Daily Archives: April 23, 2013

Pesticides: A Farm Worker Perspective


ToxicFreeNC

Uploaded on Aug 31, 2009

A portrait of migrant farm workers in North Carolina who are exposed to toxic pesticides at work. Workers share their stories, concerns and suggestions for reform. Produced by Laura Valencia for Toxic Free NC (www.toxicfreenc.org).

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Building a Local Food Economy

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

cookingupastory

Uploaded on Dec 5, 2008

For more Stories, Food News, and Cooking Fresh videos, visit: http://cookingupastory.com
This final installment, Ken Meter expresses optimism for the future of local food economies, but a healthy respect for the challenges that lie ahead. Interestingly, Ken Meter suggests we choose foods that are healthier for us to eat as a guide toward supporting local food economies. By contrast, Michael Pollan argues we are too obsessed as a nation with food being eating largely on the basis of health, ignoring other important reasons for eating, such as pleasure, community, culture, etc.. Are they in disagreement? Oddly, I think, not. Pleasure in Pollans terms means food that not only tastes good, but also feels good, after we eat it. Ken Meter speaks in terms of health, but the types of food, their seasonality and localness also correspond more closely with better tasting foods, and pleasurable eating. Of course, community, and culture rest comfortably in both camps. After viewing the Michael Pollan interviews, whats your take on how the two interviews compare?

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White House: FreshFarm Markets


piucaprim

Uploaded on Oct 27, 2009

Join Meet The Farmer TV as we vist the farmers market at the White House Part 1

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Paul Roberts: The End of Food – 2 parts


cookingupastory

Uploaded on Jul 13, 2009

For more Stories & Food News: http://cookingupastory.com
Paul Roberts, veteran print journalist, and author of The End of Food, and The End of Oil, speaks at the first ever, Organicology conference, in Portland, Oregon. The story he tells here is a cautionary tale. Modern science has created the industrial agriculture revolution, producing enormous benefits for society. Though over time, many of these very same benefits: lower costs of production, greater production yields, and greater efficiency through increased economies of scale, have led to serious systemic problems that threaten the entire agricultural system, perhaps even our planet.

Cooking Up a Story-Bringing the people behind our food to life
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cookingupastory

Uploaded on Jul 18, 2009

For more Stories, Food News, & Cooking Fresh videos: http://cookingupastory.com

Journalist and author, Paul Roberts continues his argument that developing an alternative food system will not be quick, nor will it be easy to accomplish. It will require substantial support from the government in order to develop and take hold, and require a systematic approach to creating holistic solutions.

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Global Ponzi Scheme: We’re Taking $7.3 Trillion A Year In Natural Capital From Our Children Without Paying For It

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/04/23/1905421/global-ponzi-scheme-taking-73-trillion-year-natural-capital-from-our-children-without-paying/

By Jeff Spross on Apr 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Last week, David Roberts over at Grist flagged a report carried out by the environmental consultant group Trucost, at the behest of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity over at the United Nations.

The idea behind the report was simple. Tally up all the world’s natural capital — land, water, atmosphere, etc. — that doesn’t currently have a dollar value attached to it, and figure out the price. But the next step was where it got interesting. Figure how much of that natural capital is being consumed, depleted or degraded without the responsible party paying the cost for that use. The number the study hit on was a staggering $7.3 trillion in 2009 — about 13 percent of global economic output for that year.

This brings up what economists call “negative externalities.” That’s a technical term for what happens when one actor in the economy has to pay for another actor’s mess. In a theoretically perfect market, the price of consuming, degrading or depleting a resource would be paid by the party responsible.

But getting the theory of markets to map onto the real world is difficult. Dumping trash on a neighbor’s lawn is technically free, so a lot of us should be doing it more. But because we’ve built societies in which our neighbor can sue us, or the cops can fine us, we’re forced to internalize that cost. Lots of costs can only be internalized through smart institutional design and government policy, rather than by leaving the markets free to do their market thing.

What Trucost found is that when you scale this problem up globally — all the river, air, and land and air pollution that isn’t paid for, all the water and land use that isn’t paid for, and especially all the carbon emissions dumped into the atmosphere that aren’t paid for — the numbers get very big:

Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions: $2.7 trillion. This was by far the biggest single problem, and East Asia and North America were the two biggest culprits. That lines up with an International Monetary Fund study that determined the United States is the world’s biggest subsidizer of fossil fuels — with Asia the runner-up — because it’s failed to put a price on carbon emissions through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system. Trucost assumed a social cost to carbon emissions of $106 per metric ton. That’s higher than the IMF’s assumption of $25 per ton, but well within the overall range of costs studies have found.

Global Water Consumption: $1.9 trillion. Wheat farming was the biggest problem here, followed by rice farming and general water supply, mainly in Asia and North Africa. That’s probably largely because developing and poorer countries have fewer institutions or infrastructure for managing water use.

Global Land Use: $1.8 trillion. Cattle ranching in South America came in first here, followed by cattle ranching in South Asia. Besides the usual uses, the effects of logging and fishing were also included. Trucost estimated the value of unused land using metrics laid out in the United Nations’ Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

Global Waste And Land, Air, And Water Pollution: $850 billion. Sulfur dioxides, nitrogen oxides, and particulate emissions were the big culprits for air pollution ($500 billion total) mainly in North America, East Asia, and Western Europe. Land and water pollution ($300 billion total) was actually mostly fertilizers, from North America, Asia, and Europe again. Global waste was the remainder, mostly hazardous materials. Trucost figured out these prices mainly through the costs of clean-up and health effects. (read more)

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
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Sandra Steingraber

(Dede Hatch) Sandra Steingraber
…..As Tim got out of custody, Sandra Steingraber    went in. She’s been a great leader of the fight in New York state to keep the frackers at bay. A scientist by training but a great leader by force of will, she has spearheaded the so-far successful battle to keep Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) from letting the oil and gas companies do to the Empire State what they’re doing to the Keystone State just across the border to the south.

Steingraber sat down in a driveway to block access to a storage site for fracked gas, then refused to pay $375 in bail, so she’s spending 15 days in jail. She wrote to me just before she went in, with, characteristically, a list of the tasks she hoped to accomplish while behind bars, mostly writing projects that will spread her penetrating analysis yet further afield.

Hours before the jail door closed, she sat for an interview with Bill Moyers (watch a clip below). Her resolution and the great power of her love shine through every minute. They also shine through Facebook posts she’s been able to smuggle out of prison; read parts one and two of her Letter from Chemung County Jail.

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

McKibben: A tale of two Earth Day heroes: Tim DeChristopher and Sandra Steingraber | Grist

http://grist.org/climate-energy/a-tale-of-two-earth-day-heroes/

By Bill McKibben

Tim DeChristopher

Earth Day, oddly, has never been a huge deal for me. I’m just a little too young to really remember its remarkable debut in 1970, when one American in 10 went out in the streets to demand action on clean air and water. That unprecedented activism laid the groundwork for the swift passage of legislation, and the almost-as-swift rehabilitation of lakes and rivers. But in the years after, many Earth Day celebrations drifted in a slightly more corporate direction; there wasn’t anything wrong with them, but they didn’t seem to be helping arrest environmentalism’s slide into relative impotence.

(Dede Hatch)      Sandra Steingraber

….(read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

Natural Capital at Risk: The Top 100 Externalities of Business – Trucost – TEEB

http://www.teebforbusiness.org/js/plugins/filemanager/files/TEEB_Final_Report_v5.pdf

Trucost has undertaken this study on behalf of the TEEB for Business
Coalition.1 Findings of this report build on TEEB’s The Economics of
Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Business and Enterprise2 and the World
Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Guide to Corporate
Ecosystem Valuation3 by  stimating in monetary terms the financial risk from unpriced natural capital inputs to production, across business sectors at a  regional level. By using an environmentally extended input-output model (EEIO) (see Appendix 2), it also estimates, at a high level, how these may flow through global supply chains to producers of consumer goods. It
demonstrates that some business activities do not generate sufficient profit
to cover their natural resource use and pollution costs. However, businesses and investors can take account of natural capital costs in decision making to manage risk and gain competitive advantage.

Natural capital assets fall into two categories: those which are non-renewable and traded, such as fossil fuel and mineral “commodities”; and those which provide finite renewable goods and services for which no price typically exists, such as clean air, groundwater and biodiversity. During the past decade commodity prices erased a century-long decline in real terms4, and risks are growing from over-exploitation of increasingly scarce, unpriced natural capital. Depletion of ecosystem goods and services, such as damages from climate change or land conversion, generates economic, social and environmental externalities. Growing business demand for natural capital, and falling supply due to environmental degradation and events such as drought,
are contributing to natural resource constraints, including water scarcity.

Government policies to address the challenge include environmental
regulations and market-based instruments which may internalize natural
capital costs and lower the profitability of polluting activities. In the absence of regulation, these costs usually remain externalized unless an event such as drought causes rapid internalization along supply-chains through commodity price volatility (although the costs arising from a drought will not necessarily be in proportion to the externality from any irrigation).

Companies in manysectors are exposed to natural capital risks through their supply chains, especially where margins and pricing power are low. For example, Trucost’s analysis found that the profits of apparel retailers were impacted by up to 50% through cotton price volatility in recent years.5 Economy-wide, these risks are sufficiently large that the World Economic Forum cites ‘water supply crises’ and ‘failure of climate change adaptation’ along with several other environmental impacts among the most material risks facing the global economy.6

(read more). See also:
https://environmentaljusticetv.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/none-of-the-worlds-top-industries-would-be-profitable-if-they-paid-for-the-na-tural-capital-they-use/

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120
Cyprus International Institute (CII) (Harvard School of Public Health) http://Cyprus-Institute.us
Food-Matters http://Food-Matters.TV

BBC News – Space debris collisions expected to rise

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22253966
22 April 2013 Last updated at 11:10 ET

 

By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News
Fortunately, there have been very few collisions in orbit so far

Related Stories

Unless space debris is actively tackled, some satellite orbits will become extremely hazardous over the next 200 years, a new study suggests.

The research found that catastrophic collisions would likely occur every five to nine years at the altitudes used principally to observe the Earth.

And the scientists who did the work say their results are optimistic – the real outcome would probably be far worse.

To date, there have been just a handful of major collisions in the space age.

The study was conducted for the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee.

This is the global forum through which world governments discuss the issue of “space junk” – abandoned rocket stages, defunct satellites and their exploded fragments.

The space agencies of Europe, the US, Italy, the UK, Japan and India all contributed to the latest research, each one using their own experts and methodology to model the future space environment. ….(read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

BBC News – E. coli bacteria ‘can produce diesel biofuel’

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22253746
22 April 2013 Last updated at 15:34 ET
By Rebecca Morelle Science reporter, BBC World Service

The oil that the bacteria produced had a near-identical composition and chemical properties to conventional diesel

Related Stories

A strain of bacteria has been created that can produce fuel, scientists say.

Researchers genetically modified E. coli bacteria to convert sugar into an oil that is almost identical to conventional diesel.

If the process could be scaled up, this synthetic fuel could be a viable alternative to the fossil fuel, the team said.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Professor John Love, a synthetic biologist from the University of Exeter, said: “Rather than making a replacement fuel like some biofuels, we have made a substitute fossil fuel.

“The idea is that car manufacturers, consumers and fuel retailers wouldn’t even notice the difference – it would just become another part of the fuel production chain.”

Fuel factories

There is a push to increase the use of biofuels around the world.

In the European Union, a 10% target for the use of these crop-based fuels in the transport sector has been set for 2020.
….(read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
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Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120
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