Environment

The agricultural development of the Lower Yangtze River Basin around Nanjing and Shanghai is ecologically unsustainable and actions are needed soon to reverse its decline, according to a new study.

The region has been in environmental decline since it passed a tipping point in the late 1970s, which further found that:

* the relatively stable pre-1970s 'agriculture-ecology' system in the region reached a tipping point at the end of the 1970s, as reforms in China allowed farmers to grow surplus crops with more fertilizers and pesticides.

* economic development has created a 'trade-off' between gains in agricultural productivity and increasing environmental degradation, with losses of ecosystem services, such as good water quality and stable soils.
Winter floods are important natural 'disturbances' for maintaining species-rich riparian zones along northern watercourses. Movies like The Day After Tomorrow and An Inconvenient Truth exaggerated some of the big effects of a climate gone crazy but less attention is given to smaller, realistic scenarios, like a disturbance in existing winter floods.

Riparian forests are important as they supply habitat, store carbon, provide shading, and filter water. Ice formation and winter floods are significant factors for vegetation and wildlife in northern regions.  According to Ph.D. candidate Lovisa Lind at Umeå universitet, during cold winter days, frazil ice (tiny ice particles) forms in the super-cooled water of open turbulent stream reaches.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced approval of the first two nonbrowning apple varieties, Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny apples. 
Cute, clever, incorrect.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations's Forest Resource Assessment for 2005 used the word "alarming" 20 times to describe the trend lines for def
New research has identified the mechanism used by plants in stress conditions to sense low oxygen levels - and scientists then used that knowledge and advanced breeding techniques to reduce yield loss in barley under water-logged conditions.

In 2011, University of Nottingham Professor of Crop Science Michael Holdsworth and colleagues identified the mechanism used by plants in stress conditions to sense low oxygen levels and now they have discovered how this works in barley.

“We now know how to breed barley cultivars more tolerant to waterlogging and flooding,” says Holdsworth.
Trilemma - a quandary posed by three alternative courses of action.

earth_plate

“Agriculture is having increasingly strong global impact on both the environment and human health, often driven by dietary changes.”
There are concerns about climate emissions because of resistance to clean technologies like nuclear power that have led to increased use of coal. Solar power will be the best solution in the future, if it does not fall victim to too much hype and subsidies now. 

There is also a water problem. Only slightly more than one percent of the world's water is potable, making clean water a priority - but one that is easily solved by energy. 
Peak Oil, which was supposed to have happened in 1992, set off the craze of declaring 'peak' everything, to such an extent it is a running joke now.(1)

The good news for Peak Oil believers is that they are going to be right eventually. Oil is a 'fossil' fuel and we aren't making any more giant dinosaurs. Even in the 1970s, when the peak oil date was floated, no one outside environmental doomsday prophets believed it, because it fell victim to the plight of most advocacy-based projections; it created a curve of demand but assumed technology and science, and therefore the supply, would be static. By creating a false metric they concluded all the oil that would ever be found had been found.

Put innovative farming techniques in the right hands. CGIAR Climate, CC BY-NC-SA

By Sayed Azam-Ali, University of Nottingham

Africa will be able to feed itself in the next 15 years.

That’s one of the big “bets on the future” that Bill and Melinda Gates have made in their foundation’s latest annual letter. Helped by other breakthroughs in health, mobile banking and education, they argue that the lives of people in poor countries “will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history”.