California is the top agriculture-producing state in the country, and that big business presents big challenges. California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross addressed many of the key issues during a speech presented by UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy.
Secretary Ross talks at length about the impact climate change has already had on the state’s resources and the effects we can expect to see in the future. She says prolonged droughts, like the one California just escaped, will become more common. But, we can also expect more severe flooding. Ross says the state needs to take a big-picture approach to water and land management in order to mitigate future disasters. But, she says there is hope. Agriculture accounts for just eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions in California, compared to 30 percent worldwide. Ross says her department and private farmers are working on ways to bring down greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in California, and she hopes their progress can serve as a model for sustainable farming worldwide.
Following her speech, Secretary Ross covers everything from immigration reform to the future of agricultural careers in a fascinating Q&A moderated by her former colleague, Executive Director of the Berkeley Food Institute, Ann Thrupp.
Watch California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross
The years from 2013 through 2015 witnessed the largest non-commercial marine mass mortality event on record (as of 2013) as up to 96% of all Ochre Sea Stars on the coasts of California and Oregon perished. This created a ‘natural experiment’ and an opportunity to study genomic changes in wild populations with unprecedented detail. Rather than observing only the aftermath — usually the case in such catastrophes – a team of researchers from UC Merced is reconstructing the population and genetic consequences of this epidemic outbreak of sea star wasting disease. The team measured the abundance and genetic variation of Pisaster ochraceus (the Ochre Sea Star – a keystone species) in the year preceding mass mortality. They then repeated sampling of adults and juveniles in subsequent years, measuring population dynamics and genomic shifts during and after the disease outbreak. At a time when marine diseases and mass mortalities are on the rise, this study documents the impact of little-known wildlife diseases and potential trajectory of recovery in a keystone marine species.
Learn more and watch: Sea Star Wasting Disease Update 2017
The Water Wars are coming – and according to Executive Producer Lynne Kirby, they’re already here.
Concerned about what her daughter would drink in the years ahead, Kirby became passionate about water conservation issues. She knew water was going to be a big issue in the decades to come – that water would be the “oil” of the 21st century.
She pitched the idea of making a documentary of the coming water wars to Alex Gibney, an investigative documentary filmmaker of films about Scientology, WikiLeaks, Enron and others. According to Kirby, Gibney’s the kind of guy who says, I’m coming after you… and you’re going down… and we’re going to peel back the onion and expose you.
Gibney then approached National Geographic who had been looking for a water project and the rest is history. Water & Power: A California Heist unfolds like a real-life version of the 1974 film noir Chinatown and uncovers the ruthless exploits of California’s notorious water barons, who profit off the state’s resources while everyday citizens endure a debilitating water crisis.
Watch Water & Power: Discussion of Documentary with host and UCSB Professor of Film & Media Studies, Constance Penley, and Executive Producer Lynne Kirby to hear more behind-the-scenes stories about this incredible documentary.
Rosina Bierbaum, formerly of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and an Adaptation Fellow at the World Bank, shows how climate change will affect all regions and sectors of the economy, and disproportionately affect the poorest people on the planet. Therefore, improving the resilience, adaptation, and preparedness of communities must be a high priority, equal to that of achieving deep greenhouse gas reductions and rapid development and deployment of innovative technologies, as well as altered planning and management strategies in the coming decades to achieve a sustainable world.
Watch Confronting Climate Change: Avoiding the Unmanageable, Managing the Unavoidable with Rosina Bierbaum – 2017 Keeling Memorial Lecture
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What a group! You know you’re watching something special when Dolores Huerta, the legendary co-founder of the United Farm Workers and Rose Hayden-Smith, the PhD author who writes the UC Food Observer blog are flanked by passionate leaders in healthcare, social justice, and organic farming – all talking about the policies and politics that lead to food deserts and swamps in some communities and abundance in others. Gathered in the historic Star Theatre in Oceanside, California, this lively panel led by Michelle Lerach of the Berry Good Food Foundation will inspire many to plant their own gardens, share their green bounty and engage on issues that address the most fundamental human need – healthy food for a thriving planet.
Watch Food Justice: Economics, Ethics, Access