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Wellness

California Could Be Facing A Drought Yet Again. Here’s What You Need To Know

California Could Be Facing A Drought Yet Again. Here’s What You Need To Know

Over the past six months, downtown Los Angeles has received only 1.96 inches of rain (compared to an average of 8.54 inches), and San Francisco only 3.4 inches.
These dry conditions have some experts wondering if last year’s wet conditions were just a short reprieve in the infamous, multiyear drought that started in 2011.
Up north in the Sierras, a lack of snowfall has forced some ski resorts to contemplate closing up shop.
By overpumping and drilling deeper wells, they’re threatening the water supplies and exposing their tap to pesticides and other toxins.
According to BuzzFeed reports, residents are told their water may contain known carcinogens including arsenic, uranium, and nitrates.
Many of them are living below the poverty level and can’t afford water treatment systems (let alone the “raw water” bottles that some Californians are shelling out big bucks for).
Like most of the other extreme weather events we’ve seen recently (who could forget the record-setting hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes of fall 2017?
A simple way to think of this is that climate change will likely make wet areas wetter, and dry areas drier,” Colin Strong, a water expert at the World Resources Institute, tells mbg.
However, California continues to be a trailblazer in eco-friendly initiatives, setting an example for other states with its green approaches to transportation and energy use.
During the 2011 to 2017 drought, measures like these were very effective and cut water use by up to 20 percent in some regions.

Energy

YP Letters: Fracking is industrial process and source of more plastic

YP Letters: Fracking is industrial process and source of more plastic

From: Glyn Wild, Highfield Terrace, Swinton, Malton.
I AM disappointed that our MP Kevin Hollinrake continues to make such misleading comments about fracking.
It is not a ‘green fuel’; data from NASA satellites has shown that areas of the US that have a high concentration of fracking wells also have raised levels of methane in the atmosphere.
There are possibly only two points on which I would agree with Mr Hollinrake’s article (The Yorkshire Post, February 3) – that it is vitally important and urgent that we tackle the man-made causes of climate change, and the fact that many of his constituents feel betrayed by him.
From: David Cragg-James, Stonegrave, York.
Who is responsible for the environment?
Is fracking an example of that sustainable development focusing on people, profit and planet, none of which can develop in the absence of the others?
And what of shale’s derivative, plastics?
Sustainable consumption, equally important for collective life, emphasises responsible behaviour with a view to meeting the basic needs of all, reducing excess and avoiding environmental damage.
Will the production and distribution of unconventional gas really “avoid environmental damage”?

Wellness

The Esoteric Wellness Practice Coming To A Music Festival Near You

The Esoteric Wellness Practice Coming To A Music Festival Near You

This year, the festival will join forces will NYC-based group meditation movement The Big Quiet to attempt the largest mass meditation at a music festival in the United States.
Singers and violinists from different bands will join together with the shared mission of helping the crowd turn their focus inward.
As mbg reported last year, more and more wellness devotees are now looking to sound to find quiet.
Much like a yoga class or Reiki session, sound baths are an opportunity to leave your phone at the door and connect to the energy of your surroundings and yourself without distraction.
The Big Quiet continues to prove that this kind of connection is possible anywhere, and they’ve invited meditators to gather at busy NYC landmarks like Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and the Palace Theater.
Their mass meditations present a beautiful respite from the bustle of city streets, often incorporating slow, melodic tones to elevate the experience and help people “drop in” quicker. “One of the reasons I think sound is a powerful tool for meditation is because it offers a point of focus.
It’s especially helpful for people who are new to meditation,” Sara Auster, a sound healing practitioner, explained to mbg. “The act of listening deeply is a meditation in itself.”
Here’s a primer on how to start your own sound healing practice at home.

Conservation & Sustainability

What Does A Sick Bear Really Need? How About A Big Ole Bear Hug

What Does A Sick Bear Really Need? How About A Big Ole Bear Hug

Don’t try this at home.
Jim Kowalczik and his 1,400-pound Kodiak bear Jimbo go way back so he thought nothing of giving the creature a bear hug when the big guy was feeling under the weather.
Jimbo, 24, was born in a California animal park and Kowalczik took him in as a cub after the park closed.
Jimbo couldn’t be returned to the wild because he was born in captivity and had a leg injury.
Earlier this month, the 10-foot-tall bear was suffering from an unknown illness and became agitated after his vet appointment, Philadelphia’s ABC-6 reported.
That’s when Kowalczik stepped in with some comfort.
Kowalczik, a retired corrections officer, and his wife, Susan, have worked with bears for decades.
They founded the Orphaned Wildlife Center in Otisville, N.Y., and currently have 11 bears and several smaller animals living on the grounds.
While the Kowalcziks hope to rehabilitate the smaller animals, the bears will either stay or be moved to other sanctuaries.
The “extremely friendly” Jimbo, however, will spend the rest of his days at the center; he could live until his late 20s or even early 30s.

Climate Change & Global Warming

Climate Change Week in Review Week Ending February 16, 2018

Climate Change Week in Review Week Ending February 16, 2018

The good news this week is that a warming globe may not increase the probability of war: or, at least,

Organic Living

On The Verge Of A Thaw In February

On The Verge Of A Thaw In February

A January thaw I expect.
Last year we had a mild February–and three feet of snow in March.
Today the temperature rose to 59°F (15°C).
And no, I can’t tell you what’s on that label, because I always stick the written-on end in the ground so it stays legible longer, and it’s still frozen in the earth.
But we have at least ten days… A cold climate gardener expects it to be cold in February, and she prepares for it.
These are the types of plants I expect to be blooming in February, and indoors is the only place I expect them to be blooming.
I will be thrilled if I have blooming snowdrops–or eranthis–in February.
I will enjoy each mild day as it arrives, and if winter comes back to bite me and my garden–well, we’ll deal with that when it happens.
Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.
On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens.

Alternative Energy

Air Pollution From Industrial Shutdowns and Startups a Grave Danger to Public Health

Air Pollution From Industrial Shutdowns and Startups a Grave Danger to Public Health

Over a period of about two weeks, data we compiled from the Texas’ Air Emission Event Report Database indicates these sites released 2,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and other pollutants.
These types of emissions that result from startups, shutdowns or malfunctions are often referred to as “excess” or “upset” emissions and are particularly pronounced during times of natural disasters, as was the case with Hurricane Harvey.
Excess Emissions in Texas Our study examines the occurrence of excess emissions in industrial facilities in Texas over the period from 2002 to 2016.
As a general rule, states set limits to industrial air emissions based on provisions in their State Implementation Plan (SIP), which is their strategy for meeting CAA requirements.
In the case of the natural gas liquids industry, excess emissions amounted to 77,000 tons over the period 2004-2015, representing 58 percent of the industry’s routine emissions for that pollutant.
While thousands of excess emissions events occur every year in Texas, the top 5 percent of events release more pollutants than all the other events combined.
In extreme cases, excess emissions events can release vast amounts of pollutants in a very short period of time.
That was almost twice the amount of the total sulfur dioxide that refinery emitted that year from its routine operations.
These estimates are certainly not comprehensive as they only consider damages from premature mortality due to particulate matter (PM) emissions caused by the emission of sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides.
Given the frequency, magnitude, and important adverse effects for public health, the EPA’s ultimate decision on how states should treat excess emissions is consequential.

Climate Change & Global Warming

7 Ways to Make Your Home More Zen

7 Ways to Make Your Home More Zen

The place we call home is a place of comfort, of reliability, and a place that symbolizes the unwinding of the day.
The term Zen actually stems from a Japanese school of Buddhism, which emphasizes the value of meditation and intuition.
The overall essence of Zen is to understand the meaning of life, without being misled or distracted by toxic surroundings.
Zen Buddhism believes that all human beings have to discover the truth of themselves by looking inside of us for enlightenment.
For example, red tones tend to evoke high energy levels, while yellow evokes happiness.
Blue, on the other hand is said to bring down blood pressure and slow down the heart rate.
Because color is proven to have such a big effect on our mindset, we recommend sticking to earth tones if your aim is to amplify the Zen in your home.
Incorporate Plants: As great as dogs and cats are, plants are actually some of the best pets to have in regards to enhancing your feelings of Zen.
But it gets better than that—plants are actually known to make you mentally feel better as well as improve your physical health.
Widely renowned for their stress relief capabilities, oil diffusers also have been shown to help ward off illness, increase exercise endurance, focus your mind, and overall improve a sense of tranquility.

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Conservation & Sustainability

What Does A Sick Bear Really Need? How About A Big Ole Bear Hug

What Does A Sick Bear Really Need? How About A Big Ole Bear Hug

Don’t try this at home.
Jim Kowalczik and his 1,400-pound Kodiak bear Jimbo go way back so he thought nothing of giving the creature a bear hug when the big guy was feeling under the weather.
Jimbo, 24, was born in a California animal park and Kowalczik took him in as a cub after the park closed.
Jimbo couldn’t be returned to the wild because he was born in captivity and had a leg injury.
Earlier this month, the 10-foot-tall bear was suffering from an unknown illness and became agitated after his vet appointment, Philadelphia’s ABC-6 reported.
That’s when Kowalczik stepped in with some comfort.
Kowalczik, a retired corrections officer, and his wife, Susan, have worked with bears for decades.
They founded the Orphaned Wildlife Center in Otisville, N.Y., and currently have 11 bears and several smaller animals living on the grounds.
While the Kowalcziks hope to rehabilitate the smaller animals, the bears will either stay or be moved to other sanctuaries.
The “extremely friendly” Jimbo, however, will spend the rest of his days at the center; he could live until his late 20s or even early 30s.

Conservation & Sustainability

With eye to hungry planet, new tech watches soil health

With eye to hungry planet, new tech watches soil health

Deforestation.
Tristan Schnader (TS): Land degradation is when a combination of actions such as overgrazing, charcoal production, sand mining and climate change has resulted in lands that can no longer sustainably support livestock, threatening local livelihoods and straining household incomes.
The government is trying to address the conflict, but ultimately, the cattle need to go somewhere, and it’s up to local decision-makers to come up with a resolution.
There’s deforestation in this area because the community depends on charcoal for energy and for cooking.
Alex Zvoleff (AZ): The global population is exponentially increasing, so food production and the resilience of land has never been more important than now.
To measure the current state of land degradation in four countries that had stakeholders who were interested in this project — Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Senegal — we took data sets (about land productivity, land cover and soil carbon, the factors that determine whether the land is degraded) that were available through open source and put them in one place: Trends.Earth.
Q: Why does all the data need to be in one place?
TS: The goal is to create a land degradation neutral world.
The data is more useful to national and international leaders who decide to send funding to areas that are identified as degraded, which can ultimately flow down to support local solutions.
Tristan Schnader is a Vital Signs Senior Project Manager at CI and Alex Zvoleff is a data science director at CI.

Conservation & Sustainability

Bichon Frise Named Best In Show At Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Bichon Frise Named Best In Show At Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

NEW YORK, Feb 13 (Reuters) – A bichon frise named Flynn was crowned “best in show” at the 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday, wagging his tail to triumph over nearly 3,000 dogs entered in the world-renowned contest for pure-bred canines.
“Every time I looked at him, he went, ‘Hey, lady.’ A little waggly tail looking up at me, and he sold himself,” judge Betty-Anne Stenmark said after announcing the winner.
More than 2,880 dogs representing 201 breeds and varieties competed in this year’s Westminster Kennel Club contest, touted by organizers as America’s second-oldest sporting event after the Kentucky Derby.
The victor receives the coveted Best in Show trophy, a media tour and the lure of higher breeding fees – all rewards for the winner’s patience while enduring seemingly endless blow dryer blasts and tugs from combs and brushes.
Recognized for its fluffy white coat and baby-doll face, with charcoal-colored eyes and nose, the bichon frise is known for its perky, good-natured disposition.
The breed name is derived from the French phrase meaning “curly lap dog.” “These dogs were bred to entertain people.
They’re circus dogs, so they’re very smart.
They have beguiling eyes that all they have to do is a slight raise of an eyebrow and they can make you laugh or chuckle at least,” McFadden said.
The bichon frise breed has won Best in Show just once before, in 2001, according to Westminster Kennel Club data going back to 1907.
Flynn represented the non-sporting category.

Conservation & Sustainability

Eastern Kentucky’s Struggle With Water Symbolizes America’s Crumbling Infrastructure

Eastern Kentucky’s Struggle With Water Symbolizes America’s Crumbling Infrastructure

“People were calling the county every day,” she said.
The water is sourced from the nearby Kentucky River and controlled by Hazard Utilities, though many people still use well water because they say the utility’s water is unreliable.
“It has a huge effect on our economy, and puts a big burden on small and rural communities.” In Appalachia, as the coal industry has waned, the money that local governments receive from coal severance tax funds (a fee on the amount of coal extracted) — which helped pay for utility and other infrastructure upgrades — has drastically decreased.
American families lose $3,400 a year because of poor infrastructure, DiLoreto said, thanks to lost wages or expenses like buying bottled water or fixing their cars because of potholes.
“Mostly, I think folks don’t really know what to do,” said Ivy Brashear, Pam’s daughter and the Appalachian Transition Coordinator at Mountain Association for Community Economic Development.
In Martin County, Kentucky, which has its own failing water district that shut off water to residents this year, residents have started a Facebook group called Martin County Water Warriors to draw attention to the issue and share resources.
The key to finding solutions is to look at infrastructure and development more holistically, said DiLoreto.
The state’s public service commission is working to decrease the rate by 4 percent; some customers say they are paying anywhere from $600 to $1,000 per month for electricity.
“Now that we have the water back, I’m working with a group on electricity,” Pam Brashear said.
She works on the Appalachian Transition Fellowship, which partners community leaders with host communities so they can create solutions from the ground up.

Conservation & Sustainability

Seaweed Farming: A Gateway to Conservation and Empowerment

Seaweed Farming: A Gateway to Conservation and Empowerment

“What does your husband do while you’re working on the seaweed lines?”, we ask.
On the brink of the ‘extreme season,’ stifling hot is an understatement, but the light breeze from the Flores Sea provides a welcome break from the three flights and 2-hour van trip that brought us here.
Seaweed farming is one arm of the massive and growing aquaculture industry in Indonesia, representing 37% of the world’s seaweed production, producing over 10 million tons annually.
Seaweed is a globally-traded commodity for used for carrageenan (a thickening ingredient in common food products and cosmetics), direct consumption, and may even have value for other purposes like sustainable animal feeds.
It’s an incredibly important industry in Indonesia for rural, indigenous, and – as confirmed by our visit to South Sulawesi – women.
World Bank analysis even shows that expanding seaweed farming in tropical areas like Indonesia may further boost local incomes, food security, and environmental health.
As compared to many other farming practices, seaweed is seen by some as the pinnacle of sustainable aquaculture, requiring no feed other than sunlight and marine nutrients, holding the ability to remove excess nutrients from eutrophic areas, and even mitigating the effects of ocean acidification.
Seaweed farming can also serve as an important alternate livelihood to more destructive practices, such as the unfortunately common ‘blast fishing’ where fishermen use explosives or poison to stun or kill fish, decimating corals and other habitats in the process.
Rewinding to days 1-5, my first trip to Indonesia began by meeting with TNC’s Indonesia team on Timor and Rote Islands to visit our pilot sustainable seaweed farms where we’re working with farmers in Nusa Tenggara Timur to reduce plastic debris and impacts to corals and seagrasses while simultaneously providing trainings on financial-management, value-added products, and improving yield and drying techniques.
If we can work hand-in-hand with communities to improve environmental practices and stewardship, then we can see conservation gains while empowering women and coastal economies – seeing humans and communities as an essential piece of a holistic and lasting solution, rather than just the problem.

Conservation & Sustainability

We Have Seen The Future Of Water, And It Is Cape Town

We Have Seen The Future Of Water, And It Is Cape Town

Cape Town is parched.
Severe drought and high water use have collided in South Africa’s second largest city, and unless the drought breaks, residents may run out of water in the next few months when there simply isn’t enough water left to supply the drinking water taps.
They released plans to open 200 community water points to provide emergency water in the event of a shutoff – for four million people.
As the crisis worsens, water scarcity will sharpen South Africa’s economic inequalities, inflaming tensions between wealthier and disadvantaged communities.
Cape Town is not alone.
Severe droughts and floods.
Any city, in building a water system, tries to prepare for extreme weather, including floods and droughts.
Its water managers, and South Africa’s overall water expertise, are among the best in the world.
Many regions of the world, as in Cape Town, have reached “peak water” limits and find their traditional sources tapped out.
There is evidence that the current drought in Cape Town shows the influence of climate change.

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Climate Change & Global Warming

Climate Change Week in Review Week Ending February 16, 2018

Climate Change Week in Review Week Ending February 16, 2018

The good news this week is that a warming globe may not increase the probability of war: or, at least,

Climate Change & Global Warming

7 Ways to Make Your Home More Zen

7 Ways to Make Your Home More Zen

The place we call home is a place of comfort, of reliability, and a place that symbolizes the unwinding of the day.
The term Zen actually stems from a Japanese school of Buddhism, which emphasizes the value of meditation and intuition.
The overall essence of Zen is to understand the meaning of life, without being misled or distracted by toxic surroundings.
Zen Buddhism believes that all human beings have to discover the truth of themselves by looking inside of us for enlightenment.
For example, red tones tend to evoke high energy levels, while yellow evokes happiness.
Blue, on the other hand is said to bring down blood pressure and slow down the heart rate.
Because color is proven to have such a big effect on our mindset, we recommend sticking to earth tones if your aim is to amplify the Zen in your home.
Incorporate Plants: As great as dogs and cats are, plants are actually some of the best pets to have in regards to enhancing your feelings of Zen.
But it gets better than that—plants are actually known to make you mentally feel better as well as improve your physical health.
Widely renowned for their stress relief capabilities, oil diffusers also have been shown to help ward off illness, increase exercise endurance, focus your mind, and overall improve a sense of tranquility.

Climate Change & Global Warming

Trump’s top climate adviser quits ‘over past marijuana use’

Trump’s top climate adviser quits ‘over past marijuana use’

George David Banks, an experienced adviser who represented the White House at the last round of UN climate talks, was denied permanent security clearance President Donald Trump’s top climate change advisor has been forced to quit after failing to gain permanent security clearance.
George David Banks told Politico his application was denied over an admission in 2013 that he had smoked marijuana.
It comes as part of a crackdown on temporary clearances after domestic violence allegations surfaced against two other staffers.
Banks represented the White House at the last round of UN climate talks in Bonn.
He spoke in favour of fossil fuels at a side event that was disrupted by protesters.
“We’re part of the [UN climate body] and climate mitigation is an important goal of the US but… I don’t think it’s any surprise that economic prosperity is a higher priority,” he said.
Having previously advised George W Bush, Banks was one of the most experienced Trump aides on international climate processes.
He is understood to have advocated keeping the US in the Paris Agreement, but told Climate Home News he did not see the 2C warming limit as a guide for policy.

Climate Change & Global Warming

Standard Chartered ‘breaching climate policy’ with Vietnam coal plant investment

Standard Chartered ‘breaching climate policy’ with Vietnam coal plant investment

The London-based bank plans to co-finance Nghi Son 2 power plant, which NGOs say uses dirty old technology, against company and OECD guidelines A London-based bank has been accused of breaching its climate pledges over the financing of a heavily polluting coal-fired power plant in Vietnam.
Standard Chartered, a UK bank which supports British companies trading abroad, plans to co-finance the $2.5bn (£1.81bn) Nghi Son 2 coal plant in Thanh Hoa province, Vietnam.
Dirty technology Environmental NGOs Market Forces and Greenpeace analysed data from the project’s environmental impact assessment, released last week by Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) — an export credit agency wholly owned by the Japanese government and another of the project’s key backers.
The plant is expected to have a total generation capacity of 1,200 megawatts and produce twice as much carbon dioxide per unit of power generated as the average plant in Vietnam, according to Greenpeace analyst Lauri Myllyvirta.
Standard Chartered is one of six commercial banks, along with Singapore-based DBS Bank and OCBC and Japanese banks Mizuho, MUFG and SMBC, due to underpin the project through loans.
A spokesperson for Standard Chartered said the bank “don’t yet have a final assessment on the emissions” from the Nghi Son 2 coal plant, so don’t know if it would breach its standard.
Vietnam’s expansion of coal-fired power generation to meet booming energy demand has led to major concerns over public health.
The guidelines ban government credit agencies from providing finance for new coal-fired power plants apart from for the most advanced “ultra-supercritical” plants.
According to Greenpeace’s emission estimates, the Nghi Son 2 coal plant does not rank as “ultra-supercritical” plant because of the use of obsolete technology and high carbon dioxide emission intensity.
As the project has not yet started, Greenpeace and Market Forces suggested the Japanese and Korean export credit agencies breached the OECD’s guidelines.

Climate Change & Global Warming

Leaked draft summary of UN special report on 1.5C climate goal – in full

Leaked draft summary of UN special report on 1.5C climate goal – in full

Climate Home News is one of the world’s most trusted independent sources of climate politics news.
Sign up for our newsletter.
What are the impacts of 1.5C global warming, compared to 2C?
What would it take to limit temperature rise to that level?
Draft reports are provided to reviewers as working documents.
For instance, the First Order Draft of this report received 12,895 comments from nearly 500 expert reviewers.
Newly published scientific evidence highlighted by reviewers can still be taken into account between the Second Order Draft and the final version of the report, as long as it is accepted for publication in a journal before 15 May 2018.
Drafts of the report are, therefore, collective works in progress that do not necessarily represent the IPCC’s final assessment of the state of knowledge.
The IPCC is committed to an open, robust and transparent assessment process.
IPCC special report on 1.5C – draft summary for policymakers by Megan Darby on Scribd

Climate Change & Global Warming

The global warming cure

The global warming cure

Should we use the cure now?
Should we delay using the cure until global warming gets worse?
Does the cure have side-effects?
The cure will make the average global warming rate equal to about zero degrees Celsius per century, for 10 years.
A citizen in the crowd shouts out a question, “Can you give us any idea what we are going to face, when the cure is implemented?”.
It resulted in an average global warming rate of about zero degrees Celsius per century for 10 years.
Almost exactly the same as the cure.
Many of the people here will have lived through ‘The Slowdown’.
Some people deliberately ignored ‘The Slowdown’.
The existance of the global warming cure is the only fiction in the story.

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