Daily Archives: March 18, 2014

One Solution to Climate Change and Growing Healthier Food Is Right Under Our Feet

Posted: 03/17/2014 6:12 pm EDT Updated: 03/18/2014 10:59 am EDT

Imagine if we could quickly reduce the threat of climate change and grow healthier crops at the same time, without the sacrifice the coal and oil industry tells us are inevitable! Turns out we can, and the solution is literally right under our feet.

As we know now, too much carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere is disastrous for our planet. CO2 traps heat and results in the ice caps melting, more extreme weather, sea levels rising and a variety of consequences that will disrupt life as we know it.

Much of the CO2 in the atmosphere (as much as 30 percent) is leaked by industrial farming. Climate scientists tell us there should be no more than 350 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere and we are already at 400 ppm. What does this mean? We are racing against the carbon clock to combat climate change.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics
Food-Matters

With Waste Dump Closed, Where To Put Nuclear Leftovers?

Workers are about to re-enter a New Mexico waste dump that was hit by a recent accident. The incident is shaping up to be yet another setback in the quest to find a home for America’s nuclear waste.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In New Mexico, the nation’s only nuclear waste dump is closed. It’s been several weeks since radioactive material was detected in the air at the site. As NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel reports, the incident is shaping up to be yet another setback in the quest to find a home for America’s nuclear waste.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: If you live near a nuclear power plant – and a lot of you do – then you’re living near something else: nuclear waste. Right now, pretty much every plant in the country stores its own used nuclear fuel. It’s been there for decades but it’s going to be radioactive for a lot longer. And that leads to an important question.

Global Climate Change
Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics
Nuclear

Ethics and the Corporate Culture

E120, e145,

A meta-analysis of crop yield under climate change and adaptation

Nature Climate Change (2014) doi:10.1038/nclimate2153 Received 01 February 2013 Accepted 28 January 2014 Published online 16 March 2014

Feeding a growing global population in a changing climate presents a significant challenge to society1, 2. The projected yields of crops under a range of agricultural and climatic scenarios are needed to assess food security prospects. Previous meta-analyses3 have summarized climate change impacts and adaptive potential as a function of temperature, but have not examined uncertainty, the timing of impacts, or the quantitative effectiveness of adaptation. Here we develop a new data set of more than 1,700 published simulations to evaluate yield impacts of climate change and adaptation. Without adaptation, losses in aggregate production are expected for wheat, rice and maize in both temperate and tropical regions by 2 °C of local warming. Crop-level adaptations increase simulated yields by an average of 7–15%, with adaptations more effective for wheat and rice than maize. Yield losses are greater in magnitude for the second half of the century than for the first. Consensus on yield decreases in the second half of the century is stronger in tropical than temperate regions, yet even moderate warming may reduce temperate crop yields in many locations. Although less is known about interannual variability than mean yields, the available data indicate that increases in yield variability are likely.

Global Climate Change
Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics
Food-Matters

Climate Change Could Cause the Next Great Famine

Bryan Walsh @bryanrwalsh   March 17, 2014

A warmer climate could reduce the yield of staple crops like maize Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

A new study finds that as the planet warms, yields for important staple crops like wheat could decline sharply.

How Climate Change Drove the Rise of Genghis Khan

Malaria Climbs Mountains as the Climate Warms

American Farmers Get Some Very Bad News

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, which means the 100 million or so people of Irish descent around the world get the opportunity to celebrate their heritage with song, food and increasingly controversial parades. The sheer size of the Irish diaspora is what has made St. Patrick’s Day an international event—after all, there are only 6.4 million Irish people in Ireland. But it’s also a reflection of the waves of emigration that marked Ireland’s history until recently—emigration that was fueled in part by the great famine of the 1840s. Triggered by a disease that wiped out the potato, Ireland’s staple crop, the Great Famine—an Gorta Mor in Irish—led to the death of a million people and caused another million to flee the country. Without the potato blight, that Irish diaspora—and your local St. Patrick’s Day festivities—might be significantly smaller.

More

Europe’s War on American CheeseU.N. Warns Asia-Pacific To Grow More Food Or Risk WarsHere’s An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostThese Disturbing Fast Food Truths Will Make You Reconsider Your Lunch Huffington PostMariah Carey Celebrates St. Patrick’s Day in (What Else?!) a Skimpy Bikini People

The Great Famine is a reminder of the way failures in agriculture can drive lasting historical change—while leading to immense human suffering. That’s a useful backdrop of a new analysis on the impact global warming will have on crop yields, just published in Nature Climate Change. The news isn’t good: the research, based on a new set of data created by the combination of 1,700 previously published studies, found that global warming of only 2º C (3.6º F) will likely reduce yields of staple crops like rice and maize as early as the 2030s. And as the globe keeps warming, crop yields will keep shriveling unless drastic steps are taken to adapt to a changing climate. As Andy Challinor, a professor of climate impacts at the University of Leeds and the lead author of the study,

Our research shows that crop yields will be negatively affected by climate change much earlier than expected…Furthermore, the impact of climate change on crops will vary both from year-to-year and from place-to-place—with the variability becoming greater as the weather becomes increasingly erratic.

…(read more)

Global Climate Change
Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics
Cyprus International Institute (CII) (Harvard School of Public Health) http://Cyprus-Institute.us
Food-Matters

Global Warming Basics from the U.S. and British Science Academies – NYTimes.com

By ANDREW C. REVKIN

National Academy of Sciences A graph from a new climate change report from the British and American science academies shows how global warming is clearer as temperatures are averaged using longer increments of time.

The National Academy of Sciences and its British counterpart, the Royal Society, have published “Climate Change: Evidence and Causes,” a fresh primer on greenhouse-driven global warming that is a useful update on past reports from both organizations. You can find helpful summaries of the findings on the National Academy of Sciences website.

There’s also streaming (and ultimately archived) video of some academy scientists discussing the report and a panel discussion run by the talented and relentlessly determined Miles O’Brien, the longtime television science reporter who recently wrote a wrenching and inspiring piece on an accident that resulted in the amputation of his left arm earlier this month.

~~

Disclosure | I’ve been working with the National Academies Press to develop an online primer on global warming, similar to the “What You Need to Know About Energy” website. That work is unrelated to today’s events.

Global Climate Change
Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics

Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate

Justin Gillis

MARCH 18, 2014

Photo

A tumbleweed-covered field in drought-plagued California. Credit David McNew/Getty Images

Early in his career, a scientist named Mario J. Molina was pulled into seemingly obscure research about strange chemicals being spewed into the atmosphere. Within a year, he had helped discover a global environmental emergency, work that would ultimately win a Nobel Prize.

Now, at 70, Dr. Molina is trying to awaken the public to an even bigger risk. He is spearheading a committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, which will release a stark report Tuesday on global warming.

The report will warn that the effects of human emissions of heat-trapping gases are already being felt, that the ultimate consequences could be dire, and that the window to do something about it is closing.

“The evidence is overwhelming: Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are rising,” says the report, which was made available early to The New York Times. “Temperatures are going up. Springs are arriving earlier. Ice sheets are melting. Sea level is rising. The patterns of rainfall and drought are changing. Heat waves are getting worse, as is extreme precipitation. The oceans are acidifying.”

In a sense, this is just one more report about global warming in a string going back decades. For anybody who was already paying attention, the report contains no new science. But the language in the 18-page report, called “What We Know,” is sharper, clearer and more accessible than perhaps anything the scientific community has put out to date.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics
Food-Matters