Squeezing Out the Natives

Pythons Eating Through Everglades Mammals at

via Pythons Eating Through Everglades Mammals at “Astonishing” Rate?.

From rabbits to deer to even bobcats, invasive Burmese pythons appear to be eating through the Everglades’ supply of mammals, new research shows.Since the giant constrictors took hold in Florida in 2000, many previously common mammals have plummeted in number—and some, such as cottontail rabbits, may be totally gone from some areas.

Pythons, an invasive, non-native species, have been let loose in Florida, probably by owners who tired of them.  The climate is conducive to their survival and reproduction, so they have emerged as a threat to many native species of Florida’s animals.

Indigenous animals are adapted to the local predators, but the introduction of this exotic snake has wreaked havoc on the ecosystem.  Many mammals seem to have disappeared from the local fauna, and others have declined precipitously.

Raccoon observations dropped by 99.3 percent, opossum by 98.9 percent, and bobcat by 87.5 percent. The scientists saw no rabbits or foxes at all during their surveys.

At some point a new balance point will be reached – without food, pythons will die off, which will allow some species to rebound.  But the ecosystem is altered.

“We have taken strong action to battle the spread of the Burmese python and other nonnative species that threaten the Everglades and other areas across the United States,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a statement.

“There’s no single solution to this conservation challenge, but banning the importation and interstate transport of these invasive snakes is a critical step.”

Invasive species are changing ecosystems around the world,  What will the future hold?  How will the indigenous species cope with invaders?  Only science and time will tell.

Istanbul, Turkey : Image of the Day

Istanbul, Turkey : Image of the Day.

Istanbul has grown by more than 11 million people in the last 50 years, and the city has expanded to accommodate its new population.

NASA’s Image of the Day contrasts the city’s extent in 1975 with it’s current size.  A new bridge across the Bosporus strait opened in 1988 (the first was completed in 1975) and the city grew north east towards the newest bridge.

Istanbul is the only city to occupy two continents -Europe to the north, and Asia to the south.  It was founded in 330 CE, and served as a trading center and gateway between the 3 continents of the “Old World” for many centuries.

Immigrant Experience

this is the link to the article in the NYT that goes along with the video we watched today.

La Nina returns

via Drought Causes Mexico Food Shortages : Image of the Day.

The growing season of 2011 was not kind to the southern United States and northern Mexico. As racing fires, heat, and record-dry conditions in Texas claimed attention, crops were quietly failing across the border in northern Mexico.

The current La Nina, which is strengthening again, is probably to blame for the prolonged drought.  Mexico has begun food deliveries to  Tarahumara communities in the northern region of Mexico, which have hit hard by food shortages due to the drought.

The peaking La Nina will bring rain and storms to parts of North America, but here in Texas we have more drought to look forward to.

Polenta doesn’t explode

via Rioting in Romania: The battle of Bucharest | The Economist.

“POLENTA doesn’t explode” is the gnomic phrase Romanians use to describe the attitude of resigned acceptance typical to the country. But this weekend something snapped. Thousands of people took to the streets in Bucharest and 40 other towns, venting their anger at their leaders’ perceived incompetence in dealing with Romania’s economic crisis

Like other Eastern and southern European states, Romania is experiencing economic problems.  Many of their issues are due to the legacy of their Soviet-influenced history, including a lack of industry and major pollution problems.

Although Romania’s riots did not make the US news, they are making headlines in Europe, just another sign of growing economic problems for European Union members.




Here It Goes Again

via Exclusive: EU agrees to embargo on Iranian crude | Reuters.

(Reuters) – European governments have agreed in principle to ban imports of Iranian oil, EU diplomats said on Wednesday, dealing a blow to Tehran that crowns new Western sanctions months before an Iranian election.

If the deal is approved by the EU, Iran will be ‘between a rock and a hard place.’  Other customers of Iran, including China and India, will be able to force steep price discounts, leaving Iran in hard economic straits.  Already the price for foodstuff has soared in Iran, and the value of their currency is dropping.

The embargo will force Tehran to find other buyers for oil. EU countries buy about 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iran’s 2.6 million bpd in exports, making the bloc collectively the second largest market for Iranian crude after China.

Biggest trading partner China, driving a hard bargain, has cut its orders of Iranian oil by more than half this month.

The economic sanctions and the oil embargo are a result of Iran’s nuclear program.  Although Tehran claims it is only for peaceful purposes, many other nations believe they intend to develop nuclear weapons.  Talks aimed at allowing UN inspectors into the country to visit the program broke down a year ago.

The oil embargo has already caused the price of crude to rise, and any embargo will be implemented in stages, to prevent a shock to the market.

In response to the proposed embargo Iran has been threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, and on Tuesday they threatened to take unspecified action if a US carrier group sails back into the Persian Gulf.

Washington, which has a carrier strike group led by the USS John C Stennis in the Arabian Sea, brushed off that threat and said its navy would continue to sail the strait.

What will happen if Iran follows through on it’s threat?  How high will the price of oil go if the embargo takes place?  Where will Europe and China go for ‘replacement’ oil?


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