Tips for Reducing Thanksgiving Food Waste


Maxwell Bernstein | November 27, 2020

The USDA Food Loss and Waste Liaison released tips and facts on reducing food waste at Thanksgiving. The average American family of four annually loses $1500 or 1,160 pounds of uneaten food.

The USDA recommends: 

  • Planning holiday meals.
  • Storing or giving away leftovers.
  • Use leftover food creatively by incorporating them in other dishes. 
  • Donate extra food through Feeding America or the EPA’s excess food opportunities program. 
  • Composting.
  • Preventing leftovers from ending up in a landfill.

Families can freeze Thanksgiving food and use it long term as a way to prevent food from being wasted. 

Joe Biden Selects John Kerry as the Presidential Climate Envoy


Via Flickr

Maxwell Bernstein | November 25, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former secretary of state John Kerry to be his presidential climate envoy, according to the Washington Post

John Kerry tweeted, “America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is. I’m proud to partner with the President-elect, our allies, and the young leaders of the climate movement to take on this crisis as the President’s Climate Envoy.” 

Kerry will be tasked with mending fractured relationships with global leaders when it comes to combating climate change. The Trump administration withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accord and rolled back rules to reduce the United States’ emissions.  

This is the first time that the National Security Council will include someone whose designated role is to fight climate change. With this role, Kerry will exercise soft power to convince China and India to cut greenhouse-gas emissions as their economies continue to grow.  

The Climate Explorer Tool Shows Current and Predicted Climate Data in Your Area


Screenshot from The Climate Explorer

Maxwell Bernstein | November 20, 2020

The Climate Explorer is a user-friendly tool to create maps and charts on climate data in different areas throughout the United States. The collected data and tool are the result of a collaboration between several government agencies such as NASA, NOAA, the EPA, and more. 

The user enters information about their location and The Climate Explorer shows information about projected climate variables such as the tides, weather data, historical thresholds and more. 

For further information about the methodology behind the data collection and predictions that the tool maps out, check out the about page for The Climate Explorer.  

Trump Administration Auctions Land in Wildlife Refugee


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Maxwell Bernstein | November 18, 2020

As of Tuesday, the Trump administration auctioned off development rights for land in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to allow oil and gas companies to drill, according to NPR.

The Bureau of Land Management will receive all nominations and comments on the tracts of land before Dec. 17, 2020, according to the official “Call for Nominations and Comments for the Coastal Plain Alaska Oil and Gas Lease Sale.”  

The Arctic refuge’s coastal plain, the region that is being auctioned, is about 1.6 million acres of land where caribou migrate, polar bears den, and migratory birds feed. 

In 63 days president-elect Joe Biden will take office on Jan. 20, 2021, making this auction a last push for the Trump administration to benefit oil and gas companies.  

Diversifying Crops Benefits Environment and Farmers


Via Flickr

Maxwell Bernstein | November 13, 2020

new study from an international team of researchers found that diversifying crops, “enhances biodiversity, pollination, pest control, nutrient cycling, soil fertility, and water regulation without compromising crop yields.”

Midwestern agriculture is heavily reliant on soybeans and corn. Diversification practices include crop rotations, planting prairie strips along and within fields, creating wildlife habitats near fields, reducing tillage, and using organic matter to enrich soil.

These practices can improve water quality, pollination, pest regulation, nutrient turnover, and reduce sequestered carbon in the soil, according to AG Daily.

Showing that these practices might increase crop yields might encourage farmers to take up these practices Matt Liebman, a professor of agronomy at Iowa State, said in AG Daily.  

President-elect Joe Biden Gets to Work


President-elect Joe Biden speaks Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Maxwell Bernstein | November 11, 2020

After Joe Biden’s election victory with a 4.3% margin on the popular vote, president-elect Joe Biden began to form a coronavirus task force to deal with the pandemic after his oath of office on Jan. 20.  

The president-elect will spend the first 100 days in office working on the pandemic, police reform, racial inequality, immigration reform, criminal justice reform, foreign policy, and fixing environmental issues, according to an in-depth look into Biden’s first 100 days from NPR.  

When it comes to environmental issues, Biden will reenter the Paris climate accord of 2015 on day 1 of his presidency and begin his $2 trillion climate plan. Biden’s $2 trillion plan to create job growth through investing in green infrastructure and businesses could very well be implemented in Biden’s coronavirus economic stimulus. 

Truck Carrying 40,000 Pounds of Fertilizer Rolled Over


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Maxwell Bernstein | November 6, 2020

On Tuesday, a truck carrying 40,000 pounds of fertilizer rolled over about two miles south of Wadena in Fayette County, killing fish in a tributary of Brush Creek, according to the Iowa DNR

The truck was operated by Nutrien Ag Solutions of West Union, according to the Des Moines Register. DNR investigators found dead fish and high levels of ammonia in the water. 

Nutrien Ag and DNR worked to clean up the spill after damming the tributary to diverted clean stream water. The DNR is monitoring the cleanup while fisheries staff are checking downstream. 

Iowa DNR said that they are continuing to investigate and will consider appropriate enforcement options against Nutrien Ag if needed, according to the DNR and KCRG.

National Stress Awareness Day


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Maxwell Bernstein | November 4, 2020

The first Wednesday in November is Stress Awareness Day, and it happens that this year’s National Stress Awareness Day is occurring during a close election and a once in a century pandemic. 

Whether your stress is induced by COVID-19, the election, environmental issues, or any other factor, the Cleveland Clinic has a list of stress-relieving tips that you can apply during stressful situations. 

The Cleveland Clinic recommends that people, eat and drink to optimize health, exercise regularly, stop using nicotine products, practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises or mindfulness meditation, reduce triggers of stress, examine your values and take action that reflects them, say no when necessary, set realistic goals and expectations, and remind yourself of what you are doing well. 

If getting out of the house is a way to destress, you can check out the Iowa DNR list of state parks and go on a hike in the trails. For further resources, check out the CDC’s guide for coping with stress during the pandemic. 

A Brief Look at Scientific America’s List of Natural Disaster Records


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Maxwell Bernstein | October 30, 2020

Scientific America compiled a list of record-breaking natural disasters that have occurred in the United States since the beginning of 2020. 

So far this year, the United States has seen 16 natural disasters that have cost over $1 billion. 

The hurricane season is still in effect until Nov. 20, and so far, the alphabetical list of hurricane names has been used up, making forecasters use Greek letters to name hurricanes. This year could tie with the 2005 record of most named storms if one more storm reaches tropical storm strength: a total of 28 storms.  

When it comes to wildfires, 5 of 6 of California’s most damaging wildfires occurred this year, with the August Complex setting California’s record for the most damaging wildfire, with over a million acres of damage.

Phoenix has seen 144 days of temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit, setting a new heat record there. 

Up to Speed on the Green New Deal


Image via Flickr

Maxwell Bernstein | October 28, 2020

The Green New Deal is a simple, non-binding congressional resolution that states the government’s role in tackling climate change. 

The resolution focuses on the government’s recognition that climate change is caused by human activity, along with recognizing the racial and socioeconomic inequalities that will be exacerbated by climate change. 

The deal proposes a plan to combat climate change and to go net-zero by 2050 through investing in green energy, high-wage jobs, and upgrading infrastructure to be more efficient and environmentally safe. 

The Green New Deal is based on the October 2018 report entitled, Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 oC, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the November 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment.

The resolution was introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez D-New York and Senator Edward J. Markey D-Massachusetts on Feb. 7, 2019, and was ultimately shot down by the Senate on Mar. 15, 2019. 

With the election in 6 days, politicians on all levels of government are proposing legislation that is based on the Green New Deal. President Trump outwardly does not endorse the Green New Deal and has said the deal would cost more money and turn the United States into “a Ninth World country.” Former Vice President Joe Biden laid out a $2 trillion plan that he supports over the specifics of the Green New Deal. 

To read about the policies, plans, and specifics of each presidential candidate, follow this link.