• East vs West - Surface Water Rights

    There are two doctrines that govern surface water rights in the U.S. — one for the West and one for the East. The riparian doctrine covers the East. "[Under] the riparian doctrine, if you live close to the river or to that water body [or] lake, you have reasonable rights to use that water," says Venki Uddameri, a professor and the director of water resources at Texas Tech University. The Western U.S. uses the prior appropriation doctrine. "As people started exploring the West and started looking for water for agriculture and mining, there was a need to move water away from the rivers," Uddameri tells Jacki Lyden, host of weekends on All Things Considered. People wanted a claim to water but often lived too far away from a river for the riparian doctrine to make any sense. So the prior appropriation doctrine was devised. >> Read the Full Article
  • How can agriculture best adapt to changing climate?

    Whether it’s swapping coffee for cocoa in Central America or bracing for drought in Sri Lanka with a return to ancient water storage systems, findings from a new report from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) chart a path for farmers to adapt to climate shifts despite uncertainties about what growing conditions will look like decades from now. As this week's UN climate talks in Bonn continue to sideline a formal deal on agriculture, the study, Addressing uncertainty in adaptation planning for agriculture, which was published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS), finds that the cloudy aspects of climate forecasts are no excuse for a paralysis in agriculture adaptation policies. "Climate projections will always have a degree of uncertainty, but we need to stop using uncertainty as a rationale for inaction," said Sonja Vermeulen, head of research at CCAFS and the lead author of the study. "Even when our knowledge is incomplete, we often have robust grounds for choosing best-bet adaptation actions and pathways, by building pragmatically on current capacities in agriculture and environmental management, and using projections to add detail and to test promising options against a range of scenarios." >> Read the Full Article
  • Panama expects benefits from world's first GM salmon

    Panama's researchers have played a key role in creating a rapidly growing salmon that may soon become the world's first commercially sold genetically modified (GM) animal. The US's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ruled the consumption of GM salmon to be as safe as conventional Atlantic salmon, and is now analyzing public comments on its environmental impact as the final part of the approval process. If the FDA permits the transgenic salmon to be imported for human consumption — which the firm that developed the fish hopes will be granted this year — the research station in Panama that is studying the GM salmon would switch to growing it for the US market. >> Read the Full Article
  • One Man's Trash is Another Man's Pay Dirt

    It is, unfortunately, society's nature to discard the unwanted or forgotten. This tendency is on display across the globe, from slums of mega-cities to undernourished children in rural villages to the ugly endangered creatures that never receive attention. Nowhere, however, is this tendency more apparent than in our trash. We accumulate so much unwanted stuff that each city-dweller throws away an average of 1.2 kilograms of municipal solid waste per day. An individual's trash puts all those unwanted items on display, whether it is an old love letter, a broken glass, or a half-eaten ham and cheese sandwich. >> Read the Full Article
  • Vegetable Oil is OK

    With all the talk about the virtues of Olive Oil, you might get the idea that common, inexpensive vegetable oil is not good for you. A new study has shown that consuming vegetable oil has some health benefits! A typical American consumes approximately 3 or more tablespoons of vegetable oil each day. Vegetable oils, like those from soy, corn and canola, are a significant source of calories and are rich in linoleic acid (LA), which is an essential nutrient. Since the 1970s, researchers have known that LA helps reduce blood cholesterol levels, and for decades, scientists have known that consuming LA can help lower the risk of heart disease. However, some experts have been claiming recently that Americans might be getting too much of a good thing. A new study from the University of Missouri contradicts that claim. >> Read the Full Article
  • EPA Reports to Congress on National Safe Drinking Water Needs

    Some 52,000 community water systems and 21,400 not-for-profit non-community water systems across the US will require approximately $384.2 billion of infrastructure investment through 2030 in order to assure the provision of safe drinking water to 297 million Americans, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) "Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment: Fifth Report to Congress" (DWINSA). >> Read the Full Article
  • Indigenous Knowledge

    It is time to stop discounting traditional expertise and make use of this vast and valuable resource, argues Indian scientist Suman Sahai. Science and technology have always been an important part of growth and development plans. But accepted 'scientific expertise' is Western, standardised and homogenous. From this viewpoint, the vast body of scientific expertise developed in diverse societies and cultures is discounted and ignored. Referred to as indigenous or traditional knowledge, this is a knowledge system distilled from generations of scientific work anchored in rural and tribal communities. It is different to the Western system of empirical, lab-based science — but is equally valid and efficacious. >> Read the Full Article
  • Ending Poverty, Environmental Protection Strongly Linked

    Taxes, incentives, regulations, subsidies, trade and public procurement need to be realigned to favour sustainable consumption and production patterns if the world wants to end poverty, according to the UN High Level Panel charged with setting the new direction for global development. "Without environmental sustainability we cannot end poverty," said the UN's High Level Panel on the post-2015 Development Agenda. The report of the 26-member panel, which included UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Queen Rania of Jordan and Unilever CEO Paul Polman, has the potential to influence over USD 25 trillion of development spending and marks a clear break from the practice of treating development and sustainability as separate topics. >> Read the Full Article
  • Parasite-resistant maize developed by Kenyan scientist

    Two new varieties of hybrid maize that are resistant to the deadly parasitic Striga weed have been developed by a Kenyan scientist. The weed affects cereal crops in many parts of Africa and is a major cause of crop failure in East Africa, where climate change has been driving its spread in recent years. Mathews Dida, a maize breeder in the school of agriculture and food security at Maseno University, developed two maize varieties that produce a natural chemical that suppresses the growth of Striga weed, also known as witch-weed. >> Read the Full Article
  • Jaffna aquifer depleting from overuse

    The single limestone aquifer, which is the main source of freshwater in Sri Lanka's northern Jaffna peninsula, is gradually depleting through overuse, researchers say. "The area suffers from severe groundwater imbalance which might reach crisis proportions in the future," Shanti de Silva, one of two scientists who carried out the research for the agricultural department of the University of Jaffna, told SciDev.Net. >> Read the Full Article