Pesticide Linked to Bee Deaths Does Not Improve Soybean Crops, EPA Finds

Yale Environment 360 - October 17, 2014
Coating soybean seeds with a class of insecticides that has been implicated in honeybee deaths and partially Soybeans (left) and corn coated with pesticides banned in the European Union does not increase soybean yields compared to using no pesticides at all, according to an extensive review by the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Seed treatment provides at most $6 in benefits per acre (an increase in revenue of less than 2 percent), and most likely no financial benefit at all, the EPA analysis concluded. The insecticides, known as neonicotinoids, are only effective for the first few weeks after planting, studies have found, when soybean pests are not typically active. Neonicotinoid seed treatments could theoretically help fend off sporadic and unpredictable pests, the report notes, but that benefit would be small and unlikely to be noticed outside of the southern U.S.
Categories: Environment, Health

Guest Post: Cathy Coughlin on Girls and STEM

Girl Scouts of America - October 17, 2014
Let’s Change the WorldGirls+STEM=Success!
By Cathy Coughlin Senior Executive Vice President and Global Marketing Officer, AT&T Inc.
I feel energized, inspired and ready to tackle any challenge this morning. I’m surrounded by hundreds of the most ambitious young women on the planet at the 2014 Girl Scout Convention in Salt Lake City.
I was a Girl Scout myself growing up in St. Louis, so I know what it’s like to be in these young ladies’ shoes. They’re here to discover new things, make new friends and put their minds together to help solve problems. They’re here to prove how “Girls Change the World,” the theme of this year’s convention.
I’m proud to serve on the Girl Scouts Board of Directors, and I’m here today to help guide a group of more than 100 girls working on projects to help solve problems in education. Specifically, I’m talking with them about how they can use their collective brain power to get more girls to pursue degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering and math, the STEM fields.
For a variety of reasons, many girls lose interest in STEM when they hit their middle-school years. Is it peer pressure? Is it societal expectations? Are teachers and parents not sending the right signals? Who knows? It could be a number of things, but none of it makes any sense.
According to Girl Scout research, three out of every four girls say they’re interested in STEM. Why, then, isn’t that interest carrying over to their studies? Women hold only one in every four computer and math degrees and even fewer engineering degrees –one in every five! This is a problem.
We only get to the best answers when we have diverse points of view at the table.  And, we need more women to participate in STEM, one of the fastest-growing and best-paying parts of the economy.
AT&T is working with the Girl Scouts to get more girls in STEM, through our signature education initiative, AT&T Aspire.  Our company and our employees have invested our dollars in Girl Scout STEM programming and have contributed thousands of volunteer hours to encourage girls to pursue their interest in STEM.

The Girl Scouts I’m speaking with today are going to take what they’ve learned back home to their families, friends, schools and communities and spread the word that we need more girls in STEM. They’re going to shine a light on this problem like only they can.
They can make a difference and so can you. Talk about this with the girls in your life.
Discuss it with your friends and family. Share this videoacross your networks. Help us make a difference.
Categories: Environment

Protecting Wild Salmon and Wild Rivers

The EnvironmentaList - October 17, 2014
US Forest Service should place a mineral withdrawal on critical Smith River watershed
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

BLOG: Bridging the Gap in Ebola Relief

Operation USA - October 16, 2014

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa continues to spread. As of today (October 16th) the death toll has surpassed 4,500–including 236 health workers. The World Health Organization fears that the true tally is much higher due to under reporting, and projects that the number of cases could grow to 9,000 by next week, and a staggering 1.4 million come January 2015.

As cases have appeared in the United States, the Obama administration and the CDC are scrambling to re-examine policies and procedures for containing and treating the disease. The international community continues to seek solutions for providing aid in the hardest hit areas of West Africa, where needs are becoming increasingly dire. Meanwhile, public fear continues to grow while news reports speculate on the “what ifs” of a global health crisis.

A health worker’s personal protective gear is disinfected with chlorine solution in Sierra Leone (Photo credit: UN.org)

Fortunately, an Ebola epidemic in the developed world is highly unlikely. In countries with the infrastructure and technology to isolate and control the disease, as well as options for treating those who do become infected, there is little possibility that the disease will wreak havoc in the way it has in the developing countries of West Africa. There, under-equipped medical centers are overwhelmed by case loads, and are lacking in the necessary supplies and beds to treat infected persons. Adding an additional layer to the crisis are cultural and political issues, as mistrust of the government and lack of public health education–in addition to ritualistic burial practices–make it difficult to coordinate a controlled response to the growing outbreak.

So, what can we (the international community) do to help? Operation USA has a simple solution: Take action to help combat the further spread of Ebola by providing material aid support to those on the front lines battling the outbreak.

Pallets of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies are prepped at the OpUSA warehouse for shipment to Liberia

A report released earlier this week by the Ministry of Social Health and Welfare in Liberia highlights the pressing need for in-kind donations from foreign partners. An inventory of needs versus supplies shows massive gaps in almost all categories, and calls for immediate support from donors. There is a serious need now more than ever for corporate and individual donors to step up and provide assistance in West Africa. Together, we can help bridge the gap and get supplies where they’re needed most.

Needs include:

  • Body bags (80,000)
  • Chlorine powder (98,000 kg)
  • Plastic buckets (140,000)
  • PPE suits – hooded overall (990,000)
  • Examination gloves (2.4 million boxes)
  • Face masks (1.4 million)
  • Goggles (510,000)
  • Heavy duty plastic gloves (590,000 pairs)
  • Rubber boots (175,000 pairs)
  • Hand sprayers (210,000)
  • Backpack sprayers (4,800)
  • Mattresses (3,200)

We have the power to step up and help stop the further spread of Ebola in West Africa, and to provide much needed supplies to those fighting the disease firsthand. Whether you give $5, $5,000 or in-kind materials, every donation makes a difference!

If you or someone you know works for a corporation who can provide any of these materials new, in bulk, CONTACT US. To make a cash donation in support of Ebola relief shipments, click HERE.

Categories: Environment

Global Boom in Natural Gas Unlikely to Help the Climate, Study Suggests

Yale Environment 360 - October 16, 2014
Increasing global supplies of unconventional natural gas will not help to reduce the overall upward trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions and the planetary warming that comes with it, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. The findings further undercut the notion, long touted by proponents of natural gas, that the fuel — which emits less CO2 than coal when burned — represents an important "bridge" in the transition to low-carbon energy resources. The study, which synthesized models developed by numerous researchers working independently, suggested that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations over the next 35 years would remain virtually unchanged — and in some models, warming would be worsened — by increased natural gas production around the globe. This was in part attributed to the fact that the new gas supplies would provide a substitute not only for coal, but also for existing low-emissions technologies like nuclear power and renewables.
Categories: Environment, Health

Today is a Great Day to Venture Out!

Girl Scouts of America - October 16, 2014
Venture Out! is an online adventure that lets volunteers explore different ways of taking girls outside in Girl Scouts. Here, they’ll encounter the kinds of challenges and successes that only the outdoors can bring: bad weather, distracted girls, new discoveries and life-changing events. Along the way, they’ll find tips for getting girls outdoors, plus real-life stories and advice from over 50 volunteers.
Venture Out! is for volunteers working with K-5 troops who have little or no experience taking girls outside. Never hiked in their life? Have lots of outdoor skills, but don’t know how to share them with girls? Venture Out! has ideas for both these groups…and everyone in between. Troop leaders of older girls may also find it useful.
The Girl Scout Research Institute recently conducted a national study about girls and the outdoors. The report, More Than S'mores: Successes and Surprises in Girl Scouts' Outdoor Experiences explores two basic questions: How and how much are girls getting outside in Girl Scouts? And what difference do these outdoor experiences make? Among key findings of the study are that girls' outdoor experiences in Girl Scouts are positively linked to their challenge seeking, problem solving, and environmental leadership. Additionally, when girls get outdoors on a monthly basis in Girl Scouts, doing even casual outdoor activities, they are much more likely to agree that they've learned to recognize their strengths, to do something they thought they couldn't do, and to gain skills that will help them do better in school.
Through Venture Out!, volunteers will gain the confidence to take more girls outside and practical knowledge from other volunteers about getting girls outdoors. Venture Out! is available from Girl Scouts University, and made possible by the Elliott Wildlife Values Project.
Categories: Environment

Electric Power Rights of Way: A New Frontier for Conservation

Yale Environment 360 - October 16, 2014
Often mowed and doused with herbicides, power transmission lines have long been a bane for environmentalists. But that’s changing, as some utilities are starting to manage these areas as potentially valuable corridors for threatened wildlife. BY RICHARD CONNIFF
Categories: Environment, Health

EPA’s Approval of Toxic Pesticide Ignores Health and Safety Risks

The EnvironmentaList - October 16, 2014
Dow Chemical's new line of GE seeds will drastically increase the use of 2,4-D, a harmful and volatile chemical
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

U.S. Climate Envoy Says All Nations, Rich and Poor, Must Curb Emissions

Yale Environment 360 - October 15, 2014
The negotiating architecture that has governed the decades-long pursuit of an international climate Climate Envoy Todd Stern agreement is outdated, said Todd Stern, the U.S. special envoy for climate change at the State Department and the nation’s lead climate negotiator. In remarks delivered at Yale University’s Law School on Tuesday, Stern reiterated the U.S. position that all nations — both rich ones and developing ones — must be brought together under one agreement that includes pledges to cut emissions. "This split between developed and developing countries in the climate convention is the singular fault line in these negotiations," Stern said, "and has been from the beginning." Under the recently expired Kyoto protocol, developing countries like China and India were exempted from committing to emissions cuts. Climate talks are scheduled to resume in Lima, Peru later this year, with a goal of achieving a new and fully global treaty at a meeting in Paris in 2015. That pact, Stern argued, ought to require all nations to submit emissions reduction targets, tailored as needed to national interests and abilities.
Categories: Environment, Health

Will National Forests Be Sacrificed to the Biomass Industry?

The EnvironmentaList - October 15, 2014
The US Forest Service wants to sell our forests for fuel in the name of wildfire reduction
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Spotlight on National Young Woman of Distinction, Morgan Serventi

Girl Scouts of America - October 14, 2014
The National Young Women of Distinction honor is given by Girl Scouts of the USA to the top ten Girl Scout Gold Award recipients whose Take Action projects demonstrated outstanding leadership, had a measurable and sustainable impact, and addressed a local challenge related to a national and/or global issue. The girls and their projects will be showcased on the blog in advance of being honored at the 2014 Girl Scout Convention in Salt Lake City this October.
Morgan Serventi: Unleashing the Power of Poo!Age: 18Hometown: Paige, Arizona
Last year, Morgan left her hometown and embarked on a mission trip to Wamba, Kenya. In preparation for her adventure, she did some digging into the conflicts related to resource scarcity and energy use. In rural areas such as this one, firewood is burnt as a source of power. She found that scavenging for this wood is challenging and, a lot of the time, unfruitful for the women put to the task in many communities. On top of that, the practice results in deforestation, health problems, burn accidents, and food and water sanitation issues, and it also becomes the source of family conflict. Women are often beaten when they cannot provide enough wood for their families. Morgan decided this was the perfect challenge to tackle for her Gold Award project.
How Morgan Is Changing the World:
Luckily, Morgan arrived at an awesome, exciting, and slightly smelly solution. She discovered that methane gas can be produced and used as a source of energy using a manure digester. With livestock, the magic ingredient is not hard to find. The manure digester itself costs only ten dollars to build from recyclable materials and produces enough methane to power a stove burner. She found this to be an easy, sustainable, and efficient method of power generation. Morgan presented the design to her hometown of Page, Arizona, as well as the surrounding Navajo reservation before bringing it all the way to Wamba, Kenya.
Thanks to Morgan’s project, rural communities have a new method of generating energy, one that is free of the social costs that come with burning firewood. Her work has improved the everyday lives of countless individuals, especially women, while also contributing to global efforts to preserve the environment and its resources.
Next Steps:
Morgan will study agriculture at the University of Arizona, where she will continue to lead the way in exploring viable alternative energy sources! Girl Scouts will honor Morgan and her fellow National Young Women of Distinction on Sunday, October 19 at our 2014 Girl Scout Convention.
Categories: Environment

Researchers Explain Puzzling Stability of Some Himalayan Glaciers

Yale Environment 360 - October 14, 2014
Unlike nearly all other high-altitude glaciers across the globe, glaciers in the Karakoram mountain chain, part Baltoro Glacier in the Karakoram range of the Himalayas, are not melting and are even expanding in some areas. This so-called “Karakoram anomaly” has puzzled scientists for years, but now a team of researchers has offered an explanation: While rain from warm summer monsoons tends to melt mountain glaciers in other parts of the Himalayas and the nearby Tibetan Plateau, the location and height of mountains in the Karakoram chain, which runs along the borders of China, India, and Pakistan, protect the area from this seasonal precipitation. Instead, the mountain chain receives most of its precipitation in the form of winter snowfall, according to findings published in Nature Geoscience. The study suggests that the Karakoram glaciers are likely to persist until 2100, but not long after, if global warming continues at its current pace.
Categories: Environment, Health

Nature Needs Half

The EnvironmentaList - October 14, 2014
Conservation group promoting an ambitious new proposal for wilderness protection
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Climate Change To Make Many Tropical Marine Species Locally Extinct, Study Says

Yale Environment 360 - October 13, 2014
Climate change is likely to drive fish and marine invertebrates toward the poles and cause extinctions


Local extinction hotspots near the tropics, according to researchers at the University of British Columbia. Under the conservative climate change scenario of one degree Celsius of warming by 2100, the 802 species modeled in the study are predicted to move away from their current habitats by as much as 9 miles, or 15 kilometers, every decade — a rate similar to what scientists have observed over the past few decades. Under the worst-case scenario of three degrees of warming, the researchers predict marine species will move toward the poles at a rate of 26 kilometers per decade. Under that scenario, an average of 6.5 species per 0.5 degrees of latitude would become locally extinct closest to the equator. The shifts will be caused by the species' reactions to warming waters, changing ocean chemistry, and ecosystem structure near the tropics, as well as new habitats opening up nearer the poles, researchers say.
Categories: Environment, Health

The Case Against a Legal Ivory Trade: It Will Lead to More Killing of Elephants

Yale Environment 360 - October 13, 2014
Proponents of easing the global ban on ivory are ignoring the fact that it was a legal market for ivory that pushed elephants toward extinction only a few decades ago. What’s needed now is not a legal ivory market, but better regulation and enforcement of the existing ban. BY MARY RICE
Categories: Environment, Health

Ivory Trade Debate: Should the International Ban on Ivory Be Lifted?

Yale Environment 360 - October 13, 2014
Although most conservationists oppose it, a proposal to allow a partial lifting of the ban on ivory trading would benefit Africa’s elephants. With proper controls and enforcement, a legal trade would choke off demand for illicit ivory and discourage the poaching now decimating the continent's elephant populations. BY JOHN FREDERICK WALKER
Categories: Environment, Health

Experts Look to Lithium Extraction in the Race to Save California’s Salton Sea

The EnvironmentaList - October 13, 2014
Geothermal brine in the region may contain North America’s largest deposit of the element that’s key to the electronics industry
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Badru’s Story: Early Warnings From Inside an Impenetrable African Forest

Yale Environment 360 - October 13, 2014

"Badru’s Story," which documents the work of researchers in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, is the first-place winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest. Filmmakers Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele trek along with scientist Badru Mugerwa and his team as they monitor the impact of climate change on one of Africa’s most diverse forests and its extraordinary wildlife.
Watch the video.
Categories: Environment, Health

Girl Scouts Investing in Opportunities for Girls and Recruitment of Adults as Members

Girl Scouts of America - October 10, 2014
 Girl Scouts of the USA today announced ongoing major investments in new techniques to recruit and train adult volunteers and provide more opportunities for girls in the face of a net decline in membership over the 2014 Fiscal Year. The drop of 500,000 girl and adult members nationwide, from 3.2 million to approximately 2.7 million total members, represents a roughly six percent decline in the total number of girl members who are registered Girl Scouts, as well as in the number of adult volunteers who serve them and deliver the Girl Scout experience.
The membership drop mirrors similar declines throughout the nonprofit and youth-serving sectors, with organizations across the country experiencing the residual effects of the 2008 financial crisis, and its lingering impact on the time and resources both girls and parents have to give to Girl Scouts and other activities. The increased demand and competition from other organizations, school, and extracurricular activities for the attention of girls have also cut into the time girls commit to Girl Scouts.
Much of Girl Scouts’ membership decline over the past several years can be attributed to a lack of adult volunteers to lead troops and deliver programming. With 30,000 girls on waiting lists nationwide to join the Girl Scouts, it is clear girls’ interest in joining the organization remains high. Declining time and interest on the part of potential adult volunteers to serve as troop leaders, cookie moms, and in other capacities has led to a net decline in overall girl and adult membership, as many girls no longer have a local troop to join. The recruitment and training of qualified adults is a top priority for the organization, as a single volunteer can take as many as five girls off of a wait list and into a troop setting.
“We are aware of the national trends in the youth-serving nonprofit space, and are investing heavily in innovative technological upgrades that will take the Girl Scout experience fully into the twenty-first century,” said Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. “As we head into our national convention this month, we are embracing new tactics, ideas, and strategies that will help us reach, recruit, and retain more girls and the adults who serve them. As we position Girl Scouts for its second century of service to girls, we are continuing to work to connect the organization to the fast-paced modern world, ensuring we deliver a unique leadership experience that is consistent with the needs of today’s girls while teaching the values and ideals our Movement has always upheld.”
More sophisticated social media campaigns and a first-ever online resource for volunteers, called the Volunteer Toolkit, are among the new tactics and strategies Girl Scouts of the USA has been investing in to assist in recruiting more adult volunteers. This fall Girl Scouts of the USA launched its first national Facebook ad campaign for the majority of Girl Scout councils. The campaign, which uses geo-targeted ads optimized for conversions, reached over nine million potential volunteers in the first month. The development of the Volunteer Toolkit is revolutionary for Girl Scouts of the USA, as it will ease the on-boarding process for new volunteers, and troop leaders will be able to plan an entire year of meetings and activities in one online visit. The mobile-friendly toolkit also provides easy access and constant support for on-the-go volunteers. The handful of councils currently piloting the toolkit have already seen a significant positive impact, greatly reducing the number of girls on waiting lists.
Though overall membership is down, the positive effect Girl Scouts has on girls continues to be indisputable. Studies from the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) show women who were Girl Scouts display positive life outcomes with regard to sense of self, community service, civic engagement, education, and income to a greater degree than women who were not Girl Scouts. And this is the case for all Girl Scout alumnae, across age/generations, social class, race, and engagement in other extracurricular activities. Results from a Girl Scouts of the USA summer 2014 pulse poll conducted with more than 3,500 volunteers and parents of Girl Scouts in the K−5 age range shows at least 90 percent of caregivers say their daughter is more confident, has more friends, and is happier because she’s in Girl Scouts, while 88 percent of volunteers believe their lives are better because they volunteer with Girl Scouts.
Additional GSRI data showcases the need for female leadership organizations in this country. Their 2013 report The State of Girls: Unfinished Business found that while progress has been made for girls in some areas such as educational attainment, many girls are being left behind. Particularly, African American and Hispanic girls face significant challenges in making successful transitions to adulthood. More recently, GSRI’s The State of Girls: Thriving or Surviving examines girls’ well-being across each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, ranking each state based on an index of girls’ well-being. Data like this showcases the significant need for organizations like Girl Scouts to work together with local communities to mobilize resources that address the most pressing issues impacting girls, especially those in underrepresented and vulnerable populations. Girl Scouts of the USA’s curriculum continues to be informed and shaped by research like this in order to best serve today’s girls.
Categories: Environment

Obama Declares Part of San Gabriel Mountains a National Monument

The EnvironmentaList - October 10, 2014
The wild Is where you find It, and it is always worth protecting
Categories: Environment, News Feeds
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