The politics of oil and ecology have put President Obama between a rock and hard place, as he faces a decision on whether or not to permit construction of a new pipeline. The squeeze just got tighter with a new, negative environmental assessment.
The Keystone XL pipeline will give America energy independence, thousands of jobs, important industrial infrastructure and won't cost taxpayers a dime, say proponents. Many of them are Republican lawmakers.
It is dangerous, inherently filthy and must be stopped, say opponents, some of whom are Democrats who helped get the president elected.FULL STORY
Breathtaking blossoms nearly the size of our solar systemare strewn across the universe - hundreds of thousands of them. Quasars are, at the same time, among the most fiery monsters.
Astronomer Maarten Schmidt was the first to discover one and revealed it to the world 50 years ago Saturday in an article in the journal Nature.
His discovery was a sensation in the 1960s and made its way into pop culture. It was the age of the first manned space flights.FULL STORY
Global warming has propelled Earth's climate from one of its coldest decades since the last ice age to one of its hottest - in just one century.
A heat spike like this has never happened before, at least not in the last 11,300 years, said climatologist Shaun Marcott, who worked on a new study on global temperatures going back that far.
Things are set to get much worse in the future.FULL STORY
Interpol has issued an international wanted notice for conservationist and “Whale Wars” TV star Paul Watson, days after he skipped bail in Germany as Costa Rica tried to have him extradited.
Watson was arrested at Germany’s Frankfurt airport on May 13 on an arrest warrant issued by Costa Rica, which accuses him of endangering a fishing vessel off the coast of Guatemala in 2002.
He posted roughly $302,000 bail and was ordered to remain in Germany as it considered Costa Rica’s extradition request, but he stopped reporting to authorities on July 22, a German court said. Watson left Germany and forfeited his bail, according to his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which isn’t revealing his location.
“Following confirmation from German authorities that Paul Watson had failed to satisfy the bail conditions established by the German courts and had fled the country, Costa Rican authorities renewed their request” for Interpol to issue an international wanted notice for Watson, which Interpol did Tuesday, Interpol said.
Costa Rican authorities allege that Watson – whose attempts to disrupt Japanese whalers at sea gained him fame on Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars” TV show – and his crew aboard Sea Shepherd’s Ocean Warrior ship endangered a Costa Rican fishing vessel during a confrontation off Guatemala’s coast.
A Chinese city has canceled a $157 bounty on piranha after people killed too many other fish in a four-day hunt, Chinese state media reported Friday.
Government officials in the southern city of Liuzhou had offered a 1,000-yuan ($157) reward for every piranha caught after at least three of the sharp-toothed fish attacked two swimmers in the Liujiang River over the weekend, biting off parts of one person's finger, state-run agency Xinhua reported.
But no one caught any piranha in the four-day river hunt, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper.
And too many local fish breeds were being killed, including in nets, prompting concern about the river's ecological balance, the head of the local fishery bureau told China Daily.
Saying "I do" under unusual circumstances – Most wedding ceremonies are predictable and filled with special traditions and customs. However, we've found a few unconventional weddings off the beaten path, and they are worth a look!
See how a tornado, mermaids and one man's surprise plot played a role in these weddings.
Caleb and Candra Pence exchanged vows as a tornado touched down near their outdoor wedding ceremony in Harper, Kansas.
Two couples in China held their wedding ceremonies underwater in an aquarium.
One woman was shocked when her boyfriend surprised her with a proposal, immediately followed by their wedding.
Controversial Sea Shepherd conservationist and "Whale Wars" star Paul Watson was released from a German jail on Monday after posting 250,000 euros ($318,000) bail in an extradition case from Costa Rica.
Watson, whose attempts to disrupt Japanese whalers at sea gained fame through Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars” TV show, was detained last weekend at the Frankfurt airport after Costa Rica issued an international request for his arrest.
Costa Rican authorities allege that Watson’s crew aboard Sea Shepherd’s Ocean Warrior ship endangered a Costa Rican fishing vessel during a confrontation off Guatemala’s coast in 2002, according to the Frankfurt court.
The court ruled Friday that Germany will consider the request and that Costa Rica will have 90 days to make its case. The German Ministry of Justice then will decide whether to extradite Watson.
Speaking outside the prison Monday, Watson defended what happened in the Costa Rica case.
On this Arbor Day, when people are encouraged to plant trees, meet a Kentucky physician who has planted more than 750,000 of them on his own land.
Dr. James Middleton, 68, who also is a farmer and forester near Munfordville, Kentucky, began adding to his family’s land holdings in the 1970s, buying areas along the Green River that others had stripped of timber and abandoned. He’d plant trees such as oak and black walnut, and then harvest some of the wood, but replant.
His sustainable management of 3,000 acres of woods not only makes money, but also reduces soil erosion along the river, preserving the river’s quality for communities miles downstream, the Arbor Day Foundation says.
On Saturday, the foundation will give him its annual Good Steward Award, which recognizes stewardship and conservation efforts on private land, in a ceremony in Nebraska City, Nebraska.
“All this was forest at one time. Mankind started farming it and opening it up, and now we’re trying to plant some of it back,” Middleton said by phone Friday.
A large owl from the eastern United States might pay for its intrusion into the West Coast if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has its way.
The service is considering an experiment in which it would kill or transfer some barred owls – sometimes referred to as the hoot owl, thanks to its call – as part of a plan to preserve the smaller northern spotted owl, the agency said in a report this week.
The U.S. government has listed the northern spotted owl, whose range includes British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California, as a threatened species since 1990. Its population declined by 40% in the last 25 years, not only because of shrinking habitat, but also because the barred owl moved into the area starting in the late 1950s, the service says.
“Larger, more aggressive and more adaptable than the northern spotted owl, barred owls are known to displace spotted owls, disrupt their nesting and compete with them for food,” the service says on the Interior Department’s website. "Researchers have also observed instances of barred owls interbreeding with or killing spotted owls."
The service is now proposing killing or capturing barred owls in limited areas of the other owl’s range to see whether the removals allow the other owl’s population to bounce back.
The service is calling for one to 11 experiment sites in areas including national parks and recreation areas. Depending on the number of sites, the service would kill or transfer 257 to nearly 8,960 barred owls, according to the service’s environmental impact statement on the plan.
Scientists have found what they say is a new family of legless amphibians in Northeast India – animals they say may have diverged from similar vertebrates in Africa when the land masses separated tens of millions of years ago.
The find, the scientists say, might foreshadow other discoveries in Northeast India and might help show the area played a more important evolutionary role than previously thought.
The creatures are part of an order of limbless, soil-dwelling amphibians called caecilians – not to be confused with snakes, which are reptiles. Caecilians were previously known to consist of nine families in Asia, Africa and South America.
But different bone structures in the head distinguish this apparent 10th family, and DNA testing links the creatures not to other caecilians in India, but to caecilians that are exclusively from Africa, the scientists report this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London.
The new family has been dubbed Chikilidae by the scientists from India, Belgium and the United Kingdom, including lead author Rachunliu Kamei, who was pursuing her doctorate at University of Delhi. The team found them during what it believes is the first caecilian survey in Northeast India, digging at 238 sites from 2006 to 2010.
“It’s an amazing thing to find a new family, especially vertebrates, in this day in age,” Global Wildlife Conservation president Don Church, who was not part of the team but knows Kamei and the team’s other scientists, told CNN on Thursday. “Birds, reptiles and amphibians really were thought to have been well worked out at the family level.”
Russian scientists briefly pierced the two-mile-thick veil over a freshwater lake hidden beneath Antarctica's ice sheet for millions of years, polar researchers announced Wednesday.
Scientists hope samples of Lake Vostok, a body the size of Lake Ontario, will yield signs of previously undiscovered life and new clues about the history of the planet. The lake is believed to have been covered by ice for up to 30 million years.
Russian researchers completed the drilling effort Sunday, reaching the lake at a depth of 3,769 meters (2.3 miles) into the ice, the St. Petersburg-based Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute reported.
When the ice above the lake was breached, lake water was sucked up into the bore and froze, the Russians said. That will allow researchers to take samples back to the surface without contaminating the lake below, they said.FULL STORY
Scientists say they recently captured “supergiant” deep-sea crustaceans nearly a foot long – the likes of which have rarely been seen – in an ocean trench off New Zealand.
The seven amphipods measure about 28 centimeters (about 11 inches) long, which is 10 times the length of normal deep-sea amphipods and nearly three times the size of what are considered giant amphipods, Scotland’s University of Aberdeen said Thursday.
They are the biggest whole specimens of supergiants ever recorded, according to the university.
The team’s deep-sea cameras also caught footage of a supergiant that scientists estimated was about 34 centimeters (13 inches) long.
Though the creatures may remind observers of shrimp, amphipods are an order apart.
Scientists with the university and New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research were looking for deep-sea snailfish when a trap made the unexpected catch.
“(After) the traps came on deck … I stopped and thought, ‘What on Earth is that?’ whilst catching a glimpse of an amphipod far bigger than I ever though possible,” the voyage’s leader, Alan Jamieson of the University of Aberdeen's Oceanlab, said in a news release. “It’s a bit like finding a footlong cockroach.”
It's too early to call the rescue near Cape Cod a success, but it looks like there's good news for a fifth of the dolphins that began washing ashore on the Massachusetts coast earlier this month.
The majority of the dolphins rescued during the "mass strandings" have survived and appear to be tooling about off the coast of Maine, according to a news release from the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Rescuers put satellite tracking tags on six of the 24 animals that they have rescued and released since January 12, when rescuers began finding dozens of common and Atlantic white-sided dolphins along a 25-mile stretch of shoreline.
As many as 100 dolphins may have been stranded during the episode, 50 of which were dead when they were discovered, wrote IFAW senior program coordinator A.J. Cady earlier this week. Three of the dolphins with tracking tags died after being released.
"We're all exhausted, muddy and unsure what tomorrow will bring," Cady wrote Tuesday, "but rest assured, if more dolphins strand, we'll do everything in our power to rescue and release them into open ocean."
Material from a Sunday solar eruption hit the Earth on Tuesday, helping to create the planet's strongest solar radiation storm in more than eight years, NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center said.
The eruption also has caused a minor geomagnetic storm, expected to continue at least through Tuesday. Together, the storms could affect GPS systems, other satellite systems and radio communications near the poles, the SWPC and NASA said.
The storms prompted some airlines to divert planes from routes near the north pole, where radio communications may be affected and passengers at high altitudes may be at "a higher than normal radiation risk," the SWPC said.FULL STORY
People in the Northwest are digging out from major storms this week. Some are taking advantage of the fresh powder, but winter sports come with risks. When things go wrong, they can go very wrong. Watch these incredible survival stories from athletes who were caught in avalanches.
Snowmobile scare – A group of buddies in Washington State headed out for a fun day on snowmobiles but got a major scare, instead. One man was caught in an avalanche and was unable to move or breathe under the snow. His friend captured the whole thing on his helmet cam.
Searchers spent a third day Wednesday looking for a Glacier National Park employee who didn’t return from a hike they believe he took in a steep, mountainous part of the park in Montana, officials said.
Jacob “Jake” Rigby, 27, was reported overdue at 2 a.m. Monday after failing to return from a hike he started on his personal time the day before, the park said in a news release.
On Tuesday – the second day of a search involving ground crews and helicopters – searchers found what park officials believe is his signature on a register at the summit of the park’s Brave Dog Mountain. It was dated Sunday, the park said.
Scientists tracking one of Africa’s most elusive and poorly understood animals say they’ve recorded a rare – and possibly the only publicly released – video of the species in the wild.
The video, recorded by a motion-activated camera placed in a Gabon forest, shows an African golden cat: a shy, medium-sized feline that ducks human contact and lives in hard-to-access parts of central African forests.
“As far as we know, it’s never before been filmed (in the wild) for ... the public domain,” said Luke Hunter, president of Panthera, the conservation group providing most of the funding for the team that captured the video in July.
The footage, photos and other information that the team is gathering – part of an effort to get a population estimate in certain areas of Gabon’s forests – could contribute to a greater understanding of the species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature, which lists the animal as near-threatened, says it is not only infrequently observed in the wild, it is “Africa’s least studied felid.”
Graduate student Laila Bahaa-el-din is leading the survey team, which hopes its population estimates in four categories of Gabonese forest can give governments, logging companies and other groups useful information to help preserve the species.
“I don’t think I can put (capturing the video) into words,” Bahaa-el-din said of the rarity of the footage. “I live and dream golden cats most days. To get back to camp and put the (footage) on the computer and have this cat basically posing for the camera, it’s incredible. I watched it five times in a row and pretty much didn’t sleep that night.”
Hurricane Irene made landfall off the coast of North Carolina early Saturday morning. With a cloud field more than 800 miles wide and maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, the storm is massive. Despite being downgraded to a category 1 hurricane, Irene is still a force to be reckoned with, bringing heavy flooding and damaging winds as it continues its path up the eastern seaboard from Virginia to Maine. Today, you've gotta watch the most dramatic video of Hurricane Irene.
Hurricane coverage generally means plenty of reporters in the rain. They tell you to steer clear of the storm and seek shelter when they're planning to do the exact opposite. It seems odd, right? All this hurricane talk reminded us of other memorable weather moments. You've gotta watch these correspondents tackle fierce winds, heavy rain and flying debris. And don't worry, it's OK to laugh. We won't judge you.
A mysterious orange substance found on the shores of an Alaskan village this month is a mass of fungal spores, not microscopic eggs as an initial analysis indicated, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.
The spores are consistent with those that come from a fungus that causes rust, a plant-only disease that causes a rust-like appearance on leaves and stems, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service said.
A NOAA lab in Juneau, Alaska, said last week that the substance appeared to be a mass of microscopic eggs, possibly those of a small crustacean. But samples were then taken to a NOAA lab with more advanced equipment – including a scanning electron microscope – in Charleston, South Carolina, NOAA spokeswoman Julie Speegle said.
That equipment and consultation with various specialists helped lead to the latest determination, said Steve Morton, a research oceanographer with the Charleston lab. It’s not known whether the spores belong to one of the 7,800 known rust fungi species, NOAA said.
“The spores are unlike others we and our network of specialists have examined. However, many rust fungi of the Arctic tundra have yet to be identified,” Morton said in a news release.