CAFOs: The Scary New Math of Factory Farm Waste

photo: open-air lagoon for waste processing at a concentratedd animal feedlot operation (CAFO)

CAFOs often store animal waste in massive, open-air lagoons, like this one at Vanguard Farms in Chocowinity, North Carolina. Bacteria feeding on the animal waste turns the mixture a bright pink. picstever / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property … [more…]

To fix the reef we first need to fix the land – but where do we start?

photo: To fix the reef we first need to fix the land – but where do we start?

Photo: The Great Barrier Reef, Northern Queensland, Australia

Rivers deliver sediment from land to the ocean. This sediment contains nutrients which can feed microscopic algae in water. But, if there is too much sediment and nutrients, delivered by floods from land-based erosion, algal blooms can occur that have negative effects on the Great Barrier Reef.

The challenge is that sediment comes from many different locations and we need to know … [more…]

Fracking wastewater accumulation found in freshwater mussels’ shells

photo by Westcott Phillip: Elliptio complanate, freshwater mussel, one of the two species used in the experiment.

Photo: The Elliptio complanate freshwater mussel, one of the two species used in the experiment. Credit: Westcott Phillip

Elevated concentrations of strontium, an element associated with oil and gas wastewaters, have accumulated in the shells of freshwater mussels downstream from fracking wastewater disposal sites, according to researchers from Penn State and Union College.

"Freshwater mussels filter water and when they grow a hard shell, the shell material records some of … [more…]

83% decline of freshwater animals underscores need to protect, restore freshwaters

photo: muskrat or beaver reflected in water. An 83% decline of freshwater animals underscores the need to protect and restore freshwaters

Certain groups of animals are declining at an alarming rate—and none more so than those living in freshwater.

This year’s Living Planet Report shows that populations of animals—including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians—plummeted by 60% between 1970 and 2014. But those living in freshwater are experiencing a far more drastic decline: 83% since 1970. It’s a sobering statistic and one tied directly to the ever-increasing pressures that people are … [more…]

The Many Benefits of Wetlands Conservation

photo: wetlands with mountainous background. Benefits of Wetlands Conservation

Photo © KEN ARCHER

By J. Dale James, Ph.D., and Ellen R. Herbert, Ph.D.

Wetlands are among the most valuable ecosystems on Earth, rivaling tropical rainforests in their biological productivity. Historically, wetland systems sustained civilizations by providing people with food and freshwater and protecting communities from flooding and storm surges.

Prior to European settlement of the United States, the American wilderness included a remarkable abundance and diversity of wetlands, ranging

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