Exploiting California’s Drought

This article from the New York Times discusses how California’s lack of rain has affected the state agriculturally. Contracts have been created by the state at unfair prices for farmers and residents of the state. In addition to the unfair prices, pften times the water supply is inconsistent. In order for a consistent water supply, crop selection must be modified and water delivery or use must be more rational. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/12/opinion/exploiting-californias-drought.html?_r=0

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Study Finds Less Green in the Congo Rain Forest

The New York Times posted this article concerning increasingly arid conditions in the Congo River Basin on April 23rd, 2014. Over the past number of years, average annual rates of precipitation have decreased in the Congo River Basin, the effects of which are beginning to adversely effect tree populations in the rain forest. These dryer conditions reduce the capacity of these trees to photosynthesize and, thus, their ability to adequately sustain themselves. The repercussions of these effects could very well be felt across the globe, seeing as how these forested regions comprise some of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet. As precipitations levels continue to decrease, the rainforests of the Congo River Basin may even be converted to savannah-like territory and, in turn, diminish the forest’s capacity as one of the world’s most substantial carbon sinks.

 

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Ivory Worship: The Illegal Ivory Trade

This article comes from National Geographic’s October 2012 edition. The article looks at the illegal ivory trade and the current efforts and drawbacks in the major consumers of ivory. The article specifically talks about the different economic strategies of Japan, China, Thailand and the US used to curb demand. It discusses the loopholes of the trade in Thailand, and about CITES experiment with Japan in allowing a legally controlled trade of ivory. It also analyzes the effects of a complete ban on ivory and whether or not controlling the demand for ivory trade will ever be feasible.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/10/ivory/christy-text

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In Victory for Obama, Court Backs Rules for Coal Pollution

This article talks about there being a court ruling where the Obama administration wanting to put limits on the amount of coal pollution in the Mid-Western part of the United States. This is because the air from the western part of the United States travels east and as result costs result for the eastern states. Certain health issues occur since coal is one of the dirtiest energy sources out there. East Coast states in particular are vulnerable to pollution blown by the prevailing westerly winds of the United States. The agency argued that the rules were necessary to protect the health and environment of downwind states. To comply with the regulations now set, electric utilities are expected to have to install costly pollution control equipment on existing coal plants, or just shut the plants down entirely.

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In Land That Values Ivory, Wild Elephants Find a Safe Haven

This article talks about how, although African elephants are being slaughtered due to the high demand for ivory, Chinese elephants are growing in numbers.  China has a high demand for ivory, yet they have instituted very strict laws against killing elephants.  The issue now is that the elephants are running out of habitat space and have begun to affect farmers’ crops.  In order to help farmers, some organizations have helped farmers change to crops that elephants do not eat.  The bigger problem is the depletion of the Yunnan rain forest due to large need for rubber.  Many are pushing for government intervention that will help the rain forests in order to maintain the habitat and decrease problems for farmers.

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Paying Farmers to Welcome Birds

This article from the NYT discusses how an alliance of conservationists, bird watchers and farmers has developed an innovative plan to restore essential habitat for the migrating birds in the Central Valley. The Central Valley was once one of North America’s most productive wildlife habitats because its streams and lush wetlands provided an ideal stop for migratory shorebirds on their annual journeys from South America and Mexico to the Arctic. The program is called BirdReturns, which is funded by Nature Conservancy, pays rice farmers in the birds’ flight path to keep their fields flooded with irrigation water from the Sacramento River as migrating flocks arrive. Although the program is still in its early stages and researchers are still collecting data, there is potential for the program to be successful in solving some of the world’s most serious ecological problems associated with agricultural.

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Carbon, Fossil Fuel, and Biodiversity Mitigation With Wood and Forests

This article published in The Journal of Sustainable Energy looks at several energy analyses to determine the carbon dioxide and fossil fuels that could be saved by utilizing wood products, wood energy, and old growth forests. The authors seek to find an ideal allocation of wood across these sectors in order to minimize carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel consumption. They discover that harvesting sustainably at an optimum stand age (at a rate similar to the MSY) will sequester more carbon across all three sectors while maintaining biodiversity and increasing sustainable forest management.

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Industry Awakens to Threat of Climate Change

This article highlights certain companies, such as Coca-Cola, who through serious water shortages, have been feeling the economic strain of climate change. The acknowledgment of climate change as a serious threat to profit, is causing a shift in the longstanding attitude that restrictions on carbon emissions are more economically harmful than climate change itself.

Coca-Cola and Nike are two companies that are responding to the economic impacts caused by extreme weather. Coca-Cola is improving water-conservation technologies, and Nike is using more synthetic material that is less dependent on weather conditions.

This article shows that climate change is more than an “environmental problem,” it’s an economic one, too.

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Venezuela’s wasted resource rents

This blog post from The Economist argues that Venezuelan citizens would be much better off today had the government invested resource rents from oil, by maintaining their oil-stabilization fund, rather than spend them on the current generation partly in the form of cheaper oil. As the author of the post notes, this argument is similar to that made for the UK’s squandering of oil revenues from the North Sea (as mentioned in by Robert Solow in his article “Sustainability: An Economist’s Perspective”).

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Climate Change Impact Is Wide, U.N. Says

A recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change discussed the future impacts and a need for immediate action on greenhouse gas emissions. The effects are wide with an expected hundreds of millions of people being affected by coastal flooding and land loss by 2100. It discussed economic impacts, which can be found in the article.

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