This Week in Eco News - November 15, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan was on our minds all week as the aftermath of one of the most powerful storms in history prompted questions about climate change and weather. In the UK, a national campaign to take on food waste aims to "stop the rot by 2020" - on this side of the pond, today is America Recycles Day. See other stories we should share? Drop us a line at [email protected].

Best of the Web Video - Energy

How to Save Money With a Programmable Thermostat
Learn how easy it is to save money and energy by using a digital, programmable thermostat in your house! Note: You'll only see Honeywell thermostat models in this video, but rest assured that there are plenty of others to choose from.

Take Action: Discover other ways to save energy at home with EnergyStar.


Tell the FDA What You Really Think About New Food Safety Rules
Comments on the Food Safety Modernization Act are due Friday November 15! Signed by President Obama in 2011, the act is finally getting its finishing touches before the FDA takes its new rules on the road. Many small, locally-distributing farmers are concerned about the impact certain rules will have on their businesses, especially rules intended for larger operations. [Grist]

Drift Catchers Use Citizen Science to Fight Pesticide Pollution
The Pesticide Action Network (PAN) is working with farmers and other citizens living near fields sprayed with pesticides to collect data about pollution drift. Despite harmful impacts of drift from sprayed fields, people are essentially unprotected by backlogged authorities whose own testing could come too late to be helpful. PAN hopes to build a wide database of evidence to help farmers fight pesticides nationally. [Grist]

Food Waste: National Campaign Aims to Stop the Rot By 2020
A national campaign in the UK is seeking a ban against the disposal of food in landfills by the year 2020. A newly released two-year study, mapping waste points across the UK's food industry, outlines a potential ban phase-in which will be backed by industry and local governments. The ban could save the UK over 17 billion pounds a year. [Guardian]

Meatless Monday

Philadelphia Goes Meatless On Monday
Now that the carnivorous home of the Philly cheesesteak publicly encouraged skipping meat once a week, it's now clear that Meatless Monday is no longer some fringe health trend. While mainly a symbolic action, the resolution is hoped to inspire others to start thinking about their food choices more. [Prevention]


If You Think China's Air Is Bad...
Abysmal air pollution in large parts of China gets much publicity, yet with a dearth of fresh water for the enormous population and over half of the water resources seriously contaminated, water problems might be worse. Citizens are incensed and are pushing officials at the local, provincial and central level to act. [New York Times]

Owens Valley and the 100th Anniversary of the LA Aqueduct: Chinatown Was Just a Movie
The Los Angeles Aqueduct, a water lifeline crucial to the existence of the city, had its centennial this November. Besides clarifying the Owens Valley myth of an agricultural water grab, John Fleck suggests that that the occasion merits a rethinking of the relative economic value of water for agriculture compared with cities as water transfers expand. [jfleck at inkstain]

Water's Value to the US Economy
The EPA released a synthesis report that raised the question of water's value to the US economy. Water is invaluable because the "entire economy directly or indirectly relies on the output of industries for which water is a critical input," yet water data is both unreliable and full of holes. Quantifying water's value is difficult, but rough stats like $144 billion in 2009 agricultural sales suggest it's in the trillions. [Circle of Blue]


Solar Power Begins to Shine as Environmental Benefits Pay Off
Solar power is officially a mainstream source of energy, meeting the needs of 30 million households worldwide. Besides its obvious greenhouse gas emissions advantage, compared to coal solar requires little water and land, is far less toxic to humans and contributes just a fraction towards acid rain and marine eutrophication. [New York Times]

How Much of Your Tax Money Goes to Oil and Gas?
That title is a teaser because we don't know...yet! The White House announced that US will start publishing annual reports tallying up the money it spends to support the extraction of fossil fuels. Here's a hint, though. In 2011, the International Monetary Fund reported that developing and industrialized countries spent $1.9 trillion to subsidize fossil fuels, with the US spending $502 billion. [Christian Science Monitor]

After Fukushima, Japan Finds Beauty in Solar Power
A glimpse into our energy future can be seen extending from the scenic Japanese coastline where the country's largest solar installation has started generating electricity. The solar panels have a capacity of 70 megawatts, enough to power some 22,000 Japanese homes. [Slate]


Typhoon Haiyan Overshadows UN Climate Talks
As the Philippines recovers from the ravages of Typhoon Haiyan - the most powerful cyclone ever recorded - representatives at the UN climate conference in Warsaw can talk about little else. Even though a single weather event cannot be precisely attributed to climate change, the incredibly high and deadly storm surge is evidence of rising sea level. [AP]

Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies
A leaked draft of the upcoming UN report on climate change predicts dwindling food resources over the next century as a result of rising temperatures. Although curtailing emissions may reduce long-term impacts, and a few regions will likely benefit from the changes, the report says far more extensive adaptation efforts are needed to prepare us for what's in store. [New York Times]

Electric Power Conundrum at the Crossroads of Energy, Climate and Water
New research using Texas as a case study found that to balance future energy needs with reduced greenhouse gas emissions and water use the state would have to invest entirely in nuclear and natural gas - both with modern cooling systems - and a little bit in wind. Efficiency, updating the grid and solar energy unfortunately get little mention but should have a big role to play. [National Geographic]


Freshwater Storage Rate of Change Map
Adapting to climate change will require a careful look at how we manage our water resources. This map shows how water supplies have changed between 2003 and 2012 using observations from the twin GRACE satellites (unrelated to the GRACE Communications Foundation). Some parts of the United States could face hard times in coming years. [NASA]

Do You Know Who Owns Your Food?
This chart created by Phil Howard, a Michigan State University assistant professor, shows how large corporations allied with the organic food sector around the time the USDA adopted standards for certified organic. [EcoWatch]

Which Companies Dominate Your State's Politics?
To follow the money in your state, see which industry topped the list of campaign contributions in the 2012 election cycle. No surprises here in New York, where finance dominates, but look at how many states across the country are dominated by energy company contributions. [Mother Jones]

'Imagine All the Water' Video Contest
Some lucky videographers made videos and won sports cameras in this European water footprint video contest! (If it's about water footprints then you know we love it.) Click through for the winning videos. [Imagine All the Water]

Food Eco News contributed by Audrey Jenkins.