Celebrate World Water Day by Reducing Your Water Use
March 18, 2013 01:36 PM - Guest Contributor, Danielle Nierenberg, Co-founder of Food Tank
The United States is one of the world's biggest users of water—many Americans use as much water as approximately 900 Kenyans. As a result, water resources in the U.S. are shrinking. In the last five years, there have been water shortages in almost every part of the country, including the worst drought in at least 25 years, which hit 80 percent of the country's farmland in 2012. Even worse, the damaged land won’t fully recover this year, and at least 36 states are expecting local, regional, or statewide water shortages, even without drought. The Natural Resources Defense Council expects water scarcity to affect the American South, West, and Midwest the most. Fourteen states in these regions already have "extreme" or "high" risk of water scarcity. Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Nevada, and Texas face the most danger because they are expected to see some of the largest increases in population by 2030. Water scarcity is about more than lack of water, it's about lack of drinkable water.
Solar Power close to Cost Parity with other Energy Sources
March 18, 2013 06:00 AM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit
They said it couldn’t be done. They tried to tell us that renewable energy could only survive if it were propped up with government subsidies. Never mind that our whole system of economic development, beginning with the patent office, is predicated on the idea that fledgling, underfunded industries need special protection for a limited time until they are strong enough to go it alone. Never mind that the fossil fuel industry, which can hardly be considered fledgling or underfunded, is still receiving billions in taxpayer subsidies. But like the little engine that could, or the middle aged rock star that, after twenty years of struggling in sleazy dives has suddenly become an overnight sensation, solar power, having now surpassed the 100 GW threshold, has finally arrived and is good to go, in many places, without subsidies.
Endangered Species Trade Update
March 17, 2013 05:22 PM - Derek Guzman, Population Matters
Elephants, rhinos, sharks, tigers, lizards, crocodiles, turtles, snakes, monkeys, various birds and plants all made an appearance on the agenda of the triennial conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). At the meeting, held this year in Bangkok from March 4th-14th, governments of 178 member states agreed to add 343 species of plants and animals to CITES’ appendices I and II. There they joined 33,000 species (5,000 animals and 28,000 plants) that already crowded it. All of these species are in danger of extinction. Listing by CITES ensures that trade in them is either banned or strictly monitored. At least that is the theory. But the abiding impression left by a CITES meeting is that no one knows how best to protect beleaguered wildlife. CITES has failed to curtail, let alone prevent, illegal trade—especially in species for which demand and market price are extremely high, and they climb ever higher, the closer to extinction a species becomes.
Salt Marshes are great Carbon Sinks
March 16, 2013 07:40 AM - Tom Marshall, Planet Earth Online
Allowing farmland that's been reclaimed from the sea to flood and turn back into salt marsh could make it absorb lots of carbon from the atmosphere, a new study suggests, though the transformation will take many years to complete. Scientists looked at one of the oldest such places in the UK, Tollesbury in Essex. Originally a salt marsh, the site was claimed for farming in the late 18th century, but eventually relinquished in 1995 when the bank separating it from the sea was deliberately breached. Since then it's been reverting to its natural state, though this is very slow process. 'People want quick results, but these things take time,' says lead author Annette Burden, a wetland biogeochemist based at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Bangor. 'You can't expect a piece of land that's been farmed for a century to turn overnight into something like a saltmarsh that has been there for thousands of years. But the evidence is that this will eventually happen, and this study suggests that the land starts absorbing carbon very quickly after its flood defences are breached.'
World Water Day in the Middle East
March 15, 2013 06:27 AM - Arwa Aburawa, Green Prophet
With the region getting drier 'at an alarming rate', what is there to celebrate this World Water Day? In the lead up to World Water Day which will take place next Friday, I have gathered some interesting water-based facts on the issue. The Middle East and North Africa region is famously one of the driest regions in the world and things don't look like they are getting better. So what is there to actually celebrate? Read on for the bad news and also some rather great news. Firstly, the bad news. According to the latest statistics gathered by IRIN, the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) is getting drier at an alarming rate. And whilst trading and importing food brings in 'virtual water', it also makes the region extremely vulnerable to trade disruptions caused by dwindling supplies, higher prices or lack of money to pay for the imports. As a report on the issue of climate change and the Arab Spring points out, a winter drought in China contributed to global wheat shortages and skyrocketing bread prices in Egypt, which is the world's largest wheat importer.
Tribe rejects payment from electricity company behind destructive Amazon Dam
March 14, 2013 10:53 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM
Leaders of more than two dozen Kayapó indigenous communities have rejected a $9 million offer from Brazilian state energy company Eletrobras to fund development projects in their region due to the the firm's involvement in the construction of the Belo Monte dam, reports Amazon Watch, an activist group fighting the hydroelectric project.
Recent Supreme Court Decision May Affect Environmental Standing
March 13, 2013 09:05 AM - Devin McDougall, Sive Paget & Riesel, P.C.
A recent decision by the United States Supreme Court has raised questions about the scope of plaintiffs' standing to bring suit in federal court, a critical issue for environmental litigants. Federal courts have long recognized that certain types of environmental harms can form the basis of standing under Article III of the United States Constitution, which requires plaintiffs to establish an "actual or imminent" injury that is "fairly traceable" to the challenged conduct and "likely to be redressed" by a favorable decision.
Quinoa Farming in Bolivia has significant impacts
March 13, 2013 06:08 AM - Cristina Pabón, SciDevNet
Bolivian scientists have warned that growing international demand for quinoa is endangering local farming practices and the environment, as well as denying access to local consumers. Their caution follows the UN's kick off last month (20 February) of a year-long series of cultural, artistic and academic activities — along with scientific research — to celebrate 2013 as the International Year of Quinoa. Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), a grain-like crop cultivated in the Andes for 7,000 years, has remarkable nutritional value and adapts well to a variety of growing environments.
Victory for Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises at CITES
March 12, 2013 09:00 AM - Kathryn Pintus, ARKive.org
Several freshwater turtle and tortoise species are to be afforded greater protection as a result of successful conservation talks at the CITES meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. At the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), proposals were put forward to restrict trade in 44 Asian turtle and tortoise species, as well as three North American pond turtle species.
Impacts of Global Warming on Rainforest Modeled
March 11, 2013 05:58 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM
Tropical forests may be less sensitive to global warming than previously thought, argues a new study published in Nature Geoscience. The research is based on computer simulations using 22 climate models for tropical forests in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. It projects loss of forest biomass as a result of climate change only in the Americas. However the study is far from conclusive, with the authors listing several uncertainties about how tropical forests will respond to climate change.