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Britain faces worst drought since 1976 - Telegraph

Britain faces worst drought since 1976 - Telegraph | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
More than half of Britain is now in drought, the Environment Agency has warned, as the UK faces its most severe water shortage since 1976.

 

More than 35 million people are now living in drought-affected areas, with water shortages today declared across the Midlands and South West.
Parts of the country are already drier than they were in the summer of 1976, when Britain experienced its worst drought for more than 100 years.
The drought of 1976 led to standpipes being installed in residential streets, water supplies to businesses being rationed and schools having to close early.
The Environment Agency says similar measures are unlikely to be enforced this summer, but warns the dry conditions will damage the environment and lead to widespread water restrictions.

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Science and Environment: Iceberg Dead Ahead!

Science and Environment: Iceberg Dead Ahead! | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

The 100th anniversary of the 1912 Titanic disaster coincides with the 40th anniversary of the publication of a book commissioned by a global think tank known as the Club of Rome. The 1972 book, The Limits to Growth, detailed a computer simulation of the impact of human systems on the earth. Among various scenarios that could have led to global equilibrium, the book also demonstrated how prevailing growth policies would lead to “overshoot” of earth’s resources by the middle of the 21st century.

 

There are probably many lessons in the confluence of these two anniversaries. But one seems most important: ignoring economic icebergs in pursuit of limitless growth is foolish. Like the Titanic, this ship is not unsinkable.

 

To consider these economic seas, more than 200 representatives of business and government came together at the Wall Street Journal’s fifth annual ECO:nomics conference held recently in Santa Barbara, California. Over three days the group listened to interview-style presentations from notable business leaders and political figures including Bill Gates, T. Boone Pickens, California governor Jerry Brown and former Pennsylvania governor Edward Rendell. WSJ editors served as moderators for 24 sessions that ran the “green” spectrum from waste management and marketing to jobs and energy.

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Asian glaciers 'putting on mass'

Asian glaciers 'putting on mass' | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Some glaciers in the mighty Karakoram range are defying the global trend and getting slightly thicker, researchers find.

 

A French team used satellite data to show that glaciers in part of the Karakoram range, to the west of the Himalayan region, are putting on mass. The reason is unclear, as glaciers in other parts of the Himalayas are losing mass - which also is the global trend.

The region's glaciers are poorly studied, yet provide a vital water source for more than a billion people.

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Warming Atlantic Primes The Amazon For Fire

Warming Atlantic Primes The Amazon For Fire | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

"Scientists used to think the rainforest, especially in the western Amazon, was too wet to burn. But major fire seasons in 2005 and 2010 made them reconsider.

Fires are a major source of carbon emissions in the Amazon, and scientists are beginning to worry that the region could become a net emitter, instead of a carbon sink. New findings link rising ocean temperatures off the northern coast of Brazil to changing weather patterns: As the Atlantic warms, it draws moisture away from the forest, priming the region for bigger fires.

“We are reaching a tipping point in terms of drought, beyond which these forests can catch fire,” says Daniel Nepstad, international program director at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute in Brasília, Brazil.

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What’s Your Virtual Water Footprint?

What’s Your Virtual Water Footprint? | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
We've talked about how our food choices affect our water footprint around here before, but how much water does it take to produce what we eat and drink?

 

"You’re probably pretty familiar with ways to cut back your direct water use, so what about the “virtual water” that we consume? Of course, you know to drink your eight glasses (or more!) a day, but virtual water refers to the indirect uses of water in our day to day, including the water involved in something like raising a cow for your dinner plate or producing the apple you pack with your lunch. When you take all of that water–including the water to produce our food–into account, those eight glasses balloons up to almost 33,000 glasses! If you want to find your virtual water footprint, check out the extended water footprint calculator here.

 

This infographic from visual.ly takes a look at our direct and virtual water footprints in our day-to-day and in some common food products."

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Climate Change Throws Nature's Timing Out of Whack

Climate Change Throws Nature's Timing Out of Whack | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

"Timing matters: Flowers bloom, insects emerge, birds migrate, and planting and hunting seasons are carefully coordinated times in order to take advantage of what other organisms, or the weather, is up to. But increasing research is showing some of these relationships are falling out of sync as climate change alters important cues, such as the arrival of spring warmth."

 

"Evidence going back decades and sometimes even longer shows the timing of some biological events is shifting around the world. Studies document the progressively earlier arrival of spring, by about 2.3 to 5.2 days per decade in the last 30 years, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2007 report. That report lists studies showing changes in seasonal timing, or phenology, of the first and last leaves on gingko trees in Japan, butterfly emergence in the United Kingdom, bird migrations in Australia, the first leaves and flowers of lilacs in North America, among many others.

 

But not everything is changing together, leading to complex results."

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Making Energy From Cheese Waste And Cow Poop

Making Energy From Cheese Waste And Cow Poop | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
It sounds like an incredibly smelly--and disgusting--proposition, but some researchers think that a mix of cheese whey (a cheese-making byproduct) and liquid cow manure may come together to make a high-quality biogas.

 

"Cheese whey isn’t a problem for most dairy farms, but for the 100 or so in the U.S. that produce massive amounts of cheese and millions of pounds of whey each year, it starts to add up. The stuff isn’t usable in anaerobic digesters (which are commonly used to turn farm waste into biogas) because it acidifies quickly, and while many farmers put it on their fields for fertilizer, there is still often leftover whey. By mixing the whey with cow manure, researchers at the Politecnico di Torino in Italy found that they could achieve the perfect pH--not too acidic, not too basic. Put that in your anaerobic digester and smoke it."

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Wellbeing, happiness and sustainability: hallmarks of a new economic paradigm

Wellbeing, happiness and sustainability: hallmarks of a new economic paradigm | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

What do the following people have in common? Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz, former Australian deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, HRH Prince Charles, OECD chief statistician Martine Durand, Indian ecological activist Vandanna Shiva, the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla Miranda, and former head of the British Civil Service, Lord Gus O’Donnell?

Answer: They were just some of over 600 delegates including heads of state, Nobel laureates, spiritual, business and community leaders who contributed to the opening of the recent United Nations High Level Meeting on Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining A New Economic Paradigm.

This landmark meeting, convened by the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Jigmi Y Thinley, followed on from the 2011 UN General Assembly motion calling for governments to promote polices focusing on sustainability, happiness and wellbeing as opposed to narrower definitions of economic growth measured solely by the expansion of GDP.

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bee news | Loss of bees would cost UK nearly £2bn a year

bee news | Loss of bees would cost UK nearly £2bn a year | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

"The Friends of the Earth research, conducted by leading bee experts at the University of Reading, shows that without bees, the UK would have to spend £1.8 billion a year on hand-pollinating crops. This would push up the cost of food and make fruit and vegetables in this country scarcer.

Friends of the Earth points out that intensive farming and the way we plan our towns and cities are partly to blame for the loss of our bee population."

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Do protected areas for wildlife really work? - The Ecologist

Do protected areas for wildlife really work? - The Ecologist | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Can national parks and protected areas safeguard wildlife against the growing pressures of population growth and climate change?

 

"As a Canadian study revealed last year, biodiversity is falling across the board despite an increase in the number of areas given ‘protected’ status. There need to be more of them and they need to be bigger, argue the researchers, but there also need to be fewer people.

With the global population destined to reach 9 billion by 2050, the pressure on species and habitat is expected to grow in tandem with the difficulties of protecting them. The study identifies a ‘clear and urgent need for the development of additional solutions for biodiversity loss, particularly ones that stabilise the size of the world’s human population and our ecological demands on biodiversity."

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The Grass is Greener in Perth, a Water-Scarce City Adjusting to Climate Change

The Grass is Greener in Perth, a Water-Scarce City Adjusting to Climate Change | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
  The capital of Western Australia, Perth, is at the epicenter of global climate change. The city’s strategic response offers lessons about climate change mitigation, exacerbation and adaptation. The lessons are acutely relevant to the United States, particularly California.

 

 

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Inner city residents have the highest environmental impact | The Urbanist

Inner city residents have the highest environmental impact | The Urbanist | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Despite high densities, inner city residents have the largest negative impact on the environment because they're richer and live in smaller households...

 

"The first attribute is wealth – inner city residents are richer on average than other Australians. Income is very strongly correlated with environmental impact. Wealthier people buy more “stuff” like food, furniture, electronics and clothes that has a high direct and indirect negative impact on the environment. They fly a lot more than others too, both for work and leisure."

 

"The second attribute is household size – inner city residents live on average in smaller households, mostly of one and two persons. Their per capita environmental impact is consequently large because they don’t take advantage of economies of scale."

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Nation’s farmers, ranchers aging, USDA fears

Nation’s farmers, ranchers aging, USDA fears | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

"The country’s farmers and ranchers are getting older, and there are fewer people standing in line to take their place. New Mexico has the highest average age of farmers and ranchers of any state at nearly 60, and neighboring Arizona and Texas aren’t far behind. Nationally, agricultural census figures show that the fastest-growing group of farmers and ranchers is the segment over 65."


Via Cathryn Wellner
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Loss of predators in Northern Hemisphere affecting ecosystem health

Loss of predators in Northern Hemisphere affecting ecosystem health | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
A survey done on the loss in the Northern Hemisphere of large predators, particularly wolves, concludes that current populations of moose, deer, and other large herbivores far exceed their historic levels and are contributing to disrupted ecosystems.

 

The research, published recently by scientists from Oregon State University, examined 42 studies done over the past 50 years.


It found that the loss of major predators in forest ecosystems has allowed game animal populations to greatly increase, crippling the growth of young trees and reducing biodiversity. This also contributes to deforestation and results in less carbon sequestration, a potential concern with climate change.


"These issues do not just affect the United States and a few national parks," said William Ripple, an OSU professor of forestry and lead author of the study. "The data from Canada, Alaska, the Yukon, Northern Europe and Asia are all showing similar results. There's consistent evidence that large predators help keep populations of large herbivores in check, with positive effects on ecosystem health."

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How I built my house for £4,000

How I built my house for £4,000 | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
When he's expecting visitors, Steve James watches out the windows so he can catch the look on their faces when they see his house for the first time. "It's always the same," he say.

 

James is passionate about eco homes and deeply proud of the cottage, which huddles by a loch near Dumfries. His kitchen is made from a cedar that blew over in a Glasgow park. His sink came from a skip. To one side is a Moroccan marbled shower room, to the other are sofas and a log-burning stove. He sleeps in a galleried bedroom. A compost loo and rainwater filtration system complete the picture. ...

 

His home is strong, warm and utterly watertight. The only maintenance is a lime wash on the walls every year or two. The turf roof repairs itself. "I'm building a water wheel next," James says. "In the meantime, I'm getting power from a car battery that my partner, Eli, charges for me at her house. You'd be amazed what you can run from that battery – a digital recording studio, a stereo, tools, lights and a laptop."

 

James, 52, a software engineer, took 10 months to build his house, finishing it in November last year. Now, he's set up a website about straw-bale homes, runs eco-engineering courses and takes commissions making straw-bale buildings; the latest is a changing room for a Hull primary school.

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O.E.C.D. Warns of Ever-Higher Greenhouse Gas Emissions

O.E.C.D. Warns of Ever-Higher Greenhouse Gas Emissions | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
In its environmental outlook to 2050, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said urgent action was needed to replace fossil fuels, which continue to dominate global energy.

 

Global greenhouse gas emissions could rise 50 percent by 2050 without more ambitious climate policies, as fossil fuels continue to dominate the energy mix, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Thursday.


“Unless the global energy mix changes, fossil fuels will supply about 85 percent of energy demand in 2050, implying a 50 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions and worsening urban air pollution,” the Paris-based O.E.C.D. said in its environment outlook to 2050 .

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Science and Environment: Relating to Water

Science and Environment: Relating to Water | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
In The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water, Charles Fishman reintroduces the reader to life’s most precious resource—water.

 

"Our planet derives its unique qualities not from earth, but from liquid water. And the Earth’s allotment of water is closed; all there is simply recycles to be used over and over again. If we have a water crisis, it is not because somehow water is being lost. It is a crisis of misuse, neglect and poor planning. It is a crisis of a conflicted relationship."

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Decaying Food Photographs Highlight Global Food Waste

Decaying Food Photographs Highlight Global Food Waste | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Watermelon For nine months Vienna-based photographer Klaus Pichler has been working on 'One Third', a creative food series showing a variety of foods from vetetables to exotic delicies in various states of decay.
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Wind farms 'not big bird mincers'

Wind farms 'not big bird mincers' | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Wind farms are sometimes reviled as major bird killers; but that picture is distorted, the study suggests

Many bird species are unaffected by wind farms, concludes a study carried out by UK bird charities. Scientists with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and RSPB found that building the turbines was more disruptive than operating them. Impacts varied between species, with red grouse numbers recovering after construction, curlews declining and not recovering, and skylarks increasing. Their findings are published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

 

This is the latest in a long line of studies on wind farms' interactions with birds, but differs from most in its scale. Ten species of birds were included, and 18 wind farms in upland areas of the UK were studied - most were monitored before construction began, during construction, and again afterwards.

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Report underlines importance of Congo Basin for global climate and biodiversity

Report underlines importance of Congo Basin for global climate and biodiversity | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

"The ‘State of the Congo Basin Forests 2010’ report launched in Douala, Cameroon, at the Annual meeting of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), provides a comprehensive and detailed assessment of the status of this crucial pool for climate regulation and natural resources. It looks at deforestation patterns, points to trends in sustainable forest management and highlights threats to biodiversity."

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World’s Largest Transboundary Conservation Area a Reality | Ecology Global Network

World’s Largest Transboundary Conservation Area a Reality | Ecology Global Network | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area or KAZA Peace Park becomes largest transboundary conservation area in the world.

 

"In a world constantly bombarded with news of wars and fighting between tribes and nations, it’s refreshing to know that in the heart of Africa, peace is taking hold.

Five nations that form the central heart of the continent, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola and Botswana recently signed the final documents to create an enormous conservation zone that encompasses 170,000 sq. miles (44,000 sq. kilometers) or 109 million acres. Altogether, the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) or KAZA Peace Park, will include 36 game reserves, numerous national parks, forest reserves, conservancies, game and wildlife management areas and communal lands."

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Bat killer fungus still spreading

Bat killer fungus still spreading | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

"A fungal disease that has killed more than 5.5 million bats is continuing to spread across North America.

White-nose syndrome, first recorded in New York in 2006, is now present in 20 states and four Canadian provinces.

Research just published provides further evidence that the disease is caused by the fungus, and that it originated in Europe."

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Deloitte climate expert says business must wake up to extreme weather threats | RTCC

Deloitte climate expert says business must wake up to extreme weather threats | RTCC | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Businesses that are not planning for the long-term effects of climate change are risking their future viability, according to a leading climate change consultant.
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The Link Between Conservation and Global Poverty

The Link Between Conservation and Global Poverty | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

"On a global scale, deforestation, carbon emissions, and loss of biodiversity are fueled by the consumptive appetites and economic demands of developed nations. However, in certain localities in developing countries, it’s the poorer inhabitants – those who directly share space with critical ecosystems – who have a significant impact on habitat destruction and biodiversity loss.
Many of the world’s richest, and most threatened biodiversity hotspots are located in least developed nations – areas where local human populations live largely below the poverty line. In these scenarios we see a continuous conflict between the immediate material needs of the poor, and the long term need to preserve biodiversity and habitats for the health of the planet."

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5 Things You Need to Know About Wildlife Corridors

5 Things You Need to Know About Wildlife Corridors | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

"We live in a very inter-connected world. This is something that conservationists have learned when studying the species that they are trying to protect; It's not good enough to create protected habitats that are isolated, like islands surrounded by roads, fences, farmlands, cities, etc. That's not how most species have evolved. Their habitats need to be connected to others via wildlife corridors if life there is to really thrive and be robust enough to survive in the long-term. Here's a few reasons why these corridors are so important."

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