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Lack of Wild Bees Causes Crop Shortage, Could Lead to Food Security Issues

Lack of Wild Bees Causes Crop Shortage, Could Lead to Food Security Issues

Bees are responsible for pollinating key crops like apples, and their decline now threatens crop yields. Pikist

Without bees, future generations may not be able to identify with adages like, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away.’

Crop yields for key crops like apples, cherries and blueberries are down across the U.S. because of a lack of bees in agricultural areas, a Rutgers University-led study published Wednesday in The Royal Society found. This could have “serious ramifications” for global food security, reported The Guardian.

The scientists wanted to understand the degree to which insect pollination, or lack thereof, actually limits current crop production. Surveying 131 locations across major crop-producing areas of the U.S., they found that five out of seven crops showed evidence of “pollinator limitation” and that yields could be boosted with full pollination, the study said.

“The crops that got more bees got significantly more crop production,” said Rachael Winfree, an ecologist and pollination expert and the senior author of the paper, reported The Guardian. “I was surprised, I didn’t expect they would be limited to this extent.”

The research further noted that pollinator declines could “translate directly” to decreased production of most of the crops studied and that wild bees “contribute substantially” to the pollination of most studied crops.

Declines in both managed honeybees and wild bees raise serious concerns about global food security, the study said, because most of the world’s crops rely on pollinators.

Bees and other pollinators like bats and birds underpin the global food system, but their populations are dwindling due to human activity including settlement building, pesticide use, monoculture farming and climate change. This is part of what many are calling the “insect apocalypse,” a precipitous decline in insects across the globe.

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Farms for the Future: 20 Organizations Protecting Farmland

Farms for the Future: 20 Organizations Protecting Farmland

In the United States, over 2,000 acres of agricultural land are sold every day for housing or commercial development, according to the American Farmland Trust. This has especially affected Black farmers who, since 1920, have seen nearly a 90 percent decline in land ownership, according to the U.S. Census.

Over the past decade, as many as 200 million hectares of land have undergone large-scale transactions internationally, according to a study by Oregon State University. These transactions, taking the form of land grabs or corporate consolidation of agriculture, often deteriorate the economic livelihood and food security of small farmers and communities reliant on these lands for sustenance, as reported by the Oakland Institute. When communities control their own farmland, residents can invest in sustainable and affordable agriculture, which helps to alleviate hunger and malnutrition, according to the World Bank.

Many organizations around the world are fighting to help communities regain control of their land and livelihoods. Food Tank is highlighting 19 organizations combating land grabs and protecting land for farmers.

1. Alaska Farmland Trust (United States)

One in five Alaskans is considered food insecure, and over 95 percent of the food consumed by Alaskans is imported from the contiguous U.S., according to the Alaska Farmland Trust Corporation (AFTC). AFTC was created in 2005 to support the existing farms in Alaska’s Mat-Su valley and safeguard farmland against development. AFTC aims to protect 5,700 acres of farmland in the next 50 years to ensure productive farms, ranches, and forests for generations of Alaskan farmers to come.

2. American Farmland Trust (United States)

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‘Overt Bastardization of the Truth’: Valve Turner Listed as ‘Extremist’ by U.S. Government Faces Upcoming Trial

‘Overt Bastardization of the Truth’: Valve Turner Listed as ‘Extremist’ by U.S. Government Faces Upcoming Trial

The valve turners recently listed by Homeland Security as “extremists” believe their action of shutting down 15 percent of the daily U.S. oil supply on Oct. 11, 2016 was their only option of fighting the climate crisis.

Valve turner Ken Ward of Climate Direct Action is going to trial this spring for the third time. He is charged with burglary and sabotage. EcoWatch teamed up with Ward and his attorney Lauren Regan, the executive director and co-founder of Civil Liberties Defense Center, on EcoWatch Live to share what this trial means for climate activists and why the U.S. government is listing some of these peaceful activists alongside mass murderers and white supremacists.

Watch the interview here:

“In a fairly short period of time, after making some phone calls to pipeline companies, we broke in to enclosures, cut some chains, closed what are called safety block valves and closed down all five pipelines that carry tar sands oil from Canada into the U.S.,” Ward said of the October 2016 direct action. It “might count as the most significant thing I’ve ever done on climate.”

Ward, who has been working in energy policy since 1978, including a variety of strategic approaches to climate change says “what sociologists and political scientists are demonstrating is that faced with this kind of situation, faced with an intractable political environment, where powerful industries have billions to spend … the single most effective thing that you can do is do engage in nonviolent direct action.”

Five members of Climate Direct Action are seen before a coordinated effort to turn off valves on a pipeline in four states. Climate Direct Action

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20 Best Foods for Lung Health

20 Best Foods for Lung Health

Keeping your lungs healthy is essential to feeling your best. Yet, common factors, including exposure to cigarette smoke and environmental toxins, as well as eating an inflammatory diet, can take a toll on this pair of important organs.

What’s more, common conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pulmonary fibrosis, can significantly affect your quality of life.

However, research has shown that lifestyle modifications, including following a nutrient-rich diet, can help protect your lungs and even reduce lung damage and symptoms of disease.

What’s more, specific nutrients and foods have been identified to be particularly beneficial for lung function.

Here are 20 foods that may help boost lung function.

1. Beets and Beet Greens

The vibrantly colored root and greens of the beetroot plant contain compounds that optimize lung function.

Beetroot and beet greens are rich in nitrates, which have been shown to benefit lung function. Nitrates help relax blood vessels, reduce blood pressure, and optimize oxygen uptake.

Beetroot supplements have been shown to improve physical performance and lung function in people with lung conditions, including COPD and pulmonary hypertension, a disease that causes high blood pressure in the lungs.

Additionally, beet greens are packed with magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and carotenoid antioxidants — all of which are essential to lung health.

2. Peppers

Peppers are amongst the richest sources of vitamin C, a water-soluble nutrient that acts as a powerful antioxidant in your body. Getting enough vitamin C is especially important for those who smoke.

In fact, due to the damaging effects of cigarette smoke on your body’s antioxidant stores, it’s recommended that people who smoke consume an extra 35 mg of vitamin C per day.

However, many studies show that smokers may benefit from higher doses of vitamin C and that smokers with high vitamin C intake have better lung function than those with lower vitamin C intake.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Vatican Asks Catholics to Ditch Fossil Fuel Investments

Vatican Asks Catholics to Ditch Fossil Fuel Investments

The Vatican urged Catholics to closely consider where they invest their money and to take a close look at the environmental impact of the companies they may be shareholders in, as Reuters reported.

Pope Francis has frequently criticized wanton greed that has led to environmental degradation and a climate crisis that is uprooting the lives of the world’s most vulnerable and impoverished people. On Earth Day, the Pope gave a speech in which he said that humans have sinned against the earth, as EcoWatch reported at the time.

To follow up on the pontiff’s works, the Vatican released a 225-page manual for church leaders and workers that included the guidance to end investments in weapons manufacturing and defense systems, fossil fuels, and to closely monitor companies in the energy sector to see if their actions are causing environmental harm, according to Reuters.

The manual, called Journeying Towards Care For Our Common Home, is a follow up to the Pope’s landmark encyclical on climate change called “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” which gave the official Catholic Church seal of approval to the pope’s environmental concerns. The new compendium offers practical steps to follow up on the Laudato Si, which translates from Latin to Praise Be.

As Reuters reported, the manual’s finance section said that shareholder action “could favor positive changes … by excluding from their investments companies that do not satisfy certain parameters.” It listed these as respect for human rights, bans on child labor, and protection of the environment.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trans Mountain Pipeline Spills up to 50,000 Gallons of Oil on Indigenous Land in BC

Trans Mountain Pipeline Spills up to 50,000 Gallons of Oil on Indigenous Land in BC

Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline spilled as many as 190,000 liters (approximately 50,193 gallons) of crude oil in Abbotsford, British Columbia (BC) Saturday, reinforcing concerns about the safety of the pipeline’s planned expansion.

Chief Dalton Silver of the Sumas First Nation told CTV News that the spill occurred on his reserve on fields over an aquifer that supplies his nation with drinking water. It marks the fourth time in 15 years that the pipeline has spilled on his community’s land.

“We cannot continue to have our land desecrated by oil spills,” he said in a statement issued by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) Sunday.

The spill occurred early Saturday morning at the pipeline’s Sumas Pump Station, Trans Mountain told CBC News. The company said no construction work related to the pipeline’s expansion was being done at the time of the spill.

Instead, the spill appeared to have been connected to a fitting on a smaller piece of pipe attached to the main line, the company said in a statement.

“The cause of the incident is under investigation and that will continue,” company spokesperson Ali Hounsell told CTV News. “At this time, it’s believed to be a failure of a small-diametre, one-inch piece of pipe.”

The company estimated that between 940 to 1,195 barrels (or 150,000 to 190,000 liters) of oil was released and fully contained.

“Clean-up is well underway with trucks and crews working around the clock,” the company said in a Sunday afternoon statement. “The free-standing oil has been recovered and is being transported to an approved facility for disposal. The site has permanent groundwater monitoring in place and air monitoring continues. Monitoring has not identified any risk to the public or community.”

The pipeline was initially shut off in response to the spill, but restarted around 2 p.m. local time Sunday.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How to Recognize Desertification and Drought Day

How to Recognize Desertification and Drought Day

More than 2 billion hectares of previously productive land is degraded. For Desertification and Drought Day on June 17, DW spoke with Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

DW: What do you want people to know about this year’s desertification day?

Ibrahim Thiaw: Despite COVID-19, we still need to eat. We still need to have clothes. We still need to feed our animals. And we still need the planet. The planet does not need us.

More than a third of the world’s land is vulnerable to exploitation that can lead to desertification. Where are some of the worst-affected areas?

If you consider the size of the land that is affected by desertification, Africa. But if you consider the number of people that are affected by land degradation, it is Asia. If you include the Americas, both north and south, 40% of land is affected by desertification or susceptible to be affected by land degradation. Europe is not spared either — we still lose a lot of soil here. And Europe has been more vulnerable to drought in recent years because of climate change.

We have one planet, so therefore there is no region in the world that is immune to land degradation or drought.

What do those areas have in common, are there some patterns there?

When you cause land degradation, you are affecting people’s lives: their health, the economy, their security. Land degradation is also having an impact on migration — we will see more migration because people cannot produce anymore in their land. So therefore, it is not biophysical only. It is social. It is economic. It is health. It is our well-being.

What are some steps people can take?

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Greta Thunberg Urges Norway and Canada to Honor Climate Commitments

Greta Thunberg Urges Norway and Canada to Honor Climate Commitments

When you want a seat on the UN Security Council, the last thing you need is a teenage activist, practiced at the art of shaming government officials, working against you. However, that’s just what Norway and Canada have.

Canada, Norway and Ireland are vying for the two available seats on the UN Security Council. Enter Greta Thunberg, bearing some free and stern advice.

The 17-year-old Swedish climate activist is the headline signatory on a letter to UN ambassadors of small developing nations. The letter argues that Canada and Norway both say they are concerned about the climate crisis, but will not shed their ardent commitment to expand fossil fuel production, build pipelines through native land, and subsidize oil companies, as the CBC reported.

“For the young generation who will inherit the consequences of these decisions, it is critical that those who claim to be leading on climate action are held to account for decisions they are making back at home,” the letter reads, according to the CBC.

The letter also featured the signature of three other youth activists and 22 climate scientists.

The writers argue that if Canada wants to honor its commitment to the Paris agreement, it should make permanent its temporary ban on extracting oil and gas in the Arctic, cancel both the Trans Mountain and Keystone XL pipeline projects, and end all subsidies to the oil and gas industry, according to Radio Canada International.

Canada, despite its pristine air and forests, is actually among the worst in the G20 in meeting its Paris agreement greenhouse gas emissions targets, according to data compiled in 2019 by Climate Transparency, as Radio Canada International reported.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How to Wash Fruits and Vegetables: A Complete Guide

How to Wash Fruits and Vegetables: A Complete Guide

Fresh fruits and vegetables are a healthy way to incorporate vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants into your diet.

Before eating fresh fruits and vegetables, it has long been a recommendation to rinse them well with water to remove any unwanted residues from their surfaces.

However, given the COVID-19 pandemic, many headlines have been circulating that encourage more abrasive ways to wash fresh produce before eating it, making some people wonder whether water is enough.

This article reviews the best practices for washing various fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them, as well as methods that are not recommended.

Why You Should Wash Fresh Produce

Global pandemic or not, properly washing fresh fruits and vegetables is a good habit to practice to minimize the ingestion of potentially harmful residues and germs.

Fresh produce is handled by numerous people before you purchase it from the grocery store or the farmers market. It’s best to assume that not every hand that has touched fresh produce has been clean.

With all of the people constantly bustling through these environments, it’s also safe to assume that much of the fresh produce you purchase has been coughed on, sneezed on, and breathed on as well.

Adequately washing fresh fruits and vegetables before you eat them can significantly reduce residues that may be left on them during their journey to your kitchen.

Summary

Washing fresh fruits and vegetables is a proven way to remove germs and unwanted residues from their surfaces before eating them.

Best Produce Cleaning Methods

While rinsing fresh produce with water has long been the traditional method of preparing fruits and veggies before consumption, the current pandemic has many people wondering whether that’s enough to really clean them.

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Inspiring Student in France Creates Environmental App to Motivate Others to Make a Difference Daily

Inspiring Student in France Creates Environmental App to Motivate Others to Make a Difference Daily

Maxime Leroux, a 19-year-old student in France is creating an online community of people executing one “save” per day for the sake of the planet.

OneSave/Day is the name of the free app that is empowering thousands to commit to just one daily action to be a better environmental steward.

“What an inspiration he is,” commented Misty Hay, an “EcoWatcher” who tuned in to an EcoWatch Live interview with Leroux on Thursday. “It’s bringing you one action every single day that you can do,” said Leroux.

Prior to the launch of this app, Leroux had never touched app development. He hadn’t even considered himself to be an environmentalist. “I had no real relationship to this topic,” he said.

Leroux was a typical college student who grew up with a “normal” life. He began to absorb headlines about the climate crisis which leave many with a growing sense of eco-anxiety. He shared more about these sentiments on the blog Eco Warrior Princess:

I was frustrated that there seemed nothing I could do every single day to make a difference; to me, taking daily action just seemed to matter.

My thoughts were that [I] alone would not have a crucial impact, but as a community, we could make all the individual actions count. Imagine 100,000 persons picking up one piece of trash on the same day. The result would be amazing, it would only take seconds for each participant to complete and the actions can easily be done every day.

EcoWatch, BBC and CNN Climate are some of many sources Leroux began to study to figure out the biggest problems our planet faces. Once he began examining the problems, he started to find the solutions.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

6 of the Most Sustainable Meat Alternatives

6 of the Most Sustainable Meat Alternatives

After the coronavirus spread through a number of slaughterhouses in Germany and the United States, some people might be asking themselves how they can replace meat in their diets.

Perhaps they’re worried that meat production could collapse if facilities are in lockdown. Or maybe ethical reasons are their main concern.

The recent revelation that more than 200 workers at a slaughterhouse in western Germany were infected with COVID-19 has shed light on the catastrophic working conditions in industrial meat production. But it’s no secret that the sector harms people, the environment and the climate, not to mention the suffering of animals.

Some 14.5% of human-produced global greenhouse gases come from the meat production industry. Farm animals and their waste also cause significant environmental damage: cattle produce methane gas that negatively impacts the climate, while enormous quantities of liquid manure put groundwater at risk.

But meat consumption is increasing worldwide — even in developing countries. And the losses in nutrients are alarming. For example, 11 kilograms (24 pounds) of plant protein are required to feed an animal to get 1 kilogram of protein in the form of meat.

There are many alternatives to steak and sausages from animals — and most of them are lower in calories, contain no cholesterol, and keep you full for longer.

1. Soy Products: Schnitzel, Tofu, Tempeh

The typical meat substitute in supermarkets in Europe, North America and Australia comes from soy. From burgers and goulash to sliced meat, sausages and cold cuts — a variety of products are seasoned and shaped to resemble animal products. In its native Asia, soy is mostly consumed as the fresh bean, edamame, or as tofu and tempeh.

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Some Oil Producing Nations Agree to Cut Production 10%

Some Oil Producing Nations Agree to Cut Production 10%

Oil-producing nations led by Russia, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia reached an unprecedented agreement on Sunday to cut oil production by 9.7 million barrels per day, or nearly 10 percent of what is currently produced, as The New York Times reported.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered lockdowns around the world, the demand for oil has plummeted nearly 35 percent, causing huge surpluses in oil supply and deep drops in the price of crude oil, which fell to 18-year lows. The new agreement to slash oil production starting in May is twice the size of the cuts agreed to during the global financial crisis 12 years ago and signals a truce in a growing price war between Russia and OPEC’s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, according to The Guardian.

The alliance, called OPEC+, includes OPEC members as well as non-members like Russia and Mexico, but not the U.S. The deal was struck after marathon negotiations and concessions made to Mexico, which held up the deal. Mexico opposed the amount it was being asked to cut, but finally agreed to cut 100,000 barrels per day, instead of its initial allocation of 400,000 barrels per day, according to NBC News.

The deal means oil producers will drop their production in May and June and then steadily increase it again until the deal expires in two years. That also means that most Americans will actually see the price of gasoline go up, leaving some to wonder why a U.S. president would broker a deal that will make Americans pay more at the pump, according to POLITICO. It seems Trump was spurred by the U.S. shale oil industry, which asked for help after oil prices dropped to an 18-year low. The industry has been amongst his most loyal supporters.

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Human Activity Caused Latest European Heat Wave, Scientists Say

Human Activity Caused Latest European Heat Wave, Scientists Say

The latest heat wave that crippled Paris with 109 degree Fahrenheit heat and saw the mercury hit 104 degrees Fahrenheit in the Netherlands and Belgium was caused by humans, according to a new studypublished on Friday, as the Associated Press reported. 

The rapid attribution study by a team of respected climate scientists from the international partnership at the World Weather Attribution Group found that the heat wave in France was made 10 to 100 more times more likely by human activity. And, the heat wave that had Great Britain sweltering was made twice as likely by human activity, according to the BBC.

“It is noteworthy that every heat wave analyzed so far in Europe in recent years (2003, 2010, 2015, 2017, 2018, June 2019, and this study) was found to be made much more likely and more intense due to human-induced climate change. How much more depends very strongly on the event definition: location, season, intensity, and durations,” the World Weather Attribution Group’s report explained, as Common Dreams reported. “The July 2019 heat wave was so extreme over continental Western Europe that the observed magnitudes would have been extremely unlikely without climate change.”

The group published this report, just one month after studying another European heat wave. The back-to-back heat waves are unusual and jarring. The report’s lead author sounded the alarm that this latest heat wave is a foreboding omen of what is coming down the pike.

“What will be the impacts on agriculture? What will the impacts on water?” said Robert Vautard of the Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace in France, as the AP reported. “This will put really tension in society that we may not be so well equipped to cope with.”

The record-setting temperatures in France and Germany smashed the previous highs by more than 2 degrees Celsius. The study concluded that without temperature rises due to the human-induced climate crisis, temperatures would have been 1.5 to 3 degrees Celsius lower, according to the AP.

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TransCanada Pipeline Explodes in West Virginia

TransCanada Pipeline Explodes in West Virginia

A newly installed TransCanada natural gas pipeline exploded early Thursday in the remote Nixon Ridge area of Marshall County in West Virginia. 

No injuries were reported but flames and smoke from the blast could be seen as far as 20 miles away, residents told local media. Area police told CBS News the fire was “very large—if you can see it from your house, evacuate.”

“It sounded like a freight train coming through, or a tornado, and the sky lit up bright orange, and then I got up and looked out the window and flames were shooting I don’t know how far into the sky,” Tina Heath-Chaplin, of Moundsville, told WPXI.

TransCanada—the same company behind the Keystone pipeline—said the explosion has been contained and an investigation is underway.

“As soon as the issue was identified, emergency response procedures were enacted and the segment of impacted pipeline was isolated. The fire was fully extinguished by approximately 8:30 a.m,” the company commented Thursday.

“The cause of this issue is not yet known,” TransCanada continued. “The site of the incident has been secured and we are beginning the process of working with applicable regulators to investigate, including the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.”

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

This is drone footage from @MarshallCoWVOEM Director Tom Hart says this is at the endd of Nixon Ridge near Fish Creek. The explosion left a crater. The DEP estimates 10 acres are affected @WTRF7News

Robert Burrough, the director with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s Eastern Regional Office, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the affected line is likely TransCanada’s $1.6 billion, 160-mile Leach XPress pipeline, which started service in January.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Rising Temperatures Will Help Mosquitos Infect a Billion More People

Rising Temperatures Will Help Mosquitos Infect a Billion More People

Mosquitoes are unrelenting killers. In fact, they are among the most lethal animals in the world. When they carry dangerous viruses or other organisms, a bite can be unforgiving. They cause millions of deaths every year from such infectious diseases as malariadengueZikachikungunyayellow feverand at least a dozen more.

But here’s the really bad news: climate change is expected to make them even deadlier. As the planet heats up, these insects will survive winter and proliferate, causing an estimated billion or more new infections by the end of the century, according to new research.

“Plain and simple, climate change is going to kill a lot of people,” said biologist Colin J. Carlson, a postdoctoral fellow in Georgetown University’s biology department, and co-author of the study, published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. “Mosquito-borne diseases are going to be a big way that happens, especially as they spread from the tropics to temperate countries.”

Climate Nexus

The study predicted an amenable climate could prompt some of these new cases within regions not previously regarded as vulnerable, including the U.S. These viruses can result in volatile outbreaks when conditions are right, as was the case with Zika. “We’ve known about Zika since 1947, and we watched it slowly spread around the world until 2015, when it arrived in Brazil and suddenly we had an explosive epidemic on our hands,” Carlson said.

“Chikungunya has done something not too different from that,” he added. “These viruses proliferate quickly in populations that don’t have any immunity — and we’re very scared about that. If you only have one month that’s warm enough for outbreaks, the question is: ‘how much damage you can do…?’ For viruses like these, it’s a lot.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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