This Week in Eco News - March 15, 2013

Happy Friday! We're kicking off this week's compilation of Eco News stories with a link to our new Best of the Web Video feature. We'll alternate weekly to share the best in food, water and energy videos from around the web along with the news stories we follow, circulate internally and publish synopses of throughout the week. You can find them all week long — in real time — in the column to the right, just above our Best of the Web Video viewer. You can also sign up to receive Eco News via email each Thursday. If you see a story you think we should include, drop us a line at [email protected].

Best of the Web Video

Change the Course
The Change the Course campaign is recruiting Americans to help save the Colorado River, and other freshwater ecosystems, by taking a pledge to conserve water. Watch the video, sign the water-saving pledge and the campaign will restore 1,000 gallons to the Colorado!

Take Action
: Make sustainable water choices


Deadly Bacteria That Resist Strongest Drugs Are Spreading
Officials from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are warning that deadly infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria are on the rise in hospitals in the US - and there is only a "limited window of opportunity" to halt their spread. This is a conversation that should include the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production, as it is becoming clear that the public health threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is one we should take seriously. [New York Times]

Food Security Dependent on Slashing Global Inequality, Policymakers Told
Speaking at the Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum in London, Phil Bloomer, director of campaigns and policy at Oxfam, said that the only way to feed a growing population in a sustainable fashion is to also take radical measures to reduce inequality. In order to do so, Bloomer says governments must address land-grabbing in developing nations, change World Bank policy and stop providing support and subsidies for land-based biofuels that compete with food production. [Food Manufacture]

Salami Suicide: Processed Meats Linked To Heart Disease And Cancer
According to a new European study, eating more than 0.7 ounces a day of processed meat (salami, cured bacon, sausages, etc.) will make you more likely to die prematurely of a heart attack or cancer. It's not just the fat that does it - it's the chemicals and salt used to preserve the processed meat. [NPR]

Whole Foods GMO Labeling To Be Mandatory By 2018
Whole Foods has announced that it will require all genetically modified foods in their US and Canadian stores to be labeled by 2018 - making them the first major retailer in the US to do so. It's a move that experts say could radically alter the food industry. [Huffington Post]

Judge Blocks New York City's Limits on Big Sugary Drinks
The day before the New York City ban on large sugary drinks was to go into effect it was dismissed by a judge who claimed the law is "arbitrary and capricious." Mayor Bloomberg has announced that he is going to fight ruling. [New York Times]

Antibiotic Resistance Poses 'Catastrophic Threat', Says Britain's Top Health Officer
Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, said that the looming threat of antibiotic resistance means more patients having minor surgery risk dying from infections that can no longer be treated. Davis also said that global action is needed to address this public health crisis, including researching new methods of treating infections. Equally as essential to solving this problem is addressing the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production. [Huffington Post]

Legislator Leaps into 'Frankenfood' Debate
Pennsylvania is the latest state to weigh in on the GMO labeling debate. Senator Daylin Leach has introduced legislation that would require the labeling of food containing GMOs. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Soda Wars Backlash: Mississippi Passes 'Anti-Bloomberg' Bill
Mississippi lawmakers have passed an "Anti-Bloomberg" bill which would prevent counties and towns from enacting rules that cap portion sizes, require posting of calorie counts or keep toys out of kids' meals. The bill is now on the desk of Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, where it is expected to be signed into law in a state where one in three adults is obese - the highest rate in the nation. [NPR]

Slaughter Introduces Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act
This week New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (who happens to be the only microbiologist in Congress) introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) for the fourth time since 2007.  PAMTA is designed to stop the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production, which is responsible for accelerating the growth of antibiotic-resistance disease. [Rep. Louise Slaughter]


Nestlé CEO Warns Water Scarcity is Major Threat to Food Industry
The world's largest food conglomerate Nestlé sure is concerned that there wont be sufficient supplies of freshwater to meet food needs, as stated by CEO Paul Bulcke in a recent lecture, "Water - the linchpin of food security." He argued that such issues as food waste, a shift away from food-displacing biofuels, improved crop breeding and water-saving practices must be addressed. [The Financial]

How Israel Beat the Drought
Despite low levels of precipitation in its desert environs, the Israeli Water Authority credits wastewater reuse and desalination for its ability to avoid the ravages of drought and water shortages, although water conservation and efficiency will always remain. [The Times of Israel]

A Q&A Interview with Sandra Postel
As the prospect of a growing world population and a concurrent rise in overall consumption is combined with likely "drought and deluge" precipitation patterns, more "productivity" (e.g., "crop per drop") needs to be wrung out of water to meet the global demands. [Freshwater Society]

Superior [Wisconsin] Refinery Owner Delves into Details of Shipping Oil on Great Lakes
Because of the boom in oil and gas fracked from North Dakota and laboriously extracted from Alberta, Canada's Tarsands, crude oil refiners and shippers, Calumet LLC, are considering the construction of a transfer dock that could send crude around the Great Lakes and to the East Coast. The interest in barges is strong because of the low cost of oil from these specific sources, with an even greater transport discount by ship. [Duluth News Tribune]

Hundreds of Water Permit Holders Pumping More Than Allowed
Minnesota is in the midst of a drought, yet the state environmental protection has acknowledged that "scores of water permit holders in Minnesota are illegally using billions of gallons more water then they're entitled to," yet face little to no punishment because it's not a "high priority." Good protection.  [Minnesota Public Radio]

Food Choices and Water Usage
Want to lower your water footprint? The best thing a person can do is to eat less meat and less processed food, both of which take a lot of water to produce. If you do eat meat, choose organic and especially grassfed/free range. [E Magazine]

Where's the Water of the Future? Right Here
The New York Academy of Sciences brought together an eminent panel of water experts to discuss ways to ensure that there will be sufficient water in the future. The conclusion: We already possess the solutions – like watershed protection, wastewater reuse and more efficient agriculture – we just need the will to implement them. [Live Science]

China Comes Clean on Water Pollution
Even though China's "airpocalypse" gained international notoriety, it's really all about the water pollution - like river water so noxious that even a $30,000 reward couldn't entice a government official to swim in it. Chemical water pollution from industrialization is so intense and widespread that "cancer villages" are popping up, forcing transparency onto the central government. Last week, the Chinese government issued a list of chemicals and industries that will be prioritized for pollution prevention and control. [Al Jazeera]

Oklahoma Water Resources Board Director Calls for More Conservation
The Executive Director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, J.D. Strong, is forthright in his assessment of the condition of his state's drought-impacted freshwater supply: "It is a crisis," he said, and now is the time for residents to "think about the value of that water and how they could use it more efficiently." [Oklahoma Watch]

Mixing Oil and Water: Scenes From the Texas Oil Boom
Ceres, an environmentally minded investment advisor, will produce a report detailing the impact that fracking could have on water resources. This two-part National Geographic post previews some of their findings. [National Geographic]


New York Assembly Approves Two-Year Moratorium on Fracking
The New York Assembly approved a two-year ban on fracking in the state, and the Senate is working on a similar bill requiring the state to wait until a health review and the EPA finishes its review of drinking water impacts. [Bloomberg]

Nestlé Stirring Up Wind Energy in California
Nestlé Waters North America just installed two wind turbines that will power 30 percent of the energy needs of its bottling facility in Cabazon, CA. Great, isn't it? Umm, no because Nestle is bottling spring-fed water in the middle of a desert and on tribal lands. [Plastics News]

China Backing Away From Carbon Tax Start in 2013, Official Says
Remember last week when we reported that China's carbon tax was about ready to kick in? Those are just nice memories now because - surprise! - officials announced that the country will be doing no such thing this year. Word is that China's interested in carbon trading, though. Any day now, we're sure. [Bloomberg]

Meet the Companies Looking to Profit from Climate Change
While the specter of the $130 billion per year cost of adapting to climate change makes most people tremble, some large companies see nothing but opportunity. C'mon everyone, there are water rights to buy, just a little bit of remaining Australian farmland to snatch up and weather derivatives to purchase! [SmartPlanet]

Fracking's 'Revolving Door' Draws a Warning
A new corporate and government watchdog report identifies 45 current or former Pennsylvania state officials who have links to the energy industry and gas drilling and fracking regulation, including 28 who have left to take industry jobs. [Pipeline Post-Gazette]

Crowd-Funding Emerges as Source of Capital for Cleantech
Cleantech venture investment worldwide has been hit hard this year - in 2012 it was only two-thirds of what it was in 2011 - but crowdfunding sources like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are filling a niche by providing seed money for early stage funding for clean energy innovators. [Christian Science Monitor]

What Coal-Train Dust Means For Human Health
Washington and Oregon may soon be the home of five coal export terminals, which means that dust swirling off of the trains of coal on their way to the terminals could pose a public health threat to communities all along the rail lines. [KUOW]

Heating and Cooling No Longer Majority of US Home Energy Use
A new residential energy consumption survey found that between 1993 and 2012 overall energy use is down, and for the first time energy consumed for heating and cooling is now second to energy used to power our appliances and electronic gadgets. [Today in Energy]

US to Investigate Hydrokinetic Power
Hydrokinetic power - energy generation from waves, tides and currents - is getting a push in the US thanks to a recent agreement between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, US Coast Guard and US Department of Homeland Security to further explore the potential of hydrokinetic power in the US. [UPI]

Forget Dexter: Today's Most Dangerous Serial Killer Is Coal
A new study found that from 2011 to 2012, emissions from Indian coal plants resulted in 80,000 to 115,000 premature deaths and more than 20 million asthma cases, at a cost of $3.3 to 4.6 billion per year. (A 2010 study attributed 13,000 deaths each year to fine particle pollution from US power plants.)  [Take Part]