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(Will Burgess/Reuters)
(Will Burgess/Reuters)

Belief in global warming rises, but for wrong reasons Add to ...

Warming to the idea

“Americans’ belief in global warming is on the rise, along with temperatures and surprising weather changes, according to a new university poll,” Associated Press reports. “The survey by the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College says 62 per cent of those asked last December think the Earth is getting warmer. That’s up from 55 per cent in the spring of that year and 58 per cent in December, 2010. It’s the highest proportion in two years. Nearly half the people who say they believe in global warming base that on personal observations of the weather. Climate researchers say that’s reaching the correct conclusion for reasons that aren’t quite right.”

Ancient tree destroyed

The Senator was the largest pond cypress in the United States and, at 3,500 years old, the fifth-oldest individual tree in the world, says Grist.org. “[O] Jan. 16, the Florida tree burned from the inside out. Authorities initially ruled out arson, saying that friction or smouldering lightning damage may have started the fire.” They later arrested a 26-year-old woman “for lighting the Senator on fire while sitting inside it doing meth. Police became suspicious when they found that [the woman]had taken cellphone pictures of the tree fire in progress and uploaded them to her laptop. … When police confiscated her phone and computer, [she]told investigators that she and a friend had been getting high inside the hollow tree and ‘lit a fire so they could see better.’ The fire then destroyed the tree in a matter of hours.”

Too many cars?

“His family made its fortune selling cars to the masses, but now Bill Ford Jr. is fretting about selling too many,” Associated Press reports. “The great-grandson of Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford has been thinking ahead to a time when there will be too much traffic in the world’s major cities. Already there is congestion that only will get worse as the world population grows by another two billion people to nine billion in 40 years. … He says technology is moving so fast that solutions are already starting to happen. In five or so years, more cars will have radar-based cruise control that automatically stops them from running into each other. More will have blind spot monitoring systems that stop cars from changing lanes if something’s in the way. By 2025, he sees cars using these features to communicate with each other, perhaps even taking over the driving in a traffic jam to find the best way out.”

Gigantic fleas

“In the Jurassic era, even the flea was a beast, compared to its minuscule modern descendants. These pesky bloodsuckers were nearly an inch long,” reports Associated Press. “New fossils found in China are evidence of the oldest fleas – from 125 million to 165 million years ago, said Diying Huang of the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology. Their disproportionately long proboscis, or straw-like mouth, had sharp weapon-like serrated edges that helped them bite and feed from their supersized hosts, he and other researchers reported Wednesday in the journal Nature. Scientists figure about eight or more of today’s fleas would fit on the burly back of their ancient ancestor.”

Neanderthals, ahoy

“Neanderthals may have taken to the seas to become ancient mariners centuries before modern humans managed the same trick, researchers in Greece say,” United Press International reports. “Archeological evidence suggests our extinct cousins may have made voyages in the Mediterranean in boats at least 100,000 years ago. Neanderthals lived around the Mediterranean beginning 300,000 years ago, and now their distinctive ‘Mousterian’ stone tools have been found on both the Greek mainland and, intriguingly, on the Greek islands of Lefkada, Kefalonia and Zakynthos, NewScientist.com reported. … [M]dern humans are thought to have taken to the seas just 50,000 years ago.

Thought du jour

“I am I plus my surroundings; and if I do not preserve the latter, I do not preserve myself.”

Jose Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955)

Spanish philosopher

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