Sustainability

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.

Disease threatens aquaculture in developing world
March 15, 2013 09:12 AM - Wagdy Sawahel, SciDevNet

Disease may challenge the ability of fish farming to feed the growing human population even as wild fish stocks decline and climate change hampers food production from other sources, a study shows. Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, with 90 per cent of production coming from the developing world, where it makes a significant contribution to many nations' economies.

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.

German Home for the Bison to Roam
March 14, 2013 12:50 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

What would you do if you owned 30,000 acres in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany? While this area is one of the country's most densely populated states, this vast acreage is covered with Norwegian spruce and beech trees and owned by Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. So what has this royal decided to do with his land? Fulfill his dream of reintroducing bison known as wisents, of course.

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.

Sustainable Air Travel Takes Off
March 12, 2013 06:07 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

Last Thursday, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Flight 642 completed the seven hour and 17 minute flight from New York's JFK Airport to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol using sustainable biofuels. Flight KL642, operated by a Boeing 777-200, will fly every Thursday fueled by recycled cooking oil as part of the Dutch carrier's goal to have one percent of its flights operate on biofuels by 2015. For five years, KLM has experimented with various forms of biofuels in order to try to reduce its carbon footprint. First was the attempt to fuel 12 Fokker-50 planes with algae-based biofuel. Bio-kerosene was an experiment a year later, and as many as 200 short hop flights are now powered by a 50-50 blend of kerosene and recycled cooking oil.

Earth Hour 2013: March 23, 8:30 PM
March 11, 2013 09:51 AM - Editor, Ecologist

WWF's Earth Hour is a unique annual phenomenon that focuses the world's attention on our amazing planet, and how we need to protect it. Earth Hour is a simple idea gone global. Show your support and switch off! WWF is calling for people across the world to take part in Earth Hour 2013 — the biggest switch-off in history. At 8:30pm on 23rd March hundreds of millions of people across the globe are expected to turn off their lights for an hour, to show they care about the future of our planet. Last year's Earth Hour saw a staggering 6,950 towns and cities in more than 152 countries take part in what has become a global movement. From a single domestic light bulb to giant iconic illuminations such as Big Ben, the Taj Mahal and the Sydney Opera House, the Earth Hour switch-off can demonstrate a determination to help protect the planet.

Meat DNA testing can help save species
March 11, 2013 09:36 AM - Linda Nordling, SciDevNet

African governments need to boost local efforts to protect endangered species by supporting DNA testing, argues Linda Nordling. The horsemeat scandal that recently hit Europe has shown how DNA testing can improve food monitoring and safety. Most African countries are yet to adopt the technology despite its huge potential - both in ensuring that food is correctly labelled and in policing the illegal trade in animal products.

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.

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