Recent figures reveal Spain’s human population is now outnumbered by pigs

August 23, 2018 by  
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Environmentalists are alarmed by recent data that reveals Spain’s pig population now outnumbers its human one by 3.5 million. This is the first time the number of pigs in Spain has exceeded that of humans, and the discrepancy is adding to concerns about the environmental impact of the pork industry. This impact stems primarily from greenhouse gas emissions , nitrate discharges, and water consumption. The number of pigs in Spain has increased by nine million in the last five years; in 2017 alone, Spain’s pork industry produced about four million tons of pork products. Environmentalists are calling on producers to slow down, and for good reason. Each pig in Spain drinks close to four gallons of water per day, and the total amount consumed is enough to satisfy the water needs of Spanish cities Zaragoza, Seville and Alicante combined. Pig farming also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions from livestock overall, which is the fourth-largest emissions generator in the country. Related: Muscle-packed pigs in Cambodia raise alarms The enormity of the industry also makes it difficult to regulate. “When you don’t control an industry in which traditionally there’s a lot of fraud, because there’s a lot of demand but not a lot of product, this is what happens,” said Francisco Espárrago, a  jamón ibérico de bellota producer in Extremadura, in reference to numerous quality control issues that have plagued Spain’s pork industry. It appears that stricter – or perhaps better enforced – regulations would benefit Spain’s longstanding pork traditions that have existed since Roman times, protect local producers, and alleviate environmental infractions which are cause for national concerns. Via The Guardian  

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Recent figures reveal Spain’s human population is now outnumbered by pigs

Red List expands to 26,000 endangered species

July 6, 2018 by  
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Japanese earthworms, the Mauritian flying fox and the Bankoualé Palm are joining over 26,000 species categorized as “endangered.” The latest International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) Red List report  now identifies 26,197 plants and animals facing extinction, out of 93,557 facing serious environmental threats around the world. Australia’s reptile population possibly faces the most threats of all species. 975 reptiles native to the island — nearly every cold-blooded animal living there — have joined the list. In addition, seven percent of those are threatened with extinction due to changing environmental factors , including invasive species and climate change. Estimates from ICUN blame 600 million reptile deaths on feral cats, while a one-degree temperature change could cut the Bartle Frere cool-skink population by half over 30 years. Related: Conservationists sound alarm over US House bill that weakens Endangered Species Act While Australia is facing a mass extinction of reptiles, other areas across Asia could lose species over time. The Mauritian flying fox, an important pollinating species on Mauritius and Réunion, was also added to the endangered species list. Deforestation , cyclones, poaching and death from power lines have significantly reduced the population. In Japan, three species of earthworms were also added to the Red List and face extinction. Nuclear fallout from both World War II and the nuclear reactor meltdown in Fukushima, combined with over-farming and city growth, are threatening the species. Animals also aren’t the only species that face extinction before the century’s end. The Bankoualé palm, a plant native to Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen, may also be relegated to textbooks. Between deforestation, drought , destruction from farming and water redirection, the palm could disappear entirely from Yemen first, leaving the Horn of Africa as its only remaining habitat. Although the outlook is grim for the newly endangered species , all hope is not lost. The ICUN is actively working with local populations to ensure both plants and animals can continue to thrive for generations. In Mauritius, a task force is working with farmers to protect crops and orchards with nets and other deterrents, reducing the need for population culling. Via ICUN

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Red List expands to 26,000 endangered species

US Forest Service allows Nestl to continue taking water from California national forest

June 29, 2018 by  
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The U.S. Forest Service has offered Nestlé Waters North America a three-year permit on water rights in the San Bernardino National Forest , allowing the company to continue to take millions of gallons of water from the site. Under the proposed agreement, Nestlé would draw from the Strawberry Creek watershed “when there is water available consistent with the forest’s Land Management Plan” for its various bottled water brands, including Arrowhead. If California returns to severe drought conditions, the Forest Service could further limit natural resource access. The Forest Service says it will work with the Swiss company to study the watershed and determine future management plans. The watershed is currently rated as Class Three “Impaired Function,” the worst watershed functionality class. An “impaired” watershed exceeds “physical, hydrological or biological thresholds,” with major changes needed to restore the watershed to functioning status. Related: The growing wine industry is threatening California’s Napa Valley “[The decision ensures] the water withdrawal and conveyance infrastructure is under a current permit,” U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Joe Rechsteiner explained to the Associated Press. “And it provides for protection of forest resources.” In 2015, the Center for Biological Diversity in Oakland, Calif. sued the Forest Service to block Nestlé from using the watershed, arguing the conglomerate was operating without a valid permit. A federal judge allowed continued water collection for bottling , while regulators considered a new permit. In its permit renewal application, the company cited 70 environmental studies to support its continued watershed usage. Arrowhead’s use of the Strawberry Creek watershed dates back to 1909, when the Arrowhead Springs Company was formed. Nestlé must accept the agreement within 60 days. In a statement to the AP, Nestlé noted they would “carefully review the specifics of the decision.” Via  Associated Press Images via John Heil (1, 2)

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The US just experienced its hottest May on record

June 11, 2018 by  
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It’s a familiar theme: each year, it seems, is the hottest year on record. The most recent climate change milestone in the U.S. occurred last month, when the country experienced its hottest May ever recorded. “Nature is dealing cards from a very different deck now compared to the 20th century,” climate scientist David Titley told USA Today . The average temperature for May in the lower 48 states was 65.4°F, 5.2°F above the average temperature for the month in the 20th century. Prior to this year, the record hottest May occurred in 1934, at the height of the Dust Bowl. While climate change contributed to the record warmth, two significant tropical storms brought heat and precipitation north from the Gulf of Mexico. While more than a quarter of the contiguous U.S. remains in drought, some states, including Maryland and Florida , experienced their wettest month of May on record. As a result of heavy winter snow melting rapidly in a warm spring, locations in Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming have experienced significant flooding. Related: Climate change has transformed much of Alaska over the past three decades Beyond the average monthly temperature, more than 8,590 daily warm temperature station records were either broken or tied throughout May. “This was 18 times more than the approximately 460 daily cold temperature station records during the month,” NOAA wrote. “Several of the daily records were noteworthy, including 100°F on May 28 in Minneapolis, Minnesota  — the earliest such occurrence on record.” + NOAA Via Ecowatch and  USA Today Images via NOAA

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A prefab hotel with lakeside views pops up in northern Russia

June 11, 2018 by  
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St. Petersburg-based architecture firm Rhizome group designed and built Tochka na Karte Hotel, a prefabricated structure crafted to embrace the outdoors. Located in the northern Russian town of Priozersk in Leningrad Oblast, the hotel complex is a sleek and modern getaway nestled among mature pine trees. The use of modular technology has helped reduce construction waste and minimize site impact , including the preservation of existing trees. Located just a two-hour drive north of St. Petersburg , the Tochka na Karte Hotel (Russian for ‘a point on the map’) is set on the shore of Lake Ladoga on the border of the Republic of Karelia. Due to its proximity to St. Petersburg, historical points of interest and abundance of pristine nature, the area has long served as a major tourist destination for Russians and foreigners alike. The hotel taps into the region’s natural beauty by using floor-to-ceiling glazing to frame outdoor views from every room, thus blurring the line between indoors and out. The prefabricated building comprises three two-story blocks with 32 standard rooms, detached suites (built of two modules) and a reception building (assembled from three modules and some prefabricated elements). The modules, which measure 3.5 meters by 7 meters, were constructed in a factory and then assembled on site. Stairways and terraces connect the modular blocks. The facade was built of timber and dark metal to tie the building into the wooded landscape. To further blend the hotel into its pine forest backdrop, the structures were “dispersed” among existing mature pines near where the Vuoski River meets Lake Ladoga. Related: This minimalist prefab hotel offers stunning views of the Swiss Alps “We believe we succeeded in achieving the essence of a place inherent to modern Nordic architecture,” the architects wrote. “Terrain forms, trees layout and our strive to provide a view of the shore from every room constitute the buildings’ location on the site.” + Rhizome Images by Dmitry Tsyrencshikov

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A prefab hotel with lakeside views pops up in northern Russia

Avoiding the next Cape Town: Water strategy is a shared responsibility

February 26, 2018 by  
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As “Day Zero” approaches for the South African city, here are six essential steps for addressing scarcity.

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"We are not prepared" for climate changescientists issue bleak warning

February 16, 2018 by  
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Researchers have determined that countries around the world are failing to fulfill their greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the Paris climate agreement , inevitably subjecting the world to unpredictable extreme weather. In a study published in the  journal  Science   Advances ,  scientists concluded that extreme weather, such as drought, flooding, or heat waves, will increase across 90 percent of North America, Europe and East Asia if countries maintain their current pace of climate action. “We are not prepared for today’s climate, let alone for another degree of global warming ,” study author Noah Diffenbaugh, a Stanford University professor of earth system science, told Time . The Paris Agreement aims to keep global temperature rise below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, with an ideal goal of less than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. That extra 0.9 degrees will make a significant difference in how extreme weather manifests in the coming decades. The study documents the specific differences built into that temperature divergence, including the number of record warm or wet days. Following an extraordinary hurricane season in North America and a year that was once again dubbed the hottest on record, the urgency to address this challenge is clearer than ever. Related: Trump budget proposes huge cut to EPA and climate research Unfortunately, the Paris Agreement has a math problem. Each country in the agreement was encouraged to create their own pledges individually tailored to their political and economic situations. Though the goal remains less than 3.6 degrees of warming, the cumulative impact of all these pledges, if they were all fulfilled, would still result in a global temperature of 5.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Even the modest pledges made in the agreement are proving difficult to achieve. Some countries, most prominently the United States , have expressed interest in ignoring the consequences of climate change and are actively encouraging the growth of fossil fuels . In the meantime, greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb while the weather gets weirder. Via Time Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Venice’s canals go dry following weeks without rain

February 5, 2018 by  
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Venice has historically had a problem with too much water inundating its canals, but thanks to a combination of low tides and a lack of rain over the last few weeks, the sinking city’s waterways have turned into channels of mud. Indeed, unusual weather patterns have caused Venice’s water levels to plummet by more than two feet (60cm), rendering a number of channels completely unusable. And with no way to move through the city, many locals have left their boats and gondolas to languish in the muck. The Independent reports that dip in water is the direct result of low tides caused by the super blue blood moon paired with unseasonably dry weather. This, however, is not the first time the Italian city has seen its canals go dry; in 2016, water levels fell by 2.16 feet (66cm), and in 2008 and 1989 levels dropped by 2.95 feet (90cm). The canals are expected to return to normal when the rain returns. Related: Italy is giving away hundreds of historic castles and villas for free  While the phenomenon is surely alarming, flooding remains the biggest threat to the city.  Quarternary International published a report last year forecasting that Venice could disappear by the end of the century as a result of rising sea levels caused by climate change . The Mediterranean Sea is in fact predicted to rise by 4.59 feet (140cm) before 2100. The city itself is also sinking at a rate of about 1-2mm a year. Via Independent UK Images via Wiki Commons and Flickr

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Venice’s canals go dry following weeks without rain

Cape Town’s water pipes could run dry by April

January 16, 2018 by  
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Cape Town in South Africa is battling its worst drought in a century – and the city’s water supply is in trouble. Authorities are scrambling to drill boreholes and construct desalination plants, but Day Zero – when water taps run dry – is now predicted to take place on April 21st. Reuters quoted councilor Xanthea Limberg as saying, “At the current rate the city is likely to reach Day Zero on 22 April. There is a real risk that residents will have to queue.” Mayor Patricia de Lille recently moved the date up to April 21. Related: 16-year-old South African girl invents drought-fighting super material from orange peels Dam levels fell under 30 percent in the first week of 2018, according to city officials – but only around 19.7 percent of that water is deemed usable. When the dams hit 13.5 percent, locals will have to start lining up for water. Locals would receive up to 25 liters, or around 6.6 gallons, of water per person per day. Reuters painted a picture of a current test water collection site, where people wait between metal fences to fill containers up via standpipes. The city could introduce around 200 more of these areas. According to Limberg, the situation has grown worse as some people have not limited themselves to 87 liters, around 23 gallons, a day. Reuters said there are many wealthy residents with sprinkler systems and swimming pools. The goal of the authorities is to cut Cape Town’s consumption to 500 million liters, or around 132 million gallons, per day – that’s half the amount the city consumed two years ago, per Reuters. Via Reuters and Agence France-Presse Images via Depositphotos and Marcelo Novais on Unsplash

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Out of control wildfires force thousands to flee their homes in Southern California

December 6, 2017 by  
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Relentless wildfires in Southern California have forced thousands of people to evacuate and threaten over 12,000 homes. The largest fire, centered around Ventura, has burned over 70,000 acres, shut down freeways, knocked out power for thousands and is so large it can be seen from space. Experts say that this is “just the beginning” of the problem, as the fires rage out of control in extremely dry conditions, pushed by the Santa Ana winds. Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’isef-DPVSbhi6hrtOzU0gw’,sig:’8MVDCZMWHVWThSLQhpAV515zx5qbn9WZflUo-qOws8o=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’886889264′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); The Santa Ana winds – which usually blow during October – have rapidly pushed the fires over the past few days and there is zero percent containment at this point, which firefighters say will likely remain the case until the dry conditions and winds relent. Red Flag warnings have been issued from Santa Barbara to the Mexico border because the area is expected to have one of the driest two-month periods seen in over a century, prompting concerns about additional fires. Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’-UQIwCqMSmV58VyTYJcNhg’,sig:’_e2bkc0_zyKQ46YhUpwm9nSBLej2HWDO52Ov1yX9fho=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’886767680′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); Related: Donald Trump believes California farmers who say “there is no drought” One fire, called the Skirball fire, threatens Los Angeles neighborhoods and the Getty Center and has jumped across the 405 Freeway – one of the most trafficked freeways in the US. The Creek fire rages out of control 20 miles north of Los Angeles and has devoured 11,000 acres in a short time. The largest fire, called the Thomas fire in Ventura, has forced 38,000 people to evacuate and has consumed 150 structures, including homes and apartment buildings. A fourth fire in San Bernadino has been 50 percent contained and has burned 100 acres. Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’IaqOVadkQgFPtwp6RPF7cQ’,sig:’p0PsoBawHX52fAr2TOVQZusImKU4D6XwKbysWG6a07A=’,w:’594px’,h:’397px’,items:’886861778′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency, and residents are advised to heed all evacuations warnings for their own safety. Experts also warn people in the area to be extremely cautious, because another blaze could easily erupt due to the massive winds and dry conditions. Via ABC Lead image via Deposit Photo

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