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Songbirds in Tennessee dying from salmonella poisoning

Dozens of songbirds are dying across the state in a salmonella outbreak and officials are investigating whether it's related to a national peanut recall. They've found dead birds - especially goldfinches, purple finches and pine siskins - in seven East Tennessee counties and found as many as 30 dead birds in one group. Experts say that birds normally carry some salmonella bacteria in their digestive tracks, and periods of stress such as cold weather or food shortages can weaken their systems. Two bird food companies have recently recalled suet and seed blends containing peanuts that could have been contaminated with salmonella.

GM key to food shortage

GENETICALLY modified crops have a key role in meeting a massive surge in world demand for food over the next 15 years, a leading plant scientist says.
CSIRO's deputy chief of plant industries, Dr T. J. Higgins, says population growth and rising wealth could mean an extra 10 billion tonnes of food consumed each year by 2025.
Responding to that extra demand was a "mammoth task" which would require "many tools" including the use of GM crops, Dr Higgins said.

Freak weather takes toll on grapes

After mangoes, freak weather has hit grapes. Rains coupled with hailstorm that lashed Nashik over the past two days have damaged over 45% of the grape crop, besides some varieties of mango and vegetables like tomatoes and cauliflowers.

Warming Impacts Antarctic Food Chain

Rapid climate changes along the Antarctic Peninsula have caused a simultaneous shift in the biological productivity of the area, finds a new study that could explain why some penguins and other species there are on the decline.

The western portion of the Antarctic Peninsula (the northernmost part of the continent) has experienced 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.5 degrees Celsius) of warming over about the last 30 years — more than anywhere else on the planet — and declining sea ice coverage.

This warming caused a shift from the usual cold, dry climate of the area to warmer, wetter conditions, at least in the northern parts of the peninsula, in the past few decades.

Image Above: The Gould ice-breaker, owned by the National Science Foundation, navigates the waters adjacent to Palmer base station. The Palmer base station is located in the western shelf of the Antarctic Peninsula. Clear days are unusual in this region as it is cloudy most of the time. Credit: Science/AAAS

'More bad news' on climate change

More bad news on climate change is expected as more than 2,000 climate scientists gather in Copenhagen. They will be trying to pull together the latest research on global warming ahead of political negotiations later in the year. The scientists are concerned that the 2007 reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are already out of date.

Beaches disappear as Hamish batters coast

Severe sand erosion from huge ocean swells caused by tropical cyclone Hamish has decimated beaches up and down the South-East Queensland coast.
Beaches as far south as Coolangatta on the Gold Coast remain closed as the super storm cell, which has been downgraded to a category two system, continues to generate damaging winds and abnormally high tides.
Image: Rainbow Beach has been inundated by giant swells.
Photo: Brad Robb

Climate change bad news for most birds

PARIS (AFP) – Birds in Europe are already feeling the heat from climate change, with three species suffering reduced ranges or population for every one that benefits from warming, said a study published Wednesday.
Researchers found a strong match between data collected over decades from a continent-wide monitoring network and computer models forecasting the impact of global warming.
"Although we have only a very small actual rise in global average temperatures, it is staggering to realise how much change we are noticing in wildlife populations," said lead author Richard Gregory of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Britain.
"If we don't take our foot off the gas now, our indicator shows that there will be many much worse effects to come."

Scores of pilot whales stranded in Australia

Almost 200 pilot whales have beached themselves on an island near Australia's southern state of Tasmania, with many already dead, wildlife officials have said.

Mr Arthur said around 140 of the whales had already died, but authorities and civilian wildlife rescuers are confident the remaining mammals could be saved, with weather conditions calm.

US denounces Iceland whaling move

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States on Friday denounced Iceland's decision to go ahead with a sharply higher whaling quota, voicing concern there were not whales to sustain the hunt.
Iceland's new left-wing government said last week it will maintain an earlier decision for a quota of 150 fin and 150 minke whales this year -- a sixfold increase -- despite international calls for it to reconsider.
The US State Department said it "strongly opposes" the decision.
"We are deeply concerned that stocks of fin and minke whales are not adequate to support this harvest," it said in a statement.
"We call upon the government of Iceland to rescind this decision and to focus on the long-term conservation of whale stocks, rather than on the short-term interests of its whaling industry," it said.
Image: This Greenpeace handout photo shows an endangered Fin Whale, harpooned Saturday, being butchered in Iceland.

19 dead in Bolivia dengue outbreak, 31,000 affected

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AFP)--In Bolivia's worst national outbreak in a decade, 19 people have died from dengue fever since January and 31,000 people have been affected, official estimates showed Thursday.

Twelve people died from the disease in the tropical eastern region of Santa Cruz, three others died in central Bolivia, two others in the Andean west and one in the capital city of La Paz, according to an official toll cited by ATB television.

A Bolivian national died on arriving in neighboring Peru, and health minister Ramiro Tapia said one additional death brought the overall death toll to 19.

A total of 30,870 dengue cases have been counted, 71% of them in Santa Cruz, the region most affected by the outbreak. Authorities have also declared a health emergency in the Beni, Pando and Cochabamba provinces. More than 15,000 troops have been mobilized to assist health teams.

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