Posts Tagged ‘ecology’

Organic gives higher yields and much greater financial returns: US Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Pecan Trial

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

In a study conducted by the US Agricultural Research Service (ARS), an organically managed ARS pecan orchard consistently out-yielded a commercial, conventionally managed, chemically fertilized orchard over a five year period. For example, yields from the 20-acre organic test site surpassed the commercial orchard by 18 pounds (8 kg) of pecan nuts per tree in 2005, and by 12 pounds (5.4 kg) per tree in 2007. (Bradford J.M., 2008).

Furthermore, while he conventional management system generates about $1,750 per acre when the crop is sold, the ARS certified-organic-management system can gross $5,290 per acre.

Source: US Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Pecan Trial (J. Bradford, Integrated Farming and Natural Resources Research Unit) (ARS News Article)

Date: November 4, 2008

Source: Ecology and Farming ~ The magazine of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (Nov 2009, No.46, P 27) (Article)

Date: Nov 2009

Cut out meat to stop nitrogen pollution say scientists

Monday, April 11th, 2011

First they told us not to eat meat because of climate change. Now scientists are telling the public to adopt a ‘demitarian’ diet, that contains half as much meat, to stop an even more dangerous threat to the planet – nitrogen pollution.

The first study in the world to calculate the total costs of nitrogen pollution across a whole continent found that the problem is costing each person in Europe up to £650 every year because of health and environmental damage.

The main cause of the pollution is agriculture through the manure of animals and the nitrogen fertilisers spread on crops. Around half of nitrogen added to farm fields in Europe leaks into the surrounding environment rather than feeding plants. This causes algae slimes to grow in water and on trees, suffocating wildlife and disturbing delicate ecosystems.

Also nitrogen ‘smog’ released into the air by burning fossil fuels in power stations and cars cause breathing or heart problems that take six months off the life of all Europeans, as well as being a greenhouse gas.

The ground-breaking European Nitrogen Assessment by more than 200 scientists from 21 countries concludes that nitrogen pollution poses an even greater threat to humankind than carbon. The cost is greater than the benefits gained by using nitrogen fertiliser to grow food and therefore it is in the EU’s interest to take action.

Dr Mark Sutton, the UK lead author, said the best way to control the problem is through eating less meat.

He explained that most of the nitrogen used in agriculture is used to grow feed crops for animals or comes from manure.

Therefore cutting down on animal protein, would significantly reduce the amount of pollution.

“The largest challenges are to manage nitrogen better in agriculture and to moderate Europeans’ consumption of animal protein,” he said. “Amazingly, livestock consume around 85 per cent of the 14 million tonnes of nitrogen in crops harvested or imported into the EU; only 15 per cent is used to feed humans directly. European nitrogen use is therefore not primarily an issue of food security, but one of luxury consumption.”

Already celebrities like Sir Paul McCartney and Joanna Lumley have urged people to give up meat at least once a week for ‘Meat Free Mondays’. The United Nations and well known academics like Lord Stern also advocate cutting down on meat to help the environment.

Dr Sutton, from the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology, and the other scientists involved in the project have signed an agreement pledging to be ‘demitarians’ or eat half as much meat.

He also said people can switch to public transport and use less energy in order to cut nitrogen use.

However he ruled out a tax on nitrogen fertiliser because of the threat to food security.

Source: Cut out meat to stop nitrogen pollution say scientists – The Telegraph UK

Date: 11 April 2011

“Latin America Faces an Environmental Emergency”

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Milagros Salazar interviews Uruguayan ecologist EDUARDO GUDYNAS

An Uruguayan expert warns that the unrelenting extraction of natural resources in Latin America fails to take into account the environmental damage, with the pretext that the wealth generated will sustain social programs.

The Latin American economy based on exploitation of natural resources does not create social well-being and is unsustainable in the context of climate change, says Uruguayan Eduardo Gudynas, lead researcher at the Latin American Center for Social Ecology (CLAES).

Gudynas, who was in Lima to lead a workshop with the Peruvian Network for Equitable Globalization, is one of the contributors to the new report Global Environmental Outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean (GEO-ALC), produced by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), to be officially presented later this year.

TIERRAMÉRICA: You assert that there is an imbalance in Latin America between the exploitation of resources and protection of the environment. How serious is the problem?

EDUARDO GUDYNAS: Latin America is faced with an environmental emergency, because the pace of establishing new protected areas and setting up environmental regulations, for example in the industrial sector, is much slower than the increased pace of negative impacts from resource extraction.

TIERRAMÉRICA: In the context of climate change, is the threat any greater?

EG: Much more, not only because of the vulnerability of developing countries, but also because Latin America isn’t taking responsibility.

Always left in the margins is the fact that the region’s principal source of greenhouse gas emissions is deforestation, followed by changes in land use and agriculture. As such, discussing climate change means talking about rural development, agricultural policies and land ownership.

But there are economic and political interests that stand in the way. It is simpler to propose using energy efficient light bulbs than talk about these issues.

In the international sphere the focus is on the historic responsibility of the countries of the North for emissions, and requiring compensation from them, but there is little action in this region to confront climate change and preserve our ecological heritage.

TIERRAMÉRICA: How did we arrive at such a state?

EG: Historically it has been argued that the road to development for South America is the appropriation and extraction of natural resources. Attention went to how to do it most efficiently and we missed the opportunity to diversify the economies in the years of high prices for basic commodities.

That accentuated the focus on raw materials, to the detriment of the environment, even in countries with strong industry, like Brazil.

TIERRAMÉRICA: Which countries in the region are worst off?

EG: Brazil is in a critical state because of its nearly complete appropriation of resources and their impacts. It is followed by the Andean countries, like Peru (with big mining projects) and Ecuador (extensive petroleum exploitation).

Brazil is already a major mining country, mostly iron and aluminum, and has a policy to increase that production through low taxation in order to continue attracting foreign investment. Most worrisome is that the strategy includes flexibilizing its environmental policies. Also of concern is the search for “cheap energy” through hydroelectric dams in the Amazon.

TIERRAMÉRICA: Is “extractivism” bad in and of itself, or is the problem that the environmental and social costs are not included?

EG: There is global overconsumption of raw materials. The economic impact of the social and environmental damages should be taken into account to evaluate the costs of the productive process, as well as the contribution to climate change.

But these assessments are not done, because if they were the extractive projects would never be approved.

The impacts in the areas where the resources are extracted are ignored, and that explains why there are conflicts. It’s the paradox of macroeconomic well-being at the cost of local harm.

TIERRAMÉRICA: Does this happen in countries governed by political parties of the center and right, and of the left?

EG: It does. Although there are substantial differences in the role that the government plays in the extractivist sector. In the countries governed by the left, like Bolivia or Brazil, a portion of the wealth generated by that sector is used for social programs as a way to legitimize the policy in order to continue exploiting the resources.

At this point, extractivism, in addition to being a political problem, is a cultural problem. It is deeply rooted in the idea that mining and petroleum are sources of wealth and that they should be exploited as soon as possible.

The governments of the left have used that idea to say that they are more efficient in using the Earth’s resources. But being a cultural problem, it is reproduced in different political currents.

TIERRAMÉRICA: So how can other alternatives for sustainable development be generated?

EG: That is the problem. Because the idea of extractivism is so widespread, other possibilities are seen with mistrust or are rejected. And that is a serious situation because there are sectors like petroleum that are going to disappear. Survival lies on the “post-extractivist” path.

TIERRAMÉRICA: What role does regional integration play in that path?

EG: It plays a fundamental role. To escape the old approach requires economic and social coordination among neighboring countries, even if those alternatives do not aim to annul the mining or petroleum industries, but rather to reformulate them.

TIERRAMÉRICA: How can anyone negotiate integration with Brazil without losing? The energy agreement between Brazil and Peru has undertones of inequality.

EG: A prime objective is to reduce the asymmetries among the nations so that the smallest can have relatively the same level of development as the largest.

Peru shouldn’t just sell electricity to Brazil and be left with the environmental and social damages as well as having to buy Brazilian cars. They have to find other ways so that the neighbor advances as well.

Source: “Latin America Faces an Environmental Emergency” - tierramerica

Date: 08 July 2010

Cleaner Water Mitigates Climate Change Effects on Florida Keys Coral Reefs, Study Shows

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Improving the quality of local water increases the resistance of coral reefs to global climate change, according to a study published in June in Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Florida Institute of Technology coral reef ecologist Robert van Woesik and his student Dan Wagner led the study, which provides concrete evidence for a link between environmental health and the prospects for reefs in a rapidly changing world.

  • When waters in the Florida Keys warmed over the last few summers, corals living in cleaner water with fewer nutrients did well. On the other hand, corals in dirtier water became sick and bleached.
  • In the face of climate change and ocean warming, this study gives managers hope that maintaining high water quality can spare corals.
  • Regulating wastewater discharge from the land will help coral reefs resist climate change.

Source: Cleaner Water Mitigates Climate Change Effects on Florida Keys Coral Reefs, Study Shows - sciencedaily

Date: 07 July 2010

Animal agriculture is a top consumer of water resources in the United States

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

The US is already experiencing water shortages that look set to continue. With 87% of total water used for livestock production the United States will soon become a water stressed country.

Source: David Pimentel, Professor of Ecology at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Date: Released 7 August 1997

New estimate for sharks killed for fins (up to 73 million) 3 times higher than UN estimate

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

26 to 73 million sharks killed each year for their fins, according to Ecology Letter, which is three times higher than estimated by the United Nations.

Source: Up to 73 million sharks killed per year for their fins – Monga Bay

Date: 3 October 2006

Animal diet cannot feed world: concern of WHO, FAO and World Bank

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Organisations such as the WHO, the FAO and the World Bank are all becoming increasingly concerned about the impact that the industrial raising of animals instead of crops has on the land and on our ability to feed the world efficiently. The only way current meat-diet demand could be met would be through large-scale grain livestock feeding. Crops in the developing world are rapidly shifting from food production for human consumption to feed production for farm animals.

Source: Nutrition Ecology International Center: Panel 2 – Undernutrition and malnutrition in the world

Date: NA

Results 1-7 of overall 7
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Reversing Meat-Eating Culture to Combat Climate Change

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Livestock Production and Shorter-Lived Climate Forcers

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Plant-Based Diets - A solution to our public health crisis

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Leaders Preserving Our Future - Insights Paper - WPF - November 2010

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Maintaining a Climate of Life - Summary Report

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Livestock's Climate Impact

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Livestock & Sustainable Food

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Reducing Shorter-Lived Climate Forcers Through Dietary Change

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The global cost of biodiversity loss: 14 trillion Euros? - EU Commission (2008)

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Forests, Fisheries, Agriculture: A Vision for Sustainability (2009)

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