Kategoriarkiv: Soil

Big Facts on climate change, agriculture and food security.

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CGIAR: Big Facts is a resource of the most up-to-date and robust facts relevant to the nexus of climate change, agriculture and food security. It is intended to provide a credible and reliable platform for fact checking amid the range of claims that appear in reports, advocacy materials and other sources. Full sources are supplied for all facts and figures and all content has gone through a process of peer review.

The Big Facts project is led by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). CCAFS is a strategic partnership of CGIAR and Future Earth, led by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). CCAFS brings together the world’s best researchers in agricultural science, development research, climate science and Earth System science, to identify and address the most important interactions, synergies and tradeoffs between climate change, agriculture and food security.

More: http://ccafs.cgiar.org/bigfacts2014/#

Humans: the real threat to life on Earth

ten billion

Guardian: If population levels continue to rise at the current rate, our grandchildren will see the Earth plunged into an unprecedented environmental crisis, argues computational scientist Stephen Emmott in this extract from his book Ten Billion.

Earth is home to millions of species. Just one dominates it. Us. Our cleverness, our inventiveness and our activities have modified almost every part of our planet. In fact, we are having a profound impact on it. Indeed, our cleverness, our inventiveness and our activities are now the drivers of every global problem we face. And every one of these problems is accelerating as we continue to grow towards a global population of 10 billion. In fact, I believe we can rightly call the situation we’re in right now an emergency – an unprecedented planetary emergency.

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Studying Soil to Predict the Future of Earth’s Atmosphere

science-dayli-logo1

A new study by researchers at BYU, Duke and the USDA finds that soil plays an important role in controlling the planet’s atmospheric future.

The research shows that even in the absence of climate change, humans are impacting vital ecosystems as the composition of Earth’s atmosphere changes. They observed that changes in atmospheric CO2 caused changes in plant species composition and the availability of water and nitrogen.  Researchers worry that if the ability of plants and soils to absorb carbon becomes saturated over time then CO2 in the atmosphere will increase much more quickly than it has in the past. continue

Journal Reference:

Philip A. Fay, Virginia L. Jin, Danielle A. Way, Kenneth N. Potter, Richard A. Gill, Robert B. Jackson, H. Wayne Polley.

Soil-mediated effects of subambient to increased carbon dioxide on grassland productivity

Nature Climate Change, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1573

Mexico: Climate Change Drives Migration

IPS: Tlapa, one of the poorest places in Mexico, is ravaged by deforestation, intermittent drought and torrential rains, so that farming is not an economically viable occupation for local people.  Regions like Tlapa illustrate the possible relationship between climate change and migration, an issue that is coming under scrutiny in Mexico, a country that is vulnerable to the effects of phenomena like prolonged droughts, soil degradation, devastating rainstorms, lack of water and rising sea levels.  “Migration patterns are changing as a result of climate change which is having increasing impacts. In a number of states, more people are emigrating,” Andrea Cerami, a lawyer with the independent Mexican Centre for Environmental Law (CEMDA), told IPS.

Land grabs threaten food security

AlertNet

By Christine Stebbins

CHICAGO, July 26 (Reuters) – Rich countries grabbing farmland in Africa to feed their growing populations can leave rural populations there without land or jobs and make the continent’s hunger problem more severe, an environmental think tank said on Tuesday.

The trend is accelerating as wealthier countries in the Middle East and Asia, particularly China, seek new land to plant crops, lacking enough fertile ground to meet their own food needs, Washington DC-based Worldwatch Institute said.

Continue: AlertNet

Continue: Worldwatch Institute

Extreme Weather and Climate Change

Scientific American published a three-part series authored by award-winning science journalist John Carey and commissioned by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change that reports on the link between extreme weather and climate change. Editorial control was held by the author and Scientific American.

The series details the impacts of extreme weather events, the science behind extreme weather and global warming, and the risks and how to respond to the increase in extreme weather. Through enterprising reporting, this series provides an in-depth and accessible account of extreme weather affecting communities across America, why it’s happening, and what can be done about it.

Part One – Storm Warnings: Extreme Weather Is a Product of Climate Change

More violent and frequent storms, once merely a prediction of climate models, are now a matter of observation.

In North Dakota the waters kept rising. Swollen by more than a month of record rains in Saskatchewan, the Souris River topped its all time record high, set back in 1881. The floodwaters poured into Minot, North Dakota’s fourth-largest city, and spread across thousands of acres of farms and forests. More than 12,000 people were forced to evacuate. Many lost their homes to the floodwaters.Read more.

Part Two – Global Warming and the Science of Extreme Weather

How rising temperatures change weather and produce fiercer, more frequent storms.

Extreme floods, prolonged droughts, searing heat waves, massive rainstorms and the like don’t just seem like they’ve become the new normal in the last few years—they have become more common, according to data collected by reinsurance company Munich Re. But has this increase resulted from human-caused climate change or just from natural climatic variations? After all, recorded floods and droughts go back to the earliest days of mankind, before coal, oil and natural gas made the modern industrial world possible. Read more.

Part Three – Our Extreme Future: Predicting and Coping with a Changing Climate

Adapting to extreme weather calls for a combination of restoring wetland and building drains and sewers that can handle the water. But leaders and the public are slow to catch on.

Extreme weather events have become both more common and more intense. And increasingly, scientists have been able to pin at least part of the blame on humankind’s alteration of the climate. What’s more, the growing success of this nascent science of climate attribution (finding the telltale fingerprints of climate change in extreme events) means that researchers have more confidence in their climate models—which predict that the future will be even more extreme. Read more.

World on the Edge by the Numbers – Growing Goat Herds Signal Global Grassland Decline

earth policy institute

After the earth was created, soil formed slowly over geological time from the weathering of rocks. It began to support early plant life, which protected and enriched it until it became the topsoil that sustains the diversity of plants and animals we know today. Now the world’s ever-growing herds of cattle, sheep, and goats are converting vast stretches of grassland to desert.

One indicator that helps us assess grassland health is changes in the goat population relative to those of sheep and cattle. As grasslands deteriorate, grass is typically replaced by desert shrubs. In such a degraded environment, cattle and sheep do not fare well. But goats—being particularly hardy ruminants—forage on the shrubs. Goats are especially hard on the soil because their sharp hoofs pulverize the protective crust of soil that is formed by rainfall and that naturally checks wind erosion. Between 1970 and 2009, the world’s cattle population increased by 28 percent and the number of sheep stayed relatively static. Meanwhile, goat herds more than doubled.

goats highlights14_worldlivestock

Continue: Earth Policy Institute