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The Worldwatch Institute offers a unique blend of interdisciplinary research, global focus, and accessible writing that has made it a leading source of information on the interactions among key environmental, social, and economic trends. Our work revolves around the transition to an environmentally sustainable and socially just society—and how to achieve it.
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Australian Environmental Politics in Denial
October 7, 2013 01:18 PM - Daniel Yeow, Worldwatch Institute
Australia seems to be going backwards in time with regard to environmental politics. A startlingly high number of people there deny climate change. Most Australians do believe in it, but in a country that no longer has a science minister, the newly-elected conservative government is populated by "leaders" who believe that it is some kind of conspiracy. The media that the average Australian consumes is overwhelmingly populated by sources which are owned by people of a highly conservative and libertarian belief. Libertarianism—the belief that people should be free to do as they wish so long as they do not impinge on the freedom of others, is a decidedly human-centric philosophy and as such, large-scale environmental problems are generally not well-handled. In the minds of people like Rupert Murdoch, among others, environmental regulations are an unnecessary burden on people's freedom, and even if you don't really believe that, if that's what you read in the newspaper every day, then that's what you will be led to believe.
China's Dam Environmental Problem
October 4, 2013 12:40 PM - Alison Singer, Worldwatch Institute
Although the Chinese government has acknowledged the extensive environmental issues resulting from the Three Gorges Dam, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has given the green light for construction for another massive hydro project. As the global leader in hydropower, China must adopt environmental policies that account for methane and carbon emissions as well as ecosystem disruptions and erosion potential.
Norway Devotes Big Bucks To Crop Diversity
September 27, 2013 04:25 PM - Sophie Wenzlau, Worldwatch Institute
Earlier this week, the government of Norway pledged US$23.7 million to conserve and sustainably manage some of the world's most important food crops, citing the critical need for crop diversity at a time when populations are soaring and climate change is threatening staples like rice and maize, according to the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT). "In just 10 years we will have a billion more people at the global dinner table, but during that same time we could see climate change diminish rice production by 10 percent with a one-degree increase in temperature," said Marie Haga, executive director of the GCDT. "Our best hedge against disaster is to make sure we have a wide array of food crops at our disposal to keep harvests healthy in the bread baskets of the world."
Innovation of the Week: A Low-Cost Composting Toilet
September 23, 2013 02:11 PM - Sarah Alvarez, Worldwatch Institute
Across the Asia-Pacific region, millions of people have inadequate access to sustainable sanitation infrastructure—in other words, they don’t have a safe and sanitary place to go to the bathroom. In the Philippines alone, 28 million people do not have access to the sanitation services needed to prevent contamination and disease. As a result, millions of people suffer from preventable diseases like dysentery.
FAO Says Food Waste Harms Climate, Water, Land, and Biodiversity
September 19, 2013 11:47 AM - Sophi Wenzlau, Worldwatch Institute
New report, Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources, analyzes the impacts of global food waste from an environmental perspective, looking specifically at its consequences for the climate, water and land use, and biodiversity.
Train or Pipeline, the Answer is the Same
September 5, 2013 08:46 AM - Addison Del Mastro, Worldwatch Institute
The catastrophic crash of an oil-carrying train in the province of Quebec last month, which devastated the town of Lac-Mégantic and killed dozens, has brought the Keystone XL pipeline into the headlines again. For many environmentalists, the train crash is just one more reminder of the risks of fossil fuel production — that the train was carrying tar sands oil was, as it were, the icing on the cake. Conversely, for many supporters of the pipeline, the train crash proves that we need Keystone. But first a word on tar sands and the other unconventional oil sources now being extracted such as shale oil. Unlike conventional oil wells, shale and tar sands do not contain liquid oil. Oil must be extracted from them in a process that is quite similar to mining. The development of Canadian tar sands requires vast deforestation in order to dig up and process the sands, and shale oil extraction requires that massive amounts of rocks be mined and processed.
Envisioning Future Sea Level Rise
August 22, 2013 10:00 AM - Alison Singer, Worldwatch Institute
In the past one hundred years, the Global Mean Sea Level has risen between 4 and 8 inches, and is currently rising at a rate of approximately 0.13 inches a year. However, the sea level rise "lock-in" — the rise we don't see now, but which, due to emissions and global warming, is being locked in for the future — is increasing 10 times faster. While our current sea level rise is at a modest, but still threatening inch per decade, the future rise is at a foot per decade.
Reducing Food Waste While Feeding the Hungry
August 20, 2013 12:40 PM - Carol Dreibelbis, Worldwatch Institute
According to a report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) last year, 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten. Americans throw away about US$165 billion worth of food each year—or about 9 kilograms of food per person each month—which then ends up in landfills, where it accounts for about a quarter of U.S. methane emissions.
Farmers Increasing Resilience to Climate Change by Diversifying Crops
August 15, 2013 10:54 AM - Molly Redfield, Worldwatch Institute
The loss of arable land due to climate change may amount to as much as 21 percent in South America, 18 percent in Africa, and 11 to 17 percent in Europe, according to scientists at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The potential of climate change to adversely impact food security in these regions is staggering.
Growth of Global Solar and Wind Energy Continues to Outpace Other Technologies
August 1, 2013 04:47 PM - Matt Lucky and Michelle Ray, Worldwatch Institute
Solar and wind continue to dominate investment in new renewable capacity. Global use of solar and wind energy grew significantly in 2012. Solar power consumption increased by 58 percent, to 93 terrawatt-hours (TWh), while wind power increased by 18.1 percent, to 521.3 TWh. Global investment in solar energy in 2012 was $140.4 billion, an 11 percent decline from 2011, and wind investment was down 10.1 percent, to $80.3 billion. Due to lower costs for both technologies, however, total installed capacities still grew sharply.