Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Crops and Climate Change

"Crops face toxic timebomb in warmer world: study
Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:45am EDT
By David Fogarty, Climate Change Correspondent, Asia
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Staples such as cassava on which millions of people depend become more toxic and produce much smaller yields in a world with higher carbon dioxide levels and more drought, Australian scientists say.
The findings, presented on Monday at a conference in Glasgow, Scotland, underscored the need to develop climate-change-resistant cultivars to feed rapidly growing human populations, said Ros Gleadow of the Monash University in Melbourne.
Gleadow's team tested cassava and sorghum under a series of climate change scenarios, with particular focus on different CO2 levels, to study the effect on plant nutritional quality and yield.
Both species belong to a group of plants that produce chemicals called cyanogenic glycosides, which break down to release poisonous cyanide gas if the leaves are crushed or chewed.
Around 10 percent of all plants and 60 percent of crop species produce cyanogenic glycosides.*****
At double current CO2 levels, the level of toxin was much higher while protein levels fell.
The ability of people and herbivores, such as cattle, to break down the cyanide depends largely on eating sufficient protein.
Anyone largely reliant on cassava for food, particularly during drought, would be especially at risk of cyanide poisoning.*****"There's been this common assumption that plants will always grow better in a high CO2 world. And we've now found that these plants grew much worse and had smaller tubers."
At the 550 ppm level, the problem was not as serious and this meant scientists had a bit of breathing space.
"We've got 20 to 30 years to develop cultivars, which is going to be absolutely essential because by then about 1 billion people will probably be reliant on cassava."
Gleadow's group looked at a type of sorghum commonly fed to cattle in Australia and Africa and found it became less toxic at the highest CO2 level. But under drought conditions, leaf toxin levels rose.
She said her team was looking at creating mutations to get rid of the toxin response to drought.
"If we're going to adapt in the future to a world with twice today's CO2 we need to understand how plants are working, how they are responding and what cultivars we need to develop."
Her team plans to carry out additional research in Mozambique and study other tropical crops such as taro.
(Editing by Alex Richardson)"

It's good that people are doing research to combat existing climate change. But there's a way we can change the climate for good by using emissions-free energy. For more information, please see www.terrahumanafoundation.org.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Progress Has Been Made

Progress has been made, but more is needed.
For more information, please see www.terrahumanafoundation.org.

Friday, June 19, 2009

1 Billion Hungry People

“World hunger reaches the 1 billion people mark
By ALESSANDRA RIZZO, Associated Press Writer Alessandra Rizzo, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 16 mins ago
ROME – One in six people in the world — or more than 1 billion — is now hungry, a historic high due largely to the global economic crisis and stubbornly high food prices, a U.N. agency said Friday.
Compared with last year, there are 100 million more people who are hungry, meaning they receive fewer than 1,800 calories a day, the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a report.
Almost all the world's undernourished live in developing countries, where food prices have fallen more slowly than in the richer nations, the report said. Poor countries need more aid and agricultural investment to cope, it said.
"The silent hunger crisis, affecting one-sixth of all of humanity, poses a serious risk for world peace and security," said the agency's Director-General Jacques Diouf.
Soaring prices for staples, such as rice, triggered riots in the developing world last year.
Hunger increased despite strong 2009 cereal production, and a mild retreat in food prices from the highs of mid-2008. However, average prices at the end of last year were still 24 percent higher in real terms than in 2006, FAO said.
The global economic crisis has compounded the problem for people dealing with pay cuts or job losses. Individual countries have also some lost flexibility in handling price fluctuations, as the crisis has made tools such as currency devaluation less effective.
The report predicted the urban poor would likely be hit hardest as foreign investment declines and demand for exports drops, and that millions would return to the countryside, which in turn could put pressure on rural communities and resources.
Globally there are now about 1.02 billion people hungry, up 11 percent from last year's 915 million, the agency said. It based its estimate on analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Asia and the Pacific, the world's most populous region, has the largest number of hungry people at 642 million.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest hunger rate, with 265 million undernourished representing 32 percent of the region's population.
In the developed world, undernourishment is a growing concern, with 15 million now hungry, the report said.
The crisis also affects the quality of nutrition, as families tend to buy cheaper foods, such as grains, which are rich in calories but contain fewer proteins than meat or dairy products.
Diouf urged governments to immediately set up social protection programs to improve food access for those in need. He said small farmers should be helped with seeds, tools and fertilizers.
He urged structural, long-term changes, such as increasing production in low-income countries, noting that world hunger had been increasing before the financial downturn.”

Lower-priced sustainable energy will help people everywhere so that they can use the money they don't have to spend on energy for irrigation, clean water, manufacturing, etc. We can help with this: please see www.terrahumanafoundation.org.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Economy, Environment, and Energy

"Conservation groups feel the strain
Richard Black 15:17 UK time, Monday, 15 June 2009
About nine months ago, I spent a fascinating (and very agreeable) week on a research boat in the Canary Islands, attempting to study the elusive family of beaked whales.
Lucky for me it happened last year; because the boat in question, Song of the Whale, is now being taken off such operations, for at least a couple of years, for financial reasons.
The group that runs Song of the Whale, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw), appears to have been hit particularly hard by the world's financial troubles. Mothballing the boat's research is one of several cuts it's had to make, including staff cutbacks.
Ifaw is certainly not alone. According to the head of one major UK conservation charity, most organisations in the field are feeling the pinch.
Over the past year, I'm told, UK green groups have seen their income fall by an average of 10-20% - some by more.
You might assume this was down to people withdrawing their membership or being less generous with their gift donations.
These trends are real; but they are regarded as minor compared with declining legacy income and adverse foreign currency movements.
The main component of a legacy donation is often the sale of a house; and often the legacy is worded along the lines of "person X gets so much and person Y so much, with the remainder going to charity Z" - in which case a fairly small dip in house prices can have a large proportional impact on the amount going to the charity.
It shouldn't come as any surprise to find the global financial situation impacting conservation groups - why should they be exempt from the general mayhem? - but it's worth having a quick think about what it might mean.
True, there's a strong propaganda element to much that environmental groups do, and you might either bemoan or applaud a decline in its intensity, depending on your political stance.
But projects such as Song of the Whale generate data that could prove important in understanding - and thus protecting - little-known species.
In developing countries, wildlife protection regimes often struggle for money and resources, certainly when compared to the poachers of valuable species and the industrialists who would expand the human footprint without restraint.
I came across a particularly stark example this week from India - wardens in tiger reserves working without simple equipment such as torches, without proper shoes, with meagre salaries often paid in arrears.
It's a common tale. And sometimes, Western-based groups fill this kind of funding gap, paying the human costs without which there can be no effective conservation.
The links between the world's ecological crisis and its economic woes are manifold and complex; and you can certainly argue that any slowing in the breakneck pace of human economic development is good news if it retards the rise in greenhouse gas emissions, the expansion of human habitat into areas occupied by other species, and the depletion of shared resources such as water.
But conservation projects such as Song of the Whale will be casualties; and in a world where we are often struggling to understand what is already on the verge of being destroyed, they are losses we can ill afford."

We can have economic development without the rise in carbon and greenhouse emissions, without hurting wildlife and plantlife, and without using up resources. There is an alternative, totally green energy source. For more information, please see www.campaignforgreen.com.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Another Reason To Choose Emissions-Free Energy

June 9, 2009

Washington, DC -- A bill introduced today by Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) would protect drinking water from toxic chemicals often used during oil and gas drilling. A companion bill also was introduced today in the Senate by Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act would close a loophole that has exempted oil and gas companies from complying with critical requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act since 2005, after the oil and gas industry successfully lobbied for the exemption. It remains the only industry unregulated by a provision in the Safe Drinking Water Act which monitors underground injections near drinking water sources.

While drilling for oil and gas, companies often times inject millions of gallons of chemically-treated water into underground rock deposits to force the oil and gas to the surface. The technique, known as hydraulic fracturing (or hydrofracking) is used in nine out of 10 oil and gas wells in the United States and is suspected of endangering drinking water supplies throughout the country. ....."

This is another reason to choose emissions-free energy. With emissions-free energy, there would be no pollution in our water from the energy source. Please see www.campaignforgreen.com. Thank you.

But We Don't Need Carbon At All!

"Stalled carbon capture coal plant in Ill. gets OK
Energy Department says stalled futuristic coal-burning plant to move forward in Illinois
Henry C. Jackson, Associated Press Writer
On Friday June 12, 2009, 1:08 pm EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Energy Department is moving forward on a futuristic coal-burning power plant in Illinois that the Bush administration had declared dead.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Friday that reviving the FutureGen plant is an important step that shows the Obama administration's commitment to carbon-capture technology.

"Developing this technology is critically important for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and around the world," Chu said in a statement.*****

Coal burning power plants are the leading source of carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas linked to global warming, and finding economical ways to capture carbon from such plants is viewed as key for the future of coal if a price is put on carbon to combat climate change.

The FutureGen plant would use Illinois coal, which is high in sulfur and has been used less frequently after changes to the Clean Air Act in 1990. As originally planned, the plant would have experimented with coal from Texas and Wyoming, too.

The commitment to the state's coal could help the Illinois mining industry rebound from a decline from around 10,000 jobs in 1990 to about 4,000 now, said Phil Gonet, a spokesman for the Illinois Coal Association.

"Eighty percent of our coal now goes out of state because almost every power plant in this state decided to switch to (cleaner) western coal," he said. "When you have a market in your own state that may open up for the first time in 20 years, that is significant."....."

Yes, but there is something better, something that has no emissions whatsoever and that will jumpstart the green economy in every state. For more information, please see www.campaignforgreen.com. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Truce Alternative Because of Emissions Alternative

"China and U.S. Seek a Truce on Greenhouse Gases
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/08/world/08treaty.html?ref=world By JOHN M. BRODER and JONATHAN ANSFIELD Published: June 7, 2009
WASHINGTON — For months the United States and China, by far the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, have been warily circling each other in hopes of breaking a long impasse on global warming policy.
Both sides are demanding mutually assured reductions of emissions that are, in the current jargon, “measurable, verifiable and reportable.” In the background hover threats of great retaliation in the form of tariffs or other trade barriers if one nation does not agree to ceilings on emissions.
But there is cause for profound skepticism as well. The Chinese continue to resist mandatory ceilings on their emissions and are making financial and environmental demands on the United States that are political roadblocks.
The United States, despite optimistic words from the White House and Congress, has yet to enact any binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions. The energy bill now before Congress proposes emissions targets that are far short of what China and other nations say they expect of the United States.
Compounding the difficulty is the fact that both countries are struggling economically and the Chinese and American publics appear far more interested in jobs than in tackling environmental problems, a task that would necessarily be costly. ****"

But there's an alternative, an alternative which would eleminate the need for worry about emissions because there would be no emissions. The alternative is also less expensive, and would create jobs. For more in formation, please see www.campaignforgreen.com.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mass Transport Really Green?

"Think twice about 'green' transport, say scientists
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090608/sc_afp/climatewarmingtransportcarbonlifestyle Reuters Sun Jun 7, 8:02 pm ET
PARIS (AFP) – You worry a lot about the environment and do everything you can to reduce your carbon footprint -- the emissions of greenhouse gases that drive dangerous climate change.
So you always prefer to take the train or the bus rather than a plane, and avoid using a car whenever you can, faithful to the belief that this inflicts less harm to the planet.
Well, there could be a nasty surprise in store for you, for taking public transport may not be as green as you automatically think, says a new US study.
Its authors point out an array of factors that are often unknown to the public.
These are hidden or displaced emissions that ramp up the simple "tailpipe" tally, which is based on how much carbon is spewed out by the fossil fuels used to make a trip.
Environmental engineers Mikhail Chester and Arpad Horvath at the University of California at Davis say that when these costs are included, a more complex and challenging picture emerges.
In some circumstances, for instance, it could be more eco-friendly to drive into a city -- even in an SUV, the bete noire of green groups -- rather than take a suburban train. It depends on seat occupancy and the underlying carbon cost of the mode of transport.
"We are encouraging people to look at not the average ranking of modes, because there is a different basket of configurations that determine the outcome," Chester told AFP in a phone interview.
"There's no overall solution that's the same all the time."
The pair give an example of how the use of oil, gas or coal to generate electricity to power trains can skew the picture.
Boston has a metro system with high energy efficiency. The trouble is, 82 percent of the energy to drive it comes from dirty fossil fuels.
By comparison, San Francisco's local railway is less energy-efficient than Boston's. But it turns out to be rather greener, as only 49 percent of the electricity is derived from fossils.
The paper points out that the "tailpipe" quotient does not include emissions that come from building transport infrastructure -- railways, airport terminals, roads and so on -- nor the emissions that come from maintaining this infrastructure over its operational lifetime.
These often-unacknowledged factors add substantially to the global-warming burden.
In fact, they add 63 percent to the "tailpipe" emissions of a car, 31 percent to those of a plane, and 55 percent to those of a train.
And another big variable that may be overlooked in green thinking is seat occupancy.
A saloon (sedan) car or even an 4x4 that is fully occupied may be responsible for less greenhouse gas per kilometer travelled per person than a suburban train that is a quarter full, the researchers calculate.
"Government policy has historically relied on energy and emission analysis of automobiles, buses, trains and aircraft at their tailpipe, ignoring vehicle production and maintenance, infrastructure provision and fuel production requirements to support these modes," they say.

So getting a complete view of the ultimate environmental cost of the type of transport, over its entire lifespan, should help decision-makers to make smarter investments.
For travelling distances up to, say, 1,000 kilometres (600 miles), "we can ask questions as to whether it's better to invest in a long-distance railway, improving the air corridor or boosting car occupancy," said Chester.
The paper appears in Environmental Research Letters, a publication of Britain's Institute of Physics.
The calculations are based on US technology and lifestyles.
It used 2005 models of the Toyota Camry saloon, Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV and Ford F-150 to calibrate automobile performance; the light transit systems in the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston as the models for the metro and commuter lines; and the Embraer 145, Boeing 737 and Boeing 747 as the benchmarks for short-, medium- and long-haul aircraft."

But what if all types of transportation had no emissions? For more information, please see www.campaignforgreen.com.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Progress, But We Can Do More

"Green energy overtakes fossil fuel investment, says UN
Clean technologies attract $140bn compared with $110bn for gas, coal and electrical power Terry Macalister guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 3 June 2009
Green energy overtook fossil fuels in attracting investment for power generation for the first time last year, according to figures released today by the United Nations"(http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jun/03/renewables-energy).

Good. Very good. But more can be done. For information, please see www.campaignforgreen.com.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hunger in South Asia

S Asia hunger 'at 40-year high'
A UN report says hunger in South Asia has reached its highest level in 40 years because of food and fuel price rises and the global economic downturn.
The report by the UN children's fund, Unicef, says that 100 million more people in the region are going hungry compared with two years ago.
It names the worst affected areas as Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The report says South Asia's governments need to urgently increase social spending to meet the challenge.
It says that climate change and urbanisation also need tackling.
Governments of the region can also use fiscal stimulus programmes and aid from abroad to expand the provision of basic social services in fields like health and education, it says, while funding training programmes - especially for young people."

There is technology that can help us help them, help ourselves and everyone everywhere. Please see www.campaignforgreen.com today.

Cap 'n Trade??!!??

"Climate chief's pledge on energy
By Roger Harrabin
Environment analyst, BBC News
America's chief climate negotiator has pledged billions of dollars a year to help developing countries acquire clean energy and adapt to climate change.
Todd Stern said it was morally right for rich nations to help the poor on climate change.
The give-away of pollution permits has been condemned not just by environmentalists but also by many economists and commentators in the US.
But, as the Energy Secretary Steven Chu told BBC News, the compromises are seen by the Obama team as the price for making an early start on reversing America's growth in emissions.
From the perspective of many in the Obama administration, it is not possible to move fast with major cuts at home without hitting a political wall in a nation that takes cheap and plentiful energy as a right" (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8078007.stm).
Ok. First, we can help countries who need help to get less expensive, more efficient energy--that is one goal of the Terra Humana Foundation. Please see www.campaignforgreen.com.

Second, how is letting people pollute going to help when we're not doing enough to get emissions-free energy technology??? Again, please see www.campaignforgreen.com.

Third, we can have "cheap and plentiful energy" in this country, and so can everyone else, without sacrificing jobs--people may have different jobs, but they'll still have jobs. For the solution, please see www.campaignforgreen.com.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Species Index and Climate Change

Scientists are creating a species index to which everyone can contribute information:"Help wanted to write book of life
A virtual book of all life on Earth is being created by UK and US scientists.

The online reference work will create a detailed world map of flora and fauna and track changes in biodiversity.

The database, dubbed a "macroscopic observatory', will be populated with data about local species gathered by members of the public. *****
The ongoing project will constantly gather data so it can plot information about the range and abundance of plants and animals as worldwide temperature and rainfall patterns shift in response to climate change" (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8077262.stm).And they discuss other uses for the site, such as migration pattern information and a field guide for learning about animals and plants (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8077262.stm).That site needs tobe a record of preservation rather than loss, preservation that indicates good changes in climate, rather than bad. And for how you can help halt bad climate change and make the planet better for everyone, please see www.terrahumanafoundation.org.