Why the private sector needs to invest in conservation agriculture right now

June 6, 2020 by  
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Why the private sector needs to invest in conservation agriculture right now William Ginn Sat, 06/06/2020 – 02:00 This is an excerpt from ” Valuing Nature ” by William J. Ginn. Copyright 2020 William J. Ginn. Reproduced here with permission from Island Press, Washington, D.C.  Resistance to change is universal. For example, despite more than 30 years of good science and best practices that support conservation agriculture in the United States, less than 5 percent of U.S. soy, wheat, and corn farmers use cover crops, and only 25 percent have adopted crop rotation and conservation tillage practices, even though the country is losing more than 10 billion tons of soil each year as well as more than $50 billion in social and environmental benefits. One challenge is the increasing percentage of farms owned by investors who lease land year to year to the highest bidder, which gives farmers little incentive to invest in conservation practices that might take years to be fully realized. Nevertheless, [The Nature Conservancy (TNC)], along with a consortium of farmers’ groups and a contingent of seed and fertilizer companies, has set a goal of getting half of the country’s wheat, soy, and corn crops into conservation tillage by [2025] (PDF). To achieve this goal, the same kind of incentives, extension services, and creative financial mechanisms being advocated for in the developing world are going to be needed in the United States too. Building capacity and providing patient capital at the farmer level is a big challenge; at NatureVest, it is referred to as the last-mile problem. Although big-picture interventions are often understood in theory, the capacity of farmers to implement these solutions on the ground is often quite limited. Nearly everywhere these challenges exist, we need to dramatically increase the number of intermediaries who can help farmers through the difficult but necessary transition to new cropping and livestock-raising systems. It is all high-risk business, and as such, it is not always successful. Several years ago, TNC entered into an agreement with an agricultural consulting company in Argentina with the objective of helping farmers improve sheep-grazing practices. Years of overgrazing had left the region’s grasslands substantially degraded; in fact, at one point in the early years of Patagonia’s colonization, more than 45 million sheep roamed free. Today, the region is home to between 5 million and 8 million sheep, but even that number may be too many. Building capacity and providing patient capital at the farmer level is a big challenge; at NatureVest, it is referred to as the last-mile problem. The restoration plan, called the Patagonia Grassland Regeneration and Sustainability Standard, or GRASS for short, incorporated conservation science, planning, and monitoring into the management plans of wool producers. The idea was not new: rather than grazing sheep in one place continually, they are moved in and out of different pastures depending on the conditions of the grasses. This practice encourages more diversity of native grass species and expanded yields from the revitalized pastures. Done well, ranchers, sheep, native plants, and animals can thrive together. But what motivates ranchers to make these investments in better management and fencing? The basic business idea of GRASS was to improve management practices on ranches and produce a certified wool product that would attract buyers willing to pay more for sustainably grown wool. The program attracted two early adopters, Patagonia, Inc ., a brand committed to sourcing their raw materials sustainably, and Stella McCartney , a high-end clothing manufacturer and daughter of Paul McCartney. Prior to this venture, both companies had been buying their wool primarily from Australia and New Zealand, but for Patagonia in particular, a shift to sourcing from Argentina provided a nice opportunity for alignment with their brand. Dozens of ranches signed up to participate, and many saw measurable yield improvements, even though the initial wool purchases were small. Despite the program’s early successes, the program became unraveled when the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released video footage of alleged animal abuse occurring at some of the ranches. As chief conservation officer of TNC at the time, I can say that I was not very happy with these practices, but I thought some of the allegations were overblown. For example, PETA considers docking tails of sheep to be inhumane, yet it is long-standing practice that arguably improves the health of animals. Nevertheless, both Patagonia and Stella McCartney abruptly ended their contracts with GRASS, and without a market partner, the program has failed to scale to a commercial model. Although any improvement in grazing is useful, the expected impact across the landscape now seems a distant objective. Because feeding the world is an absolute imperative, farmers, investors, and aid organizations continue their quests for new models of sustainable intensification that will both feed more people and restore the soils and hydrological systems that are essential to agriculture. Providing capital in a way that reaches the hundreds of millions of small farmers across the globe as well as the necessary skills and technical expertise is a challenge that will remain for years, but business opportunities abound. Our shared natural assets — soil, water, and a stable climate — will only increase in value as the world demands more food. Pull Quote Building capacity and providing patient capital at the farmer level is a big challenge; at NatureVest, it is referred to as the last-mile problem. Topics Corporate Strategy Food & Agriculture Biodiversity Books Food & Agriculture Conservation Conservation Finance Collective Insight GreenBiz Reads Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Flock of sheep in Patagonia, Chile. Shutterstock gg-foto Close Authorship

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Why the private sector needs to invest in conservation agriculture right now

Episode 223: Climate action and racial justice must converge, urban forest credits

June 5, 2020 by  
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Episode 223: Climate action and racial justice must converge, urban forest credits Heather Clancy Fri, 06/05/2020 – 02:00 Week in Review Commentary on this week’s news highlights begins at 13:00. This moment: An open letter to the GreenBiz community Al Gore: Climate action is “bound together” with racial equality and liberation How the Navajo got their day in the sun It takes a village to succeed in climate tech Features The quest for net-positive buildings (22:35) The pressure for companies and cities to consider the climate crisis — and associated risks — in post-COVID 19 recovery strategies is increasing. How feasible are net-positive buildings, and how might our new economic landscape affect their development? We discuss the issue with Ryan Colker, vice president of innovation for the International Code Council; and Andrew Klein, a professional engineer who is a member of ICC and code consultant for the Building Owners and Managers Association International. Growing a carbon market for urban forests (34:45) The process of issuing carbon credits for reforestation projects in places such as rainforests as well established — not so much when it comes to trees growing in the shadow of skyscrapers. Mark McPherson, executive director of City Forest Credits, talks about the nonprofit’s mission to plant and preserve more trees to towns and cities, and how companies can get involved. Extending the life of medical equipment (43:25) The iFixit repair site just added the world’s largest medical equipment repair database, a free resource for hospitals having trouble fixing equipment quickly — a problem exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The site’s CEO and founder, Kyle Weens, joins us to chat about the project and why more product vendors should rethink their repair and service policies. *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere:  “Southside,” “More On That Later,” “Night Caves,” “Curiosity” and “As I Was Saying” *This episode was sponsored by UPS. Virtual conversations Mark your calendar for these upcoming GreenBiz webcasts. Can’t join live? All of these events also will be available on demand. The future of risk assessment. Ideas for building a supply chain resilient to both short-term disruptions such as the pandemic and long-term risks such as climate change. Register here for the session at 1 p.m. EDT June 16. Supply chains and circularity. Join us at 1 p.m. EDT June 23 for a discussion of how companies such as Interface are getting suppliers to buy into circular models for manufacturing, distribution and beyond.  Resources galore State of the Profession. Our sixth report examining the evolving role of corporate sustainability leaders. Download it here . The State of Green Business 2020. Our 13th annual analysis of key metrics and trends published here . Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Topics Podcast Carbon Removal Equity & Inclusion Offsets Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 56:55 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 223: Climate action and racial justice must converge, urban forest credits

Vegan Fashion Week is coming to Los Angeles

January 25, 2019 by  
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Just a few days before Fashion Week begins in New York, the world’s first Vegan Fashion Week will debut in Los Angeles. Starting on February 1 with a party at the LA Natural History Museum, Vegan Fashion Week will be a four-day event that will feature fashion shows, exhibitions, a talk from Nobel Prize-winning climate scientist Robert Lempert and discussion panels about topics like animal rights , social justice and technology. French stylist Emmanuelle Rienda is curating the event, and the theme will be “facing our time.” The idea is to explore the challenges of climate change through art, nature and science. Related: British Fashion Council commits to a fur-free London Fashion Week “Vegan Fashion Week will be a tribute to the animals and an ode to the end of animal exploitation in all forms,” Rienda told Dezeen . “I want to ignite conversations and debates within the industry by educating, elevating and drawing connections between our most important values: our respect for human life, animal rights and the environment.” Animal activist group PETA and the non-profit group Fashion Revolution are supporting the event, which hopes to bring vegan avant-garde fashion to Los Angeles . Organizers also aim to empower vegan designers and show that “cruelty-free is the new luxury.” In addition to the fashion show and discussion panels, there will also be a two-day fair at the California Market Center, where visitors can purchase vegan beauty products and designer pieces. Related: LA City Council unanimously agrees to ban the sale of fur Rienda admitted that the vegan label can come across as aggressive and judgmental, especially in the world of fashion. She is hoping that the vibe for the event will be “very inclusive and open.” Vegan designers and non-vegan brands looking to change their environmental impact will all be part of Vegan Fashion Week. Rienda said that it’s not about being vegan, it’s about what designers are doing to improve their labels and evolve. She added that being vegan isn’t just about the animals. Instead, it is about being good to humans and all other beings on the planet. Vegan Fashion Week will take place in locations throughout the Los Angeles area from February 1 to February 4. + Vegan Fashion Week Via Dezeen Image via Shutterstock

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Vegan Fashion Week is coming to Los Angeles

Researchers shoot 5 live pigs in the head to study blood spatter patterns

September 16, 2015 by  
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Animal rights activists are accusing a group of forensics researchers of the cruel and unnecessary killing of five pigs in New Zealand. Researchers at two public universities in New Zealand took part in a forensics study that involved shooting live pigs in the head in order to study blood spatter patterns , which they claim can help them learn about human injuries and help criminal cases. Experimenting on live animals in the name of science may not be as common as it once was, but advocates for animals are still working to end this cruel practice forever. Read the rest of Researchers shoot 5 live pigs in the head to study blood spatter patterns

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Researchers shoot 5 live pigs in the head to study blood spatter patterns

How to make coconut chia pudding

September 16, 2015 by  
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Have you ever spotted one of those cups of delicious chia pudding in Whole Foods , and then you look at the price tag and it’s three dollars? Fortunately it is super easy to make your own fresh chia pudding that is just as good and is way cheaper than the pre-packaged version, using just dried bulk chia seeds and your choice of creamy beverage and/or fruit – my favorite mixer being coconut. Chia pudding makes a delicious nutritious breakfast that is low in sugar, paleo friendly, and a great source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids for those on a dairy free or vegan diet. Watch the video demonstration by toddler Fehren – it’s so easy that even a 2 year old can do it! For more details on the recipe for coconut chia pudding, read on. Read the rest of How to make coconut chia pudding

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Foster + Partners unveils Droneport proposal to help save lives in East Africa

September 16, 2015 by  
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How to win a free pair of PETA-approved vegan espadrilles

August 16, 2015 by  
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Want a pair of shoes that’ll feel good on your feet and your conscience? You’ll love these cruelty-free kicks created by PETA and “footwear with a purpose” brand M4D3 —and we’re making it easy to win a pair for free! Our sister site Ecouterre is hosting a giveaway that only requires you to sign up for their newsletter and leave a comment on their website. The slip-on flats are made from faux leather, jute-rope soles, and come in three different colors: black, blue, or white. Click the link below to enter the giveaway! READ MORE>

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How to win a free pair of PETA-approved vegan espadrilles

McDonald’s to Add Lab-Grown ‘Chicken’ McNuggets to its Menu

April 1, 2015 by  
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McDonald ‘s just announced it will be the first fast food restaurant in the United States to add lab-grown meat to its menu. Following the success of Sergey Brin’s lab-grown burger experiment in London last year, McDonald’s says they will ‘grow’ their own chicken McNuggets in special laboratories across New Jersey. The move is expected to reduce the number of real chickens needed to supply the company’s 35,000 outlets across the globe. Read the rest of McDonald’s to Add Lab-Grown ‘Chicken’ McNuggets to its Menu Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “april fools” , “sustainable agriculture” , chicken mcnuggets , fake meat , fast food , green fast food , lab grown meat , lab meat , livestock , mcdonalds , mcnuggets , PETA , stem cells , sustainable fast food , sustainable food

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McDonald’s to Add Lab-Grown ‘Chicken’ McNuggets to its Menu

Google Purchases Dubai’s World of Islands to Reconfigure into Google Shaped Floating Cities

April 1, 2015 by  
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At the beginning of 2011, Dubai ‘s most notorious man-made islands, a.k.a. The World, made a splash with news that they were slowly but surely sinking into the sea . Now, in a bizarre twist of events that even had us surprised (and trust us, we thought we’d seen it all when it comes to The World), Google has announced that it purchased the troubled archipelago and will be reconfiguring it to form the shape of the Google logo. While we’ve seen the search engine giant dabble in everything from green energy to self-driving cars , this is the first we’ve heard of them making their way into island real estate. Once complete, the Google-shaped landmasses will be self-sustaining floating cities, and the company reports that it plans to retain a portion of the development for its own private use and sell the rest off to the highest bidders. Read the rest of Google Purchases Dubai’s World of Islands to Reconfigure into Google Shaped Floating Cities Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “april fools” , dubai , dubai islands , floating city , Google , google islands , google shaped islands , Google Starts Construction on Google Shaped Islands in Dubai , Inhabitat April Fools

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Google Purchases Dubai’s World of Islands to Reconfigure into Google Shaped Floating Cities

Dogs in China are being killed to make leather products

December 18, 2014 by  
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Most people have heard of China’s appalling dog meat trade, but did you know that dog and cat skin is also used to create leather goods like gloves, belts and pet toys? According to a new report from PETA Asia , the Chinese meat and leather trade is using the flesh of dogs and cats in order to squeeze out every penny of the manufacturing industry. And if you purchase leather, it can be difficult to tell what kind of leather you might be getting. Read the rest of Dogs in China are being killed to make leather products Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: cat leather gloves , cat leather goods , cat skin , cat skin leather , China dog leather , China dog meat , China dog trade , China leather trade , dog leather , dog leather gloves , dog leather goods , dog meat , dog skin leather , PETA expose , PETA video

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