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Our Food Is Killing the Planet — But It Doesn’t Have To

Our Food Is Killing the Planet — But It Doesn’t Have To

A new book asks, “Can we feed the world without destroying it?” The answers might surprise you.

The world needs to change the way it eats, not just as individuals but as a society.

That’s the message from a groundbreaking report issued last month by the EAT-Lancet Commission, which made a series of societal recommendations to help the world’s ever-increasing human population ensure its food security in the face of global warming.

The recommendations are all designed to accommodate a planet that is projected to contain 10 billion people by the year 2050. They include switching to a diet that’s low in meat and sugar but higher in whole grains, fruits and vegetables; cutting food waste; reducing fossil fuel use and emissions; and incentivizing small and medium farming.

The changes, the report said, would lead to a healthier planet and healthier people, while also helping the more than 820 million people currently suffering from chronic hunger.

Coincidentally, the report came out the same week as a challenging new book that makes many of the same recommendations, while also presenting some contrasting and complementary ideas.

According to Can We Feed the World Without Destroying It?, written by food activist Eric Holt-Giménez and published by Polity Press, we already produce more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet, and we’re gearing up to grow even more to accommodate the projected increase in human population.

All that food comes with multiple costs, including climate change, drought, water contamination, habitat loss and species extinctions — which themselves put the very future of food at risk. Holt- Giménez writes, “our greenhouse-gas-spewing industrial food system has entered a dangerous negative feedback loop. The way we produce and consume food is undermining our ability to produce food at all.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Which species are we sure we can survive without?” Revisited

“Which species are we sure we can survive without?” Revisited

Two years ago I asked the question in the title of this piece. Now comes a wide-ranging study that suggests we are about to test that question in a major way.

The study predicts that at the current rate of loss of insect species, 40 percent could be gone “in the next few decades.” What is particularly alarming is that this “could trigger wide-ranging cascading effects within several of the world’s ecosystems.” That means that many other life-forms including other animals and plants could find themselves without what they need to survive in this dangerous game of musical chairs orchestrated by humans. Might we be one of those species?

Insects do much of the crop pollination necessary for food production. A list of crops pollinated by bees is quite long. Humans could survive without these foods, but the nutrition and variety in our diets would be severely limited. And yet there is a greater problem. Outside of agriculture 80 to 95 percent of plant species require animal pollination. Since those plants are the base of every food chain, catastrophic declines in insect populations could lead to a collapse of existing ecosystems. The exact scope and effects of such a collapse cannot be fully anticipated. But it is doubtful humans would be unharmed.

Human civilization uses an enormous amount of free ecoservices, that is, services provided by nature including the purification of water, the formation of soil, the regulation of climate, and energy resources such as hydropower and biomass. However one values these services, the value is enormous. If humans had to pay for these services, that is, if we had to set up mechanical and chemical substitutes, we would never able to afford it. But, we probably wouldn’t be able to set up substitute systems that work as precisely and effectively as nature’s.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The world-changing potential of hot composting

The world-changing potential of hot composting

As long as there have been humans, we have taken the parts of plants we don’t eat and thrown them back onto the soil again, knowing it would turn back into soil to create more plants. Until we modern people came along, that is. 

Now we take our food and seal it away in plastic, so that the only bacteria that can work on them are anoxic bacteria that generate methane – a greenhouse gas about 35 times worse than carbon dioxide. The least we can do, obviously, is to throw compostables into the compost, let the proper critters munch away, and let it alchemically turn into soil again.
Ordinary composting, however, has some disadvantages that every gardener knows well. One can’t simply add bones or meat – and some gardeners even avoid eggshells – for fear of attracting vermin. Also, plants that have gone to seed cannot be added, or the resulting soil will be peppered with the beginning of next year’s weeds. You can’t add diseased plants, or the diseases might remain in the resulting soil, ready to infect next year’s crops. Also, it takes a long time, and one loses much of the kitchen waste volume in the process of rotting down.

Imagine, then, a new kind of composting, one that avoids all these problems at once – no more weed seeds, no more disease, no more vermin. Imagine being able to compost almost everything, and keep the majority of the biomass. Imagine, finally, that it only takes a few weeks.

What makes hot composting work is bacteria; instead of the usual variety of bacteria that breaks down over several months, hot composters find the right balance of materials – more on this in a moment — to attract aerobic, heat-generating bacteria. Then, they oxygenate the soil by turning the compost regularly, and making sure the compost has enough mass – at least 1.5 metres on each side — to retain the heat it generates.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Early rain as Arctic warms means more methane

Early rain as Arctic warms means more methane

Methane bubbles trapped in ice in a Canadian lake. Image: By John Bakator on Unsplash

As spring advances, so does the rain to warm the permafrost. It means more methane can get into the atmosphere to accelerate global warming.

LONDON, 18 February, 2019 − As the global temperature steadily rises, it ensures that levels of one of the most potent greenhouse gases are increasing in a way new to science: the planet will have to reckon with more methane than expected.

Researchers who monitored one bog for three years in the Alaskan permafrost have identified yet another instance of what engineers call positive feedback. They found that global warming meant earlier springs and with that, earlier spring rains.

And as a consequence, the influx of warm water on what had previously been frozen ground triggered a biological frenzy that sent methane emissions soaring.

One stretch of wetland in a forest of black spruce in the Alaskan interior stepped up its emissions of natural gas (another name for methane) by 30%. Methane is a greenhouse gas at least 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

“The microbes in this bog on some level are like ‘Oh man, we’re stuck making methane because that’s all this bog is allowing us to do’”

As a consequence, climate scientists may have to return yet again to the vexed question of the carbon budget, in their calculations of how fast the world will warm as humans burn more fossil fuels, to set up ever more rapid global warming and climate change, which will in turn accelerate the thawing of the permafrost.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

More Than 200 Million In Path Of Major Winter Storm Sweeping Across The US

More Than 200 Million In Path Of Major Winter Storm Sweeping Across The US

A monster storm that started Sunday in California will quickly transverse across the country over the next 72 hours, spreading snow, rain, ice and a wintery mix to more than 200 million Americans.

This is approximately 60% of the entire American population, AccuWeather reported.

“Parts of 39 of the 48 contiguous United States will be impacted by the massive storm, including every state east of the Mississippi River. The storm will have such a large impact on so many because it will reach parts of 26 of the 30 most populous states,” AccuWeather meteorologist Faith Eherts said.

As the storm gains momentum up the Tennessee and Ohio valleys by Wednseday, it will unleash snow and ice over the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast.

“Since this storm will have a great deal of moisture available to it from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, a substantial amount of precipitation is likely,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Tyler Roys.

While the Deep South deals with heavy rainfall, temperatures will drop enough for wintry precipitation from northern Texas to Minnesota and Maine.

“As the moisture reaches the mid-Atlantic on Wednesday, it will be cold enough for snow from Washington, D.C. to New York City.”

Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia metro areas can expect a quick burst of 3 to 6 inches of snow starting late Tuesday night into Wednesday, before the precipitation changes into ice then rain.

“Near the time of the change from snow to ice, it may be snowing at the rate of 1-2 inches per hour,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

Accuweather warns that commuters in parts of the central Appalachians and the mid-Atlantic region could leave their homes in dry conditions on Wednseday morning but have a hellacious commute back.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

18 Organic Farms Changing the World

organic farms changing the world

18 Organic Farms Changing the World

Organic farms work daily to solve the puzzle of sustainable agriculture while providing their local communities and markets with fresh nutritional foods. 

Organic foods have no chemical additives or pesticides. They are also free from flavor enhancers, sweeteners, and preservatives. In most cases, organic and minimally processed foods are more nutritious than their mainstream process alternatives. They generally have more beta-carotene, polyphenols, antioxidants (to fight cancer), flavonoids (to fight heart disease), fatty acids, and minerals.

When it comes to sustainability, organic farms have many questions to answer:

  • How do they reduce their carbon emissions?
  • How do they conserve water and slow the rapid depletion of groundwater?
  • How do they save plants from pests and vermin on a large scale without using pesticides and chemicals?
  • How do they farm while nourishing the land and not eroding topsoil?
  • How do they provide economic sustainability and social sustainability, such as fair wages and healthy working environments, to employees?

Each of the farms listed below have found a way to answer these questions as they take control of their food production.

How Farms Prioritize Education

Many organic farms prioritize outreach, community engagement, and education. Farms host community events or hold classes for adults as well as children to learn anything from gardening to cooking. Many farms seek to empower individuals to grow their own food and plant their own gardens. Organic farms also offer free resources such as their favorite recipes for cooking with natural ingredients.

Farmsharing and Community-Supported Agriculture

Many local farms use community supported agriculture (CSA) programs or farmshares to connect with local community members. Members support the farm upfront and are rewarded with the best fresh produce or meat cuts. This allows farmers to plan ahead with their seasonal demand and minimize potential risk and waste. If you’re interested in a CSA or farmshare, you can use LocalHarvest to find one local to you.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The U.S. Military on Peak Oil and Climate Change

The U.S. Military on Peak Oil and Climate Change

Preface. I find that of all the government branches, the military is the most realistic about the implications of Peak Oil and Climate Change.  The Department of Defense is also the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, spending about $20 billion on energy in 2011, and within the military, the air force consumes the most energy, $10 billion (84% liquid fuel, 12% electricity).  DuPont consumes as much energy as the Department of defense, so they’re not the only mega-consumer of petroleum (NRC 2013).

***

CNA. May 2009. Powering America’s Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security. Center for Naval Analyses. 74 pages. 

[ Excerpts from this document follow ]

The destabilizing nature of increasingly scarce energy resources, the impacts of rising energy demand, and the impacts of climate change all are likely to increasingly drive military missions in this century.

GENERAL CHARLES F. “CHUCK” WALD, USAF (RET.) Former Deputy Commander, Headquarters U.S. European Command (USEUCOM); Chairman, CNA MAB

Retired Air Force General Chuck Wald wants to see major changes in how America produces and uses energy. He wants carbon emissions reduced to help stave off the destabilizing effects of climate change.

“We’ve always had to deal with unpredictable and diverse threats,” Gen. Wald said. “They’ve always been hard to judge, hard to gauge. Things that may seem innocuous become important. Things that seem small become big. Things that are far away can be felt close to home. Take the pirates off the African coast. To me, it’s surprising that pirates, today, would cause so much havoc. It’s a threat that comes out of nowhere, and it becomes a dangerous situation.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Melting polar ice sheets will alter weather

Melting polar ice sheets will alter weather

Melting ice off the coast of Greenland. Image: By Frank Busch on Unsplash

Sea level rise and melting polar ice sheets may not cause a climate catastrophe, but they will certainly change weather patterns unpredictably.

LONDON, 15 February, 2019 – The global weather is about to get worse. The melting polar ice sheets will mean rainfall and windstorms could become more violent, and hot spells and ice storms could become more extreme.

This is because the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are melting, to affect what were once stable ocean currents and airflow patterns around the globe.

Planetary surface temperatures could rise by 3°C or even 4°C by the end of the century. Global sea levels will rise in ways that would “enhance global temperature variability”, but this might not be as high as earlier studies have predicted. That is because the ice cliffs of Antarctica might not be so much at risk of disastrous collapse that would set the glaciers accelerating to the sea.

The latest revision of evidence from the melting ice sheets in two hemispheres – and there is plenty of evidence that melting is happening at ever greater rates – is based on two studies of what could happen to the world’s greatest reservoirs of frozen freshwater if nations pursue current policies, fossil fuel combustion continues to increase, and global average temperatures creep up to unprecedented levels.

“Even if we do include ice-cliff instability … the most likely contribution to sea level rise would be less than half a metre by 2100”

“Under current global government policies, we are heading towards 3 or 4 degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels, causing a significant amount of melt water from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to enter Earth’s oceans.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

New Study Finds 41% Increase In Cancer Risk From Roundup’s Glyphosate

New Study Finds 41% Increase In Cancer Risk From Roundup’s Glyphosate

A comprehensive analysis of glyphosate – the most widely used weed-killing chemical in the world – reveals that those with the highest exposures to the popular herbicide have a 41% increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) cancer

The meta-analysis of six studies containing nearly 65,000 participants also looked at links between glyphosate-based herbicides and immunosuppression, endocrine disruption and genetic alterations

The study authors said their new meta-analysis evaluated all published human studies, including a 2018 updated government-funded study known as the Agricultural Health Study (AHS). Monsanto has cited the updated AHS study as proving that there is no tie between glyphosate and NHL. In conducting the new meta-analysis, the researchers said they focused on the highest exposed group in each study because those individuals would be most likely to have an elevated risk if in fact glyphosate herbicides cause NHL. –The Guardian

“Together, all of the meta-analyses conducted to date, including our own, consistently report the same key finding: exposure to GBHs are associated with an increased risk of NHL,” concludes the report. 

The study, which looks at both human and animal studies also suggests that glyphosate “alters the gut microbiome,” which could “impact the immune system, promote chronic inflammation, and contribute to the susceptibility of invading pathogens.

Furthermore, glyphosate “may act as an endocrine disrupting chemical because it has been found recently to alter sex hormone production” in both male and female rats. 

Lastly, the study looks at genetic alterations caused by glyphosates, noting that several studies show glyphosates inducing “single- and double-strand DNA breaks,” oxidation, and other “genotoxicity” factors – though the researchers caution that this remains a controversial subject. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Al Gore’s Global Warming Deliberate Fraud to Increase Governmental Power

Al Gore’s Global Warming Deliberate Fraud to Increase Governmental Power 

There is a serious question that no one wants to address. How did Al Gore create the global warming scare and earn hundreds of millions of dollars in the process? Before Al Gore, science was worried deeply about what we are experiencing today — global cooling. On April 28, 1975, Newsweek magazine published an article in which they sounded the alarm bell and proposed solutions to deliberately melt the ice caps:

“Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting thearcticc ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing variables of climate uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies.”

This sounds very similar to today’s proposed solution of putting particles in the atmosphere to deflect the sunlight to reduce global warming.  Indeed, TIME magazine’s January 31, 1977, cover featured the cover story, “The Big Freeze.” They reported that scientists were predicting that Earth’s average temperature could drop by 20 degrees fahrenheit. Their cited cause was, of course, that humans created global cooling. Then suddenly the climate cycles shifted and it began to warm up.

There was this core group of people who seemed to enjoy all the attention they were gathering by predicting the end of civilization caused by humans. As the temperatures began to warm, suddenly they had to switch the dire forecasts from global cooling caused by humans to global warming caused by humans.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

World is halfway through its hottest decade

World is halfway through its hottest decade

Chile’s wall-to-wall solar panels will help as 1.5°C approaches. Image: By Antonio Garcia on Unsplash

Things are warming up: already the world is halfway through its hottest decade on record, if predictions prove correct.

LONDON, 13 February, 2019 – Here is a climate forecast that climate scientists, meteorologists, politicians, voters and even climate sceptics can check: the next five years will be warm, and will probably help to complete the hottest decade ever.

They will on a global average be at least 1°C higher than the average temperature of the planet 200 years ago, before the accelerating combustion of fossil fuels.

That is because the planet is already midway through what may well prove to be its warmest 10 years since records began on a planetary scale in 1850. There is even a possibility that within the next five years, the global temperature rise could tip 1.5°C above the long-term average for human history.

This is the ambitious limit to global warming that the world set itself at an historic meeting in Paris in 2015, for the year 2100.

And the forecasters can make such predictions with some confidence because tomorrow’s temperature chart is already inscribed in the air we breathe: the pattern of warming over the last century is consistent with the steady rise in greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, and these are still increasing because fossil fuel use is still going up.

“Predictions now suggest around a 10% chance of at least one year between 2019 and 2023 temporarily exceeding 1.5°C”

Adam Scaife, who heads long-range prediction research at the UK Met Office, said: “2015 was the first year that global annual average surface temperatures reached 1.0°C above pre-industrial levels and the following three years have all remained close to this level.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

At Last – Solar Minimum Discussions Begin

At Last – Solar Minimum Discussions Begin 

COMMENT: Mr. Armstrong; You are the only one with your computer that has correctly forecast the weather years in advance. I understand these are not some premonition of you on a personal level. That means putting the major trends together as you do actually produce results.

My hat’s off to you.

Cheers from bitterly cold UK

NG

REPLY: It is amazing to me that we are still in the Stone Age when it comes to forecasting even weather. You are correct. This is NOT based upon a personal intuition or opinion. I am merely reporting what the computer is forecasting and why. Sorry, nobody speaks to me in my dreams or anything. I cannot even pretend that my opinion is better than someone else’s. There is no room for personal opinions in such matters.

Nevertheless, at last, there are people finally starting to talk about solar minimum and the DEEP FREEZE. There has been extremely cold weather, a WARNING that is finally being heard. Solar minimum has ARRIVED and could last for more than a DECADE, as many are starting to warn. The problem with this reality is that weather is impacted by Mother Nature. Then people like Alexandria OcasioCortez demand higher taxes to create her Green New Deal outlawing air travel. Even the National Geographic is starting to remember the Deep Freeze of 1709. Even the BBC was forecasting a Deep Freeze. Others were calling it the “‘Beast from the East’ to plunge Europe into a historic deep freeze.”

How to Destroy a River and Create an Environmental Catastrophe in One Fell Swoop

How to Destroy a River and Create an Environmental Catastrophe in One Fell Swoop

The St Louis River of Northern Minnesota will be as Vulnerable to Annihilation as were Brazil’s Rio Doce and Paraobeba Rivers(pictured below) – if the PolyMet Project is Allowed to Proceed

(Trying to understand why every Brazilian mining catastrophe has been blacked-out by the Duluth News-Tribune)

***

The photos and videos in this supplemental Duty to Warn column need to be viewed by everybody living downstream from the proposed PolyMet mine tailings lagoon – scheduled to be built near Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota, a St Louis River river-town in northeast Minnesota. Hoyt Lakes is the northernmost of the 12 river towns on the St Louis River estuary which empties into Lake Superior, the least polluted of the Great Lakes. Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world (by surface area) and it contains 10% of the entire world’s remaining fresh water.

Tens of thousands of people live and fish and harvest wild rice and depend on the fresh water that is provided by the St Louis River estuary. If what happened to the permanently polluted river in Brazil a week ago happens to the proposed PolyMet tailings lagoon, those 12 towns and their people will be severely – and permanently – impacted. Some of the towns may be destroyed and unknown numbers of people will be drowned, injured or displaced.

As has been described many times in Duluth’s alternative news-weekly paper (the Duluth Reader but, significantly, NEVER by the Duluth News-Tribune earthen-walled tailings lagoon dams always leak but many of them totally collapse with devastating results. (Please study the photos below and be certain to click on the links to the 5 important videos below to fully understand why the PolyMet dam is so dangerous and cannot be allowed to be built.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Renewable Revolution Has A Lithium Problem

The Renewable Revolution Has A Lithium Problem

Lithium ponds

As the global middle class rapidly expands, so too does the worldwide demand for energy and its subsequent carbon footprint. Global climate change will be one of the greatest, if not the single greatest, challenges of this next century, and one of the few feasible solutions that is generally agreed upon by scientists and politicians alike is a wide-scale transition from the use of traditional fossil fuels to renewable energy resources.

Around the world, there is a race among researchers to more efficiently and cost-effectively implement renewable energy as a long-term solution to global climate change, and there is even a concerted effort to switch Europe’s energy consumption to 100 percent renewable energy as soon as the year 2050. However, even if Europe achieves this target and takes the lead as the rest of the world follows down a path toward 100 percent renewable energy, we still would not be living in a completely sustainable, green energy utopia–there is a considerable downside to this seemingly perfect plan.

Even renewable energy relies on certain decidedly non-renewable resources. Even the eco-friendliest solutions such as solar panels can’t be made without the use of finite rare earth elements. Batteries, too, are completely dependent on finite earth-sourced materials for their fabrication. What’s more, China currently has an overwhelming monopoly on a great number of these rare earth elements (although not all are as rare as this label implies). This means that in a renewable energy-based world, energy security could become a major issue. In addition to rare earth elements, there are myriad other non-renewable materials used in the production of renewable energy. Currently, the one that has everyone talking is lithium.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Insect Apocalypse: The Global Food Chain Is Experiencing A Major Extinction Event And Scientists Don’t Know Why

Insect Apocalypse: The Global Food Chain Is Experiencing A Major Extinction Event And Scientists Don’t Know Why

Scientists are telling us that we have entered “the sixth major extinction” in the history of our planet.  A brand new survey of 73 scientific reports that was just released has come to the conclusion that the total number of insects on the globe is falling by 2.5 percent per year.  If we stay on this current pace, the survey warns that there might not be “any insects at all” by the year 2119.  And since insects are absolutely critical to the worldwide food chain, that has extremely ominous implications for all of us.

I write a lot about the inevitable collapse of our economic systems, but it could definitely be argued that our environment is already in a very advanced stage of “collapse”.  According to this new research, insects are going extinct at a rate that is “eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles”…

The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.

More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.

Perhaps the entire world will come together and will stop destroying the planet and we can reverse this trend before it is too late.

Unfortunately, you and I both know that this is extremely unlikely to happen.

And if it doesn’t happen, the researchers that conducted this scientific review insist that the consequences will be “catastrophic to say the least”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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