Blue Marble Feed | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2012/09/arctic-1-/etc/passwd-0-2012-season http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en US Coal Exports Have Erased All The CO2 Savings From the Fracking Boom http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/us-coal-exports-have-erased-all-carbon-pollution-savings-wed-achieved-switching- <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The domestic fracking boom has been widely celebrated as a godsend in the fight against climate change. In 2007, cheap natural gas began replacing dirtier coal as the fuel of choice in US power plants. By 2012, the switchover was annually saving an estimated 86 million tons of CO2, the carbon equivalent of taking 21 million cars off the road. That's obviously a huge accomplishment, but it comes with a lesser known catch: All of that coal we're no longer using is still getting dug up, sold off, and spewed into the atmosphere.</p> <p>The carbon pollution savings from our switch from coal to gas has been more than canceled out by an increase in our coal exports, according to <a href="http://co2scorecard.org/home/researchitem/29" target="_blank">a recent study</a> by Shakeb Afsah of the group CO2 Scorecard. After the domestic market for coal dried up in 2007, US exports of steam coal increased by 83 million tons, resulting in the release of an additional 149 million metric tons of CO2. That's 73 percent more CO2 than Americans have saved so far by ditching the black stuff.</p> <p>The study is mentioned today in a <a href="http://www.chron.com/news/texas/article/Not-in-my-backyard-US-sending-dirty-coal-abroad-5650807.php" target="_blank">great story</a> by AP's Dina Cappiello, who looks at whether the coal exports will ultimately increase carbon emissions. Coal companies point to studies suggesting international demand for coal is fairly inelastic, meaning that if US coal exports suddenly disappeared, they would simply be replaced by coal from somewhere else. Yet other studies conclude that the US exports depress prices, driving up demand and delaying a switch to cleaner options.</p> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/10/america-coal-industry-exports-china" target="_blank">As I've previously noted</a>, huge new coal export terminals proposed on the West Coast have become the latest flash points in the climate wars. Cappiello points out that a single ship full of Appalachian coal, exported from Virginia to South America, contains enough greenhouse gas to match the annual emissions of a small American power plant.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Energy Infrastructure Mon, 28 Jul 2014 22:37:33 +0000 Josh Harkinson 257096 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama Is About to Give You the Right to Unlock Your Phone http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/cell-phone-unlock-obama <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Ever wondered why you can't transfer your old phone to a new carrier? The practice, known as cellphone unlocking, is illegal. It probably won't surprise you that in the '90s, wireless carriers&mdash;who, for obvious reasons, wanted everyone to buy new phones and plans&mdash;lobbied for a ban.</p> <p>As I <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/06/cell-phone-unlocking-environment-waste" target="_blank">wrote</a> last year, this ban isn't just annoying and expensive for consumers, it's also wasteful. We only keep our phones for an average of 18 months , and when we get a new one, the old one seldom makes it to a recycling facility. Many languish in desk drawers; some end up in the garbage. That means a lot of electronic waste in landfills, not to mention the environmentally hazardous materials such as <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/11/rare-earth-elements-iphone-malaysia" target="_blank">rare earths</a> required to make all those new phones.</p> <p>So it's great news that today the House unanimously passed a <a href="http://cir.ca/news/cellphone-unlocking-legislation" target="_blank">law</a> that would finally make phone unlocking legal. The Senate approved the measure last week. Now President Obama just needs to sign off, which he has <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/cellphone-unlocking-bill-obama-109390.html" target="_blank">pledged</a> to do.</p> <p>After that, if you unearth that old phone from the desk drawer, someone might actually be able to use it.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Econundrums Tech Fri, 25 Jul 2014 21:26:09 +0000 Kiera Butler 257011 at http://www.motherjones.com PETA's Five Most Tone-Deaf Stunts http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/peta-dumb <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Proving once again PETA is unfamiliar with how to a deliver meaningful publicity campaign, the animal rights group is now looking to score a win off poor people's thirst.</p> <p>Some background: The bankrupt city of Detroit has been shutting off its tap water to thousands of poor residents in order to force them to pay for nearly <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/un-help-sought-restore-detroit-water-service" target="_blank">$90 million </a>in overdue water bills. Advocates have slammed the move, calling out the city for eliminating a basic human right. The <a href="http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2014/07/21/naacp-detroit-water-service-shutoffs-are-racially-motivated/" target="_blank">NAACP recently filed a lawsuit</a> calling the shut down discriminatory, as most of Detroit's low-income residents are overwhelmingly black.</p> <p>It takes a certain type of callousness to look at this situation and see anything other than misfortune. PETA saw an opportunity! The animal rights group has made an offer to poor Detroit residents: Be one of 10 families to denounce meat and they'll put an end to your family's thirst. <a href="http://www.peta.org/blog/peta-pay-peoples-water-bills/" target="_blank">PETA will even throw in a basket of vegetables for the effort.</a></p> <p>"Vegan meals take far less of a toll on the Earth&rsquo;s resources," PETA wrote in a <a href="http://blogs.metrotimes.com/news-blawg/peta-offers-pay-overdue-water-bills-detroiters-willing-go-vegan/" target="_blank">recent press release</a>. "It takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce just a pound of meat but only about 155 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat."</p> <p>This seems like as good a time as any to look back on PETA's misguided and often times exploitative PR campaigns of the past:</p> <p><strong>1. "Boyfriend went vegan and knocked the bottom out of me." (2012)</strong></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/m0vQOnHW0Kc" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Enhance your sex life by e<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/02/15/peta-boyfriend-went-vegan-ad_n_1280061.html" target="_blank">ncouraging your boyfriend to go vegan.</a> He'll transform into a "tantric porn star," breaking your neck and causing your body to go limp. The sex will be so mind-blowing, in fact, you'll wander aimlessly in just a bra, as you reflect on the violent sex you had the pleasure of subjecting yourself to the evening prior.</p> <p><strong>2. "Holocaust on your plate." (2003)</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/Northeast/02/28/peta.holocaust/" target="_blank">Here</a> the group matches photos of factory farms with Holocaust inmates. The display was promptly banned in Germany&mdash;a move PETA found absurd considering a Jewish PETA member happened to fund the campaign.</p> <p><strong>3. Too fat for Plan B?</strong> <strong>Try "Plan V." (2013)</strong></p> <p><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/screen_shot_2013-12-02_at_3.24.35_pm_0.png"></p> <p>Jumping on news Plan B may not work as well for women over 165 pounds, PETA <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/12/plan-b-weight-limits-peta-vegan" target="_blank">urges women</a> to shed a few pounds by going vegan.</p> <p><strong>4. Dog breeding is for Nazis. (2014)</strong></p> <p><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/020714dog.jpg"></p> <p>Again conjuring up the atrocities of the Holocaust, which lets keep in mind systematically killed 11 million people, the <a href="http://gothamist.com/2014/02/07/peta_9.php" target="_blank">group equates dog breeding to Hitler's plan to bring about a pure Aryan race.</a></p> <p><strong>5. Don a fur coat and you'll be beaten. (2007)</strong></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/SR021-qyLJ8" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>The <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SR021-qyLJ8" target="_blank">disturbing video</a> above even seems to justify senseless violence.</p> <p>Detroit has already severed off the tap water supply to nearly 125,000 people, with thousands more likely to have their resources shut down in weeks to come. And anyone with a remote interest in current events understands most Detroiters are low-income residents, m<a href="http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/16/the-challenge-of-going-vegan/?_php=true&amp;_type=blogs&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">any of whom could not afford to have a vegan diet.</a></p> <p>Nice going, PETA.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Animals Fri, 25 Jul 2014 20:23:46 +0000 257006 at http://www.motherjones.com You'd Scream, Too, If You Were This Close to a Collapsing Iceberg http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/iceberg-collapse-antarctica-greenland-climate-change <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/XEk5mNVc2Hk?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Climate change is melting ice at both ends of the planet&mdash;just ask the researchers who <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/05/west-antarctic-ice-sheet-collapse" target="_blank">published two papers</a> in May saying that a major expanses of antarctic ice are now undergoing a "continuous and rapid retreat" and may have "passed the point of no return."</p> <p>As the poles melt, icebergs are breaking off and drifting with greater ease, creating a world of problems for humans and animals alike. In Antarctica, warmer winters mean icebergs aren't held in place as they once were, and are now <a href="http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/about_bas/news/news_story.php?id=2663" target="_blank">colliding with the ocean floor</a> more frequently, laying waste to a complex ecosystem. In Greenland, summer icebergs&mdash; like one <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0719/Monstrous-iceberg-breaks-free-of-Greenland-glacier.-Is-climate-change-to-blame-video" target="_blank">twice the size of Manhattan</a> that broke off 2012&mdash;can clog up shipping lanes and damage offshore oil platforms.</p> <p>But whether climate change set it free or not, even a single 'berg can be dangerous if you get too close, as this couple discovered when they took a look at one floating off the coast of Newfoundland, in eastern Canada.</p> <p><a href="http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2014/07/iceberg-tourism-carries-unexpected-risks-couple-says/" target="_blank">h/t to Minnesota Public Radio News</a> for finding this one.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Climate Desk Fri, 25 Jul 2014 17:54:11 +0000 Alex Park 256966 at http://www.motherjones.com Popular Anti-Science Site Likens Journalists to "Nazi Collaborators" Over GMO Coverage http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/popular-conspiracy-site-likens-pro-gmo-journalists-nazi-collaborators <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em><strong>Update:&nbsp;</strong>After this story went to press, Adams appended a note to his story likening journalists to Nazis. It reads: "After careful analysis, I have come to the conclusion that the Monsanto Collaborators website is a bait-and-switch trap engineered by the biotech industry in an effort to lure in support from&nbsp;GMO&nbsp;skeptics and then discredit them with some sort of insane 'call to action'&nbsp;of some kind....For the record, in no way do I condone vigilante violence against anyone."</em></p> <p>For years, <em>Natural News</em>&mdash;a conspiracy-minded alternative medicine website that attracts <a href="http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/naturalnews.com" target="_blank">roughly 7 million unique visitors</a> each month&mdash;has been crusading against the practice of genetically modifying food. This week the site's proprietor, Mike Adams, took the campaign to new extremes with <a href="http://www.naturalnews.com/046097_biotech_genocide_monsanto_collaborators_media_sellouts.html" target="_blank">a post</a> comparing journalists who are critical of GMO activists to "Nazi collaborators." Adams also urged readers "to actively plan and carry out the killing of those engaged in heinous crimes against humanity." Below is a snippet from his anti-media diatribe:</p> <blockquote> <p>Monsanto is widely recognize as the most hated and most evil corporation on the planet. Even so, several internet-based media websites are now marching to Monsanto's orders, promoting GMOs and pursuing defamatory character assassination tactics against anyone who opposes GMOs, hoping to silence their important voices.</p> <p>These Monsanto collaborator sites tend to be "leftist" publications but also include at least one prominent business and finance publisher on the political right. All of them are Monsanto collaborators who have signed on to accelerate heinous crimes being committed against humanity under the false promise of "feeding the world" with toxic GMOs.</p> </blockquote> <p>The rambling post goes on to compare the agrochemical giant Monsanto to IG Farben, a "chemical conglomerate run by Nazi collaborators" that "used Jewish prisoners as human guinea pigs in horrific medical experiments." And it calls on readers to target journalist who Adams views as pro-GMO by publicly listing their names:</p> <blockquote> <p>Just as history needed to record the names and deeds of Nazi war criminals, so too must all those collaborators who are promoting the death and destruction caused by GMOs be named for the historical record. The true extent of their collaboration with an anti-human regime will all become readily apparent once the GMO delusion collapses and mass global starvation becomes an inescapable reality.</p> <p>I'm hoping someone will create a website listing all the publishers, scientists and journalists who are now Monsanto propaganda collaborators. I have no doubt such a website would be wildly popular and receive a huge influx of visitors, and it would help preserve the historical record of exactly which people contributed to the mass starvation and death which will inevitably be unleashed by GMO agriculture (which is already causing mass suicides in India and crop failures worldwide).</p> </blockquote> <p>Adams, a self-proclaimed nutritionist who <a href="http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/collideascape/2014/05/13/new-low-dr-oz-promoting-mike-adams/#.U9GIOFPUFg9" target="_blank">was featured on Dr. Oz earlier this year</a>, is <a href="http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/four-biggest-quacks-plaguing-america-their-bad-claims-about-science?page=0%2C1" target="_blank">famous for his far-fetched ideas</a>. He <a href="http://www.naturalnews.com/045563_aviation_fuel_toxic_lead_heavy_metals_pollution.html" target="_blank">believes</a>, for example, that Americans are being poisoned by lead-infused "chemtrails" and that Microsoft is developing infertility <a href="http://www.naturalnews.com/034848_Microsoft_Merck_eugenics.html#" target="_blank">drugs that "target specific races."</a>&nbsp; David Gorski of the website <a href="http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/">Science-Based Medicine</a> has dubbed <em>Natural News</em> "a one-stop shop" for "virtually every quackery known to humankind, all slathered with a heaping, helping of unrelenting hostility to science-based medicine and science in general."</p> <p>Still, Adams has a large pool of readers who take his ideas seriously. After he published his screed likening journalists to Nazi sympathizers, a "Monsanto Collaborators" website appeared with images of Nazi soldiers and emaciated corpses alongside a list of reporters whom Adams accuses of being in the GMO industry's pocket. The heading reads "Journalist Collaborators."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Health Top Stories Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:00:11 +0000 Mariah Blake 256946 at http://www.motherjones.com Study Finds Kids Prefer Healthier Lunches. School Food Lobby Refuses to Believe It. http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/school-lunch-study-student-perceptions <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>From all of the commotion around the new federal school lunch standards, you'd think they were really Draconian. Republican legislators have <a href="http://aderholt.house.gov/press-releases/congressman-aderholt-hosts-school-meal-forum-in-cullman-county/" target="_blank">railed against them</a>. Districts have <a href="http://www.jsonline.com/news/health/some-districts-balk-at-latest-serving-of-school-lunch-rules-b99288269z1-265421821.html" target="_blank">threatened</a> to opt out. The School Nutrition Association (SNA), the industry group that represents the nation's 55,000 school food employees, has officially <a href="http://www.schoolnutrition.org/uploadedFiles/Legislation_and_Policy/SNA_Policy_Resources/Implementation%20of%20Nutrition%20Standards.pdf" target="_blank">opposed</a> some of them&mdash;and <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/07/21/school-lunch-lobbying-michelle-obama/12964211/" target="_blank">doubled its lobbying</a> in the months leading up to July 1, when some of the new rules took effect.</p> <p>Here's who doesn't mind the new standards: kids. For a <a href="http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/chi.2014.0038" target="_blank">study</a> just published in the peer-reviewed journal <em>Childhood Obesity, </em>researchers asked administrators and food service staff at 537 public elementary schools how their students were liking the meals that conformed to the new standards. Half of those surveyed said that the students "complained about the meals at first," but 70 percent said that the students now like the new lunches. Rural districts were the least enthusiastic about the new meals&mdash;there, some respondents reported that purchasing was down and that students were eating less of their meals. But respondents from schools with a high percentage of poor students&mdash;those with at least two-thirds eligible for free or reduced-price meals&mdash;were especially positive about the new standards: They found that "more students were buying lunch and that students were eating more of the meal than in the previous year."</p> <p>"Kids who really need good nutrition most at school are getting it," says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ihrp.uic.edu/researcher/lindsey-turner-phd" target="_blank">Lindsey Turner</a>, the <em>Childhood Obesity</em> study's lead author and a research scientist at the University of Illinois-Chicago. "That's really good news."</p> <p>SNA's response? To issue a <a href="http://www.schoolnutrition.org/5--News-and-Publications/2--Press-Releases/Press-Releases/SNA-Comments-on-New-Study-on-Perceptions-of-School-Meals/" target="_blank">statement</a> declaring that "these reported perceptions about school meals do not reflect reality." The group cites USDA data that participation in school meals has declined by 1.4 million since the new rules went into effect in 2012. But Turner, the <em>Childhood Obesity</em> study's lead author, notes that this is only about a 3 percent drop. She also points to a Government Accountability Office <a href="http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-104" target="_blank">study</a> that found that most of the drop-off was among students who pay full price for lunch.</p> <p>What makes SNA's stance on the new rules even stranger is that they actually are not all that strict. For example: Foods served must be whole grain rich, but as I <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/07/school-lunch-conference-cheetos" target="_blank">learned</a> from my trip to SNA's annual conference last week, that includes whole-grain Pop Tarts, Cheetos, and Rice Krispies Treats. Students are required to take a half cup of a fruit or vegetable&mdash;but <a href="http://rosatiice.com/products/" target="_blank">Italian ice</a>&mdash;in flavors like Hip Hoppin' Jelly Bean&mdash;are fair game.</p> <p>Not all members of SNA consider the task of tempting kids with healthy foods onerous. As I reported last week, Jessica Shelly, food director of Cincinnati's diverse public schools, has <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/07/pity-poor-school-food-professional" target="_blank">shown</a> that all it takes is a little creativity.</p> <p>HT <a href="http://www.thelunchtray.com/sna-challenges-study-kids-like-healthier-school-food/" target="_blank">The Lunch Tray</a>.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:29:37 +0000 Kiera Butler 256741 at http://www.motherjones.com California Farms Are Sucking Up Enough Groundwater to Put Rhode Island 17 Feet Under http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/california-drought-report-economy-groundwater <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>California, the producer of nearly half of the nation's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/wheres-californias-water-going" target="_blank">fruits, veggies, and nuts</a>, plus export crops&mdash;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/07/lay-off-almond-milk-ignorant-hipsters" target="_blank">four-fifths of the world's almonds</a>, for example&mdash;is entering its third driest year on record. Nearly 80 percent of the state is experiencing <a href="http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA" target="_blank">"extreme" or "exceptional" drought</a>. In addition to affecting <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/06/california-drought-water-produce-fruit-vegetables" target="_blank">agricultural production</a> the drought will cost the state billions of dollars, thousands of jobs, and a whole lot of groundwater,&nbsp;according to <a href="https://watershed.ucdavis.edu/files/content/news/Economic_Impact_of_the_2014_California_Water_Drought.pdf" target="_blank">a new report</a> prepared for the California Department of Food and Agriculture&nbsp;by scientists at UC-Davis. The authors used current water data, agricultural models, satellite data, and other methods to predict the economic and environmental toll of the drought through 2016.</p> <p>Here are four key <a href="http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10978" target="_blank">takeaways</a>:&nbsp;</p> <ul><li><strong>The drought will cost the state $2.2 billion this year:</strong> Of these losses, $810 million will come from lower crop revenues, $203 million will come from livestock and dairy losses, and $454 million will come from the cost of pumping additional groundwater. Up to 17,100 seasonal and part-time jobs will be lost.</li> <li><strong>California is experiencing the "greatest absolute reduction in water availability" ever seen:</strong> <span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">In a normal year, about one-third of California's irrigation water is drawn from wells that tap into the groundwater supply. The rest is "surface water" from streams, rivers, and&nbsp;reservoirs. This year, the&nbsp;state is losing about one-third of its surface water supply. The hardest hit area is the Central Valley</span>, a normally fertile inland region. Because groundwater isn't as easily pumped in the Valley as it is on the coasts, and the Colorado River supplies aren't as accessible as they are in the south, the Valley has lost 410,000 acres to fallowing, an area about 10 times the size of Washington, DC.</li> <li><strong>Farmers are pumping enough groundwater to immerse Rhode Island in 17&nbsp;feet of it:</strong> To<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">&nbsp;make up for the loss of surface water, farmers are pumping 62 percent more groundwater than usual. They are projected to pump 13 million acre-feet this year, enough&nbsp;to put Rhode Island 17&nbsp;feet under.</span></li> <li><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;"><strong>"We're acting like the super-rich:"</strong> California is technically in its third year of drought, and regardless&nbsp;of the effects of El Ni&ntilde;o,&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10978" style="line-height: 24px;" target="_blank">2015 is likely</a><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">&nbsp;to be a dry year too. As the dry years accumulate, it becomes harder and harder to pump water from the ground, adding to the crop and&nbsp;revenue losses.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">California&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">is the only western state without groundwater regulation or measurement of major groundwater use. If</span><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">&nbsp;you can drill down to water, it's all yours. (Journalist <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/01/mckenzie-funk-windfall-interview-business-global-warming" target="_blank">McKenzie Funk</a> describes this arcane system in <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/01/summit-water-hedge-fund-mckenzie-funk-windfall-excerpt" target="_blank">an excerpt</a> from his fascinating recent book, <em>Windfall</em>.) "A well-managed basin is used like a reserve bank account," said Richard&nbsp;</span>Howitt<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">, a&nbsp;</span>UC-Davis<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">&nbsp;water scientist and co-author of the report. "We're acting like the super-rich, who have so much money they don't need to balance their checkbook."&nbsp;</span></li> </ul></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Econundrums Food and Ag Top Stories Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:39:35 +0000 Julia Lurie 256246 at http://www.motherjones.com The Great Barrier Reef Will Be Ravaged By El Niño http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/great-barrier-reef-will-be-ravaged-el-nino <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/04/great-barrier-reefs-coral-faces-ravaging-by-expected-el-nino" target="_blank">story</a> originally appeared in the </em><a href="http://theguardian.com" target="_blank">Guardian</a> <em>and is republished here <em>as part of the <a href="http://climatedesk.org/" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a> collaboration</em></em>.</p> <p>The Great Barrier Reef is set to be ravaged by the expected El Ni&ntilde;o weather phenomenon and scientists warn that similar warming events have significantly impacted upon the reef&rsquo;s coral.</p> <p><a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016703714002804">Research</a> by the University of Queensland studied large <em>Porites</em> coral colonies, a type of coral considered more resistant than others to changes in the environment.</p> <p>By analysing and dating coral samples, researchers found there was a significant correlation between mass coral mortality events and spikes in sea surface temperature over the past 150 years.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2014/07/great-barrier-reef-will-be-ravaged-el-nino"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Climate Desk Tue, 08 Jul 2014 10:00:11 +0000 Oliver Milman 255601 at http://www.motherjones.com One of the Biggest Opponents of GMO Labeling Is Offering More Non-GMO Products http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/one-biggest-opponents-gmo-labeling-offering-more-non-gmo-crops <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Cargill, a giant privately held food manufacturer, is one of the <a href="http://http://www.cargill.com/news/issues/gmo/gmo-labeling/index.jsp" target="_blank">biggest enemies</a> of laws requiring companies to label products that contain genetically modified ingredients. But even as the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), an anti GMO-labeling lobbying group Cargill belongs to, fights GMO-labeling laws in state legislatures and courthouses around the country, Cargill is introducing more GMO-free products.</p> <p>Last week, Cargill <a href="http://www.cargill.com/news/releases/2014/NA31660682.jsp" target="_blank">announced</a> its newest non-GMO crop, soybean oil, which will join corn and beans on Cargill's list of unmodified products offered in the United States, among others.</p> <p><a href="http://http://www.cargill.com/company/management/" target="_blank">Gregory Page</a>, the chairman of Cargill's board, sits on the executive board for the GMA, the big-food lobbying group that <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/06/big-food-plans-sue-vermont-new-gmo-labeling-bill" target="_blank">recently sued Vermont </a>for passing a bill requiring food manufacturers to label genetically modified foods. The company warns <a href="http://http://www.cargill.com/news/issues/gmo/gmo-labeling/index.jsp" target="_blank">on its website</a> that mandatory labeling can be "misleading" to consumers who might believe genetic modification and bioengineering in food is dangerous. A GMO label does not provide any meaningful information about the food, Cargill argues, because GMO foods are "substantially equivalent" to non-GMO foods.</p> <p>But despite this, Cargill seems to see the benefit in offering consumers the option of eating unmodified foods. "Despite the many merits of biotechnology, consumer interest in food and beverage products made from non-GM ingredients is growing, creating opportunities and challenges for food manufacturers and food service operators," Ethan Theis, a spokesman for the company, <a href="http://www.cargill.com/news/releases/2014/NA31660682.jsp" target="_blank">said in a company press release </a>last week. Even the fiercest opponents of GMO labeling are willing to offer non-GMO products when consumers' cash is on the line.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag GMO labeling GMOs Wed, 02 Jul 2014 07:15:04 +0000 Jenna McLaughlin 255036 at http://www.motherjones.com "Make It a Quickie," "Get Paid for Doing It," and Other Advice From San Francisco's Water Agency http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/drought-quickie-water-usage-reduction <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ueLh5ifUfuk" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>In response to <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/wheres-californias-water-going" target="_blank">California's ongoing drought</a>, San Francisco's water agency has come out with a hilariously creepy ad campaign to make saving water sexy. In addition to the commercial above, featuring a water-efficient showerhead being stroked and a seductive male voice telling you to "screw them on," ads encourage water users to "Make it a quickie" and "Get paid for doing it" ("it" referring to your shower and the replacement of your old toilet, respectively).</p> <p>Unfortunately, new data from the state's Water Resources Control Board shows that Californians need to be "doing it" a lot more. Gov. Jerry Brown requested that Californians voluntarily reduce their water usage by 20 percent in January, when he declared the drought to have reached a state of emergency. But the Control Board found that, as of April, Californians had <a href="http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-80659608/" target="_blank">reduced their water usage by only 5 percent,</a> and Bay Area residents had reduced by only 2 percent. The state has yet to enforce mandatory water restrictions, though a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/california-drought-matters-more-just-california" target="_blank">handful of cities have</a>. Listen to KQED's deep dive on water reduction <a href="http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201406300900" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p>And, in the name of water reduction, here are a few more ads:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/drought%20quickie.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/drought%20doing%20it.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/drought%20satisfied.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/jiggle%20it.jpg"></div></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Food and Ag Tue, 01 Jul 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Julia Lurie 255171 at http://www.motherjones.com Nature Is Magical—and These 10 Stunning Photos Prove It. Happy Birthday, Yosemite! http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/happy-150th-birthday-yosemite-national-park <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On this day 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln&nbsp;signed the <a href="http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/jun30.html" target="_blank">Yosemite Grant Act</a> to protect Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove in California. It was&nbsp;the first time the US had set aside wilderness, in this case roughly the size of Rhode Island,&nbsp;especially for preservation.&nbsp;These days, <a href="http://www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/statistics.htm" target="_blank">4</a><a href="http://www.nps.gov/yose/historyculture/index.htm" target="_blank">&nbsp;million people</a> enjoy the park every year&nbsp;to marvel at its famous soaring granite peaks and waterfalls, and enjoy a rare serenity. Here are photos of Yosemite's epic landscapes, past and present,&nbsp;to celebrate the its sesquicentennial year. Happy Birthday, Yosemite!</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/3b11865u.jpg"></div> <p>The Three Brothers rise above a mirror-like stream in Yosemite.&nbsp;This photo was taken&nbsp;in the 1860s by&nbsp;Carleton E. Watkins, one of California's early commercial photographers. He&nbsp;took some of the first photographs of the Yosemite region.&nbsp;&acirc;&#128;&#139;<em>Carleton E. Watkins/Library of Congress</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP6208170206.jpg"></div> <p>President John F. Kennedy's helicopter is seen here dwarfed by the epic grandeur of Yosemite Falls in August 1962. Kennedy was in Yosemite for an overnight stay before going to Los Angeles, where he attended ground-breaking ceremonies for the San Luis Dam project.&nbsp;<em>Anonymous/AP Photo</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP8303050176.jpg"></div> <p>Queen Elizabeth II is shown the sites during her visit to the park in&nbsp;March&nbsp;1983. <em>Walt Zeboski/AP Photo</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%">&acirc;&#128;&#139;<img alt="" class="image" src="/files/5349895728_aefea830e1_o.jpg"></div> <p>The sun sets across Yosemite&nbsp;in this <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/nhanchanahal/5349895728" target="_blank">photo</a> from 2006.&nbsp;<em>Nagaraju Hanchanahal/Flickr</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/12095779186_e62de9cdcc_o.jpg"></div> <p>In this photo of the night sky above Yosemite valley, the peaks of El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks can be seen on the the left and right, respectively. <em><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/parksjd/12095779186/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Joe Parks</a>/Flickr</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP96010601203.jpg"></div> <p>This photo shows the first visitors in three weeks to visit Yosemite Valley, on January 6, 1996, after a budget crisis shut down the federal government, and thus the park. Earlier that day, President Bill Clinton signed Republican-crafted legislation to restore wages to federal government workers while budget negotiations continued, reopening the park to the public.&nbsp;<em>Thor Swift/AP Photo.</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2066780234_108951a317_o-%281%29.jpg"></div> <p>A view of Half Dome Rock from Glacier Point.<em> <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/matthigh/2066780234" target="_blank">mlhradio</a>/Flickr</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/20130825_zaf_m11_006.jpg"></div> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/08/rim-fire-yosemite-explainer" target="_blank">The Rim Fire</a>&nbsp;in 2013 was one of the largest wildfires in recent California history and burned parts of Yosemite National Park.&nbsp;The steep, remote topography of western Yosemite made it especially difficult for firefighters to get the blaze. <em>Elias Funez/Modesto Bee/ZUMA</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/12178773153_23525423bb_o-%281%29.jpg"></div> <p>Yosemite Valley in Winter, taken from&nbsp;Tunnel View <em><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/nrg_crisis/12178773153" target="_blank">nrg_crisis</a>/Flickr</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP504532707246-%281%29.jpg"></div> <p>The Three Brothers rock formation <em>Mark Brodkin/Solent News/REX/AP Photo</em></p></body></html> Blue Marble Photo Essays Climate Change Climate Desk Mon, 30 Jun 2014 18:52:34 +0000 James West 255141 at http://www.motherjones.com Chick-Fil-A's Twee New Food Journalism Site http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/chick-fil-a-lets-gather <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Perhaps hoping to distance itself from its <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/04/07/chick-fil-a-fast-food-dan-cathy/7250871/" target="_blank">horrendous display of homophobia</a> in 2012, the fast-food chicken chain Chick-Fil-A has launched a folksy new food journalism site called <a href="http://letsgather.chick-fil-a.com/" target="_blank">Let's Gather</a>:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/beekeepers.gif"><div class="caption">Image from <a href="http://letsgather.chick-fil-a.com/" target="_blank">Let's Gather</a></div> </div> <p>Yes really. Check out the <a href="http://letsgather.chick-fil-a.com/" target="_blank">actual site</a>, which is now hosting the project's second issue. Push past the animated bees buzzing around scenically, and don't get so distracted by this homey idyll that you forget to click on the shabby chic nav tool in the upper right.</p> <p>Once you do, you might venture over to the about page, which says this: "By exploring the winsome themes found in the everyday blend of our meals, hobbies, and relationships, each issue inspires readers to try a new recipe, think a new thought, and join a new conversation. Ultimately, these are stories that remind us of the joy we experience when we make time to <strong>do life together</strong>." (Emphasis added.)</p> <p>But wait, it gets better. Nestled among the features about stair climbing and giving up groceries is a Q&amp;A with Chick-Fil-A on-staff registered dietitian (<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/05/my-trip-mcdonalds-sponsored-nutritionist-convention" target="_blank">don't even get me started</a>) Jodie Worrell:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/chickfiladietitian.gif"><div class="caption">Image from <a href="http://letsgather.chick-fil-a.com/" target="_blank">Let's Gather</a></div> </div> <p class="segment menu-Description">"We do almost everything from scratch every day&mdash;we hand-bread our chicken and squeeze lemons to make our lemonade and prepare our salads fresh every day," says Worrell. "The list goes on. Most people probably think our food just goes from freezer to fryer, which it doesn't."</p> <p class="segment menu-Description">Gosh, all it takes is breading and chicken and lemons? Well, not exactly. Here's what <a href="http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Food/Menu-Detail/ChickfilA-Spicy-Chicken-Sandwich-Deluxe#?details=nutrition" target="_blank">Chick-Fil-A's Spicy Chicken Sandwich Deluxe</a>&mdash;which has 27 grams of fat and a truly mind-boggling 1750 miligrams of sodium&mdash;is actually made of:</p> <blockquote> <p class="segment menu-Description" id="MainContent_pIngredients">Spicy chicken (whole breast filet, water, seasoning [salt, monosodium glutamate, sugar, spices, paprika], spicy seasoning [maltodextrin, flavor, modified rice starch, tapioca dextrin, salt, cottonseed oil, paprika, contains less than 2% enzyme modified milkfat, soy lecithin], spicy seasoned coater [enriched bleached flour {bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid}, sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate, leavening, spice, nonfat milk, soybean oil, whey, color {paprika, Yellow #6}], milk wash [water, nonfat milk, egg], peanut oil [fully refined peanut oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness and dimethylpolysiloxane an anti-foaming agent added]), bun (enriched flour [wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, folic acid], water, high fructose corn syrup, yeast, contains 2% or less of each of the following: liquid yeast, soybean oil, nonfat milk, salt, wheat gluten, soy flour, dough conditioners [may contain one or more of the following: mono- and diglycerides, calcium and sodium stearoyl lactylates, calcium peroxide], soy flour, amylase, yeast nutrients [monocalcium phosphate, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate], calcium propionate added to retard spoilage, soy lecithin, cornstarch, butter oil [soybean oil, palm kernel oil, soy lecithin, artificial flavor, TBHQ and citric acid added as preservatives, and artificial color]), tomatoes, green leaf lettuce, pepper jack cheese, (pasturized milk, hot peppers [Jalapeno and Habanero], cheese culture, salt, enzymes), pickles (cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, potassium sorbate [preservative], natural flavors, polysorbate 80, yellow 5, blue 1).</p> </blockquote> <p class="segment menu-Description">Am I saying Chick-Fil-A's Spicy Chicken Sandwich Deluxe doesn't taste delicious? No, I am not. But this kind of treacly marketing&mdash;usually meant to distract you from something&mdash;drives me bonkers. Examples abound: Coca-Cola's <a href="http://www2.happinessflag.com/?l=en" target="_blank">World Cup happiness flag</a>, McDonald's sites about <a href="http://www.mcdonalds.com/365black/en/home.html" target="_blank">African American</a> and <a href="http://www.myinspirasian.com/html/english/asian_phrases/index.html" target="_blank">Asian American</a> culture, and Monsanto's video <a href="http://www.americasfarmers.com/meet-the-families/" target="_blank">profiles</a> of American farm families, to name just a few.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Media Thu, 26 Jun 2014 22:42:43 +0000 Kiera Butler 254966 at http://www.motherjones.com This Guy Just Summed Up America's Climate Inaction Beautifully in 15 Lines http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/guy-just-summed-americas-climate-inaction-beautifully-15-lines <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Pretty much as a rule, the comments section below any post on climate change will contain&nbsp;all the same&nbsp;dreary&nbsp;back-and-forth about how the world hasn't actually warmed in 15 years, or some thing;&nbsp;how fat cat Al Gore is profiting off global warming;&nbsp;and all those petty attacks over intellect/punctuation/spelling. That was certainly true <a href="http://m.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/brash-mining-magnate-and-al-gore-walk-into-a-room-and-make-australias-climate-politics-" target="_blank">for my recent post</a> about Australia's climate politics, and the ongoing craziness Downunder that has resulted in more than a little political bloodletting in recent years. And then, <span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">reading down through the comments,&nbsp;</span>just when I was giving up hope...a sudden bolt, as if the clouds&nbsp;parted and a little (uncharacteristic) humor was allowed to shine down upon all the silliness. Thank you "ThatDudeOnABike", <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/brash-mining-magnate-and-al-gore-walk-into-a-room-and-make-australias-climate-politics-#comment-1455128346" target="_blank">for neatly summarizing some of the ridiculousness with this 30-second double-hander</a>. A micro-Tony Award for you!</p> <blockquote> <p>"Captain, there's a large iceberg ahead that will cause us to sink."&nbsp;<br> "No there isn't"&nbsp;<br> "Yes, captain, it's right there."<br> "Ice berg schmice berg. Oh, that berg. Right. It's not our fault."<br> "Regardless, sir, It will still sink us."<br> "No it won't"<br> "99% chance."<br> "So you don't know. Is there consensus among the crew?"<br> "We don't really have time..."<br> "If we stop the ship it will cost jobs and the economy will tank."<br> "We don't have to stop, just change course if we do it right away, before it's too late."<br> "You liberal elites just want to scare us."<br> "I'm not liberal, I just looked off the starboard bow and there it was."<br> "So it just appeared? You made it up. Why do you hate America?"<br> CRASH!</p> </blockquote> <p>[Aaand,&nbsp;<em>scene</em>&mdash;thanks ThatDudeOnABike!]</p> <p>And a reminder, we do love your comments. In fact, we once tracked down our biggest troll... and kind of liked him. You could be next:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Zv_ci5uqrNk?list=PL1ZVKOvHtj-D_HVt5ylgaoXAdKJuv9oJt" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Desk Thu, 26 Jun 2014 20:52:22 +0000 James West 254956 at http://www.motherjones.com Is This the Beginning of the End of Junk Food at Stadiums? http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/edible-garden-atat-park-sf-giants-junk-food-stadiums <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/95Y_N7ktDB0" width="629"></iframe></p> <p>Blueberries, avocados, and kale, fresh-picked for salads and small plates. Rows of water-saving aeroponic towers that grow as many as 44 veggie plants each. Fertilizer made from coffee grounds...at a baseball field?</p> <p>That's right: Below the scoreboard at San Francisco's AT&amp;T Park, a 4,320-square-foot edible garden space, the first of its kind in a sporting arena, will grow seasonal produce year-round while hosting outdoor classes on sustainability, urban farming, and healthy eating for Bay Area children. It also features a bar, dining tables, fire pits, and a sod farm (later harvested for use on the field) for picnicking fans. "We hope it really catches on with other parks," says Eric Blasen, cofounder of Blasen Landscape Architecture, the studio that designed the garden.</p> <p>Giants outfielder Hunter Pence confirms that it is&mdash;at least among Giants team members. At the garden's grand opening on Tuesday, he said that at first his teammates made fun of his kale salads from the garden&mdash;until they tried them. Now they're a team favorite.&nbsp;</p> <p>So does a project like this have potential anywhere outside of San Francisco? For most Americans, a visit to the ballpark means hotdogs and pretzels, not flatbreads and kumquats. And the harvests will be small, only enough for "a fraction" of the stadium's needs,&nbsp;says Bonnie Powell, director of communications for Bon App&eacute;tit Management, an AT&amp;T park food provider that helped launch the garden. "The main point of the garden is to be an educational one: how food grows, and that you can grow it even in small, challenging spaces."</p> <p>The garden's designers hope those themes will resonate with the fans. "We'll have so much exposure," says Silvina Blasen, the other cofounder at Blasen Landscape Architecture. "I mean, I think they can seat 44,000 people on these bleachers. It <em>should</em> catch on."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Food and Ag Sports Top Stories Thu, 26 Jun 2014 10:00:06 +0000 Prashanth Kamalakanthan and Brett Brownell 254876 at http://www.motherjones.com If You Think Climate Politics In the US Are Crazy, Wait Till You See What Just Happened in Australia http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/brash-mining-magnate-and-al-gore-walk-into-a-room-and-make-australias-climate-politics- <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/mNdnA4QfuF8?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Hold on to your hats! Australia's already-bizarre carbon price adventures veered into the utterly surreal overnight.</p> <p>Picture this: an eccentric billionaire mining baron, most famous outside Australia for <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/business/global/a-new-titanic-on-the-drawing-board-but-wheres-the-captain.html">commissioning a replica of the Titanic</a>, appearing alongside the world's most recognizable&nbsp;climate campaigner and former US vice president, Al Gore, to announce Australia's relatively new&nbsp;carbon tax will be scrapped, and a new emissions trading scheme proposed,&nbsp;effectively screwing over the sitting conservative prime minister, Tony Abbott, who is hell-bent on getting&nbsp;rid of carbon legislation altogether.</p> <p>It's a big blow to a prime minister who said recently in Canada that he has&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/10/climate-unity-dealt-blow-as-australia-and-canada-take-issue-with-us-stance" target="_blank">"always been against"</a> an emissions trading scheme, and believes fighting climate change will "clobber the economy."</p> <p>For watchers of Aussie politics, it was a visual feast of weirdness. For US readers, imagine&mdash;I don't know&mdash;industrialist Charles Koch jumping on stage with writer and activist Bill McKibben and you're getting close.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/clivepalmer.jpg" style="height: 182px; width: 280px;"><div class="caption"><strong>Clive Palmer speaking at a press conference to unveil plans to build a an almost-exact replica of the ill-fated Titanic, in March 2013. </strong>Ben Cawthra/ZumaPRESS</div> </div> <p>Al Gore has shared a press conference podium, and political common ground, with many influential leaders in his time, but&nbsp;<a href="http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Parliamentarian?MPID=LQR">Clive Palmer</a> must be among the most unexpected. The mining magnate's upstart political group, the populist center-right Palmer United Party (PUP), was elevated to the Australian political heavyweight class during last year's national elections, and is now on the verge of holding the balance of power in the Australian Senate, or upper house&mdash;a position that possesses outsized power to wheel and deal with a government intent on getting laws passed.</p> <p>That has meant all eyes are on Clive, who owns a <a href="http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/toxic-spill-closes-clive-palmers-yabulu-nickel-refinery/story-e6frg9df-1226884389580">nickel refinery</a> and large swathes of land laced with coal&nbsp;and iron ore, along with several jets and resorts: not the climate's most likely hero.</p> <p>A bit of backstory: Abbott took office last year after&nbsp;campaigning relentlessly to "scrap the toxic tax" and do away with the other parts of the carbon price legislation introduced by former-PM Julia Gillard.&nbsp;The carbon tax would have finally transitioned into a fully-fledged emissions trading scheme in mid-2015.&nbsp;Since the election,&nbsp;Australia's conservative government led by Abbott has been gearing up to&nbsp;axe&nbsp;the entire package for good.</p> <p>Under Tony Abbott's replacement plan, the package would be scrapped in favor of a policy called "Direct Action",&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/15/coalitions-direct-action-contracts-too-short-for-success-says-adviser" style="line-height: 24px;" target="_blank">which critics say</a>&nbsp;will do little to address carbon emissions, and cost taxpayers a hell of a lot of money. The repeal will certainly pass the lower house, but getting Clive Palmer on side was crucial to its passage through the Senate.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Clive Palmer, a fantastical&nbsp;maverick-type (an enormous Tyrannosaurus rex <a href="http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/billionaire-clive-palmer-orders-117-more-dinosaurs-for-resort/story-e6frg6nf-1226609040256?nk=0aa96590adfb6ccd21cf02ebed6d5f70" style="line-height: 2em;">presides over one of his golf courses</a>), appears to be enjoying his newly found political power, basically telling Abbott "not so fast." He has indeed agreed to axe the tax, but is now pushing instead to keep some form of emissions trading scheme (which his party will introduce). Palmer's emissions trading scheme would be toothless and non-competitive, at least at first, with the carbon price set to zero until Australia's major trading partners like China and South Korea effect similar schemes.</p> <p>All of this is made even more baffling since Clive Palmer himself only recently rejected&nbsp;the scientific consensus on climate change, telling the Australian Broadcasting Corporation <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-04/clive-palmer-ross-garnaut-wa-senate-election-climate-carbon-tax/5366202" target="_blank">in April</a> that "There's been global warming for a long time. I mean, all of Ireland was covered by ice at one time...&nbsp;so I think that's part of the natural cycle."</p> <p>But at this week's performance, he made an incredible about-face:</p> <p>"Australia has got an opportunity to set a standard which can act as a catalyst for the whole world, to set a fair framework which the world can follow," Palmer said. "As President Obama in the US has shown, great leadership and encouraging all countries to act, Australia needs to do its fair share." Palmer argues that without a trading scheme, Australian businesses will get left behind. Another motivation might be more personal: there's a <a href="http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/palmer-v-abbott-floating-like-butterflies-and-stinging-like-bees-20120626-20zyh.html" target="_blank">long-standing</a>&nbsp;distrust between Palmer and Abbott, the prime minister.</p> <p>Gore, appearing alongside Palmer, fully endorsed what will effectively&nbsp;isolate Tony Abbott, the prime minister, calling Palmer's decision&nbsp;"an extraordinary moment."</p> <p>"All of these developments add up to the world moving to solve the climate crisis," he said.</p> <p>But climate change has washed Canberra's corridors of power in political blood for years, and it seems that no matter how hard&nbsp;Tony Abbott tries to finally put it to rest, there's no end in site, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/25/how-coal-miner-clive-turned-climate-crusader" style="line-height: 2em;">writes Lenore Taylor at <em>The Guardian</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>It is a dramatic, if slightly confusing, eleventh hour conversion to the climate change cause for Clive Palmer, millionaire would-be coal miner who... just two months ago didn&rsquo;t seem to think global warming was a thing.&nbsp;After contributing to the downfall of three Australian prime ministers, two opposition leaders and seven years of bitter and acrimonious debate, carbon policy is now presenting yet another prime minister with some serious dilemmas.</p> </blockquote> <div style="position: relative;padding: 56.25% 0px 40px;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="auto" mozallowfullscreen="" msallowfullscreen="" oallowfullscreen="" src="http://www.vuact.com/v/climate-desk/climate-change-the-killing-fields-of-australian-politics" style="position: absolute;top:0px;width: 100%;height: 100%;" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="100%"></iframe></div></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Wed, 25 Jun 2014 19:16:00 +0000 James West 254841 at http://www.motherjones.com How the Sweetener Industry Sugar-Coats Science http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/sugar-industry-tactics-to-make-your-food-unhealthy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Food companies have spent billions of dollars to cover up the link between sugar consumption and health problems. That's the conclusion of a new <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/center-for-science-and-democracy/sugar-industry-undermines-public-health-policy.html">report</a> from the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="sugar industry lobbying" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-06-24%20at%2010.40.27%20AM_1.png" style="height: 471px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption">From "Added Sugar, Subtracted Science"</div> </div> <p>The industry's tactics&mdash;similar to those used by Big Tobacco in downplaying the adverse health effects of smoking&mdash;were explored by Gary Taubes and Cristin Kearns Couzens in the 2012 <em>Mother Jones</em> investigation "<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/10/sugar-industry-lies-campaign" target="_blank">Big Sugar's Sweet Little Lies</a>." But this latest report draws on some <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/center-for-science-and-democracy/added-sugar-subtracted-science-appendix-d.html" target="_blank">newly released documents</a> submitted as evidence in a recent federal court case involving the two biggest players in the sweetener industry: the Sugar Association and the Corn Refiners Association (the trade group for manufacturers of high fructose corn syrup).&nbsp;</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/sweet_225.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-197151"> <li><a href="/environment/2012/10/sugar-industry-lies-campaign"> Big Sugar's Sweet Little Lies</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-200191"> <li><a href="/politics/2012/10/sugar-industry-marketing-timeline"> A Timeline of Sugar Spin</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-200576"> <li><a href="/environment/2012/10/former-dentist-sugar-industry-lies"> How a Former Dentist Drilled Big Sugar</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-203466"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2012/10/watch-video-gary-taubes-sugar-regulation"> WATCH: Q&amp;A With Author Gary Taubes</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-202621"> <li><a href="/environment/2012/10/sugar-industry-internal-documents-revealed"> Secret Sugar Documents Revealed</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-202431"> <li><a href="/slideshows/2012/10/classic-sugar-ads"> 10 Classic Sugar Ads</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-182311"> <li><a href="/media/2012/06/supersize-biggest-sodas-mcdonalds-big-gulp-chart"> Charts: How Our Sodas Got So Huge</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>The report details companies' plans to bury data and to convince consumers that sugar is "fine in moderation." It also shows how trade groups hired independent scientists to cast doubt on studies that show the adverse affects of sugar consumption&mdash;and strategized to intimidate scientists and organizations who didn't tow the industry line.</p> <p>For example: The researchers cite a 2003 letter, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/documents/458188-sugar-association-letter-to-who-april-2003#document/p1/a79120" target="_blank">first obtained by </a><em>Mother Jones</em>, from the president and CEO of the Sugar Association to&nbsp;the director general of the World Health Organization. In the letter, the Sugar Association intimates that it will deny funding to the WHO and the Food &amp; Agriculture Organization if the groups don't pull a report that shows that added sugars "threaten the nutritional quality of diets." Another <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/ucs-documents/science-and-democracy/corn-refiners-association-defendants-declaration-exhibits.pdf" target="_blank">internal document</a> claimed the action worked:</p> <blockquote> <p>"We have been successful in getting the Food &amp; Agriculture Organization (FAO) to oppose the WHO Diet and Nutrition Report 916 calling for 10% consumption of sugar, we have been successful in getting the U.S. WHO representative Dr. Steiger to express major concerns with Report 916 and call for edits to the initial draft of the WHO Global Strategy recommending to limit sugar intake."</p> </blockquote> <p>Sure enough, when The World Health Assembly (the WHO's decision-making body) released its global health strategy on diet and health in 2005, the study in question wasn't referenced once.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="General Mills sugar lobbying" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-06-24%20at%2010.39.52%20AM_0.png" style="height: 431px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption">From "Added Sugar, Subtracted Science"</div> </div> <p>The report's authors hope that the new findings will influence the ongoing battle over school lunches eaten by 32 million children each day. In 2013, both General Mills and the Sugar Association weighed in on proposed lunch standards, dismissing the connection between sugar and health problems. According to the report, "the USDA adopted a weaker rule than it first proposed, limiting kids' sugar intake at school by weight rather than by calorie as public health experts had recommended." If the current agriculture appropriations bill&nbsp;is approved in an upcoming congressional vote, schools will be allowed to opt out of new USDA rules that require cafeterias to provide more fruits and vegetables in students' lunches.</p> <p>The authors also hope to hasten change on food labels. The FDA is currently evaluating <a href="http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm387533.htm">proposed revisions</a> that would require manufacturers to list added sugars separately from those that occur naturally. A public hearing is <a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/05/29/2014-12362/proposed-rules-on-food-labeling-revision-of-the-nutrition-and-supplement-facts-labels-and-serving" target="_blank">scheduled</a> for Thursday in Washington D.C. Six trade groups, including the Corn Refiners Association, the American Frozen Foods Institute, and the National Confectioners Association, have already <a href="http://www.regulations.gov/#%21documentDetail;D=FDA-2012-N-1210-0155" target="_blank">pushed on the FDA to postpone</a> while they complete "consumer perception research," on the proposed changes. Representatives from the Center for Science and Democracy plan to present the results of the study to encourage officials to move forward with the new labels.</p> <p>You can read the full report <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/center-for-science-and-democracy/added-sugar-subtracted-science.pdf" target="_blank">here</a>.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Science Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:00:09 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 254716 at http://www.motherjones.com Is Your Cereal Giving You a Vitamin Overdose? http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/your-vitamin-heavy-cereals-little-secret <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Those bran flakes with "original antioxidants" or "extra vitamin A"? You might be better off without the added nutrients. A <a href="http://www.ewg.org/release/excessive-vitamins-and-minerals-food-put-millions-children-risk#.U6mwilf8jOU.twitter" target="_blank">report</a> released on Tuesday by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that cereals and snack bars that have been fortified with extra vitamins and minerals to appear healthy may actually be harmful&mdash;particularly for kids.</p> <p>The report, <em>How Much is Too Much?</em>, explains that there are some nutrients that most Americans don't get enough of, like calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin E. But it turns out that kids are eating too much of other nutrients, and overconsuming certain vitamins and minerals for a long period of time can have negative health implications in the long run.</p> <p>EWG focused on three nutrients that are regularly consumed in excess: vitamin A, zinc, and niacin. Only 6 percent of two- to eight-year-olds are deficient in vitamin A, and less than 1 percent are deficient in zinc and niacin. But, according to the report, an estimated 28 million children between those ages are overexposed to these nutrients from food and supplements.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/k1Way/1/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Studies have shown a host of illnesses associated with excessive intake of these nutrients.<strong> </strong>Here are the effects of overconsumption, according to the EWG:</p> <ul><li><strong>Vitamin A:</strong> Liver damage, brittle nails, hair loss, skeletal abnormalities, osteoporosis and hip fracture (in older adults), and developmental abnormalities (of the fetus)</li> <li><strong>Zinc:</strong> Impaired copper absorption, anemia, changes in red and white blood cells, impaired immune function</li> <li><strong>Niacin:</strong> Skin reactions (flushing, rash), nausea, liver toxicity</li> </ul><p>Ren&eacute;e Sharp, the EWG's director of toxics research, explained that the associated health risks are "more chronic than acute": If a child eats too much of a given nutrient over a long period of time, he or she might experience the associated illnesses down the line. The tricky part is that it's nearly impossible to link a specific case of an illness to overconsumption of fortified food, so there isn't a hard and fast set of rules on what to eat and what to avoid. But, according to the report, several studies have shown that "cumulative exposures from fortified food and supplements could put children at risk for potential adverse effects." Put more simply by Sharp: "if your kid is eating highly fortified cereal, and that kid is also eating snack bars and other fortified foods and you're giving your kid a vitamin pill, that adds up. And there's no reason to put your kid at that risk."</p> <p>Part of the reason for childrens' overconsumption of certain nutrients is marketing: If products are marketed as healthy, people are <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21806872" target="_blank">more likely to buy them</a>. According to New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle, "Plenty of research demonstrates that nutrients sell food products. Any health or health-like claim on a food product&mdash;vitamins added, no trans fats, organic&mdash;makes people believe that the product has fewer calories and is a health food&hellip;Added vitamins are about marketing, not health."</p> <p>Adding to the confusion among shoppers is nutrition labels. Young kids have significantly lower recommended daily intakes of nutrients than adults, but nutrition labels, even on brands marketed toward kids, almost always show the recommended values for adults. Furthermore, the EWG contends that the intake recommendations, which were calculated by the FDA in 1968, are themselves out of date: "Those values were set at a time when people were worried about nutrient deficiencies," explained Sharp. "Scientists just hadn't done as much research on the potential pitfalls of overconsuming nutrients. Things have changed."</p> <p>Zinc perfectly exemplifies this double whammy. The&nbsp;FDA currently recommends that adults consume 15&nbsp;milligrams of zinc per day, and that children younger than five consume 8 milligrams per day. But food packaging, which shows recommended intake levels calculated in '60s, still says that adults should consume&nbsp;20 milligrams per day. "If you think about it, every single food sitting in&nbsp;the grocery store has&nbsp;a nutrition fact panel right now that is largely irrelevant for young children," says Valerie Tarasuk, a University of Toronto nutritional scientist.</p> <p>In the years since the FDA calculated its recommended Daily Values, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, have developed "Tolerable Upper Intake Levels" for these three nutrients (referenced in the graph above).&nbsp;Often, they're considerably lower than the FDA's recommended daily allowances. An FDA proposal to revise nutrition labels is currently open for public comment. Though the FDA proposed similar changes in 2003, the Daily Values for nutrients have remained consistent since the 1960s. An FDA spokesperson declined to comment for this article.</p> <p>In EWG's review of fortified foods, the top source of excessive intake of the three studied nutrients was cereal. Cereals made up 43 percent of all sources of preformed vitamin A, 52 percent of added niacin, and 97 percent of added zinc.</p> <p>But not all cereals are fortified equally. The EWG's analysis of the nutrition labels for 1,556 cereal brands found that 114 cereals were fortified with 30 percent or more of the FDA's daily intake values (for adults) of vitamin A, zinc, or niacin. The full list of those cereals is <a href="http://static.ewg.org/reports/2014/children_at_risk/pdf/too_much_of_a_good_thing.pdf" target="_blank">here</a>, but here are a few brands you might recognize:</p> <ul><li>Cap'n Crunch's Chocolatey Crunch</li> <li>Food Lion Whole Grain 100 Cereal</li> <li>General Mills Fiber One, Honey Clusters</li> <li>General Mills Wheaties</li> <li>General Mills Total Raisin Bran</li> <li>Kashi U 7 Whole Grain Flakes &amp; Granola with Black Currants &amp; Walnuts</li> <li>Kellogg's Crispix Cereal</li> <li>Kellogg's Smart Start, Original Antioxidants</li> <li>Kellogg's Special K</li> <li>Kroger Frosted Flakes of Corn</li> <li>Malt-O-Meal Corn Bursts</li> <li>Safeway Kitchens Bran Flakes</li> <li>Stop &amp; Shop/Giant Source 100 Crispy Whole Grain Wheat &amp; Brown Rice Flakes</li> <li>Trader Joe's Bran Flakes</li> </ul></body></html> Blue Marble Charts Econundrums Food and Ag Health Top Stories Tue, 24 Jun 2014 17:30:21 +0000 Julia Lurie 254166 at http://www.motherjones.com These Maps Show How Many Brutally Hot Days You Will Suffer When You're Old http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/how-many-really-hot-days-there-will-be-time-you-are-old <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/DaysOver95-MJ.jpg"><div class="caption">Risky Business</div> </div> <p>One of the main difficulties in getting people to care about climate change is that it can be hard to notice on a daily basis. But the prospect of sweating profusely through your golden years? That's more arresting.</p> <p>If you're aged 4 to 33 right now, the map above shows you how many very hot days&mdash;those with temperatures over 95 degrees Fahrenheit&mdash;you're likely to experience by the time you're elderly. It comes from a <a href="http://riskybusiness.org/index.php?p=about" target="_blank">new report</a> by the economics research firm Rhodium Group, which was commissioned by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Henry Paulson, the Republican Treasury secretary under George W. Bush; and Tom Steyer, the billionaire Bay Area entrepreneur and&nbsp;environmentalist.&nbsp;</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2014/06/how-many-really-hot-days-there-will-be-time-you-are-old"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Charts Climate Change Climate Desk Science Tue, 24 Jun 2014 16:14:10 +0000 Tim McDonnell 254676 at http://www.motherjones.com What Does "Natural" Mean? http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/natural-foods-label <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Last year, according to Nielsen, foods labeled "natural" <a href="http://www.nmisolutions.com/index.php/what-we-do/news-a-publications/nmi-trend-insights/175-whats-selling-winning-losing-and-struggling" target="_blank">generated $43 billion in sales.</a> That's more than five times the figure for foods carrying an "organic" label ($8.9 billion). A new Consumer Reports <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/06/say-no-to-natural-on-food-labels/index.htm" target="_blank">survey</a> of 1,000 people found that two-thirds of respondents believed&nbsp; that a "natural" label meant that a food contained:</p> <ul><li>No artificial materials during processing</li> <li>No pesticides</li> <li>No artificial ingredients</li> <li>No GMOs</li> </ul><p>More than half of those surveyed said that they specifically looked for a "natural" label on their foods.</p> <p>There's just one problem: There are no real federal regulations around the word "natural."</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2014/06/natural-foods-label"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Food and Ag Explainers Wed, 18 Jun 2014 10:00:11 +0000 Lei Wang 254291 at http://www.motherjones.com Weather-Sensitive Watering, and 4 Other Simple Fixes for California's Drought http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/pacific-institute-nrdc-california-drought-solutions <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>There's been a lot of scary news on the drought front lately. In the midst of its third dry year in a row (<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/california-drought-matters-more-just-california" target="_blank">and what's shaping up to be the driest in 500 years</a>), California faces worsening wildfires and drinking water shortages. The state will likely have to <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/01/california-drought-scary-facts-snowpack" target="_blank">rely on dirty and costly fossil fuels instead of hydropower for energy</a>. Plus, because the state is the nation's largest agricultural producer and international exporter, California's crisis will have severe economic implications for the entire country, including raising the price of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/06/california-drought-water-produce-fruit-vegetables" target="_blank">your favorite produce</a>.</p> <p>Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on water supply options that are now tapped out, and a recent survey showed that <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/drought-poll" target="_blank">Californians are unwilling to invest</a> in any new infrastructure or programs. Are we doomed?</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2014/06/pacific-institute-nrdc-california-drought-solutions"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Climate Change Economy Energy Top Stories Tue, 17 Jun 2014 10:01:13 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 253981 at http://www.motherjones.com Don't Believe Anything You Read About Pomegranate Juice http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/supreme-court-pomegranate-juice-pom-wonderful <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In ancient Greek mythology, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomegranate#Ancient_Greece" target="_blank">pomegranates symbolized death</a>. They were certainly a source of grief for Coca-Cola on Thursday morning, when <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/13/business/supreme-court-says-coca-cola-can-be-sued-by-Pom-Wonderful.html?hp" target="_blank">the Supreme Court ruled unanimously</a> that the pomegranate juice company POM Wonderful can sue Coke for marketing a product that contains 99.4 percent apple and grape juice as "Blueberry Pomegranate."</p> <p>And like many Greek myths, the Supreme Court decision is also rich with irony: <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-us-juice-maker-pom-fights-misleading-advertising-charge-20140502,0,1938554.story" target="_blank">POM is currently locked in a separate court battle</a> over allegations that its own pomegranate juice marketing misleads consumers.</p> <p>Both companies have relied on some pretty questionable rhetoric. Coke claimed that because the Food and Drug Administration had approved its juice label, it couldn't be sued under other trademark laws for misleading consumers. "We don&rsquo;t think that consumers are quite as unintelligent as POM must think they are," Coke's lawyer <a href="http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/12-761_8m58.pdf" target="_blank">Kathleen Sullivan told the Court </a>in April&mdash;an argument that fell flat when Justice Anthony Kennedy responded, "Don't make me feel bad because I thought that this was pomegranate juice."</p> <p>But as HBO's John Oliver <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JLxHgsEjzw" target="_blank">has pointed out</a>, POM isn't exactly a hero here. In September 2010, the <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2010/09/ftc-complaint-charges-deceptive-advertising-pom-wonderful" target="_blank">Federal Trade Commission charged</a> POM with falsely claiming that its products could prevent or treat a variety of medical conditions. According to the FTC, claims that POM juice has "SUPER HEALTH POWERS!... Backed by $25 million in medical research [and p]roven to fight for cardiovascular, prostate and erectile health" have no basis in reality.</p> <p>POM has contested the FDA's complaint, but <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/16/ftc-pom-advertising-idUSL1E9CGA4520130116" target="_blank">so far</a>, judges have sided with the federal agency. The case has made its way to federal appeals court in Washington, where the judges don't seem particularly sympathetic. At a hearing in May, Judge Merrick Garland read one of POM's ads aloud and <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-us-juice-maker-pom-fights-misleading-advertising-charge-20140502,0,1938554.story" target="_blank">said</a>, "I don't understand if you look at those two paragraphs how you can say that it's not misleading."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Fri, 13 Jun 2014 17:28:32 +0000 Rebecca Cohen 254001 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch Live: Can China Survive a Fracking Revolution? The United States Sure Hopes So. http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/watch-live-can-china-survive-fracking-revolution-special-mother-jones-event <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="385" scrolling="no" src="http://cdn.livestream.com/embed/asiasociety?layout=4&amp;color=0xe7e7e7&amp;autoPlay=false&amp;mute=false&amp;iconColorOver=0x888888&amp;iconColor=0x777777&amp;allowchat=true&amp;height=385&amp;width=640" style="border:0;outline:0" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>China is on the brink of an energy revolution: fracking. And it's enlisting American energy companies&nbsp;to help implement the technology that blasts shale rock formations deep underground to unlock natural gas. For this event at the <a href="http://asiasociety.org/" target="_blank">Asia Society in New York City</a>, my colleague Jaeah Lee and I are debuting field reporting from a month's worth of exhilarating, exhausting travels deep into Sichuan province, to see China's first fracking wells for ourselves.</p> <p>Watch the livestream of the event above to catch Jaeah and me discussing the big business&nbsp;of fracking in China&mdash;and its potential health and environmental costs. The other panelists are&nbsp;<a href="http://orvilleschell.com/" target="_blank">Orville Schell</a>, the great chronicler of modern Chinese politics and society;&nbsp;Josh Fox, the director of the anti-fracking documentary&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/" target="_blank">Gasland</a>;&nbsp;</em>and Ella Chou, <a href="https://twitter.com/ellachou" target="_blank">an energy analyst</a> who is trying to work out how China can break its deadly addiction to coal.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video China Energy Wed, 11 Jun 2014 20:22:06 +0000 James West 253886 at http://www.motherjones.com Has This Chilean Architect Figured Out How To Fix Slums? http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/want-reduce-sprawl-build-half-house <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/radical%20cities.jpg"></div> <p>In the United States, we tend to think of the suburbs as the historic domain of the middle class. It's where the boomers went after fleeing the cities to accommodate their growing families (although the demographics of the suburbs are <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2013/may/20/local/la-me-suburban-poverty-20130520" target="_blank">now changing</a>).</p> <p>But in Latin America, urban peripheries are less commonly populated by leafy suburbs for the rich than by slums for the poor. These shantytowns typically lack basic infrastructure like paved roads, sewers, and tap water. Living far from the city, residents are often forced to make long and expensive commutes.</p> <p>But in the medium-sized Chilean port city of Iquique, one architect, <a href="http://justinmcguirk.com/alejandro-aravena" target="_blank">Alejandro Aravena</a>, had a solution: partial houses, located at the center of town, equipped with only the barest necessities&mdash;and space for residents to build on, bit by bit, as they can afford it.&nbsp;</p> <p>When they were first built fourteen years ago for about 100 families, Aravena's flagship projects, called the Quinta Monroy Houses, came with all the core necessities&mdash;a roof, a bathroom, a kitchen. With a little more than 300 square feet in floor space to start with, the houses were 25 percent smaller than the average public housing unit in Chile, but with an extra-wide foundation, residents had plenty of room to expand.</p> <p>In his new book, <a href="http://www.versobooks.com/books/1646-radical-cities" target="_blank"><em>Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture</em></a>, journalist Justin McGuirk writes that when Aravena first launched the project through his firm, <a href="http://www.elementalchile.cl/?lang_pref=es" target="_blank">Elemental</a>, a number of critics were appalled. They argued that the government should provide complete houses, since incomplete houses require the occupant to perform manual labor. But where some saw a failure in the making, others welcomed change. In the 1970's, under Chile's socialist president Salvador Allende, the government prioritized building completed public housing, even enlisting a Soviet-made pre-fabricated house factory for the job. But despite the initial gusto, the government quickly ran out of the resources to continue. In three years, the slum population rose more than 130 percent.</p> <p>Since the Allende period, the government has shifted to a hybrid market-government approach, giving subsidies to the poor to buy houses and land. At the time Aravena built Quinta Monroy, the government offered $7,500 per family&mdash;usually too little to buy a complete house, but just enough to make Aravena's stripped-down models affordable.</p> <p>As residents expanded their houses, their value grew. <a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CCIQFjAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.helsinkidesignlab.org%2Ffiles%2F361%2Foriginal.pdf&amp;ei=g3eXU5-lFNSjqAaGx4CwAg&amp;usg=AFQjCNHoHHKud-_RmqEzj02pIoqATgqTpw&amp;sig2=7kEKuDwWH_h1q-4FaF6cpg&amp;bvm=bv.68445247,d.b2k" target="_blank">One study (PDF)</a>, sponsored by the Finnish government, found that in its first two years, Quinta Monroy's 100 families had made an average of $750 in improvements per unit, doubling the size of their homes and raising the houses' value to an estimated $20,000 each. One six-year resident McGuirk speaks with says that after the subsidy, he spent just $400 of his own money to buy a basic Quinta Monroy house. But after saving up and adding four bedrooms and an extra bathroom, he estimates he has increased the value of his home to $50,000.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="The Quinta Monroy houses" class="image" src="/files/Quinta-Monroy-III.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The Quinta Monroy houses before residents doubled their size with their own improvements </strong>Crist&oacute;bal Palma/Verso Books</div> </div> <p>It's hard to see a plan like this taking off in the United States, given our long permitting processes and strict building codes. And even in Iquique, some of the half-houses look similar to the shantytowns they were designed to replace: While some residents have transformed their homes into elegant structures with balconies and trim, "other add-ons look like slum shacks wedged between concrete houses," McGuirk says.</p> <p>Still, other countries see promise in Aravena's idea. Already, Elemental has built and sold hundreds of half-houses in Chile, and it's testing the idea in Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru. "These are places where Aravena can still make a difference," McGuirk says.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Books International Top Stories Wed, 11 Jun 2014 10:00:25 +0000 Alex Park 253686 at http://www.motherjones.com SunnyD's New Teen Energy Drink Has More Calories Than Coke http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/sunnyds-new-energy-drink-teens-sugar <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="354" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/BGEtv/3/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>From the people who brought you the "<a href="http://www.sunnyd.com/about/index.html#" target="_blank">fruit-flavored beverage</a>" SunnyD comes a brand new product: <a href="http://sunnydx.com/" target="_blank">SunnyD X</a>, a caffeine- and taurine-free energy drink just for teens. For now, it's available only in convenience stores in Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. But Sunny Delight Beverages Co. said in a press release that it has big plans to market it at "venues and locations of interest to teens, such as concerts, sporting events, skate parks and beaches."</p> <p>David Zellen, the company's associate marketing director, touted the beverage as "carbonated energy that is uniquely provided by a combination of three carbohydrates, as well as seven B-vitamins to help metabolize the carbohydrates into energy." He added, "Simply put, SunnyD X offers the energy teens crave without the ingredients moms tell us concern them, such as caffeine and taurine. It's a win-win."</p> <p>Here's what he didn't mention: SunnyD X's mega-dose of sugar, a whopping 50 grams per 16-oz. serving. That adds up to a lot of calories: SunnyD X has 200 calories per 16-oz. serving, while an equal amount of Coca-Cola Classic has 187 calories and 52 grams of sugar.</p> <p>I asked company spokeswoman Sydney McHugh whether the company was at all concerned about the teen drink, which contains just 5 percent juice, contributing to childhood obesity. "I can tell you that we chose to use sugar as a safer source of energy," she wrote to me in an email. Then, she pointed me toward a <a href="http://ww2.sunnyd.com/company/news_pop12.shtml" target="_blank">press release</a> in which&nbsp;Ellen Iobst, the company's chief sustainability officer, bragged that the company had reduced its average calories per serving from 92 to 48 since 2007. "Socially, we need to be taking care of the communities where we do business and our employees," she said. "This is a way to help alleviate the obesity epidemic." Mind you, the calorie count in SunnyD X is more than quadruple that average.</p> <p>Here's the nutritional information for SunnyD X's orange flavor. Check out the tongue-twisting list of ingredients, too.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/sunny-D-630.gif"><div class="caption">Image from Sunny Delight Beverage Co.</div> </div> <p>HT <a href="http://consumerist.com/2014/06/09/sunny-delight-now-has-an-energy-drink-for-teens/" target="_blank">Consumerist</a>.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Health Wed, 11 Jun 2014 10:00:25 +0000 Kiera Butler 253776 at http://www.motherjones.com Californians Want to Fix the Drought—Without Spending Any Money http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/06/drought-poll <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Californians agree their state's drought is a big problem, but they're not enthused about spending money to alleviate it. That's one of the takeaways from a just-released <a href="http://www.latimes.com/science/la-me-poll-drought-20140606-story.html" target="_blank">University of Southern California/<em>Los Angeles Times </em>poll</a>. Some other findings:</p> <p><strong>Big problem, getting bigger</strong></p> <p>Just prior to California's last gubernatorial election in November 2010, <a href="http://gqrr.com/images/Blog_posts/documents/USC-LAT/111410_USC_LA_Times_fq.pdf" target="_blank"><strong>46 percent</strong></a> of voters agreed that "having enough water to meet our future needs" mattered "a great deal." The proportion of people who care a lot about water issues has crept up a lot since then:</p> <ul><li>Last September, <strong>63 percent</strong> of voters called the drought a "crisis or major problem."</li> <li><strong>89 percent</strong> of voters call the drought a "crisis or major problem" now.<br> &nbsp;</li> </ul><p><strong>Save us some water, just don't send us the bill</strong></p> <p>Californians are notoriously tax averse, but even what may be the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/california-drought-matters-more-just-california" target="_blank">worst drought in 500 years</a> is apparently not enough to get most voters to agree that the state should improve its water infrastructure:&nbsp;</p> <ul><li><strong>36 percent </strong>of voters said the state should improve water storage and delivery systems, even if it costs money.</li> <li><strong>52 percent</strong> said the state should address these problems without spending money, by taking measures like encouraging conservation.<br> &nbsp;</li> </ul><p><strong>Poorer people and Latinos&nbsp;are feeling harder hit</strong></p> <p>The poll found:</p> <ul><li><strong style="line-height: 24px;">11 </strong><strong style="line-height: 24px;">percent</strong>of people making more than $50,000 annually&nbsp;said the drought had a "major impact" on their lives.</li> <li><strong style="line-height: 24px;">24 percent</strong> of people making less than $50,000 annually said the same.&nbsp;</li> <li><strong style="line-height: 24px;">29 percent&nbsp;</strong>of people making less than $20,000 annually<strong>&nbsp;</strong>said the same.</li> </ul><p>It's worth noting that some of California's poorest people are <a href="http://westernfarmpress.com/government/quarter-california-farmworkers-live-poverty" target="_blank">Hispanic farm workers</a>. While <strong>25 percent </strong>of Latinos surveyed said the drought had a "major impact" on their lives, just <strong>13 percent </strong>of people from other racial groups said the same.&nbsp;</p> <p><br><strong>Climate denial</strong></p> <p>A <a href="http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2014/04/24/study-links-california-drought-to-global-climate-change/" target="_blank">recent study</a> has linked the drought to climate change, but some Californians still aren't so sure about the connection. While <strong>78 percent</strong> of Democrats said climate change was "very or somewhat responsible" for California's water trouble, only <strong>44 percent</strong> of Republicans agreed.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Food and Ag Top Stories Sat, 07 Jun 2014 10:00:14 +0000 Alex Park 253591 at http://www.motherjones.com