Millions of fish have been dying in Australia’s major rivers
26 February 2019

By Ruby Prosser Scully

Fish have been struggling to breathe and dying by the millions on the banks of Australia’s largest river system. Experts say that without serious change, it will continue to happen.

Poor management, excess upstream irrigation and drought led to three mass deaths of endangered fish species during December and January in the Murray-Darling Basin. These deaths included Murray cod fish that were decades old, according to an investigation by the Australian Academy of Science that was published last week.

Craig Moritz at the Australian National University in Canberra, who chaired the investigation, says the sight of millions of dead fish should be a wake-up call. He described the mass fish deaths as a mainland equivalent of the coral bleaching events that have been hitting the Great Barrier Reef.

Much of Australia’s economy and food security depends on the Murray-Darling Basin, a complex river system with 2.6 million nearby residents, including more than 40 Aboriginal nations.

The Australian Academy of Science investigation was initiated by the opposition Labor party. The government has also launched its own separate investigation, but the panels from both have agreed on the immediate cause of the fish deaths.

Warm, still water created the perfect environment for blue-green algae to bloom. Algae are important for providing oxygen in the upper layers of water, but when they die, they fall to the bottom of the riverbed where microorganisms that deplete oxygen in the lower layers feed on them.
Read more: Fracking chemical leak kills threatened fish

A cold snap caused the oxygenated upper layer and the larger, unoxygenated, lower layer of water to mix. Fish that had been surviving in the shallow top layers quickly ran out of oxygen and suffocated.

The government-commissioned interim report highlighted role of “exceptional climactic conditions” in exacerbating the situation.

But Moritz’s report said the drought hadn’t been unprecedented, and that excess upstream irrigation led to a lack of water and a “catastrophic decline” of the system’s condition through dry periods.

Culum Brown at Macquarie University says focusing on extreme weather conditions is “nonsense” and that management of the Murray-Darling river system had ignored the predictable results of climate change.

“Sticking your head in the sand and pretending climate change does not exist is not an appropriate management action,” says Brown.


https://www.newscientist.com/article/2194781-earth-could-warm-by-14c-as-growing-emissions-destroy-crucial-clouds/ posted:

Earth could warm by 14°C as growing emissions destroy crucial clouds

Environment 25 February 2019

By Michael Le Page

If we keep burning fossil fuels with reckless abandon, we could trigger a cloud feedback effect that will add 8°C on top of all the warming up to that point. That means the world could warm by more than 14°C above the pre-industrial level.

Needless to say, this would be cataclysmic. For instance, large parts of the tropics would become too hot for warm-blooded animals, including us, to survive.

The good news is that if countries step up their efforts to cut emissions we should avoid finding out if this idea is correct. “I don’t think we will get anywhere close to it,” says Tapio Schneider at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, who led the research.

Schneider’s team modelled stratocumulus clouds over subtropical oceans, which cover around 7 per cent of Earth’s surface and cool the planet by reflecting the sun’s heat back into space. They found there was a sudden transition when CO2 levels reached around 1200 parts per million (ppm) — the stratocumulus clouds broke up and disappeared.

The reason why this finding applies only to subtropical stratocumulus is that these clouds are unusual. The cloud layer is maintained by the cloudtops cooling as they emit infrared radiation — and very high CO2 levels block this process.

The loss of these bright white clouds would have a dramatic warming effect, adding 8°C to the global temperature, Schneider calculates. Since the world would warm around 6°C or more if CO2 levels passed 1200 ppm, this means the average global temperature could exceed 14°C or more.

No need to panic
CO2 levels will pass 410 ppm this year, up from 280 ppm in preindustrial times. If we burned all available fossil fuels, atmospheric CO2 levels could rise as high as 4000 ppm.

However, even in the standard worst case scenario used by climate scientists, which assumes nothing is done to curb emissions, CO2 levels would only pass 1200 ppm decades after 2100.

Other climate scientists say this cloud feedback is plausible. “Conceptually I think it’s sound,” says Helene Muri at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. But there are some uncertainties about the numbers, so it will be important to try to narrow them down, she says.

The result might hold up, but we already have more than enough reasons to avoid reaching this point, says Kate Marvel at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Emissions are currently growing in line with the worst-case scenario, but the expectation is that countries will eventually do more. “This result isn’t cause for panic,” says Marvel.

The finding could also help solve a longstanding mystery — how the planet got so hot around 50 million years ago that crocodiles thrived in the Arctic. We know that CO2 levels were generally much higher at the time, but they were not high enough to explain the extreme warmth during this period.

The reason why the cloud feedback effect had not been discovered before is that general climate models of the planet have to greatly simplify cloud physics to make the computations manageable.

Schneider’s team instead modelled only a small part of the subtropical atmosphere in great detail.

And if the models are missing major effects like this, there could be more nasty surprises in store as the world warms. “Yes, for sure,” says Muri. “We will certainly see more surprises.”

Journal reference: Nature Geoscience, DOI: 10.1038/s41561-019-0310-1


https://phys.org/news/2019-02-world-catastrophic-collapse-insects.html posted:

World seeing 'catastrophic collapse' of insects: study
February 11, 2019 by Marlowe Hood

Nearly half of all insect species worldwide are in rapid decline and a third could disappear altogether, according to a study warning of dire consequences for crop pollination and natural food chains. "Unless we change our way of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades," concluded the peer-reviewed study, which is set for publication in April.

The recent decline in bugs that fly, crawl, burrow and skitter across still water is part of a gathering "mass extinction," only the sixth in the last half-billion years. "We are witnessing the largest extinction event on Earth since the late Permian and Cretaceous periods," the authors noted.

The Permian end-game 252 million years ago snuffed out more than 90 percent of the planet's life forms, while the abrupt finale of the Cretaceous 66 million years ago saw the demise of land dinosaurs.

"We estimate the current proportion of insect species in decline—41 percent—to be twice as high as that of vertebrates," or animals with a backbone, Francisco Sanchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney and Kris Wyckhuys of the University of Queensland in Australia reported.

"At present, a third of all insect species are threatened with extinction."An additional one percent join their ranks every year, they estimated. Insect biomass—sheer collective weight—is declining annually by about 2.5 percent worldwide. "Only decisive action can avert a catastrophic collapse of nature's ecosystems," the authors cautioned. Restoring wilderness areas and a drastic reduction in the use of pesticides and chemical fertiliser are likely the best way to slow the insect loss, they said.

'Hardly any insects left'
The study, to be published in the journal Biological Conservation, pulled together data from more than 70 datasets from across the globe, some dating back more than a century. By a large margin, habitat change—deforestation, urbanisation, conversion to farmland—emerged as the biggest cause of insect decline and extinction threat. Next was pollution and the widespread use of pesticides in commercial agriculture. The recent collapse, for example, of many bird species in France was traced to the use insecticides on industrial crops such as wheat, barley, corn and wine grapes.

"There are hardly any insects left—that's the number one problem," said Vincent Bretagnolle, an ecologist at Centre for Biological Studies. Experts estimate that flying insects across Europe have declined 80 percent on average, causing bird populations to drop by more than 400 million in three decades. Only a few species of insects—mainly in the tropics—are thought to have suffered due to climate change, while some in northern climes have expanded their range as temperatures warm.

In the long run, however, scientists fear that global warming could become another major driver of insect demise. Up to now, rising concern about biodiversity loss has mostly focused on big mammals, birds and amphibians. But insects comprise about two-thirds of all terrestrial species, and have been the foundation of key ecosystems since emerging almost 400 million years ago. "The essential role that insects play as food items of many vertebrates is often forgotten," the researchers said. Moles, hedgehogs, anteaters, lizards, amphibians, most bats, many birds and fish all feed on insects or depend on them for rearing their offspring.

Other insects filling the void left by declining species probably cannot compensate for the sharp drop in biomass, the study said. Insects are also the world's top pollinators—75 percent of 115 top global food crops depend on animal pollination, including cocoa, coffee, almonds and cherries. One-in-six species of bees have gone regionally extinct somewhere in the world. Dung beetles in the Mediterranean basin have also been hit particularly hard, with more than 60 percent of species fading in numbers. The pace of insect decline appears to be the same in tropical and temperate climates, though there is far more data from North America and Europe than the rest of the world.Britain has seen a measurable decline across 60 percent of its large insect groups, or taxa, followed by North America (51 percent) and Europe as a whole (44 percent).

More information: Francisco Sánchez-Bayo et al. Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers, Biological Conservation (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2019.01.020 , www.sciencedirect.com/science/ … i/S0006320718313636#!

No need to panic
CO2 levels will pass 410 ppm this year, up from 280 ppm in preindustrial times. If we burned all available fossil fuels, atmospheric CO2 levels could rise as high as 4000 ppm.

However, even in the standard worst case scenario used by climate scientists, which assumes nothing is done to curb emissions, CO2 levels would only pass 1200 ppm decades after 2100.
I retaught myself the dark art of getting something onto the front page so this could go there. cool thread, i like reading it in between hyperventilating in fear
a materialist analysis would suggest that you're actually hyperventilating in order to consume as much air as possible while its still relatively oxygen-rich, since you have grown accustomed to a bourgeois lifestyle that includes limitless breathable air

https://www.austinmonitor.com/stories/2019/02/permanent-zebra-mussel-solution-still-18-months-out/ posted:

Permanent zebra mussel solution still 18 months out

Following the odorous indication that a zebra mussel infestation had arrived in Austin waterways earlier this month, Austin Water has been working to come up with a solution to prevent a similar instance from recurring.

Austin Water is already working to slow the population of zebra mussels by using chemical retardants in its piping systems and raw water tunnels. However, due to the speed with which these bivalves reproduce, it is not enough, according to Mehrdad Morabbi, an operations manager for Austin Water, who addressed the Environmental Commission at their Feb. 20 meeting.

After first appearing in 2017 in Austin’s jurisdiction of the Highland Lakes system, the mussels have spawned at such a rate that Austin Water reported a ½- to 2-inch-thick layer of mussels at every water treatment facility intake this past January. This already critical situation is compounded by the fact that “we could essentially look at a year-round spawning season,” said Morabbi.

With the possibility of tens of millions of nickel-sized mussels covering every hard surface within Austin lakes, the water utility is quickly searching for a solution. Unfortunately, the least expensive and most effective option of copper ionization is not readily available. According to Morabbi, the implementation of the electrolytic process that adds a very low dose of copper to the water and that is toxic to the mussels is still 18 months out. The water company is working with an outside consultant, the engineering firm Black and Veach, to develop the copper-ion system.

In the interim, Austin Water is planning on using a combination of manual removal of the mussels along with a sodium permanganate solution. Although effective, the sodium permanganate solution is significantly pricier than using copper.

To combat the mussels with a copper solution it will cost roughly $200,000 per annum. Meanwhile, to use sodium permanganate, it “would be roughly $1 million for an annual contract,” explained Morabbi. “But we need it, and we’re going to use it.” This will come on top of the $212,000-per-year diving contract that Council approved last June.

According to the Watershed Protection Department, there is no way to eradicate these mussels without damaging the natural ecosystems of the lake. Nor is there an environmentally friendly solution akin to grass carp that would function as a natural predator to this invasive species.

Commissioner Mary Ann Neely did ask if the mussels were edible in hopes that the city could consume their way out of this problem. However, Morabbi noted, “I haven’t seen garlic butter as a mitigation technique.”

Still, there is still some consolation to be had from the fact that the first spawning season is generally the worst. After the initial bloom, generally limiting natural factors keep populations at a steady state.

That’s not to say that things won’t get worse before they get better. As Austin Water works to keep populations under control, Liz Johnston, a program coordinator at the Watershed Protection Department, brought the commissioners’ attention to the fact that as filter feeders, these mussels will not only clog water intakes but they will allow the blue-green algae in the lakes to flourish more easily and their population will continue to spread downstream which will pose a risk to swimmers and recreational water users because of their sharp shells.

Morabbi admitted that the water utility “really won’t be able to do anything with the lake,” but he did assure the commissioners that Austin Water is working to ensure clean, safe drinking water for Austinites despite the infestation.

“I turned on the water and it's just this over powering odor of what I would consider raw meat,” South Austin resident Kathryn Araguz told Austin's Fox 7. She said after her shower Thursday morning, her skin "smelled for quite a while."

Residents told KXAN the water smelled like "toilet water" or "rotten trash."

Even though the water smells rotten, it's safe to drink, according to Austin Water officials
all the bugs are dead. the water smells like rotting meat. worms consume all plants. heat waves inexorably eradicate all life in the tropics.

cool, nice
DES MOINES, Iowa — U.S. corn farmers have the most corn acres left to plant, on this date, than they have ever had and remain behind the trade’s expectations, as well.

In its Crop Progress Report Monday, the USDA pegged U.S. corn planting at 49% complete, behind the 80% five-year average.

The trade expected a completion rating of 53%. On this week of the planting season, the most that U.S. farmers have ever had left was 47% of the crop. In 2019, that amount is 51%, with plenty of rain in the Midwest’s forecast.

As of Sunday, Iowa farmers had 70% of that state’s corn crop planted vs. a 89% five-year average. Illinois farmers have 24% of their corn seeded, behind a 89% five-year average. Indiana has 14% planted vs. a 73% five-year average. In the western Corn Belt, Nebraska farmers have 70% of their corn planted vs. a 86% five-year average.

Also, 19% of the U.S. corn has emerged vs. a 49% five-year average.

In its report, the USDA pegged the U.S. soybean planting completion rate at 19% vs. a 47% five-year average.

Iowa has 27% of its soybean crop in the ground compared with a 55% five-year average. Illinois has 9% of its crop seeded, equal to a week ago and behind a 51% five-year average. Indiana soybean growers have 6% of their crop in the ground vs. a 43% five-year average.

Also, 5% of the U.S. soybean crop has emerged vs. 17% five-year average.

drwhat posted:

all the bugs are dead. the water smells like rotting meat. worms consume all plants. heat waves inexorably eradicate all life in the tropics.

cool, nice

‘Earthworm Dilemma’ Has Climate Scientists Racing to Keep Up
Worms are wriggling into Earth’s northernmost forests, creating major unknowns for climate-change models.

The world’s boreal forests have been largely earthworm-free since the last Ice Age. But as invaders arrive and burrow into the leaf litter, they free up carbon and may accelerate climate change.

Cindy Shaw, a carbon-research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service, studies the boreal forest — the world’s most northerly forest, which circles the top of the globe like a ring of hair around a balding head.

A few years ago, while conducting a study in northern Alberta to see how the forest floor was recovering after oil and gas activity, she saw something she had never seen there before: earthworms.

“I was amazed,” she said. “At the very first plot, there was a lot of evidence of earthworm activity.”

Native earthworms disappeared from most of northern North America 10,000 years ago, during the ice age. Now invasive earthworm species from southern Europe — survivors of that frozen epoch, and introduced to this continent by European settlers centuries ago — are making their way through northern forests, their spread hastened by roads, timber and petroleum activity, tire treads, boats, anglers and even gardeners.

As the worms feed, they release into the atmosphere much of the carbon stored in the forest floor. Climate scientists are worried.

“Earthworms are yet another factor that can affect the carbon balance,” Werner Kurz, a researcher with the Canadian Forest Service in Victoria, British Columbia, wrote in an email. His fear is that the growing incursion of earthworms — not just in North America, but also in northern Europe and Russia — could convert the boreal forest, now a powerful global carbon sponge, into a carbon spout.

Moreover, the threat is still so new to boreal forests that scientists don’t yet know how to calculate what the earthworms’ carbon effect will be, or when it will appear.

“It is a significant change to the carbon dynamic and how we understand it works,” Ms. Shaw said. “We don’t truly understand the rate or the magnitude of that change.”

The relationship between carbon and earthworms is complex. Earthworms are beloved by gardeners because they break down organic material in soil, freeing up nutrients. This helps plants and trees grow faster, which locks carbon into living tissue. Some types of invasive earthworms also burrow into mineral soil and seal carbon there.

But as earthworms speed decomposition, they also release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As they occupy more areas of the world, will they ultimately add more carbon to the atmosphere — or subtract it?

That question led to what Ingrid M. Lubbers, a soil researcher at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, christened the “earthworm dilemma” in a paper published in 2013 in Nature Climate Change. Scientists have been keen to resolve it ever since.

“It’s just another of the many reasons why you need to know more about systems,” Dr. Lubbers said in an interview. “Because there could be an effect that would enhance climate change and enhance the rising temperatures.”

The boreal is special. In warmer climates, the floor of a typical forest is a mix of mineral soil and organic soil. In a boreal forest, those components are distinct, with a thick layer of rotting leaves, mosses and fallen wood on top of the mineral soil.

Soil scientists once thought that cooler temperatures reduced mixing; now, they wonder if the absence of earthworms is what made the difference.

This spongy layer of leaf litter contains most of the carbon stored in the boreal soil. As it turns out, most of the invading earthworms in the North American boreal appear to be the type that love to devour leaf litter and stay above ground, releasing carbon.

Erin K. Cameron, an environmental scientist at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who studies the boreal incursion of earthworms, found that 99.8 percent of the earthworms in her study area in Alberta belonged Dendrobaena octaedra, an invasive species that eats leaf litter but doesn’t burrow into the soil.

In 2015, Dr. Cameron published the results of a computer model aimed at figuring out the effect on leaf-litter over time. “What we see with our model is that forest-floor carbon is reduced by between 50 percent and 94 percent, mostly in the first 40 years,” she said. That carbon, no longer sequestered, goes into the atmosphere.

Not only that, in a 2009 study she calculated that earthworms had already wriggled their way into 9 percent of the forest of northeastern Alberta, and would occupy half of it by 2049.

Ms. Shaw, of the Canadian Forest Service, found that 35 to 40 percent of the plots she examined in northern Alberta contained earthworms. The leaf litter, which can be more than a foot thick, was thin and churned up where earthworms were present.

If Dr. Cameron’s calculations bear out, it means the lowly earthworm stands to alter the carbon balance of the planet by adding to the load in the atmosphere.

The global boreal forest is a muscular part of Earth’s carbon cycle; at least one-fifth of the carbon that cycles through air, soil and oceans passes through the boreal, said Sylvie Quideau, a soil biogeochemist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Currently, the boreal absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than it adds, but that is changing.

On one hand, warmer temperatures could extend the growing season, allowing trees to grow bigger and store more carbon, said Dr. Kurz, the forest researcher in British Columbia. But rising temperatures also release carbon to the atmosphere, by thawing permafrost and increasing the number of forest fires.

All told, he sees earthworms as another factor — if not the main one — nudging the boreal toward becoming a global source of carbon.

In northern Minnesota, the boreal forest has slowly been invaded by earthworms. They have altered not just the depth of the leaf litter but also the types of plants the forest supports, said Adrian Wackett, who studied earthworms in the North American and European boreal forest for his master’s degree at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul.

Endemic species such as the pink and white lady’s slipper — Minnesota’s state flower — as well as ferns, orchids and the saplings of coniferous trees rely on the spongy layer of leaf litter.

As earthworms feast on that layer, they allow nonnative plants such as European buckthorn and grasses to thrive, which in turn push out endemic plants. This process, combined with the effects of warming over time, may slowly transform Minnesota’s boreal forest into prairie, Mr. Wackett said.

“Even though worms themselves are tiny and don’t individually seem to constitute a threat, when you think of how many of them there are, they’re very important organisms, for the good or the bad,” said Mr. Wackett.

Last summer, Mr. Wackett and his supervisor, Kyungsoo Yoo, a soil scientist at the University of Minnesota, found that invasive earthworms also have spread to parts of Alaska’s boreal forest, including the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

In severely affected areas, the biomass of earthworms underground is 500 times greater than the biomass of moose in the same areas. Even where earthworms were sparse, they still matched the biomass of moose, which is considered a keystone species in Alaska.

To his horror, Dr. Yoo also found earthworms right on the edge of the permafrost in the northern boreal. The pace of permafrost melt and its release of carbon is of great concern to researchers who model climate change.

His biggest concern is that earthworms will penetrate even further north in the boreal and spread into the permafrost. “Their impact alone could be quite devastating, based on what we have been seeing in Minnesota and New England and in parts of Canada,” said Dr. Yoo.

No mechanism exists to eradicate earthworms from the boreal forest; their impact is permanent. However, earthworms move less than 30 feet a year on their own. Educating people to not transport them into unaffected parts of the forest might help keep those areas earthworm-free, said Mr. Wackett.

As scientists analyze the effects of the earthworms they know about, they also are keeping an eye on a new invader: Asian earthworms, which have made their way to southern Quebec and Ontario.

“I’m not sure what their implications are for carbon, but they’re pretty aggressive and they seem potentially to be better competitors than European earthworms,” said Dr. Cameron. “That’s another issue on the horizon.”

wierd seeing ones own mental illness crystalised in posts
boy it would sure suck if this happened right now

This locust infestation originated in the Arabian Peninsula. In 2018, two cyclones dumped heavy rain on an uninhabited portion of the Arabian Peninsula, creating the ideal wet, sandy conditions the desert locusts require to breed. Three generations of breeding occurred in nine months, causing locust numbers to increase by 8,000 times and forming the original source of the East Africa upsurge that is still plaguing the region today.

The swarms leapfrogged over the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to the Horn of Africa. In Somalia, Cyclone Pawan’s landfall in December 2019 triggered widespread flooding. Coupled with above-average vegetation due to good rains, this contributed to another dramatic increase in the pest’s numbers.

The locusts moved west and south, reaching their zenith in Kenya in the early months of this year. Experts estimate they destroyed at least 30% of the pastureland they landed on in Kenya. Here, too, abnormally heavy rains wetted the sandy soil enough to allow the females to lay new eggs in January and February.

Locust eggs take just two weeks to hatch, and wingless baby locusts—referred to as nymphs or hoppers and as tiny as a pinky fingernail—cracked open their eggs on Kenyan soil during February and early March. The hoppers shed their skin multiple times, growing larger until they reach the size of a pinky finger, become adults and grow wings. They band together into devastating swarms that take flight and begin feeding on vegetation.

“That’s what’s been happening in Kenya this past month. More and more of those hoppers have become adults,” said Cressman. “So these are Made in Kenya.”

These swarms are still immature, and take up to four weeks before they are ready to lay eggs. Kenya is more than halfway through this maturation cycle, and the new generation of locust swarms are expected to begin laying eggs within the week.

In Kenya, the locust maturation is coinciding with the onset of the rainy season. Farmers have been sowing crops of maize, beans, sorghum, barley and millet during March and April, in hopes that a favorable rainy season will allow for abundant growth during late April and May. With the locust swarms gaining size and strength, experts fear that up to 100% of farmers’ budding crops could be consumed, leaving some communities with nothing to harvest.

“The concern at the moment is that the desert locust will eat under-emerging plants,” said Cyril Ferrand, FAO’s resilience team leader for Eastern Africa. “This very soft, green material, biomass leaves, rangeland, is, of course, the favorite food for the desert locusts.”

FAO is working with governments and teams from non-governmental organizations to conduct massive aerial pesticide spraying campaigns throughout the region. It hopes the locusts can be controlled temporarily until southerly winds and the dry season pushes them north in June and July.

But Covid-19 poses a challenge to control activities. Disruptions to supply chains have stalled delivery of pesticide shipments, creating stockouts and shortages. Somalia is three weeks behind in receiving a shipment of biopesticides for locust control due to Covid-19 delays. Surveillance equipment, such as helicopters from South Africa, cannot reach East Africa because of lockdowns in countries where they would normally stop to refuel on their journeys north.

If control activities fail and the locusts do not move out of the region, FAO fears that up to an additional 5 million people could become food insecure in East Africa by June of this year.


The sensationalism. fear-mongering and general panic surrounding those Asian giant hornets, aka "murder hornets," detected last year in British Columbia and Washington state, are enough to curdle both the blood and the brain.

First there were the Afrianized honey bees, which sensationalists called "the killer bees."

Don't even mention "assassin flies" or "bullet ants" or "deathwatch beetles."

Now there are the Asian giant hornets (AGH), Vespa mandarinia, which sensationalists have dubbed "murder hornets."

"It's ridiculous to call them murder hornets,” says noted UC Davis wasp expert and researcher Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.

“It's no more likely to sting and kill a human than a honey bee,” said Kimsey, a two-term past president of the International Society of Hymenopterists, an organization that studies bees, wasps, ants, and sawflies.

“Actually it's less likely, as honey bee venom packs quite a punch and it is exclusively designed to defend against vertebrates,” she said.

“The colony everyone is hyperventilating over was actually found on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, last September when it was destroyed and then a single, dead hornet was found in December in Blaine, Wash.,” Kimsey said. “There is no evidence that there are any more hornets in the vicinity of Vancouver or anywhere else on the West Coast.”

A colony of the Asian giant hornets was found and destroyed Sept. 18, 2019 in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, and the single dead hornet was found Dec. 8, 2019 in Blaine.

These were the first detections of this species in North America, but there may be more, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). Beekeepers have reported “observations” (which may or may not be the same species) dating back to October 2019, according to officials in Washington State University's Department of Entomology and Cooperative Extension. They and the beekeeping organizations want to know what's out there and they want folks to keep a lookout for them.

Said Kimsey: “A decade or more ago there was a colony of another species, Vespa asiatica, reported near the Port of Long Beach but nothing ever came of that either. A European species, Vespa crabro, was introduced into the East Coast perhaps a century ago and it is now fully established in the southeastern U.S.”

Kimsey points out that insects often come in cargo boxes from Asia to U.S. ports, establish colonies, and expand their range.

A soon-to-be-published article in the Entomological Society of America's journal, Insect Systematics and Diversity, promises to shed more light on the genus and the history of introductions in the United States.Kimsey and colleagues Allanmith-Pardo of the USDA and James Carpenter of the America Museum of History, New York, co-authored the review article.

In the abstract, the authors define Vespa as social wasps that are “primarily predators of other insects, and some species are know to attack and feed on honey bees, Apis mellifera, which makes them a serious threat to apiculture.”

“Vespa nests can be physically large, with over 1,000 workers, but usually with hundreds of workers,” they wrote. “Nests can be aerial, attached to tree branches or in shrubs, in crevices, under eaves or underground depending on the species. Depending on the latitude, nests can be either annual, started by a new queen every spring, or perennial, where young queens take over from old ones. Colonies in warm tropical climates tend to be perennial.”

Washington State University (WSU) Extension recently published an AGH fact sheet, the work of three scientists: Susan Cobey, bee breeder-geneticist and husband Timothy Lawrence, county director of Island County Extension (both formerly of UC Davis), and Mike Jensen, county director of Pend Oreille. (See https://bit.ly/2SA3TxS)

Yes, hornets are huge. They measure about two inches long, and the queens can fly up to 20 miles per day, said Cobey, who examined specimens in Japan last December and shipped some of them to WSU.

The WSU scientists wrote that AGH “is the world's largest species of hornet, native to temperate and tropical Eastern Asia low mountains and forests. The hornet is well adapted to conditions in the Pacific Northwest.”

“The primary purpose of venom is defense against predators by inflicting pain and damage,” they wrote. ”Vespa mandarinia is one of the two most venomous known insects in the world.. The amount of venom each wasp delivers (4.1 μl/ wasp) has designated V. mandarinia as the most venomous insect. In comparison, the honey bee has about 0.6μl/bee. When foraging for food in spring, the AGH is not highly defensive – unless its nest is disturbed. Late summer and fall, with the high demand for protein, they become very aggressive when attacking or occupying a honey bee colony.”

“It is critical that we identify, trap, and attempt to eliminate this new pest before it becomes established and widespread,” they wrote. “Attempts to contain the spread and eradication of this invasive insect will be most effective in trapping queens during early spring before their nests become established. Finding the nests can be a bit of a challenge. Their nests are typically in the ground though they can also be found under overhangs and within wall voids. The AGH is a strong flier and often will fly up and away and have an extensive flight range. Thus tracking can be difficult.”

They advise residents to “proceed with extreme caution and contact WSDA immediately. Do not try to exterminate the nest yourself.”

The murder hornet is a hoax folks. Its no worse than the common honey bee. Honey bee stingers, extremely venomous. We don't hide inside our steel Hornetgard bunkers for honeybees, do we folks? There was just one case, just a single case, and it was in Blaine, and now it's dead, and now its gone down to zero. And the risk is actually very very low. And there was just a single nest in Vancouver, and no one had ever heard of this before, no one ever had to deal with anything this, but we did it, and we banned travel from China, and we took out the nest folks. We did it better than anyone has ever done it before and now they're all gone and soon, everyone will be saying it. And then the murder hornets will be gone and its like they were never here at all.

hornets are cool i love them

MarxUltor posted:

International Society of Hymenopterists

more locusts


India has been hit by the worst locust storm the country has experienced in nearly 30 years, as the nation grapples with the ongoing coronavirus crisis that has overrun hospitals.

Swarms of millions of desert locusts that stretch up to 4 miles long crossed into the Western state of Rajasthan from Pakistan at the beginning of May and have since entered Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) believes that the current locust crisis was caused by the strong winds that followed the Cyclone Amphan that hit India and Bangladesh on May 20.

The FAO said that desert locusts are the most destructive of the all locust species because of their speed and their ability to quickly multiply. An adult locust can fly up to 93 miles an hour. The swarms have devastated crops in a country that was already grappling with an economic crisis as a result of the pandemic.

Hard-hit states are carrying out locust control operations that involve using drones to break apart swarms and fire trucks to spray pesticides. Rajasthan has been implementing these measures since May 22 but states across the country have since issued alerts to farmers, advising them to make loud noises and light fires to repel the locust. But the swarms are expected to remain for at least another few weeks.

“Several successive waves of invasions can be expected until July in Rajasthan with eastward surges across northern India as far as Bihar and Orissa followed by westward movements and a return to Rajasthan on the changing winds associated with the monsoon,” the FAO said in their Desert Locust Situation Update.

Earlier this year, East Africa was also hit by a locust outbreak, the worst the continent had seen in decades.

i like how through some distant unfathomable nudge to a lump of ice in the oort cloud long ago the brightest comet 23 years appears overhead in 2020 like an ironic harbinger of plague

tears posted:

i like how through some distant unfathomable nudge to a lump of ice in the oort cloud long ago the brightest comet 23 years appears overhead in 2020 like an ironic harbinger of plague

and we also have floods and locusts


drwhat posted:

all the bugs are dead. the water smells like rotting meat. worms consume all plants. heat waves inexorably eradicate all life in the tropics.

cool, nice

We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine
And the machine is bleeding to death

The sun has fallen down
And the billboards are all leering
And the flags are all dead at the top of their poles

The skyline was beautiful on fire
All twisted metal stretching upwards
Everything washed in a thin orange haze

I open up my wallet
And it's full of blood

the sky was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel that was orange
Johnny Fiveaces powered down the magnabike with a not quite unhearble hum and checked his chronometer. “Damn.” he hissed threw his clinched teeth which were surrounded by the stubble of five days where in he had not shaven himself at all. It was almost chromodawn at Clashpoint. Alreddy the sun was sitting Walliston’s Hill ah blaze like so much molten meddle or a coin, gyreating in the air, tossed there by the uncaring hand of an imaginary god that doesn’t exist, borne from the interior minds of the hobbled masses. The sky was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel that was orange. Damn, he, Johnny, thought. We thought we were opening a new beginning with our mad dreams of time travail but ironically the only time now is the time of which we’re out of. It’s almost humorous. Yeah, I could almost laugh, if I hadn’t cried that part of me away when my parents were maccasared by Dr. Malaprop and the government sanctioned murderers of “CAPITAL”.

He lit a Nicosheen brand swaggerette and took a dip drag, sinking farther into his inferior horologue. He thought of Nina and her mellifluous buttocks that he used to love to bang. Even now his nano enhanced hearing could almost hear her vagina lips quivering with moisture and also pleasure, like a slice of synth-ham being tongued by one of Malaprop’s slamhounds. When he got back to City5, he was going to do some sex, no doubt about that. “That’s right doll” he said to nobody and the wind. They were going to do it hard. He smiled, blowing smoke from his nostrils. They were going to do it cyber hard.

per capita emissions by county. you can see that the suburbs act as a sort of heat-sink and ventilation system for the urban centers. these already run ten or fifteen degrees hotter than the surrounding area; if emissions weren't vented away from the cities to the suburbs, they would overheat and seize up.

Edited by swampman ()

Jet stream rememberance and fond memories thread
the western U.S. is about to declare its first water shortage, its literal high water mark as a doomed project. Literally the best case here is a slow yearly transformation back into deserts and scrubland, the dieback of cities and the end of “the lower 48” as we know it.
I mean technically the best case is nationwide nuclear bombardment but you get the idea.

cars posted:

I mean technically the best case is nationwide nuclear bombardment but you get the idea.

i think the best case would be the liberation of oppressed peoples and a transition into ecologically sustainable socialism but at this point i am willing to consider your attractive alternative

a year of worldwide plague and food processing/commodities trader mega-corporation Archer-Daniels-Midland's stock price goes through the roof. Probably fine.
yeah they getting p good with those imitation meat products, lots of folks are int hat sort of thing these days

I remember us talking on here about how the oil & gas industry is way behind the times on security, how its largest companies have paid big money for security assessments and gotten failing grades that they totally ignore, which is usually a giant publicity no-no in other industries. The response from the poster I asked about that said, Well, it's just going to take one major incident before it's suddenly and belatedly a huge deal to everyone. tHE r H i z z o n E again by a mile.


cars posted:

the funny part to me about what little i know about oil & gas management is that they will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in, say, alberta to have a "cyber security" assessment done and then they will completely ignore the findings which are real bad in the most polite way that real bad things can be phrased. believe it or not shareholder pressure usually provides genuine impetus at high levels in most industries to make some sort of nominal effort to address findings like that, mainly because of bad press if the findings leak to the media and then those earlier stories about "they ignored warnings" get cited by the news during a later breach. i have heard a lot of theories from a lot of greedy people outside the industry itself on why that's different for oil & gas but not a lot of convincing ones... if you have any idea sunny i'm curious. is it just the intertwining of the industry and national security so they feel they can ignore it?

sunny posted:

in my experience it's risk management at the lowest allowable decision-making level (like site leadership or regional leadership, not company-level). leadership chooses that it's not a high enough risk to make an investment. There's no obvious return unless something's happened in the past so that when you calculate NPV, IRR, w/e you can put negative capital in the "benefits" line item and pass the red face test (i.e. don't just straight up lie even if it's the right thing to do).

also, there's the "if it interests my boss, it fascinates me" mindset---if it's not a priority to the current leadership, it's easy to dismiss as a priority on an individual level.

I feel like this sort of thing is exactly the same across most corporations. am I wrong?

cars posted:

it happens at higher levels in some companies but what i guess i'm asking is why the process results in fewer B2B contracts for risk services for that industry. and i guess it might just be that it's a lack of past events...? that's stuff I wouldn't have a window into.

sunny posted:

I really think that's all it is. Management by disaster. Plus hot-potato style apathy in capital-starved environments (naturally downward spiraling).

that's... more nail on the head than I remember it being. maybe we should just write the Times and take credit
And we were almost exactly 4 years ahead of events.......

on second thought maybe we should destroy that thread, shut down the forums and disappear into the hill country (Snapchat)
rhizzone instigating another crime
I remember a post by maybe toyot? (RIP) about how easy it is to get on an oil/gas extraction site and just walk around collecting loose nuts and bolts falling off the shoddily built machines
California just declared that they can’t fight fires effectively this summer because water levels in their reservoirs are too low. Putting in a formal request for the Oakland Rhizzone Fraktion to investigate burning the entire state to the ground