Metropolitan Wastewater Ends Up In Urban Agriculture


Wastewater is most commonly used to produce vegetables and cereals (especially rice), according to this and other IWMI reports, raising concerns about health risks for consumers, particularly of vegetables that are consumed uncooked.

As developing countries confront the first global food crisis since the 1970s as well as unprecedented water scarcity, a new 53-city survey conducted by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) indicates that most of those studied (80 percent) are using untreated or partially treated wastewater for agriculture.

In over 70 percent of the cities studied, more than half of urban agricultural land is irrigated with wastewater that is either raw or diluted in streams.

Read moreMetropolitan Wastewater Ends Up In Urban Agriculture

Coastal Water Study: ‘Dead Zones’ Multiplying Fast


A global map of “dead zones”—where coastal waters contain too little oxygen to sustain life—shows (as black dots) a concentration in the Northern Hemisphere, where human activity has had the most effect.
As of August 2008, there were more than 400 known “dead zones,” scientists said, up from just over 300 in the 1990s. Image courtesy Science/AAAS

“Dead zones” are on the rise, says a new study that identified stark growth in the number of coastal areas where the water has too little oxygen to sustain marine life.

There are now more than 400 known dead zones in coastal waters worldwide, compared to 305 in the 1990s, according to study author Robert Diaz of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Related article: Are the oceans giving up?

Read moreCoastal Water Study: ‘Dead Zones’ Multiplying Fast

Prince Charles warns GM crops risk causing the biggest-ever environmental disaster

Prince Charles warns GM crops risk causing the biggest-ever environmental disaster Listen: The Prince of Wales speaks out

The mass development of genetically modified crops risks causing the world’s worst environmental disaster, The Prince of Wales has warned.

In his most outspoken intervention on the issue of GM food, the Prince said that multi-national companies were conducting an experiment with nature which had gone “seriously wrong”.

The Prince, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph, also expressed the fear that food would run out because of the damage being wreaked on the earth’s soil by scientists’ research.

He accused firms of conducting a “gigantic experiment I think with nature and the whole of humanity which has gone seriously wrong”.

“Why else are we facing all these challenges, climate change and everything?”.

Related article: The Prince of Wales: ‘If that is the future, count me out’

Relying on “gigantic corporations” for food, he said, would result in “absolute disaster”.

Read morePrince Charles warns GM crops risk causing the biggest-ever environmental disaster

Berkeley Scientists: Mass Extinction of Species

Scientists: Humans To Blame

Devastating declines of amphibian species around the world are a sign of a biodiversity disaster larger than just the deaths of frogs and salamanders, University of California, Berkeley scientists said Tuesday.

Researchers said substantial die-offs of amphibians and other plant and animal species add up to a new mass extinction facing the planet, the scientists said in an online article this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Related articles:
Wildlife populations ‘plummeting’
Wildlife extinction rates ’seriously underestimated’
UN official: Biodiversity loss could hurts medical research

“There’s no question that we are in a mass extinction spasm right now,” said David Wake, professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley.

“Amphibians have been around for about 250 million years. They made it through when the dinosaurs didn’t. The fact that they’re cutting out now should be a lesson for us.”

Read moreBerkeley Scientists: Mass Extinction of Species

Children have lost touch with nature

Children are just imitating their parents and society.
“Not all who wander are lost” (J. R. R. Tolkien), but those who have lost contact with nature are truly lost.
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Children have lost touch with the natural world and are unable to identify common animals and plants, according to a survey.

Half of youngsters aged nine to 11 were unable to identify a daddy-long-legs, oak tree, blue tit or bluebell, in the poll by BBC Wildlife Magazine. The study also found that playing in the countryside was children’s least popular way of spending their spare time, and that they would rather see friends or play on their computer than go for a walk or play outdoors.

The survey asked 700 children to identify pictured flora and fauna. Just over half could name bluebells, 54 per cent knew what blue tits were and 45 per cent could identify an oak. Less than two-thirds (62 per cent) identified frogs and 12 per cent knew what a primrose was.

Children performed better at identifying robins (95 per cent) and badgers, correctly labelled by nine out of 10.

Sir David Attenborough warned that children who lack any understanding of the natural world would not grow into adults who cared about the environment. “The wild world is becoming so remote to children that they miss out,” he said, “and an interest in the natural world doesn’t grow as it should. Nobody is going protect the natural world unless they understand it.”

Fergus Collins, of BBC Wildlife Magazine, said the results “reinforce the idea that many children don’t spend enough time playing in the green outdoors and enjoying wildlife – something older generations might have taken for granted”.

A surprisingly large number of children incorrectly identified the bluebells as lavender, and the deer was commonly misidentified as an antelope.

The newt, recognised by 42 per cent, was mistaken for a lizard while the primrose was thought to be a dandelion.

Experts blamed the widening gulf between children and nature on over-protective parents and the hostility to children among some conservationists, who fear that they will damage the environment. They said that this lack of exposure to outdoor play in natural environments was vital for children’s social and emotional development.

Dr Martin Maudsley, play development officer for Playwork Partnerships, at the University of Gloucestershire, said that adults had become too protective of wild places: “Environmental sensitivities should not be prioritised over children.”

He said: “Play is the primary mechanism through which children engage and connect with the world, and natural environments are particularly attractive, inspiring and satisfying for kids. Something magical occurs when children and wild spaces mix.”

By Sarah Cassidy, Education Correspondent
Friday, 1 August 2008

Source: The Independent

Rising food prices pushing east Africa to disaster

More than 14 million people in the east Africa region require urgent food aid due to drought and spiralling cereal and fuel prices, aid agencies say.

In an emergency appeal launched today, Oxfam warns that millions of people in Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Djibouti and Kenya are fast being pushed “towards severe hunger and destitution”. Earlier this week the UN said it needed £200m to avert a humanitarian disaster.

The hunger crisis is worse than the last regional emergency in 2006, when drought caused 11 million people to need assistance, because of the added impact of the global food price increases. Poor families are struggling to buy staples such as maize and wheat, which have more than doubled in price over the past 12 months.

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Sheikh flies Lamborghini 6,500 miles to Britain for oil change

His black-and-gold supercar costs £3,552 to service at an approved dealer – on top of the £20,000 to freight from Qatar to Britain. Source: Sun

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“In previous droughts most people on the margins found ways to cope,” said Peter Smerdon, of the World Food Programme. “But the simultaneous increase in food prices this time around means they are cutting down on meals and taking their kids out of school in order to try to get by. More people are falling over the edge.”

Read moreRising food prices pushing east Africa to disaster

Haiti: Mud cakes become staple diet as cost of food soars beyond a family’s reach

With little cash and import prices rocketing half the population faces starvation


In Cité Soleil, one of Port-au-Prince’s worst slums, making the clay-based food is a major income earner. Mud cakes are the only inflation-proof food available to Haiti’s poor. Photograph: David Levene

At first sight the business resembles a thriving pottery. In a dusty courtyard women mould clay and water into hundreds of little platters and lay them out to harden under the Caribbean sun.

The craftsmanship is rough and the finished products are uneven. But customers do not object. This is Cité Soleil, Haiti’s most notorious slum, and these platters are not to hold food. They are food.

Read moreHaiti: Mud cakes become staple diet as cost of food soars beyond a family’s reach

Top 25 Things Vanishing From America: No.1 The Family Farm

Here you will find all Top 25 Things Vanishing From America.

This series explores aspects of America that may soon be just a memory — some to be missed, some gladly left behind. From the least impactful to the most, here are 25 bits of vanishing America.

1. The Family Farm

My mother grew up on her family’s dairy farm in central Oregon, and when she was a child she was in 4-H — just like all the kids in her town. I’ve always admired her way with the “home arts” (she makes a mean jar of cucumber relish, and her embroidery festoons quilts for all my boys) so when I saw her 4-H ribbons I assumed that big purple one must have been for brownies, or jam. “Oh, that was for the pig I raised,” she said matter-of-factly.

Read moreTop 25 Things Vanishing From America: No.1 The Family Farm

Drought threatens drinking water for a million Australians

SYDNEY (AFP) – Up to a million people in Australia could face a shortage of drinking water if the country’s drought continues, a report on the state of the nation’s largest river system revealed Sunday.

The report said the situation was critical in the Murray-Darling system, which provides water to Australia’s “food bowl”, a vast expanse of land almost twice as big as France that runs down the continent’s east coast.

Read moreDrought threatens drinking water for a million Australians

Turkey: Drought Cuts Food Production in Half

“Production has been halved to 300 kilos (661 pounds) per 1,000 square meters (250 acres), even in well-irrigated parts of the region, as rainfall declined to one-fortieth of normal levels, Referans daily said on Wednesday, citing farmers and farming associations.”

The government has selected 35 of its 81 provinces as eligible for financial assistance, Erdogan said. Farmers who have lost more than 30 percent of their harvest to drought can claim assistance and also postpone any agricultural loan payments by a year, he added.

Read moreTurkey: Drought Cuts Food Production in Half