How clean water is linked with environmental and human health

Policies, Water

How clean water is linked with environmental and human health

Recently, California experienced its most significant persistent drought period. The occurrence threatened the agricultural industry and human health. Unfortunately, water scarcity is a rising global issue.

Water conservation is essential to humanity’s and the global ecosystem’s longevity. Environmental scientists and engineers developed methods of extraction and filtration, limiting the exploitation of natural resources. Before evaluating the water scarcity solutions, we must examine the origin of the problem.

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Modern farming is as much about data as digging. Here are 3 emerging agricultural skills

Agriculture, Policies

Modern farming is as much about data as digging. Here are 3 emerging agricultural skills

Emerging technologies in the field such as artificial intelligence, computer vision and robotics will play a key role in the ability to improve the productivity and performance needed to feed a growing population. These new tools, technologies and devices on the field are redefining the day jobs of agronomists and food growers. Educating the agricultural workforce with the skills to manage and harness the power of these new robots and tools will be crucial to achieve mass adoption.

Managing a farm, including its workforce, is changing. On the one hand, automation of existing processes and new technologies means that some workers will need to retrain or reskill as their jobs will become obsolete. On the other hand, as a farm increases capital per worker, particularly as many of the new technologies utilize automation, it is important to assess whether its employees have the right skills to fully take advantage of new technologies. Every job in the ecosystem is being redefined, and so are the skills and capabilities that are required to succeed in these professions.

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The Politics of Immigration,” on the media’s ‘Border Crisis’ (FAIR)

Immigration, Policies

The Politics of Immigration,” on the media’s ‘Border Crisis’ (FAIR)

It’s no surprise that right-wing media have hyped a supposed crisis on the US/Mexico border, or that much of the television coverage of current immigration issues has tended to be superficial. What’s striking is how badly the situation has been represented in the more centrist and prestigious parts of the corporate media.

Human Rights First, an advocacy organization that has been monitoring conditions at the southwestern border, has described current media coverage as “unethical reporting.” The group wasn’t just talking about Fox News and Sunday talkshows: The outlets it singled out were the New York Times, Washington Post and Axios.

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Racism, Capitalism, and the Climate Crisis

Policies, Society

Racism, Capitalism, and the Climate Crisis

As we tried to connect the dots between the murder of George Floyd and our work to end the burning of fossil fuels, the connecting thread, without our naming it explicitly, was clearly capitalism.

For the past few years, I have worked with Fossil Free California, a mostly white group, trying to get the gigantic California pension funds to divest from fossil fuels. Two years ago, we embarked on an internal process to look at how race and racism operate within our organization.  We started to question how a narrow white perspective was framing our communications, our goals, and how we were structured. We looked at the ways that a lack of attention to relationships ended up centering white organizing styles.

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5 things to know as wildfire season heats up

Ecology, Threats

5 things to know as wildfire season heats up

New research sheds light on how increasing wildfires are affecting ecosystems and communities. In early May scientists discovered a plume of smoke wafting from a smoldering sequoia that ignited during 2020’s Castle fire, which set California’s Sequoia National Forest alight last August.

The fiery remnant is the result of another too-dry winter in California and an ominous marker for the beginning of the 2021 fire season, which experts say looks “grim” for California and across much of the West. March and April were the driest in more than 126 years for Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah, and the third and fourth driest for California and Colorado. Oregon, meanwhile, had its driest April ever. Things are predicted to continue to be both hotter and drier than normal across the West and Plains, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

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Family farms are struggling with two hidden challenges

Agriculture, Family, Policies

Family farms are struggling with two hidden challenges

Kat Becker feeds hundreds of people with the vegetables she grows on her Wisconsin farm, and she wants to expand. But her ability to grow her business collides with her need for affordable health insurance and child care.

She has had to make difficult choices over the years: keep her farm income low enough so her children can qualify for the state’s public health insurance, or expand the farm and buy expensive private insurance. To look after her three young children, she could hire a cheap but inexperienced babysitter, or spend a significant share of her income on child care and have peace of mind that the kids are safe from dangers on the farm. “The stable choice for my children to have health insurance is an irrational choice for my farm business,” she said.

We’ve heard numerous stories like Kat’s in our work as social scientists supporting the next generation of farmers. Through thousands of interviews, surveys and conversations with farmers across the country, we have documented how household expenses like access to health care and child care undercut investments that could increase food production across the United States.

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Humanity’s challenge of the century: Conserving Earth’s freshwater systems

Policies, Water

Humanity’s challenge of the century: Conserving Earth’s freshwater systems

The challenge from here on is to avoid water wars while preemptively, cooperatively and aggressively addressing a growing global population’s water security. It can be done, but we must do it now.

  • Many dryland cities like Los Angeles, Cairo and Tehran have already outstripped natural water recharge, but are expected to continue growing, resulting in a deepening arid urban water crisis.
  • According to NASA’s GRACE mission, 19 key freshwater basins, including several in the U.S., are being unsustainably depleted, with some near collapse; much of the water is used indiscriminately by industrial agribusiness.
  • Many desert cities, including Tripoli, Phoenix and Los Angeles, are sustained by water brought from other basins by hydro megaprojects that are aging and susceptible to collapse, while the desalination plants that water Persian Gulf cities come at a high economic cost with serious salt pollution.
  • Experts say that thinking about the problem as one of supply disguises the real issue, given that what’s really missing to heading off a global freshwater crisis is the organization, capital, governance and political will to address the problems that come with regulating use of a renewable, but finite, resource.

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Solving America’s Food Waste Problem

Agriculture, Policies

Solving America’s Food Waste Problem

What will we do? Probably toss the mess in the trash and let somebody else worry about it. What we should do is quite different, though, in light of the massive scale of food waste in the United States.

That’s long been the view of assorted activist groups, along with the nice folks who wear properly aged LL Bean flannel and drive vintage Subaru Outbacks. But there is change in the air (and, one hopes, the landfills): these groups are being joined by growing numbers of state and local officials.

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How the Powerless Win Power

Economy, Policies

How the Powerless Win Power

Immigrant workers—particularly the undocumented—are denied basic rights, but through worker centers, they’ve aggregated their strength and bettered their lives.

When José Obeth Santiz Cruz arrived in Franklin County, Vermont, to work on a dairy farm, following the journey from Chiapas that so many of his young fellow villagers had traveled before, he didn’t expect to return home so quickly. But by the time he was 20, he came back to his family in a casket, after getting sucked into a mechanized gutter scraper while he was working alone in a barn and choking to death.

Cruz’s death formed a tragic connection between local labor activists and the dairy workers, eventually giving rise to a “solidarity collective,” which began to organize the dairy workforce while educating the public on the brutal working conditions they faced—60-to-80-hour weeks in hazardous conditions, in many cases earning less than the state’s minimum wage.

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Factory to the World?

Demographic, India

Factory to the World?

The Production Linked Incentive Scheme aims to build an Indian manufacturing base across 13 key sectors. What works. What doesn’t

On March 10, the $274 billion, Cupertino, California-based Apple Inc. announced it is starting production of the 5G-compatible iPhone 12 in India. It appeared like a routine announcement. After all, Apple has been assembling older generation iPhones in India through contract manufacturers since 2017. It wasn’t.

It might have been a small step for Apple but was a giant leap for Indian manufacturing. India’s new Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme to reduce import dependence and promote local manufacturing had lured three of Apple’s Taiwanese original equipment manufacturers – Foxconnn Hon Hai, Wistron and Pegatron – to pump in millions of dollars to expand Indian facilities. They will move a step up from assembling imported parts here to making or sourcing more components locally. Like Apple, about 70 firms have shown interest in availing the PLI Scheme to set up manufacturing facilities in three key sectors: mobile and electronic components; pharma-APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients); KSM (key starting materials) and medical devices.

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