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Why Eating Less Meat is Better for You and the Environment

Anyone paying attention to climate change knows that it is more than just carbon emissions from cars or factories. Recent, unsustainable agricultural practices have been called out for their immense impact on the environment. Waste output, water consumption, and land requirements needed for pasture animals is incredibly high and struggling for sustainability considering today's growing populations.

Coral bleaching and ocean acidification

Global warming: Coral bleaching and ocean acidification Kee Alfian/Marine Photobank *This article was updated April 10th, 2017 With varying reports of the oceans consuming 30-70% of the annual CO2 emissions, marine life is bound to suffer severe repercussions. The question remains easy to ask yet almost impossible to answer; how do we best

The 2-Degree Highwire-Climate Change Predictions

800 billion tons, that’s all we have left in our global carbon budget. At our current rate of 35 billion tons (or gigatons) a year, we are set to hit that in just over 22 years. This budget, allotted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is meant to prevent our planet from warming to

Believe it or not, there is still hope for the environment despite Trump

There is still hope for climate despite Donald Trump environmental policy changes This article has been updated as of 12/13/2016 Up until recent American election results, there has been some good news about climate change. Even just considering that for the third year in a row global carbon emissions were flat is hugely impressive, and

What will happen to the environment under Trump?

This article was updated March 29th, 2017 “You know what this says, right? You’re going back to work.” On March 28th, to a smattering of applause, Trump signed an executive order that begins the long process of dismantling Obama's Clean Power Plan. He said the order, known as "Energy Independence" would deregulate the industry, "reverse

Water, Water, Everywhere? Not Really

In many places, clean drinking water is so commonplace that it is often something that most of us take for granted. In the United States, functional water amenities have become so familiar that in many places they are simply automatic. This is, however, not a luxury that the rest of the world shares, and in

Gate One Travel Review, South Africa

He stood patiently with me as I butchered his native language, unable to make the required sounds with any degree of success. I was in standing in Hluhluwe–Imfolozi game reserve in South Africa with Gate One Travel as I was gracelessly struggling to pronounce the hlu sound, but my lesson was ending and my group

Conflict Palm Oil and the Destruction of Rainforests

This article was updated September 19th, 2017 The rainforests are the lungs of the earth, provide food to many people, and are an amazing ecosystem for some of the world's most beautiful flora and fauna. With that in mind, there's little doubt that the effects of rainforest deforestation would be devastating to both people and

Companies That Give Back To The Rainforest

The rainforests of the world are astounding, and from where almost 80% of food originated. Just imagine millions of giving trees handing out everything from shampoo to coffee to moisturizer and you'll almost be there. Humans have known the giving potential of the rainforests for thousands of years, relying on it's flora and fauna for

If we aren’t careful, soon there may not be many fish in the sea

Overfishing our oceans: a real possibility The prospect of an overfished ocean is a truly scary thing; what we once thought were an inexhaustible resource has fallen to overconsumption and greed. The oceans are being abused, and everything from sharks, to tuna to humans will feel it. Just looking at the stats, at the rate we are going we may only know the massive effects of overfishing practices until after it’s too late. Image courtesy of SeetheSea.org Unsustainable (and illegal) Fishing Practices We’re not talking about the occasional hobbyist taking a pole to the pier or even a deep sea fishing charter. The real issue is the use of unsustainable practices like drift nets and long-lines consisting of up to a thousand hooks. Commercial fisheries will cast out either a net or line in the hopes of catching a certain type of fish. While these practices are phenomenal at catching the target species they also can snag just about all marine life without discrimination. Called bycatch, these unwanted animals can include females and juveniles, not to mention species like dolphins, turtles, and sharks. The fishing boats will wait for hours, sometimes days before pulling in the catch. By this time their nets and lines are full and most of the unintended catch is dead only to be thrown overboard. Some reports find that bycatch equals to about 63 billion pounds of wasted food per year. Diver unsuccessfully trying to rescue a Leatherback turtle caught in a net © Michel Gunther WWF-Canon Although long lines and drift nets round up a large amount of bycatch, they are in fact legal. Believe it or not, there are actually more unsustainable methods out there, including bottom trawling (where the net scrapes the bottom of the ocean destroying fish habitats and coral), blast (dynamite) fishing, and cyanide fishing. Unfortunately, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices consist of 14-33 percent of the fishing market today. What Is Being Done About IUU Fishing? Leonardo DiCaprio is well known for his conservation efforts, but recently he has stepped up his game. Teaming with Google, Oceana, and Skytruth, Leo unveiled the newest iteration of a global heat map application depicting the locations of large fishing efforts from multiple companies and countries. The Oscar-winning actor donated over half of the budget for the 10.3 million dollar project, stating humans “are … pushing our oceans to the very brink,” and “treating our oceans as an endless resource and a dumping ground for our waste.” Called Global Fishing Watch, the technology allows for anyone in the world to see the oceans fishing activity in real time, putting power in the hands of the general public to combat unsustainable fisheries. Is Farmed Fishing The Answer? The granddaddy of animal domestication Francis Galton knew a thing or two about animal husbandry. In his 88 years, he was an accomplished statistician, anthropologist, sociologist, psychologist, explorer, geographer, inventor, proto-geneticist, psychometrician, meteorologist, and eugenicist. He published roughly 350 articles and books. He coined the phrase “nature versus nurture”. He was even knighted a few years before he died. Galton had some very simple criteria that he saw were required for the success of the domestication of animals. 1) Hardy: 2) Endowed with an inborn liking of man: 3) Comfort-loving: 4) Able to breed freely: 5) Needful of only a minimal amount of tending: All this research makes sense when we consider that Galton is Charles Darwin’s half-cousin. In chef Dan Barber’s TED talk from six years ago he addressed ocean sustainability announcing that “it’s hard to overstate the destruction”. He goes on to explain that in theory, farm-raised fish could be the easy solution. However, aquaculture is not without its drawbacks. The large concentration of fish pollutes the surrounding areas which pose a huge issue when close to drinking water sources. However, in order to farm bigger fish like tuna and sea bass, they must be fed hundreds or even thousands of pounds of bait fish like sardines and smelt, which are of course caught from the sea. Tuna are warm blooded and quick, agile swimmers and require a lot of food to maintain their active lifestyles needing an average feed conversion ratio (FCR) is 15-20lbs of wild fish to create 1 lb of tuna meat, making the entire process remarkably counter-productive. Compare that to salmon with an FCR of 3, and tilapia who have an FCR of 1.5 and can thrive off a purely vegetarian diet. Tilapia is so efficient that it is often used as a low-cost, high protein for fish farmers in developing countries. In fact, it is so useful that the Peace Corps regularly set up tilapia hatcheries in countries in which they serve. In the exhaustively researched book Four Fish, author Paul Greenberg explains the future of wild fish and the possibility of farming them. He then proposes two lists of how to handle wild fish and farmed fish. Enter Spanish Biologist Miguel Medialdea and his farm Veta La Palma. As perhaps one of the few sustainable aquaculture farms in the world, Miguel proves that farming fish is not only possible but can also enhance the surrounding environment. His farm is sourced by nutrient rich soil and water which with the ample sunlight create algae. This alga is eaten by shrimp, which is eaten by the fish. Sounds familiar? Yeah, it’s a process that has been around for millions of years, talk about sustainable.