Forests are a major source of city water
A new study has found that forests filter and hold water that is siphoned to large U.S. towns, providing at least some of the water provided to more than 125,000,000 Americans. The authors of the study say this new finding is a wake-up call to forest protection against wildfires and development.
The study, conducted by the U.S. Forest Service and published in the journal Water Resources Research, relied on a new database of inter-basin transfers—artificial movements of water toward population centers like Los Angeles, New York City and Phoenix. Researchers examined models that showed forests provided 46 percent of surface water supply in the United States, even though they make up only 29 percent of the country’s land area.
“We’ve known for a long time that forests provide the best water quality among all land uses, and we’ve known for a long time that forests are really important for providing water supply,” said study co-author Peter Caldwell, a hydrologist at the U.S Forest Service.
He said that forests in the country are at risk. In the eastern U.S. most forests are owned by private landowners who have the option to develop the land or to sell it off to developers. Most of the West’s forest is owned by the public, but is under threat from wildfires that are worsening due to climate change.
Caldwell stated that the database that underlies this study can be used to help manage forests against these threats. Knowing which forests supply the most water can help managers prioritize which forests to fire prevention in the West and landowners to target for preservation with funding, if possible.
“This is just one of many ecosystem services that forests provide,” Caldwell said. “And we don’t really put a price tag on that often, and maybe we should, and that is something we’re starting to think about, is how can you put a dollar value on ecosystem services.”
How menu designs can drive climate-friendly food choices
Most restaurants assume that a burger is made from beef. You will need to request a vegetarian burger from your server. But what if the climate-friendly veggie burger was the default choice? Would you prefer a higher-impact beef patt?
This question was asked in a new study. It used different menu designs for a variety fictional restaurants to understand how changing defaults or labeling food items with their carbon footprints influenced how 265 respondents chose what to order.
The study was done by researchers at Julius Maximilian University, Germany, and published in PLOS climat. It showed that menus with low emissions options were less likely to produce greenhouse gas emissions per dish by 31.7 per cent, while dishes with carbon footprint labels produced lower greenhouse gas emissions per meal by 13.5 per cent.
Benedikt Seger, coauthor, said that the researchers expected the redesign of menus to have some environmental benefits, but their results were more impressive than they expected.
He warned, however, that these results may be less important in the context of real restaurants, where people actually eat and purchase the food they order, and are influenced a lot by the people around them and the dishes they see at the tables. While enjoying a night out, climate change may not be on their minds.
“If you go to a restaurant, especially in the evening, you want to enjoy the food and the atmosphere and the people around you,” Seger said. “So you don’t want to care much about climate change and other existential threats.”
Songs For The Sea, by The Real Life Doctor Who Treated ET
James Kahn may have been the real-life doctor who played E.T. dead in the 1982 film “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.” Or you may have read his novelizations of films like “Return of the Jedi” or “Poltergeist.” But Khan has left medical practice and TV and movie writing behind for a new venture, creating music.
His latest album, “By the Risin’ of the Sea,” dives into the societal and environmental issues that have pervaded our lives in recent years. Every song is a sea shanties, a type of music that harkens back to the sailors who sang rhythmic songs to motivate their crews in their collective work. Kahn stated that this reflects the collective effort required to solve the climate crisis.
Kahn was recently interviewed by Inside Climate News about the new album. This conversation was lightly edited for clarity and length.
Why did you choose each song to be a sea song?
I decided to make an entire album of songs about various contemporary dilemmas. So there’s a couple songs specifically about climate change, some about habitat loss and species die offs and Covid-19. Shanties were originally written as work songs by the sailors of the 17th and 18th centuries facing stormy seas and the elements and I felt like we’re going, metaphorically, and in some cases, specifically, physically going through the same things. We have our own storms that we’re trying to weather and face, and it seemed like the shanty was a good genre to talk about those things that we’re facing, those elemental crises.
Why did you choose to name the album with a song about climate?
Climate change is the most pressing issue facing us. And the way we see that, in the most obvious sense of it, is the temperatures are rising slowly and ice shelves are melting and they’re causing the seas to rise. These rising seas already have caused habitat loss and encroachment upon shrinking islands. And certainly, you know, places in this country like New Orleans and in areas of Florida, they’re the first to be affected, and as the sea rises, there’s going to be loss of habitat and loss of land.
In that song, you see all the consequences of climate change. It talks about how the temperature is rising and the seas rising. And that’s going to cause refugee crises, there’s huge problems with immigration and refugees and a lot of that is caused by droughts because of the rising temperature which causes famine and causes war, and people flee their countries from that. This is a major factor in many other problems.
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What do your listeners want to take away from this record?
It always ends in an impasse when I debate or argue with people. People are not going to change their positions. My deeper hope is that music and song can help people reach a deeper level of understanding, more emotional, or spiritual than logic or debate.
Encourage everyone to think about changing certain aspects of their lives. Drive your car less, eat less red meat. There’s a million things we can do. And if a single person does them, nothing’s going to happen. But if there are many people doing it together, we can really make a difference.
Online Grocer Encourages Consumers to Eat Fresh Foods First
More than one third of the food that is wasted in the United States ends up in households. This is more than what happens in food service and on farms.
But a new feature offered by an online grocer is working to reduce that segment of the country’s food waste by helping their customers prioritize what to eat and remember what’s in their fridge.
Farmstead, which delivers fresh groceries for free in several cities, debuted a new section on its receipts that list three items in each customer’s delivery that should be eaten first to prevent spoiling. Whether it’s fresh salmon or raw chicken, Farmstead founder and CEO Pradeep Elankumaran hopes that the section will help educate customers on how long foods stay fresh and remind them that these perishable items are in their kitchens.
“The majority of people in the U.S. waste food, and it’s not because they want to waste food,” Elankumaran said. “It’s because the mechanics of helping them not waste food are just not established.”
This new feature is one of the many ways that Farmstead is working to reduce food wastage. Farmstead is available in Chicago, San Francisco and Miami, as well as other cities. Its innovative software helps predict demand. The software, driven by artificial intelligence, relies on recurring customers’ buying habits to decide what stock to carry. Elankumaran stated that this reduces food waste by reducing waste in their warehouses to less than 3% on average.
“We are buying wholesale and selling to retail just like any supermarket,” he said. “Unlike a supermarket we are using software that we have created to control all of the costs of producing this order and bringing it to your door.”
Source: Inside Climate News