This Week in Eco News - January 27, 2017

Video of the Week

Saving Grace Saving Place
Ecology meets theology. This is the story of Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Virginia, a Trappist monastery struggling to reform their home by embracing an intense sustainability initiative. Witness the monks' land stewardship, contemplative prayer and work ethic that shapes the core of their community.

Take Action: Learn about sustainable agriculture.  

News From Around the Web

US Faces Huge Crop Losses if Temperatures Keep Rising: Scientists
As the climate changes, higher temperatures bite and crop yields will likely wilt, but watering crops in the midst of heat waves could stave off crop loss. Those farmers fortunate to live in relatively damp regions can use irrigation to protect yields because that water can to help plants grow shallower roots with more grain and allow the openings in leaves to stay open and increase carbon dioxide intake. [Reuters]

EPA Faults NC Over Health of Minority Communities Near Hog Farms  
The US Environmental Protection Agency's civil rights office has written a stern "letter of concern" to regulators in North Carolina two years into an investigation of health problems affecting minority communities near hog CAFOS in the state. The EPA claims that the NC Department of Environmental Quality hasn't done enough to reduce the flies, toxic smells, asthma and other problems caused by the facilities and has  "grave concerns" about reports of threats and intimidation against  people that have complained about the conditions. [News Observer]

Will Trump's Tough Talk on Immigration Cause a Farm Labor Shortage?
Some in the farm community worry that President Trump's policies could bring more immigration raids, less enforcement of farmworker protection laws or the forced use of E-Verify, a government tool for checking employment eligibility. For now, the only thing certain is that the California Central Valley's $35 billion agricultural economy depends on policies that balance the needs of both growers and workers. [NPR]

Trump to Give Green Light to Keystone, Dakota Access Pipelines
President Trump is expected to give the go-ahead for construction of two controversial oil pipelines, the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access. [NPR]

Why Are Cows in Wisconsin Feasting on Skittles?
When a flatbed pickup truck carrying a large box of red Skittles spilled its contents on a Wisconsin road last week, it brought to light a bigger issue -- the candy's destination. The Dodge County (Wisc.) Sherriff's office and Mars, the candy's parent company, confirmed that the defective Skittles were headed to large cattle operation to be added to feed for the cows, a practice that Eater says has been going on for decades. [Eater]

Scientists Are Redesigning Supermarkets to Make You Go Vegetarian
It was announced yesterday that Oxford researchers, in conjunction with supermarket Sainsbury's and the Wellcome Trust charity, will be redesigning supermarkets in the UK to encourage shoppers to buy less meat and more vegetables. Because, you know, our carnivorous lifestyles are harming the planet and our health.  [Munchies]

Farm of the Future: What Grows in Las Vegas Stays in Las Vegas
Urban Seed's strategy for growing vegetables in Las Vegas is based around a proprietary aeroponic system focused on producing large amounts of food using limited space and resources. Its location will be single story and will rely on the area's plentiful sunlight - not artificial LED lights. [NPR]

The Future of Farming Is Not Farming
Some farmers are thinking broadly about how to advance the food system and be successful, or as Sarah Mick writes, some see that "[t]he real future of farming isn't growing plants or animals; it's growing businesses." At the heart is changing practices and adding value to farming with innovations that could range from equipment sharing to co-investing to starting a craft brewery on a barley farm. [Shift.NewCo] 
Our 9,000-Year Love Affair With Booze
 It's long been known that development of alcohol rose in concert with agriculture, but new research is finding that such intoxicating drinks may have been more central to human culture from the earliest days, even helping humanity to develop language, religion and the arts. [National Geographic]

Minnesota Governor, Dayton, Signs $500 Million Deal to Protect Rural Waters 
In order to protect local waters from polluted agricultural runoff, thousands of acres of environmentally sensitive farmland in southwest Minnesota will be turned in native plants and grasses because of a new state rural conservation funding surge. Governor Dayton signed the bill into law, one that will pay farmers to restore farmland to nature and provide a necessary water pollution buffer. [Star-Tribune] 

News From Monday Campaigns

Students Push for Vegetarian Options at New Haven School
A pair of eighth graders from a New Haven school want students across the state to forgo eating meat on Mondays. They brought the idea to their school in December, talked with the dining hall manager, gave him some recipes, and they had their first meatless Monday in January. [WNPR]


What Happens If All The Coral Dies?
Coral reefs are lively ecosystems populating our ocean, but what happens if they all die? What are the consequences? [Seeker]

As Rains Soak California, Farmers Test How to Store Water Underground
A groundwater hydrologist at UC Davis is working with a half-dozen California farmers who are ready to flood their almond, pistachio and alfalfa fields as test sites to see how well those crops tolerate having water on them in winter. The experiments are being done for two reasons: California's aquifers are depleted and climate change. [NPR]

Eco News contributed by Gabrielle Blavatsky; Kai Olson-Sawyer;James Rose and Robin Madel. 

Image "eggs" byErnie on Flickr used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.