Oil prices are finally going down (for the moment, anyways) but this year has been pretty painful at the pump. While price is most on our minds, there’s also plenty to think about with the production and impact of oil.
A new art app for the iPad aims to get viewers to think deeper on the subject.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Image
Juan Rico walks by a barren cotton field July 27, 2011 near Hermleigh, Texas. A severe drought has caused the majority of dry-land (non-irrigated fields) cotton crops to fail in the region.
If you’re a farmer in the Midwest, chances are your land values have gone up recently. A new survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Mo. says that irrigated farmland value in those areas grew more than 30 percent over the last year’s first quarter. Factors such as higher crop prices and timely rains have caused demand for cropland to persist.
But if you’re a Texas farmer, you’re not seeing the same growth. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ most recent survey shows that Texas farmland values remain largely unchanged. Irrigated land values rose a little bit – up 9%. But cropland and ranchland values are essentially the same as they were this time last year, while they have gone up between sixteen and thirty percent in the Midwest.
Emily Kerr of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says that drought is definitely a factor in Texas’ agricultural land value stagnation. Continue Reading
Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images
FSC sustainable logging being carried out in the natural forest of Cameroon.
Woe is the eco-conscious consumer. Just when they think they’re buying green, something screws it all up. The latest group allegedly mucking things up is the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), which is losing corporate sponsors amid allegations of “green-washing.”
First, some background. SFI officially started as a division of the the industry group American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA). Although it officially broke away and turned non-profit in 2001, the now-separate organizations remain closely associated. SFI continues to be funded by AF&PA in the form of tax-deductible donations, according to a new report by the watchdog group (and, in a sense, competitors of SFI) ForestEthics. They allege that those timber industry funds given to SFI “support advertising and brand enhancement for the AF&PA-represented paper and timber industry.”
ForestEthics says that “out of 543 audits of SFI-certified companies since 2004, not one acknowledges any major issues—such as soil erosion, clearcutting, water quality, or chemical usage—that are known to be problems with large-scale timber operations.”
While ForestEthics is the leader of this movement, it isn’t alone. Between March and September of last year, several major companies — including Aetna, Allstate, AT&T, Office Depot, State Farm, and Sprint — publicly announced their intention to remove the SFI label from their products and/or to avoid the use of SFI-labeled products in the future. Just last week, according to ForestEthics, several more big brands — including Philips Van Heusen, Shutterfly, and U.S. Airways — decided to let go of SFI as well.
Photo courtesy of Center for Plant Science Innovation/UNL
Professor Michael Fromm says plants remember stress, and that can help them weather droughts.
Do you remember the last time you were stressed out? You’re not alone. According to a new study, plants are feeling it, too. The report says that plants have a sort of ”stress memory,” and it could help them survive drought.
Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have recently confirmed what gardeners have long claimed: after surviving the stress of a drought, plants are better able to withstand future droughts—in the short-term, at least.
The team worked with Arabidopsis, a member of the mustard family, to compare stressed plants (plants that had been previously dehydrated, like in a drought) to non-stressed plants (plants that had never been dehydrated) in a simulated drought situation. The pre-stressed mustard plants consistently rebounded far more quickly than the non-stressed mustard plants.
Fromm and his team repeated this study with two other species, and the results were the same: plants are smart. Continue Reading