Mary Robinson: Why climate change is a threat to human rights – Filmed May 2015 at TEDWomen 2015


Climate change is unfair. While rich countries can fight against rising oceans and dying farm fields, poor people around the world are already having their lives upended — and their human rights threatened — by killer storms, starvation and the loss of their own lands. Mary Robinson asks us to join the movement for worldwide climate justice.

On The Line: Nilo Tabrizy Discusses California’s Drought – Vice News Published on Sep 14, 2015


VICE News journalist Nilo Tabrizy (https://twitter.com/ntabrizy) joined On The Line to discuss California’s drought, and her documentary, “Race To The Bottom.”

In California, protracted drought has caused surface water sources such as reservoirs, rivers, and streams to dry up. The state enacted mandatory water conservation rules in early April for the first time in the its history. But the agriculture industry — which consumes 80 percent of the state’s water — was exempt from the new restrictions.

VICE News went to California to witness the proliferation of water-intensive crops, and to find out why the industry that consumes the overwhelming majority of the state’s water has continued to operate during the historic drought.

Flooding Fields in California’s Drought – Vice News Published on Sep 2, 2015


Faced with a severe drought, California enacted mandatory water conservation rules in early April for the first time in the state’s history. But the agriculture industry — which consumes 80 percent of the state’s water — was exempt from the new restrictions.

The drought has caused surface water sources such as reservoirs, rivers, and streams to dry up. Consumers have increasingly turned to groundwater supplies, putting an enormous strain on the state’s aquifers. Drilling companies are punching so many holes in the ground that the number of requests for new wells in one recent week surpassed the entire total for some previous years, when water was plentiful.

VICE News went to California to witness the proliferation of water-intensive crops, and to find out why the industry that consumes the overwhelming majority of the state’s water has continued to operate during the historic drought.

Watch: Poaching, Drugs, and Murder in Costa Rica: Shell Game (Full Length) – http://bit.ly/1TIBBL3

VICE News Daily: Hundreds of Child Laborers Rescued in India – Vice News Published on Aug 7, 2015


The VICE News Capsule is a news roundup that looks beyond the headlines. Today:
Venezuela copes with an ‘economic war’, India’s campaign to rescue its child laborers, towns in north Mali struggle to access water, and Rio ramps up its bike program.

VENEZUELA
Supermarket Looting on the Rise
The government claims the unrest is fomented by opponents as part of an economic war.

INDIA
Nationwide Campaign Rescues Child Laborers
More than 500 kids were placed in shelters last month under a government-run operation.

MALI
Severe Water Shortage Hits North
The Red Cross has provided generators and trucks to alleviate the situation.

BRAZIL
Rio Builds Latin America’s Longest Bike Lane
Work has begun to expand the current route to 281 miles.

Subscribe to VICE News here: http://bit.ly/Subscribe-to-VICE-News

MARK BITTMAN WANTS YOU TO KNOW THE DROUGHT ISN’T YOUR FAULT – DANIELLE VENTON 07.02.15 7:00 AM


Mark Bittman. NIKKI KAHN/THE WASHINGTON POST/GETTY IMAGES

The Fourth of July—our national meat grilling holiday—looms. Time to start planning your menu! But hey, all ye drought-concerned souls (yes, I’m talking to  you, California): As you fill your shopping cart with charcoal briquettes, is your guilt reflex all a-twinge? I mean, eating meat is basically the worst thing you can do, right? We wanted some help thinking about this question, so we reached out to food writer Mark Bittman.

Bittman is a New York Times columnist, cookbook author, and creator of “Vegan Before Six”—an eating style that encourages saving food with animal products for dinner. He thinks and writes a lot about the connection between food policy, the environmentfair wages and human health. And as a California resident, he’s done his fair share of thinking about how droughtconditions factor into those connections. His takeaway? We all may need to just…chill out about the drought. And, yeah, make a few changes here and there.

I’m a lifelong Californian, I love my state, I’m worried about the drought and I want to think of myself as a responsible person. So…can I eat meat raised here?

Mark Bittman: Here’s something that’s weird to me. This spring when it was clear that the winter rains hadn’t come and people really started to freak out, I was at a party and everyone was comparing their grey water savings techniques. And it seemed just strange to me and I said, “You know, it’s not your fault! This drought is not because you guys aren’t saving the water that you wash your dishes with.” Now, using greywater is a good thing, but there are so many smarter things that could be done to ameliorate the water crisis.

Your question is spot on, because California is one of the largest meat producing states. [It’s the fourth largest.] And it’s far and away the biggest dairy producing state. [It’s responsible for nearly a quarter of US production.] A lot of that water consumption isn’t direct drinking water for cattle, but the raising of feed. And you need to feed a cow a lot to make it weigh 1,200 pounds.

Article continues:

http://www.wired.com/2015/07/mark-bittman-interview-california-drought-food/

 

California’s Snowpack Is Now Zero Percent of Normal – By Eric Holthaus MAY 29 2015 2:56 PM


The worst case scenario has come true: California’s snowpack is now zero percent of normal

A stump sits at the site of a manual snow survey on April 1, 2015 in Phillips, California. The current recorded level is zero, the lowest in recorded history for California. Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images

A stump sits at the site of a manual snow survey on April 1, 2015 in Phillips, California. The current recorded level is zero, the lowest in recorded history for California.
Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images

California’s current megadrought hit a shocking new low this week: On Thursday, the state’s snowpack officially ran out.

At least some measurable snowpack in the Sierra mountains usually lasts all summer. But this year, its early demise means that runoff from the mountains—which usually makes up the bulk of surface water for farms and cities during the long summer dry season—will be essentially non-existent. To be clear: there’s still a bit of snow left, and some water will be released from reservoirs (which are themselves dangerously low), but this is essentially a worst-case scenario when it comes to California’s fragile water supply.

This week's automated survey found California's statewide snowpack had officially run out. California Department of Water Resources

This week’s automated survey found California’s statewide snowpack had officially run out.
California Department of Water Resources

This week’s automated survey found California’s statewide snowpack had officially run out.
California Department of Water Resources

The state knew this was coming and has been working to help soften the blow—but they’re fighting a losing battle. Bottom line: 2014 was the state’s hottest year in history, and 2015 is on pace to break that record. It’s been too warm for snow. Back in April, Gov. Jerry Brown enacted the state’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions for urban areas based mostly on the abysmal snowpack. In recent days, the state’s conservation efforts have turned to farmers—who use about 80 percent of California’s water.

With a burgeoning El Niño on the way, there’s reason to believe the rains could return soon—but not before October or November. The state’s now mired in such a deep water deficit that even a Texas-sized flood may not totally eliminate the drought.

How Much Water Are the Richest Californians Wasting? It’s a Secret – —By Katharine Mieszkowski and Lance Williams | Mon May 18, 2015 6:00 AM EDT


In 1991, the public was outraged by the amount of water that wealthy homeowners like Mark McGwire were using. These days, that information is off-limits.

Mark McGwire of the Oakland Athletics watches his first-inning, three-run homer sail over the left field wall on Friday, Sept. 19, 1992 in Seattle during a game against the Mariners. The homer was the 39th of the season for McGwire who finished the game with four RBI?s as Oakland beat Seattle 7-4. (AP Photo/Bill Chan)

Mark McGwire of the Oakland Athletics watches his first-inning, three-run homer sail over the left field wall on Friday, Sept. 19, 1992 in Seattle during a game against the Mariners. The homer was the 39th of the season for McGwire who finished the game with four RBI?s as Oakland beat Seattle 7-4. (AP Photo/Bill Chan)

This story was originally published by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and is republished here as part of the Climate Deskcollaboration.

During California’s last crippling drought, baseball slugger Mark McGwire became a poster boy for water wasters.

The burly first baseman figured prominently in a 1991 Oakland Tribune investigation that showed how residents of upscale neighborhoods skirted the conservation demands facing everyday homeowners. The Top 100 users in the East Bay used 15 times more than the typical household.

That included the Oakland A’s star, who pumped 3,752 gallons a day in the summer months at his home in Alamo. “There’s no way I would waste water,” he told the newspaper.

In response to the outcry that followed the story, the East Bay Municipal Utility District demanded that its top users cut water use by 20 percent, the Tribune reported. If customers refused, the district would limit them to about 1,200 gallons a day.

“There’s no way I would waste water,” insisted Mark McGwire in 1991, during California’s last crippling drought.

Today, nearly 25 years later, while McGwire’s had to deal with more high-profile denials, California again is in the clutches of a massive drought. And the very information that has the potential to drive smart policymaking is now off-limits to the public and journalists.

Article continues:

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/05/california-water-users-mcgwire

Which California Crops Are Worth the Water? Check for Yourself – Reporting by Kelsey Nowakowski PUBLISHED MAY 08, 2015


A crop’s water footprint—–all the water needed to grow and process it—–is one way of measuring its water efficiency. But there is more to the picture than just how much water is used to produce every pound of a crop. Comparing the nutritional value of each one, you can see which crops provide the most bang for your buck, or in this case, the most bang for your gallon.Unprocessed crops for human consumptionNG STAFF SOURCES: USDA; UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS; M. M. MEKONNEN AND A. Y. HOEKSTRA, UNESCO-IHE INSTITUTE FOR WATER EDUCATION

A crop’s water footprint—–all the water needed to grow and process it—–is one way of measuring its water efficiency. But there is more to the picture than just how much water is used to produce every pound of a crop. Comparing the nutritional value of each one, you can see which crops provide the most bang for your buck, or in this case, the most bang for your gallon.Unprocessed crops for human consumptionNG STAFF
SOURCES: USDA; UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS; M. M. MEKONNEN AND A. Y. HOEKSTRA, UNESCO-IHE INSTITUTE FOR WATER EDUCATION–Graphic by Matthew Twombly

California’s thirstiest crops are under scrutiny amid the state’s severe drought. At the center of the debate are permanent crops, like almonds, that require year-round watering.

With agriculture responsible for roughly 80 percent of California’s water use, many question the practicality of crops that cannot be fallowed and the viability of producing food for export.

A crop’s water footprint—all the water needed  to grow and process it—is one way of measuring its water efficiency. Almonds, in particular, have been criticized for their high water footprint, since they are one of California’s most water-intensive crops.

Around two-thirds of almonds are exported, making them the state’s leading export crop. Some critics disapprove of California sending so much virtual water to other countries in the form of food and animal feed irrigated with that water. Others have defended the growing of highly nutritious crops like almonds, noting their calorie and protein content is worth the amount of water use.

So how do California’s top export crops actually stack up when you factor nutrition into the water efficiency equation?

To answer this question, this graphic analyzes California’s top export crops as determined by the University of California, Davis. Water footprints for each crop were gathered from the Water Footprint Network, and nutrition datawere obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The intention is to compare each crop’s relative efficiency at turning water into edible material, calories, and protein. (Other important nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and antioxidants, were not considered for this ranking.)

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/05/150508-which-california-exports-crops-are-worth-the-water/