This Week in Eco News - August 9, 2013

Welcome to our revamped Eco News, now including some of the week's Ecocentric posts and multimedia fun. From lab-grown burgers to "smart" water monitoring devices to (at long last) an itemized electric bill, it's been a "dare to dream" high tech week in food, water and energy. See a story we should share? Drop us a line at [email protected].

Best of the Web Video - Water

Water in the Anthropocene
Using a data visualization of the earth, this video explains the global hydrological cycle, humanity's impact on planetary change and what must be done to ensure that all people have access to clean freshwater in the years to come.

Take Action
: Join the Change the Course campaign where your pledge to shrink your water footprint will restore 1,000 gallons of water to the Colorado River, an incredibly important freshwater resource for 30 million people.


Lab-Grown Meat is Here - But Will Vegetarians Eat It?  
Researcher Mark Post served lab grown burgers to a select crowd in London on Monday August 5th. It has taken $325,000 to get to this point, but he hopes that in the future, lab grown meat will be a viable option for the masses. Looks like some vegetarians are on board (Post used a biopsy from a live animal), but the tissue will need to come from a ritually slaughtered animal to be considered kosher. [NBC News]

Report: 7.2 Million Acres of Wetlands, Fragile Lands Plowed Under in 4 Years
The Environmental Working Group has released a report alleging that the corn and soy industry have snatched up 7.2 million acres of wetlands and fragile lands in Iowa and other states between 2008 and 2012 - destroying those lands and habitats to create croplands. [Des Moines Register]

Fast-Food Workers Strike for Higher Wages in US Cities
Thousands of fast food workers in seven major US cities went on strike over the past two weeks to protest wages that are too low to live on. The protests are taking place in New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City and Flint, Mich., involving workers at McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC. Workers are demanding a wage increase to $15 an hour, more than double what most of them are currently making. [Bloomberg]

Millions in US Subsidies Go to Dead Farmers
We already know that farm subsidies help lots of industry farms that don't need it, but now we're finding out millions of dollars in subsidies each year go to another group of people who don't need it: the dead. Due to lack of proper oversight, USDA agencies dealt out nearly $33 million to deceased policyholders. [New York Times]

A Day's Strike Seeks to Raise Fast-Food Pay
Last week, thousands of fast-food workers held a one-day strike during peak mealtimes to fight for a livable wage and their right to organize. The strikes are gaining in momentum, as more cities commit to the movement and plan strikes. [New York Times]


Efforts to Control Abu Dhabi's High Rate of Per Capita Carbon and Water Footprints
The Persian Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi is wealthy, fast-developing and arid, yet it is also an extreme example of resource overuse because of its hyper-intense consumption of energy and water. The government and other stakeholders are taking steps to improve sustainability, making significant reductions in its energy and freshwater use through upgrades in efficiency and conservation measures. [Gulf News]

Veteran Himalayan Researcher Reverses Earlier Findings of Looming Water Shortage
Meltwater from Himalayan glaciers is incredibly important to Asian freshwater supplies; many have feared that climate change could significantly reduce the flow of water in the Ganges and the Indus. However, an acclaimed glaciologist used a new computer model to find that a combination of later runoff and greater precipitation might actually lead to more water resources. [E&E News]

With Tar Sands Development, Growing Concern on Water Use
When it comes to the chief environmental concerns regarding the Canadian oil industry's huge Tar Sands play, the extraction process is both dirty and a colossal greenhouse gas emitter. Another (nexus) knock against Tar Sands development is its tremendous water use which is depleting water supplies and polluting water in the large Mackenzie River Basin. [Yale 360 ]

Smart Water: Tech Guarding Our Most Precious Resource
As thirsty populations boom in places where water is often lacking, technology will become more important to offer and allocate the amount and quality of water needed. From remote sensors to data IT-tracking to smart irrigation systems, technological solutions must be made accessible and affordable if water is to follow suit. [BBC]

The Drying of the West
The arid Western US has always been, well, dry. Yet expected climate shifts towards even "drier dries" with longer durations prove water solutions of the past, like the engineering of huge dam and canal projects, will be insufficient. The overdrawn Colorado River is the epitome of this drying out, one that has serious ramifications for 30 million people and growing. [Los Angeles Times]


Chesapeake Drops Energy Leases in Fracking-Shy New York
Getting a little impatient, aren't we, Chesapeake Energy? The natural gas driller has reportedly given up a two-year legal fight against landowners seeking to avoid extended leases (signed before the fracking boom) to drill on thousands of acres in New York state.  [Reuters]

Finally, an Itemized Utilities Bill
The first step towards reducing your electricity use is to understand exactly how you're using electricity. A new gadget in the works aims to make it possible to see how much electricity you spend on specific things you use at home and then including that information on your monthly electric bill. [SmartPlanet]

Where Two Big Thirsts Collide: The Nexus of Energy and Water
Dr. Michael Webber, one of the world's leading experts on the energy-water nexus, says in this interview that if you want to save water, saving energy is a cheaper, faster, way to do it, and if you want to save energy, saving water is a cheaper, faster, way to do it. [NPR]

Getting a little impatient, aren't we, Chesapeake Energy? The natural gas driller has reportedly given up a two-year legal fight against landowners seeking to avoid extended leases (signed before the fracking boom) to drill on thousands of acres in New York state.

EPA Slashes This Year's Cellulosic Targets
Cellulosic biofuels are considered a more sustainable alternative fuel than corn ethanol, but despite a federal mandate and other subsidies, the industry has struggled to get off the ground. In response, the EPA released a final rule that requires refiners to blend 6 million gallons into the nation's supply of gasoline this year, down from 11 million. [E&E News]

During Domestic Drilling Boom, Why Are Gas Prices Still High?
Fracking is giving us access to new supplies of fossil fuels to power our cars, right? Sort of. Natural gas doesn't power our cars, but fracking for oil beneath the ocean floor does provide crude oil for gasoline. The problem is it's expensive to access and thus expensive to buy, which pretty much sums up all oil exploration across the globe - the days of cheap, easy access are over. [NPR]

Video/Photo/Infographic Fun

The Dead Zone
An outbreak of green algae, or hutai, as the Chinese call it, has invaded the oceans off eastern Shandong. It looks harmless and fun but danger lurks below. This infographic examines what lies below the seaweed. [South China Morning Post]

Photographic Series Shows What 200 Calories Looks Like in Different Foods
WiseGEEK conducted a study and presented a photo series that compares 200 calories worth of different foods. As it turns out, just 51 gram of gummy bears gives you the same amount of calories as about 600 grams of broccoli or 3 whole eggs would, proving the point that man cannot live on gummy bears alone! [WiseGEEK]

Small World Energy
This video presents an interesting way of viewing our world - through the use of a tilt shift lens that makes everything look like a model. It's good perspective on our energy reality. [Aurora-Lab]

America's Dangerous Pipelines
This video illustrates a new analysis of oil and gas pipeline safety in the United States reveals a troubling history of spills, contamination, injuries and deaths. []

Photographer Mishka Henner used hundreds of photos of US feedlots taken by satellites orbiting Earth. Each photo is composed of hundreds of high-resolution satellite images of each location stitched together to create large prints. The exhibit was presented in London. [Mishka Henner]