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California farms are sucking up enough groundwater to put Rhode Island 17 feet under

Grist.org - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 20:30

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, D.C.
  • Farmers are pumping enough groundwater to immerse Rhode Island in 17 feet of it: To make up for the loss of surface water, farmers are pumping 62 percent more groundwater than usual. They are projected to pump 13 million acre-feet this year, enough to put Rhode Island 17 feet under.
  • “We’re acting like the super-rich”: California is technically in its third year of drought, and regardless of the effects of El Niño, 2015 is likely to be a dry year too. As the dry years accumulate, it becomes harder and harder to pump water from the ground, adding to the crop and revenue losses. California is the only western state without groundwater regulation or measurement of major groundwater use. If you can drill down to water, it’s all yours. (Journalist McKenzie Funk describes this arcane system in an excerpt from his fascinating recent book, Windfall.) “A well-managed basin is used like a reserve bank account,” said Richard Howitt, a UC-Davis water scientist and co-author of the report. “We’re acting like the super-rich, who have so much money they don’t need to balance their checkbook.”

This story was produced by Mother Jones as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.


Filed under: Climate & Energy, Food
Categories: Environment

A Tesla for the rest of us? Elon Musk dishes on the new, cheaper model

Grist.org - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:25

One of the knocks against Tesla (besides the slight chance of the automaker’s cars going up in flames) is that the sexy zero-emission rides are darn expensive. Case in point: The much ballyhooed Model S starts at $69,900.

But a more affordable Tesla is on the way. CEO Elon Musk recently announced that a new model, called the 3, will start at around $35,000. The 3 is set to be on sale by 2017.

Here are some additional details, via an exclusive with U.K. car mag Auto Express:

The new car is rumoured to be about 20% smaller than the Model S and our image shows how it could look. Key to the new model, which Musk said should retail for around $35,000 (likely to equate to around £30,000 in the UK), is cheaper battery technology made possible by Tesla’s forthcoming Gigafactory.

Yes, $35K is still steep, but a 50 percent price drop from the S to the 3 — in just three years — bodes well for even more cost-friendly iterations down the line.

Honk if you like that idea.


Filed under: Article, Business & Technology
Categories: Environment

Environmental Remediation Made Easier With Juniper Systems’ Mesa®...

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:20

W&M Environmental Group (W&M) has been using Juniper Systems’ Mesa® Rugged Notepad to provide environmental remediation services, particularly environmental injection.

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/07/prweb12020982.htm

Categories: Environment

Fannie Mae's Latest National Housing Survey Indicated Slower...

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:20

The Federal Savings Bank informs readers of Fannie Mae's latest June National Housing Survey.

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/07/prweb12022567.htm

Categories: Environment

Rare White Alligators to Return to Newport Aquarium

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:20

There will be guaranteed snow in Northern Kentucky this summer as albino American alligators Snowball and Snowflake are set to return to Newport Aquarium on Thursday, July 17.

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/07/prweb12023150.htm

Categories: Environment

Industrial DeNOx Systems & Services Market Worth $6.9 Billion by...

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:20

The global industrial DeNOx systems market is profoundly analyzed in terms of revenue ($million). The report identifies different types of secondary NOx control systems namely Selective Catalytic...

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/industrial-denox-systems/services-market/prweb12018131.htm

Categories: Environment

Greenfield Advisors LLC Expands With Atlanta Office

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:20

The new location gives clients more access to the firm

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/07/prweb12020003.htm

Categories: Environment

Insecticides Market Worth $16 Billion by 2019 - New Report by...

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:20

The global insecticides market is segmented on the basis of type into organophosphorus compounds, pyrethroids, neonicotinoids, methyl carbamates, and others. Asia-Pacific was the largest market for...

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/insecticides/market/prweb12021899.htm

Categories: Environment

Latin America Agricultural Adjuvants Market is Expected to Reach...

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:20

Latin America Agricultural Adjuvants Market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5.7% from 2013 to 2018. The Latin America Agricultural Adjuvants Market report defines and segments the adjuvants market...

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/agricultural-adjuvants/market/prweb12022529.htm

Categories: Environment

North America Polyvinyl Chloride Market Is Expected to Reach $8,520.75...

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:20

The emerging demand of plastic films and sheets will enhance the growth of polyvinyl chloride market....

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/polyvinyl-chloride/market/prweb12022556.htm

Categories: Environment

Houston’s one-bin-to-rule-them-all recycling plan smells a little like racism

Grist.org - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:03

Integration is a good thing, except when it comes to trash, says Melanie Scruggs, the Houston-based program director for Texas Campaign for the Environment. Scruggs’ organization is part of the Zero Waste Houston Coalition, which is campaigning against the city government’s new “One Bin for All” proposal, which would have residents place their garbage and recyclables in the same trash can for collection, to be separated by workers later.

This idea, funded with a milli from Bloomberg Philanthropies, is different than your run-of-the-mill recycling separation factories. Those “materials recovery facilities,” as they’re called, separate recyclables from one another — your glass from your plastic, for example — as our columnist, Umbra Fisk, has explained. No, this plan would allow you to toss out the leftover scraps from the hotbar in the same container it came in, along with the snotty tissues, the jammed-up glass, and the nasty plastic altogether, to be unyoked later at facilities that the Zero Waste Coalition call “dirty materials recovery facilities” — or “Dirty MRFs” for short.

The “One Bin” plan sprang from the city’s Office of Sustainability. Despite declaring itself a green city, Houston’s recycling rates were running around 14 percent; compare that to San Francisco, which has managed to recycle 80 percent of its waste. The One Bin plan aims to bump Houston’s recycling rate up to 75 percent.

But the plan arises at the same time that Houston Mayor Annise Parker committed last October to expanding recycling bins distribution throughout the city. Before that, fewer than half of the city’s neighborhoods had the bins. That move was applauded by environmentalists around the city. But they’re now scratching their heads about how city-wide recycling bins will co-exist with a one bin fits all strategy, and are doubtful about the landfill diversion goals.

“No other facility like this has ever achieved anything close to what our recycling goals are in Houston — and most have been outright disasters,” Scruggs said in a press statement earlier this month. “City officials have set a 75 percent recycling goal for this proposal, but when we researched similar facilities, none have ever exceeded 30 percent. It’s been shown over and over that real, successful recycling will never be possible if the city tells residents to mix their garbage with recyclable materials in the same bin.”

You can read about the coalition’s research in the report “It’s Smarter to Separate”  (not to be confused with a Stormfront post). The report not only takes aim at the “one bin” approach, but also another part of the plan, which would incinerate some of the garbage and convert it into fuel. It’s the same “waste-to-energy” experiment that’s been attempted and halted in Baltimore, and cancelled in New Orleans. The coalition also points to an Energy Information Administration report that figures this kind of energy production is more expensive than producing energy from nuclear sources, leading the coalition to the conclusion that  “waste to energy is a waste of energy.”

The coalition also senses a whiff of environmental racism in this deal. The areas slated for Dirty MRFers fall mostly in black or Latino communities — which is a shame, as Houston is one of the most racially diverse cities — and now the city has an environmental justice issue on its hands.

This is why the Houston branch of the NAACP is involved, as is the pioneering environmental justice scholar Robert Bullard, whose first research study in 1979 was on the siting of waste incinerators and garbage transfer stations in Houston’s black neighborhoods. The study was ammunition for a lawsuit against the city for the permitting of a waste facility in a black community that the residents did not want, and it’s considered a major jump-off point for the environmental justice movement.

Here they are almost 40 years later still fighting the same battle — against using black and brown neighborhoods as garbage projects.

“Bad proposals like incinerators and landfills have a way of uniting communities against a known threat to their health and safety, not to mention the safety of the workers in the facility who would be sorting through Houston’s trash,” said Bryan Parras of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (T.E.J.A.S), a member of the Zero Waste Houston coalition.

The worker issue Parras references is a nasty proposition alone. The report provides a few anecdotes from workers who toil in similar facilities in other cities. This particular one comes from a worker in a Chicago trash separation plant … ugh:

“There are so many smells that you come across, they make your stomach queasy. Yet before we went to work, they showed us a safety film where all the stuff was really clean… They told us that it was going to be a clean environment. They said fresh air was going to be pumped through there every 15 minutes, so it wouldn’t smell, and stuff like that, but it wasn’t. It was a little different than they had described it. One time they had a dead dog… go through there. There was all garbage, you know (not just recyclables). At first we thought they were only talking about plastic bottles and cans going through there. But that was plain garbage, everything, you know? Dirty diapers, cleaning products, stuff like that.”

I can’t remind us enough that Martin Luther King’s last campaign was for improving the conditions of sanitation workers in Memphis — a campaign that Bullard says serves as the true genesis of the environmental justice movement.

Given Houston’s “One Bid” plan is a public-private partnership, it could displace a number of city employees, said Scruggs. Not to mention, the city is offering around $100 million of its own money in tax incentives if it passes (it’s still at the bidding phase and the city council would have to approve the contract). I can only think of the city I grew up in, Harrisburg, Pa., that went bankrupt for wheeling and dealing with a similar incinerator scheme. Detroit, meanwhile, owes much of its bankruptcy to an incinerator project also.

If that ain’t all bad enough, these plans can be ruinous for climate. The report cites an EPA study stating that “36.7 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions produced in the U.S. are produced by the materials production, consumption, and disposal cycle.”

There are no easy answers when it comes to our waste disposal. The most ideal is to find ways to consume less, and dispose of less waste, through composting, reuse, recycling, remixing and any other re-[x]-ing you can think of.

I can see how a one-bin-fits-all plan would appeal to the laziness in us — but Scruggs says she has 20,000 signatures from Houston residents that says otherwise. They want to keep their reusable trash apart from the disposable. I can see how incineration helps solve the landfill problem, but if it worsens the climate and environmental implications of waste management, then it seems like a wash. Justice is not disposable and need not be separated from the equation.


Filed under: Article, Cities, Climate & Energy
Categories: Environment

patchnride™ will showcase the World’s First Permanent Bicycle Tire...

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:20

The first-ever on-the-go and convenient solution that repairs all flat bicycle tires in less than 60 seconds, eliminating the need to remove the tire and wheel

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/07/prweb12017920.htm

Categories: Environment

SAE International’s Global University Directory is a One-Stop Shop for...

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:20

High school students looking to earn a bachelor’s or graduate degree in engineering can find all of the top schools and programs in one place – SAE International’s Global University Directory.

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/07/prweb12020866.htm

Categories: Environment

31 Watt Low Voltage LED Light Fixture with Magnetic Mount for use...

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:20

Leading manufacturer and supplier of industrial grade lighting Larson Electronics has announced the release of a 31 watt low voltage LED light fixture for use within Class 1 Division 2 environments....

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/larsonelectronics/hazardouslocationlight/prweb12021065.htm

Categories: Environment

Special Occasion Dresses Trend Report: Affordable, High Quality Mother...

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:20

AngelWeddingDress.com, a renowned wedding dress manufacturer and retailer, has recently unveiled its new designs of mother of the bride gowns and flower girl dresses.

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/07/prweb12022307.htm

Categories: Environment

2014 Lace Homecoming Dresses, New Arrivals Of Innovative Company...

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:20

Bridal-Buy.net, an innovative company that provides many kinds of wedding dresses and women’s special occasion gowns, has unveiled its new arrivals: 2014 lace homecoming dresses. These charming...

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/07/prweb12022376.htm

Categories: Environment

Cheap USB HUB & Card Readers (For OTG Mobile Phone) Announced by...

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:20

Recently, Hiconn Electronics, a reliable China mobile phone accessory company from China, has added a new range of USB HUB & Card Readers (for OTG Mobile Phone) to its product category. Also, the...

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/07/prweb12022411.htm

Categories: Environment

Discounted SEE-DIS63 DIS CMOS Cameras From China Security Camera...

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:20

Recently, China-IP-Cameras.com, a professional security camera system company, has unveiled its new assortment of SEE-DIS63 DIS CMOS Cameras. The entirely new cameras are now offered at greatly...

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/07/prweb12022444.htm

Categories: Environment

Ethanol Fuel Production in Australia Industry Market Research Report...

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:20

Despite some growth over the past five years, the future for the industry is bleak. For this reason, industry research firm IBISWorld has added a report on the Ethanol Fuel Production industry in...

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/07/prweb12018151.htm

Categories: Environment

Amphibious Landing Craft, Air Cushion Market Estimated to Reach...

PR Web - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:20

Amphibious Landing Craft, Air Cushion Market report analyzes and provides information about the latest technological, industrial, and market trends, and how they drive the market, and face the...

(PRWeb July 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/amphibious-landing-craft/air-cushion-market/prweb12018349.htm

Categories: Environment

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