Monday, November 27, 2017

Major new scientific research finds that organic farming can feed the world

A major new scientific report reveals how organic agriculture can help feed the world whilst reducing the enviornmental impacts, PETER MELCHETT, of the Soil Association delves into the data.

New scientific research has identified the important role that organic agriculture can play in feeding a global population of 9 billion sustainably by 2050.

Published in the journal Nature Communications, by scientists from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), the key question the research examines is: "whether producing a certain total amount of food, in terms of protein and calories, with organic agriculture would lead to higher, or lower, impacts than producing the same amount of food with conventional agriculture".

The scientists’ answer is that organic agriculture can feed the world with lower environmental impacts - if we cut food waste and stop using so much cropland to feed farm animals. The authors conclude: "A 100% conversion to organic agriculture needs more land than conventional agriculture but reduces N-surplus and pesticide use.”
https://goo.gl/iWAJfy

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Why These 8 States Could Soon Form the 'Great American Desert'



One of the world's largest underground bodies of fresh water—the Ogallala aquifer—is quickly shrinking, threatening the livelihoods of farmers in eight U.S. states.

Farmers in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming and South Dakota are overexploiting the aquifer beneath an American breadbasket, threatening an estimated $35 billion in annual crops. Agricultural wells are pulling out water faster than rainfall can recharge it—federal data shows the aquifer shrank twice as fast in the past six years as compared to the previous 60.

"Now I never know, from one minute to the next, when I turn on a faucet or hydrant, whether there will be water or not. The aquifer is being depleted," Lois Scott, 75, who lives west of Cope, Colorado, told the Denver Post.

In some parts of eastern Colorado the depth at which groundwater can be tapped has dropped by as much 100 feet, according to U.S. Geological Survey data. The USGS has released data on the Ogallala aquifer since 1988. In Colorado alone, farmers pumped water out of 4,000 wells, sucking out as much as 500 gallons per minute to irrigate roughly 580,000 acres. Since 1950 the amount of water used to irrigate farm fields across the eight states equals roughly 70 percent of Lake Erie.

Even if farmers drastically reduce pumping, the aquifer wouldn't refill for centuries, according to the latest research. But the eight states that sit on the Ogallala have no agreement among themselves to try to save the aquifer.

"This will truly become the Great American Desert," Scott said.

The fallout from the aquifer is visible above ground as well. Streams are drying up at a rate of six miles per year.

"We have almost completely changed the species of fish that can survive in those streams, compared with what was there historically. This is really a catastrophic change," Keith Gido, one of the authors of a report on the aquifer, told the Denver Post.


(https://www.ecowatch.com/ogallala-aquifer-depletion-2511600266.html?xrs=RebelMouse_fb&ts=1511357525

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Climate change is luring Kodiak bears away from their iconic salmon streams


The researchers found that due to warm spring temperatures on Kodiak, the berries were developing fruit weeks earlier, at the same time as the peak of the salmon migration; 2014 was one of the warmest years on the island since record-keeping began 60 years ago. Although there will continue to be considerable variation in Kodiak's climate, the warming trend is likely to continue.

The research team analyzed the bears' scat to find direct evidence that the bears were consuming the berries and not the salmon.

"An earlier berry crop shut down one of the most iconic predator-prey scenes in nature," said Jonny Armstrong, an ecologist at OSU and member of the research team. "As climate change reschedules ecosystems, species that were once separated in time are now getting a chance to interact--in this case the berries, bears and salmon. This is going to have large impacts that are hard to predict."

For example, birds that depend on bears pulling salmon out of the stream, could be seriously affected, he said. Other far-reaching effects may include changes in bear demographics due to the change in their diet, evolving salmon populations and impacts on plant pollinators.

"It is a strange, indirect effect of climate change," Deacy said. "These bears eat dozens of different foods throughout the year but now two of them are overlapping. This is causing a disruption in the food web that could have profound implications for the ecology of the island."

The abundance of salmon and berries on Kodiak Island are why there are so many bears there, and why they are so large, said Jack Stanford, director emeritus at the University of Montana's Flathead Lake Biological Station and one of the study's co-authors.

"This overlap in their resources forces the bears to make a choice that could in the long run result in fewer bears and/or unexpected changes in ecosystem structure," Stanford said. More

Monday, July 31, 2017

MIT Researcher: Glyphosate Herbicide will Cause Half of All Children to Have Autism by 2025


At a [recent] conference, in a special panel discussion about GMOs, she took the audience by surprise when she declared, “At today’s rate, by 2025, one in two children will be autistic.” She noted that the side effects of autism closely mimic those of glyphosate toxicity, and presented data showing a remarkably consistent correlation between the use of Roundup on crops (and the creation of Roundup-ready GMO crop seeds) with rising rates of autism.

Children with autism have biomarkers indicative of excessive glyphosate, including zinc and iron deficiency, low serum sulfate, seizures, and mitochondrial disorder.
More

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Climate Ecoforestry

In 2008 we asked Frank Michael a tough question. Frank is a physicist, formerly with the Ames Research Center group that created the first Flying Solar Laboratory to study the sun and its “weather” and prevent astronauts from being fried by solar storms. We asked him what would happen to atmospheric carbon if everyone on earth planted a tree each day.

It was an interesting question, and one that was not easy to answer. Frank explained some of the variables to us. You would want to know what kind of trees are planted; what their lifespan will be; what happens to their carbon store when they die; the net photosynthetic productivity of the forest, by hectare, based on soils, rainfall, latitude and expected climate change; the effect of all the stored carbon in the ocean that would “leak back” into the atmosphere in response — trying to re-balance the distribution of carbon dioxide — and much more.

Nonetheless, he agreed to give it a go. Thus began a system model that Frank Michael will be presenting at the 7th World Congress on Ecological Restoration later this year in Foz do Iguassu, Brazil.

The question changed to “what amount of trees, land and biochar would be needed to return the atmosphere to ‘normal’ and how long would it take?” We know much less about paleoclimate drawdowns and feedbacks than we know about epochs of carbonization. As his calculations and his global model became more elaborate, he began to be drawn to the complexity of the social dimension. What are the potentials for unplanned reversals like deforestation, population pressure, energy demand and urban sprawl? How many of those trees would survive one year? 5 years? 100 years? Who would care for them and how would those people be compensated? How would you pay for the biochar conversion?

Frank came up with a model that we can only describe as pure genius, worthy some day of a Nobel Prize should he ever be recognized. His “step harvest” system, which we first described in The Biochar Solution, sets out a practical methodology for employing hundreds of millions of forest stewards to regenerate and revitalize neglected and abandoned “wastelands,” working with principles of ecological regeneration and patch management to stack yields while optimizing ecological functions. Rather than rely on charity, it relies on capitalism – a healthy return of investment in semi-autonomous but coordinated microenterprises. More