Crop

Extreme heat waves to quadruple by 2040, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 14, 2013   View Article

The type of heat waves that wilt crops, torch forests — and kill people — are expected to become more frequent and severe over the next 30 years regardless of whether humans curb emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, according to a new study.

These are heat waves akin to those that baked many regions of the U.S. in 2012 and devastated crops in Russia in 2010. Such bouts of extreme heat are so-called “three-sigma events,” meaning they are three standard deviations warmer than the normal climate of a specific region for weeks in a row. In the Russia event, for example, July temperatures in Moscow were about 12 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal.

To feed 4 billion more, skip meat, milk and eggs, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 5, 2013   View Article

The lab-grown burger taste-tested Monday in London is billed as one way to avert a looming food crisis by freeing up the agricultural resources used to feed billions of cattle each year. Another way to avert the crisis is to stop eating animal products altogether, according to a recent study.

In fact, “we find that doing a complete radical shift away from grain-fed animals, and stop producing biofuels, that you can increase calorie availability enough for 4 billion people,” Emily Cassidy, a researcher at the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, told NBC News.

Supergrapes could make good wine despite climate change

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 6, 2013   View Article

Experts say “terroir” — the geography, geology and climate of grapes’ native soils — defines the difference between good vintage and bad. But the plants’ sensitivity to their environment also means that climate change presents a massive threat to the industry and that delicate balance. However, new genetic research may stave off those worries, even as the planet warms.

Working with Corvina grapes, a team of Italian geneticists identified genes that help protect the fruit from the vagaries of the weather and could serve as a platform “for breeding new cultivars with improved adaptation to the environment,” the team reports Friday in the journal Genome Biology.

Want to save the planet? Ditch meat, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 19, 2013   View Article

A shift to plant-based diets is one strategy to help the world meet its food demands by the year 2050, according to a new study that says crop yields are improving too slowly to satisfy meat-eaters’ appetites.

“That is a very optimistic part” of the paper, lead author Deepak Ray, with the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, told NBC News.

Recent summer heat waves unprecedented, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: April 10, 2013   View Article

The summer heat waves over the past decade that killed thousands of people Europe, scorched the Russian wheat crop, and sent Greenland’s glaciers galloping to the sea are without parallel since at least 1400, according to a new study.

The findings are based on a statistical analysis of summer seasonal temperatures inferred from tree rings, ice cores, lake sediments, and instrumental records. They are largely consistent with other global temperature reconstructions, but put a finer point on the unusualness of the recent warmth.

“Temperatures are without precedent warmer than what we’re seeing over at least a 600-year time span,” Martin Tingley, a climate scientist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., told NBC News.

How seawater can quench global thirst

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: August 9, 2011   View Article

New membrane technologies could more efficiently turn billions of gallons of seawater full of salt, decomposed fish, and other bits of unappetizing organic matter into thirst-quenching liquid for people and crops, according to experts in desalination technology.

The problem is that these membrane technologies don’t yet exist in the right form to efficiently turn seawater into freshwater, they said in a review article aimed at spurring lab-level research with molecular models.

Desalination plants use membranes in a process called reverse osmosis. Seawater is forced through the membrane to filter out the salt in seawater to help make it drinkable and available for irrigation. The process requires a minimum amount of energy to do.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach