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Boulderganic

Only you can prevent West Nile virus

Recent tests show the virus has arrived across Boulder County

By Mollie Putzig

With a backpack full of specialized bacteria, a force of technicians patrols Boulder-area still waters for miniature pests that can metamorphose into airborne vectors of disease. Acting like the Ghostbusters for mosquitoes, technicians seek out larvae and douse them with a spray of tiny bacteria called Bti — Bacillus thuringiensis israelenis. Bti is derived from naturally occurring soil bacteria and act as a larvicide that kills infantile mosquitoes before they can emerge from their watery breeding grounds.

Boulderganic

The new DDT

Activist Jeffrey Smith teams with rocker Neil Young to warn communities about glyphosate

By Mollie Putzig

It’s sprayed on crops, schoolyards, parking lots and possibly your yard. The World Health Organization says it probably causes cancer. It’s the world’s most-used herbicide and the active ingredient in Roundup: glyphosate.

Boulderganic

Who’s heard of HERS?

The energy scoring system for homes is complex and inflexible — so why do we use it?

By Christi Turner

Walk onto any car lot and you’ll find every vehicle’s fuel economy rating plastered to its window, just like you’ll see a yellow EnergyGuide tag on every large appliance in any department store. Whether for cars or fridges, these tags showcase simple numbers that communicate long-term costs and savings from energy usage.

Boulderganic

Boulder building efficiency

Commitment to EnergySmart makes Boulder a national contender in energy efficiency

By Mollie Putzig

If Boulder was big enough to qualify for the list of largest U.S. cities ranked for energy efficiency, it would knock Denver out of the top 10, coming in at No. 7. On the City Energy Scorecard, released in May by the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy, Boulder outscored Denver by 10 points in building efficiency, earning a total of 69.25 out of 100. Denver came in 10th with 58.5 points.

Boulderganic

A picture worth a couple thousand dollars

How drones are changing the image of modern farming

By Emma Murray

Precision agriculture was originally enabled by GPS, allowing farmers to program GPS points into automatic seeders and sprayers so they could micromanage crops — but only after physically surveying the crops, which could take days or even weeks. Using drones, this work can be cut to a matter of hours.

Boulderganic

ONE WOMAN, ONE FARM

Audrey Levatino shares her farming knowledge in her new book ‘Woman-Powered Farms’

By Amanda Moutinho

Audrey Levatino is a self-sufficient farmer — she has to be since, she runs it singlehandedly. So when it came to using a chainsaw, she knew she had to overcome her trepidation. “I didn’t start using a chainsaw when I first started farming for three or four years because I was afraid of it. I always asked my husband to do it. But once you learn how, it’s easier than a lot of things women do every day,” Levatino says. “It’s intimidating because it always seems like it’s been in the realm of the man’s world, but it’s not. It’s just another tool.”

Boulderganic

Under pressure

Documents reveal EPA consented to industry demands on study into fracking’s effect on drinking water

By Mollie Putzig

Fracking has no “widespread, systematic” impacts on drinking water, according to a draft of an Environmental Protection Agency study released June 4, but industry influence on the study invites skepticism. The study began in 2010 when Congress directed the EPA to investigate whether fracking poses a threat to drinking water. Five years and $30 million later, internal documents obtained by Greenpeace via an open records request show the energy industry has been extensively involved since day one — paying for tests, supplying data and editing drafts.

Boulderganic

Talking about the environment

CU Environmental Studies Program hosts conference on environmental communication

By Mary Reed

When it comes to environmental issues like climate change, where do you get your information? Unless you’re a scientist, it’s likely that someone is relaying the information to you — say, a newspaper journalist, a TV meteorologist or your Facebook friends.

Boulderganic

So-called organic marijuana

Nobody in Colorado’s cannabis industry can stop a grower from calling its weed organic, but plans for certification may soon change that

By Christi Turner

We only use 100 percent organic soil and nutrients.” “Quality medication, which is … chemical free.” “Consistently high-quality, organic medical marijuana.” “All natural.” These are a few claims made by some of the 10 marijuana-growing companies that Colorado investigated for pesticide-related violations this spring on the Front Range.

Boulderganic

From seed to harvest

The story of Boulder’s newest community garden

By Mary Reed

It’s late April and Polly Ruff pulls a few weeds growing from the outside edge of her raised bed at Living Harvest Garden. The 30 plots surrounding her are in various stages of preparation for the first season of this freshly minted community garden..

Eco-Briefs

eco-briefs

By Mollie Putzig

Eco-Briefs

eco-briefs

The U.S. Geological Survey long ago established that fluid injection causes earthquakes by pressurizing and lubricating faults.

Eco-Briefs

eco-briefs

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee tested treatment plants to see what happens to medications after they’re flushed, either by passing through peoples’ systems or dumping of unwanted pills. They found that two drugs — anti-epileptic carbamazepine and antibiotic ofloxacin — came out at higher concentrations than they went in.

Eco-Briefs

eco-briefs

The researchers predicted that earlier studies failed to consider other kinds of contributing factors such as extreme weather, water levels and animals. From 1969 to 2012, the university team measured plant productivity at a U.S. Forest Service meadow just outside Bozeman, Montana.

Eco-Briefs

eco-briefs

The groups argue that the predictions for Grand Junction and White River BLM districts are grossly underestimating the amount of water that will be required. The new estimate is that each well would require 250,005 gallons of water. However, groups claim water use for horizontal drilling between 2011 and 2014 averaged 3.

Eco-Briefs

eco-briefs

This new figure comes from Mark C. Urban of the University of Connecticut, who analyzed 131 published studies on how climate change will affect biodiversity. His investigation showed species in Australia, New Zealand and South America would be worst affected, primarily because there are organisms there found nowhere else on Earth.

Eco-Briefs

eco-briefs

“There is growing evidence that high mountain regions are warming faster than lower elevations and such warming can accelerate many other environmental changes such as glacial melt and vegetation change, but scientists urgently need more and better...

Eco-Briefs

eco-briefs

The report, released at the end of March, names 20 animals that were affected by the spill, with damages to juveniles or reproductive systems a main concern that may not be fully understood for years.

Eco-Briefs

eco-briefs

“We used to think global warming would happen someday, but someday is now,” said Anna McDevitt, campaign organizer for Environment Colorado, in a press release. “We are already seeing record heat and more extreme weather, and without bold action, the next generation will be left a dangerous inheritance.

Eco-Briefs

eco-briefs

“They are about the same size as fish eggs, which means that, essentially, they look like food,” Sherri Mason, an associate professor of chemistry at the State University of New York, Fredonia, said to NPR. “So our concern is that, essentially, they are making their way into the food web.

Special Editions

The plentiful bounty of fall

We go beyond food to look at how Colorado hemp farmers struggle to grow this newly regulated (and highly useful) crop, the difficulties the marijuana industry confronts in producing a truly organic product and how one century-old building is leading the way in sustainable architecture.

Special Editions

Fish food

A local business looks to help schools across America learn about sustainable food production through grants for aquaponic systems

By Mallane Dressel

The Aquaponic Source, a company based out of Longmont, hopes to increase the number of aquaponic systems being used in classrooms across that nation with their new Grants for Plants Foundation, but some Boulder County students are already reaping the benefits.

Special Editions

Processed food nation

Boulder author Melanie Warner discusses the dangers of processed foods

By Andrea Neville

“I first started writing about the food industry about 10 years ago,” Warner continues. “When I started talking to people in the field of food science, they started telling me all these crazy things about the incredible technical complexity that goes into making our food.

Special Editions

Full backpacks, full stomachs

Colorado Friendship improves food security for Longmont students

By Mallane Dressel

As the temperature drops and the leaves change color, kids around the nation get back into the swing of school. For some students it means little more than early mornings and evenings lost to homework, but for others, it means knowing they won’t go home hungry — at least during the week.

Special Editions

The dirt on reusing soil

Save money and up your gardening IQ by reconditioning and reusing this year’s potting soil for next season

By Caitlin Rockett

In places where winters can get harsh — and there will be at least a couple of harsh winter weeks here on the Front Range — soil will expand and contract, so a mindful gardener will want to empty plastic, ceramic or clay containers to prevent them from cracking.

Special Editions

Soot on snow

A Colorado native researches how ‘black carbon’ from increased wildfire is changing snowmelt, and consequently water supplies, in the West

By Christi Turner

The duo of snowmobiles has climbed to over 6,000 feet elevation, halfway to the study site where researcher Susan Kaspari and her small team will dig into six feet of snow and sample for soot, more accurately known as black carbon.

Special Editions

The pros and cons of industrial-scale solar

The world’s largest solar thermal power plant is intended to lessen reliance on traditional forms of energy, but some question whether the environmental impacts outweigh the benefits

By Christi Turner

It’s an undeniably gruesome image: A bird soars over the Mojave desert, and suddenly, revoltingly, catches fire, streaks momentarily like a small meteor, and then seems to disappear, leaving only smoke. Seen from afar, some are calling them “streamers.

Special Editions

Profile of a sustainability hub

The century-old Alliance Center in Denver emerges from a renovation more sustainable than ever

By Christi Turner

It’s been 10 years since the Alliance Center took up residence as a multitenant co-working space on Wynkoop Street in Denver; grassroots powerhouses like Conservation Colorado have anchored the center since it opened its doors in 2004. But this August, it emerged from eight months of multimillion-dollar renovation as a true bastion of sustainability.

Special Editions

Marijuana Growing Practices

So, what exactly are you smoking?

By Melissa Schaaf

The passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado legalized recreational marijuana for those 21 years of age or older, and House Bill 1317 initiated mandatory potency testing — but only for the recreational stuff.

Special Editions

Zero waste heroes

One sustainably minded couple’s quest to open a zero-waste grocery store

By Gloria Dickie

Such plastic purging is slowly catching on in North America as awareness about plastic pollution and negative health effects grows. But for many practitioners, divesting their lifestyles of plastic waste can be challenging — and inconvenient. The Mandersons hope to change that.

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