Blue Marble Feed | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en The HPV Vaccine Prevents Cancer. So Why Aren't Most Teens Getting It? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>According to latest National Immunization Survey, <a href="" target="_blank">released</a> by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday, around 60 percent of teenage girls and 78 percent of teenage boys haven't received all three of the recommended doses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which helps prevent reproductive cancers and genital warts caused by the virus.</p> <p>Administered through three shots over a six month period, the vaccine protects against the most common types of the highly contagious virus, which is spread through sexual contact. Health officials recommend that adolescents receive the shots between the ages of 11 and 12 to boost the chances for immunity prior to any sexual activity, but the survey showed that 40 percent of girls and 60 percent of boys&nbsp;ages 13 to 17 hadn't received even the first dose.</p> <p>HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease&mdash;most people will contract one of the 40 strains at some point in their lives. Seventy-nine million people in the United States have HPV, and an additional 14 million people are infected annually. Many people don't even know they have the virus, and it often goes away on its own.</p> <p>But not everyone is so lucky: One in every 100 will develop genital warts and 23,000 are diagnosed with HPV-caused cancers each year. According to the CDC, the vaccine prevents almost all pre-cancers and warts caused by the virus in both males and females. Since the first HPV vaccine was developed <a href="" target="_blank">in 2006,</a> the vaccine has helped reduce HPV infections among teenage girls by 56 percent&mdash;even with vaccination rates as low as they are.</p> <p>Still, many parents are deciding to pass. A <a href="" target="_blank">study published in <em>Pediatrics </em></a>in 2013 showed that the reasons most cited included unwarranted fears about vaccine safety and disbelief that their kids would be sexually active. Despite it's proven safety and effectiveness, the vaccine has become a politically divisive issue. In 2011, Texas Governor Rick Perry was the <a href="" target="_blank">first in the country to order a mandate</a>, sparking <a href="" target="_blank">outrage from the religious right.</a> During a 2011 debate, Michele Bachmann claimed that the vaccine was "very dangerous" and caused "mental retardation," and Rick Santorum called vaccine mandates, "just wrong."</p> <div id="stcpDiv" style="position: absolute; top: -1999px; left: -1988px;">HPV vaccine uptake has not kept pace with that of other adolescent vaccines and has stalled in the past few years. In 2012, only about one-third of 13- to 17-year-old girls received all three recommended doses. These levels fall considerably short of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services <span class="italic">Healthy People 2020</span> goal of having 80 percent of 13- to 15-year-old girls fully vaccinated against HPV. Immunization rates for U.S. boys are even lower than for girls. Less than 7 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 completed the series in 2012. This low rate is in large part because the ACIP recommendation for routine vaccination of boys was not made until 2011. However, it is even lower than what was observed for girls in 2007&mdash;the first year following the recommendation for females&mdash;suggesting that concerted efforts are needed to promote HPV vaccination of males. - See more at:</div> <p>The National Cancer Institute <a href="" target="_blank">has called</a> for an "urgency of action" in closing vaccination gaps , citing that current vaccine rates are falling short of the US Department of Health and Human Services Goal for 80 percent coverage among 13 to 15 year old girls by 2020.</p> <p>Though the focus is more often on girls, men are at also risk for HPV-caused cancers, including throat cancer, which may soon replace cervical cancer as the <a href="" target="_blank">most common</a> caused by the virus.</p> <p>The survey did show there had been big gains in some parts of the country&mdash;Illinois, Montana, North Carolina and Utah all averaged increases of roughly 20 percent&mdash;which health officials say is an encouraging sign.</p> <p>"The large increases in these diverse parts of the country show us it is possible to do much better at protecting our nation's youth from cancers caused by HPV infections," Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC&rsquo;s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a statement released with the report. "We are missing crucial opportunities to protect the next generation from cancers caused by HPV."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Fri, 31 Jul 2015 18:37:41 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 280986 at Watch Activists Dangle Off a Portland Bridge to Block Shell's Arctic-Bound Ship <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><strong>Update 7/31/15</strong>: Thursday evening, Shell's MSV Fennica made another attempt to pass through protestors on Portland's Willamette River. This time, the icebreaker was successful; the Fennica is now on its way back up to the Arctic. The video below shows the dramatic confrontation between the ship and the environmental activists:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Environmental activists have taken to <a href="" target="_blank">kayak</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">chain</a>, and even <a href="" target="_blank">rocking chair</a> to slow down Royal Dutch Shell's <a href="" target="_blank">plans to drill for oil in the Arctic</a> this summer. For the past two days, they took their protest to a new extreme. Early Wednesday morning, around <a href="" target="_blank">a dozen Greenpeace activists rappelled off a bridge</a> over the Willamette River in Portland, Ore. to stop a Shell ship stationed there for repairs from returning to the Arctic. This morning, it appears <a href="" target="_blank">they caused the ship to turn around</a> after it tried to rejoin Shell's fleet in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea.</p> <p>The ship, called the MSV Fennica, went all the way up to the Arctic only <a href="" target="_blank">to find a 39-inch-long gash in its side</a>. The damage was so serious, the ship had to travel all the way back to Portland for repairs. The Fennica is an icebreaker, but also carries Shell's capping stack, needed to stop an underwater well leak; Shell can't begin its exploring until the Fennica and its equipment is back and functioning in the Arctic.</p> <p>In an effort to stop it from rejoining Shell's fleet in the Chukchi Sea, and delay the oil giant's drilling plans there, Greenpeace organized protestors to dangle from Portland's St. John's bridge and physically stop the ship from traveling down the Willamette River and back out to the Pacific. We reached out to Shell to confirm if the protestors have affected the Fennica's schedule, but have not heard back.</p> <p>Below, we collected some Twitter photos of the dramatic protest:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The ship is headed towards us <a href="">#shellno</a> <a href="">#youshellnotpass</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Dan Cannon (@DanEnviroCannon) <a href="">July 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The fennica is headed back to its dock where it belongs - not the arctic! <a href="">#ShellNo</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Dan Cannon (@DanEnviroCannon) <a href="">July 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">We have a beautiful view over the water. Supporters on the shore and in kayaks, and NO Fennica in sight. <a href="">#ShellNo</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Kristina N. Flores (@KristinaNFlores) <a href="">July 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">#ShellNo</a> protesters cheer as the icebreaker backs down, turns around: <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) <a href="">July 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">These 13 folks are what stands between Shell and the Arctic. Many thanks for their courage and skill <a href="">#shellno</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) <a href="">July 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">.<a href="">@OregonGovBrown</a> <a href="">@MayorPDX</a> say <a href="">#ShellNo</a> to drilling in the Arctic and let the St Johns climbers stay! <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) <a href="">July 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Demonstrators hang from Portland bridge to block Shell ship <a href=""></a> <a href="">@katunews</a> <a href="">#ActOnClimate</a> <a href="">#ShellNo</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Pipe Up Network (@PipeUpNetwork) <a href="">July 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Shell's icebreaker was supposed to leave for the Arctic last night. Then <a href="">@GreenpeaceUSA</a> climbers said <a href="">#ShellNo</a>: <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; 350 dot org (@350) <a href="">July 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Energy Thu, 30 Jul 2015 18:59:44 +0000 Luke Whelan 280966 at This Map Shows What San Francisco Will Look Like After Sea Levels Rise <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Developers in the booming San Francisco Bay Area are busy planning everything from much-needed <a href="" target="_blank">new housing</a> to <a href="" target="_blank">sports stadiums</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">gleaming tech campuses</a>.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">But according to a new report</a> just published by the<em> San Francisco Public Press</em>, many of these construction projects sit on land susceptible to rising waters due to climate change. And regulators and local governments are not doing much to prepare.&nbsp;</p> <p>The<em> Public Press</em> found 27 major commercial and residential developments that will be vulnerable to flooding if San Francisco Bay sea levels rise as much as climate researchers like the National Research Council project in the next century. These developments include a new stadium for the Golden State Warriors, campuses being built by Google and Facebook, and revamped public spaces like San Francisco's iconic ferry terminal and Jack London Square in Oakland.</p> <p>To make its maps, the <em>Public Press</em> partnered with the University of California-Berkeley Cartography and Geographic Information System Education Lab and used flooding and sea level projections from the US Geological Survey and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission predicts that in the next hundred years, water levels in the Bay could rise as much as 8 feet over high tide at current levels, including storm surge:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="900" mozallowfullscreen="" msallowfullscreen="" oallowfullscreen="" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Despite the fact that more than $21 billion of new development is at stake, the report found that very little is being done to prepare for potential waterfront flooding risk. While most cities and counties around the Bay Area have begun studying the effects of sea level rise, none have actually enacted climate adaptation plans, like updating flood plain ordinances and buildings codes. Only one county (Santa Clara) has revised its local flooding maps.</p> <p>We've <a href="" target="_blank">seen before</a> in other major urban areas that such short-sightedness can lead to staggering costs. Many scientists and environmental advocates believe the Bay Area could experience similar devastation if more is not done to adapt to climate change.</p> <p>Brian Beveridge, co-director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, told the <em>Public Press</em>, "It's going to fall down along lines of class and political power&mdash;who will be protected and who will be thrown to the dogs."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Maps Climate Change Wed, 29 Jul 2015 23:24:31 +0000 Luke Whelan 280811 at These National Parks Got an "F" in Air Pollution <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>It's late summer, and Americans are flocking to the country's national parks for some recreation and fresh air.</p> <p>But a <a href="" target="_blank">study</a> released this week by the National Parks Conservation Association found that air in some of the country's most popular parks is not so fresh&mdash;and it's potentially hazardous. The report rated the country's 48 parks in three categories: levels of ozone (a pollutant that can irritate or damage lungs), haziness, and the impacts of climate change on the park. Here are the 12 worst contenders (full list available <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>):</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/polluted-parks-list.png"><div class="caption">National Parks Conservation Association</div> </div> <p>Ozone is a pollutant common in smog, and it's particularly prevalent on hot summer days. Seventy-five percent of the parks had ozone levels between 2008 and 2012 that were "moderate" or worse, according to the federal government's <a href="" target="_blank">Air Quality Index</a>. Four national parks&mdash;Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Joshua Tree, and Yosemite&mdash;regularly have "unhealthy" ozone levels, meaning that the average hiker should reduce strenuous activity and those with asthma should avoid it altogether. (You can see the air quality in your area <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.)</p> <p>Jobs at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, including those indoors, come with pollution warnings saying that at times the air quality "may pose human health problems due to air pollution," according to the report.</p> <p>Pollution doesn't just make visitors and employees sick; it also ruins one of the parks' main attractions: the views. Smog affects vistas in all of the parks; on average, air pollution obstructs fifty miles from view. Here are some examples of how far visitors can see in miles today compared to "natural" levels, when air isn't affected by human activity.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/visibility-in-miles.png"><div class="caption">National Parks Conservation Association</div> </div> <p>The NPCA didn't look into specific causes of air pollution in each location, but generally, the the report attributes it to the the usual suspects: coal-fired power plants, cars, and industrial and agricultural emissions. Under the <a href="" target="_blank">Regional Haze Program</a>, developed by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1999, states are required to implement air quality protection plans that reduce human-caused pollution in national parks, the NPCA contends that loopholes prevent power plants and other big polluters from being affected by the rules.</p> <p>Ulla Reeves, the manager of the NPCA's clean air campaign, maintains that if enforcement for the Regional Haze Program isn't improved, only 10 percent of the national parks will have clean air in 50 years. "It's surprising and disappointing that parks don't have the clean air that we assume them to have and that they must have under the law."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Charts Climate Change Econundrums Top Stories Wed, 29 Jul 2015 10:05:11 +0000 Julia Lurie 280806 at Soon You Might Actually Be Able to Tell How Much Added Sugar Is in Your Food <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When the popular news quiz show <em>Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! </em>hosted the country's Surgeon General, Vicek Murthy, <a href="" target="_blank">last weekend</a>, he was confronted with the question: What's your one weakness? "Sweets," he answered, "I like bread pudding and cheesecake, in particular."</p> <p>Many of us can identify with the hankering for the occasional piece of cheesecake after dinner. But lots of the added sugar you inhale probably doesn't come in the form of dessert. Rather, Americans get much of their sweetening in the form of beverages&mdash;especially soda&mdash;and packaged foods that at first glance seem snacky or savory (yep, <a href="" target="_blank">one serving of hoisin sauce</a> has two whole teaspoons; barbecue sauce one and a half). While the World Health Organization <a href="" target="_blank">has suggested</a> that adults should get no more than 5 percent of their daily calories from added sweeteners&mdash;that's about 6 teaspoons&mdash;the average American ingests roughly five times that amount every day.</p> <p>For decades, researchers and doctors have been sounding the alarm about the negative health risks associated with a diet too rich in added sugars&mdash;from obesity, poor nutrition, diabetes, and <a href="" target="_blank">even heart disease</a>. But as <a href="" target="_blank">I've written about in the past</a>, even if you're concerned about your levels of added sugar intake, it's nearly impossible to tell how much you might be eating: Current food labels don't require added sugar to be listed. There's even indication that food companies have gone to great lengths to keep that information hidden from the public's eyes. The US Department of Agriculture used to list added sugars for popular products in online, but the database <a href="" target="_blank">was removed in 2012</a> after companies claimed that added sugar amounts should be considered trade secrets.</p> <p>So in March, the Food and Drug Administration proposed revising nutrition labels to include added sugars on packaged foods. And on Friday, the agency went even further by <a href="" target="_blank">proposing to require</a> that packaged food companies must also include a percent daily value of added sugar on the nutrition label. (The daily value would be based on the recommendation that added sugar not exceed 10 percent of total calories, or roughly 12 teaspoons of sugar a day).</p> <p>The FDA has already received pushback from industry groups about the attempt to make added sugar quantities more transparent; the Corn Refiner's Association <a href="http://file:///Users/moatman/Downloads/Corn_Refiners_Association_CRA_Comments_re_FDA_Docket_No_FDA-2012-N-1210_NFP_Proposed_Changes.pdf" target="_blank">questioned</a> the agency's "statutory authority to do so" and complained of a lack of "credible scientific evidence." Meanwhile, <a href="http://file:///Users/moatman/Downloads/FDA_2012_N_1210_Kellogg_Comments.pdf" target="_blank">Kellogg argued</a> that the proposal "to distinguish added sugars...may confuse consumers." Of course, Kellogg happens to be the world's "second largest producer of cookies, crackers, and savory snacks."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Health Regulatory Affairs Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:09:33 +0000 Maddie Oatman 280751 at Hillary Clinton Refuses to Take a Position on the Keystone Pipeline <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Hillary Clinton took a strong stance on clean energy Monday, telling a crowd in Des Moines, Iowa, that her efforts to tackle climate change would parallel President John F. Kennedy's call to action during the space race in the 1960s.</p> <p>"I want to get the country back to setting big ambitious goals," Clinton said. "I want us to get back into the future business, and one of the best ways we can do that is to be absolutely ready to address the challenge of climate change and make it work to our advantage economically."</p> <p>Her remarks tracked closely with an ambitious plan her campaign released Sunday night, which <a href="" target="_blank">set a target</a> of producing enough renewable energy to power all the nation's homes and businesses by 2027.</p> <p>"America's ability to lead the world on this issue hinges on our ability to act ourselves," she said. "I refuse to turn my back on what is one of the greatest threats and greatest opportunities America faces."</p> <p>Still, the Democractic front-runner refused&mdash;as she has <a href="" target="_blank">several times before</a>&mdash;to say whether or not she supports construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. That project, which would carry crude oil from Canada's tar sands to refineries and ports in the United States, is seen by many environmentalists as a blemish on President Barack Obama's climate record. It has been <a href="" target="_blank">stalled for years</a> in a lengthy State Department review that began when Clinton was still Secretary of State. The Obama administration has resisted several recent attempts by Congress to force Keystone's approval, but it has yet to make a final decision on the project&mdash;although one is expected sometime this year.</p> <p>"I will refrain from commenting [on Keystone XL], because I had a leading role in getting that process started, and we have to let it run its course," Clinton said, in response to a question from an audience member.</p> <p>Her non-position on Keystone earned derision from environmentalist Bill McKibben, whose organization has been at the forefront of opposition to the pipeline.</p> <p>"I think it's bogus," he said in an email. "Look, the notion that she can't talk about it because the State Dept. is still working on it makes no sense. By that test, she shouldn't be talking about Benghazi or Iran or anything else either. The more she tries to duck the question, the more the whole thing smells."</p> <p>Clinton also punted on an audience request to reveal further details of how exactly she would finance the renewable energy targets she announced yesterday, which aim even higher than those already put in place by Obama. She reiterated that one key step would be to ensure the extension of federal tax credits for wind and solar energy that have expired or are set to expire over the next few years. And she said that she would continue Obama's practice of pursuing aggressive climate policies from <a href="" target="_blank">within the White House</a>, saying that "we still have a lot we can do" without waiting for a recalcitrant Congress to act.</p> <p>Clinton acknowledged that the clean energy boom would come at a cost for the US coal industry, which is already in <a href="" target="_blank">steep decline</a>. She said she would "guarantee that coal miners and their families get the benefits they've earned," but didn't elaborate on what she meant or how specifically she would achieve that.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>Environmental groups offered a generally positive reaction to Clinton's policy announcement Sunday. In a statement, League of Conservation Voters vice president Tiernan Sittenfield commended her for "calling out climate change deniers and effectively illustrating the urgent need to act on a defining issue of our time." She also <a href="" target="_blank">earned praise</a> from billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, who has set a high bar on climate action for any candidate who wants to tap his millions.</p> <p>"I refuse to let those who are deniers to rip away all the progress we've made and leave our country exposed to climate change," Clinton said.</p></body></html> Blue Marble 2016 Elections Climate Change Climate Desk Hillary Clinton Top Stories Infrastructure Mon, 27 Jul 2015 17:45:30 +0000 Tim McDonnell 280686 at Study: Juvenile Detention Not a Great Place to Deal With Mental Health Issues <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>If you land in the hospital as an incarcerated teen, it's more likely for mental health reasons&mdash;psychiatric illnesses, substance abuse, depression, or disruptive disorders&mdash;than for any other factor, says a new study.</p> <p>Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine examined nearly 2 million hospitalizations in California of boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 18 over a 15-year period. They found that mental health diagnoses accounted for 63 percent of hospital stays by kids in the justice system, compared with 19 percent of stays by kids who weren't incarcerated, according to <a href="" target="_blank">their study</a> published Tuesday in the <em>Journal of Adolescent Health</em>.</p> <p>The study's lead author, Dr. <a href="">Arash Anoshiravani</a>, said it seems likely that many locked-up kids developed mental health problems as a result of earlier stressful events during their childhoods, such as being abused or witnessing other acts of violence. "We are arresting kids who have mental health problems probably related to their experiences as children," he <a href="" target="_blank">said in a statement</a>. "Is that the way we should be dealing with this, or should we be getting them into treatment earlier, before they start getting caught up in the justice system?"</p> <p>Even if someone enters detention without a major mental health problem, she has a good chance of developing one once she's there. The World Health Organization <a href="" target="_blank">cites</a> many factors in prison life as detrimental to mental stability, including overcrowding, physical or sexual violence, isolation, a lack of privacy, and inadequate health services. And the problem is obviously not just limited to juvenile offenders: Earlier this year, <a href="" target="_blank">a study by the Urban Institute</a> found that more than half of all inmates in jails and state prisons across the country have a mental illness of some kind.</p> <p>In the California study, kids in detention and hospitalized were disproportionately black and from larger metropolitan counties like Los Angeles, Alameda, and San Diego. Among children and teens in the justice system, girls were more likely than boys to experience severe mental health problems, with 74 percent of their hospitalizations related to mental illness, compared with 57 percent of boys' hospitalizations. (Boys, on the other hand, were five times more likely to be hospitalized for trauma.)</p> <p>Earlier mental health interventions could lead to major savings, the researchers added: Detained youth in their study had longer hospital stays than kids outside the justice system, and a majority of them were publicly insured.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Care Prisons Thu, 23 Jul 2015 19:39:27 +0000 Samantha Michaels 280311 at Good News, Bad News: Your Almond Milk May Not Contain Many Almonds <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Still chugging almond milk, despite <a href="" target="_blank">everything we've told you</a> this past year? There's some good news: you may not be destroying the environment as much as you've continued to not care about. Why? Because of the bad news: you are likely getting duped.</p> <p>According to a new lawsuit, Almond Breeze products only contain 2 percent of almonds and mostly consist of water, sugar, sunflower lecithin, and carrageenan, the blog <a href=";utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=22-Jul-2015&amp;c=vKuGflyMHAoOf2i2%2FeVC%2FQk9DtXbqc%2Fk&amp;p2=" target="_blank"><em>Food Navigator </em></a>reports. Almond Breeze is among the top five milk substitute <a href="" target="_blank">brands</a> in the country.</p> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">class action lawsuit</a>, filed by two unhappy almond milk drinkers in the US District Court in New York earlier this month, seeks $5 million in damages from the products' distributor, Blue Diamond Growers.</p> <p>While Blue Diamond Growers doesn't label how much of a percentage of its milk is made from almonds, plaintiffs Tracy Albert&nbsp;and&nbsp;Dimitrios Malaxianis say the company&nbsp;is&nbsp;misleading consumers by its claim on the front of the package that it is "made from real almonds."</p> <p>Water-wasting and now potentially deceptive, if you needed one more reason to lay off the almond milk, here it is.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Wed, 22 Jul 2015 18:26:11 +0000 Inae Oh 280236 at Republicans Are Still Totally Wrong About ISIS <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley made an astute observation about ISIS in an interview with <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Bloomberg</em></a>.</p> <p>"One of the things that preceded the failure of the nation-state of Syria, the rise of ISIS, was the effect of climate change and the mega-drought that affected that region, wiped out farmers, drove people to cities, created a humanitarian crisis [that] created the&hellip;conditions of extreme poverty that has led now to the rise of ISIL and this extreme violence," said the former Maryland governor.</p> <p>Republicans were quick to seize on the comment as an indication of O'Malley's weak grasp of foreign policy. Reince Priebus, chair of the Republican National Committee, <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> the suggestion of a link between ISIS's rise to power and climate change was "absurd" and a sign that "no one in the Democratic Party has the foreign policy vision to keep America safe."</p> <p>Here's the thing, though: O'Malley is totally right. As we've <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> <a href="" target="_blank">here</a> <a href="" target="_blank">many</a> <a href="" target="_blank">times</a>, Syria's civil war is the best-understood and least ambiguous example of a case where an impact of climate change&mdash;in this case, an unprecedented drought that devastated rural farmers&mdash;directly contributed to violent conflict and political upheaval. There is no shortage of high-quality, <a href="" target="_blank">peer-reviewed research</a> explicating this link. As O'Malley said, the drought made it more difficult for rural families to survive off of farming. So they moved to cities in huge numbers, where they were confronted with urban poverty and an intransigent, autocratic government. Those elements clearly existed regardless of the drought. But the drought was the final straw, the factor that brought all the others to a boiling point.</p> <p>Does this mean that America's greenhouse gas emissions are solely responsible for ISIS's rise to power? Obviously not. But it does mean that, without accounting for climate change, you have an incomplete picture of the current military situation in the Middle East. And without that understanding, it will be very difficult for a prospective commander-in-chief to predict where terrorist threats might emerge in the future.</p> <p>The link between climate and security isn't particularly controversial in the defense community. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama <a href="" target="_blank">called</a> climate change an "urgent and growing threat" to national security. A recent <a href="" target="_blank">review</a> by the Defense Department concluded that climate change is a "threat multiplier" that exacerbates other precursors to war, while the Center for Naval Analysis <a href="" target="_blank">found</a> that climate change-induced drought is already leading to conflict across Africa and the Middle East.</p> <p>In other words, O'Malley's comment is completely on-point. If Priebus and his party are serious about defeating ISIS and preventing future terrorist uprisings, they can't continue to dismiss the role of climate change.</p></body></html> Blue Marble 2016 Elections Climate Change Climate Desk Military Top Stories Tue, 21 Jul 2015 20:16:39 +0000 Tim McDonnell 280141 at How the US Chamber of Commerce Is Helping Big Tobacco Poison the Rest of the World <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The US Chamber of Commerce hasn't just worked to <a href="" target="_blank">thwart climate change legislation</a>, obstruct <a href="" target="_blank">health care reform</a>, and pooh-pooh <a href="" target="_blank">Wall Street regulations</a>. The nation's most powerful business lobby recently turned its attention to promoting cigarettes overseas, apparently using a rationale that corporations are, well, people:</p> <p>"The Chamber regularly reaches out to governments around the world to urge them to avoid measures that discriminate against particular companies or industries," the Chamber said in a short statement responding to a recent <em>New York Times</em> <a href="" target="_blank">piece</a> on its tobacco lobbying. Since 2011, according to the <em>Times, </em>the US Chamber intervened in at least nine countries and the European Union&mdash;either directly or through one of its many foreign affiliates&mdash;to oppose regulations designed to prevent smoking.</p> <p>Moreover, according to a <a href="" target="_blank">report</a> released last week by anti-smoking groups, including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Action on Smoking and Health, tobacco companies have joined US Chamber affiliates in 56 countries. Those companies also sit on Chamber affiliates' boards or advisory councils in 14 countries&mdash;most of which happen to be <a href="" target="_blank">places where people smoke a lot</a>: Albania, Armenia, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Kosovo, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, Poland, Serbia, the Slovak Republic, and Taiwan.</p> <p>The report also highlighted previously unreported cases in which the US Chamber has gone to bat for its tobacco company members:</p> <ul><li><strong>Burkina Faso:</strong> In January 2014, the US Chamber sent a letter to Prime Minister Luc Adolphe Tiao warning that the country's plan to implement graphic warning labels on cigarette packages violated international property rights and trade agreements. The threat of costly trade litigation delayed implementation of the law, according to government officials.</li> <li><strong>Philippines:</strong> In 2012, the US Chamber and its local affiliate fought an effort to raise taxes on cigarettes, claiming it would create a black market. The commissioner of the Filipino Bureau of Internal Revenue recently told the local press that those fears have proved unfounded.</li> <li><strong>United Kingdom:</strong> In 2014, the US Chamber released a joint statement with business groups and sent letters opposing a bill that would create standardized packaging for tobacco products. The bill "sends a negative message to the United Kingdom's trading partners," one letter said, "and undermines its reputation for the rule of law." The bill passed in March 2015.</li> </ul><p>US Chamber CEO Tom Donohue's most striking innovation has been to allow controversial industries to use the Chamber as a means of anonymously pursuing their political ends. The same politicians who might ignore a complaint from a tobacco company may listen when that complaint comes from a group that claims (<a href="" target="_blank">albeit disingenuously</a>) to represent 3 million businesses.</p> <p>But the strategy comes with a risk in terms of its corporate clientele. Apple and Nike quit the Chamber over its stance on climate change, and CVS just <a href="" target="_blank">parted ways with the group over its tobacco lobbying</a>.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health International Money in Politics Top Stories Chamber of Commerce Tue, 21 Jul 2015 10:05:18 +0000 Josh Harkinson 279951 at California Just Fined Some Farmers $1.5 Million for Using Too Much Water <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>California's Water Resources Control Board proposed a $1.5 million fine today for a farming district's unauthorized use of water&mdash;the first such fine in the state's four-year drought. The Board <a href="" target="_blank">alleged</a> that the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, a region serving 160 farmers just east of San Francisco, illegally diverted nearly 700 million gallons of water over the course of two weeks in June.</p> <p>Byron-Bethany is one of about 5,000 water-rights holders notified this year that there isn't enough water to pump from lakes and rivers, and it's illegal to divert water after receiving such notifications. In response, several water users, including Byron-Bethany, have <a href="" target="_blank">sued</a> the state for cutting off its water supply.</p> <p><span id="MNGiSection">"We will vigorously defend our rights," said Rick Gilmore, general manager of the district, to the <em>San Jose Mercury News</em> last month. "All our sweet corn and tomatoes</span>&mdash;<span>they won't make it to harvest. Almonds and cherries will suffer damage," he said. "They'll lose the water they need for July and August."</span></p> <p>The proposed fine, which the district will likely contest in a coming hearing, is the first fine sought by the Board under a new structure in which water rights holders can be penalized for past unauthorized use of water, even if they have stopped diverting since. But Byron-Bethany probably isn't alone; Andrew Tauriainen, a lawyer for the state's Division of Water Rights, says, "It's highly likely that additional enforcement actions will follow in weeks and months ahead."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Food and Ag Regulatory Affairs Mon, 20 Jul 2015 21:25:29 +0000 Julia Lurie 280031 at Koalas Get Laid By Making This Horrifyingly Disgusting Grunting Sound <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Listen to the sound in that video. If I had to guess what it meant, soliciting sex would probably be pretty far down my list. It strikes me more as the sound a Chicago Bears fan might make after swilling a pitcher of Bud Light.</p> <p>But <a href="" target="_blank">new research</a> has revealed for the first time that this mysterious bellowing is most likely the male koalas' mating call.</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/koala-mini-nav_1.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> Weekends are always better when they start with koalas. </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-270971"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2015/02/koala-car-jack"> This Koala Is So Cute You'll Want It To Get Away With Stealing This Kid's Car</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-272511"> <li><a href="/mixed-media/2015/03/you-didnt-know-koalas-were-fierce"> Koalas Are Cute and Cuddly. This Video Proves They Are Also Fearsome Warriors. </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-269381"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2015/01/jeremy-koala-australia-bushfire-returned-wild"> We Have Some Good News For You About the Koala That Was Burned in the Fire</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-268041"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2015/01/wildfires-koala-paws-burn-australia-mittens"> Please, Please Stop Making Mittens for Koalas</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-264866"> <li><a href="/mixed-media/2014/11/here-photo-president-obama-holding-koala"> Here Is a Photo of President Obama Holding a Koala</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-279481"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2015/07/koalas-get-laid-making-horrifying-disgusting-grunting-sound"> Koalas Get Laid By Making This Horrifyingly Disgusting Grunting Sound</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>Despite their popularity, relatively little is known about koalas' social interactions, since they tend to be solitary and thus difficult to study. To overcome that challenge, researchers at Australia's University of Queensland fitted 21 koalas on <a href=",+Australia/@-20.9243253,149.4420818,14z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x6bd96871ef4a1da7:0x400eef17f2091a0" target="_blank">St. Bees Island</a> with GPS tracking collars during the summertime mating season.</p> <p>Over two months, the GPS devices recorded how often koalas came into contact with one another. The scientists found that while male-female interactions increased during mating season, male-male encounters remained rare, suggesting that the male koalas had a way of avoiding each other while attracting females.</p> <p>The most likely explanation is that bellow, lead author William Ellis told the <a href="" target="_blank">Australian Broadcasting Corporation</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Researchers suggest that the male koala's bellowing serves to warn other males away from their territory, so there's no need for close-up grappling and competition.</p> <p>Ellis says the bellows may also be a way of communicating important information to potential mates.</p> <p>"Our studies on the bellows have certainly shown us that the bellow itself contains information on size but also individuality; they are distinct for each particular male," he says...</p> <p>Given the often isolated nature of koala groups, individuality of bellows may help female koalas avoid mating with close relatives, thereby maintaining the population's genetic diversity, says Ellis.</p> </blockquote> <p>Happy Friday!</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Animals Science Fri, 10 Jul 2015 18:59:55 +0000 Tim McDonnell 279481 at Here Is the Clearest Image NASA Has Ever Taken of Pluto and its Moon Charon <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>For years now, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has been hurtling towards the far edges of the Milky Way for its July 14 rendezvous with one of the great mysteries of the solar system: Pluto. But we're already receiving captivating, never-seen-before images of this icy world, such as the one above, of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon. NASA says New Horizons was about 3.7 million miles from Pluto when it snapped this picture late on Wednesday. See the full image <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p>From NASA:</p> <blockquote> <p>"These two objects have been together for billions of years, in the same orbit, but they are totally different," said Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado.</p> <p>Charon is about 750 miles (1200 kilometers) across, about half the diameter of Pluto&mdash;making it the solar system's largest moon relative to its planet. Its smaller size and lower surface contrast have made it harder for New Horizons to capture its surface features from afar, but the latest, closer images of Charon's surface show intriguing fine details.</p> <p>Newly revealed are brighter areas on Charon that members of the mission's Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team (GGI) suspect might be impact craters. If so, the scientists would put them to good use. "If we see impact craters on Charon, it will help us see what's hidden beneath the surface," said GGI leader Jeff Moore of NASA's Ames Research Center. "Large craters can excavate material from several miles down and reveal the composition of the interior."</p> </blockquote> <p>The mission, which launched in 2006, has already traveled 3 billion miles to get to Pluto. The spacecraft will go on to race past the dwarf planet at 30,000 miles per hour next week, absorbing all the data it possibly can about our least-understood distant neighbor&mdash;snapping photos with its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), a <a href="" target="_blank">little color-adding camera Ralph</a>, and a host of other gadgetry.</p> <p>We'll bring you the latest images when they become available next week. Can't wait.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Science Fri, 10 Jul 2015 18:25:46 +0000 James West 279466 at "Safe" Plastic Alternatives Linked to Scary Health Problems <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Exposure to two chemicals widely considered safe&mdash;and used in <a href="" target="_blank">hundreds of consumer products </a>including plastics, cosmetics, and soap&mdash;has been linked to increased blood pressure, insulin resistance, and other dangerous health problems in children, according to a new <a href="" target="_blank">study</a>.</p> <p>The chemicals, di-isononyl (DINP) and di-isodecyl (DIDP), were long seen as safer alternatives to their precursor, a phthalate called DEHP, which was associated with hypertension. Even though their use has been on the rise over the past decade, they were never fully tested&mdash;until now.</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/plastics-mininav.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-244486"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/03/tritan-certichem-eastman-bpa-free-plastic-safe"> The Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Plastics </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-244511"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/03/regulatory-capture-bpa-plastic-estrogen-endocrine-disruptor-feds"> How Industry and the Feds Suppressed Evidence That Plastics Wreak Havoc on Our Hormones </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-149231"> <li><a href="/environment/2011/11/tyrone-hayes-atrazine-syngenta-feud-frog-endangered"> The Frog of War: One Biologist's Crusade Against Atrazine</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-72096"> <li><a href="/environment/2010/09/plastic-bpa-in-cans"> Waiter, There's BPA in My Soup</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-237681"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/10/endocrine-disruptors-household-items"> Which 9 Household Items Will Make Your Hormones Go Haywire?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-217396"> <li><a href="/tom-philpott/2013/03/study-eating-fresh-local-and-organic-wont-protect-you-nasty-chemicals"> Buying Local and Organic? You're Still Eating Plastic Chemicals</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>In one study, researchers from the NYU Langone Medical Center analyzed urine samples of over 1,300 adolescents between the ages of 8 and 19 and found that the levels of DINP and DIDP corresponded to levels in blood pressure. In a separate study, the same team studied 356 teens and found a similar correlation between the chemical levels and insulin resistance&mdash;a condition that can lead to diabetes.</p> <p>The researchers recommend limiting exposure to these compounds by avoiding plastics marked with 3, 6, and 7, opting for fresh food over packaged, and making sure never to put plastic containers in the microwave or dishwasher, where they are more apt to leech chemicals.</p> <p>This isn't the first time plasticizing chemicals marketed as safe alternatives have proven otherwise. In last year's <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Mother Jones </em>investigation</a> into the dangers of BPA-free plastics, Mariah Blake uncovered the plastic industry's "Big-Tobacco" style campaign to bury research that showed how their products were connected to a litany of health problems&mdash;and the US government's failure to step in:</p> <blockquote> <p>US regulators also have continued to ignore the mounting evidence linking BPA and similar chemicals to human disease, even as bans have cropped up around the world. Although more than 90 studies examining people with various levels of exposure suggest BPA affects humans much as it does animals, the FDA recently announced that its research "<a href="" target="_blank">supports the safety of BPA</a>" in food containers and packaging. And the EPA program that was supposed to screen some 80,000 chemicals for endocrine disruption hasn't fully vetted a single substance. In 2010, the agency sought White House approval to add some endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are commonly found in plastic&mdash;among them BPA, phthalates, and a class of compounds known as PBDEs&mdash;to its "chemicals of concern" list because it found they "may present an unreasonable risk to human health." This would have required chemical makers to share safety-testing data with federal regulators. The proposal languished until last September, <a href="" target="_blank">when the EPA quietly withdrew it</a>, along with a proposed rule requiring manufacturers to disclose safety data on chemicals in their products.</p> </blockquote></body></html> Blue Marble Health Regulatory Affairs Top Stories Fri, 10 Jul 2015 10:05:09 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 279426 at These Antidepressants May Increase the Risk of Birth Defects <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Babies born to women who took certain antidepressants during pregnancy may have an elevated risk of birth defects, according to a <a href="" target="_blank">study</a> published Wednesday in the medical journal <em>BMJ</em>.</p> <p>Over the past few years, researchers have come to conflicting conclusions about the health impacts of taking common antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, early in pregnancy. Some studies have found prenatal exposure to SSRIs to be associated with heart and brain defects, autism, and more, while others have found the risk to be minimal or nonexistent.</p> <p>The <em>BMJ</em> study, led by researchers at the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shed light on the matter by analyzing <a href="" target="_blank">federal data</a> of 38,000 births between 1997 and 2009. Researchers interviewed the mothers of children with certain birth defects associated with SSRIs, asking if they took certain antidepressants during the first three months of pregnancy or the month prior to it. Unlike many previous studies, which looked at the effects of SSRIs as a group, the researchers looked at the health impacts of five specific drugs. They found that two drugs were associated with birth defects, while three of the drugs were not. Here are the details:</p> <ul><li>Sertraline (Zoloft): No increased risk of birth defects. (This was the most common of the five drugs, taken by forty percent of the women on antidepressants.)</li> <li>Paroxetine (Paxil): Babies were between 2 and 3.5 more likely to be born with <a href="" target="_blank">heart defects</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">brain defects</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">holes</a> between heart chambers, and <a href="" target="_blank">intestinal</a> <a href="" target="_blank">deformities</a>.</li> <li>Fluoxetine (Prozac): Babies were two times more likely to experience <a href="" target="_blank">heart defects</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">skull and brain shape</a> abnormalities.</li> <li>Escitalopram (Lexapro): No increased risk of birth defects.</li> <li>Citalopram (Celexa): No increased risk of birth defects.</li> </ul><p>Researchers are quick to note that even in the case of paroxetine and fluexetine, the absolute risk of these defects is still very small. If mothers take paroxetine early in pregnancy, for example, the chance of giving birth to a baby with anencephaly, a brain defect, rise from 2 in 10,000 to 7 in 10,000.</p> <p>Some <a href="" target="_blank">doctors</a> worry that studies like this dissuade mothers who truly need mental health treatment from seeking it&mdash;particularly since the stress associated with depression in the mother can impact the <a href="" target="_blank">health</a> of the baby. Elizabeth Fitelson, a Columbia University psychiatrist who treats pregnant women with depression, described this tricky balance to the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>New York Times</em></a> earlier this year: "For about 10 percent of my patients, I can readily say that they don't need medication and should go off it," she said. "I see a lot of high-risk women. Another 20 percent absolutely have to stay on medication&mdash;people who have made a suicide attempt every time they've been unmedicated. For the remaining 70 percent, it's a venture into the unknowable."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Pharma Thu, 09 Jul 2015 22:22:32 +0000 Julia Lurie 279386 at Solar Power Is Mostly for the Affluent. Here's Obama's Plan to Spread the Wealth Around. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Rooftop solar power systems cost <a href="" target="_blank">a lot less</a> these days than they did five or 10 years ago, and with many solar companies now offering leases and loans, it's safe to say that going solar is more affordable than even before. That trend goes a long way to explaining why solar, while still making up less than 1 percent of the total US energy mix, is the fastest-growing power source in the country.</p> <p>But access to solar power is still overwhelmingly skewed toward affluent households. Of the roughly <a href="" target="_blank">645,000 homes and business</a> with rooftop solar panels in the US, less than 5 percent are households earning less than $40,000, according to a <a href="" target="_blank">report</a> earlier this year from the George Washington University Solar Institute. The typical solar home is <a href="" target="_blank">34 percent larger</a> than the typical non-solar home, according to energy software provider Opower.</p> <p>President Barack Obama wants to change that. On Monday the White House announced a package of initiatives to make solar more accessible for low-income households. The plans include a new solar target for federally subsidized housing and an effort to increase the availability of federally insured loans for solar systems.</p> <p>Low-income households face a number of barriers to going solar. They're less likely to own their own roof, less able to access loans or other financing options for solar, and more likely to have subsidized utility bills that don't transfer the financial benefits of solar to the homeowner. And yet, in many ways low-income households stand to benefit the most from producing their own energy: The proportion of their income spent on energy is about four times greater than the national median, according to <a href="" target="_blank">federal statistics</a>. And because lower-income households tend to use less electricity overall than higher-income households, a typical solar setup covers more of their demand. The GW study found that a 4 kilowatt solar system, about the average size for a house, would cover more than half of a typical low-income household's energy needs and that if all low-income households went solar, they would collectively save up to $23.3 billion each year.</p> <p>"[This is] aimed at taking directly on those challenges and making it easier and straightforward to deploy low-cost solar energy in every community in the country," senior White House climate advisor <a href="" target="_blank">Brian Deese</a> <a href="" target="_blank">told reporters</a> in a call yesterday.</p> <p>The initiative starts by tripling the target for solar on federally subsidized housing to 300 megawatts by 2020, as well as directing the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide technical guidance for state and local housing authorities on how to go solar. The White House also announced more than $520 million in commitments from private companies, investors, NGOs, and state and local governments to pay for energy efficiency and solar projects for low-income households. The initiative places particular emphasis on so-called "community" solar, in which groups of households pool resources to build and maintain a shared solar system in their neighborhood.</p> <p>Some states and power companies are already angling to support solar for low-income housing. Arizona Public Service, a Phoenix-area utility, recently launched a $28.5 million program to install its own solar panels on rooftops in its service area, specifically targeting low-income households. And New York's electricity regulators recently bolstered incentives for power companies that invest in energy efficiency and renewables. Con Ed, the power company serving most of New York City, <a href="" target="_blank">plans to spend</a> $250 million on such upgrades in Brooklyn and Queens, as an alternative to a $1 billion upgrade to the old natural gas-fired electric grid.</p> <p>The president's plan builds on a <a href="" target="_blank">commitment</a> he announced earlier this year to train 75,000 workers for the solar industry (which is already adding jobs <a href="" target="_blank">10 times faster</a> than the overall economy). It also dovetails neatly with Obama's larger climate objectives, especially his <a href="" target="_blank">hotly-contested plan</a> to reduce the nation's energy-related carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030, as well as the <a href="" target="_blank">economy-wide climate targets</a> that form the US bargaining chip for this year's UN climate negotiations in Paris.</p> <p>For all those promises to work, "the question is how states and utilities can reduce their emissions, and the buildings that they serve are a critical part of that system," said Natural Resources Defense Council financial policy analyst Philip Henderson. "Making those buildings more efficient and using less energy from dirty power plants is a direct and essential way to meet those goals." &nbsp; &nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Top Stories Infrastructure Tue, 07 Jul 2015 17:33:13 +0000 Tim McDonnell 279116 at America's BBQ Grills Create as Much Carbon as a Big Coal Plant <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As your neighbors fire up their barbecues this Independence Day, the most popular day in America to grill, they won't just send the scent of tri-tip or grilled corn over the fence in your direction&mdash;they'll also send smoke. As my colleague Kiera Butler wrote about <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>, even the "cleanest" gas grills emit pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every hour they're used. So how many emissions can we expect from dinner barbecues on the 4th?</p> <p>Roughly eighty percent of American households own barbecues or smokers, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association</a>. Let's say all 92.5 million of them decide to grill on Saturday. A 2013 study by HPBA found that 61 percent of users opted for gas grills, 42 percent for charcoal, and 10 percent for electric (some respondents had multiple grills). If that reflected all households across the United States, and each household used <a href=";cd=1&amp;hl=en&amp;ct=clnk&amp;gl=us" target="_blank">its grill for an hour</a> on the 4th of July, then we'd get a calculation like this:</p> <p>(56.425M gas grills*5.6 pounds of CO2) + (38.85M charcoal grills*11 pounds CO2) + (9.25M electric grills*15 pounds CO2 ) = <strong>882 million pounds of CO2</strong></p> <p>That's <a href="" target="_blank">roughly as many</a> emissions as burning 2145 railcars of coal, or running one coal-fired power plant for a month.</p> <p>But let's be honest&mdash;no one wants to give up summer grilling, and these emissions stats probably won't convince your neighbor to turn off the barbecue. You might instead offer up ideas on recipes with ingredients that are friendlier to the planet&mdash;like these <a href="" target="_blank">4 veggie burgers that don't suck</a>.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Energy Food and Ag Science Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:48:53 +0000 Maddie Oatman 278911 at Finally, a Little Good News on the California Drought Front <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Finally, some good news on the California drought beat: Californians reduced their residential water usage in May by a whopping 29 percent compared to the same month in 2013, according to a <a href="" target="_blank">report</a> released today by the State Water Resources Control Board. That's the steepest drop in more than a year.</p> <p>Californians may have been inspired to reduce their water use by the mandatory, statewide municipal water cut of 25 percent that Gov. Jerry Brown <a href="" target="_blank">announced</a> in April, though those cuts didn't go into effect until June. (Those 25 percent reductions did not apply to agriculture, which uses an estimated 80 percent of the state's water, though some <a href="" target="_blank">farmers</a> have faced curtailments.)</p> <p>"The numbers tell us that more Californians are stepping up to help make their communities more water secure, which is welcome news in the face of this dire drought," said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus in a press release. "That said, we need all Californians to step up&mdash;and keep it up&mdash;as if we don&rsquo;t know when it will rain and snow again, because we don't."</p> <p>In May, California residents used 87.5 gallons per capita per day&mdash;three gallons per day less than the previous month. Big cities that showed the most dramatic cuts include Folsom, Fresno, and San Jose. But water use by area varies drastically, with places known for green lawns and gardens, like Coachella and Malibu, using more than 200 gallons per person per day. Outdoor water usage is estimated to account for about half of overall residential use.</p> <p>Officials are cautiously optimistic. Board spokesman George Kostyrko says Californians "did great in May and we are asking them to keep doing what they are doing and work even harder to conserve water during these critical summer months and beyond."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Econundrums Food and Ag Wed, 01 Jul 2015 19:47:04 +0000 Julia Lurie 278896 at The Threatened Atlantic Puffins Are Nesting And It's Adorable <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The Atlantic puffins are back...for now. After spending much of the year on the open sea, the photogenic birds have made their annual trip to the North Atlantic shores of Maine, Newfoundland, and the United Kingdom to breed.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href=""><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/maine_630x354_1.jpg"></a> <div class="caption"><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Click here to read our feature on Atlantic Puffins </strong></a></div> </div> <p>But <a href="" target="_blank">as Rowan Jacobsen reported in a <em>Mother Jones </em>feature last summer</a>, rising ocean temperatures have taken a huge toll on these seabirds. Cold-water thriving zooplankton, critical to the Gulf of Maine's food web, have reached their lowest numbers ever, forcing the fish that puffins feed to their young to go elsewhere for food. Without a reliable source of food, in 2013, only 10 percent of puffin pairs in burrows tracked by researchers successfully fledged chicks (normally that rate is 77 percent).</p> <p>This isn't the first time puffins in Maine have faced an existential threat. After <a href="" target="_blank">300 years of hunting and over harvesting eggs</a>, Atlantic puffin colonies in Maine nearly disappeared. Fortunately, a successful Audubon Society initiative in the 1970s brought them back to nesting islands off the coast of Maine; by 2013, 1,000 pairs were laying eggs there.</p> <p>During the past couple of years, cold water has returned to the gulf of Maine, which is great news for the puffins. In 2014, they <a href="" target="_blank">saw a rebound:</a> 75 percent of chicks survived. This year they are back again and as cute as ever. You can watch them below on the Audubon's puffin live cam until August when they leave again for the ocean:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"><br></iframe></p> <p>If that's not enough, below are some more photos and video of Atlantic puffins:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/shutterstock_82914316.jpg" style="height: 598px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption"><a href="">Randy Rimland</a>/Shutterstock</div> </div> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/shutterstock_113519149.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption"><a href="">Helen Kattai</a>/Shutterstock</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/shutterstock_84243166.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption"><a href=";ws=1">Eric Isselee</a>/Shutterstock</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/shutterstock_103764713_0.jpg" style="height: 417px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption"><a href="">gabrisigno</a>/Shutterstock</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Food and Ag Top Stories Sat, 27 Jun 2015 10:00:08 +0000 Luke Whelan 278566 at Congress Doesn't Think Agricultural Sustainability Has Anything to Do With Your Health <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Every five years, the US government revisits its Dietary Guidelines&mdash;suggestions for how Americans should eat. The guidelines won't legally require you to, say, eat an apple a day, but they do affect things like agricultural subsidies and public school lunches, so they're fairly influential.</p> <p>When the committee tasked with making scientific recommendations for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines released <a href="" target="_blank">its report</a> this year, it ruffled some feathers. For the first time it included concerns about the environmental issues linked to certain dietary patterns and agricultural practices&mdash;for example, how <a href="" target="_blank">eating less meat</a> and more plant-based foods is "more health promoting and is associated with a lesser environmental impact." Or that <a href="" target="_blank">assuring food security</a> might rely on creating agricultural practices that "reduce environmental impacts and conserve resources."</p> <p>Some lobbyists and politicians, especially those who pad their pockets with cash from Big Food and Big Ag, weren't too happy about these suggestions. As <a href="" target="_blank">I've written in the past</a>, the suggestion that plant-based diets might be healthier for people and the planet messes with the meat industry's bottom line, so why would they back it? In <a href="" target="_blank">letters</a> sent to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack over the past few months, industry groups have tried to argue that sustainability issues do not fall within the scope of the Dietary Guidelines. <a href="" target="_blank">One letter</a> from the National Cattleman's Beef Association argued that the advisory committee "clearly does not have the background or expertise to evaluate the complex relationship between food production and the dietary needs of a growing American and international population."</p> <p>The House Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, which <a href="" target="_blank">accepted at least $1.4 million</a> from the food industry in 2013 and 2014, apparently caved to these complaints. It recently stuck a rider in its <a href="" target="_blank">2016 Agricultural Appropriations bill</a> that would A) explicitly prohibit the upcoming Dietary Guidelines from mentioning anything other than diet and nutrient intake, and B) force the guidelines to only rely on scientific evidence that has been rated "Grade 1: Strong" by the Department of Agriculture. <em>Politico</em> reported on Thursday that a <a href="" target="_blank">similar Senate agriculture appropriations rider</a> would force any advice in the Dietary Guidelines to be "solely nutritional and dietary in nature."</p> <p>In an unprecedented move, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has shot back with <a href="" target="_blank">a letter of its own</a>. Health and food systems <em>should</em> be more closely related in the government's eyes, the committee argued. "Future food insecurity is predictable without attention to the safety, quality, cost, and sustainability of the food supply," the letter stated, adding that "the US health and public health systems are burdened with preventable health problems." In other words, to narrow the reach of the Dietary Guidelines is to ignore the connection between things like exercise and obesity, for instance, or agricultural pesticide use and disease. To read more of the DGAC's arguments, see the full <a href="" target="_blank">letter here</a>.</p> <p>Expect the finalized Dietary Guidelines late this year. In the meantime, it looks like the DGAC isn't giving up the battle for a more holistic national framework for how people eat. They certainly have <em>Food Politics</em> author Marion Nestle on their side; as she <a href="" target="_blank">summarizes</a> on her blog:</p> <blockquote> <p>[Members of the DGAC] were asked to review and consider the science of diet and health and did so. They reported what they believe the science says. Some segments of the food industry didn't like the science so they are using the political system to fight back. That some members of Congress would go along with this is shameful.</p> </blockquote></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Regulatory Affairs Top Stories Fri, 26 Jun 2015 22:15:12 +0000 Maddie Oatman 278581 at Why Is a Whole Foods Exec Livestreaming His Empty Office? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" scrolling="no" src=";height=354&amp;autoPlay=true&amp;mute=false" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Whole Foods recently announced its plan <a href="" target="_blank">to open a new line</a> of smaller stores called "365," and along with the news they launched a very, well, strange promotional website. If you type in <a href="" target="_blank"></a> you will find a webpage streaming a live cam of 365 president <a href="" target="_blank">Jeff </a><a href="" target="_blank">Turnas</a>'s desk. As of the writing of this post, the live stream has been going for some 170 hours; that's more than seven days.</p> <p>If this tactic is meant to show how hard Whole Foods is working on its new, more affordable venture (amid <a href="" target="_blank">growing competition</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">accusations</a> of overcharging customers), it's not really working. We scanned through the seven days of footage and not once was the office occupied.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Thu, 25 Jun 2015 21:36:28 +0000 Luke Whelan 278456 at California Water Districts Just Sued the State Over Cuts to Farmers <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><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/droughtmininav_0.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More MoJo coverage of the California Drought: </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-273076"> <li><a href="/environment/2015/04/everything-you-wanted-know-about-california-drought"> 7 Key Facts About the Drought</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-261336"> <li><a href="/environment/2015/01/california-drought-almonds-water-use"> Invasion of the Hedge Fund Almonds </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-276961"> <li><a href="/environment/2015/06/california-sinking-drought-ground-water"> California Is Literally Sinking Into the Ground</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-258001"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/08/bottled-water-california-drought"> Bottled Water Comes From the Most Drought-Ridden Places in the Country</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-253981"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2014/06/pacific-institute-nrdc-california-drought-solutions"> Weather-Sensitive Watering, and 4 Other Simple Fixes for California's Drought</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-247131"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/03/california-water-suck"> It Takes HOW Much Water to Make Greek Yogurt?!</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-275636"> <li><a href="/environment/2015/05/breaking-california-cutting-water-to-farms"> California Has Cut Water to Some Farmers. What Exactly Does That Mean? </a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>Drama on the California drought front: On Friday, a group of water districts sued the State Water Resources Control Board in response to an <a href="" target="_blank">order</a> prohibiting some holders of senior water rights from pumping out of some lakes and rivers.</p> <p>"This is our water," <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> Steve Knell, general manager of Oakdale Irrigation District, to KQED's Lauren Sommer. "We believe firmly in that fact and we are very vested in protecting that right."</p> <p>Water allotments in the Golden State are based on a byzantine <a href="" target="_blank">system of water rights</a> that prioritizes senior water rights holders, defined as individuals, companies, and water districts that laid claim to the water before 1914. Typically, those with the oldest permits are the first to get water and the last to see it curtailed.</p> <p>But on June 12, the state ordered the 114 senior water rights holders with <a href="" target="_blank">permits dating back to 1903</a> to stop pumping water from the San Joaquin and Sacramento watersheds, a normally fertile area encompassing<a href="" target="_blank"> most of northern California</a>. "There are some that have no alternative supplies and will have to stop irrigating crops," <a href="" target="_blank">admitted</a> Tom Howard, executive director of the State Water Resources Control Board. "There are others that have stored water or have wells that they can fall back on. It's going to be a different story for each one and a struggle for all of them." This is the first time since 1977 that the state has enacted curtailments on senior holders.</p> <p>In response, an umbrella group called the <a href="" target="_blank">San Joaquin Tributaries Authority</a> (which includes the Oakdale Irrigation District) has sued the state. In addition, the Patterson and Banta Carbona irrigation districts filed two separate lawsuits. The lawsuits claim the state overstepped its authority by curtailing water to districts that claimed rights to the water before the state set up a control board in 1913 to oversee water rights.</p> <p>"Water right holders were here before the state exerted any authority over water," <a href="" target="_blank">said Knell</a>. "Most of our water rights go back to the mid-1800s. So the state having authority over something that we developed long before the state got into this business is the legal question we will be asking a judge."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Econundrums Tue, 23 Jun 2015 00:39:38 +0000 Julia Lurie 278076 at EPA Report Puts a Staggering Price Tag on Climate Inaction <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>According to <a href="" target="_blank">a report</a> released Monday by the Obama administration, doing nothing to rein in greenhouse gas emissions would cost the United States billions of dollars and thousands lives.</p> <p>The findings come as part of an attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency to quantify the human and economic benefits of cutting emissions in an effort to reduce global warming. The report is the latest piece of President Obama's recent <a href="" target="_blank">climate push</a> and provides a tool that he <a href="" target="_blank">hopes to use</a> in negotiations at the UN climate talks in Paris later this year.</p> <p>The report, which was peer reviewed, estimates that if nothing is done to curb global warming, by 2100, the United States will see an additional 12,000 annual deaths related to extreme temperatures in the 49 cities analyzed for the report. In addition, the report projects an increase of 57,000 premature deaths annually related to poor air quality. The economic costs would be enormous as well. By 2100, climate inaction will result in:</p> <ul><li>$4.2-$7.4 billion<em> </em>in additional road maintenance costs each year.</li> <li>$3.1 billion annually in damages to coastal regions due to sea-level rise and storm surges.</li> <li>$6.6-$11 billion annually in agricultural damages.</li> <li>A loss of 230,000 to 360,000 acres of cold-water fish habitat.</li> <li>A loss of 34 percent of the US oyster supply and 29 percent of the clam supply.</li> <li>$110 billion annually in lost labor due to unsuitable working conditions.</li> </ul><p>The EPA also used a number of charts to illustrate the difference between taking action to stop (or "mitigate") climate change and continuing with business as usual (which the charts refer to as the "reference" case).</p> <p>For example, if we don't mitigate climate change, temperatures will continue to skyrocket:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20shot%202015-06-22%20at%201.03.55%20PM.png" style="height: 252px; width: 630px;"></div> <p><br> Precipitation levels will become extremely volatile:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20shot%202015-06-22%20at%201.05.32%20PM.png" style="height: 743px; width: 630px;"></div> <p><br> Air pollution will become much worse:</p> <p><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20shot%202015-06-22%20at%201.07.23%20PM.png" style="height: 380px; width: 630px;"></p> <p>And the risk of drought will rise for much of the country:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20shot%202015-06-22%20at%201.16.12%20PM.png"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Economy Science Top Stories Infrastructure Mon, 22 Jun 2015 22:59:11 +0000 Luke Whelan 278051 at Study: Flu Viruses Travel on US Roads and Railways <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Viruses are hitching a ride with commuters on the nation's roads and railways, adding to the chaotic movement that makes seasonal outbreaks difficult to track and contain.</p> <p>In a <a href="" target="_blank">study</a> published Thursday in <em>PLOS Pathogens, </em>researchers at Emory University tracked genetic variations in two strains of influenza between 2003 and 2013. They concluded that states highly connected by ground transit tended to have similar genetic variations of the flu, and they matched their findings with illness case data that showed closely timed epidemic peaks in those states. The researchers believe ground transit connectivity may be a better indicator of where a disease is likely to spread than air travel connections or even geographic proximity, though they say both remain important factors.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/map2_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The US Interstate Commuter Network shows the number of people traveling daily between states for work. </strong>Courtesy of Bozick, CC-BY</div> </div> <p>Modern transport networks complicate the movement of viruses: In the past, contagion moved person to person and village to village, resulting in "wave-like patterns" of genetic variation that correspond to geographic distance, the report says. But with 3.8 million people in the United States taking ground transportation across state borders each day and 1.6 million doing so by air, the spread of illness has become far more chaotic: Transcontinental flights help foster bicoastal outbreaks, while well-traveled commuter corridors between Kansas and Missouri may mean those states share illnesses as neighboring areas go unscathed.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/map1_1.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Researchers found that "commuting communities," divided into colored regions, tended to span state borders. Travelers carried influenza along with them. </strong>Courtesy of Bozick, CC-BY</div> </div> <p>The researchers hope their study, which they believe to be the first of its kind at the scale of the continental United States, will help epidemiologists better understand influenza's seemingly unpredictable spread.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Science Top Stories Sat, 20 Jun 2015 10:00:09 +0000 Gregory Barber 277861 at This Map Shows Where the World's Water Is Drying Up <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/watermap_white_cp.png"></div> <p>Groundwater loss isn't just a California problem: According to <a href="" target="_blank">a recent study</a> by researchers at NASA and the University of California-Irvine, humans are depleting more than half of the world's 37 largest aquifers at unsustainable rates, and there is virtually no accurate data showing how much water is left.</p> <p>The study, published this week in the journal <em>Water Resources Research</em>, used 11 years of satellite data to measure water depletion. Eight aquifers, primarily in Asia and Africa, were qualified as "overstressed," meaning they had nearly no natural replenishment. The most stressed basin was the Arabian Aquifer System, beneath Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Other quickly disappearing aquifers were the Indus Basin aquifer, between India and Pakistan, and the Murzuk-Djado Basin, in northern Africa.</p> <p>Five other aquifers, including California's Central Valley Aquifer, were "extremely" or "highly" stressed, with some natural replenishment but not enough to make up for growing demand.</p> <p>The growing demand on water, exacerbated by overpopulation and climate change, has led to a situation that is "quite critical," <a href="" target="_blank">says</a> Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at NASA.</p> <p>Aquifers house groundwater, which serves as a <a href="" target="_blank">savings account</a> of sorts: It's good to rely on in droughts but takes decades or centuries to replenish. Groundwater usually makes up about 40 percent of the California's freshwater supply, but now, as California endures its fourth year of drought and as farmers have resorted to <a href="" target="_blank">drilling for water</a>, that number has leapt to more than 60 percent. The state recently implemented regulations to measure groundwater supply that will gradually be implemented over several years.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/la-me-groundwater-studies-20150617-001.png"><div class="caption"><strong>NASA satellite images show groundwater loss in California. </strong>UC-Irvine/NASA</div> </div> <p>Measuring exactly how much groundwater remains around the world is both difficult and expensive, as it involves drilling, sometimes thousands of feet, into thick layers of bedrock. As a result, estimates of how much longer the existing groundwater will last often vary by orders of magnitude&mdash;from <a href="" target="_blank">decades to millennia</a>.</p> <p>The researchers got around that problem by using data that shows subtle changes in the Earth's gravity, which is affected by the weight of the aquifers. They acknowledge that this is just a start, and call for more local, detailed data.</p> <p>"We know we're taking more than we're putting back in&mdash;how much do we have before we can't do that anymore?" said lead author Alexandra Richey to the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Los Angeles Times</em></a>. "We don't know, but we keep pumping. Which to me is terrifying."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Econundrums International Top Stories Thu, 18 Jun 2015 10:00:16 +0000 Julia Lurie 277581 at