Discovered: First sighting of spade-toothed whale; huge temperature spike predicted in this century; natural insect repellant; how an ancient volcano eruption precipitated acid rain.
Temperatures could soar come 2100. When even one of the Big Four accountancy firms says that global warming is speeding up at alarming rates, maybe it's time to end the debate on whether climate change is happening or not. PricewaterhouseCoopers has issued a report detailing the effects irresponsible fossil fuel use will have on our climate's future, estimating that temperatures could rise by six degrees Celsius (about 11 degrees Fahrenheit) by the year 2100. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change set a goal of keeping climate change reigned in to an increase of no more than two degrees (Celsius) every century, but it's not looking like we'll be able to meet that. The global economy would have to "decarbonize" by 5.1 percent every year for nearly four decades if we plan to get back in that range. Reductions of that scale have never happend since records began at the end of World War II. PwC partner Leo Johnson, one of the researchers behind these alarming figures, says, "This isn't shock tactics, it's simple maths. We're heading into uncharted territory for the scale of transformation and technical innovations required. Whatever the scenario, or response, business as usual is not an option." [The Independent]
Spade-toothed whales spotted. Up until now, we've only known the spade-toothed whale through its remains. A Scottish geologist named James Hector identified a skull bone discovered on New Zealand's Pitt island in 1871 as belonging to a distinct species of beaked whale, due to its protruding jaw. But for nearly a century and a half, no one had ever seen a spade-toothed whale. Until 2010, when people hanging out on New Zealand's Opape Beach saw a male and female spade-toothed whale wash ashore. Of course, they didn't know that the creatures were spade-toothed whales, but they called in experts from Department of Conservation, who were sure to take samples from the beached whales before they died. Later, in the lab, Kirsten Thompson of the University of Auckland was able to make a match—these were the first spade-toothed whales to have ever been positively identified by human eyes. The authors behind a paper just published in Current Biology write, "We can now confirm that the spade-toothed whale is extant and for the first time we have a description of the world’s rarest and perhaps most enigmatic marine mammal." [Discover]