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Articles by Category for ‘Environment’

California Farms Are Sucking Up Enough Groundwater to Put Rhode Island 17 Feet Under

Monday, July 21st, 2014

California Farms Are Sucking Up Enough Groundwater to Put Rhode Island 17 Feet Under 

See: http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/california-drought-report-economy-groundwater

California, the producer of nearly half of the nation’s fruits, veggies, and nuts, plus export crops-four-fifths of the world’s almonds, for example-is entering its third driest year on record. Nearly 80 percent of the state is experiencing “extreme” or “exceptional” drought. In addition to affecting agricultural production the drought will cost the state billions of dollars, thousands of jobs, and a whole lot of groundwater, according to a new report prepared for the California Department of Food and Agriculture by scientists at UC-Davis. The authors used current water data, agricultural models, satellite data, and other methods to predict the economic and environmental toll of the drought through 2016.

Here are four key takeaways:

  • The drought will cost the state $2.2 billion this year: Of these losses, $810 million will come from lower crop revenues, $203 million will come from livestock and dairy losses, and $454 million will come from the cost of pumping additional groundwater. Up to 17,100 seasonal and part-time jobs will be lost.
  • California is experiencing the “greatest absolute reduction in water availability” ever seen: In a normal year, about one-third of California’s irrigation water is drawn from wells that tap into the groundwater supply. The rest is “surface water” from streams, rivers, and reservoirs. This year, the state is losing about one-third of its surface water supply. The hardest hit area is the Central Valley, a normally fertile inland region. Because groundwater isn’t as easily pumped in the Valley as it is on the coasts, and the Colorado River supplies aren’t as accessible as they are in the south, the Valley has lost 410,000 acres to fallowing, an area about 10 times the size of Washington, DC.

See: http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/california-drought-report-economy-groundwater

A Practical Guide to Population and Development

Monday, July 21st, 2014

A Practical Guide to Population and Development

See: http://www.prb.org/Publications/Reports/2014/population-development-guide.aspx

(July 2014) Throughout human history, the world’s population had grown slowly and by the beginning of the 20th century was only 1.6 billion people. Today, after only 110 years, the world’s population has surpassed 7.1 billion people.

During this time, the world has witnessed tremendous development-including innovations in health care, education, infrastructure, and technology-but more than 2 billion people still live in poverty and remain left out of this progress. The great challenge leaders of the world face today is to reduce poverty and inequity, and improve people’s lives without compromising the environment and the well-being of future generations.

At the same time, world population continues to increase by more than 80 million people a year, with most of the growth occurring in the world’s least developed countries. By 2050, according to the United Nation’s medium projection, the world’s population will increase to 9.6 billion people and will continue to grow through 2100. This continued growth has strong implications for health, well-being, and economic development. Leaders of nations everywhere must ask themselves: How does population growth affect national development and what must be done to manage the challenges of population growth?

See: http://www.prb.org/Publications/Reports/2014/population-development-guide.aspx

 

Shocking Photographs of People Lying in Seven Days Worth of Their Trash

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Shocking Photographs of People Lying in Seven Days Worth of Their Trash

See: http://www.boredpanda.com/7-days-of-garbage-trash-pollution-photography-gregg-segal/

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Get Over the Growth Fetish

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Get Over the Growth Fetish

See: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/get-over-the-growth-fetish/article6182959.ece

Perpetual growth is a piece of nonsense. The focus should be on protecting livelihoods through sustainable means

Construct a building, demolish it, reconstruct, break it down again, and go on repeating this meaningless exercise. You will have economic growth, as currently measured. But no net gain in employment during the endless cycle of construction and demolition, no net increase in productive capacity, and no appreciable change in poverty levels.

Add to this the ecological cost of mining materials and using energy for the construction. And when the owners of the building decide it is more profitable to employ machines instead of people, you’ll have net loss of livelihoods.

India’s growth story is, of course, not as caricaturish, but it is not far off. Despite many years of a cracking pace of growth, net increase in employment in the formal sector has been insignificant in the last two decades.

See: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/get-over-the-growth-fetish/article6182959.ece

Booming populations, rising economies, threatened biodiversity: the tropics will never be the same

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Booming populations, rising economies, threatened biodiversity: the tropics will never be the same 

See: http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0707-hance-the-tropics-changes.html

For those living either north or south of the tropics, images of this green ring around the Earth’s equator often include verdant rainforests, exotic animals, and unchanging weather; but they may also be of entrenched poverty, unstable governments, and appalling environmental destruction. A massive new report, The State of the Tropics, however, finds that the truth is far more complicated-and much more interesting.

Starting with Aristotle’s misguided belief that no civilization could thrive in the tropics, the region-which covers around 40 percent of the world’s surface-has long been defined by views from the outside. But, according to the report’s co-author Sandra Harding, that must change.

“At a time of increasing concern about social, environmental and economic sustainability, a different approach is long overdue,” writes Harding, Vice-Chancellor and President of James Cook University. “It is time to recognize and acknowledge the tropics as a region defined from within, rather than without, to embrace the wisdom and experience of its peoples.”

Compiled by 12 institutions, the 400-plus page report attempts to explore the full region of the tropics, including demographics, health, science, economics, biodiversity, and climate change, among other issues. It finds that major changes are afoot in the region, including incredible population growth, rising economic importance, clashes over land-use, imperiled biodiversity, and worsening impacts of climate change.

See: http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0707-hance-the-tropics-changes.html

Is the Anthropocene a world of hope or a world of hurt?

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Is the Anthropocene a world of hope or a world of hurt?

See: http://grist.org/climate-energy/is-the-anthropocene-a-world-of-hope-or-a-world-of-hurt/

Is it possible that a world swarming with humanity, warmed by our fumes, and depleted by our carelessness could in any way be good?

Last year, some 30 people, including the ethicist Clive Hamilton and the journalist Andrew Revkin, attended a seminar in Washington, D.C., on the Anthropocene - a term denoting a new geologic epoch, dominated by human influence. Hamilton noticed that some of the participants seemed optimistic, even excited, about the advent of the Anthropocene. “I was astonished and irritated that some people who were scientifically literate were imposing this barrier of wishful thinking between the science and future outcomes for humanity,” he said.

Hamilton had just written a book, Requiem for a Species, arguing that people squirm away from the bleak reality of climate change.

Months later, Revkin sent this video of a talk he’d given to the people who had attended that seminar. It was entitled Seeking a Good Anthropocene, and Hamilton – seeing this idea that he objected so strongly reprised – decided to write a rebuttal (actually two).

This debate has been brewing for years, and each side tends to caricature the other’s position. Suggest there’s a reason for hope and you are called a delusional techno-utopian; if you say there’s an imperative for humility, you are framed as an anti-technological doomer.

See: http://grist.org/climate-energy/is-the-anthropocene-a-world-of-hope-or-a-world-of-hurt/

Call climate change what it is: violence

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Call climate change what it is: violence

Social unrest and famine, superstorms and droughts. Places, species and human beings – none will be spared. Welcome to Occupy Earth

See: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/07/climate-change-violence-occupy-earth

If you’re poor, the only way you’re likely to injure someone is the old traditional way: artisanal violence, we could call it – by hands, by knife, by club, or maybe modern hands-on violence, by gun or by car.

But if you’re tremendously wealthy, you can practice industrial-scale violence without any manual labor on your own part. You can, say, build a sweatshop factory that will collapse in Bangladesh and kill more people than any hands-on mass murderer ever did, or you can calculate risk and benefit about putting poisons or unsafe machines into the world, as manufacturers do every day. If you’re the leader of a country, you can declare war and kill by the hundreds of thousands or millions. And the nuclear superpowers – the US and Russia – still hold the option of destroying quite a lot of life on Earth.

So do the carbon barons.

See: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/07/climate-change-violence-occupy-earth

The Disaster We’ve Wrought on the World’s Oceans May Be Irrevocable

Monday, July 7th, 2014

The Disaster We’ve Wrought on the World’s Oceans May Be Irrevocable 

See: http://www.newsweek.com/2014/07/11/disaster-weve-wrought-worlds-oceans-may-be-irrevocable-256962.html

In the great halls of La Boqueria, Barcelona’s central market, tourists, foodies and cooks gather every day to marvel at the fresh food, like pilgrims at the site of a miracle. The chief shrines are the fish counters, where thousands of sea creatures making up dozens of species gleam pink and gray on mounds of ice. But to many ocean scientists this is not a display of the ocean’s bounty but a museum-by the end of this century, many of these animals may be history due to man’s reckless abuse of the planet. As we keep dumping greenhouse gases into the air, the oceans keep sucking them up, making the waters deadly to their inhabitants.

On the Boqueria’s fish stands I count 10 types of bivalves-creatures like clams, oysters and mussels that use calcium carbonate to make their endlessly varied shells. In as little as 20 years they will be very different and, in some parts of the world, entirely gone.

See: http://www.newsweek.com/2014/07/11/disaster-weve-wrought-worlds-oceans-may-be-irrevocable-256962.html

Food Security: The Challenge of A Growing Population

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Food Security: The Challenge of A Growing Population

See: http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2014/06/29/42052

Can Bangladesh sustain the gains achieved in food security and make further progress towards sustainable food security?

The main challenge in the way of progress towards food security emanates from continuing growth of population. The progress in reducing population growth, from 3.0 per cent per year at independence to about 1.2 per cent now, is laudable. But there are indications that the progress made in fertility reduction has slowed down in recent years. In Chittagong and Sylhet divisions, the total fertility rate is still higher than three, while the national average is 2.3, and it is less than two in Khulna Division. Strong traditional norms, and socio-cultural conditions in the Chittagong and Sylhet Divisions contribute to low acceptance of family planning that will not be easy to overcome.

The population is still increasing by 1.8 million every year. Rice production has to increase by 0.4 million tons every year to meet the need for staple food for the growing population. The increase in domestic production at that rate would be difficult due to several supply-side factors. The arable land has been shrinking by 0.6 per cent every year due to demand from housing and industries, and infrastructure, as well as loss of land from river erosion. With global warming and climate change, another one-sixth of the land may be submerged with brackish water over the next 40 years due to rising sea levels with adverse impact on soil salinity.

See: http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2014/06/29/42052

Unrelenting population growth driving global warming, mass extinction

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Unrelenting population growth driving global warming, mass extinction

See: http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0626-hance-overpopulation-climate-biodiversity.html

It took humans around 200,000 years to reach a global population of one billion. But, in two hundred years we’ve septupled that. In fact, over the last 40 years we’ve added an extra billion approximately every dozen years. And the United Nations predicts we’ll add another four billion-for a total of 11 billion-by century’s end. Despite this few scientists, policymakers, or even environmentalists are willing to publicly connect incredible population growth to worsening climate change, biodiversity loss, resource scarcity, or the global environmental crisis in general.

“We are already to a point where our population size is unsustainable,” Jeffrey McKee with the Ohio State University toldmongabay.com. “In other words, we are already beyond the point of the biological concept of ‘carrying capacity.’ Millions of people go hungry every day, and an unfathomable number don’t even have access to clean drinking water. A world of 11 billion people would be regrettable to humans as well as to other species.”

See: http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0626-hance-overpopulation-climate-biodiversity.html