Agriculture

COLLEGIATE CORNER: Humanity of factory farming
March 25, 2014 02:01 PM - Jake Bucks, Class of 2015, Wakefield High School

Most omnivores like bacon, but I say omnivores because not every human is an omnivore. Have you ever thought to yourself what was the process this bacon went through? Well if you have, it was not a fun process for that pig. Farming has helped humans advance in size, without the farming innovations created through the industrial revolution, humans would have never had the resources to make such a huge population.

EPA and Army Corps bring clarity to Clean Water Act Expansion proposal
March 25, 2014 01:38 PM - ENN Staff

In a joint document the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers released a proposed rule to clarify protections provided by the Clean Water Act. Following Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006, there has been much confusion about definitions within the Act and applicability. The proposed clarifications will enhance understanding for industry, agriculture, local government officials and the public as it relates to protection of streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation's water resources.

Future cost of water is no small change
March 25, 2014 12:22 PM - Dr. Lynn A. Wilson, Kaplan University

Water scarcity was, until recently, considered by most of the developed world to be like James Hilton's Lost Horizon: "far away, at the very limit of distance." However, the convergence of aquifer depletion from increasing agricultural, industrial and municipal water use with more frequent and intense extreme weather events creates an urgency to develop new, reliable sources of fresh water to "drought-proof" communities through a combination of desalinization technologies, water recovery and reuse programs and PPP (public private partnerships). The race is on to provide fresh water to satisfy ever-increasing human demands. In order to make responsible decisions, changing conditions require rethinking water policy and distribution.

World’s river systems: Stressed OUT
March 24, 2014 02:16 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

According to the World Resources Institute (WRI) many, if not most of the world’s rivers are stressed. Determining a systems water stress is based upon measuring the ratio of total water withdrawals to the available renewable supplies within the catchment area. Rivers are an indispensible resource for our communities and ecosystems and we are hugely dependent upon them for agriculture, industry and our natural systems. A stressed river system can severely threaten regional water security and economic growth, and potentially contribute to political instability—especially in the absence of an adequate water-management plan.

Chernobyl: thirty years hence...
March 24, 2014 09:26 AM - Rachel Nuwer/Smithsonian, Ecologist

It's not just people, animals and trees that suffer from radiation at Chernobyl, writes Rachel Nuwer, but also decomposer fungi and microbes. And with the buildup of dead wood comes the risk of catastrophic fire - which could spread radiation far and wide. Nearly 30 years have passed since the Chernobyl plant exploded and caused an unprecedented nuclear disaster. The effects of that catastrophe, however, are still felt today.

Road to environmental destruction
March 21, 2014 11:40 AM - ENN Editor

Roads are considered connectors of human development providing opportunities for economic success and communication but the flip side of this network is that it has also brought enormous destruction to our fields and forests. With forest destruction comes increased human development and ecological degradation. Recent mapping and modeling has been done to document and measure forest destruction in an initiative by the Ames Research Center of NASA and ENN affiliate, Mongabay.

The omni-benefits of regenerative pasture
March 21, 2014 11:04 AM - Natasha Giddings, Ecologist

Managing grasslands in a way that mimics natural grazing by wild animals improves water infiltration, reduces erosion, conserves nutrients, reduces costs, raises production and increases profits, writes Natasha Giddings. Why isn't everyone doing it?

Floods in Britain: a sign of things to come?
March 20, 2014 11:52 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

A new investigation of long-term weather records suggests that the recent flooding in the south of England could signal the onset of climate change. The research, from UWE Bristol, Loughborough University and the University of East Anglia has produced a new index of flooding trends called the Fluvial Flood Indices. This enables widespread flooding and weather patterns to be viewed in the context of the last 150 years, revealing that four of the six most severe flood episodes since 1871 have occurred in the last 30 years.

No more stinky cotton!
March 19, 2014 10:18 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Following the eradication of the cotton boll weevil in the late 1990s cotton growers began to notice an influx of a new pest, stink bugs. Stink bugs feed on bolls on the bottom portion of the plant, puncturing squares causing young cotton bolls to drop and staining, matting and shrinking cottonseeds through heavy stink bug feeding. Injured locks or bolls may fail to open. Resultantly damage caused by stink bugs introduce bacteria, such as Pantoea agglomerans and fungi that cause boll rots. Currently stink bugs are ranked among the most damaging insect pests of cotton in the southeastern United States.

COLLEGIATE CORNER: Offshore oil drilling: is it really necessary?
March 18, 2014 10:32 AM - Christian Ramirez, Class of 2015, Wakefield High School, Arlington, VA

As we all know, oil is a very important energy resource the world needs for its everyday life. It is known that not only do most of the countries on the planet use it, but also it is a scarce resource, which means that in the near future, there will no longer be enough available oil that could be drilled and processed for future endeavors. The demand for oil has increased significantly throughout the past few years and other ways of obtaining this resource must be used more often. A form of oil drilling has emerged which is dangerous and is known as offshore drilling. Sounds like a good plan at first, going to the ocean where more oil can be found and at a faster rate, but is it really worth it? There should be an alternate to offshore drilling because of the many horrific and unfair problems that it brings to Americans, animals, and the overall environment.

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