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Heat Wave Kills Clams, Crabs in Japan

TOKYO, Aug. 4 (UPI) — A heat wave has caused mass deaths of large quantities of clams and crabs in Tokyo Bay, ecological researchers say.

Scientists from Toho University say they believe the die-off of up to 80 percent of baby-neck clams was due to lack of oxygen when the extended heat wave accelerated the decomposition of marine algae, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

A Toho graduated student noticed the phenomenon July 28, prompting an urgent study.

Large amounts of edible green algae called sea lettuce grow every year on tidal flats in the bay.

Researchers think the algae dissolved abruptly as the heat wave warmed waters in the bay, resulting in less oxygen in the water, making it deadly for certain species of clams and crabs.

Weather records show the average temperature in the Tokyo area this year has been 5 degrees F higher than normal, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Consortium to Study Gulf Oil Spill Effects

WOODS HOLE, Mass., June 15 (UPI) — Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution say they’ve formed a consortium with two Louisiana institutions to study the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

WHOI officials say they have joined with Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium to determine the myriad impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil discharge and to devise and implement possible solutions to the disaster.

The three institutions have signed a memorandum of understanding forming a consortium called the Gulf Oil Research Program.

“The purpose of the consortium is to work cooperatively to plan, secure funding for, execute and report on a program of scientific research to describe and quantify the effects of the oil spill on varied environments, communities and species in the affected region, and to develop and implement remediations where feasible,” the memorandum said. “Effects of the discharged oil and dispersant chemicals are expected to be widespread and long lasting in many environments of the Gulf of Mexico, including deep sea benthos and water column, sub-tidal benthos, coastal marshes and beaches, with significant economic impacts to fisheries, tourism and coastal development.”

The memorandum will be in effect for an initial term of three years.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Environmental Impact of Livestock Studied

STANFORD, Calif., March 22 (UPI) — A U.S.-led international research team says growing demand for meat is likely to have a major impact on human health and the environment in the next 50 years.

The team’s report — “Livestock in a Changing Landscape” — says global meat production has tripled during the past three decades and could double its present level by 2050, resulting in significant human health, environmental and economic consequences.

“This is the first time that we’ve looked at the social, economic, health and environmental impacts of livestock in an integrated way and presented solutions for reducing the detrimental effects of the industry and enhancing its positive attributes, said Wood Institute for the Environment Professor Harold Mooney, co-editor of the two-volume report.

Among their key findings, the researchers said:

– More than 1.7 billion animals are used in livestock production worldwide and occupy more than one-fourth of the Earth’s land.

– Production of animal feed consumes about one-third of total arable land.

– The livestock sector, including feed production and transport, is responsible for about 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

Other organizations involved in the report included the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the Swiss College of Agriculture, Stanford University, the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya and the World Bank.

An overview of the report is available at http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001591/159194e.pdf.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Pesticides Linked to Developmental Delays

NEW YORK, March 22 (UPI) — Exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos — banned for use in U.S. households — is associated with early childhood developmental delays, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health examined the association between exposure to the pesticide and mental and physical impairments in children in low-income areas of New York neighborhoods in the South Bronx and Northern Manhattan.

Chlorpyrifos was commonly used in these neighborhoods until it was banned for household use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2001, but it is still used as an agricultural pesticide on fruits and vegetables.

After controlling for building dilapidation and community-level factors such as percentage of residents living in poverty, the research indicates that high chlorpyrifos exposure was associated with a 6.5-point decrease in the Psychomotor Development Index score and a 3.3-point decrease in the Mental Development Index score in 3-year-olds.

The findings are published online in the American Journal of Public Health.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Ailments & Diseases, Children’s Health & Parenting, Farming & Ranching, Food Quality & Safety1 Comment

Cyclone Leaves Thousands Without Power

MIDGE POINT, Australia, March 22 (UPI) — Cyclone Ului caused millions of dollars in damage to crops, buildings, roads and businesses in Australia but no serious injuries were reported, officials said.

An estimated 30,000 homes were without power in Queensland, down from 60,000 at the height of the storm Sunday, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. said Monday.

The cyclone crossed north of Mackay with 124-mph winds before weakening to a tropical storm and tracking west over inland Queensland.

About 20 boats were on the bottom of Shute Harbor near Airlie Beach, which was without power and running low on drinking water, the Mackay Regional Council said. In Midge Point, a tidal surge swept water and sand into homes and ripped apart a city park.

The storm, as a Category 3 cyclone, tore off roofs and uprooted large tree throughout the region, Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts said, estimating the damage in the millions of dollars.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Buildings, Drinking Water, Electricity, Environmental Disasters, Tidal0 Comments

2010 Energy Prize Competition Begins

HOUSTON, March 17 (UPI) — The ConocoPhillips Co. and Pennsylvania State University say they have opened the 2010 ConocoPhillips Energy Prize competition.

Officials said the competition awards up to $300,000 in recognition of original and viable solutions that can help improve the way the United States develops and uses energy.

The competition’s three areas are new energy source development, energy efficiency improvements and innovations that fight climate change.

Officials said the competition is open to U.S. residents 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Entrants must submit a comprehensive proposal before May 22.

An expert panel of judges will select up to five finalists to present their submissions in October. Entries will be judged on the basis of creativity, scalability, commercial viability and sustainability.

“Securing the nation’s energy future will require innovative ideas that maximize existing resources, create sustainable and diverse energy supplies, and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Stephen Brand, ConocoPhillips senior vice president for technology.

ConocoPhillips and Penn State awarded the 2009 prize to a team that created a hydrokinetic machine that converts the movement of water from river and ocean currents into electric energy regardless of tidal current strength.

More information is available at www.conocophillips.com/energyprize.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Energy & Fuels, Energy Efficiency, Ideas, Humanities, & Education, Tidal0 Comments

Chicken Lays 4.5-ounce Egg

IPSWICH, England, Feb. 24 (UPI) — The British owners of a young chicken said the hen’s fourth-ever egg weighs in at more than six times the average weight.

Mark Cornish, 36, of Ipswich, England, and partner Denise Bartram, 42, said Matilda the hen, one of four kept by the couple in their garden, laid a monster egg weighing 4.2 ounces and measuring more than 8 inches in circumference, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.

Cornish said hens typically lay eggs weighing about 0.7 ounces and measuring 5.5 inches in circumference.

“It’s only the fourth egg Matilda’s ever laid and her first in two weeks. She must have been saving up for it,” Cornish said. “My eyes almost popped out of my head when I first saw it. We might have to see about entering her in the record books.

“It’s just ridiculous to look at — anyone would think it was a goose egg, it’s that big,” he said. “My first thought was whether Matilda was OK after laying such a huge egg but she seems completely nonplussed by it all.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Dairyman: Demand for Raw Milk Will Grow

BOISE, Idaho, Feb. 12 (UPI) — A dairyman in Idaho is predicting that the demand for raw milk will continue to grow as more and more people discover it.

Mike Reid, who runs the second licensed raw dairy in Teton County, says once the consumer tastes raw milk for the first time “it’s impossible to go back” to the pasteurized variety, the Idaho Statesman reported Friday.

“People want to get back to more local, all-natural types of food,” says Reid.

Recently, a wellness products manager in Idaho nearly succeeded in preventing the Idaho Department of Agriculture from regulating raw milk dairies in the state.

Frank VanderSloot, the founder of Melaleuca Inc., fell just one vote short this week of getting the House Agriculture Committee to overturn a new rule aimed at bringing scores of small raw dairies under state regulations.

Twenty-three states currently ban the sale of raw milk while federal law prohibits its transport across state lines.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Chile Plans Deepwater Salmon Farms to Meet Global Demands

SANTIAGO, Chile, Jan. 12 (UPI) — Chile will launch its first deepwater salmon farming project with a Norwegian loan to try and reverse the low yields on salmon amid constant global demand.

The offshore project is the brainchild of a Chilean business group that has been pledged $40 million by Norwegian banks, with the promise it can have access to more funds if the venture takes off.

Disease and economic downturn have hit Chile’s salmon industry hard over the past two years. Conventional fish farms have reported loss of stocks due to viral attacks and bacteria that decimate fish stocks in great numbers.

The new project will involve floating of large rafts at sea with significant numbers of Atlantic salmon positioned at great depths. Officials for the Chilean company, Acuicola Tripanko, said the whole complex could cover 1,300 hectares initially in the Punta Olleta region in southern Chile.

“This would be the first experience of its kind in the area, farming salmon in deep and oceanic waters with special technologies and conditions that might avoid disease outbreaks due to strong sea currents,” the fishfarmingxpert.com said.

The copper mesh cages to be deployed could also help the fight against bacteria, industry analysts said.

Currently Acuicola Tripanko is awaiting the results of findings by the public-sector Environmental Impact Assessment System.

Acuicola Tripanko CEO Omar Guenul said much was at stake in the project, because it differed greatly from the conventional fish farms. He said the deep-sea construction was designed to address the sanitary issues that have blighted conventional fish farms.

The copper mesh cages are said to prevent exposure of salmon to viruses such as Infectious Salmon Anemia and decrease mortality rates in the farms, the Santiago Times reported.

Similar systems have been tried and tested elsewhere and currently exist in Alaska, Canada, Scotland and Norway, MercoPress reported.

Fish farming is expanding in Latin America, and according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization 45 percent of the fish consumed in the world comes from fish farms. That amounts to more than 50 million tons, but by 2030 the volume would need to double because of the decline in commercial fishing and the increasing demands of a growing population, FAO said.

Contrary to popular assumptions, fish farming in Latin America dates back to pre-modern times, and there is evidence that the Maya culture operated controlled fish production in natural pools.

Fish farming has grown dramatically in recent years in Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru, but in Argentina, weather conditions have prevented large-scale fish farming.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Farming & Ranching, Fish0 Comments

Florida Citrus Growers Face Cold Weekend

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 9 (UPI) — Florida’s citrus growers said they were closely watching the weather as cold temperatures blew across the U.S. South Saturday.

Temperatures up to 20 degrees below normal have been felt in the region this week, a cold snap the likes of which is only seen once every few decades, and Florida’s citrus crops have sustained some losses so far, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Rusty Wiygul, director of grower affairs at Florida Citrus Mutual, the state’s largest growers’ association, told the newspaper none of the losses have been “devastating” so far.

“We’re just sitting in our offices and constantly watching the weather,” he said. “It’d be nice if we could run up to the Florida state line and stop the cold, but we can’t. All we can really do is a pray a lot.”

Accuweather.com forecasters predicted widespread record cold and freezing temperatures would spread southward through the Florida Peninsula Saturday and Sunday nights.

The Web site said temperatures would drop below freezing Saturday night as far south as Tampa, Orlando and Melbourne, but warned the lowest temperatures of the season so far for much of the Florida loomed Sunday night.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Climate Science & Weather, Farming & Ranching, Food Industry, Food Quality & Safety0 Comments

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