April 2, 2011
NEW DELHI — The Dalai Lama said Saturday that India should be seriously concerned about the melting of glaciers in the Tibetan plateau as millions of Indians use water that comes from there.
The Tibetan spiritual leader quoted Chinese experts as saying that the Tibetan glaciers were retreating faster than any elsewhere in the world.
He called for special attention to ecology in Tibet. “It’s something very, very essential,” he said.
The glaciers are considered vital lifelines for Asian rivers, including the Indus and the Ganges. Once they vanish, water supplies in those regions will be threatened.
via Tibetan Glaciers Melting, Dalai Lama Claims.
April 1, 2011
“Chasing Chiles” brings the problem of climate change to our plates by exploring one of North America’s most diverse food plants: chile peppers.
Kurt Michael Friese and two other chile lovers went on a year-long adventure to experience some of America’s most interesting pepper varieties – from datil peppers only found in St. Augustine, Florida to the wild chiltepin peppers of Sorona, Mexico. They tasted local cuisine and experienced various pepper cultures firsthand.But Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail gives the reader insight into more than just tasting and cooking these fiery foods. Friese and his colleagues spoke with farmers who are struggling to stay afloat sometimes literally as climate change wreaks havoc on weather patterns and, therefore, their yields.Earth Eats spoke with Friese from his home in Iowa. Along with co-authoring Chasing Chiles, he is the owner and Chef Emeritus of Devotay in Iowa City and the publisher of Edible Iowa River Valley magazine.
Read the whole interview at Earth Eats – Indiana Public Media.
February 24, 2011
While there has been extensive research on the effects of climate change on food security, less well-known is the effect of climate change on food safety.
But new evidence suggests that climate change is already putting the safety of our food at risk, and that things are only going to get worse.
Food security and food safety are inextricably linked. Climate change decreases food security by causing extreme weather that wipes out crops and livestock populations. And when food supplies are insecure, food safety diminishes.
According to experts at this year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting, when food becomes scarce, people consume more unsafe foods. For example, in areas where climate change has decimated food resources, illnesses associated with mycotoxin molds are becoming more prevalent as people try to stretch their meager food supply over longer periods of time.
Read the whole story via Eat Drink Better.
February 18, 2011
Agriculture accounts for about 6 percent of total heat-trapping emissions in the
United States, and beef production alone accounts for 2.2 percent of the total—roughly the equivalent of the annual emissions of 24 million cars or light trucks, or 33 average-sized coal-fired power plants. So while the emissions contribution of beef production may sound small, it is not an insignificant part of the problem.
The good news is that beef production can also be part of the solution. A February 2011 Union of Concerned Scientists report, Raising the Steaks: Global Warming and Pasture-Raised Beef Production in the United States, looks at ways pasture-based beef producers could lower their climate emissions and take greater advantage of pastures’ capacity to remove heat-trapping carbon from the atmosphere and store it in soil.
Read more via Raising the Steaks: Global Warming and Pasture-Raised Beef Production in the U.S. (2011) | Union of Concerned Scientists.
February 17, 2011
An increase in heavy precipitation that has afflicted many countries is at least partly a consequence of human influence on the atmosphere, climate scientists reported in a new study.
In the first major paper of its kind, the researchers used elaborate computer programs that simulate the climate to analyze whether the rise in severe rainstorms, heavy snowfalls and similar events could be explained by natural variability in the atmosphere. They found that it could not, and that the increase made sense only when the computers factored in the effects of greenhouse gases released by human activities like the burning of fossil fuels.
Read the whole story @ Study Links Rise in Rain and Snow to Human Actions – NYTimes.com.
February 10, 2011
Gary speaks up in the Santa Fe New Mexican about food security in the West.
Whether you’ve noticed it or not, the farming capacity and food security of the border states are at an all-time low, and are likely to get worse before they are fully transformed to more sustainable and cost-efficient systems.
via Food security at historic watershed – The Santa Fe New Mexican.
From Paul Krugman of the NY Times. Climate changes brings about more severe weather events that are hard to predict and prepare for, especially for farmers.
We’re in the midst of a global food crisis — the second in three years. World food prices hit a record in January, driven by huge increases in the prices of wheat, corn, sugar and oils. These soaring prices have had only a modest effect on U.S. inflation, which is still low by historical standards, but they’re having a brutal impact on the world’s poor, who spend much if not most of their income on basic foodstuffs….
So what’s behind the price spike?
…but the evidence tells a different, much more ominous story. While several factors have contributed to soaring food prices, what really stands out is the extent to which severe weather events have disrupted agricultural production. And these severe weather events are exactly the kind of thing we’d expect to see as rising concentrations of greenhouse gases change our climate — which means that the current food price surge may be just the beginning.
via Droughts, Floods and Food – NYTimes.com.
February 8, 2011
The Napa Valley may be set to become cooler as a consequence of climate change, according to a new in-depth study carried out for the local vintners’ association.
Napa Valley Vintners NVV was prompted to commission the study – Climate and Phenology in Napa Valley: A Compilation and Analysis of Historical Data – by 2006 research which suggested the area would soon become too warm to produce fine wine.
NVV said the original research, led by Bernard Seguin of France’s national agricultural institute INRA, had focused on just a few weather stations in the valley, giving a misleading impression of the overall climatic trend.
Read more at decanter.com.
February 5, 2011
Major droughts in 2005 and 2010 cut into the Amazon's ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Drought reduces carbon-absorbing tree growth, and opens the door to more forest fires, which release carbon into the air. Seen here, a Peruvian section of Amazonia. Photo by John W. Poole/NPR
The world’s largest tropical forest, the Amazon, experienced something rare last year — a drought. It wasn’t the earth-cracking kind of drought that happens in the American Southwest or the Australian outback, but it did stunt or kill lots of trees.
It was the second such drought in the Amazon in five years, and forest scientists are trying to understand why these droughts are happening, and what their effects will be for the planet.
The 2005 drought in the Amazon was so unusual that scientists called it a “100-year event” — something supposed to happen only once a century.
via ‘Alarming’ Amazon Droughts May Have Global Fallout : NPR.
January 5, 2011
Iowa has experienced numerous extreme weather events in the past 20 years that have caused substantial destruction of property, economic loss and disruption of individual and community patterns of life. Extreme events are a part of “normal” climate, but the frequency of these events is changing and Iowa needs to plan for the future.
Climate change is much more complex than simply a rise in temperature as suggested by the term “global warming.” Other climate factors – specifically the frequency of extreme precipitation events, rise in humidity, lack of extreme summer heat and length of the growing season – are having much more impact on Iowa than changes in annual average temperature. We need to understand how climate change could affect agriculture, our health, the state’s wildlife and our economy.
via Guest column: Build Iowa’s resilience to climate change | desmoinesregister.com | The Des Moines Register.