Sustainability

Grocery giant commits to zero-deforestation policy for palm oil sourcing
March 26, 2014 02:01 PM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Safeway has become the latest company to establish a policy that excludes deforestation-linked palm oil from its products. Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY), the second biggest U.S. grocery chain, made the commitment in response to a shareholder proposal by the New York State Common Retirement Fund.

Organic Standards Lowered for Livestock in Drought-Ridden California
March 26, 2014 09:05 AM - Care2 Causes Editor, Care2

Due to California’s historic drought, a variance was issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in February that enables applicable organic livestock farmers in the Golden State to temporarily disregard the feeding standards that allow them to stamp their product as organic.

Caribbean Island of Barbados To Get Waste-To-Energy Plant
March 26, 2014 08:06 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit

One day soon the Caribbean island of Barbados will have part of its electricity needs supplied by a waste-to-energy plant. Cahill Energy, based in Guernsey, announced the signing of an agreement with the government of Barbados on March 15 to build and operate a waste-to-energy plant.

Horses threaten panda population
March 26, 2014 07:27 AM - Editor, ENN

Pandas rely upon a specific diet and habitat. They typically live far away from human populations on gently sloping hillsides. Their diet is made up of exclusively bamboo. China invests billions to protect its panda habitat and conserve the 1,600 remaining endangered supported by this habitat. China has instituted many conservation programs limiting the timber harvesting that had greatly threatened this habitat. But now it seems that with the timber harvesters are under control the bamboo is still being devastated before the pandas can get it.

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.

Wetlands and methane emissions
March 23, 2014 09:59 AM - Tim Radford, The Ecologist

Scientists think the amount of methane emitted to the atmosphere from freshwater ecosystems will increase as the climate warms, reports Tim Radford. And that will trigger further warming. This highlights another mechanism by which the global carbon cycle may serve to accelerate rather than mitigate future climate change. British scientists have identified yet another twist to the threat of global warming. Any further rises in temperature are likely to accelerate the release of methane from rivers, lakes, deltas, bogs, swamps, marshlands and rice paddy fields.

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