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Author Topic: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD  (Read 560054 times)

kassy

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #2000 on: March 29, 2020, 01:36:08 PM »
Europe’s lucrative, illegal, trade in sea cucumbers is booming

...

Until 2014, these slimy, slow-moving creatures were only used as fishing bait in southern Spain, but then word spread that their dried body walls were a prized delicacy called bêche-de-mer, and even considered an aphrodisiac, in places like China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.

Some 10,000 tonnes of dried sea cucumber are traded internationally, the equivalent of 200 million live animals, each year – and that doesn't include aquafarming. As the once-ample supply of sea cucumbers starts to dwindle in the Indo-Pacific, fishermen in Spain are racing to pluck the unassuming creatures from the seafloor. Close behind them are a cadre of less nautically-inclined opportunists: drug dealers eager to cash in on the booming trade.

...

The soaring demand among its growing middle class has all but depleted the regional stocks in the last few decades and driven fisheries to the Mediterranean and northeastern Atlantic Ocean where sea cucumber fisheries are generally not regulated. A global analysis by Steven Purcell, an expert on sea cucumbers at Australia’s Southern Cross University, found that 70 per cent of the world’s fisheries were already fully or over-exploited in 2011. The much-favoured Japanese spiky sea cucumber, for example, has been exploited throughout its natural range and is considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species is now being bred and cultivated on a large scale.

...

Sea cucumbers may appear to be simple, inconspicuous creatures but they are the vacuum cleaners of the ocean. They brush their sticky tentacles along the sandy seabed and stuff a mixture of silt, decaying algae and other waste particles into their mouths. Similar to their above-ground counterparts, the earthworms, sea cucumbers perform the thankless task of recycling decomposing matter and bacteria and pooping it out as clean sand.

Because sea cucumbers rely on external fertilisation for reproduction, illegal exploitation can cause local populations to collapse. Males release their sperm into the water and females release their eggs at the same and they need to be close enough to each other for fertilisation to occur. In areas where mature animals have been overfished, the few eggs and sperm find it difficult to reach each other.

The cascading effects on marine ecosystems become apparent within months.

...

Holothuria arguinensis can grow to 40 cm and normally feed among the sand, mud and seagrass meadows of the lagoon. At one of the study sites, González-Wangüemert was shocked to find only two individuals per hectare during the summer of 2018 where she had observed some 200 just six months before. Parts of the shallow lagoon that used to be filled with sea grass are now devoid of plant life: “It’s completely covered in mud. If you touch the bottom with your hands, it’s impossible to see anything,” she says. All that is left is a smell of rotten eggs by hydrogen sulfide-producing bacteria in the oxygen-depleted water.

....

Their investigations have also led to the rooftop of a city centre building and, in May 2019, to a Chinese restaurant where 340 kg of dried sea cucumbers and nearly 300 seahorses – a protected animal – were ready to be exported internationally. Sea cucumbers weigh ten times more when they are alive so the rough maths would add up to some 18,000 individuals.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/sea-cucumbers-spain-trade
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Paddy

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #2001 on: March 30, 2020, 07:28:29 AM »
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-24/countries-are-starting-to-hoard-food-threatening-global-trade

Apparently it's not just individuals, but countries that are stockpiling food.

If this goes on, especially if harvests in western nations are disrupted due to barriers to seasonal migrant workers, the food supply situation could yet get a bit ugly.

kassy

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #2002 on: March 30, 2020, 12:36:37 PM »
Some minor good news from Pakistan:

Zero-carbon water pumps turn Pakistan's barren mountains green

....

Only two years ago, it would have been practically impossible to grow apples in this part of Pakistan, 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) up in Gilgit-Baltistan region’s Gojal Valley

...

But the installation of a hydraulic ram (hydro-ram) pump has changed that. It harnesses the pressure of fast-flowing water, such as a river, to drive a share of that water uphill without needing any other power source.

Because the pumps work without electricity or fuel, they are cheap to run and produce no climate-heating carbon emissions.

...

Encouraged by the results, the United Nations Development Programme gave WWF-Pakistan additional funding to install 20 more hydro-ram pumps in 12 villages.

...

Each pump is connected to a drip irrigation system that delivers a steady, gentle flow of water to mountain-top crops, using less water than many traditional irrigation methods.

The pumps have helped revive about 60 acres (24 hectares) of previously barren land, benefiting nearly 300 households, Raza said.

Their simple design - consisting mainly of pipes and two valves - means few moving parts to maintain or repair.

Upkeep of the pumps, which cost up to 70,000 Pakistani rupees ($430) to build and install, is easy and affordable for communities, who have welcomed the new systems, Raza added.

...

“Higher rainfall in this mountainous region offers a golden opportunity to grow high-value crops such as cherries and apples that can lead to greater profits,” he said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-water-climate-change/zero-carbon-water-pumps-turn-pakistans-barren-mountains-green-idUSKBN21G0KT
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kassy

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #2003 on: April 12, 2020, 11:00:26 PM »
This thread is Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD and thus supply chain failures due to Covid do not belong here. Please post them in the global recession recession thread (which might need a new name).

I moved the message below there:

Smithfield shutting U.S. pork plant indefinitely, warns of meat shortages during pandemic
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gerontocrat

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #2004 on: April 13, 2020, 06:05:19 PM »
2 of the 4 Horsemen are famine, a black horse; and plague, a pale horse..who needs 4?

It looks like the lingering effect of the unusually high anomaly in the Indian Ocean Dipole continues to encourage high rainfall in East Africa. The result ... a second wave of locusts just as the pandemic  strengthens. It could not happen at a worse time - crops being planted, green shoots appearing very soon - manna for locusts.

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/apr/13/second-wave-of-locusts-in-east-africa-said-to-be-20-times-worse
Second wave of locusts in east Africa said to be 20 times worse

UN warns of ‘alarming and unprecedented threat’ to food security and livelihoods in the region

Quote
A second wave of desert locusts is threatening east Africa with estimates that it will be 20 times worse then the plague that descended two months ago.

The locusts present “an extremely alarming and unprecedented threat” to food security and livelihoods, according to the UN. A swarm of just more than a third of a square mile can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people.

This second invasion from breeding grounds in Somalia includes more young adults which are especially voracious eaters.

In its latest locust watch update, the UN said the situation was “extremely alarming” as an increasing number of new swarms form in north and central Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.
Uganda reported two swarms arriving last week from neighbouring Kenya, further destabilising food security and the livelihoods of people in the east and north of the country. The insects follow spring rains, seeking emerging crops and other vegetation.

Hellen Adoa, a minister at Uganda’s agriculture department, said: “This is very active, destructive and we are worried it has come at the time of lockdown. We are a bit overwhelmed.

“The moment they arrive in a place the first thing they do is to eat anything green. They have destroyed some fields of crops and vegetation,” she said.

Kenyan officials have said coronavirus crackdowns have slowed efforts to fight the infestation, as crossing borders has become harder and pesticide deliveries are held up. Aerial spraying is the only effective means of controlling locusts but there have been complaints that the pesticides are affecting livestock.

In February, eight east African countries experienced the worst outbreak in 70 years, exacerbated by climate change and war in Yemen. The insects can travel about 90 miles a day and eat their own body weight in crops.

“Heavy rains in late March established favourable breeding conditions for yet another generation of locusts in the Horn of Africa. These will emerge as young swarms in June, just as many farmers start to harvest,” said Antonio Querido of the UN’s food and agriculture agency in Uganda.

“By now, most farmers have planted the first season annual crops. If the locust swarms persist and control operations are not effectively undertaken the food crops will be lost and agriculture-based livelihoods will be impacted upon.

“Immature swarms are the most voracious stage of locust development. They are aggressive feeders and as such can cause a lot of damage to crops and forage.”

Christine Apolot, the chairperson for Uganda’s Kumi district, which was hit by a swarm last week, said people were filled with despair, having already endured flooding and the previous swarm: “This is seriously going to bring food insecurity. It’s the fear we have at hand right now.

“As we were hopeful of to receive some relief food to support the situation on ground, the locust invaded and Covid-19 lockdown is moving towards devastating the economy.

“We expect government, number of partners and World Food Programme to come to our rescue with relief food. Otherwise our people will end with starvation.”

Map from FAO locust watch -http://www.fao.org/ag/locusts/en/info/info/index.html
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bluice

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #2005 on: April 13, 2020, 09:26:56 PM »
A rather long Medium article regarding climate related food shortages in the not-so-distant future. Unpredictable and extreme weather events destroy harvests and increase food prices. Nothing new on this forum but as the ongoing pandemic has shown us, a predictable event can have extreme consequences. There is a significant difference though; a vaccine or herd immunity won’t save us from the climate, it will just get worse and worse.


https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/wests-dust-bowl-future-now-locked-in-as-world-risks-imminent-food-crisis-947f50eca712


kassy

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #2006 on: April 27, 2020, 10:17:35 PM »
Dramatic decrease in cold-water plankton during industrial era

Summary:
There has been a dramatic decrease in cold-water plankton during the 20th century, in contrast to thousands of years of stability, according to a new study.

There has been a dramatic decrease in cold-water plankton during the 20th century, in contrast to thousands of years of stability, according to a new UCL-led study.

The research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, analysed the fossilised remains of plankton, sampled from the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, south of Iceland. The scientists uncovered a striking change in the types of species that inhabit these waters.

Lead author of the study, Dr Peter Spooner (UCL Geography), said: "The Northeast Atlantic is of crucial importance for the global climate system and marine ecosystems. In this study, we provide the first evidence that Northeast Atlantic circulation in the 20th century was unusual compared to the last 10,000 years.

"This change in Northeast Atlantic circulation caused a replacement of cool, subpolar waters with warmer subtropical waters near Iceland, and has impacted the distribution of marine organisms, particularly plankton. The most striking aspect of our work is the exceptional nature of the shift in the 20th century, in contrast to thousands of years of relative stability, with implications for understanding future change."

...

The scientists analysed around 150,000 specimens of planktonic foraminifera, tiny single-celled creatures that float in ocean waters.

They compared how different species of plankton fared over a 10,000 year period, using sediment from the bottom of the ocean to reconstruct how the Northeast Atlantic has changed.

They found that between around 6000 BC and 1750 AD, the region was dominated by Turborotalita quinqueloba, a species of plankton that prefer cooler waters (representing around 40% of all species of floating foraminifera).

However, during the 20th century the relative abundance of the species declined dramatically and was replaced by a transitional (warmer water) type of plankton, such as N. incompta and G. glutinata.

Co-lead author Dr David Thornalley (UCL Geography) said, "We are too used to thinking of the North Atlantic as being dominated by natural cycles that last decades. But this is only because direct observations do not go back far enough. These new records allow us to put our observations into a much longer-term context, and reveal the exceptional nature of what has happened in the 20th century."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200423130434.htm

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kassy

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #2007 on: May 10, 2020, 10:27:02 AM »
There's a Surprising Connection Between Dangerous Algal Blooms And The Himalayas


A loss of snow and ice on Earth's highest mountain peaks could be driving dangerous changes in the food chains of distant coastal water, according to new research.

Like a gardener turning over soil, cold winter winds blowing down from the Himalayan mountains are known to fertilise the Arabian sea by chilling the surface and causing the dense waters to sink, only to be replaced with fresh currents rich in nutrients.

Due to climate change, however, winter monsoons are rapidly becoming warmer and moister, leaving marine habitats with less oxygen and nutrients, and allowing microbes that thrive in an oxygen-depleted wasteland to bloom instead.

Recently, it's gotten so bad, the thick green swirls of algal blooms can actually be seen from space.

What you're looking at is Noctiluca scintillans - also known as sea sparkle for its bioluminescent effects. This is a millimetre-long marine dinoflagellate that can survive and thrive without oxygen or sunlight. Before the turn of the century, however, its presence along the coasts of Somalia, Yemen, and Oman was practically unheard of.

...

"This is probably one of the most dramatic changes that we have seen that's related to climate change," says Joaquim I. Goes from Columbia University, who has been studying the rapid rise of this organism for more than 18 years.

"We are seeing Noctiluca in Southeast Asia, off the coasts of Thailand and Vietnam, and as far south as the Seychelles, and everywhere it blooms it is becoming a problem. It also harms water quality and causes a lot of fish mortality."

Using field data and NASA satellite imagery, scientists have now connected the rise of these algae blooms to melting glaciers and a weakened winter monsoon.

"Collectively, these changes have resulted in an increase in net-heat flux from the atmosphere into [Arabian Sea] surface waters that indicates an increase in the upper [Arabian Sea] ocean heat content since 2000," the authors write.

...

On the other hand, Noctiluca can survive in harsher environments, sometimes even by eating other microorganisms. Additionally, ammonia easily builds up in their own bodies, making the algae a particularly nasty, even poisonous morsel.

In today's rapidly changing Arabian Sea, this deadly and adaptive behaviour appears to be "short-circuiting the food chain", leaving fish poisoned, diatoms outcompeted and jellyfish numerous.

...

In countries like Somalia and Yemen, the authors fear this annual bloom, which is only getting bigger with the years, could harm local fisheries, leading to further unrest, poverty and deprivation as climate change strengthens its grip and the Himalayas continue to melt at an unprecedented rate.

"The inability of large zooplankton, except salps and jellyfish to feed on Noctiluca, is indicative of the capacity of Noctiluca blooms to short-circuit the trophic food chain,"

https://www.sciencealert.com/shrinking-snowcaps-in-the-himalayas-might-be-driving-harmful-algal-blooms-in-the-arabian-sea

Ecosystem state change in the Arabian Sea fuelled by the recent loss of snow over the Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau region (OA)

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-64360-2
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nanning

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #2008 on: May 31, 2020, 07:56:38 AM »
Perhaps not so 'cute' but a very very old and thus successful lifeform

Crab blood to remain big pharma's standard as industry group rejects substitute

Animal rights groups have been pushing a synthetic alternative to horseshoe crab blood in drug safety testing

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/31/crab-blood-to-remain-big-pharmas-standard-as-industry-group-rejects-substitute
  by Reuters


 Excerpts:
Horseshoe crabs’ icy-blue blood will remain the drug industry’s standard for safety tests after a powerful US group ditched a plan to give equal status to a synthetic substitute pushed by Swiss biotech Lonza and animal welfare groups.

The crabs’ copper-rich blood clots in the presence of bacterial endotoxins and has long been used in tests to detect contamination in shots and infusions.
More recently, man-made versions called recombinant Factor C (rFC) from Basel-based Lonza and others have emerged.


An industry battle has been brewing, as another testing giant, Lonza’s US-based rival Charles River Laboratories, has criticised the synthetic option on safety grounds.

Maryland-based US Pharmacopeia (USP), whose influential publications guide the drug industry, had initially proposed adding rFC to the existing chapter governing international endotoxin testing standards.
USP has now abandoned that, it announced late on Friday, opting instead to put rFC in a new stand-alone chapter. This means drug companies seeking to use it must continue to do extra validation work, to guarantee their methods of using rFC tests match those of tests made from crab blood.


Endotoxin tests number 70 million annually and estimates put the relevant market at $1bn annually by 2024.

Eli Lilly, one drugmaker that has shifted to synthetic tests for drugs like its migraine treatment Emgality, has said rFC is safe and that the extra validation requirements have been a hurdle to adoption by more companies.

Conservationists, including advocates for migratory birds that dine on horseshoe crab eggs on the US east coast, have also been pushing for rFC’s increased use to take pressure off crabs, some of which die after being returned to the Atlantic Ocean following bleeding.
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Tom_Mazanec

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #2009 on: May 31, 2020, 12:45:54 PM »
nanning, horseshoe crabs are relatively unchanged in the last few million centuries but all life forms trace back a pedigree four billion years old.
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kassy

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #2010 on: May 31, 2020, 02:51:56 PM »
You have to wonder what they think about thier time in the lab. Really looks like some SF movie.
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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #2011 on: June 03, 2020, 10:13:19 PM »
Quote
xkcd (@xkcd_rss) 6/1/20, 6:31 PM
Carcinization xkcd.com/2314/ 
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