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California Towns With Highest Job Losses From Drought To Receive Food, Water & Other Aid

With California experiencing its driest year ever on record, so far, the state is now in emergency mode, and trying to get out as many relief services as possible to the public as quickly as it can.

Among these services will be food assistance for families that have been directly affected by the drought through unemployment from agriculturally-related jobs; temporary drinking water replacement for economically disadvantaged communities; statewide water conservation measures; new irrigation measured for famers; and water diversion projects for habitat preservation for wildlife.

The California Department of Social Services announced that food banks in 24 drought-affected counties will begin receiving the first in $5.1 million in food assistance, with food hitting the food bank shelves soon this month.

Shipments will be sent to counties where the unemployment rate is higher than the 2013 statewide average and have a higher share of agricultural workers than the rest of the state. These counties will include: Amador, Butte, Colusa, Fresno, Glenn, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Merced, Modoc, Monterey, San Benito, San Joaquin, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Siskiyou, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Tulare, Yolo, and Yuba.

Beginning this month, the local food banks in these 24 counties will receive pre-packaged boxes of nutritional, non-perishable food items, providing enough food for a household of four people for about five days. The food items will include canned fruits and vegetables, soup, peanut butter, rice, and beans.

People that receive the food boxes will be asked to provide proof that they live in a household where drought conditions have caused their unemployment or underemployment.

In addition, these food banks are developing local “drought actions plans” for food distributions and collaborating with other local organizations serving impacted families.

Also, families and individuals who are expecting to feel the long-term impacts of the drought will also be able to apply for the CalFresh Program, which is a California program that issues monthly electronic benefits that can be used to buy most foods at markets and food stores.

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Earth Day Network Celebrates With Partnership Introducing New Free Energy Saving Tips App

The Earth Day Network has launched a new web app designed to provide energy saving tips for around the home – ranging from ideas that cost nothing, such as cleaning your dryer’s lint trap after every load for faster drying with less energy, to the most pricy ideas like upgrading to a more efficient dishwasher.

The new app – the Earth Day Network EnergyCenter – was developed in partnership with the personal energy management platform WattzOn. The app provides a lot of services including: free educational material on how to save energy, tracking tools that allow you to see how much energy your home is using, tips on improving car efficiency, and rebate and tax credit information for energy saving upgrades to your home with direct links to state and federal sites, including the Internal Revenue Service for more details.

The new app has a lot of home energy saving tips that can be done for free, including the following:

  • Cleaning the Lint Trap

If you don’t clean your lint trap after every load, enough air doesn’t get in to quickly dry your clothes and it takes longer, using more energy

  • Cleaning the Dryer Vent

If your clothes take more than an hour to dry, check the external exhaust vent on your dryer (not the lint trap). It could be full of lint, particularly if there are bends in the tubing, leading to less airflow, slower drying time, and more energy use.

The vent can clog even if you clean the lint screen every time, so it’s important to check it every now and then. To clean the vent, simply vacuum it out. This will consequently increase airflow, drying time, and reduce energy use.

  • Lowering the Water Heater Temperature

Often manufactures set the water heater temperature to 140 °F, which is hot enough to scald a person, as well as corrode the pipes. The Earth Day Network suggests lowering your water heater temperature to 120 °F, and check the hottest temperature with a thermometer.

The lower temperature will be safer, just as effective, and require less energy to produce.

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7 Million Deaths Linked To Air Pollution In 2012 Says New Report By World Health Organization

The United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) just released a shocking report linking severe air pollution – both indoor and outdoor combined – to about seven million deaths across the globe in 2012.

“This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk,” said WHO.

In the case of outdoor air pollution, a report by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that “there were 3.7 million deaths in 2012 from urban and rural sources worldwide.” Photo courtesy of Clear The Air New Blog.

The health organization said that the new data shows “a strong link between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and ischaemic (coronary) heart disease, as well as between air pollution and cancer.

“This is in addition to air pollution’s role in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD).” The estimates were based on WHO mortality data from 2012 associated with conditions related to exposure to air pollution.

Looking at indoor air pollution worldwide, the health organization estimated that indoor air pollution was linked to about 4.3 million deaths in 2012, which was related to “households cooking over coal, wood, and biomass stoves.”

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Buffalo To Reduce Lake Erie Pollution With Grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the City of Buffalo, NY, a $500,000 grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) that will be used in conjunction with another $500,000 in funding from Empire State Development to provide green infrastructure in an effort to minimize polluting stormwater runoff into Lake Erie.

Space view of the Great Lakes.

Empire State Development is New York State’s chief economic development agency that works to promote the growth of the state economy through loans, grants, tax credits, and other forms of financial assistance to projects and initiatives that will create business growth and job creation.

A major focus of this project will be building a green infrastructure along a one-mile stretch of Buffalo’s Niagara Street that’s part of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail and National Scenic Byway. This area currently accumulates untreated stormwater that drains directly into the Black Rock Navigation Channel and the Niagara River.

Northern waterfront of the Niagara River. Photo from Wikimedia.org.

The EPA says the project will include the installation of porous asphalt, stormwater planters, rain gardens, and the reduction of impervious pavements. The new project is expected to capture stormwater from about 15 acres along Niagara Street and result in the reduction of about 5 million gallons of stormwater runoff per year.

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Buffet Foundation Donates $23.7 Million to Combat Rhino Pouching in South African National Park

While pouching has always been a problem on the African continent, over the last several years the decimation of rhino populations in South Africa’s Kruger National Park have accelerated at a frightening rate, and conservation groups as well as investment institutions are stepping up efforts to help.

Protecting the African rhino. Photo courtesy of South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

SANParks (the South African National Parks system) reported last year a total of 1,004 rhinos were pouched in country, up from 668 pouched in 2012, and 448 pouched in 2011.

The rampant pouching is increasing, and the latest report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) found that, “This year alone, 172 rhinos have been poached since January with 113 of those occurring in the Kruger National Park.”

To add to the significance, “Kruger is currently home to over 40 percent of the world’s remaining 22,000 rhinos, the largest single population of rhinos in the world,” says SANParks.

In response to the worsening situation, authorities have continued stepping up their prevention efforts. SANParks reported that last year, the number of people arrested for rhino poaching-related offenses climbed to 343, with 133 of them in the Krugar National Park. Since the beginning of 2014, six alleged poachers have been arrested.

SANParks says that Kruger’s poaching problem is fueled mainly by illicit criminal networks in Mozambique, South Africa, and East Asia, but evidence suggests that armed groups elsewhere in Africa derive significant funding from poaching activities.”

Standard Bank of South Africa, which supports anti-pouching measures, explained that “wildlife crime is a source of funds for warlords and terrorist activity on the continent, and that, “Stopping wildlife crime therefore means a more secure life and economy for local people.”

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