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Historic ‘megadrought’ underway in California, American West, new study finds

By Paul Rogers, The Mercury News


Highlights

Nine Western US states have been experiencing an extended mass drought, called a “megadrought.” 

  • Scientists studied over 30,000 tree rings to determine the amount of rainfall and soil moisture over the centuries. The West’s last extended drought period was between 1576 and 1603 and the 20th century was the wettest century though this record
  • Though the megadrought is due to natural events, rising temperatures due to climate change are making drought conditions worse
  • Though there are short periods of decent rain and snowpack, they are anomalies within the bigger drought
  • Bill Patzert, a retired oceanographer and research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the best way to measure whether a drought is over in the West is to look at the level of Lake Mead, which is currently less than half full
  • California should push more water conservation and efficiency measures that were practiced during its 5-year drought as these dry conditions will come back
  • Depletion of groundwater, dry soils, and dying trees are all symptoms of the large drought
  • Without mitigating climate change, the West will experience more severe droughts 

The climate crisis is here now, worse than anticipated, and accelerating, threatening all life. California must step up its climate leadership to avoid increasingly dire consequences and inspire climate action worldwide. Endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to enact policies that rapidly address the climate crisis.


Read More: https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/04/16/megadrought-underway-in-california-american-west-new-study-finds/

Lab-grown food will soon destroy farming – and save the planet

Highlights:

  • “Scientists are replacing crops and livestock with food made from microbes and water. It may save humanity’s bacon.”
  • Natural disasters are threatening our food supply.
  • “The UN forecasts that by 2050 feeding the world will require a 20% expansion in agriculture’s global water use.”
  • RethinkX shows that proteins from precision fermentation will cost ten times less and replace many agricultural inefficiencies by 2035.

by George Monbiot, The Guardian

It sounds like a miracle, but no great technological leaps were required. In a commercial lab on the outskirts of Helsinki, I watched scientists turn water into food. Through a porthole in a metal tank, I could see a yellow froth churning. It’s a primordial soup of bacteria, taken from the soil and multiplied in the laboratory, using hydrogen extracted from water as its energy source. When the froth was siphoned through a tangle of pipes and squirted on to heated rollers, it turned into a rich yellow flour.

This flour is not yet licensed for sale. But the scientists, working for a company called Solar Foods, were allowed to give me some while filming our documentary Apocalypse Cow. I asked them to make me a pancake: I would be the first person on Earth, beyond the lab staff, to eat such a thing. They set up a frying pan in the lab, mixed the flour with oat milk, and I took my small step for man. It tasted … just like a pancake.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/08/lab-grown-food-destroy-farming-save-planet