Daily Archives: August 22, 2017

Does ‘Sustainability’ Help The Environment Or Just Agriculture’s Public Image? : The Salt : NPR

 

Wade Dooley, in Albion, Iowa, uses less fertilizer than most farmers because he grows rye and alfalfa, along with corn and soybeans. “This field [of rye] has not been fertilized at all,” he says.

August 22, 20173:41 PM ET   Heard on All Things Considered Dan Charles Twitter

Brent Deppe is taking me on a tour of the farm supply business, called Key Cooperative, that he helps to manage in Grinnell, Iowa. We step though the back door of one warehouse, and our view of the sky is blocked by a gigantic round storage tank, painted white.

“This is the liquid nitrogen tank,” Deppe explains. “It’s a million-and-a-half gallon tank.”

Nitrogen is the essential ingredient for growing corn and most other crops. Farmers around here spread it on their fields by the truckload.

“How much nitrogen goes out of here in a year?” I ask.

Deppe pauses, reluctant to share trade secrets. “Not enough,” he eventually says with a smile. “Because I’m in sales.”

For the environment, though, the answer is: Way too much.

The problems with nitrogen fertilizer start at its creation, which involves burning lots of fossil fuels. Then, when farmers spread it on their fields, it tends not to stay where it belongs. Rainfall washes some of it into streams and lakes, and bacteria in the soil feed on what’s left, releasing a powerful greenhouse gas called nitrous oxide.

There have been lots of attempts to control renegade nitrogen. Most have focused on threats to water and wildlife. Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, for instance, have spent billions of dollars keeping nitrogen (and other forms of fertilizer runoff) out of the Chesapeake Bay.

Reducing nitrogen’s contribution to global warming, though, is even more difficult. Philip Robertson, a researcher at Michigan State University who’s studied those greenhouse emissions, says that “ultimately, the best predictor of the amount of nitrous oxide emitted to the atmosphere is the rate at which we apply nitrogen.” Essentially, the only proven way to cut heat-trapping emissions from nitrogen fertilizer is to use less of it. Most farmers haven’t been willing to do this, because it could cut into their profits.

…(read more).

Food-Matters

Scientists Hope To Farm The Biofuel Of The Future In The Pacific Ocean : The Salt : NPR

Kelp plants grow on a 30-foot-long, white PVC pole suspended in the water. If this is successful, instead of just one row, there would be a whole platform, hundreds of meters across and hundreds of meters deep, full of kelp plants.

Courtesy of Maurice Roper/Wrigley Institute

The push for renewable energy in the U.S. often focuses on well-established sources of electricity: solar, wind and hydropower. Off the coast of California, a team of researchers is working on what they hope will become an energy source of the future — macroalgae, otherwise known as kelp.

Diane Kim is the associate director of special projects and the director of undergraduate programs at The Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies. She is one of the researchers who runs the kelp elevator project.

Monika Evstatieva/NPR

The Pacific Coast is known for its vast kelp forests. It’s one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth, and farming it requires no fertilizer, fresh water, pesticides, or arable land. “It can grow 2 to 3 feet per day,” says Diane Kim, one of the scientists running the kelp research project at the University of Southern California.

Kelp is transformed into biofuel by a process called thermochemical liquefaction. The kelp is dried out, and the salt is washed away. Then it’s turned into bio-oil through a high-temperature, high-pressure conversion process.

 

The Salt

Seaweed On Your Dinner Plate: The Next Kale Could Be Kelp

Some small companies are growing kelp as a substitute for kale in the U.S., but that’s exactly the problem – very, very few are doing it. Thus, the infrastructure and investment isn’t in place to make other products from kelp, like biofuel.

“We’re testing out a concept that would enable large-scale, open-ocean farming,” she says. “And what that would essentially do is grow enough kelp to make it economically feasible to make it cost competitive and maybe one day, provide a source of clean, sustainable, non-polluting source of energy to compete with fossil fuels.”

…(read more).

How Do You Impeach A President?


Inequality Media

Published on Jul 12, 2017

As the case for impeachment grows stronger by the day, Robert Reich explains the process required to remove Trump from office.

The Case for Obstruction of Justice Against Trump


Inequality Media Civic Action

Published on Jun 20, 2017

Obstruction of justice is an impeachable offense. It was at the heart of Richard Nixon’s impeachment. The parallel between Nixon and Trump is almost exact. Robert Reich explains that there’s already more than enough evidence of probable cause to begin an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump.

Sidelining Science Since Day One | Union of Concerned Scientists

How the Trump administration has harmed public health and safety in its first six months The Trump presidency has shown a clear pattern of actions that threaten public health and safety by eroding the role of science in policy.

Since President Trump took office in January 2017, his administration (aided and abetted by Congress) has waged a war on science—undermining the role of science in public policy, giving industry undue influence on decisionmaking processes, creating a hostile environment for federal scientists, and reducing public access to scientific information.

This pattern of anti-science actions threatens the health and safety of the American people, with the greatest impacts likely to fall on the nation’s most vulnerable populations. The science community and the general public have responded to this threat with vigorous resistance, and we must continue to stand up for science if we are to prevent the worst potential consequences of the Trump administration’s actions.

These are the findings of a new UCS report, Sidelining Science Since Day One, that details dozens of cases where science has been ignored, denied, distorted, silenced, or hidden from public view over the administration’s first six months.

...(read more).

Executive summary

Full report

Johan Rockström presents the narrative of the Anthropocene


Stockholm Resilience Centre TV

Published on Dec 4, 2015

Stockholm Resilience Centre director Johan Rockström presents the narrative of the Anthropocene.

Sundaa Bridget-Jones on resilience and development


Stockholm Resilience Centre TV

Published on Aug 22, 2017

Interviewed during the Resilience2017 conference. Read more: http://resilience2017.org/