Last week, National Geographic published some stinkin' fantastic photos of trees cocooned in spider webs. Apparently high flood waters in Pakistan caused the web-spinning critters to scurry to high, dry land -- namely these trees.
Here are some fun points from the article:
"The giant spider webs in Sindh, Pakistan, sometimes stretched from tree to tree..."
"...scientists determined that dozens of spider species were spinning the communal webs."
"The huge webs ultimately killed many of the trees they covered, perhaps by reducing the amount of sunlight reaching their leaves. But for a while, the webs also seemed to help trap more mosquitoes in the region, thereby reducing the risk of malaria..."
"While unusual, trees cocooned in spider webs are not unprecedented. Scientists have reported similar webs in other parts of the world, the tropics in particular."
Courtesy Nadir B
United Nation claims more than four million Pakistanis have been made homeless by nearly 3 weeks of flooding.
The number of Pakistani flood victims in need of urgent humanitarian relief has risen from six million to eight million, the U.N. said."
Outbreaks of cholera are common in large floods. Getting safe drinking water to many millions of people is urgent.
"We could have up to 140,000 cases of cholera," Sabatinelli (WHO) said. "We are preparing ourselves for that."
The after effects of this Pakistan flooding are worse than the 2004 Tsunami or the earthquakes in China and Haiti. Rebuilding roads, bridges, and buildings, and providing food, water and shelter to the many millions of flood victims is going to take billions of dollars.
Globally, at least 14 different countries have reported all-time record high temperatures this year. AOL News
"President Dmitry Medvedev called the fires "a natural disaster" Discovery News
Hundreds of thousands of firefighters, including army troops battled forest fires raging across central Russia in a heat wave that has killed more than 30 people.
Over a thousan people have died or are missing in central and southern China in the country's worst floods in more than a decade. The huge Three Gorges Dam, designed to withstand a 10,000 year flood, was within 20m of overflowing.
Over a million people are effected by the flooding in Pakistan. In Swat alone, the floods have destroyed more than 14,600 houses and 22 schools.
Officials from the World Health Organization are visiting Pakistan to investigate several cases of bird flu in humans. The disease, which is very similar to human influenza, has not yet been shown to be contagious -- you can catch it from birds, but not from another person. If it ever mutates into a form that can be transmitted person-to-person, that could have very dire consequences -- people have no immunity to the disease, and there is no vaccine yet.
There was a 7.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Pakistan on October 8th, 2005 at 8:50am Pakistan time (that's 10:50pm on Friday in Minnesota). The earthquake devastated the region, leaving many villages destroyed and killing thousands in Pakistan and India. It is one of the strongest earthquakes to hit this area in living memory. Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf described the disaster as the country's "worst-ever."
The earth's continents rest upon large plates of rock that are slowly moving around the surface of the earth. For millions of years, the Indian subcontinent has been slowly moving north towards Europe and Asia (Eurasia). About 40-50 million years ago (mya), India slammed into Eurasia. Because both India and Eurasia were continents the Eurasia crust crumpled upwards, creating the Himalayan mountains. The leading edge of India was eventually forced underneath the continent in a process geologists call subduction. This movement is still happening today. However, as India continues to move slowly north, it gets hung up and energy builds. When enough energy builds up, there are short bursts of movement, releasing this massive energy and shaking and buckling the ground in what we call an earthquake.
In the last hundred years, several other earthquakes of similar strength have struck this region: