Posted on 29 December 2010.
The farming industry has a rough road ahead. With global warming expected to change precipitation rates and raise temperatures 5 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, growing conditions will look dramatically different when this century draws to a close.
But the challenges raised by climate change may not be insurmountable. According to a new study, wheat-growers in North America are no strangers to altering their growing practices according to new conditions.
Economists Alan Olmstead of the University of California, Davis and Paul Rhode of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor assessed the ways in which wheat crops in North America spread into new regions with temperature and precipitation differences. Their findings suggest that it will be possible for North American farmers to adapt to the new growing conditions brought on by climate change.
“As global change takes place, adaptation will help solve some of the problems that are created. Scientists and farmers are not going to roll over and not do anything,” Olmstead said, as quoted by Discovery News. “When we look at how great the adaptations were in the past, it gives us a sense of what might be achieved in the future.”
Analyzing data from a county-by-county record of wheat production from 1839 to 2007, Olmstead and Rhode found that conditions are already dramatically different than they were almost two centuries ago: In wheat-growing areas, the median annual temperature in 2007 was 3.7 degrees Celsius (6.6 degrees Fahrenheit) lower than in 1839, and average precipitation was halved.
Farmers adapted according to geographic changes as well.
“Wheat moved much farther west. It moved farther north and it moved into much harsher climates — drier and colder,” Rhode said.
As settlers relocated to new areas, they introduced new strains of the crop depending upon the conditions.
Baenziger believes that experts will have enough time to develop new varieties of crops as North America grows wetter and warmer. But he does fear that the new climate will bring more unpredictable extremes.
He also says other parts of the world may face bigger obstacles.
“I’m optimistic about wheat production in the U.S.,” he said, according to Discovery News. “I’m far less optimistic about what it means when it gets hotter and drier in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Posted in Farming & Ranching, Food Industry, Global Warming
Posted on 27 December 2010.
A blizzard raged up the East Coast Monday, leaving thousands of travelers stranded in airports and bringing highway traffic to a standstill.
The National Weather Service said blizzard warnings would remain in effect for the coastal region from New Jersey to Maine, UPI said. Six states declared states of emergency.
The treacherous storm left New York City buried in knee-deep snow and forced the city’s three major airports to close Sunday night. Thousands of would-be passengers camped in terminals overnight with airport food supplies running low and frustrations running high.
“Here there are maybe 200 folding cots for 1,000 people,” traveler Lance Jay Brown, 67, told Reuters in JFK airport. “I paid $50 for three hot chocolates, a couple of candy bars and two sandwiches, and I was happy to get a sandwich. There are dozens of people twisted out of shape with frustration.”
Newark Liberty International Airport was scheduled to reopen at noon, LaGuardia at 2 p.m. and JFK at 4 p.m.
Southern Massachusetts was also hit with about a foot of snow. Boston’s Logan International Airport remains officially open, but most flights have been canceled, UPI reports.
On Sunday Amtrak suspended rail service between New York and Portland, Maine, but announced that the regular train schedule would resume Monday.
In an opinion piece for Sunday’s New York Times, former NASA scientist Judah Cohen writes that global warming is responsible for cooler winters in the world’s major cities.
Cohen, who is currently the director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, contends that climate change has caused increased moisture — and by extension, increased snowfall — in Siberia. This in turn creates “an unusually large dome of cold air next to the mountains,” magnifying the jet stream of atmospheric waves that pushes cold air south.
“That is why the Eastern United States, Northern Europe and East Asia have experienced extraordinarily snowy and cold winters since the turn of this century,” Cohen asserts. “Most forecasts have failed to predict these colder winters, however, because the primary drivers in their models are the oceans, which have been warming even as winters have grown chillier….The reality is, we’re freezing not in spite of climate change but because of it.”
Posted in Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Global Warming
Posted on 24 December 2010.
The Environmental Protection Agency Thursday announced its plans to take over carbon dioxide permitting of any new power plants and refineries in Texas, citing the state’s refusal to comply with emissions regulations going into effect Jan. 2.
Texas industries have openly opposed the Obama administration’s Clean Air Act, a program designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. They claim that the cuts will threaten productivity, and that the economy, in turn, will take a hit.
The EPA said Thursday that it was reassuming the state’s Clean Air Act Permits because “officials in Texas have made clear . . . they have no intention of implementing this portion of the federal air permitting program,” The Associated Press reported.
“EPA prefers that the state of Texas and all states remain the permitting authority for (greenhouse gas) sources,” the agency said in a statement. “In the same way that EPA has worked with other states and local agencies, the agency stands ready to do the same with (Texas).”
The EPA constructed a framework for carbon emissions regulations in seven other states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon and Wyoming.
The agency also devised a timetable for establishing the cuts for all U.S. facilities and power plants. It plans to propose performance standards for greenhouse gas emissions beginning in July for powerplants and for oil refineries by December. The standards will be finalized in May 2012 for powerplants and November 2012 for refineries.
Gov. Rick Perry spokeswoman spoke out against the EPA’s decision to directly issue air permits in Texas.
“The EPA’s misguided plan paints a huge target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers by implementing unnecessary, burdensome mandates on our state’s energy sector, threatening hundreds of thousands of Texas jobs and imposing increased living costs on Texas families,” Cesinger said, according to the San Antonio Express.
An estimated 167 new or expanding projects would be subject to the EPA takeover. Texas lays claim to more oil refineries, chemical plants, and coal-fired power plants than any other state and produces the most greenhouse gas emissions and industrial pollution in the country, AP reports.
The new carbon emissions standards were adopted after a 2007 Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases should be classified as pollutants under the Clean Air Act and EPA research in 2009 revealed that the gases have a harmful effect on human health.
Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Coal, Courts & Litigation, Drilling for Oil, Energy Industry, Global Warming, Laws & Regulations, Oil & Petroleum, Ozone, Policies, Pollution Prevention
Posted on 01 November 2010.
The French Government is set to release a report claiming that humans are the cause for the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The report notes that this increase in CO2 could soon become an international issue that must be addressed.
The report was based on a study of climate change from 1975 to 2003, and stated that the rise in CO2 levels cannot be explained completely by solar activity. The increase is ‘unequivocally linked to human activity’ the report stated.
The report also noted that the carbon dioxide increases could become a threat to not only our atmosphere, but also our climate and oceans which could impact sea levels, sea life and land habitats.
The changes to the climate and atmosphere can only be measured when assessed and observed over a long period of time the report explained.
Posted in Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Effects Of Air Pollution, Global Warming