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Weekly Environmental Updates
Trees in the U.S. are dying at an unprecedented rate, with many causes rooted in climate change. California, which lost 66 million trees in the Sierra Nevada range since 2010, has been particularly hard hit. Some experts predict that needle leaf evergreens in the Southwest will disappear within the next hundred years.
In related news, bark beetles, which have been implicated for their alleged role in making trees in California more vulnerable to wildfires, may not be the villains we think they are. A 2014 study by the University of Colorado blames hotter, longer, and drier summers as the prime cause of wildfires and suggests that trees will die under those conditions with or without the beetles. The study, which recommends "societal adaptation to drought", has implications for efforts to control wild fires via tree removal projects.
There are more shrubs worldwide than trees and scientists think they now know why. The multiple stems of shrubs help them to transport water and nutrients to the leaves more rapidly and they can do without stems that break off. Their shorter stature also serves as protection from wind, cold, and drought.
Cannabis that's cultivated indoors produces 15 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, which is equivalent to the emissions produced by three million cars. Lighting, ventilation, and dehumidifying accounts for the energy use. Indoor growers have difficulty taking advantage of state and utility efficiency programs because the cannabis industry is still federally illegal.
An ad man turned environmental activist has found a novel way to raise awareness of how much trash we generate on a monthly basis by wearing his trash. Rob Greenfield has vowed to wear every piece of trash he generates in a month, from coffee cups to grocery bags. Mr. Greenfield previously engaged in an effort to save water by going without showering for a year.
Food recycling is enjoying a comeback as some restaurants, grocery stores, and universities divert unused food from landfills to feed farm animals. Olive Garden, The Capital Grille, and LongHorn Steakhouse are some of the eateries that send food that cannot be donated to food banks to facilities that turn it into animal feed. Sixty million tons of food are reportedly wasted in the U.S. every year.
Roman Hills