The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
Tossing out food is clearly a waste of money — and maybe even immoral, according to Pope Francis, who on Wednesday likened food waste to “stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry.” And as we’ve reported , you also may be creating extra greenhouse gas emissions by sending food to a landfill.
Now comes yet another reason not to waste food: It also wastes a heck of a lot of water, a new report says.
According to the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank, inside the 1.3 billion tons of food wasted every year worldwide is 45 trillion gallons of water. This represents a staggering 24 percent of all water used for agriculture.
Many of the world’s most accident-prone waters for shipping are also among the most delicate marine ecosystems, according to a new study released the by WWF International.
The fear of something like a major oil spill in environmentally sensitive waters comes as the number of vessels plying the world’s oceans has risen 20 percent in the past 15 years, from 85,000 to 105,000, the report, released on World Oceans Day, says.
“Since 1999 there have been 293 shipping accidents in the South China Sea and East Indies, home of the Coral Triangle and 76 percent of the world’s coral species,” says Simon Walmsley, WWF International’s marine manager. “As recently as April this year we’ve seen a Chinese fishing boat run aground on a protected coral reef in the Philippines that had already been damaged by a U.S. Navy ship in January.”
The Obama administration just made a fairly significant move on climate change, and it flew right under the radar.
I was just sitting here thinking “I wish I knew a good way to kill some old-growth redwoods in Big Sur, break the law, and make Americans look even more like entitled asshats, all in the name of creating a sort of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings hybrid for my wedding.” And then it turned out, oh wait, Sean Parker already did!
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released results of a survey showing that $384 billion in improvements are needed for the nation’s drinking water infrastructure through 2030 for systems to continue providing safe drinking water to 297 million Americans.
EPA’s fifth Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment identifies investments needed over the next 20 years for thousands of miles of pipes and thousands of treatment plants, storage tanks and water distribution systems, which are all vital to public health and the economy. The national total of $384 billion includes the needs of 73,400 water systems across the country, as well as American Indian and Alaska Native Village water systems.
A Georgia State University researcher is the first to show that the Clean Air Act of 1970 caused a rebound in rainfall for a U.S. city. Jeremy Diem, an associate professor in the Department of Geosciences, analyzed summer rainfall data from nine weather stations in the Atlanta metropolitan area from 1948 to 2009. He discovered that precipitation increased markedly in the late 1970s as pollution decreased following passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970.
Diem also noted that pollution in the 1950s and 1960s caused rainfall to drop in the Atlanta area.
A mismatch between the departure schedules of songbirds and higher spring temperatures at their breeding sites is putting them at risk, according to a new study out of York University. The study, “A Trans-Hemispheric Migratory Songbird Does Not Advance Spring Schedules or Increase Migration Rate in Response to Record-Setting Temperatures at Breeding Sites,” published in the journal PLOS ONE, tracked the spring migration of purple martins over five years from the Amazon basin to two breeding sites in eastern North America. Researchers outfitted the birds with tiny geolocator “backpacks” to record data on their movements and found that the birds’ departure times between years were surprisingly consistent, despite variation in temperature at their final destination.
Acidifying oceans could dramatically impact the world’s squid species, according to a new study led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) researchers and soon to be published in the journal PLOS ONE. Because squid are both ecologically and commercially important, that impact may have far-reaching effects on the ocean environment and coastal economies, the researchers report. “Squid are at the center of the ocean ecosystem — nearly all animals are eating or eaten by squid,” says WHOI biologist T. Aran Mooney, a co-author of the study. “So if anything happens to these guys, it has repercussions down the food chain and up the food chain.”
Surprisingly large amounts of discarded trash end up in the ocean. Plastic bags, aluminum cans, and fishing debris not only clutter our beaches, but accumulate in open-ocean areas such as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” Now, a paper by researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) shows that trash is also accumulating in the deep sea, particularly in Monterey Canyon. Kyra Schlining, lead author on this study, said, “We were inspired by a fisheries study off Southern California that looked at seafloor trash down to 365 meters. We were able to continue this search in deeper water — down to 4,000 meters. Our study also covered a longer time period, and included more in-situ observations of deep-sea debris than any previous study I’m aware of.”
Decades of drought in central Africa reached their worst point in the 1980s, causing Lake Chad, a shallow lake used to water crops in neighboring countries, to almost dry out completely. The shrinking lake and prolonged drought was initially blamed on overgrazing and bad agricultural practices. More recently, Lake Chad became an example of global warming. New University of Washington research, to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, shows that the drought were caused at least in part by Northern Hemisphere air pollution.
Over the years ecologists have shown how biological diversity benefits the health of small, natural communities. New analysis by ecologists at UC Santa Cruz demonstrates that even higher levels of biological diversity are necessary to maintain ecosystem health in larger landscapes over long periods of time. Think of it as patches on a quilt, says Erika Zavaleta, UCSC associate professor of environmental studies. Each patch may be a diverse habitat of plants, animals, and insects but it is equally important that the landscape “quilt” is made up of a diversity of patches that are different from each other.
“A mix of meadows, young forest, old forest and shrub lands, for example, might provide more benefits than a landscape of continuous young forest, even if that young forest itself has high biodiversity,” Zavaleta said.
At BPI Campus our Progressive Agenda is:
1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
3. We need good government for both #1 and #2.
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