October 19, 2018
Senate Sends Everglades Bill to White House
By Kristyn Brady/TRCP
Photo by Rene Rivers/flickr
In a 99-1 vote, the U.S. Senate acted overwhelmingly in support of water resources and sent landmark legislation to the president’s desk that would expedite restoration efforts in the Everglades. The “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018” (S. 3021) also takes important steps to advance nature-based infrastructure solutions—like restoring wetlands and dunes to reduce flood and storm damage—that are more cost-effective for the American taxpayer.

The House passed the bill unanimously last month.

“This is the biggest step forward for natural infrastructure that we’ve seen this Congress, and it builds on recent momentum to restore critical habitat and water quality in the Everglades,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

The legislation advances two critical projects that will improve clean water flows throughout South Florida and supports the development of technologies to reduce harmful algal blooms that infamously killed fish across the state this summer. It will also provide for more advanced research on preventing the spread of invasive species like Asian carp and zebra mussels, whose growing populations threaten many popular fishing destinations.

Cities Becoming Sources of Sustainable Produce
By Emma Bryce/Anthropocene
Photo by Atlanta BeltLine/flickr
One-in-five cities in the United States produce enough eggs and milk to feed their residents; another one-in-ten could completely satisfy local demand for fruit and vegetables using what they grow within their metropolitan boundaries. These findings, detailed  in a new study , reveal that metropolitan areas are a much more significant source of local, sustainable produce than we might realise.

Through an analysis of food production and demand within the boundaries of 377 US metros, the researchers discovered that a surprisingly high proportion were already producing enough of four staple food products–eggs, dairy, vegetables, and fruits–to feed their citizens. In some cases this food provision may be going unrecognised: for instance, backyard gardens and urban farms may be providing unquantified amounts of food to local citizens. In other cases where food is farmed at larger scales on city outskirts, that produce may not actually be reaching local residents, because supply chains are often set up to export food further afield.

But, if these trade networks were formalised and reconfigured to feed local residents, based on current production a striking 21% of metropolitan areas would be self-sufficient for eggs and milk, 12% would supply their residents’ fruit needs, and 16% would be self-sufficient in vegetables, the study found .

Scientists Fear Growing Loss of Insects Worldwide
By Ben Guarino/Washington Post
Photo by Andrew Butters/flickr
Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations. A  new report  suggests that the problem is more widespread than scientists realized. Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico, the study found, and the forest’s insect-eating animals have gone missing, too.

In 2014, an international team of biologists estimated that, in the past 35 years, the abundance of invertebrates such as beetles and bees had  decreased by 45 percent . In places where long-term insect data are available, mainly in Europe, insect numbers are plummeting. A study last year showed a 76 percent  decrease in flying insects  in the past few decades in German nature preserves.

The latest report, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that this startling loss of insect abundance extends to the Americas. The study’s authors implicate climate change in the loss of tropical invertebrates.

Southwest States Agree on Colorado River Plan
By Dan Elliott/Associated Press
Photo by Lau San Roman/flickr
Seven U.S. states in the Southwest that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River have reached tentative agreements on how to manage the waterway amid an unprecedented drought, officials said. The announcement was a long-awaited step toward preserving the river, which supports 40 million people and 6,300 square miles of farmland in the U.S. and Mexico.

“We have, after many years of discussion and negotiation, a real milestone,” said James Eklund, a water lawyer who represents Colorado in the interstate negotiations on the river.

A nearly two-decade drought has drained the river’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, to alarmingly low levels. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages major reservoirs across the West, says the chances of a shortfall in Lake Mead are 57 percent by 2020. The reservoir has never fallen low enough to trigger a shortage before. If it happens, mandatory cutbacks would hit Arizona, Nevada and Mexico first.

Saving Falcons, the World’s Fastest Creatures
By Peter Gwin/National Geographic
Photo by Rex Chan/flickr
The blue light   of dawn reveals the shadowed contours of the Arabian desert as Sheikh Butti bin Maktoum bin Juma al Maktoum and his son kneel in prayer. The velvet sand is cool, and the tracks from the night wanderings of a desert fox crisscross the area. Nearby, the silhouettes of 12 small pillars mark the foot of a dune, at the top of which a man is setting up a folding table to serve tea. On the horizon it’s possible to see the shimmer of the Dubai skyline, a place transformed from a tiny backwater into a hypermodern port city by the sheikh’s uncle, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al Maktoum.

As the sky brightens, I see that the 12 pillars are hooded falcons on perches, silently awaiting the day’s training. There are chocolate and cream peregrines, white speckled gyrfalcons, dusky brown sakers, and hybrids of different species. Together the group contains lineages that cut across Europe, Asia, and the wilds of the Arctic. They represent only a few of the hundreds of birds the sheikh owns, which arguably compose one of the most exquisite collections of falcons ever assembled.

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting
and autumn a mosaic of them all.”

- Stanley Horowitz
To read past McGraw Reports click here.