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Regenerative Agriculture part 3 | Working With Nature, Not Suppressing It

Regenerative Agriculture part 3 | Working With Nature, Not Suppressing It

In the third and final installment in this series on regenerative agriculture, Peter Dunne explains how regenerative agriculture is about working with nature, not suppressing it. We’re often told nature and agriculture can’t share the same space. But we urgently need a paradigm shift, because true resilience only comes through diversity. Full series will be available to download as a pdf.

The Insidious Agrochemical Treadmill

The backdrop for the emergence of regenerative agriculture, and its emphasis on soil as a fulcrum of farming has been the ongoing, worsening ecological crisis and the phenomenon of climate change. Both are anthropogenic. At the farm level, declining economic returns have become commonplace. Although sometimes influenced by the first, perhaps it is the last issue which is persuading increasing numbers of farmers that the current agricultural paradigm is not working.

Over the past handful of decades, farmers have found themselves resorting to ever-increasing inputs to improve production to maintain financial income as the real farm-gate price fell. It has long become a downward spiral. It is the classic treadmill created by the continual adoption of technology. To ensure a viable farm business, the system had come to favour yield above all other considerations.

In contrast, regenerative agriculture is about returning to systems reliant on an understanding of how natural ecology produces without anthropological intervention. The latter is then about working with nature, not governing it, or suppressing it to the degree where, as often now predominates, nature and agriculture cannot share the same physical space. It has become an either or. Monocultures devoid of nature have become commonplace whereas true resilience, in fact, only comes through diversity.

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

 

Mass Education and the Climate Crisis: Lessons from the Pandemic (Part 3)

This is part three of a five-part essay that highlights lessons from the coronavirus pandemic which could advance the fight for a Green New Deal. Part one (published on Resilience.org here) argues that money is not scarce. Part two argues that control of government policy by wealthy elites tends to produce unnecessary suffering and inadequate responses to major crises. Part three argues that plutocracy is incompatible with serious climate action. Part four explores how the public can easily draw very different conclusions and argues that the climate movement must undertake mass education to ensure these lessons are learned. Part five outlines a broad curriculum containing these lessons and many more.

Lesson 3: Plutocracy Is Incompatible with Addressing Climate Change

The pandemic has illuminated the brutality and inadequacy that often defines wealthy elites’ control over government, and should prompt us to consider whether we can conceivably address the climate crisis under elite rule.

We should start by recognizing the effect that the pandemic-driven economic shutdown had on carbon dioxide emissions. Daily emissions across the world in April 2020 were 17% lower than the previous year—the largest drop in recorded history. In the US, emissions dropped an incredible 32%. At the end of 2020, after scattered attempts to reopen parts of the economy, the full year’s emissions were estimated to have fallen by a record 7% globally and 12% in the US. It is valuable for us to see that rapid cuts to emissions are technically possible. But because they are not a result of conscious changes to underlying systems, the effect is temporary and causes extensive harm.

A carbon budget for keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius prescribes an annual decarbonization rate of 10% or more for wealthy countries, beginning immediately, until emissions are eliminated around 2040…

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

 

Guardian Promotes ‘Global Lockdown’ Every Two Years To Combat Climate Change

Guardian Promotes ‘Global Lockdown’ Every Two Years To Combat Climate Change

We told you this was coming next…

The London Guardian has suggested that global lockdowns will be needed every two years in order to save the planet.

The outlet used the (now changed) alarmist headline ‘Global Lockdown Every Two Years Needed To Meet Paris CO2 Goals – Study’.

The piece refers to study published in the Nature journal by a team of researchers at the University of East Anglia, who concluded that CO2 emissions need to drop by the same amount as they have during the recent lockdown period “roughly every two years” in order to offset global warming.

The study did not advocate global lockdowns in order to achieve this, despite the Guardian’s misleading headline. In fact it called for “completely different methods”.

The headline was changed to the slightly less fear mongering ‘Equivalent of Covid emissions drop needed every two years – study’ after a backlash ensued.

After many climate alarmists began touting the environmental virtues of lockdowns last year, we warned that climate lockdowns would become a thing:

The Guardian also has a history of over-hyping alarmist climate warnings, having previously reported that by 2020 we would be seeing  “millions” of deaths, major European cities being sunken, and nuclear war due to planetary warming.

The Newspaper’s alarmist call for lockdowns comes days after the World Economic Forum was slammed for praising the effects lockdowns have had on cities:

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

 

When Is Mountaintop Removal Not Mountaintop Removal? In Alberta, of Course!

When Is Mountaintop Removal Not Mountaintop Removal? In Alberta, of Course!

The Kenney government plays word games as it plans to strip-mine the Rockies.

In Alberta, the government of Jason Kenney has one definition for mountaintop removal, while most people have another.

You might think that excavating the top of a mountain until it’s reduced to a series of carved away “benches” that rise like giant steps to a last shred of a mountain’s peak is “mountaintop removal.”

If so, you disagree with the Alberta government.

Here’s someone else who disagrees with the Kenney definition. Australian coal miners.

While the Kenney government claims mountaintop removal can’t happen in Alberta’s water-sensitive eastern slopes, Benga Mining, an Australian firm owned by Aussie billionaire Gina Rinehart, says that’s the technique it intends to employ — and in a joint federal-provincial hearing no less.

Last week, the Kenney government told the Narwhal in a series of emails that open-pit mining can’t be called mountaintop removal if it only removes, say, 90 per cent of a mountaintop.

By Alberta’s definition, the top of the mountain has to be “completely” removed to qualify as mountaintop removal.

The Alberta Energy Regulator and Kenney spokesperson Kavi Bal both informed the Narwhal that open-pit mining can scrape off the sides of a mountain, devein coal seams and leave a ridge a pockmarked shadow of itself after removing tonnes of toxic debris, and that’s OK: because it’s open-pit mining, and not mountaintop removal.

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

 

Declining sperm counts: Nature’s answer to overpopulation?

Declining sperm counts: Nature’s answer to overpopulation?

Epidemiologist Shanna Swan projects that on current trends sperm counts will reach zero by 2045. That shocking conclusion comes from a new book by Swan and her colleague Stacey Colino. Is this nature’s way of bringing human population under control? (More on that later.)

In a 2017 study Swan and colleagues looked at “244 estimates of SC [sperm concentration] and TSC [total sperm count] from 185 studies of 42,935 men who provided semen samples in 1973–2011” in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Men elsewhere may fare better, but the causes of this trend suggest that it is worldwide.

Swan told The Guardian that she blames so-called “‘everywhere chemicals’, found in plastics, cosmetics and pesticides, that affect endocrines such as phthalates and bisphenol-A.” She also pointed to unhealthy lifestyle choices including use of tobacco and marijuana and to rising obesity. Obesity itself has been linked to increasing human endocrine disruption from these same chemicals.

In fact, Swan’s warning is not new even though her study makes it more urgent. The issue of endocrine disruption from toxic chemicals burst into public view in 1996 with the publication of Our Stolen Future which detailed the research on endocrine disrupting chemicals for a lay audience.

There have been some minor victories. Bisphenol-A has been largely removed from food containers voluntarily by food processors. But it is still found in many products and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration still claims it is “safe.”

I asked at the beginning of this piece whether declining sperm counts is nature’s way of limiting human population. The current trend would not just reduce population, but lead to extinction within a century. It is as if the 2006 film Children of Men has been remade with a slightly different plot line.

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

 

 

What Lies Ahead? The Grand Solar Minimum

What Lies Ahead? The Grand Solar Minimum

We are all aware of the environnmental crisis that humanity (and all life on Earth) faces, characterised by the term ‘climate change’. Much of the current thinking in the scientific community is promoting the idea that our planet is rapidly warming due to excess CO2 (carbon dioxide) gas produced by humans in the last few centuries, and the last 70 years in particular.

While there is a very strong and hard to deny case to suggest that human activity is the main cause of environmental destruction, the premise that it is due primarily to CO2 emissions is beginning to look somewhat flawed. I am well aware that the previous sentence is likely to draw a lot of negative attention and criticism, with accusations of ‘climate denier’ being thrown at me. However, the situation is not that simple as to be a case of ‘global warming’ being the main influence or no influence at all.

The reality of the situation is complex. In my opinion the main drivers of the  environmental crisis are many, but put in simple terms – destruction of wild habitats, pollution due to industrialisation, over-use of soils, over-population, erosion of soils leading to desertification or barren, infertile landscapes, monoculture agriculture and climate fluctuations. Notice that I did not use the term ‘climate change’ which in the current scientific norm implies warming.

While the planet has undoubtedly warmed up, in part due to human activity and CO2 production, the current popular thinking completely ignores historical CO2 levels beyond the last millennium and also the primary input on temperatures on this planet and all eight of the planets in this solar system. That input, although largely ignored at the moment, is of course our sun, which on average generates 3.8 x 1026 Joules (energy) per second…

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

 

Sustainability Metrics

There is growing evidence that agriculture and food is one of the most significant contributors to the transgression of ‘planetary boundaries’, especially in the area of greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, soil, water, and nitrogen use. As Professor Johan Rockström pointed out at the World Economic Forum, “A transition to sustainable agriculture and forestry is a fundamental prerequisite to succeed,” yet this transition is prevented by several significant barriers to change.

One of these barriers is the lack of a unified means of measuring food system sustainability. At present, there is a diverse range of overlapping assessment tools and labelling schemes for monitoring and communicating on-farm sustainability. This makes it impossible for consumers, farmers, food businesses and policymakers to gain an accurate understanding of the comparative sustainability of products resulting from different methods of production.

We believe that there is a real opportunity to influence future policy to better reflect the values agriculture provides and its place within society. We propose that this should involve rewarding and incentivising good practice and continuous improvement, rather than the very black and white ‘you’re in or you’re out’ school of thought associated with many certification schemes including organic.

Therefore we need a new initiative, led by farmers, to encourage a move towards convergence of existing schemes for measuring on-farm sustainability. This would make the monitoring process more efficient and less costly and burdensome for farmers, help to inform decisions about farm management practices and reward every step of the journey. A common framework could also be used to provide data for certification schemes, government agencies, food business supply chains and the research and investment communities. Through working with food businesses, it could also have the potential to provide consumers with a more accessible and easily understood means of evaluating the sustainability of food products in the market place.

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

 

The Climate Crisis Discriminates. Maps Tell the Story

The Climate Crisis Discriminates. Maps Tell the Story

How data visualizers are helping to plan to support Cascadia’s most vulnerable communities. Next in a series.

[Editor’s note: This is the latest in a year-long occasional series of articles produced by InvestigateWest in partnership with The Tyee and other news organizations exploring what it will take to shift the Cascadia region to a zero-carbon economy, and is supported in part by the Fund for Investigative Journalism. ]

When climate change triggers heatwaves, fire or flood in the Cascadia bioregion stretching from Oregon to British Columbia, some communities will be whacked worse than others — even just miles apart.

“You can have neighbourhoods right next to one another and one may be twice as bad off during a flood. Not because they’re more flooded. But because their housing is worse,” said Michael Brauer, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health.

Maps commissioned as part of InvestigateWest’s yearlong reporting project, Getting to Zero: Decarbonizing Cascadia, span Washington and Oregon and provide digital windows into vulnerabilities that are likely to worsen with climate change. Montana-based Headwaters Economics created the interactive visualizations using a pair of powerful mapping tools that the community planning firm launched last year.

The maps created for this project are an example of tools that are seeing growing use in Cascadia, where equity advocates, academic researchers and governments are teaming up to create new data-driven methods to identify and address unequal environmental risks.

At UBC, Brauer also has developed various maps projecting the climate crisis’s uneven effects on communities, ranging from wildfire smoke to flooding and ozone concentrations.

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

Mass Education and the Climate Crisis: Lessons from the Pandemic (Part 2)

This is part two of a five-part essay that highlights lessons from the coronavirus pandemic which could advance the fight for a Green New Deal. Part one (published on Resilience.org here) argues that money is not scarce. Part two argues that control of government policy by wealthy elites tends to produce unnecessary suffering and inadequate responses to major crises. Part three argues that plutocracy is incompatible with serious climate action. Part four explores how the public can easily draw very different conclusions and argues that the climate movement must undertake mass education to ensure these lessons are learned. Part five outlines a broad curriculum containing these lessons and many more.

Lesson 2: Plutocracy’s Deadly Cruelty

Many Americans recognize that their government does not represent them. Political scientists have shown that we live in a vastly unequal society where the wealthiest individuals and large corporations control not only the economy, but the political system as well. When the policy preferences of the superrich diverge from the rest of the population, those are the policies typically implemented. Though it possesses some essential elements of a democracy, the US political system often operates as a form of plutocracy. However, discussions of politics tend to explore the surface phenomenon of Democratic and Republican politicians’ approaches to social issues like the pandemic. Seldom does the public hear serious discussion about how political decisions reflect the dynamics of a profit-maximizing economy and the priorities of the wealthy elites that control both parties.

Many crises facing society can be explained simply by reference to the economic goal of profit maximization. When greed is an economy’s central organizing principle, it means that financial self-interest is pursued even at the expense of diverse public interests…

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

 

Seneca and the Virus: Why does the Pandemic Grow and Decline?

Seneca and the Virus: Why does the Pandemic Grow and Decline?

 

Seneca, the Roman philosopher, knew the term “virus,” that for him had the meaning of our term “poison.” But of course, he had no idea that a virus, intended in the modern sense, was a microscopic creature reproducing inside host cell. He also lived in a time, the 1st century AD, when major epidemics were virtually unknown. It was only more than one century after his death that a major pandemic, the Antonine Plague, would hit the Roman Empire.

But Seneca was a fine observer of nature and when he said that “ruin is rapid” he surely had in mind, among many other things, how fast a healthy person could be hit by a disease and die. Of course, Seneca had no mathematical tools that would allow him to propose a quantitative epidemiological theory, but his observation, that I have been calling the “Seneca Effect,” remains valid. Not only people can be quickly killed by diseases, but even epidemics often follow the Seneca Curve, growing, peaking, and declining.

Of course, the concepts of growth and collapse depend on the point of view. In many cases one man’s fortune is someone else’s ruin. What we see as a good thing, the end of an epidemic, is a collapse seen from the side of the virus (or bacteria, or whatever). But, then, why do epidemics flare up and then subside? It is a fascinating story that has to do with how complex systems behave. To tell it, we have to start from the beginning.

One thing that you may have noted about the current Covid-19 pandemic is the remarkable ignorance not just of the general public about epidemiology, but also of many of the highly touted experts. Just note how many people said that the epidemic grows “exponentially.”…

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

‘A Monstrous Monument to Greed and Stupidity’: Critics React to Site C Decision

‘A Monstrous Monument to Greed and Stupidity’: Critics React to Site C Decision

BC Liberals accuse NDP of mismanagement; Greens warn public to brace for higher costs.

Premier John Horgan’s announcement today that the government will continue with the Site C dam despite massive budget increases and delays brought criticism from opponents and supporters of the project.

“We’ve seen mismanagement of this file,” said Tom Shypitka, the BC Liberal critic for energy, mines and low carbon innovation. “It’s a sad day for the taxpayers, but it’s a good thing to see Site C proceed for the future of British Columbians.”

Horgan announced the government will continue with the project even though the budget has grown to $16 billion, an increase he blamed largely on unexpected geotechnical issues and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now expected to be in service in 2025.

The Site C budget was $7.9 billion in 2010. When the NDP decided to continue construction in 2017 they increased the budget to $10.7 billion.

Shypitka said the cost of the dam has doubled since the NDP came to government and that the oversight committee it put in place in 2018 has clearly failed. “Under their watch, this project has gone off the rails. That’s on the NDP government.”

He rejected the idea the BC Liberals should have been more diligent before starting the project. It’s unclear how much of the delay and cost escalation can be blamed on the pandemic and how much was due to the NDP’s mismanagement, he said.

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

 

Exclusive: Sea Shepherd founder warns destruction of planet ‘out of control’

Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson has warned human destruction of ecosystems is “out of control” and impacting us as a species.

“This is not about saving planet Earth,” he said in an exclusive interview with Yahoo News Australia.

“This is about saving ourselves from ourselves.”

Describing the world as “completely out of balance”, the veteran environmental campaigner argues that humans need to realise they are dependent on other species for survival.

A screenshot of Paul Watson on Zoom. His office can be seen in the background.
Captain Paul Watson spoke to Yahoo News Australia via Zoom from his base in New York City. Source: Michael Dahlstrom

Covid-19 a sign of worse to come warns Sea Shepherd founder

On Captain Watson’s mind right now is the survival of the tiny phytoplankton which live in our oceans – organisms most people have never heard of.

The diverse group of microorganisms play a role as significant as forests in transforming the planet’s carbon dioxide into oxygen and are the basis of ocean food webs.

Life on Earth depends on their existence, and a small drop in number could have devastating consequences.

Scientists fear they are under threat from rising ocean temperatures.

A Japanese whaling vessel and a Sea Shepherd boat crashing into one another.
Sea Shepherd’s aggressive tactics were critical in driving Japanese whalers out of the Southern Ocean. Source: Sea Shepherd

While the decline of the oceans’ phytoplankton may be hard to see from our busy lives on land, Captain Watson points to Covid-19 as a more obvious example of human impact on the planet.

Speaking from his base in the United States, where half a million people have died from the virus, he has seen its impact first-hand.

He predicts the zoonotic coronavirus is a harbinger of worse things to come.

As the permafrost melts and forests are destroyed, he is concerned new viruses that were once locked away under ice or in the blood of animal hosts risk coming into contact with humans.

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

One Thing Jason Kenney and Elizabeth May Agree On

One Thing Jason Kenney and Elizabeth May Agree On

Neither likes the new federal Impact Assessment Act, which Alberta is challenging in court.

All this week, the Alberta government will be in court challenging the constitutionality of the new federal Impact Assessment Act, with the goal of preventing Ottawa from assessing the impact of coal mining projects in the eastern slopes or new oilsands in situ projects.

host of environmental groups including Nature Canada, West Coast Environmental Law and MiningWatch Canada will also be in the Alberta Court of Appeal arguing that the act is constitutional and does not intrude on provincial jurisdiction.

But MP Elizabeth May, the former leader of the Green party and a long-time environmental lawyer, says the federal law is so badly designed, she hopes that the courts will strike it down.

“It is a very dangerous system and a joke,” May told the Tyee. “I hope the Alberta government wins. It is not proper environmental assessment.”

“But the motivation of the Kenney government is terrible,” added May who voted against the legislation in 2019. While Premier Jason Kenney and his government “think it is an anti-pipeline bill,” May said, the Liberal legislation actually “is rife with discretions for the environment minister,” she said.

An environment minister in a more pro-oil industry government could use that discretion to push through pipelines, she said, which for May “is distressing.”

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

Andrew Nikiforuk , TheTyee.ca, alberta, canada, canadian government, environmental assessment, oilsands, 

New Evidence Shows Fertile Soil Gone From Midwestern Farms

Soil on hilltops in this photo is lighter in color, revealing a loss of fertile topsoil.
Evan Thaler for NPR

Farming has destroyed a lot of the rich soil of America’s Midwestern prairie. A team of scientists just came up with a staggering new estimate for just how much has disappeared.

The most fertile topsoil is entirely gone from a third of all the land devoted to growing crops across the upper Midwest, the scientists say. Some of their colleagues, however, remain skeptical about the methods that produced this result.

The new study emerged from a simple observation, one that people flying over Midwestern farms can confirm for themselves. The color of bare soil varies, and that variation is related to soil quality.

The soil that’s darkest in color is widely known as topsoil. Soil scientists call this layer the “A-horizon.” It’s the “black, organic, rich soil that’s really good for growing crops,” says Evan Thaler, a Ph.D. student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

It’s full of living microorganisms and decaying plant roots, also called organic carbon. When settlers first arrived in the Midwest, it was everywhere, created from centuries of accumulated prairie grass. Plowing, though, released much of the trapped carbon, and topsoil was also lost to wind and water erosion. The soil that remains is often much lighter in color.

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

 

New Climate Maps Show a Transformed United States

New Climate Maps Show a Transformed United States

According to new data from the Rhodium Group analyzed by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, warming temperatures and changing rainfall will drive agriculture and temperate climates northward, while sea level rise will consume coastlines and dangerous levels of humidity will swamp the Mississippi River valley.

Taken with other recent research showing that the most habitable climate in North America will shift northward and the incidence of large fires will increase across the country, this suggests that the climate crisis will profoundly interrupt the way we live and farm in the United States. See how the North American places where humans have lived for thousands of years will shift and what changes are in store for your county.

UNITED STATES
CANADA
MEXICO

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Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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