Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /var/www/wp-content/plugins/convertplug/convertplug.php on line 220

Deprecated: Function get_magic_quotes_gpc() is deprecated in /var/www/wp-content/plugins/convertplug/convertplug.php on line 1470

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /var/www/wp-content/themes/Divi/includes/builder/functions.php on line 2421
The East-West Water Divide, Grocery Store Food Waste Ratings, and Motherly Love Gorilla Style – Don't Miss It!
View this email in your browser
By: Monica Medina and Miro Korenha

Sign Up for Our Daily Planet 
Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Forward ODP to a friend!


Image: Seager et al, Earth Interactions 2018

East Coast vs. West Coast, The Battle Continues 

The East-West battle is heating up again--quite literally, as America's arid West Coast moves eastward. As Eco Watch reported, decades of climate change have shifted the natural boundary between the arid west and the fertile farmlands of the eastern states by more than 140 miles, according to new research from Columbia University.  The 100th meridian (or Powell's Divide), which bisects the Great Plains and separates east from west has appeared to have shifted to 98 degrees of longitude.

While climate change hasn't altered total rainfall much in the northern Plains, rising temperatures have increased evaporation from the soil. On the contrary, in the southern Plains wind patterns are causing a drop in rainfall. The researchers at the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia predict that Powell's divide will continue to shift east as the warming planet adapts and weather patterns continue to change

Why This Matters: Researchers say that this shift will have big impacts on farming and other pursuits. Lead author of the study, Richard Seager, predicts that as drying progresses, farms further and further east will have to consolidate and become larger in order to remain viable. Unless farmers turn to irrigation or otherwise adapt, they will have to turn from corn to wheat or some other more suitable crop. Large expanses of cropland may fail altogether, and have to be converted to western-style grazing range. In addition, water supplies could become a problem for urban areas. 


Julie Dibble beside the groundwater pump that supplies her homestead near Fairchild Air Force Base .
Photo:  Colin Mulvany, The Spokesman-Review

Air Force Has Major Ground Water Contamination Problems

Residents living near numerous Air Force Bases around the country are suing the government and 3M for contaminating their water supplies.  3M Company used perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, in fire retardant as well as its popular Scotchgard fabric protectant. In Spokane, Washington residents claim they have suffered from an array of serious health problems caused by the water contamination, which resulted from decades of foam runoff from a training site on the Fairchild air base. Some also claim the pollution has diminished their property values

The same is true outside Detroit, near the site of the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, where similar fire-fighting chemicals, sprayed for decades during training exercises to extinguish petroleum fires, soaked into the groundwater. The former Air Force base is located about a mile from Lake Huron and it is likely the contaminated groundwater made it into the lake.  The closer regulators look, the more they find groundwater contaminated with these chemicals, not just in Michigan but nationwide on military bases and industrial sites, and in towns that border them. 

Why This Matters:  In February, 3M Company paid $850 million to settle a similar lawsuit in Minnesota, where state officials claimed the chemicals were dumped at sites near Minneapolis for more than 40 years, poisoning wildlife and drinking water.  The government funding bill that passed Congress a few weeks ago contained $43.8M for clean up of these Air Force contamination sites around the country.  But it will take a lot more than that to get the job done.  In the meantime, residents of the nearby areas are SOL and mad as hell.


 Photo: Joakim Kröger, eRoadArlanda
Road Charger

The Swedish government last week unveiled its latest electric car infrastructure -- a road that charges the car's battery while you drive on it.  OK, so it's only a mile long, but the system has potential. The Swedish government has pledged to build infrastructure to allow the country to be fossil fuel free by 2030.  How does it work?   Ecowatch reports that the road works by transferring energy from an electrified rail to a movable arm attached underneath the vehicle. The arm is able to detect and lower onto the electrified section when the vehicle drives above it.

According to the developers, eRoadArlanda, electrified roads can cut fossil fuel emissions by 80 to 90 percent and operating costs will be minimal, due to significant reductions in energy consumption because of the use of efficient electric engines.  The Guardian reports that electrification will cost about €1 million ($1.23 million) per kilometer, which is said to be 50 times lower than the cost of building an urban tram line. The developers hope to scale the technology in Sweden and elsewhere.

Why This Matters:  This system is cheap to build, cheap to operate, and cuts nearly all tailpipe emissions.  Instead of using roadside plugin posts or stations, the system uses “dynamic charging”  means the vehicle’s batteries can be smaller, and thus so are the manufacturing costs.  It also means that fossil-free road transportation is looking increasingly realistic.  Some innovative "green" infrastructure like this might be nice here in the U.S. too.
Sweden's electric road - watch how it works!


Boynton Beach Overrun With Bunnies

The residents of Boynton Beach, FL have been facing unwanted neighbors for years--adorable but pesky domesticated rabbits that have been abandoned by their owners have taken over local parks. The rabbits have made burrows under people’s homes and other structures around the park.To capture them, volunteers set up cages, which are propped up with sticks attached to strings.

Luz Pereira, spokeswoman for East Coast Rabbit Rescue  presumes they were Easter gifts that were quickly tossed aside and then let go in the park after the holiday. Unfortunately, the domesticated rabbits are more susceptible to disease than their wild counterparts and struggle to find proper nutrition in the wild. They also attract predators like foxes and there are even reports or people purposefully killing or injuring the rabbits.

Why This Matters: This story goes to show that adopting an animal should be a well-thought-out decision. Animals aren't toys and domesticated animals especially aren't equipped to live in the wild. “The thing people need to know is that they have no voice. Bunnies do not complain like every other animal does,” Pereira said. “It’s really important that people be their voice.”

East Coast Rabbit Rescue is looking for volunteers to help catch the wabbits and donations to help with their medical care and spay and neutering costs. If you're interested in helping, click here

Go Deeper: If you need a pick-me-up after that story check out this video below about a park in northern Costa Rica that has become a sanctuary for almost 1,000 stray dogs:



Letting It Go to Waste 

Nine out of America’s 10 largest grocery companies don’t publicly report their total food waste, according to an analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity and the ‘Ugly’ Fruit and Veg Campaign. The Center’s report, Checked Out, includes a report card giving a majority of the 10 companies a D or an F for failing to take meaningful action or give clear public commitments to address their contribution to the food-waste crisis.

“It’s appalling that America’s biggest supermarkets are doing so little to reduce their enormous contribution to the food-waste crisis,” said Jennifer Molidor, senior food campaigner at the Center. “Food waste is a growing problem that squanders water and farmland, hurting wildlife and putting food security at risk. We can stop this massive waste, but only if supermarkets are part of the solution.”

 Food recycling and donation programs only solve part of the problem, these retailers can improve their transparency and tracking to solve the root cause of the issue and ensure that excess resources aren't being used to grow food that ends up being thrown out. 

Why This Matters: Forty percent of food that’s produced in the United States goes to waste, and businesses that serve or sell food are responsible for 40 percent of food waste in the country, with retailers accounting for more waste than restaurants or food-service providers. Most Americans purchase their food from supermarkets and these retailers have a lot of influence over what makes it from farms to their shelves, the types of foods shoppers buy, and ultimately what happens to unsold food. The CBD study showed that retailers that had a strong public stance on food waste (like Kroger) scored the best on their scorecard. 


D.C. Power Couple Welcomes New Baby

Gorillas Calaya and Baraka, two residents of the Smithsonian's National Zoo, who "fell in love at first sight" three years ago, are new parents to baby boy gorilla Moke, which means “junior” or “little one” in the Lingala language of Africa.  Members of the zoo's staff and Baraka watched as Mom Calaya gave birth -- you can watch it ALL here too if you want, it is very sweet -- but, warning, there is no fuzzy lense.   After a five-hour labor, everyone was relieved to see the healthy new baby emerge, and to see Cayala cuddle her newborn immediately.  Congratulations to the zoo staff and to the happy gorilla parents!  

Why This Matters:  This is a very special baby because these are endangered western lowland gorillas, and there has not been a gorilla birth at the National Zoo in nine years. 

Copyright © Our Daily Planet 2018, All rights reserved.

We're committed to bringing you the best stories about people and planet, have a tip or feedback? Send it our way! 

Like what you see? Make ODP part of your morning and sign up.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.