Italian Alpine chamois and climate change


This is a chamois video from France.

From Wildlife Extra:

Alpine goats shrinking due to global warming

Climate change is causing Alpine goats in the Italian Alps to shrink, say scientists from Durham University.

The researchers, who have been studying the Alpine Chamois for the last 30 years, have found young Chamois now weigh about 25 percent less than animals of the same age in the 1980s. These declines they believe is strongly linked to the region warming by 3-4ºC during the 30 years of the study.

Although this shrinking in itself is not unusual as a lot of studies have found that animals are getting smaller because of the changing climate, this is usually due to the decling availability and nutritional content of their food, which is not true in this case.

The study found no evidence that Alpine meadows grazed by Chamois had been affected by the warming climate. Instead, the team believes that higher temperatures are affecting how chamois behave.

Co-author Dr Stephen Willis said: “We know that Chamois cope with hot periods by resting more and spending less time searching for food, and this may be restricting their size more than the quality of the vegetation they eat.”

“Body size declines attributed to climate change are widespread in the animal kingdom, with many fish, bird and mammal species getting smaller, said lead author Dr Tom Mason. “However the decreases we observe here are astonishing. The impacts on Chamois weight could pose real problems for the survival of these populations.

“This study shows the striking, unforeseen impacts that climate change can have on animal populations. It is vital that we continue to study how climate change affects species such as Chamois. Changes in body size could act as early-warning systems for worse impacts to come, such as the collapses of populations.”

See also here.

Italian hunter thinks cyclist is a hare


This video is called European Hare – Lepus europaeus.

Christiane Koschier

And this photo shows Austrian cyclist Christiane Koschier.

I would say the differences between the two are obvious even to people with bad eyesight.

However, it seems that for some people, having a hunting gun in their hands makes their eyesight worse than extremely bad.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Hunter shoots female cyclist down

Added: Thursday 16 Oct 2014, 14:35
Update: Thursday 16 Oct 2014, 14:38

Austrian professional cyclist Christiane Koschier during a warm-up was shot by a hunter who thought she was a hare.

Koschier was getting ready for a time trial in the Italian town Sossano when she heard a loud bang and felt an intense pain. She found bullets in her leg, arm and hip.

“I do not understand how this could happen,” says the 40-year-old sportswoman to the Italian newspaper L’Arena. “The hunter says he aimed at a hare, but the shot hit me.” She does not understand how the bullets eventually ended up with her. “It was an open place without trees. An open field.” The hunter persists in his statement that he thought he shot a hare.

Luck

Koschier is especially relieved that she was not hit in her head or neck. “I was lucky, it could have been much worse.” Meanwhile, the sportswoman, several times Austrian champion in road racing, can laugh about it a bit again. “We immediately thought some rival in the race would be behind this,” she jokes.

She plans to just go on cycling when she will be fully recovered. “I bike since I was small so I do not just stop.”

This video shows an Italian newspaper report on this.

Young stork killed in Malta by poacher


This video by the BBC’s Chris Packham is called Malta – Massacre on Migration (Episode 1).

From Wildlife Extra:

Tempers flare as Malta temporarily bans legal hunting season

Following the illegal shooting of a rare juvenile white stork, and the growing body of support for the campaign against illegal hunting, the Maltese government has decided to temporarily close the autumn legal hunting season until 10 October.

This move is to prevent illegal hunters using the legal hunting season as a cover to shoot endangered birds.

“The urge to target these protected species is something we continue seeing each and every time rare visitors, such as storks, grace these islands,” said Nicholas Barbara, BirdLife Malta’s Conservation Manager.

The ringed stork was a migrant from a reintroduction project in Udine, Italy that was set up by the local community to help stork repopulate the area.

“This is a loss of great significance as we would have expected the bird to return to Fagagna in a few years to breed,” said Bruno Dentesani the project’s scientific ringer.

“This was its first migration, I’m very sad to hear of this news.”

The government’s decision was welcomed by Birdlife Malta, whose Executive Director, Steve Micklewright said: The government has repeatedly stated that it will not tolerate the illegal hunting of protected species of bird.”

“The announcement shows the government are prepared to take appropriate steps when hunters behave without any respect for the law, as they have done in recent days.”

However, hunters opposed to the government’s decision organised a protest march in Valletta which was attended by up to 200. Later on in the day at least 13 volunteer birdwatchers were then attacked at Buskett as they watched birds coming in to the woodlands at Buskett to rest for the night.

It is believed one elderly man was attacked by about four hunters, his camera was stolen and he was punched in the face and suffered facial injuries. Another sustained a leg injury after he was hit by a rock thrown by a member of the group of hunters.

Geoffrey Saliba, BirdLife Malta President, said: “We understand that those that attacked our volunteers had joined in the demonstration in Valletta earlier in the day and it appears that the attack was planned at that illegal protest.

“No one has been arrested as a result of the attack, but we understand that the volunteers might be able to recognise some of their attackers.”

Read Chris Packham’s thoughts about Malta’s hunting season HERE.

Watch Chris Packham’s films about Malta HERE.

Footballer Balotelli attacked by racists


This soccer video is called Mario Balotelli Amazing Skills 2008 – 2014.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Liverpool star racially abused on Twitter

Monday 22nd September 2014

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli was the victim of racial abuse on Twitter yesterday following his reaction to Manchester United’s shock defeat to Leicester.

Balotelli, part of the Reds side which lost 3-1 at West Ham on Saturday, tweeted: “Man Utd…LOL” in response to United’s 5-3 loss at Filbert Way.

His tweet was met by a string of racist messages, including one from an @CraigSainsbury which read: “F*** you Mario you f****** n*****. Got eat some bananas and get ebola you dirty monkey.”

The account from which the tweet was sent subsequently appeared to have been closed.

Balotelli has been singled out for racist abuse in the past.

He was heckled by Italy supporters during a pre-World Cup training camp in May and was on the receiving end of numerous instances of racist abuse during his time at Inter Milan and, more recently, AC Milan.

Wars are madness, Pope Francis says


This video from Redipuglia in Italy on 6 July 2014 is about a concert ‘against all wars’. Music: Dies Irae by Giuseppe Verdi.

From Associated Press:

Pope urges world to shed apathy toward new threats

By COLLEEN BARRY and LUCA BRUNO

September 13, 2014

REDIPUGLIA, Italy — Pope Francis urged the world Saturday to shed its apathy in the face of what he characterizes as a third world war, intoning “war is madness” at the foot of a grandiose monument to soldiers killed in World War I.

Francis’ aim in recalling those who died in the Great War that broke out 100 years ago was to honor the victims of all wars, and it came at a time when his calls for peace have grown ever more urgent amid new threats in the Middle East and Ukraine.

Standing at an altar beneath the towering Redipuglia memorial entombing 100,000 Italian soldiers fallen in World War I, the pope said “even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction.”

The visit was also infused with intensely personal meaning. The pope’s grandfather fought in Italy’s 1915-17 offensive against the Austro-Hungarian empire waged in the nearby battlefields, surviving to impress upon the future pope the horror of war.

The pope in the past has recalled the “many painful stories from the lips of my grandfather.”

Before arriving at the monument, the pope prayed privately among the neat rows of gravestones for fallen soldiers from five nations buried in a tidy Austro-Hungarian cemetery just a couple of hundred of meters (yards) away.

In his homily during an open-air Mass at the Italian monument, the pope remembered the victims of every war – up to today.

“Today, too, the victims are many,” fallen to behind-the-scenes “interests, geopolitical strategies, lust for money and power,” the pope said.

He lamented that the human toll of “senseless massacres” and “mindless wars” has been met with apathy. Francis urged: “Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep.”

The enduring impact of World War I, 100 years on, is evident in the visitors who continue to make pilgrimages to the monument, although in ever decreasing numbers, said Fogliano di Redipuglia Mayor Antonio Calligaris.

According to a Dutch NOS TV report

The pope inter alia condemned arms dealers and terrorists.

Galileo Galilei and the beginning of physics


This video says about itself:

Galileo (1975) – Joseph Losey (1)

This bio-film is based on Bertold Brecht‘s play about Galileo Galilei, the 17th century Italian who laid the foundations of modern science. Galileo made himself one of the world’s first telescopes and discovered the moons of Jupiter.

He supported Copernicus’ theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun. This brought him in conflict with the Catholic Church. By threatening him with torture, the Church forced him to recant his views in front of a tribunal, and sentenced him to house arrest. However, Galileo’s trials and theories inspired others like Newton and Kepler to prove that the Earth was not the centre of the Universe. Some years ago, the Pope accepted that Earth does revolve around the Sun and issued a rare apology for what the Church had done to Galileo, i.e., the Catholic Church recanted.

By Henry Allan and Bryan Dyne:

The beginning of modern physics

9 September 2014

Renaissance Genius: Galileo Galilei and His Legacy to Modern Science, David Whitehouse, Sterling, 2009 (US $24.95)

This volume is a welcome contribution to the study of the Italian Renaissance, written by the British archeologist David Whitehouse. It gives a comprehensive view of the world of the Italian Renaissance at a time when ideas, discoveries and new inventions accelerated the clash of science with the medieval institution of the Roman Catholic Church. The book’s primary focus is the life and work of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), whose persecution by the Church reflects the tribulations of most of the progressive thinkers of the time.

The book was published to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the year when Galileo turned his significantly improved version of the telescope to the night skies and began to draw the phases of the moon. It is lavishly illustrated with paintings, photographs, and illustrations that depict the time in which Galileo lived, his life, friends, colleagues, adversaries and persecutors.

As Renaissance Genius shows, this was the time of the Inquisition and its imprisonment, torture, and heinous executions of those deemed “heretics.” This included anyone who challenged existing church doctrine, particularly those developing the new techniques of observation, experimentation and the combination of the two with mathematics. Among those persecuted were Giordano Bruno, Antonio de Dominis and Galileo himself.Galileo Galilei

Vincenzo Galilei, Galileo‘s father, was a mathematician and music theorist who challenged traditional beliefs in the infallibility of Greek philosophic thought backed by both church and state. He found, for example, that the practical application of experimentation disproved long-held beliefs of the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras on musical interval and pitch between two strings. Pythagoras had held that in the tuning of strings, the weights used to stretch the strings, the tension must be doubled. It turned out that in practice, the tension had to be quadrupled, not doubled, to produce a tone an octave higher. As Whitehouse explains:

“It is hard to underestimate the importance of this moment in Galileo’s life. He and his father had found a new harmony; a new set of mathematical laws that correlated the note produced by a string to its tension, and had done so by experiment. They had not looked up the answer in either an ancient Greek treatise nor sought the advice of some musical authority. This was the start of modern science: They had carried out an experiment and asked a question of nature itself. It was revolutionary. Vincenzo’s actions had unfolded the course of his son’s life in experimental physics.”

Later in life, Galileo would use experimental techniques to show that objects fall towards the Earth at the same rate, regardless of mass. That some objects seem to fall slower is because of air resistance, not a property of the objects themselves. This challenged the Aristotelian principle that claimed that heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones. The most famous of these experiments was done at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, when he released two identically shaped spheres of different masses from the top of the tower. The spheres, one of 100 pounds and the other only one pound, hit the ground at the same time.

Nearly 400 years later, astronaut David Scott of Apollo 15, carried out a similar experiment on the surface of the moon, releasing a feather and a metal hammer. Both struck the lunar surface at the same time. “Galileo was correct,” exclaimed Scott.

This video is called APOLLO 15 Hammer and Feather.

Galileo’s achievements also involve a number of inventions related to other fields of science. He developed the thermoscope, the predecessor of the thermometer, which was the first attempt to measure heat. The Venetian Senate awarded him a patent for a water-lifting machine used in irrigation that only used one horse. A friend in the tool-making trades helped Galileo develop a simple compass that could be used to gauge the distance and height of a target as well as measure the angle of elevation of a cannon’s barrel. While Galileo did not invent the telescope, which was first built in the Netherlands in 1608, he is credited with increasing the magnification by 20 to 30 times using advanced lens-crafting techniques.

His interest in telescopes was sparked in 1604 when a new “star” appeared in the constellation Ophiuchus. This followed an earlier appearance of a new star in 1572 that was studied by the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. Such occurrences challenged the long-held notion of both the Aristotelians and the Church that the heavens are perfect and unchanging. Always being one to pursue observations, Galileo sought a way to study the night sky in greater detail.

One of Galileo's early telescopes at the Museum of the History of Science in Florence, Italy

With his telescope, he began to paint the different phases of the moon and its observable dark and light spots. He showed the moon to his patron, the Duke of Tuscany, who was delighted. Galileo then observed the Pleiades star cluster, as well as the planet Jupiter. Through these observations, he discovered the four largest moons of Jupiter – Io, Callisto, Europa and Ganymede, and provided the first evidence of objects orbiting a body other than the Earth. This was the proof Galileo needed to become a fervent advocate of the Copernican model of the cosmos.

A similar realization was made during Galileo’s study of the phases of Venus, repeating in much greater detail observations done by Copernicus. After recording the pattern of sunlight reflected from Venus’ atmosphere, he realized that the only way such patterns could occur is if both Venus and Earth revolved around the Sun. Galileo published a book on his observations, which circulated throughout Europe.

Included in his observations were the recording of sunspots. By aiming the telescope at the Sun and letting the light pass through the telescope onto a white background, Galileo was able to sketch out the positions of sunspots and determine that such imperfections on the Sun both existed and changed with time. Both this observation and the experimental evidence that the Earth is not the center of the universe incurred the wrath of the Church.

Galileo before the Holy Office, painted by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury

Both the Greek philosopher Aristotle and the Vatican considered the sun a perfect and unblemished sphere. The stars themselves were seen as divinities, contributing to the growth of astrology. It was argued by church supporters that the observed sunspots must be satellites of the sun and not “imperfections” in its surface. Galileo stated that not only were sunspots on the surface of the sun, they changed their shapes, and both originated and dissolved on that sphere. This could only lead to one conclusion: the sun was not a perfect sphere.

Galileo’s popularity and a newly established science academy in Rome ensured the continued publication of his works and a certain defense against the Church and other professional enemies. However, the issue of sunspots became the spark for an open clerical attack upon Galileo.

The story of how this debate unfolded is but one example of how the church and its privileged office-holders used the Bible to defame scientists like Galileo. Galileo himself believed that nothing that was discovered in any way conflicted with Scripture and quoted an ecclesiastical historian, Cardinal Baronius (1538-1607), who had commented: “The Holy Ghost intended to teach us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.” This clever riposte did not save him. As Whitehouse points out:

“In his innate conservatism, Cardinal Bellarmine saw the Copernican universe as threatening to the social order. To him and to much of the Church’s upper echelon, the science of the matter was beyond their understanding — and in many cases their interest. They cared more for the administration and the preservation of Papal power than they did for getting astronomical facts right.”

In the end, Galileo was told by Bellarmine and the head of the Inquisition, Cardinal Agostino Oreggi, that Copernicus’ views were wrong and he was not to support them. Furthermore, he was ordered not to teach or defend Copernican theory in any way, either in his writings or verbally.

After Bellarmine and Pope Paul V died, Galileo still harbored great hopes that the new Pope, Urban VIII, his former friend Maffeo Barberini, would prove when elected to be much better than his predecessors. This was an illusion. He was summoned before an even more hostile Inquisition than the first time.

While Whitehouse speculates that for Barberini, being Pope “had gone to his head,” the more fundamental truth is, as he observed earlier, that the Church hierarchy as a whole viewed “the Copernican universe as threatening to the social order.” The Pope, no matter his individual origins, was bound by his place in medieval society to defend the status quo.

The reproductions in Whitehouse’s book of paintings and illustrations depicting book burnings, the burnings at the stake for heresy, and the humiliations endured by thousands at the hands of the Inquisition reinforce this point.

Renaissance Genius depicts how Galileo’s defense of the Copernican system and the subsequent discoveries by Kepler, Rene Descartes, and Isaac Newton not only established the beginnings of physics, but also led to the advances for science that have resulted in the modern space program, including the space probe named after Galileo and the Hubble space telescope, the most extraordinary advance in the technology which Galileo pioneered.

Whitehouse sums up the Galilean revolution by providing us with a very human portrait of the man, the history of his times and Galileo’s indispensable role in the advancement and popularization of science for humankind.