There’s a map for that

Read the full story from the University of Minnesota.

How far are you willing to travel to visit a clean lake?

When Institute on the Environment’s Natural Capital Project lead scientist Bonnie Keeler wanted to better understand how lake users make decisions about their recreation choices and the value society places on water quality, she turned to U-Spatial, a center that provides technical support and worldwide spatial data — often in the form of highly detailed digital maps — for researchers across the University of Minnesota system.

Using Flickr photos of vacation spots in Minnesota and Iowa and associated information about the photographer’s home location, U-Spatial was able to plot the most likely route vacationers had taken to their destination, allowing Keeler to estimate distance traveled. She found that people are willing to drive farther to recreate on or near cleaner water.

These 4 Games Will Teach Kids How We Can Tackle Climate Change

Read the full story in Fast Company.

For both kids and adults, games are sometimes a great way to learn about social issues and brainstorm creative solutions. The nonprofit Games for Change has worked on this idea for more than a decade, and at its upcoming annual festival in New York, it will present four new games that tackle the most pressing challenge for humanity: climate change.

2015 Was Officially The Deadliest Year Ever For Environmental Activists

Read the full story in Fast Company.

These are not good times to be campaigning to protect the environment, especially in countries governed by repressive regimes and powerful corporate interests.

Killings of environmental activists around the world have been on the rise for several years, as Co.Exist reported on a piece about this year’s death of Honduran indigenous activist Berta Cáceres, who was shot in her home in March.

A new report from the organization Global Witness says that trend is continuing to get worst. Last year, it says, had the most killings of environmental activists since it started tracking over the last decade, averaging to more than three activists killed every week around the world in campaigns related to mining, agribusiness, logging, and hydropower. Indigenous activists—who often stand up to powerful development interests in relatively remote regions—have it the worst, representing 40% of those killed. Brazil (50 deaths), the Philippines (33), Colombia (26), Peru (12), and Nicaragua (12), and the DRC (11) are particular hot spots.

Four convincing reasons to minimize food loss

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

A full one-third of the food the world produces ultimately goes uneaten. That’s a billion tons of food loss and waste (FLW) every single year.

There are many good reasons to reduce this loss and waste—food security, economic gains and environmental sustainability, just to cite a few. But many of those most capable of fixing the problem, like governments and businesses, don’t know where to begin.

That’s why the Consumer Goods Forum, EU FUSIONS, FAO, UNEP, WBCSD, WRAP and WRI are launching the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard(FLW Standard), the first-ever global standard to consistently measure FLW. For the first time, countries, cities, companies and others will have a practical method for quantifying how much FLW they’re producing, identifying where it’s coming from and setting measures to reduce it.

Doing so can yield a suite of benefits:

Vegetation could become carbon source by 2030

Read the full story at EnviromentalResearchWeb.

Trees and plants mop up more than 10% of anthropogenic carbon emissions at the moment. But there is no guarantee that this will last. A new study shows that climate warming is likely to limit the ability of vegetation to absorb carbon and, in some circumstances, vegetation could switch to a source of carbon, amplifying climate change further. In the worst-case scenario this flip could occur as early as 2030.

Science Detectives Investigate a ‘Mitey’ Big Problem

Read the full story from the Agricultural Research Service.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are hot on the trail of a honey bee killer, and their detective work has taken them from hives in Tucson, Arizona, to those in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Led by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) supervisory research entomologist Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, the team is staking out the entrances of victimized hives, eyeing the comings and goings of foraging honey bees that they suspect may be unwitting accomplices.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Obama Administration’s Fracking Rules

Read the full story at NPR.

A federal judge in Wyoming has struck down the Obama administration’s regulations on hydraulic fracturing, ruling that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management doesn’t have the authority to establish rules over fracking on federal and Indian lands.

In the ruling on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl said Congress had not granted the BLM that power, and had instead chosen to specifically exclude fracking from federal oversight.

Skavdahl made it clear what he was — and wasn’t — considering in his ruling.

“The issue before this Court is not whether hydraulic fracturing is good or bad for the environment or the citizens of the United States,” he wrote. The question, instead, is “whether Congress has delegated to the Department of Interior legal authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing. It has not.”

10 Years of WaterSense Saved More than a Trillion Gallons of Water & Billions on Utility Bills

Since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the WaterSense program 10 years ago, Americans have saved $32.6 billion in water and energy bills and 1.5 trillion gallons of water, which is more than the amount of water needed to supply all of the homes in California for a year.

More than 1,700 utilities, local governments, manufacturers, retailers, distributors, builders, and other organizations have partnered with EPA to produce and promote water-efficient products, programs, and homes, “As we mark 10 years of WaterSense accomplishments, EPA thanks our WaterSense partners for helping American businesses and families save water through the use of water-efficient products and practices,” states EPA Associate Administrator Joel Beauvais in his blog post today on the milestone. (Click here for the blog)

WaterSense labeled products, which are independently certified to use at least 20 percent less water and perform as well or better than standard models, have been on the market since 2007 when toilets first earned the label. Since then, the number of labeled models has grown to more than 16,000, including products found in residential and commercial bathrooms, commercial kitchens, and for outdoor irrigation.

In addition to saving water, WaterSense labeled products save the energy associated with treating, pumping, and heating water. Since 2006 WaterSense labeled products saved the energy equal to the amount used to power 19.4 million homes for a year while preventing 78 million metric tons of associated greenhouse gas emissions.

EPA’s WaterSense program also certifies homes with WaterSense labeled fixtures and features. Compared to a typical home, a WaterSense labeled home can save a family an estimated 50,000 gallons of water a year, which is enough water to wash 2,000 loads of laundry and could curb utility bills up to $600. To date more than 700 homes have earned the WaterSense label.

Obama to Sign Toxic Chemical Rules; 1st Overhaul in 40 Years

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

President Barack Obama will sign into law the first overhaul of toxic chemical rules in 40 years while hailing a rare moment of cooperation between Republicans and Democrats.

Going Greener

Read the full story in Biotechniques.

Small changes in lab practices and purchasing can lead to big gains
in environmental sustainability. Sarah Webb looks at the steps labs
can take to boost productivity, benefit people, and protect the planet.