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Why We Need Genetic Engineering to Stave off Climate Change-Induced Global Hunger

Climate thewire.in

Despite what many say, organic farming will not save us from the worst impacts of climate change.
'Last week, the  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  released its  Special Report on Climate Change and Land , a document authored by 107 experts from 52 countries. It  warned  that “Land is a critical resource.” The main conclusion of the report is that humans already use nearly half of the planet’s land for food production and, as global population levels rise, agricultural land is going to be in very short supply. This is because one of the effects of climate change will be  a decline in agricultural productivity across the tropics, meaning that we will need to cut down forests and convert unused land into farmland. This deforestation will lead to even more carbon emissions, culminating in a vicious cycle of increasing warming. 🌍 #IPCC Special Report on #ClimateChange and Land: Land is where we live. Land is under growing human pressure. Land is a part of the solution. But land can’t do it all. #SRCCL press release ➡️ https://t.co/yvthAXgk7V SPM ➡️ https://t.co/kIjgQJt7hP pic.twitter.com/anNvDMrpJi — IPCC (@IPCC_CH) August 9, 2019 The report is a frightening 1,400 page-long prediction of rising food costs and starvation of the world’s poor. In fact, behind all the numbers and probability estimates is one truth that carries throughout – that climate change is going to be especially hard on the poor and on people living in the tropics. The IPCC  concludes  that as carbon dioxide levels rise and the planet warms, farms in temperate latitudes (i.e. the wealthier countries of Europe and North America) will in fact see an  increase  in yields . The real damage will occur in the Global South, reducing fruit and vegetable production, causing a decline in the amount of available calories and in the  nutritional quality of food available  to the world’s most at-risk populations. The report concludes that the yields of some vegetables will decline by as much as 30%, and that between 30 and 60% of  bean-producing farmland  and up to 40% of banana-growing regions in Africa will no longer be viable by the turn of the century. Also read |  Zero Budget Natural Farming: Another Case of ‘Raw Wisdom’ Over Science? As a result, the report says that up to 183 million  more  people will be at risk of hunger due to climate change and consequent rising food prices. However, in a particularly horrifying graph, the report also finds that the solutions we need to mitigate climate change will themselves lead to a ~20% increase in hunger in Africa, southeast Asia, and India. There just isn’t any good outcome here for people living close the equator – people who number three billion human beings, including most of my family. The reports states that up to 40% of banana-growing regions in Africa will no longer be viable by the turn of the century. Eritrea, February 21, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Thomas Mukoya/Files And that’s why I came away from the report more frustrated than ever with mainstream public environmentalism and what one policy expert  has called , “the empty radicalism of the climate apocalypse.” One example of this is the modern environmental movement’s  love affair  with organic farming. Organic farming doesn’t even feature once in the chapters of the IPCC report dedicated to food security. This is because it is one of the very  worst  ways of farming if your objective is to conserve land. In 2017, researchers working at the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture in Switzerland (an organisation  partly funded  by the organic industry)  found that if the world converted completely to organic agriculture, we would need between 16 and 81% more land to feed the planet. Also read |  Is Climate Change Making Floods an Annual Affair in Kerala? What  can  help reduce agriculture’s global footprint? One solution that appears frequently in the IPCC report is “genetic improvement” of crops. The report highlights that increasing food productivity through technological solutions like “new cultivars from breeding or biotechnology” will be an important part of climate change adaptation. In fact, the report  explicitly mentions  genome-editing crops using CRISPR-Cas9, the very genetic tool that a European court decided  to ban  just last year and that major environmental NGOs like  Greenpeace  and the  organic farming  community oppose on ideological grounds. It is this fixation on ideological purity by parts of the environmental movement that I take issue with, and that is incompatible with the recommendations of the IPCC. After describing the dire state of global land-use, the latest report also provides some hope by presenting 40 different means of preventing over-use of land due to climate change, eight of which could provide the most benefits. Some of these include measures like maintaining soil health that are common in organic farms. However others like managing cattle-grazing pastures (which can actually sequester carbon) and the genetic improvement of crops are anathema to everyday environmentalism and run counter to organic dogma. To be fair,  some environmentalists  say they oppose genetic engineering as part of a general disgust with companies like Monsanto. I find this argument disingenuous. When the IPCC identifies genome editing as a way to adapt to climate change by creating heat and drought-tolerant crops, no agricultural researcher really expects this challenge to be met by Monsanto or DuPont or any of the large multinational seed companies. For one, these companies simply  don’t have  large   market interests in the countries and kind of   crops that will be most affected by climate change. This argument also places the developed world and its industries at the centre of climate change policy, distracting from the urgency with which the Global South needs new climate-resilient crops. Also read |  Need to Change Ties With Land, Food to Avert Large Scale Climate Crisis: UN Report Instead, scientists like me want  climate change ready crops  to be developed and distributed for free by publicly-funded trans-national organisations like the  CGIAR  network, the group behind the Green Revolution that has already had a greater  impact  on food-security in the tropics than all the large private seed companies combined. And due to the ease of using new genetic tools, we are already seeing such   innovation in crop engineering happening in publicly funded labs around the world: from  cassava plants making better starch ,  banana  and  eggplant  resistant to a deadly disease, to rice  enriched  with vitamins and micronutrients. The  vision  scientists like me have for climate-smart agriculture  includes  publicly-funded genome-edited crops developed by our colleagues in local countries, using local crop varieties and compatible with low chemical-input forms of agriculture. This is a vision that I think deserves support from the environmental movement and by the organic farming community, and as the IPCC points out, is necessary if we’re to adapt to climate change. One common strand that runs through the IPCC report is the importance of compromise and of deploying a combination of diverse solutions to tackle the problem of climate change and land. In Chapter 1, the report  flatly says , “none of these response options are mutually exclusive”, and they really  needn’t be . According to the IPCC, we need to combine biotechnology with soil stewardship, to better manage grazing lands while reducing red meat consumption, and to tax greenhouse gas emissions but also prevent them from raising food costs. Instead, activists prescribe childishly quixotic solutions like turning  entirely to veganism  or to buying  only organic produce , that turns climate discourse into a constant battle, pitting cattle farmers  against  Impossible Foods or plant scientists  against  organic farmers. This latest IPCC report reads like an advance obituary for millions of humans living in the tropics. I believe that unless the environmental movement changes course, it will simply have helped write the eulogy. This article originally appeared on Massive Science .'

APEPDCL Energy Assistant Recruitment 2019: Last day to apply for 2859 vacancies

Climate Scroll

The vacancies are divided into two categories in which 2177 vacancies are at Village Secretariat level and 682 vacancies at Ward Secretariat level.
'Andhra Pradesh Eastern Power Distribution Company Limited or APEPDCL had released a notification on August 1st for the recruitment of Energy Assistant (Junior Lineman Grade II) positions, and today is the last day to apply for the same. The recruitment drive is being conducted to fill 2,859 vacancies for five circles in Andhra Pradesh. Interested candidates can access the official notification and apply for the same at official websites, apeasternpower.com or gramasachivalayam.ap.gov.in or http://59.144.184.105/JLM19/. The last day to apply for the recruitment drive is August 17th, 2019 and the last date for payment of fee up to 19:00Hrs of August 17th, 2019. Candidates can apply for the APEPDCL 2019 recruitment drive in this direct link . The candidate must be between the ages of 18 and 35 with relaxation in the upper age limit for candidates from reserved categories according to the norm. The candidate must have finished the class 10th exam with with ITI qualification in Electrical Trade/Wireman trade or intermediate vocational course in Electrical Domestic Appliances and Rewinding (EDAR) and Electrical Wiring & Contracting (EWC). The vacancies are for five circles which include Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, Rajamahendravaram, and Eluru. The vacancies are divided into two categories in which 2177 vacancies are at Village Secretariat level and 682 vacancies at Ward.. Read more'

Will a Chief of Defence Staff put an end to the inter-service tussles in India?

Climate Scroll.in

The Indian Air Force, especially, has a record of waging obdurate turf wars.
'Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally took the bull by the horns on Independence Day and announced the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff to fulfil a suggestion that entered strategic discourse way back in 1996, when it appeared in the National Democratic Alliance manifesto. Thus, when the Bharatiya Janata Party first came to be at the helm of affairs in 1998, one of its two main promises was to enhance national security by integrating the three services into the Ministry of Defence and also to integrate defence planning and operations. This was meant to pave the way for a new system that would have given the military a greater role in making policies pertaining to national security as well as in managing itself. This did not happen for 21 years. Much of this blame for the delay must fall on the services themselves. The politicians never understood the implications, even after China re-organised the People’s Liberation Army into theatre commands under the Central Military Commission. Modi gave us some idea what he has in mind when he announced that the new CDS will also be the government’s principal military advisor. Our military and civilian bureaucrats are capable of obstinate rearguard action and.. Read more'

Frequent wildfires in the Arctic and the far North are worsening climate change

Climate Scroll

The blazes are altering ecosystems by reducing older-growth forests to younger vegetation, pouring more carbon into the atmosphere and fuelling global warming.
'The planet’s far North is burning. This summer, over 600 wildfires have consumed more than 2.4 million acres of forest across Alaska. Fires are also raging in Northern Canada . In Siberia, choking smoke from 13 million acres – an area nearly the size of West Virginia – is blanketing towns and cities. Fires in these places are normal. But, as studies here at the University of Alaska ’s International Arctic Research Center show, they are also abnormal. My colleagues and I are examining the complex relationships between warming climate, increasing fire and shifting patterns of vegetation. Using locally-focused climate data and models from the Scenarios Network for Alaska and Arctic Planning , the research group I help coordinate, we are finding evidence that is deeply worrying – not just for those of us who live within the fires’ pall of smoke, but for the world. Recent fires are too frequent, intense and severe . They are reducing older-growth forest in favour of young vegetation and pouring more carbon into the atmosphere at a time when carbon dioxide concentrations are setting new records. Predicting smoke from Siberia #wildfires to cross the Arctic Ocean and reach northern #Greenland over 13/14 August in latest #Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service aerosol forecast https://t.co/UsF4tI2ELB @CopernicusECMWF @ECMWF @CopernicusEU @CopernicusEMS pic.twitter.com/fdaLNtfRpI — Mark Parrington (@m_parrington) August 13, 2019 Vast sub-Arctic forests The boreal or taiga ecosystem, a swath of Northern forest that covers 17% of the globe’s land area, is adapted to fire.. Read more'