Most agriculture in the southwestern U.S. is already marginal, possible only because U.S. taxpayers support cheap water for questionable crops. And because of global warming, the outlook is grim as the region continues to warm and dry.
By 2050, Arizona cotton production will drop to less than 10 percent of the crop yield under optimal irrigation conditions, a new MIT study projects. Similarly, maize grown in Utah, now only yielding 40 percent of the optimal expected yield, will decrease to 10 percent with further climate-driven water deficits. Continue reading “Global warming will devastate marginal farming areas”→
Looking back over some of the top environmental stories published in Summit Voice, it’s interesting to see some of the long-running threads, including continued news about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. A half decade after BP failed drilling operation spewed millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, scientists continue to track the impacts, including massive amounts of oil buried deep in sea-bottom sediments, as described in this Jan. 2015 story.
Monarchs bounce back
For some good news in January, an annual monarch butterfly survey showed a slight recovery in population numbers, up to 56.5 million from the previous year’s low of 34 million. But that was still more than 80 percent below the 20-year average and down 95 percent from numbers tallied in the mid-1990s. Near-perfect conditions during breeding season helped bolster the numbers in 2015. Read more here.
329 million mountain people face hunger in the world’s developing countries
The world’s mountain people are among the hardest hit by hunger and malnutrition, experts said in a new study released on International Mountain Day 2015 (Dec. 11).
Even though there has been some progress in addressing food security on a global scale, that hasn’t been the case in mountain regions, where the number of people facing hunger and malnutrition grew by 30 percent between 2000 and 2012.
Global food production needs to grow 60 percent by 2050 to feed 9 billion people
FRISCO — Developing new strains of wheat may be the best way to maintain food security as global temperatures warm, because every 1 degree Celsius of warming will reduce wheat crops by 6 percent, according to a new study led by a University of Florida scientist.
Tweaking farm practices could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture
FRISCO — A systematic University of Minnesota study of global agricultural resources suggest that improving food systems in a few specific regions could make it possible to both meet the basic needs of 3 billion more people and decrease agriculture’s environmental footprint.
The report, published in Science, focuses on 17 key crops that produce 86 percent of the world’s crop calories and account for most irrigation and fertilizer consumption on a global scale. It proposes a set of key actions in three broad areas that that have the greatest potential for reducing the adverse environmental impacts of agriculture and boosting our ability meet global food needs. Continue reading “Study: There’s huge potential for increased food production on existing land”→
Cuts in research threaten ability to keep pace with growing demand
FRISCO — A top food expert says the world could be facing a serious food shortage in 40 years, when production won’t be able to keep up with growing demand.
“For the first time in human history, food production will be limited on a global scale by the availability of land, water and energy,” said Dr. Fred Davies, senior science advisor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. “Food issues could become as politically destabilizing by 2050 as energy issues are today.” Continue reading “Is a global food shortage looming?”→
Protein levels in key grains could decline by 3 percent
FRISCO — Along with cutting yields of some key crops, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide is also expected to affect the nutritional quality of food crops. Field tests by UC Davis scientists show that elevated levels of carbon dioxide make it harder for some plants to convert nitrogen into proteins.
“Food quality is declining under the rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide that we are experiencing,” said lead author Arnold Bloom, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. “Several explanations for this decline have been put forward, but this is the first study to demonstrate that elevated carbon dioxide inhibits the conversion of nitrate into protein in a field-grown crop,” Bloom said. Continue reading “Study: CO2 buildup could affect food quality”→