Here’s How America Uses Its Land

Read the full post from Bloomberg.

There are many statistical measures that show how productive the U.S. is. Its economy is the largest in the world and grew at a rate of 4.1 percent last quarter, its fastest pace since 2014. The unemployment rate is near the lowest mark in a half century.

What can be harder to decipher is how Americans use their land to create wealth. The 48 contiguous states alone are a 1.9 billion-acre jigsaw puzzle of cities, farms, forests and pastures that Americans use to feed themselves, power their economy and extract value for business and pleasure.

Does Greenwashing Pay Off? Understanding the Relationship Between Environmental Actions and Environmental Legitimacy

Berrone, P., Fosfuri, A. & Gelabert, L. (2017). “Does Greenwashing Pay Off? Understanding the Relationship Between Environmental Actions and Environmental Legitimacy.”  Journal of Business Ethics 144: 363.

Abstract: Do firms gain environmental legitimacy when they conform to external expectations regarding the natural environment? Drawing on institutional logic and signaling theory, we investigate sources of heterogeneity in the impacts of environmental actions on environmental legitimacy. Longitudinal data (1997–2001) about 325 publicly traded U.S. firms in polluting industries support the notion that environmental actions help firms gain environmental legitimacy. However, some actions instead can harm this legitimacy if environmental performance deteriorates and the firm is subject to intense scrutiny from nongovernmental organizations. Thus, an important contribution of this research is to identify conditions under which greenwashing can backfire.

California Farms’ Water Use Still Unclear, Despite New Reporting Rules

Read the full story at News Deeply.

While some other states monitor water deliveries to farms in real time, California has allowed irrigation districts to submit annual reports on paper. According to one recent analysis, fewer than half are even doing that much.

How the UK is thinking about plastics in market downturn

Read the full story in WasteDive.

The issue of single-use plastics continues to dominate political and corporate agendas across the UK. The past 12 months have seen a plethora of regulatory proposals and brand commitments to ban, tax or phase out totemic items such as straws, cotton buds and coffee cups. Wider agreements such as the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance and G7 Ocean Plastics Charter are also gaining momentum.

These efforts are being promoted as viable solutions to tackle marine litter and more specifically, ocean plastics. But some UK waste experts have questioned this and suggested there are far bigger issues at play — one being the weak regulations on exported plastic scrap.

A toxic town, a search for answers

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Industrial chemicals dumped long ago still haunt Minden, W.Va., a community beset by cancer and fear. Like her father, physician Ayne Amjad is trying to track the links.

The adoption of green business practices among small US Midwestern manufacturing enterprises

Weslynne Ashton, Suzana Russell & Elizabeth Futch (2017). “The adoption of green business practices among small US Midwestern manufacturing enterprises.” Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 60:12, 2133-2149. DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2017.1281107

Abstract: Manufacturers around the world green their businesses for a variety of reasons, including competitiveness, social responsibility, and external stakeholder pressure. However, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are thought to lag behind larger ones in the adoption of green business practices. This paper explores the motivations for US Midwestern SMEs adopting a variety of green business practices, using a survey of 59 SMEs in the tool and die manufacturing industry. The majority of firms appear to be internally motivated to implement green practices – driven primarily by cost and competitiveness concerns, more than by social responsibility concerns. External coercive pressure from government or customers does not appear to be a significant motivation for these SMEs. However, informal pressure through government incentives and support programs, as well as mimetic pressure through peer learning via industry associations, appear to be more effective in helping these SMEs to further ‘go green.’

Rivers in the Sky: How Deforestation Is Affecting Global Water Cycles

Read the full story at e360.

A growing body of evidence indicates that the continuing destruction of tropical forests is disrupting the movement of water in the atmosphere, causing major shifts in precipitation that could lead to drought in key agricultural areas in China, India, and the U.S. Midwest.

The market for grassland carbon credits is on the rise. Here’s why.

Read the full post from EDF.

A new study from UC Davis found that “grasslands and rangelands are more resilient carbon sinks than forests in 21st century California.”

While forests remain vital to global climate mitigation efforts, the increasing frequency and severity of wildfires has heightened the need to explore additional carbon sinks in fire-prone regions. Grasslands lock carbon into the soil, and they don’t release it during wildfires.

It’s because of this resilient carbon-capturing power that grasslands and rangelands are essential to meeting climate goals. Unfortunately, these ecosystems are being converted into croplands at the highest rate in decades. Landowners converted 1.6 million acres of long-term grasslands – those that have existed for 20 years or more – into croplands between 2008 and 2012.

Record high land rental values make land conversion a compelling economic choice, but a new market opportunity may soon change this calculus.

Embracing biological and cultural diversity: An interview with Dr Jerome Lewis

Read the full interview at Synchronicity Earth.

Dr Jerome Lewis is a Reader in Social Anthropology at University College London. He has undergraduate and doctoral degrees in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics and 25 years of research experience working with Pygmy hunter-gatherers and former hunter-gatherers in the Congo Basin.

He is Co-Director of the Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) Research group at University College London (UCL) which develops tools and methods to enable anybody, regardless of education or background, to collect information to support environmental justice. He is also a director of the Centre for the Anthropology of Sustainability (CAoS) at UCL. We spoke to Jerome to find out more about his work with hunter-gatherer societies, get his views on the challenges for conservation in the Congo Basin and understand more about the role of citizen science in conservation.

Using prairie filter strips next to crops to protect Wisconsin water

Read the full story in Wisconsin State Farmer.

Prairies of the past could be a modern conservation tool for Wisconsin farmers.

Native prairie plants can act as a sponge and slow soil runoff from rain. Research from Iowa State University shows planting dense, diverse and deep-rooted prairie strips next to corn and soybean fields has environmental benefits.