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250 million is the new 40: Mammals may already be halfway done on Earth, study finds

Mammals time on earth may be over

You can say this about mammals: We've had a good run.

Over the 250 million years since the first mammals diverged from reptiles and birds, we hairy, warm-blooded vertebrates have come to dominate the Earth, with rodents and humans and ungulates and whales living on nearly every inch of the planet.

But the end to that reign may come much sooner than traditionally thought, suggests a new study published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Scientists have long thought that life on Earth will continue until the planet enters its "runaway greenhouse" phase — a state in which water vapor and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere become so dense that heat can't escape the surface and the oceans boil away, like the planet Venus. That's 2 or 3 billion years away.


Australian wildfire danger causes fire ban in Sydney and closes schools

Australian wildfires

Sydney matched its September maximum temperature record of 34.6 degrees Celsius (94.3 degrees Fahrenheit ) on Tuesday. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology described it as an unusually warm start to spring for much Australia's southeast.

"We are in this run of very, very warm weather which hasn't been seen in many, many years," the bureau's senior meteorologist Miriam Bradbury said.

Authorities said 61 wildfires were burning across Australia's most populous state Tuesday, with 13 burning out of control.

Authorities declared a "catastrophic" fire danger along the south coast of New South Wales, the highest level of danger in a five-tier rating system.


Climate activists block Federal Reserve bank, calling for end to fossil fuel funding

Acttivists block Federal Reserve

One day after the largest climate march since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, hundreds of climate activists blockaded the Federal Reserve Bank in New York to call for an end to funding for coal, oil and gas, with police making scores of arrests.

“Fossil fuel companies … wouldn’t be able to operate without money, and that money is coming primarily from Wall Street,” Alicé Nascimento, environmental campaigns director at New York Communities for Change, said hours before she was arrested.

The action came as world leaders began arriving in New York for the United National general assembly (UNGA) gathering and followed Sunday’s 75,000-person March to End Fossil Fuels, which focused on pushing Biden to urgently phase out fossil fuels. Monday’s civil disobedience had a different but compatible goal, said Renata Pumarol, an organizer with the campaign group Climate Defenders.


Antarctic sea-ice at 'mind-blowing' low alarms experts

Arctic ice at frightening low

The sea-ice surrounding Antarctica is well below any previous recorded winter level, satellite data shows, a worrying new benchmark for a region that once seemed resistant to global warming.

"It's so far outside anything we've seen, it's almost mind-blowing," says Walter Meier, who monitors sea-ice with the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

An unstable Antarctica could have far-reaching consequences, polar experts warn.

Antarctica's huge ice expanse regulates the planet's temperature, as the white surface reflects the Sun's energy back into the atmosphere and also cools the water beneath and near it.


Hurricane Lee will bring heavy rain to already saturated areas of New England

Hurricane Lee to saturate New England

The good news is that Hurricane Lee is weakening and will keep doing so before making landfall near the U.S.-Canada border. The bad news is that it will bring dangerous winds and a massive amount of water to areas that are already saturated from heavy rainfall this summer.

"Regardless of Lee's designation when it approaches New England and Atlantic Canada, it will remain a very large and dangerous cyclone through landfall," the National Hurricane Center said on Thursday.

Here are the latest things to know about Lee:

New England is under watches and warnings

Parts of Maine and Canada are under a hurricane watch, meaning hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours. The alert is in effect from Stonington, Maine, to Canada's New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Hurricane Lee, now very large, is raising wind and surf dangers along the East Coast

Hurricane LeeHurricane Lee will bring perilous rip currents and surf conditions at beaches along the U.S. East Coast this week. And while the strong storm has yet to make landfall anywhere, forecasters are warning people to look out for wind and rain hazards.

Lee is currently a Category 3 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center. It's also much larger than it was just a few days ago: Lee's hurricane-force winds extend up to 90 miles from its center, with tropical storm-force winds extending for some 205 miles. Compare that to last Friday, when its hurricane-force winds extended 35 miles out.

Here are key things to know about Hurricane Lee, as it starts to move north along the U.S. coast:


Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island erupts again after two-month pause

Kilauea erupts again

Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, began erupting after a two-month pause, displaying glowing lava that is a safe distance from people and structures in a national park on Hawaii’s Big Island.

The Hawaii volcano observatory said the eruption was observed on Sunday afternoon at the summit of Kilauea.

The observatory said gases released by the eruption will cause volcanic smog downwind of Kilauea. People living near the park should try to avoid volcanic particles spewed into the air by the eruption, the observatory said.

The volcano’s alert level was raised to warning status and the aviation color code went to red as scientists evaluate the eruption and associated hazards.


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