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Taiwan's Temperatures and Emissions Rise on Impact of Air Pollution

TAIPEI, Taiwan, Jan. 4 (UPI) — Taiwan’s temperatures have risen by an average of 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century, according to a government study.

Despite Taiwan’s rise in temperatures, sunny hours in the country have fallen. The decline — attributed to air pollution and suspended particles that had blocked the sunshine — ranges from 176 hours per year in the north to 552 hours per year in central Taiwan, the Central News Agency reports.

Taiwan’s sea level has risen an average of 1.18 inches over the past 10 years, or about 0.11 of an inch each year, according to Fan Kuang-lung, a professor at National Taiwan University’s Institute of Oceanography.

Taiwan is becoming increasingly vulnerable to climate change due to global warming and the pumping of underground water for farming and household use, said Fan, CNA reports. “Flooding will become the norm in some western tidal land areas,” he said.

Taiwan has also recorded the world’s highest growth in greenhouse gas emissions — 138 percent — over the past 16 years, said Liang Chi-yuan, a government minister.

But Taiwan will have to spend twice as much as other countries as a percentage of its gross domestic product to meet international carbon emissions reduction targets, said Yang Jih-chang, a senior adviser to the Industrial Technology Research Institute.

Because it has few natural resources and its industrial sector accounts for more than 50 percent of annual GDP, Yang estimates it would cost Taiwan $3.1 billion to $4.65 billion annually to meet the International Energy Agency’s recommendation that countries spend up to 0.5 percent of GDP to keep greenhouse gases below 450 parts per million by 2020.

Yang Chi-yuan, an associate professor at Chinese Culture University, said the government should not plot a carbon-reduction target using a top-down centralized process. He suggests instead that Taiwan allow agencies in charge of transportation, industrial and economic affairs to set targets based on practical abilities.

“We need not follow European and American countries in setting carbon reduction targets because their regulations do not necessarily meet Taiwan’s needs,” Yang Chi-yuan said, CNA reports.

Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shu-hung Shen said the government has passed laws on energy management and renewable energy development, admitting that more work still needs to be done.

“Once the statutes governing energy taxes and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are enacted, our legal framework on carbon reduction will be complete,” Shen said.

He urged Taiwan Power Co. to reduce the percentage of fossil fuels in its energy generation.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Atmospheric Science, Causes, Global Warming & Climate Change, Tidal, Transportation0 Comments

40 Million Chinese Farmers Live in Poverty Making Less Than $175 per Year

BEIJING, Dec. 29 (UPI) — China has the world’s third largest economy but a report says 40 million of its farmers live in poverty, making less than $175 annually.

Fan Xiaojian, head of China’s national poverty and development office, told the Web portal the global financial crisis has hit the poor hard in China.

“China has invested 20 billion yuan ($2.9 billion) to reduce poverty this year, an increase of 3 billion yuan ($439 million) from last year, and the largest investment in poverty-relief in the last ten years,” he said, China Daily reported.

Fan, however, said the income of the most poverty-stricken counties in the country rose 9.6 percent in the first three quarters of this year.

The report said China, the third-largest economy after the United States and Japan, is the first developing country under the U.N. Millennium Development Goal to reduce the number of its people living in poverty by half.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Farming & Ranching, Office0 Comments

National Steak and Poultry Recalls 248,000 Pounds of Beef for E. Coli

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 (UPI) — National Steak and Poultry has recalled 248,000 pounds of beef products from six states because of a risk of E. coli, U.S. inspectors said.

The inspectors, working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said they linked meat from the plant to an outbreak of E. coli in the six states.

National Steak and Poultry, of Owasso, Okla., issued the recall in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Michigan, and Washington, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a release.

The recall included products labeled National Steak and Poultry beef sirloin steak, boneless beef tips, boneless beef sirloin steak, savory sirloin tips, bacon wrapped beef filet, select beef shoulder, marinated tender medallions, Philly steak and boneless beef trimmings.

Each package contained a label marked “EST. 6010T” inside the USDA mark of inspection and packaging dates of Oct. 12-14 or Oct. 21.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Farming & Ranching, Food & Nutrition, Food Consumption, Food Industry, Food Quality & Safety, Human Health & Wellness, Packaging0 Comments

Refurbished Computers Aid Kenyan Farmers with Weather Conditions

KATUMANI, Kenya, Dec. 26 (UPI) — Refurbished computers are changing the fortunes of farmers in central Kenya by accurately and instantly predicting the weather, officials said.

The digital age arrived two years ago and since then has often meant the difference between a good crop and no crop at all, The Independent reported Saturday.

“It’s helping them to decide which crops to plant, which fertilizer to use and when to plant,” Jackson Mwangangi, who runs the local weather station near Katumani, told the British newspaper.

Local farmers had no quick and accurate access to weather information until the British charity Computer Aid equipped Jackson’s station with refurbished computers and taught him how to use them.

Now forecasts are available to anyone with an Internet connection or phone, and they’re also circulated via a motorcycle rider who carries the forecasts to hundreds of small farmers in the region.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Electronics, Farming & Ranching, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

California's Napa Valley Vineyards Losing Water

ST. HELENA, Calif., Dec. 21 (UPI) — Slowing the rate of delivery would reduce the amount of water lost in vineyards in California’s Napa Valley, a Stanford researcher said.

Using water efficiently is a priority in the Napa Valley, where summers are hot and dry and grapevines must be irrigated to thrive.

Deep cracks caused by the natural shrinking and swelling of soil means that at least 10 percent of irrigation water bypasses vine roots and is wasted, Stanford researcher Eve Hinckley said.

Growers could reduce water loss by lowering irrigation drip lines to the ground or burying them, she said.

Growers also could slow the rate from drip emitters and irrigate earlier in the day for a longer period of time to allow more water to soak into the roots, rather letting the water bypass them altogether, the university said in a release Friday.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Drought, Drought & Shortages, Farming & Ranching, Land & Soil, Water Efficiency0 Comments

Global Warming Impacts Wine and Corn

STANFORD, Calif., Dec. 16 (UPI) — Stanford University scientists say they’ve determined global warming could significantly negatively impact U.S. wine and corn production.

The researchers, led by Assistant Professor Noah Diffenbaugh, said global warming has made the early arrival of spring commonplace across the planet.

“Our experiment is unprecedented,” he said. “It’s the first time a climate model has been applied at such spatial and temporal detail over such a long period of time.”

The researchers concluded, among other things, global warming could reduce the current U.S. wine grape region by 81 percent by the end of the century — primarily because of a projected sharp increase in the frequency of extremely hot days. They also determined that by the end of the 21st century, warmer growing seasons and milder winters could increase the population and geographic range of the corn earworm, an insect that preys on corn, tomatoes and other cash crops.

“In the case of agricultural pests, many of their ranges are limited by severe cold temperatures,” he said. “In our new simulations, we find that those temperatures could disappear over the next few decades, potentially leading to an expansion of pest pressure.”

The findings were presented this week in San Francisco during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Farming & Ranching, Food Industry, Global Warming & Climate Change, Other0 Comments

Children Attend H1N1 Vaccination Clinic in Arlington, Virginia

H1N1 Vaccination Clinic in Arlington, Virginia

A health officer administers an H1N1 vaccination shot to 4 year-old Marley Kurey, as her mother Heather holds her, at the Department of Human Services in Arlington, Virginia on December 10, 2009. UPI/Alexis C. Glenn

Date Taken: December 10, 2009

Posted in Human Health & Wellness, Services0 Comments

FDA Warns Against Consuming San Antonio Bay Oysters

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising people not to eat oysters harvested from San Antonio Bay on or after Nov. 16.

The FDA said it took the action because of reports of norovirus-associated illnesses in some people who eat oysters harvested from that area, which is located on the Gulf of Texas.

Officials from the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas are investigating about a dozen reports of norovirus-related illnesses from South Carolina and North Carolina consumers who ate oysters recently harvested from San Antonio Bay.

“Consumers who purchased oysters on or after Nov. 16 that have a label showing they came from San Antonio Bay are advised to dispose of the oysters and not eat them,” the FDA said. “At restaurants, consumers can ask about the source of oysters offered as menu items.

“Restaurant operators and retailers should not serve or offer for sale oysters subject to this advisory,” the FDA said.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has ordered a recall of all oysters harvested from San Antonio Bay between Nov. 16 and Nov. 25.

The FDA said noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis, with symptoms that can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping. Affected individuals often experience low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and a general sense of tiredness. Norovirus usually is not life-threatening and does not generally cause long-term effects, officials said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Effects Of Air Pollution, Human Health & Wellness, Services0 Comments

Toronto Humane Society Closed Indefinitely on Animal Cruelty Charges

TORONTO, Nov. 30 (UPI) — The Toronto Humane Society is shut down indefinitely while accusations of animal cruelty and malfeasance are investigated, officials said Monday.

Toronto’s Globe and Mail reported it learned the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee is investigating alleged employee theft, kickbacks to directors, and improper use of the society’s cars and credit cards.

The newspaper said a source within the animal protection organization said the examination of its financial management is closely linked to the animal cruelty allegations, which led to charges against five senior managers and the board of directors last week.

The Globe said the source provided financial documents revealing the charity has spent $418,609 on lawyers this year, compared with $276,248 on emergency animal care.

The National Post reported the animal cruelty investigation will go on indefinitely, with one official saying it could be at least three weeks, and the shelter has been closed to the public until it is over.

“There is no end date, no sunset clause, so we are in this building as long as we need to be,” said Kevin Strooband, lead investigator for the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Toronto Humane Society spokesman Ian McConachie said Monday the organization is “disappointed that we continue to be denied access to our facility.”

OSPCA investigators examined the approximately 1,000 animals in the shelter and found about half of the 800 cats were suffering from upper respiratory infections, Strooband said. Rat and cat droppings were found in spaces above the ceiling.

The Toronto Star reported the province has sent a letter to society board members warning them against using donor money to cover legal fees.

In the meantime, Toronto’s Animal Services’ four centers are available for people who need help with an animal or want to surrender one.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Cars, Office, Services0 Comments

42 Year Old Grandmother Gorilla Has Cataract Surgery, Regains 20-20 Vision

MIAMI, Oct. 3 (UPI) — A 42-year-old grandmother gorilla in Miami had surgery to remove cataracts and restore her vision, a doctor says.

Ophthalmologist Frank Spektor said the cataracts surgery the Miami Metrozoo’s Josephine the gorilla had should leave her with the primate equivalent of 20-20 vision, The Miami Herald reported Saturday.

The doctor teamed with veterinary ophthalmologists Drs. Christine Miller, Tim J. Cutler and Lorraine Karpinski to donate their services to remove the Josephine’s cataracts and insert high-tech plastic lenses.

Prior to Friday’s surgery, Josephine was nearly blind and had become lethargic.

The Herald said afterward the gorilla was recovering at the zoo where staff was keeping an eye out for any complications.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Other, Services0 Comments

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