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50 Ways to Leave Your Food

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Did you know that nearly half the American food supply gets neglected or outright rejected?

Love Letter to Food, the latest video from MinuteEarth, laments the myriad abuses suffered by food because the convenience of wasting it outweighs the cost.

The video is based on a new issue brief by Alex Reich, a graduate research assistant at Institute on the Environment and one of the creators of MinuteEarth, and IonE director Jonathan Foley. Among other things, the brief, Food Loss and Waste in the U.S.: The Science Behind the Supply Chain, reports that roughly 40 percent of the U.S. food supply is never eaten, with much of the waste occurring when edible food is discarded at home or in restaurants and cafeterias.

MinuteEarth offers mini science lessons via YouTube to engage the general public in science and environmental issues.


 



Unfair Air?

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BrianCarsonFlickr.jpg

People of color in the U.S. are exposed to 38 percent more nitrogen dioxide air pollution in the neighborhoods in which they live than are white people, according to new research from the University of Minnesota. The exposure they receive results in approximately 7,000 heart-related deaths per year. 

U of M Instititute on the Environment resident fellows Julian Marshall and Dylan Millet and fellow researcher Lara Clark compared U.S. Census data and nitrogen dioxide levels in cities across the country and found that, irrespective of income, nonwhites had higher average exposure to nitrogen dioxide than whites. The findings received extensive coverage in the media this past week. 

"The molecule [nitrogen dioxide] is not racist," said Marshall, responding to a tongue-in-cheek comment from Melissa Harris-Perry on her Sunday, April 20, MSNBC show. "But people do not live in places at random, as people have talked about on your show thus far. On average there are differences in exposure by race."

Marshall says that because this type of pollution comes from burning fuels, such as gas and diesel from motor vehicles and coal from electricity generation, the way to close the "pollution gap" would be to target emission reductions where people are the most exposed. 

Speaking on MSNBC's NewsNation on Monday, April 21, Marshall said the next step will be to determine why there are large differences between cities. 

Julian Marshall is an associate professor in the College of Science and Engineering; Dylan Millet is associate professor in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; and Lara Clark is a CSE doctoral student. 

Read more about the study on the U of M homepage in "Groundbreaking Study Finds that People of Color Live in Neighborhoods with More Air Pollution than Whites, and check out this YouTube video abstract of the report. Of course, a Google search will yield many more articles about the study.



Photo, "Duality," by Brian Carson (Flickr Creative Commons)

What IS the Green Economy? And How Do We Get One?

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02-00-Polasky.jpgWhen you think of the economy, chances are the "green" that comes to mind is money, not nature. But what if there wre truly a green economy - one that accounts for the value of the environment in economic decision-making?

That was the topic of last week's Frontiers in the Environment lecture presented by Steve Polasky, an IonE resident fellow and Regents professor of applied economics in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. Polasky delivered his speech, "What IS the Green Economy? And How Do We Get One?" Feb. 12 at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul.

New Life Cycle Assessment Tool Aims to Clean Up Supply Chain

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Thumbnail image for flash_largeimagecrop_sponge2.jpg
There you are, hunkered over your sink, hands wrist-deep in hot water, swiping suds over food-crusted dinner plates. That squishy, soapy thing that's helping you do so many daily chores . . . ever wonder where its life began and where it will end?

That sponge, like everything on the planet, has a life cycle, composed of all the materials and energy that brought it to your sink and all the tasks it will help you complete until you've squeezed the last bit of work from it and tossed it into the trash. 

Divestment - or Sustainable Investment?

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11-06-matthew fitzmaurice.jpgUniversities, religious institutions, and even local governments around the globe are weighing the pros and cons of divestment - a climate change mitigation strategy that focuses on phasing out endowment investments in fossil fuel companies.

Matthew Fitzmaurice, founder and managing partner of AWJ Capital Partners LLC, explained the opportunities and shortcomings of divestment in his Frontiers in the Environment presentation Nov. 6.

Ecosystem Services for River Basin Management: Ideas and Lessons from Europe

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coolmonfrere.jpgBY KATE BRAUMAN

Do you know about the Water Framework Directive? It calls for all waters in the European Union to be managed as river basins and for those river basins to be brought up to "good status." That's tremendous - a really forward-looking way to think about managing water. But as you can surely imagine, it's also quite a task to implement!


I was lucky enough to work with the RISKBASE group during 2009-2010 to help develop risk-based approaches for managers to guide river basins to good status. I'm not an expert in risk, nor an expert about European river basins, but I was really excited to get involved. This had the potential to bring biophysical science together with new management approaches to actually solve problems.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and not necessarily of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.

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