"On November 5, 2015, two dams collapsed at an iron ore mine in southeastern Brazil. The dam is owned by Samarco, a joint-venture between the mining companies Vale and BHP Billiton. News outlets estimate that more than 62 million cubic meters of wastewater have been unleashed so far with catastrophic consequences. The immediate release of sludge wiped out numerous villages including Bento Rodrigues (shown in greater detail above), causing the death of twelve people. Eleven others are still missing. Because of this pollution, more than half a million people do not have access to clean water for drinking or irrigating their crops. By November 23, the contaminated waters covered a 400 mile stretch of the Rio Doce River and entered into the sea, killing significant amounts of planet and animal life along the way. Officials are concerned that the toxins will threaten the Comboios Nature Reserve, a protected area for the endangered leatherback turtle."
"Dear Subway, I really wish you would have talked to a farmer. I really wish you would have done so before your big announcement saying you would, as of 2016, be sourcing all of your turkey and chicken as being raised without antibiotics."
Saudi Arabia produces much of its electricity by burning oil, a practice that most countries abandoned long ago, reasoning that they could use coal and natural gas instead and save oil for transportation, an application for which there is no mainstream alternative. Most of Saudi Arabia’s power plants are colossally inefficient, as are its air conditioners, which consumed 70 percent of the kingdom’s electricity in 2013. Although the kingdom has just 30 million people, it is the world’s sixth-largest consumer of oil.Now, Saudi rulers say, things must change. Their motivation isn’t concern about global warming; the last thing they want is an end to the fossil-fuel era. Quite the contrary: they see investing in solar energy as a way to remain a global oil power. The Saudis burn about a quarter of the oil they produce—and their domestic consumption has been rising at an alarming 7 percent a year, nearly three times the rate of population growth.
Tags: Saudi Arabia, energy, resources, consumption, Middle East, sustainability.
Early meteorology helped farmers predict yield, transforming the agricultural industry.
Complaining over the weather is not new, but the science of studying the weather, and its effects on business, is fairly recent. Around , economists were also starting to use statistical methods to predict yield. Although cotton’s price, as shown on the New York Cotton Exchange, fluctuated daily, a “well-known American economist” discovered that he could make the most accurate total yield predictions—more accurate than those of the government crop reports—by analyzing the average weather conditions from May to August. It was now possible to predict when the crops would have a bumper year or a poor one.
Tags: physical, weather and climate, food production, agribusiness, agriculture.
Want to understand why Putin does what he does? Look at a map.
As things stand, Putin, like Russian leaders before him, likely feels he has no choice but to at least try to control the flatlands to Russia’s west. So it is with landscapes around the world—their physical features imprison political leaders, constraining their choices and room for maneuver. These rules of geography are especially clear in Russia, where power is hard to defend, and where for centuries leaders have compensated by pushing outward.
"The curriculum 'Empire, Republic, Democracy: A History of Turkey' traces the final years of the Ottoman Empire, the birth of the Turkish Republic, and contemporary issues in Turkey. Learn more at www.choices.edu/turkey "
Ask any teenager for directions and he can pull up Google Maps quicker than you can recite an address. Pretty awesome, right? And I’ll be the first to admit that having a map in my phone that not only tells me where to turn but how long it will take me to get there is pretty amazing. I use it all the time, honestly. But even when I’m zoning out and listening to that soothing voice telling me where to turn, I have a mental picture in my head of her directions. And I never realized that my teenage daughter doesn’t have a map in her head, because she’s never really had to use one. Ever.
When the giant fault line along the Pacific Northwest ruptures, it could be our worst natural disaster ever.
The Cascadia subduction zone remained hidden from us for so long because we could not see deep enough into the past. It poses a danger to us today because we have not thought deeply enough about the future. The Cascadia situation, a calamity in its own right, is also a parable for this age of ecological reckoning, and the questions it raises are ones that we all now face. How should a society respond to a looming crisis of uncertain timing but of catastrophic proportions? How can it begin to right itself when its entire infrastructure and culture developed in a way that leaves it profoundly vulnerable to natural disaster?
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