Aretha Franklin is impossible to define. In a time when everything is iconic and stunning and must-see, none of those words seem to do her justice because Franklin’s legacy transcends vocabulary words. Instead, maybe the best way to remember her is simply by listening to the stories she’s already told us. Over the course of seven decades, Aretha Franklin’s voice has had the power to bring world leaders to tears, to fuel the Civil Rights movement, and change the very fabric of music. Franklin, The Queen of Soul, died on Thursday at the age of 76. These are her performances that will remain among the greatest in history.
Scientists seek new ways to combat Florida’s growing ‘red tide’
Radio.com – WBEN
Judge orders new federal review of Keystone XL pipeline
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered the U.S. State Department to conduct a more thorough review of the Keystone XL pipeline’s proposed pathway after Nebraska state regulators changed the route, raising the possibility of further delays to a project first proposed in 2008.
U.S. District Judge Brian Morris of Montana said in a ruling Wednesday that the State Department must supplement its 2014 environmental impact study of the project to consider the new route. Morris declined to strike down the federal permit for the project, approved by President Donald Trump in March 2017.
The Nebraska Public Service Commission rejected pipeline developer TransCanada’s preferred route in November 2017, but approved a different pathway that stretches farther to the east. The “mainline alternative” route is five miles longer than the company’s preferred route, cuts through six different Nebraska counties and runs parallel to an existing TransCanada-owned pipeline for 89 miles.
State Department officials “have yet to analyze the mainline alternative route,” Morris wrote in his ruling. The State Department has “the obligation to analyze new information relevant to the environmental impacts of its decision.”
Last month, the State Department declared the pipeline would not have a major impact on Nebraska’s water, land or wildlife. The report said the company could mitigate any damage caused.
It’s not clear whether the additional review will delay the 1,184-mile project. TransCanada spokesman Matthew John said company officials are reviewing the judge’s decision.
Environmentalists, Native American tribes and a coalition of landowners have prevented the company from moving ahead with construction. In addition to the federal lawsuit in Montana that seeks to halt the project, opponents also have a lawsuit pending before the Nebraska Supreme Court. Oral arguments in the Nebraska case aren’t expected until October.
Critics of the project have raised concerns about spills that could contaminate groundwater and the property rights of affected landowners.
Pipeline opponents cheered the decision and said they were confident that the courts would find other violations of federal law raised in the lawsuit.
“We are pleased that Judge Morris has rejected all of the excuses raised by the Trump administration and TransCanada in attempting to justify the federal government’s failure to address TransCanada’s new route through Nebraska,” said Stephan Volker, an attorney for the environmental and Native American groups that filed the Montana lawsuit.
A State Department spokesman said the agency was still reviewing the judge’s order but declined to offer additional comments.
The pipeline would carry up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Canada through Montana and South Dakota to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would connect with the original Keystone pipeline that runs down to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.
The State Department’s new report noted two major spills in South Dakota involving the original Keystone pipeline, which went into operation in 2010, but added that TransCanada has a lower overall spill rate than average in the oil pipeline industry.
Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee contributed from Washington.
Can Aquaculture Survive Without Forage Fish?
Humans eat huge amounts of farmed fish. Farmed fish eat huge amounts of smaller fish. A new study explores this unsustainable cycle, and offers a path forward.
By Meg Wilcox, Environment, Farming, Seafood August 16, 2018
Aquaculture is booming. Today, worldwide, we consume more farmed fish than wild-caught species. Think about it: How often do shoppers buy the more expensive wild-caught salmon over the farm-raised, and how often do they even get that choice?
This global trend is taking a toll on the wild fish populations that are harvested to feed farmed fish. A new study in Nature Sustainability shows that, by 2037, aquaculture demands could outstrip supply of so-called forage fish, or fish like anchovies and menhaden, which are often deemed too small for humans to eat. Although they’re rarely considered by most consumers, these species do feed the fish we eat (and livestock—pigs and poultry are large consumers of fish-based feeds), making them a vital link in marine ecosystems.
Despite the study’s dire conclusion, there is hope, say the authors. Feed reforms could allow for aquaculture’s continued growth as a source of critical protein on a hungry planet, while sustaining the forage species.
“Aquaculture is now the primary user of forage fish,” says lead author Halley Froehlich, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “But we wanted to step back and look at other sectors in the food industry, like pigs and poultry, to get some perspective on how these fish are being used, and what are the actual tangible mitigating measures that could avoid surpassing supply.”
Froehlich’s research was motivated, she says, by the bad rap aquaculture gets in marine conservation circles when it comes to forage fish use. The aquaculture industry faces additional challenges to operating in a long-term sustainable way, including concerns about antibiotics use and pollution, but Froehlich said she hoped to spur conversations about the measures that could be taken to, at least, improve the sustainability of aquaculture feed. Call it “ocean optimism.”
A Big Market for Small Fish
Forage fish account for a whopping one-third of the seafood caught globally. These tiny wonders feed on plankton, the original source of nutrient-rich omega-3 fatty acids, bio-accumulating that nutrient and serving as a protein source for the vast marine food chain.
Today, humans eat only about 5 percent of the forage fish we catch, in products such as canned sardines, anchovies, or fish oil pills. That number is down from the 15 percent globally we ate in 2000, partially due to the rise of aquaculture, which has made popular seafood such as salmon and shrimp more affordable for more people.
The vast majority of forage fish gets ground into fishmeal and oil that are used to feed farmed seafood and land-based livestock. Aquaculture currently uses about 70 percent of the fish meal that’s produced globally. Up until the 2000s, however, the poultry and hog industries were the largest users of fish meal.
Aquaculture’s fast growth—from some 15 million tons produced in 1990 to 80 million in 2016—has caused the price of fish meal to rise, and poultry and hog producers have begun to substitute it with cheaper protein sources like soy. But they still use 25 percent of fish meal globally.
Economics are also driving the aquaculture industry to search for alternative feeds. “Ten years ago, when fish meal was inexpensive, it made up a large part of the diet. It was a perfect blend of the fishes’ nutrient needs. But now, you’re seeing diets that are blended from plant-based protein like soy, corn, canola, and pea proteins, and the percentage of fish meal is going down,” says Michael Rust, science advisor to NOAA’s Aquaculture Program, who was not involved in the study.
Wheat and soy are the largest ingredient in fish feed today, according to Froehlich. Other shifts are occurring as well. The trimmings, (e.g., heads, tails, guts), from fish landed for human consumption are becoming an increasingly larger proportion of the fish meal fed to farmed fish, says Rust, who is optimistic that the market can help find creative ways to keep aquaculture growing. “The bottom line is that there are solutions,” he says.
Around two-thirds of fish meal now includes trimmings, says Rust, who cites the Norwegian salmon industry, where the vast majority of the byproducts from the salmon go back into the fishmeal. “If you get to the point where your diet only contains 5 to 10 percent fish meal, that fish actually create all the fishmeal it needs for the next generation through trimmings,” he says.
Froehlich’s research findings suggest that less fish byproducts are actually going into fishmeal worldwide. “China is a big question mark,” she says, because data were not available for its use of byproducts in fish meal.
While Froehlich agrees that economics are driving down the use of forage fish in aquaculture feed, her model projects that, without rapid transition to more sustainable feed alternatives, the ecological limits of these small silvery fish could be surpassed in less than 20 years.
Moreover, factors such as climate change could impact wild-caught fish population dynamics in ways that no one can predict. And conservation-based catch limits for forage fish could be tightened to leave more prey in the water for larger species, leaving less for aquaculture. Then there’s the omega-3 consumer craze, and the ever-growing preference for healthier, fish-based diets, not to mention the 2 billion more people who are projected to live on the planet by mid-century.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty about the future,” says Froehlich. “Let’s capture that uncertainty, which our model tries to do, [and use it to help us] make better, conscious, adaptive decisions across different sectors.”
Modeling different scenarios, Froehlich says her research found that forage fish populations could survive longer if we stop feeding them to “the things that don’t necessarily require it, like carp,” and that applies to poultry and pigs as well.
Fishing for Alternatives
Feeding less fishmeal to carp and other fishes that are not carnivorous turns out to be the single best way to ensure the long-term sustainability of forage fish, according to Froelich’s research. Carp is the top farm-raised fish and is mostly cultivated in Southeast Asia. While carp feed typically contains a tiny fraction of fishmeal, the sheer volume of the fish that is produced makes it the single largest user of forage fish in the aquaculture industry.
Some companies are innovating alternative feeds for carp, spurred in part by the Future of Fish Feed (F3), a collaborative global effort among NGOs, researchers, and companies that holds worldwide competitions to innovate seafood-free feeds. Chinese company Guangdong Evergreen Feed Industry Co. won the first challenge last year, and earned $200,000 by becoming the first company to produce and sell 100,000 metric tons of seafood-free feed.
Such feeds can include ingredients like fly larvae, algae, and bacteria and yeasts. Single-celled bacteria and yeasts can also be easier for fish to digest than soy-based feeds, according to Michael Tlusty, an associate professor of Sustainability and Food Solutions at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and one of the challenge’s judges.
F3 is in the midst of a new challenge to spur production of an alternative oil, not made from fish, that is rich with omega-3 fatty acids, an essential ingredient in fishes’ diets. Oils will globally be the more limiting factor in developing alternative feeds, according to Tlusty. Some of these alternatives may involve genetic modification of yeasts or bacteria, which are also a cause for concern among some advocates and consumers who want to avoid GMO products and byproducts.
While innovative new feeds are starting to come on line, Tlusty says, “we can do these things in small batches. But how do you scale them up and out into an industry that doesn’t have a lot of money for expensive solutions?”
Beyond changing what carp eat, the second-best solution researchers found was to stop feeding fishmeal to piglets. Froehlich says, “it doesn’t look like there’s any big push in the pig or poultry sector to reduce fishmeal other than the cost factor.” But she thinks that feed companies, such as Cargill, could be a good leverage point for making this shift.
Another proposed solution is to eliminate farmed fish entirely, with some advocating for eating forage fish directly, and recent research estimating that 90 percent could be directly eaten by humans. That alone is not a viable solution, however, say the study’s authors. In addition to the significant hurdle of changing consumers’ fish-eating habits, the authors point out that much of the current use of forage fish is driven by policies and processes that favor reducing these fish to meal and oil.
Rust agrees, noting, “A lot of forage fish are frankly not very good to eat. Menhaden, which is the primary fishmeal stock we harvest in the U.S., is horrible. That would only get us so far and would eventually become limiting as well.”
While the solutions explored by the researchers begin to address one of the challenges that aquaculture faces, there are a number of long-standing concerns that policymakers and environmental groups continue to raise about the sustainability of the industry. In addition to the potential use of genetically modified yeast as a food source, aquaculture—if done poorly—can be highly reliant on antibiotics and generate significant pollution, leading at least one group to dub the practice “factory fish farming.”
The aquaculture industry will have to find solutions for these challenges as well, if it is to continue on its current growth trajectory, and serve as a sustainable food option on a finite planet with a fast-growing population.
“We’re getting better at it, but it’s still not perfect,” says Tlusty. “It’s still a relatively new food production system. With all the people we’re putting on the earth, however, we need a portfolio of options available. Aquaculture and alternative proteins for aquaculture are going to be important. It’s one of the myriad solutions we need to be working on.”
Top photo: A fish farm off the coast of Greece. (Photo CC-licensed by Artur Rydzewski)
‘I worked for $2.46 an hour’: Struggling farmer slams supermarkets over milk prices during drought
Tom Flanagan,Yahoo 7 News August 15, 2018
A drought-stricken dairy farmer has made an emotional plea to Australia’s leading supermarkets for a fairer rate for his produce as he struggles to make ends meet.
Father of three Shane Hickey took to Facebook on Tuesday to say he was earning just $2.64 an hour in the last month as Australia’s east suffers from one of the worst droughts of the last 100 years.
“As you can tell its really dry at the minute, like it’s super, super dry,” the northern NSW farmer began.
While grateful for the widespread support farmers have received, he singled out Woolworths, Coles, Aldi and IGA for “screwing the arse off” the farming community.
Farmer Shane Hickey took to Facebook to reveal the dire situation he and other farmers find themselves in. Source: Facebook/ Shane Hickey
“I worked for $2.46 an hour. Now something’s got to change. You can’t keep this s*** up. People can’t expect farmers to continually work for nothing,” he said.
“That’s basically slavery”.
He said as the leading supermarkets “just keep on selling milk and cheese and everything else”, he was unsure where their stock will come from after his production was down 50 per cent from this time last year.
ACCC report says supermarket prices not to blame
Mr Hickey’s claims were a pressing matter in the Senate on Tuesday, with United Australia Party Senator Brian Burston urging for the government to force supermarkets to increase the price of milk from as little as $1 per litre during the drought period.
Yet Liberal Senator James McGrath reminded Senator Burston of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s recent dairy inquiry report stating costs of dairy products in supermarkets “had no direct relationship with farmgate prices received by farmers”.
Despite supermarkets retailing milk as cheap as $1 per liter, the ACCC report revealed they weren’t to blame for farmers struggling to make money. Source: Getty
“The ACCC noted that if supermarkets were to increase the price of milk, processors would still not pay farmers any more than they have to in securing milk and that the farmgate prices received by farmers would be unlikely to increase,” he said.
Labor Senator Anthony Chrisholm and Greens Senator Janet Rice agreed that increasing the shelf price of dairy products was not the short-term answer to help farmers.
The ACCC’s report into the dairy industry was published in April and instead identified the relationship between farmers and the processor, and the processor and retailers for the “imbalance in bargaining power at each level of the dairy supply chain”.
Supermarkets boast about donations to farmers
Inline with the ACCC’s findings, supermarkets have highlighted what they are doing to support farmers during their hardship instead of raising the cost of dairy products.
A Coles spokesperson told Yahoo7 News that they are full supportive of the farmers over the current conditions and have identified certain areas they believe they can help.
“Coles last month announced the Coles Nurture Fund would provide $5 million in grants and interest-free loans for farmers who have a project which will help them to combat drought,” the spokesperson said.
The drought affecting 100 per cent of NSW and substantial parts of Queensland is one of the worst to hit Australia in the last 100 years. Source: Getty
“Coles is also raising money in stores across the country for the CWA’s drought relief efforts, to provide more immediate assistance, and Coles is matching every donation dollar-for-dollar.”
The spokesperson said the company has raised over $1.8 million in just over two weeks, but did not address the company’s dairy pricing policy.
The drive follows Woolworths’ initial $1.5 million donation to the Buy a Bale campaign in July.
“We know there are many Australia farmers doing it tough with the drought and that’s why we’ve been working closely with Rural Aid to ensure more support can be provided to those impacted,” a Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo!7 News.
The spokesperson reiterated the price a dairy farmer receives for milk is out of the supermarket’s control.
An Aldi Australia spokesperson said their efforts to help farmers are ongoing.
“ALDI is supporting drought affected farmers on a community level through food donations and fundraising from our stores,” the spokesperson said.
“We have also committed to a fundraising partnership on a national level and will share further details on this in due course.”
Not All Organic Milk Is the Same; Here Are the Best Dairies
By Dan Nosowitz August 15, 2018
There has been much concern in recent years about the encroachment of factory farms onto organic territory; with the premium prices organic foods can bring, many larger farms have engaged in a race to the bottom of quality, trying to just barely squeak above the organic regulations to grab that label without adhering to the spirit of the law.
All of the producers on the scorecard are certified USDA organic, and Cornucopia isn’t necessarily saying that any of these farms are breaking the rules of the organic seal. Instead, they’re rewarding the companies that go above and beyond the organic rules, which many have argued are far too lax. (Some farmers have gone so far as to create an entirely new, alternative label, so disgusted are they with the shape of organic regulation today.)
The Cornucopia scorecard rewards operations that feed cows more grass than grain, those that provide larger amounts of pasture per animal, whether the farm is owned by the farmer, whether the farm only produces organic milk (rather than a mix of organic and conventional), whether the farm was certified by a tougher agency, and operations that only milk cows once per day, among other factors. (You can out the full criteria at the bottom of this report.)
Smaller farms tend to fare better than large ones; Aurora and Horizon, two of the largest organic dairy producers in the country, both scored a big fat 0, meaning they do the bare minimum to get certified and don’t go beyond the letter of the law at all. But plenty of larger farms are rated highly, including Maple Hill Creamery, Stonyfield Farms and OrganicValley, all of which distribute nationwide.
Organic is not all equal; certainly, the regulations for organic are tougher than for conventional, but sometimes you might be presented with multiple organic options. Why not choose the option that really tries to do the right thing?
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
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EcoWatch – The Conversation
- Washington Post
- A slimy environmental crisis roils Florida’s tight Senate Race
Bill Nelson, Rick Scott tangle over blame for the state’s toxic algae blooms.
Incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and his Republican challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, have taken turns blaming each other for the toxic blue-green algal blooms plaguing parts of the state, which have killed marine life, raised public health concerns and threatened the Sunshine State’s tourism industry. And even as they accuse each other of inaction, both the two-term governor and the three-term senator have scrambled to prove how dedicated they are to addressing the problem.
In a campaign season dominated by talk of immigration, trade tariffs, the Supreme Court and all things President Trump, the clash in Florida over an unfolding environmental disaster could prove a pivotal issue in one of the nation’s most closely watched Senate races this fall.
The state has wrestled with serious algal blooms before, including in 2016, when the toxic goop invaded waterways along Florida’s coast, forcing the governor to declare a state of emergency. Then, as now, the state’s largest freshwater body, Lake Okeechobee, was at risk of overflowing because of heavy rains. That led the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency charged with monitoring water levels, to open levees surrounding the lake and dump the water that had been polluted by runoff into rivers and estuaries that lead toward the ocean.
On Florida’s southeast coast, the result has been a gooey, smelly blue-green-brown algae that has closed businesses and sickened dozens of people. Along more than 100 miles of the southwest coast, meanwhile, a bout of red tide has killed thousands of sea animals, including dolphins, manatees and endangered sea turtles. Scientists are continuing to research the underlying causes.
The problem has become a focus in the contentious Senate contest as business owners have raised complaints and some families have been temporarily driven from their homes because of the foul smell.
The blame game hit the airwaves last week when Scott put out a television ad — titled “More waiting, more talk, more algae” — that criticized Nelson and the federal government for allowing discharges of tainted water from Lake Okeechobee that have led to ugly, smelly and potentially dangerous algal blooms in places including the state’s St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.
“Washington politician Bill Nelson made a pledge 30 years ago to solve this problem,” Scott’s ad says. “But Nelson’s a talker, not a doer.” The ad concludes with Scott saying, “I don’t wait for Washington.”
Nelson hasn’t taken such criticism quietly. He has visited areas affected by the toxic gunk, which thrives when warm, nutrient-rich water combines with runoff from agricultural operations and other development, and he faults Scott for systematically dismantling the state’s capacity to head off environmental calamities during his eight years as governor.
Nelson also unveiled his own ad this week: “Florida’s algae bloom crisis is a man-made crisis, made by this man,” it says, as a picture of Scott flashes across the screen. “The water is murky, but the fact is clear. Rick Scott caused this problem.”
Frank Jackalone, director of the Sierra Club’s Florida chapter, said that although Scott is trying to shift the blame to Nelson, the governor is the one largely responsible for the crisis.
“The fact is, Rick Scott has had far more power to deal with these issues than Bill Nelson,” Jackalone said. “Bill Nelson has one vote in the U.S. Senate. Rick Scott is the governor of Florida and has had the power to enforce the Clean Water Act in the state. He could have enforced pollution regulations. Instead, he cut back funding, rolled back regulations, and eliminated a large part of his enforcement staff.”
During Scott’s tenure, budgets for environmental agencies have been sharply reduced. The budget of the South Florida Water Management District, which oversees water issues from Orlando to Key West, was cut. Many of the more than 400 workers who lost their jobs in the $700 million cut were scientists and engineers whose jobs were to monitor pollution levels and algal blooms. Scott also abolished the Department of Community Affairs, which oversaw development in the state.
Lauren Engel, communications director for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, noted that the blue-green algae is caused by pollution coming from Lake Okeechobee. Like Scott, she pointed to the fact that the Army Corps — a federal agency — is in charge of water released from the lake.
“Pollution buildup in Lake Okeechobee has been going on for decades,” Engel said Thursday, calling criticism that Scott’s environmental policies have allowed more pollution into the lake and made a bad situation worse “an unfair characterization.”
Blair Wickstrom, publisher of the Florida Sportsman, agreed that the problem stretches back at least a decade.
“It’s been going on since before Scott, but since he took office, there’s been a distinct rise in nutrients from Lake Okeechobee and an increase in algae blooms,” Wickstrom said. “This is not an act of God or not because we can’t handle the rain. It’s the lack of regulation at the state level.”
Researchers say they are hampered by a lack of information; Scott’s budget cuts have reduced the number of water-quality monitoring stations around the state as well as the frequency of water sampling. Scientists say the lack of data prevents them from figuring out what has caused these latest toxic algal blooms and providing the sort of early warning that could prompt officials to act sooner.
“It would be interesting to understand why this is happening, but we can’t do that with the data we have,” said Karl Havens, a University of Florida professor and director of Florida Sea Grant.
Last month, Scott declared a state of emergency for seven Florida counties, as he put it, “to help combat algal blooms caused by Lake Okeechobee water discharges from the Army Corps of Engineers.” He ordered the state’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to ramp up water-quality testing, set up a multimillion-dollar grant program aimed at helping pay for cleanups and directed state agencies to aid local businesses affected by the crisis.
For his part, Nelson has implored the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the potential health effects of the algal blooms. He also has proposed legislation seeking tax breaks for small businesses affected by the situation and to make more federal funding available to research the problem.
“The state relies heavily on tourism and outdoor recreation, the fishing industry, real estate and the availability of clean water, so toxic blooms will directly affect some of our most important economic and fiscal drivers,” said Florida TaxWatch President Dominic M. Calabro.
In Stuart, on the state’s east coast, Wickstrom closed his publication’s offices for two weeks in July because of the algal bloom. Employees complained of headaches, itchy eyes, nausea and other ailments.
“I was taking 10 Tums a day,” Wickstrom said. “I’m usually a zero-Tums guy.”
The bloom has somewhat dissipated this week, he said.
“It’s not so bad when it’s just green,” he said of the algae lurking outside his office on the St. Lucie River. “When the green turns to brown, that’s when the putrid smell gets to you.”
Lori Rozsa reported from Florida. She is a former staff writer for the Miami Herald and former bureau chief for People magazine. She is a frequent contributor to The Washington Post.