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Food Waste Worsens Greenhouse Gas Emissions

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Alex Kirby, Climate News Network

This piece first appeared at Climate News Network.

LONDON—The FAO estimates the direct cost to producers of food that goes to waste is currently US $750 billion annually, a figure that excludes wasted fish and seafood.

But the FAO says the waste not only causes huge economic losses but is also doing very significant damage to natural resources – climate, water, land and biodiversity.

It says its report, Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources, is the first study to analyse the impacts of global food waste from an environmental perspective.

The authors say: “Without accounting for greenhouse gas emissions from land use change, the carbon footprint of food produced and not eaten is estimated at 3.3 Gigatonnes [billion tonnes] of CO2 equivalent: as such, food wastage ranks as the third top emitter after the USA and China.”

“Globally, the blue water footprint (i.e., the consumption of surface and groundwater resources) of food wastage is about 250 cubic kilometres, which is equivalent to the annual water discharge of the Volga river [in Russia], or three times the volume of [Switzerland’s] Lake Geneva.

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Required Reading on Climate

Mckibbon math banner 600wBill McKibbon’s July 2012 paper in Rolling Stone“Global Warming’s Terrible New Math” is rapidly evolving from just a well-researched piece on climate change to a possible “tipping point.” We may look back in a few years and say that this paper was the catalyst that (with a little help from last year’s extreme weather) finally inspired a large chunk of the public (and even our elected representatives) to demand serious national action on climate change.  In it, McKibbon quietly, persuasively “does the math” to show how close to irreversible, catastrophic we are today, and how simply burning the oil and gas that is already on on the books of our energy companies will be several times more enough to push the planet over the edge.

That is why it is so critical that the Keystone XL pipeline not be built . . . that large scale mining of the Alberta Tar Sands not move ahead.  And, that we find ways to not burn the oil we already have.

If you haven’t read it already, read it here . . . .  now.  Then plan to attend the giant February 17 rally  in Washington, San Francisco and many other cities  to stop the XL pipeline.

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Megaflood Coming to California?

DROWNED: A 43-day atmospheric-river storm in 1861 turned California’s Central Valley region into an inland sea, simulated here on a current-day map.

On Christmas Eve in 1861 a giant Pacific storm moved into California.  It rained for the next 43 days, and when it was over the central valley had been turned into inland sea 300 miles long. The January Scientific American examines the history of this event.

For  most of the years since 1861 it has been viewed simply as a “freak storm,” and the public has largely forgotten about it.   However, climate scientists have recently gained a much more detailed understanding of how “atmospheric rivers”  (the infamous “Pineapple Express” is just one) create these super-flood conditions.  Further, they have uncovered solid evidence that storms of this magnitude have hit the state roughly every 200 years. Continue Reading →

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SN Produces Climate Video

Bob TV wide

Novatans Bob Brown and Nancy Foster have teamed up to produce a hard-hitting 30-minute documentary on coming local impacts of climate change and what local communities in Marin can do about them.

Produced by Novato Public Access Television and sponsored by Sustainable Marin, Sustainable Novato and Sustainable San Rafael, the program calls for action now and outlines a plan for more prepared, resilient, sustainable neighborhoods and towns.

Bob Brown is a Hamilton resident who has been a planning manager and director for 31 years in some of the most progressive cities in the Bay Area, including Palo Alto, Berkeley and San Mateo. He has specialized in reinvigorating downtowns into pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use/mixed-income community centers, promoting environmental protection and facilitating public involvement. He was the Community Development Director for the City of San Rafael for 12 years, and is currently acting in the same capacity for City of Novato. He authored San Rafael’s Climate Change Action Plan and is now leading an effort to create a county-wide energy efficiency and water conservation retrofit program for existing buildings.  Bob also teaches in Dominican University’s Green MBA and Sustainable Practices certificate programs.

Nancy Foster lives in Hamilton and is a mediator and trainer working in San Rafael.

In Novato, the video will air on Novato Public Access Television (NPAT) cable Channel 26 Thursdays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at noon.  Sustainable Novato is also working on plans to air it on MCMC local access in San Rafael and southern Marin.

Watch the complete video right here:


We hope to produce additional programs on sustainability topics in the months ahead, and we would welcome suggestions for topics and/or potential expert guests. Just click here to leave feedback.


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