‘A Five-Alarm Threat to Our Food Supply’: Experts Describe Bayer-Monsanto Merger...

Sep 23, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Food A scary future for farmers around the world. By Katherine Paul / AlterNet NEW YORK CITY – MAY 23 2015: environmental activists joined a global day out against Monsanto’s GMO programs & demanding that foods be labeled. Photo Credit: a katz / Shutterstock.com It’s been about a week since Monsanto and Bayer confirmed their intention to say “I do”—ample time for media, lawmakers, consumer and farmer advocacy groups, and of course the happy couple themselves, to weigh in on the pros and cons. Reactions poured in from all the usual suspects. Groups like the Farmers Union, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth and others didn’t mince words when it came to condemning the deal. (Organic Consumers Association tagged it a “Marriage Made in Hell” back in May, pre-announcement, when the two mega-corporations were still...

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RURAL AMERICA’S NEW CASH CROP – RENEWABLE ENERGY...

Sep 13, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] A federal program is bringing solar energy and other green technology to farms and small communities. (Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images) TAKE PART John R. Platt covers the environment, technology, philanthropy, and more for Scientific American, Conservation, Lion, and other publications. Bio A winery with a solar array in rural Oregon. A greenhouse in Montana tapping geothermal energy. A farm in Kansas that deployed an energy-efficient irrigation system. These are just a few of the more than 15,000 small businesses and family farms around the country that have received a clean-energy boost from an unexpected source: the United States Department of Agriculture. The funding to make these projects a reality comes in part from the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program, which offers small businesses and farms—often left on the sidelines when it comes...

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California and EPA Poised to Expand Pollution of Potential Drinking Water Reserves...

Sep 5, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Environment A little-known program under federal environment law is being used to permit oil and gas companies to inject waste into the state’s aquifers, even as the thirst for groundwater grows. By Abraham Lustgarten / ProPublica   VIA ALTERNET Oil field in California’s Central Valley. Photo Credit: IRC/Shutterstock As the western United States struggles with chronic water shortages and a changing climate, scientists are warning that if vast underground stores of fresh water that California and other states rely on are not carefully conserved, they too may soon run dry. Heeding this warning, California passed new laws in late 2014 that for the first time require the state to account for its groundwater resources and measure how much water is being used. Yet California’s natural resources agency, with the oversight and consent of the...

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10 States Report Crop Damage From Illegal Dicamba Use on Monsanto’s GMO Seeds...

Sep 3, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Lorraine Chow   ECOWATCH.COM To the horror of farmers across America’s farm belt, hundreds of thousands of crop acres have been adversely impacted by the apparent misuse of the drift-prone herbicide dicamba on Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Xtend soybean and cotton plants. A soybean plant affected by dicamba drift from a nearby field, roadside or other area where the herbicide was applied. PurdueAccording to a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliance advisory, the EPA and state agencies have received an “unusually high” number of reports of crop damage that appear related to the illegal spraying of dicamba. The EPA has collected similar reports of crop damage from 10 states: Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Missouri appears to have suffered the most. According to the Southeast Missourian, the...

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‘Like it’s been nuked’: Millions of bees dead after South Carolina sprays for Zika mosquitoes...

Sep 1, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] By Ben Guarino   THE WASHINGTON POST On Sunday morning, the South Carolina honey bees began to die in massive numbers. Death came suddenly to Dorchester County, S.C. Stressed insects tried to flee their nests, only to surrender in little clumps at hive entrances. The dead worker bees littering the farms suggested that colony collapse disorder was not the culprit — in that odd phenomenon, workers vanish as though raptured, leaving a living queen and young bees behind. Instead, the dead heaps signaled the killer was less mysterious, but no less devastating. The pattern matched acute pesticide poisoning. By one estimate, at a single apiary — Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply, in Summerville — 46 hives died on the spot, totaling about 2.5 million bees. Walking through the farm, one Summerville woman wrote on...

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How farms can heal forests — or even make them...

Aug 18, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] ISDSI By Grist staff This article is published in partnership with: Aspiration Let’s admit it, guys: Trees are pretty awesome. They’re nature’s air conditioners, they’re hella pretty to look at, and they’re really efficient carbon sinks. And, it turns out, when they come together to form a forest, trees gain the superpower of living pretty much forever. (The Amazon forest — what’s left of it, that is — has been breathing for about 55 million years, and it’s not even the most ancient on the planet.) The forest ecosystem — bugs, soil, logs dead or alive, roots, shrubs, creepers, vines, trees, and all — is one hell of a long-term polyamorous relationship. So here’s an idea: What if everything in that long-living ecosystem were edible? What if the entire forest were an agricultural...

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Prenatal Pesticide Exposure Linked to Lower IQs in New Study...

Aug 3, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Expectant mothers living near agricultural lands where organophosphate pesticides were used gave birth to children with lower IQ. Beyond Pesticides   farmer spraying pesticide in the rice field Photo Credit: Narong Jongsirikul/Shutterstock A new study finds lower IQ (intelligence quotient) in children born to mothers who during their pregnancy were living in close proximity to chemical-intensive agricultural lands where organophosphate pesticides were used. This study adds to the body of scientific literature that links prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides with lower IQ’s in children. Organophosphate pesticides, a relatively older generation of highly neurotoxic pesticides still widely used on farms in California, have been associated with a broad range of diseases in both children and adults.  This latest study supports health and environmental advocates’ call to eliminate these toxic pesticides in agriculture and move toward safer, sustainable, and organic management...

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HIGHWAYS CAN HELP POLLINATORS RETURN TO HEALTH...

Jul 29, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Compost-spreading tactics to encourage native plants that both control erosion and attract pollinators / Caltrans In the face of rapidly-declining honeybee populations, farms across the country are under threat. In California, officials are now pioneering new methods to boost the health of the honeybees and butterflies, according to a recent Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. To reiterate the importance of these efforts, Congressman Jeff Denham, who is also an almond farmer, said at the briefing: “making sure we have healthy pollinators is critical to a state like California.” There to discuss these pioneering methods was Keith Robinson, ASLA, principal of the landscape architecture program at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). The purview of Robinson and the 240 landscape architects he leads is roadsides. Their primary job is to control erosion. But Robinson...

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The One Thing Hillary Cares About Most—When It Comes to Food...

Jul 27, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] The Democratic Party platform doesn’t say much about food or farming, except on one major issue. Tom Philpott  MOTHER JONES Hillary Clinton enjoys some coffee while campaigning in an Iowa diner last year. Barbara Kinney/Hillary for America/Flickr If Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton wins in November, what kind of food and farm policy can we expect from her? Like most presidential campaign seasons, the current one has been lighter than a soufflé in terms of debate around food issues. Here’s what we know so far. (1) The 2016 Democratic Party platform is mostly short on food policy details. Farm programs get all of two paragraphs, under the rubric of “Investing in Rural America.” The section nods to “promoting environmentally sustainable agricultural practices” and “expanding local food markets and regional food systems,” a likely reference...

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6 Human Activities That Pose The Biggest Threat To The World’s Drinking Water...

Jul 27, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] by Natasha Geiling THINK PROGRES CREDIT: Shutterstock   Clean, drinkable water is more than a precious resource — it’s crucial to human life. Unfortunately, population growth and pollution are threatening to seriously undermine the availability of clean drinking water in many of the world’s major cities. According to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, water treatment costs have risen by 50 percent in a third of large cities around the world. That means that getting clean, pure drinking water to people has become an increasingly difficult task, requiring cities not only to pay for expensive treatments, but pay for the construction of treatment plants to dole out said expensive treatments. All told, the study estimated that the total cost of degradation to our drinking water —...

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The Developing World is Awash in Pesticides. Does It Have to Be?...

Jul 5, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Environment Herbicides, insecticides and fungicides threaten the environment and human health in many parts of the world. But research is pointing to a better approach. By Aleszu Bajak BILL MOYERS & CO. Pesticides help developing countries produce more food — but also take a toll on human health and the environment. (Photo by Thomas Cristofoletti/USAID/Flickr cc 2.0) This post originally appeared at Ensia. In today’s globalized world, it is not inconceivable that one might drink coffee from Colombia in the morning, munch cashews from Vietnam for lunch and gobble grains from Ethiopia for dinner. That we can enjoy these products is thanks, in large part, to expanded pesticide use across the developing world. Every year, some 3.5 billion kilograms (7.7 billion pounds) of pesticides — a catch-all term for the herbicides, insecticides and...

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COURT RULES ORGANIC FARMERS CAN SUE CONVENTIONAL GMO FARMERS WHOSE PESTICIDES ‘TRESPASS’ AND CONTAMINATE THEIR FIELDS...

Jun 30, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Court rules organic farmers can sue conventional, GMO farmers whose pesticides ‘trespass’ and contaminate their fields Purveyors of conventional and genetically-modified (GM) crops — and the pesticides and herbicides that accompany them — are finally getting a taste of their own legal medicine. Minnesota’s Star Tribune has reported that the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled that a large organic farm surrounded by chemical-laden conventional farms can seek damages for lost crops, as well as lost profits, caused by the illegal trespassing of pesticides and herbicides on its property. Oluf and Debra Johnson’s 1,500-acre organic farm in Stearns County, Minn., has repeatedly been contaminated by nearby conventional and GMO farms since the couple started it in the 1990s. A local pesticide cooperative known as Paynesville Farmers Union (PFU), which is near the farm, has been...

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JUST FIVE COMMON FOODS PRODUCE MORE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS THAN NEARLY ALL COUNTRIES...

Jun 29, 2016 Posted by

[Translate]   by Natasha Geiling GRIST CREDIT: AP Photo/J.D. Pooley, File Think about the last time you ate something that included wheat, soy, corn, rice, or palm oil. As some of the most common commodity crops in the world, it’s likely that your last meal contained at least one of these ingredients, even if you weren’t aware of it. Palm oil can hide in things like sandwich bread or pizza dough, while soy can find its way into everything from cereal to canned soups. That means that, knowingly or not, your last meal probably helped contribute to the greenhouse gas pollution that is driving global climate change. According to a new report from Oxfam America, the production of these five commodity crops emits more greenhouse gases annually than each of the world’s countries, save...

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RACE IS ON TO FEED A WARMING WORLD...

Jun 24, 2016 Posted by

[Translate]   By Tim Radford / Climate News Network  VIA TRUTHDIG     Millions throughout Africa depend on maize, but new crop varieties can barely keep pace with the warming climate. (Kate Holt / AusAID via Wikimedia Commons) This piece first appeared at Climate News Network. LONDON—It can take up to 30 years to improve a crop variety, test it and persuade farmers to adopt it. That means the speed of climate change in Africa could make a new variety of maize useless even before the first harvest, according to new research. But two separate studies that address the challenge of food security in a rapidly warming world suggest that the answers may lie not just in future weather but in today’s soils. One says that better soil data can be used to predict...

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Why Conserving Crops’ Wild Cousins May Be Critical for Human Survival...

Jun 22, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Food As global food requirements grow with a skyrocketing human population, genes from wild relatives of common crops could play a big role. By Kristen Satre Meyer / Ensia  VIA ALTERNET Portrait of a young woman at work in greenhouse,in uniform and clipboard in her hand . Greenhouse produce. Food production. Tomato growing in greenhouse. Photo Credit: Vlad Teodor/Shutterstock Wild cousins aren’t always appreciated at family gatherings. But when it comes to crops, the opposite is often true: Plant breeding has historically relied on genes from plants growing in the wild as a source of diversity that can be introduced into crop plants to produce new crop varieties that are more resilient, nutritious and productive than those currently cultivated. As human populations increase and shift away from traditional diets, demand for food is...

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4 Things You Can Do to Help Out Threatened Honey Bees...

Jun 17, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Environment Protecting pollinator health is an issue of global importance, but individuals can make a difference. By Danielle Nierenberg, Lani Furbank / Food Tank   VIA ALTERNET bee on flower Photo Credit: DoeLay/Flickr CC According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), approximately 80 percent of all flowering plant species reproduce with the help of pollinator animals like bees, butterflies, birds, and more. This accounts for at least one third of the world’s food crops, including tomatoes, pepper, strawberries, coffee, apples, carrots, almonds, cocoa, and thousands of others. Without pollinators, most plants could not produce fruits and seeds, and agricultural biodiversity would suffer–according to FAO, bees, bats, birds, and other pollinators, increase global food production by 87 percent. Unfortunately, the world is seeing a decline in pollinator populations. From land-use change and pesticide use...

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A NEW KIND OF URBAN FARM IN DETROIT...

Jun 16, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] THE DIRT   Jared Green Penrose market garden / Jared Green In the Penrose neighborhood of Detroit, two landscape architects, partners in business and life, are testing out a new model: the market garden. While Detroit has acres of non-profit-run farms growing fresh fruit and vegetables that are then donated to communities, Ken Weikal, ASLA, and Beth Hagenbuch, ASLA, who run GrowTown, want to show the residents of this poor community in Detroit and elsewhere that anyone can apply an intensive, efficient farming method to one-third of an acre, grow high-value produce in all four seasons, and make $50,000 – $70,000 a year. But their market farm model is really just one component of a more ambitious plan they are leading in the community, with support from the Kresge Foundation, non-profits, affordable housing developers...

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FEDS FINALLY ADDRESS THE RISKS OF WIDELY USED AG CHEMICAL – ATRAZINE...

Jun 6, 2016 Posted by

[Translate]   A new government report on the weed killer atrazine highlights risks to wildlife that researchers have been pointing to for years. (Photo: David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters) Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.   A 500-some-page draft assessment on an agricultural chemical from a federal agency is generally not the stuff of intrigue and redemption. But just such a document could upend the American corn industry, generate strict new regulations for a chemical company in the midst of being acquired by a Chinese firm for $43 billion, and clear the name of a researcher who nearly had his reputation destroyed. The document published Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency reads, “This risk assessment concludes that aquatic plant communities are impacted in many areas where atrazine use is heaviest, and there is potential chronic risk to...

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Honey Bees Are in Decline, but There’s Another, Unsung Bee Who Could Save the Planet’s Food Supply...

Jun 2, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Food Gentle, good-natured and hardworking, mason bees are more efficient pollinators than honey bees—and can help orchard growers and everyday gardeners get more from their plants. By Dave Hunter, Jill Lightner / Mountaineer Books  VIA ALTERNET Mason Bee (Osmia bicornis) Photo Credit: Jaco Visser/Shutterstock The following is an excerpt from the new book Mason Bee Revolutionby Dave Hunter & Jill Lightner (Mountaineers Books, 2016): Why Keep Gentle Bees? When people hear “beekeeping,” the image they picture is almost always of honey bee keepers in white, helmeted spacesuits fretting over their hives for hours at a time and purchasing fairly heavy-duty equipment just to get started. But the options for home beekeeping are far more interesting than that image evokes, and many are much, much simpler. Social vs. Solitary There are thousands of species...

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DOES THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES REPORT ON GMOS SETTLE THE DEBATE?...

Jun 2, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Brought to you by FlexPVC®  TRUTH IN MEDIA The National Academy of Sciences has released a new report declaring genetically engineered food safe for humans and the environment, but is there more to the story? The debate over genetically engineered or modified foods will likely continue despite a damning new report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine which concluded that genetically engineered (GE) foods do not pose a health or environmental risk. Critics of the report point to conflicts of interests between researchers with the National Academy of Sciences and biotechnology companies involved in the creation of GE crops. The report,Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects, also acknowledged that the GE crops are also not producing increasing yields of crops, as has been promoted by supporters of GE technology. The Associated...

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FARMING’S DIRTY NEEDS HAVE A DEADLY EFFECT...

May 26, 2016 Posted by

[Translate]   By Tim Radford / Climate News Network     Fertilizers are a major contributor to air pollution in the United States, Europe, Russia and China. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) This piece first appeared at Climate News Network. LONDON—Farming is a dirty business—so dirty now that, according to new research, air pollution from agriculture in the form of fine particles of lung-choking dust outweighs all other human sources of that kind of pollution. These particles are calculated to cause around 3.3 million deaths a year worldwide—and most of this lung-penetrating murk is from fertilisers. Back in 1950, the world produced 20 million tons of artificial fertilisers, but farmers now spread on their fields every year around 190 million tons. Ammonia from the nitrogen-based compounds gathers in the air, and combines with the...

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CHILDREN IN FARM COMMUNITIES PAY A STEEP PRICE FOR THE FOOD WE EAT...

May 15, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Civil Eats About the Writer Elizabeth Grossman is a senior reporter for Civil Eats focused on environmental and science issues. She is the author of Chasing Molecules, High Tech Trash, Watershed and other books. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Scientific American, Environmental Health Perspectives, Yale e360, Ensia, High Country News, The Pump Handle, Chemical Watch, The Washington Post, TheAtlantic.com, Salon, The Nation, and Mother Jones. Photo courtesy of Bread for the World. Children in Farm Communities Pay a Steep Price for the Food We Eat The evidence linking pesticide exposure to childhood cancers and learning and behavioral problems has grown increasingly strong. By Elizabeth Grossman on May 10, 2016 Filed Under: Food Justice, Pesticides Subscribe  993  268 Tumblr1 Google +2  15 If you’re an urban parent, you might...

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WHY THERE’S A SEARING ETHIOPIAN DROUGHT WITHOUT AN EPIC ETHIOPIAN FAMINE...

May 15, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] governance By Andrew C. Revkin Photo Cattle are led in search of water in Ethiopia’s Oromia region.Credit Nancy McNally / Catholic Relief Services I hope you’ll read “Is the Era of Great Famine Over,” an Op-Ed article by Alex de Waal, the executive director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University, which has a program tracking famine trends. Filing from Ethiopia, which is in the midst of a potent drought but — for a change — not a calamitous famine, de Waal made these core points:  How did Ethiopia go from being the world’s symbol of mass famines to fending off starvation? Thanks partly to some good fortune, but mostly to peace, greater transparency and prudent planning. Ethiopia’s success in averting another disaster is confirmation that famine is elective because, at its...

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INTENSE FARMING PRACTICES CAN HELP SAVE WILDLIFE...

Apr 16, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] TAKE PART DAILY Human population growth means we need to farm more efficiently so we don’t plow what’s left of the world’s natural habitat. (Photo: Chris Winsor/Getty Images) Richard Conniff is the author of House of Lost Worlds: Dinosaurs, Dynasties, and the Story of Life on Earth, and other books.   You probably don’t think agricultural intensification could ever be a good thing. And you certainly wouldn’t expect an argument for more of it in a column about wildlife. But here’s the deal: If we don’t figure out how to grow more food on less land, we’re going to have to plow under what little remains of the natural world and turn it into farmland. And we have to figure it out fast, because there are going to be 10 billion people to...

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THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON FUNGICIDES...

Apr 14, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] By Mark Sumner  DAILY KOS This guy might not be the only one who ends up in a fog. Science Matters Daily Kos While Republicans are actively trying to bring back DDT to please big agriculture, concern is growing about other pesticides and fungicides that are already out there. In your food. In your body. In your brain. … a team of University of North Carolina Neuroscience Center researchers led by Mark Zylka subjected mouse cortical neuron cultures—which are similar in cellular and molecular terms to the the human brain—to 294 chemicals “commonly found in the environment and on food.” The idea was to see whether any of them triggered changes that mimicked patterns found in brain samples from people with autism, advanced age, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. This is initial research, and obviously mouse brain...

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Why Is the USDA Silencing Its Own Scientists’ Warnings About the Dangerous Effects of Pesticides?...

Apr 12, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Environment Government whistleblowers are our first line of defense against unscrupulous companies and purchased politicians responsible for the poisoning of honeybees. By Evaggelos Vallianatos / AlterNet bee keeper with bee colony Photo Credit: Pazargic Liviu/Shutterstock [Editor’s note: Evidence has been mounting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been silencing its own bee scientists who have raised the alarm about the deadly impact that pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, have on bees. Last month, for example, the Washington Post reported the story of Jonathan Lindgren, a USDA bee scientist, who filed a whistleblower suit alleging that he was disciplined to suppress his research. In 2014, Dr. Jeffery Pettis, another USDA bee scientist and beekeeping advocate, was demoted, leading several beekeeping and environmental organizations to express concern that the agency has actively suppressed bee science that...

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LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE IN THE NEWS HIGHLIGHTS (MARCH 16-31)...

Apr 11, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] THE DIRT  by J.R. Taylor A new public square in the Fawwar refugee camp in the West Bank, June 2014 / Adam Ferguson/The New York Times/Redux via NY Review of Books Municipality Updating Anchorage’s Dated Land Use Plan – Alaskan Public Media, 3/17/16 “The most-recent projections – which have been adjusted since the price of oil has declined – anticipate Anchorage’s population will grow between 15,000 and 45,000 people within the next 25 years.” A Closer Look at Oceanwide Center’s Proposed Public Open Space – Hoodline, 3/22/16 “The team behind the massive office, hotel and residential development proposed for First and Mission streets, Oceanwide Center, has grand plans for their open space requirement. If approved, 47 percent of the project’s ground-floor area will be privately-owned public open space, accessible to anyone.” Why Landscapers...

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TREATING SOIL A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY COULD HELP IT STORE A HUGE AMOUNT OF CARBON...

Apr 11, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] by Natasha Geiling CLIMATE PROGRESS CREDIT: Shutterstock   Climate change is a massive problem with the potential to completely reshape the world, both literally (with rising sea levels and melting glaciers) and figuratively (with the way we grow food, or the way that we handle allergies). And while the consequences caused by climate change could be huge, the solutions — transitioning to a completely fossil fuel-free economy, or geoengineering — can often seem equally daunting. But what if something as simple as the dirt under your feet could help mitigate some of the worst of climate change? The Earth’s soils contain a lot of carbon, and helping to manage and restore them could be a key way to help tackle climate change, according to a recent study in Nature. Soils are already huge...

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One-Third of All Food Produced Globally Never Finds Its Way Onto a Plate...

Apr 9, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Food The majority of food waste ends up in landfills where it releases methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times stronger than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. By Nicole Mormann / EcoWatch  VIA ALTERNET April 8, 2016 It’s easy not to think about food waste when your rotting tomatoes and days-old casserole dishes are hidden away in the back of the refrigerator—out of sight, out of mind. But when it comes time to clean it out, you have to face a lot of waste food, money and the resources that took to produce it. While food waste has made a rapid rise in terms of public awareness recently, new research suggests that the future effect could end up accelerating climate changeat a worrisome rate in coming years. According to a study released Thursday by Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact...

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