of geology according to NASA.

The very crust under Chesapeake Bay is sinking. Made of clay and silt, the islands erode quickly, and many have disappeared altogether.

But, thanks to the U.S. military, Poplar Island, is being reclaimed from the depths in a restoration project which has seen the island grow from just ten acres at its lowest, to more than 1,100 acres today.

Poplar Island offered a predator-free haven for nesting water birds and turtles, as well as other larger islands, which supported fishing communities along with wildlife.

In the 1800s, the island had an area just over 1,000 acres and held a small town of about 100 people.

By the 1990s, the island was nearly gone, containing a mere 10 acres of land.

In 1998, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers began to restore Poplar Island. The project serves two purposes: it restores lost habitat to birds and turtles, and it provides a use for material dredged from Baltimore Harbor and Chesapeake Bay shipping lanes. 

Engineers built dikes around sections of the island and have been gradually filling in the center with dredged silt. By 2006, the island had regained the shape it held in the 1800s.

As each cell is filled with new soil, the Army Corp of Engineers plants vegetation.

Poplar Island now has an area of 1,140 acres and may continue to expand by another 500 acres before the restoration is completed in 2027.

Upon completion, Poplar Island will be half wetlands and half uplands covered by forest. The restoration project is expected to cost $667 million, says the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
Attribution: UK Daily Mail

World’s Oldest Handbag

Excavators have unearthed what they believe to be the world’s oldest handbag, a Stone Age purse dated between 2,500 and 2,200 BC which is decorated in over 100 canine teeth.

The incredible discovery – the first of its kind – was made in a grave which forms part of an ancient burial ground on a 250-acre excavation site near Leipzig, Germany.

More than 100 tightly packed dog teeth were found inside the grave on the site at Profen, and Susanne Friederich, the archaeologist who managed the dig, believes they originally formed the decorative outer flap of a Stone Age handbag.

Ms Friedrich, of the Sachsen-Anhalt State Archaeology and Preservation Office, said: ‘Over the years the leather or fabric disappeared, and all that’s left is the teeth.

‘They’re all pointing in the same direction, so it looks a lot like a modern handbag flap.

‘It’s the first time we can show direct evidence of a bag like this.’

The dig is just one phase of an enormous excavation project being undertaken before the Profen site is turned into an open-pit coal mine, due to take place in 2015.

So far the team has uncovered evidence of Stone and Bronze Age settlements, including more than 300 graves, hundreds of stone tools, spear points, ceramic vessels, bone buttons and an amber necklace.

There have also been thousands of finds from later periods, including the 50BC grave of a woman who was buried with half a kilogram of gold jewelry.

While the dog-tooth handbag is extremely rare, canine teeth are actually a fairly common find in Stone Age burial sites in northern and central Europe, Friederich told the National Geographic.

In fact, so many teeth have been excavated from graves around the region that it suggests dogs were as much livestock to Stone Age man as they were pets – the handbag’s decorative panel alone required the teeth of dozens of animals.

Most commonly, dog teeth were used as hair ormaments and in necklaces for both men and women.

In other Stone Age burial sites, dog and wolf teeth – as well as shells – have been uncovered in patterns suggesting corpses were covered with studded blankets, the material of which has long since disintegrated.

‘It seems to have been very fashionable at the time,’ said Harald Staueble, senior archaeologist at Germany’s Saxon State Archaeology Office.

‘Not everyone was buried with such nice things—just the really special graves.’

Attribution: Mail Online, Archaeology.org