Archive for July 16th, 2013

Trade-offs between food security and climate change mitigation explored

ScienceDaily: Improving crop yields using sustainable methods could cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 12% per calorie produced according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. At the same time, these changes could provide more food to people in need. Agriculture and land use change contributed about 1/3 of total human greenhouse gas emissions in the past decade, through crop cultivation, animal production, and deforestation. By producing more food on less land, it may...

Seawater and solar power grow crops in the desert

CNN: In the scorching desert of Qatar, scientists are showing that saltwater can be used to help grow crops. A one hectare research initiative known as the Sahara Forest Project -- modest in size, but not in ambition -- has produced a harvest of barley, cucumbers and arugula in the last few months using a mix of ingredients not usually associated with successful agriculture: seawater and Qatar's ample supply of heat. Conceived in Norway, the first-ever Sahara Forest Project facility launched last...

U.S. Farmers View Climate Change as Just Another Weather Challenge

Scientific American: If it isn't torrential downpours, then it's too dry. If there's one thing U.S. farmers can count on, it's bad weather and, perhaps as a result, many of them don't think humanity is to blame for the long-term shifts in weather patterns known as climate change. But even though agriculture is a major contributor to global warming, it may not matter whether farmers believe in the environmental problem. Take, as an example of skepticism, Iowa corn farmer Dave Miller, whose day job is as an economist...

What’s causing oil sheens near Deepwater Horizon spill site?

LiveScience: Recurrent sheens of oil in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of 2010's Deepwater Horizon oil spill have baffled researchers and led to fears that oil may once again be spewing from the seafloor well. But a study published this week in the journal Environmental Science and Technology shows that there is no new leak: The oil is coming from isolated tanks and pockets within the wreckage of the sunken rig, according to a statement from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which funded the research....

Keystone XL Conflict of Interest: Obama Attorney’s Law Firm Represents TransCanada

EcoWatch: A recent DeSmogBlog investigation reveals that Robert Bauer, former White House Counsel and President Obama`s personal attorney, works at the corporate law firm Perkins Coie LLP, which does legal work for TransCanada`s South Central Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Project, formerly known as Alaska Gas Pipeline Project. Furthermore, Dan Sullivan, current Commissioner of Alaska`s Department of Natural Resources, and former Alaska Attorney General and former Assistant Secretary of State in the Bush Administration,...

BP sets up ’snitch line’ for fraudulent Deepwater Horizon damages claims

Guardian: BP has set up a "snitch line" to reward people who inform the oil giant about fraudulent claims related to 2010's massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The hotline promises that "tips that lead directly to an indictment, a recovery of money paid, or the denial of a claim because of fraud or corruption may entitle the reporter to a reward". The move comes after BP appealed to a New Orleans court to reassess the terms of its compensation deal with local businesses, claiming it is being forced...

Who Pays the Cost of Fracking?

EcoWatch: Raising new concerns about a little-examined dimension of the fracking debate, Environment America Research & Policy Center today released a report analyzing state and federal financial assurance requirements for oil and gas drilling operations. As fracking expands at a frenzied pace in several states and federal officials consider allowing fracking near national parks and forests and key drinking water sources, Who Pays the Costs of Fracking? reveals current bonding requirements are inadequate to...

EU to ban fipronil to protect honeybees

Guardian: A widely used insect nerve agent that harms bees will be banned from use on corn and sunflowers in Europe from the end of 2013, after member states overwhelmingly backed the proposal in a vote on Tuesday. However, the UK once again failed to back measures to restrict pesticide use. Fipronil is used in more than 70 countries and on more than 100 different crops, but in May the European Food Safety Authority labelled it a "high acute risk" to honeybees. A similar assessment by the EFSA on three...

Thousands presumed dead after India floods

Associated Press: More than 5,700 people missing since floods devastated northern India last month are presumed dead, officials have said, as rescuers struggled to bring aid to affected villages. Vijay Bahuguna, chief minister of the state of Uttarakhand, said the government would give 500,000 rupees (£6,000) to the families of each victim who may have perished in the floods and landslides that hit the Himalayan region in June. The state declared those missing for the past month presumed dead so it could compensate...

Sand dunes, coral reefs protect coasts against climate change

Hill: Protecting sand dunes and coral reefs can help defend the United States’s coasts against costly extreme-weather events linked to climate change, according to a new study. Maintaining coastal habitats could halve the people, low-income families, the elderly and total value of residential property most exposed to rising sea levels, floods and storms associated with climate change, the study concluded. “Extreme weather, sea-level rise and degraded coastal ecosystems are placing people and property...