OutsideOnline big agriculture twelve changes footprint carbon clear up farm crop horizon

Twelve changes that could clear up our carbon footprint.     Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Rasica

A 12-Step Approach for Big Agriculture

To reduce carbon footprint, solve hunger crisis

Next time you're stuck in traffic, watching cars belch out greenhouse gases, consider this: How much healthier would our planet be if we stop cars from spewing this junk? Cars might not be going away any time soon, but a new report released by Climate Focus and California Environmental Associates suggests 12 changes to big agriculture that could reduce the industry's carbon footprint by up to 90 percent, while maintaining food security for the planet's growing population in the process.

The report, "Strategies for Mitigating Climate Change in Agriculture," provides ways for agricultural powerhouses including Brazil, China, the European Union, India, and U.S. to improve practices to help the environment. The bottom line? If key producers adopt certain practices—including reduced beef consumption, slashed food waste, and better farm nutrient management—the world could cut over three gigatons of carbon dioxide per year.

While aiding the environment, these new policies could also make our food system more efficient, which will become vital as the world's population continues to increase. The report argues that agriculture should follow the green-aware trends that have reshaped the transportation and energy sectors in recent years.

"By reducing the climate impact of the food we eat, we can improve our health and the health of the planet," said Dr. Charlotte Streck of Climate Focus, one of the study's co-authors. "There are so many ways in which policymakers can help farmers boost productivity while mitigating climate change. We need to dispel the notion, once and for all, that productivity and sustainability can't work hand in hand."

The study calls for reduced beef consumption, particularly by the United States and China. America is currently the world's biggest red meat consumer, but that may be changing. Per capita beef consumption among Americans has dropped from 88.8 pounds in 1976 to 58.7 pounds in 2009, a trend that shows no signs of abating. Meanwhile, China seems poised for a jump in red meat consumption—by a projected 116 percent by 2050—but experts suggest that, because the nation isn't already dependent on beef it could easily steer itself in a more climate-friendly direction.

In this vein, a reference to cow flatulence—responsible for over 40 percent of the agriculture sector's direction emissions—was inevitable. The study suggested that pigs, chickens, and fish are far better protein sources for both environmental health and nutrition.

The report also pointed out global inefficiencies with food production, finding that as much as 40 percent of all food goes bad or is lost before it even reaches consumers. The fixes for this are easy and could provide vast savings for producers and consumers alike. Quite feasibly, countries could do things like resolving the confusion between "sell by" and "best by" dates, tossing good food from supermarkets for aesthetic purposes, cutting portion sizes in restaurants, and improving refrigeration techniques in developing countries.

The study's authors explained that better practices by big agriculture could have a ripple effect that could reduce forest destruction and water pollution, as well. If implemented, these types changes to the system might just stave off the end of the world as we know it.


Photo: Getty Images

Which States Have the Most Pride?

The western ones, duh

Clearly the West is the best place to live, at least according to a new state pride poll by Gallup.

About 77 percent of people in Alaska and Montana said their state was the best or one of the best places to live in the country. Other western states—including Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, California, and Oregon—weren't far behind.

Although most of these residents said their state was "one of the best" places to live, Texans didn't equivocate. Folks in the Lone Star State were the most likely to say their state was the absolute best place to live.

A handful of states east of the Mississippi River counted among the worst places to live, according to residents. About 80 percent of residents in Rhode Island, Illinois, and Mississippi said they were sure the grass was greener pretty much everywhere else.

People with a lot of state pride also "generally boast a greater standard of living, higher trust in state government, and less resentment toward the amount they pay in state taxes," according to Gallup.

What's the bottom line? If you're living in a cold state with mountains, you're probably a proud stater.


OutsideOnline Sriracha green chili Serrono Musashi Midori sauce foods

$4.99 on musashispicymayo.com     Photo: Musashi Foods

Green Chili Sriracha Released

We're stoked

Green serrano chilies, brown sugar, salt, garlic, and rice vinegar. Those are the ingredients in the newer, hotter Midori Green Sriracha, which just gave heat-seekers an alternative to Huy Fong's staple red Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce.

Considered the "true chili" by Outside editors, green serrano chilies are the main ingredient in Musashi Foods' new Sriracha. Targeted at the all-things-natural generation, Midori Green Sriracha contains fewer than one percent preservatives, while traditional Sriracha contains a few preservatives and sodium sulfite, a by-product of sulfur dioxide scrubbing. 

California residents suffering from Huy Fong's stench just put the California-based factory on the hot list again. No smells, however, have been reported from Musashi Foods' New York–based factory.


Camoflage vine News science OutsideOnline

Scientists has only seen this type of mimicry in butterflies before finding it in the South American vine.     Photo: Top Photo Corporation/Thinkstock

Vine Is Master of Disguise

Newly discovered plant mimics everything

A recently discovered vine in Chile and Argentina has camouflage and mimicry characteristics never before seen in the plant realm. With the ability to change its shape, size, color, orientation, and even its vein pattern to match the surrounding trees, the vine has the scientific community fascinated. 

The woody vine, named Boquila trifoliolata, can also imitate several hosts at a time, a trait researchers previously had seen only in butterflies. If the vine grows from one tree to another with vastly different leaf size and color, this chameleon vine will adjust and imitate each tree respectively.

This adaptability is thought to be a defense mechanism against leaf eaters, but it remains unclear how the vine identifies the different traits of its host.

Researchers believe the vine may take cues from odor and chemicals released by the trees and their microbes, which might hold gene-activating signals that trigger the vine.


Photo: Getty Images

Live Longer with Raw Fish, Green Tea

New study finds Japanese women hold the secret to staying alive

The key to living a longer life is simpler than we thought. According to new data released by the UK's Office for National Statistics, we should be taking notes from Japanese women.

The study, which compared figures on population, employment, and the economy, showed that Japanese women, whose diets incorporate low-calorie foods such as raw fish and green tea with portion control in mind, live an average of 86.4 years, reports the Irish Independent.

For comparison, women in England can expect to kick the bucket between 82 and 83 years. Similarly, women in Northern Ireland and Wales have a life expectancy of 82.1 years, and women in Scotland live an average of 80.7 years, the Daily Mail reports.

More things working in Japan's favor: The average Japanese person eats around 25 percent fewer calories than the average Western person, and their diet is filled with disease-fighting foods. 

"They eat three servings of fish a week, on average. Plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and soy products too, more tofu, and more konbu seaweed than anyone else in the world," Craig Willcox, a leading gerontologist, told the Times.

The same isn't true for men. Sorry dudes, but your average life expectancy is a few years shorter than women's. Japanese men live 79.9 years versus 79 in England, 78.1 in Wales, and 76.5 in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

So, anyone up for sushi?


This poodle is very disappointed.     Photo: John Steven Fernandez/Flickr/Creative Common

Owner Abandons Poodles at LAX Over Shipping Fees

Didn't want to pay to take them home

Two poodles were abandoned at LAX this week after their owner told authorities that she couldn't afford to pay their shipping fees home. The retiree was reportedly heading home overseas and decided it wasn't worth it to pay the roughly $200 per animal it would cost to bring along her supposedly beloved companions. 

The two sibling dogs, Sorullo, 6, and Tulip, 3, were reportedly perplexed over the sudden lapse in ownership. "He was shy, a little nervous, probably wondering what's going on," reported KCAL9's Juan Fernandez. Both dogs were taken to the West L.A. Animal Shelter, where one of them, Tulip, was quickly adopted. 

Sorullo, on the other hand, is still awaiting adoption. Fernandez, who visited the dog in the shelter, describes him as "a total lapdog. Perfect with families, with small children, or seniors." If you're in the L.A. area and seeking canine companionship, don't hesitate to call the West L.A. Animal Shelter at 213-485-0494.