A clear contrast of sustainable and unsustainable farming practices — in 20 seconds!

Sep 12, 2016 by


… till proven guilty

Of course, there are scores of variables when it comes to sustainable farming, but this little video shows the huge difference between no-till and conventional farming:

The video starts on a no-till field — one that isn’t ever plowed. Instead of tilling, or turning over the soil to kill weeds, farmers plant directly into the thatch of grasses and usually use an application of herbicide to knock down weeds. When farmers leave fields bare, like in the other field, soil washes away and local waters are polluted.

Ground cover protects the soil and dramatically reduces erosion. People often think sustainable farming means no chemicals, but sometimes judicious use of chemistry allows for more environmentally friendly options — like keeping the ground covered.

Want to learn more? Here are one, twothree stories about mainstream farmers adopting conservation techniques.

hurricane enablers

We’re getting more major hurricanes in the Atlantic than we used to.

They may not be hitting the U.S. as often, but it doesn’t mean the hurricanes aren’t out there.

In an average hurricane season in the Atlantic basin today, there are twice as many major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) than there were in 1970, reports Climate Central.

Climate Central

This could be a result of warmer ocean surface temperatures, which scientists think can help spin a small storm into a bigger one.

We’ve also gone from having five named hurricane-strength storms per season to seven, and just broke a nine-year-long spell where no Atlantic hurricanes reached Category 5. Meanwhile, the Pacific has seen some scary storms, and Hawaii has dodged a few close calls in recent years.

If this were a movie, this is the part where the scary music would begin.

Save us Marky Mark

Deepwater Horizon is being made into a movie, and it looks disastrously good.

In 2010, the devastating explosion on an oil rig about 40 miles southeast of the Louisiana coastline killed 11 workers, injured 17 and leaked an estimated 130 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Now, the largest environmental disaster in United States history is getting the Hollywood treatment, with stars Mark Wahlberg and Kate Hudson leading the film.

The trailer has all of the usual disaster movie elements — ominous music, a buff hero, and a creepy story from a little girl about “dinosaurs in the ground.”

What’s different is this very simple fact: This tragedy really did happen, and it doesn’t seem like we ever learned the right lessons.

Breaking news

Pipeline construction is on hold as Standing Rock Sioux Tribe loses one battle, wins another.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe lost its big case against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was one of its last chances to stop construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

But the Department of Justice, Department of the Army, and Department of the Interior immediately stepped in after the federal judge’s decision. For the time being, “construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time.” While the Army moves “expeditiously” to make a decision, the departments have requested that the parent company “voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.”

The court case was over whether the Army Corps failed to consider the National Historic Preservation Act in approving the pipeline’s permit. In recent weeks, Standing Rock Sioux rallied around the government’s failure to adequately consult with the tribe over important cultural sites or assess the pipeline’s environmental impact.

An estimated 60 law enforcement officials in riot gear were monitoring Native youth shortly before the announcement, according to this Last Real Indians’ FacebookLive post.

The hundreds of Native Americans who have organized against the pipeline achieved more than just temporarily halting its advance. In its statement, DOJ noted that the case “has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects.”

Indeed it has.

Read More

Got an hour to curl up with a good screen this weekend?

We know, we know. But these longreads are worth the extra screen time:

  • New York Times explores how on the southeastern coast of the U.S., sea-level rise isn’t a question of future tense.
  • Why is halting construction on the Dakota Access pipeline so important for the Native Americans who live around it? The Washington Post lays out the background of the #NoDAPL movement. If you’re not familiar with the term “tribal sovereignty,” learn why you should be in this Vox interview with Grist’s Aura Bogado.
  • Can red-dead-redemption Texas actually go blue for Clinton? The Atlantic looks into whether the state could do the unthinkable.
  • National Geographic has a huge downer of a piece on “the blob” of extra-warm water floating around the Pacific Ocean, which we can blame for those starving sea lions wandering into SoCal bars.
  • And now, a throwback: Do you live for fashion? Following NYFW? Revisit this New Yorker story on Marie Kondo’s approach to shopping — you’ll probably end up with a less wasteful wardrobe: “Kondo’s criterion for deciding whether to discard or keep an item is the same for purchasing: we should feel a thrill of joy when we touch it. … ‘I have to touch everything,’ she mused, fondling her way across the racks, feeling for joy.”

water park

As the Potomac River rises, cherry trees planted along the sloped bank will drown, row by row.

At least, that’s the concept behind Climate Chronograph, winner of the National Park Service’s Memorials for the Future contest. It’s a stark reimagining of the modern memorial.

“Imagine a young American’s staple eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C.,” wrote the winning design firm Azimuth’s Erik Jensen and Rebecca Sunter, “one row of inundated trees. During a college protest: three flooded rows. When she returns later in life with her children: seven rows of rampikes. … When our children and our children’s children visit, it becomes a legible demonstration of generational-paced change.”

Azimuth Land Craft

Of course, we aren’t totally sure what will happen to the Potomac — but Climate Central projects roughly 1.2 feet of sea-level rise in Washington, D.C., by mid-century. That number goes up to four feet by 2100.

Climate Chronograph isn’t the only D.C. landmark that could be at risk: The Jefferson Memorial, Washington Navy Yard, Fort McNair, and Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling are all in danger of climate change-related flooding by 2100. Unless, that is, we do something about it.

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