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Author Topic: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD  (Read 519237 times)

JackTaylor

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #300 on: January 04, 2014, 06:10:58 PM »
But 'plant based foods' might include wheat and corn.  I was just thinking vegetables.
O.K. - Vegetables I agree. Without California woe is me.

The area near and east of the Mississippi could easily replace all the farming in California if we converted it back to farms.  I expect that will happen in a few decades as they run out of water and climate change really kicks in.
Is there any other choice?  To eat people will change. It may be much more expensive and not as desirable at first, but we're adaptable.  Just think of all the new jobs.  Will it make the folks in Alabama appreciate immigrant (migrant) labor?

Shared Humanity

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #301 on: January 04, 2014, 07:09:12 PM »

I am of the opinion that perhaps a large increase of food prices could be a conversation changer about AGW because it "hits close to home" for the overwhelming majority of the USA. The every day - weekly - "wallet/pocketbook" issues.

California Water (all southwest agriculture) is a definite attention getter for me.

It takes EVENTS to wake up a lot of people.

I agree. Americans vote their pocket books as well. The pressure on politicians to do something will become intense if Americans are able to make the connection between the cost of food and AGW. We are facing dramatic increases in the price of beef as ranchers had to slaughter cows over the last several years due to the drought.

wili

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #302 on: January 04, 2014, 11:51:13 PM »
Of course, there is no guarantee that many people will interpret even very extreme events in the way we would want them to. When Oklahoma and TX were going through really extreme heatwaves and droughts, the stories in the local papers didn't mention GW, as far as I could see. And the letters were mostly about praying to Jesus for rain, with the occasional suggestion that maybe this was punishment for allowing gays to live or abortions to happen.

And those terrible events certainly have not changed the politics in that area very much, as far as I can see.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #303 on: January 05, 2014, 07:43:47 AM »
Of course, there is no guarantee that many people will interpret even very extreme events in the way we would want them to. When Oklahoma and TX were going through really extreme heatwaves and droughts, the stories in the local papers didn't mention GW, as far as I could see. And the letters were mostly about praying to Jesus for rain, with the occasional suggestion that maybe this was punishment for allowing gays to live or abortions to happen.

And those terrible events certainly have not changed the politics in that area very much, as far as I can see.

That's really the problem - most people will interpret events through their existing preconceptions and find other explanations than climate change. If "natural variability" or "it's just weather" runs out of legs - then it'll be "the end times" or "the second coming" and to be celebrated...

JackTaylor

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #304 on: January 06, 2014, 02:14:48 PM »
Quote
wili:
there is no guarantee that many people will interpret even very extreme events in the way we would want them to
Yes there will be some (many) who refuse.  But, is the percentage of of the Judeo-Christian world population increasing or decreasing?  Is 51% a sufficient majority to get action?
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ccgwebmaster:
then it'll be "the end times" or "the second coming" and to be celebrated
"purified by fire" - a belief we cannot beat - let's keep chipping away until a substantial majority overrules the minority.

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #305 on: January 06, 2014, 05:00:51 PM »
Yes there will be some (many) who refuse.  But, is the percentage of of the Judeo-Christian world population increasing or decreasing?  Is 51% a sufficient majority to get action?

Big problem - it isn't just about a majority, but about the percentage backing a particular action.

To get a majority who will acknowledge "yes there is a problem" is only a first step to starting a debate.

Quite different from a majority who will agree "this is the minimum necessary plan of action and it will actually work" - to agree a plan that will actually work, given the perceived negatives it is going to bring to many.


JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #306 on: January 06, 2014, 05:38:51 PM »
And considering how effective a really small minority in the US manages to have almost all policy and tax decisions go their way I am not sure it is even that simple.  If you don't have the people with the money and influence and control of Congress on your side maybe you need 75% of the public  agreeing with you.  Or more.  And that just ain't happening.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Laurent

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #307 on: January 06, 2014, 08:38:07 PM »
A good animation about soils.

Available in French, Spanish, German, Arabic (at the end)
http://globalsoilweek.org/media-publications/videos/

Shared Humanity

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #308 on: January 06, 2014, 09:41:13 PM »
And considering how effective a really small minority in the US manages to have almost all policy and tax decisions go their way I am not sure it is even that simple.  If you don't have the people with the money and influence and control of Congress on your side maybe you need 75% of the public  agreeing with you.  Or more.  And that just ain't happening.

Obviously, you are correct.

We need to make an effective case that global warming is "bad for business". This should become easier and easier to do because global warming is bad for business.

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #309 on: January 06, 2014, 10:56:40 PM »
And considering how effective a really small minority in the US manages to have almost all policy and tax decisions go their way I am not sure it is even that simple.  If you don't have the people with the money and influence and control of Congress on your side maybe you need 75% of the public  agreeing with you.  Or more.  And that just ain't happening.

Obviously, you are correct.

We need to make an effective case that global warming is "bad for business". This should become easier and easier to do because global warming is bad for business.

That's no easier a strategy as businesses all share the same playing field. The question for a business is the same as for an individual - what will benefit me, and not the competition? Some businesses will see opportunities, some will see a need to alter their strategy - few would rally behind a cry to oppose the whole thing, being that they are both tied firmly into the way the modern world works (and have a lot to lose) and that their energies must be expended selfishly as shareholder domination dictates (and again those who own them are the 1% who mistakenly think they can weather this storm by sacrificing those who are poorer to give them ground to stand upon as the tide rises).

The alternative to having a massive portion of the populace weakly supporting change and the right policies is to have a much smaller portion supporting it far more aggressively (and potentially violently). Revolutions are not typically fought by the majority, who mostly sit on the sidelines mildly favouring one side or another. However in the context of the US (and the world), I think climate change is a long way down a list of factors for triggering a literal revolution - and none of them very likely given the dominance of the current socioeconomic elites.

It doesn't help that if a small group were to start to act aggressively (and yes, potentially violently) they would be condemned from all sides including their own. There is no consensus even amongst those who do take the problem seriously as to how bad the problem is or what measures and urgency are required to attempt to address it.

We are therefore as a species still in the very early days of grappling with the issues and the gap between our ability to address them and the severity of the issues needing addressed is now not only growing but arguably accelerating and ever widening the gap. Mathematically that's a game over proposition, at least as I see it now.

In this context perhaps the prognosis for grand solutions of any significant scale is very poor and small scale solutions have the best prospects?

Besides as individuals and people with little power in the modern world, is it not a lot easier for us to act on a smaller scale? If we attempt to act on the big scale and make that our sole focus - we run the risk of never acting as we never perceive a means to do so. Yet if enough little actions were started there is a real prospect some of them could grow into much bigger ones?

The only caveat being that little actions must be realistic, switching to energy efficient light bulbs and recycling some rubbish/trash is insufficient (while laudable). To my mind that means meaningful actions must be predicated upon failure of the current system. While such actions might not avoid failure (nor mass mortality etc) at least the theoretical scope would remain to greatly improve our resilience as a species and to elevate the floor down to which we will crash in collapse?

A strategy that both provides an opportunity to build a future upon sustainable foundations and that implies the decks are cleared of the current system (which will necessarily fail).

Bruce Steele

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #310 on: January 07, 2014, 01:43:21 AM »
The agrarian ascetic still has a draw. Show people how small communities currently address the issues of self sustaining systems in combination with an  effective means of addressing climate change. Third world villages with solar and wind energy probably already fit the bill. The promotion of agrarian alternatives currently working is a start, making those working examples look attractive and affordable for people wanting to change is second, and somehow getting enough people access to land is probably the third and largest challenge. Compared to the huge challenges facing life on this earth, access to land isn't a show stopper.
 There may be events that start more and more people looking for alternatives, climate change refugees, and the blunt reality of rapid climate change in all it's manifestations will cause people to re-evaluate their lives. What people want drives markets, change their desires and markets will follow.
 On a personal note , family , friends and farm stand devotees love to come by the farm. There is still a very strong desire to " live on a farm "(in spite of 50+ years of corporate brainwashing)  Utilization of the agrarian ascetic , and the strong desire for change must certainly provide an opportunity for proving up on different future. Now
 
   

Bruce Steele

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #311 on: January 08, 2014, 03:29:25 AM »
I am sure there are many examples of solar technology supplementing existing agrarian systems. This example from Africa probably has similar solar water pumping examples from China and India.  Lighting, communications, and  refrigeration for medications are also off the shelf technology . Third world applications should  provide examples of how communities can utilize renewable energy and improve their long term chances at survival. The notion that renewables can power current western lifestyles or the notion that our lifestyles are something the third world should emulate are both fantasies fueled by our endless hubris.

    http://energyblog.nationalgeographic.com/2013/03/13/growing-a-solar-solution-in-west-africa/

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #312 on: January 08, 2014, 04:08:30 AM »
I am sure there are many examples of solar technology supplementing existing agrarian systems. This example from Africa probably has similar solar water pumping examples from China and India.  Lighting, communications, and  refrigeration for medications are also off the shelf technology . Third world applications should  provide examples of how communities can utilize renewable energy and improve their long term chances at survival. The notion that renewables can power current western lifestyles or the notion that our lifestyles are something the third world should emulate are both fantasies fueled by our endless hubris.

    http://energyblog.nationalgeographic.com/2013/03/13/growing-a-solar-solution-in-west-africa/

That's interesting but the obvious question in that example is over the sustainability of the ground water being pumped. If one were able to enclose the plants being grown without cooking them - such that the water released from transpiration could be recycled back to them, that might be more sustainable water wise? (while introducing a host of other complications - as well as the enclosing one would need to consider how the plants in question are normally pollinated).

If I remember right you were exploring using solar power to operate simple cultivation equipment? How feasible does that look as a way of reducing the labour burden on people that would otherwise be subsistence farmers? How scalable is it and what resource pressures would it run into? Could you use small scale concentrating solar thermal as a source of energy capture and storage instead of panels? (much less need for exotic materials and manufacturing processes). Could you derive a low technology version of the ideas and what would the technological floor be? (ie one assumes one would need basic metallurgy at least)

Bruce Steele

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #313 on: January 08, 2014, 06:26:46 AM »
Ccg,Starting with a  population that doesn't have electricity and adding solar results hopefully in a society that is still relatively  fossil fuel free. How far those applications can be pushed without again reaching resource limits is a valid question, water tables or soil health, but those answers will be different depending on both good farming practices  as well as good water management.
 Humans have used hand tools to prepare gardens for a very long time and a good spading shovel can prepare a pretty good sized garden. Once the heavy work is done whether by hand or with a tractor the garden still needs weeding and it will need weeding multiple times. My electric tillers are primarily cultivating tools, that is they help me do the weeding. As a choice between hoeing a 2500' row or running my little tillie it is an easy choice for me. I don't think I could even hoe that much in a day but with the electric tiller it takes one charge and about an hour of cultivating. I still have to follow up with a hand hoe and some hand weeding but the tiller saves many hours of labor. If I were to cultivate with my little kubota and cultivating blades I could cover much larger areas but I would still need to follow up with hoes and hand weeding. I am the limiting factor in my little operation but I am a sixty year old man. If I had my tillie for all the years of I have pulled weeds in my life my knees might hold out a few more years, who knows? I think the African women in the Benin co-op would use the tillers if they had them and they could keep larger gardens as a result.
 I really need to work these new tools for a whole season to give you a good review . So far I like them and I am planning to devote as large an area as I can maintain with them this season, without tractors or ff tillers. I am fairly certain I can produce two tons of tomatoes without any fossil fuel equipment this year. I will work on my best money crops for obvious reasons but in self sufficient systems one would have to focus on calories and storage potential not money.
 Btw, my well pulls from a riparian flow and percolates back into the same minus evaporation loss.Drip minimizes evaporation.   
 
         
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 06:47:37 AM by Bruce Steele »

JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #314 on: January 08, 2014, 03:56:08 PM »
Bruce

Reading the above about your tools it got me to wondering if you have stirrup hoes for your cultivating.  A stirrup hoe is a tool in between a regular hand hoe and a motorized tiller.

They are very efficient and once you know how to use them very fast.  There are also manufacturers out there that make wheeled stirrup hoes with various width blades.  The one I had was made in CA.  Depending on your soil type and the moisture levels in the soil you can walk without stopping while pushing one of these and cultivate between rows much faster than a tiller can.

We had multiple hand stirrup hoes mostly with 5 inch wide blades and a wheeled one with an 8 inch blade.  You can get them with at least 12 inch blades maybe 18 inch for about $320.  With a little practice you can often go at a fair walking pace using it.  With the hand hoes you can even set them in a bed between individual crop rows and sort of drag them while walking and cultivate very quickly.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #315 on: January 08, 2014, 04:56:22 PM »
JimD, I have two electric tools, one is a small rototiller and one is a wheel hoe . It is a hula hoe and you use power to push it and manually pull it back. It is still a bit of work but the advantage for me is it doesn't kick up dirt so I can get in close to lettuce without getting dirt all over it. Hope you get a small garden in this year.

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #316 on: January 08, 2014, 05:10:56 PM »
We had multiple hand stirrup hoes mostly with 5 inch wide blades and a wheeled one with an 8 inch blade.  You can get them with at least 12 inch blades maybe 18 inch for about $320.  With a little practice you can often go at a fair walking pace using it.  With the hand hoes you can even set them in a bed between individual crop rows and sort of drag them while walking and cultivate very quickly.

I'm also curious about the need for weeding as much as people do. When I was growing some things manually - albeit on a much smaller scale - I tolerated a certain amount of weeds provided they didn't seem to be on track to compete for light. I figured that some weed cover might help protect the soil (eg prevent the wind from blowing it away, or the rain from washing it away) and that even deep rooted weeds do serve some purpose (by bringing up nutrients from lower down - though that didn't stop me attacking clusters of thistles if they threatened the potatoes, and if they were numerous before they got anywhere near that big as they are very deep rooted later and I think can return from the taproot).

If one is making sure the plants get sunlight (and much of the stuff I was growing in bulk grew tall - potatoes 12-18 inches, broad beans 3-4 feet, corn 3-4 feet, jerusalem artichokes 6-10 feet) can one argue the nutrient drain of the weeds isn't really a big issue provided that you keep those nutrients in the closed loop? Which is to say they must remain with the soil (if you kill the weeds nothing wrong with composting them in the interim).

For the most part I didn't think I was getting problems from that strategy - most things that had problems were not weed related problems (eg failure to germinate, pest attacks, etc). The only thing I recall where weeds were a definite issue was peas - the peas and the weeds got all tangled up and that made life rather difficult not only to manage the weeds but to find the peas to pick later. I think my leeks might have suffered from weeds too one year - but I wasn't applying my strategy well enough and they spent a period of time being outcompeted for light.

So while I know conventional wisdom is that weeds compete for nutrients and sunlight - can one make a valid argument that one can live with them (to some extent) as validly as without them? That's assuming you start from a clean sheet - broken soil essentially without weeds - which will always be easier to remove weeds from later, even if they got established. In practice many of my lower growing plants had sufficient density of foliage to choke out many nearby weeds once they got a head start (potatoes, lettuces, courgettes, for instance).

It just strikes me it's a lot of labour for uncertain returns if you go too far into fighting them? My mother would weed her raised beds to the point of being virtually spotless...

wili

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #317 on: January 08, 2014, 10:41:11 PM »
Bruce wrote:
Quote
Starting with a  population that doesn't have electricity and adding solar results hopefully in a society that is still relatively  fossil fuel free.

Unfortunately, the common experience is that the earliest use of electricity in a society that hasn't had one is to run TVs. A friend of mine lived in a South Pacific Island when the first generator was used. It was owned by the chief/mayor. He used the electricity to leave a TV going 24/7 in one of his windows facing out so all the villagers could spend their spare time gawking at all the things they should buy to be 'modern.'

There is very little that is benign about our modern industrial/commercial/consumerist culture.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Bruce Steele

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #318 on: January 09, 2014, 01:21:56 AM »
Wili, I am just trying to say we should look somewhere for working examples of happy people going about their business without crushing ecosystems and climate systems. That we westerners would like life somehow easier than living in a dirt floored house growing manioc is maybe a fatal flaw. To be honest I am in that group and along with you we like our comforts. I acknowledge the fact that we have introduced our mindset on many cultures resulting in their ruination but there are holdouts and learning from  "the survivors" seems to me  useful. If I can have it both ways , a ff free lifestyle and a few tools powered without ff seems reasonable. We need radical change , we have plenty of examples that aren't working, what does and why? Can we as groups of people work towards a better future?
We need to look up to people we have always looked down upon. Why have they succeeded where we have failed?
 I should probably stick to talking about agriculture, it will be spring soon enough and I always have big hopes this time of year.  There is a nasty drought, but I am planting anyhow.   

JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #319 on: January 09, 2014, 05:06:45 AM »
ccg

I think you might be misunderstanding Bruce and I about how much cultivating one does and why.  For the most part you are correct on the primary need being to keep the weeds down until the crop can out compete the weeds for light.  Understanding of course that some crops are incapable of out competing weeds at any time and you just have to kill the weeds for those crops.  Anything in the onion family cannot compete with weeds.  There is also the nutrient issue of having the weeds steal food from the food crop.  This can be prevented somewhat if one wants to cut down on weeding by planting the food crop very densely so that weeds cannot get started.  But one only weeds as much as they have to as weeding costs money.

An additional issue is what does a farmer do about the aisle ways in between the crop rows.  The standard practice is to run some form of cultivator down the aisle and turn the dirt a few times a crop season to keep it weed free.  Since one is doing this it is easy to have your cultivating bar set with teeth to also drag the ground in between the crop rows in the bed you are driving the tractor over.  This takes care of most of the weeds.  Now Bruce is working at a smaller scale than that to keep his energy costs down.  I have done it both the way Bruce is and with a tractor with a cultivator attached.  If one is not making the effort to minimize fuel consumption, as Bruce is, it is far more efficient and profitable (in todays world and by the current way of accounting) to use the tractor.

Many gardeners plant dwarf white clover between their beds and run a mower down the aisle.  This works fine and I have done that also, but do not let it go to seed.  An additional benefit of this method is that the clover draws in bees.

One big reason to keep weeds down and not let them drop seed is that if you do your weed problem will grow with time and become a real issue.

Almost all commercial vegetable farms, whether industrial mode or organic mode, use plastic covers on their beds to eliminate weeding almost entirely. They use gargantuan amounts of this plastic.  And it is not recycled.   Additionally big operations almost never reuse their drip irrigation tape.  Both of those actions save huge amounts of labor costs.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #320 on: January 09, 2014, 11:17:50 AM »
JimD and Ccg, There is a recycled paper product called weedguard that does the same thing as plastic mulch. I used it last season and it worked well but like plastic you need a good fence because deer feet poke holes in it for the weeds to grow through. It bothers me that " organic " production allows so much plastic. I use drip tape and like Jim says most of it goes to a recycling bin because calcium carbonate plugs up the emitter holes. I can use aluminum pipe hand lines( sprinklers ) but you use a lot more water. Wish I could figure how to keep my drip tape from plugging up.
 You need to pick your battles with weeds, some of them are much bigger threats than others. Some of them require constant vigilance while others are more benign. Some of them like morning glory, crabgrass and devil grass ( kakuya sp?)are real problems. Others are eatables that there just isn't a market for like pigweed or purslane. Some weeds make seeds the little birds really like so I allow a certain amount of messy gardening. Birds are usually my only company and plowing their habitat should require some concessions . Maybe I will plant some wheat around my parameters to keep them happy.

JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #321 on: January 09, 2014, 04:49:56 PM »
Bruce I know a really accomplished organic grower who a few years ago did a side by side trial between the biodegradable mulch and the plastic mulch.  His results were that the same crop in side by side beds grew better with the plastic.  His issue with it was not that it degraded too soon, which is an issue many have complained about, but that the plants just looked different and he thought they tasted different.  He said he tried to find out what the biodegradable mulch was made out of from the manufacturer and they would not tell him. 

He said he would not use it again as he did not feel he could trust them.  I have read on blogs that others have the same concern about what is in the biodegradable mulch.  What chemicals are in the material they are using.  Some I think are corn based and one wonders about any GM issues or RoundUp residues.  For recycled paper it is going to have residues from inks at the very least I think. 

On your drip tape issue I do not know of a solution.  We tired all kinds of drip tape fro the cheapest with the thinnest walls to the thickest which is supposed to last a few years, and, fo course, different makes with differently designed drip holes.  Our biggest problem was not mineral buildup (softer water I guess at our farm) but that in our climate gunk grows in the tubing and that algae plugged the holes.  We lived in an area which was very warm and humid and we used filtered pond water.  We had to  flush our filter at least every two days.  Maybe it was food for the plants?
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Shared Humanity

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #322 on: January 09, 2014, 05:05:57 PM »
For small gardens, instead of using drip irrigation, you may want to consider  a French Drain system. While commonly used to drain water away  from structures to prevent damage, they are, in fact, systems that move water fro one area where it is not desired to another where it is.

http://www.ndspro.com/drainage-systems/french-drains/ezflow-french-drain

I have installed these under my raised gardens with amazing results. The water from my downspouts fill the underground system and it migrates out through flow wells to surrounding soils as these soils dry out.

What are the advantages? All irrigation is delivered below ground, minimizing evaporation and encouraging deep root growth.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 06:58:19 PM by Shared Humanity »

JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #323 on: January 09, 2014, 06:06:36 PM »
SH

Nice.  Did you build it yourself?  If so how long did it take to plan out and all that.  I assume you use pvc pipe with holes in it?
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Shared Humanity

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #324 on: January 09, 2014, 06:45:22 PM »
SH

Nice.  Did you build it yourself?  If so how long did it take to plan out and all that.  I assume you use pvc pipe with holes in it?

I did build it myself. It took my son and I a weekend to install the system for a single bed. I actually purchased everything I needed from the linked company. I have a single flow well in the middle of each 12' square raised bed. The piping from the downspouts are solid as I only want the water to disperse into the garden. It was amazingly easy to install, some planning, a little trenching and digging the hole for the flow well and connecting the various components of the system.

Caution: The system will only work if the soil adjacent to the flow wells have a decent percolation rate so that the water moves through the soil under the garden well. Fortunately, I live in a subdivision in Chicago that was built in the early 1900's, before they developed the neat trick of stripping all of the topsoil off before building and then selling you 1 inch of it back for a ridiculous profit. The dark topsoil is at least 3 feet deep. You will begin to hit some orange clay after that. This is another  reason why you want to construct a raised garden bed as you can insure better percolation. I did not bother measuring the percolation rate because of the quality of the topsoil.

Having clay under the system is not a bad thing either as it encourages the water to move horizontally through the garden bed.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 07:35:06 PM by Shared Humanity »

Bruce Steele

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #325 on: January 09, 2014, 06:51:05 PM »
JimD, I wouldn't write the weedguard off so easily. I had very good yields with tomatoes grown using their product last year. Although the manufacture claims you can till it in I rolled it up at the end of the season. I used cardboard sheets to make paths so maybe that prolonged it's utility along with preventing me from poking holes where i walked.As to GMO residuals I would guess a bag of Frito's ( corn chips)is worse. People have no idea what percentage of their junk food is GMO. Would it change their buying habits if they knew? Your info on viral gene's should make them think twice but it may not hit mainline news till something or  someone uses the weak link to infect their food supply
 SH, good idea in areas you don't plan on digging up again like raised beds or orchards. It would be nice to have a smaller diameter version available. A very slow rate biodegradable version would be even better IMO.  My goal is to reduce ff use in farm equipment first but ff plastic will also need replacing. Cornstarch greenhouse covers are possible I suppose but for now they are ff,   

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #326 on: January 09, 2014, 07:25:54 PM »
You need to pick your battles with weeds, some of them are much bigger threats than others. Some of them require constant vigilance while others are more benign. Some of them like morning glory, crabgrass and devil grass ( kakuya sp?)are real problems. Others are eatables that there just isn't a market for like pigweed or purslane. Some weeds make seeds the little birds really like so I allow a certain amount of messy gardening. Birds are usually my only company and plowing their habitat should require some concessions . Maybe I will plant some wheat around my parameters to keep them happy.

Some are also important habitats for endangered or increasingly less common species. I left plenty of stinging nettles for the benefit of a butterfly in the UK. My consideration did not extend to whatever nasty little caterpillar swarmed over my broccoli - I destroyed many (hundreds at least) of those caterpillars by hand. Had I had chickens though, perhaps they could've been used too...

We need to learn to live with and respect our environment and that to me means even weeds have a place - we just have to figure out where to set the boundaries and how to remain in balance (our responsibility as soon as we start to use technology to augment our natural capabilities).

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #327 on: January 09, 2014, 07:43:23 PM »
SH, good idea in areas you don't plan on digging up again like raised beds or orchards. It would be nice to have a smaller diameter version available. A very slow rate biodegradable version would be even better IMO.  My goal is to reduce ff use in farm equipment first but ff plastic will also need replacing. Cornstarch greenhouse covers are possible I suppose but for now they are ff,

Bruce...the original French drain systems consisted of drain tiles and trenches filled with gravel. It is even necessary to fill the trench with different size gravel, the outer part should be very fine gravel which discourages soil infiltration and water escaping prior to reaching its desired destination. The core of the gravel is course so it can move the water faster. I toyed with the idea of using this approach but the thought of hauling thousands of pounds of gravel and the labor involved convinced me to use this off the shelf product.

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #328 on: January 09, 2014, 08:25:55 PM »
Bruce my info on the biodegradable mulch is just anecdotal.  There was some concern at one point with one Canadian manufacturer that the product was just a form of plastic that broke down into very small pieces.  They would not give info out of their product.  If that was the case I would never use the stuff.  But I have no familiarity with the Weedguard.  It is a good sounding idea if it can be made to work as the plastic mulch is certainly not ecologically sound.

SH  I have seen construction holes dug west of Chicago that were 10 feet deep and still in the black top soil.  Buildings there now.  Stupid we are.
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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #329 on: January 09, 2014, 09:41:45 PM »
I really enjoy reading your backandforths, but maybe these things should be discussed in a central place? Which is why I opened this Gardening thread in the Walking the Walk section, adding my tidbit to the discussion on watering techniques.
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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #330 on: January 09, 2014, 11:41:54 PM »
Not sure exactly where to put this, but it relates to food and might be general interest (probably isn't relevant to the gardening thread unless you're discussing how to grow plants in contaminated soil).

http://farmlandforecast.colvin-co.com/2014/01/09/millions-of-acres-of-chinese-farmland-too-polluted-to-grow-food-highlighting-growing-threat.aspx

Just another source of pressure on food production. It affects us all, not just China - as globalisation means they will go to the same markets the rest of us to in order to make up a shortfall (or to avoid domestic produce that isn't trusted or safe).

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #331 on: January 09, 2014, 11:44:14 PM »
I understand why you posted here but I think it is useful on each thread.

JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #332 on: January 10, 2014, 04:08:35 AM »
Digging up the northern prairie is already underway.  As the need to crop further and further north grows this problem will only get worse.

Quote
....Here in the northern reaches of America’s Great Plains, vast areas of grasslands have in recent years been converted to the production of corn and soybeans, a dramatic change that is eating away at our carbon storage reserves. Driven by rising prices that reflect increased worldwide demand for food and energy crops, as well as federal farm policies and new crop technology that has allowed the corn belt to march west into more arid country, farmers and ranchers in the northern Great Plains have undertaken one of the great land conversions in recent U.S. history.

“We are looking at rates of conversion that exceed the rates of [tropical] rain forest loss at their peak,” said Joe Fargione, science director for the North American region of The Nature Conservancy. “It is a globally significant hot spot of habitat loss.”

A study published early this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that 1.3 million acres of grassland had been converted to corn and soybeans between 2006 and 2011 in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa. Native prairie — whose plants have deep and extensive root systems — is a very effective carbon sink if not cultivated, but plowing and converting that land to annual row crops leads to the emission of 20 to 75 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per acre....

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/01/08/3072791/americas-grasslands-saved/
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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #334 on: January 15, 2014, 06:07:55 PM »
Bogotá study: small farmers selling at local markets are much more adaptable to CC than farmers selling through an intermediary.

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Abstract
Small farmers who supply the city of Bogotá with food are facing many challenges that are jeopardizing their livelihoods and by extension, the food security of Colombia’s capital. We expect future changes in climatic conditions to exacerbate the plight of the small farmers and this is expected to compromise Bogota’s food security even further. This paper specifically seeks to assess the impact of climate change (CC) on the livelihoods of smallholders who supply Bogota with most of its food. In our multidisciplinary methodology, we translated the exposure to CC into direct impact on crops and assessed sensitivity and adaptive capacity using the sustainable rural livelihoods framework. The results show that rainfall (by average of 100 mm) and temperature (by average of 2.1 °C) will increase over the study area, while the future climate suitability of the most important crops such as mango (Mangifera indica), papaya (Carica papaya), corn (Zea mays) and plantain (Musa balbisiana) shows a decrease of 19 % to 47 % climate suitability by the year 2050. The assessment of sensitivity and adaptive capacity demonstrates that farmers participating in a farmers’ market, initiated by several local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), are less vulnerable to CC than farmers who sell through intermediaries. Those farmers selling directly to consumers in the farmers’ market have a higher adaptive capacity (3 on a scale of 3) in social and financial capital than those selling to intermediaries with less adaptive capacity (1 on a scale of 3). In light of the reduction in overall climatic suitability of some of the major crops and the change of geographic location of suitability for others, there are likely to be serious threats for Bogotá’s food security, the ecological landscape around the city, and farmers’ livelihoods. We further conclude that unless proper adaptation measures are implemented, the geographical shift in climate suitability may also force farmers to shift their crops to higher elevations including remaining forests and páramos (the Colombian alpine tundra ecosystems), which may be threatened in the near future.
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11027-012-9432-0
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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #335 on: January 15, 2014, 08:17:00 PM »
Hey Bruce here is one for you.

Offshore oil drilling in the Santa Barbara channel has been using fracking techniques for 20 years.  And they have just been dumping the used fracking fluid in the ocean as they have no requirement in those circumstances not to.  Apparently this is standard practice off shore.

Quote
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a rule on January 9, 2014 requiring oil and gas companies using hydraulic fracturing off the coast of California to disclose the chemicals they discharge into the ocean. Oil and gas companies have been fracking offshore California for perhaps as long as two decades, but they largely flew under the radar until recently....

...However, offshore drillers often simply dump the waste water into the ocean – although the industry claims the water is treated before entering the marine environment....

http://www.testosteronepit.com/home/2014/1/13/offshore-fracking-and-dumping-chemicals-into-coastal-waters.html
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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #336 on: January 16, 2014, 08:18:26 AM »
JimD, I can remember sitting through at least one very long day of EPA hearings on produced waters and drilling muds. There are plans to remove some old rigs in the SB Channel and there are shell mounds with metal , shells of mussels and barnacles that were scraped regularly from the rig legs .There are also heavy metals and old drilling muds in the "shell mounds " left behind after removal. There are also plenty of people lining up for cash payouts and litigation over how much gets left behind and who ends up holding the bag. All sorts of characters end up at the trough groveling for oil monies.
 Oil operations have good boat operators and always listen to the radio, when someone is in a fix they will go out of their way to help. I do believe oil operations collects it's old drilling mud these days but the produced waters are pumped about halfway down in the water column and released. I think the EPA made some excuses about dilution and toxicity being reduced "quickly".It gets kinda hard for fishermen to fight big oil when the environmentalists milking the oil payout machine use it to litigate against our local fisheries. Politics demands alliances , doesn't work out to well for us usually. And ya healthy fish resources are the goal and sticking to that focus makes the choices somewhat easier but doesn't necessarily result in more allies. It's not really where the money is .         

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #337 on: January 23, 2014, 05:31:28 PM »
Michael Pollan explains what’s wrong with the paleo diet

http://grist.org/food/michael-pollan-explains-whats-wrong-with-the-paleo-diet/
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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #338 on: January 27, 2014, 05:55:15 PM »
It is war, an arms race and we're losing.

Genetic Engineering Companies Promised Reduced Pesticide Use … But GE Crops Have Led to a 25% Increase In Herbicide Use

Quote
Genetic Engineering Companies Promised Reduced Pesticide Use … But GE Crops Have Led to a 25% Increase In Herbicide Use....
...Contrary to often-repeated claims that today’s genetically-engineered crops have, and are reducing pesticide use, the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds in herbicide-resistant weed management systems has brought about substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied. If new genetically engineered forms of corn and soybeans tolerant of 2,4-D are approved, the volume of 2,4-D sprayed [background] could drive herbicide usage upward by another approximate 50%.

Quote
Herbicide-tolerant crops worked extremely well in the first few years of use, but over-reliance led to shifts in weed communities and the emergence of resistant weeds that have, together, forced farmers to incrementally –
◾Increase herbicide application rates (especially glyphosate),
◾Spray more often, and
◾Add new herbicides that work through an alternate mode-of-action into their spray programs.

Each of these responses has, and will continue to contribute to the steady rise in the volume of herbicides applied per acre of HT corn, cotton, and soybeans.

HT crops have increased herbicide use by 527 million pounds over the 16-year period (1996-2011). The incremental increase per year has grown steadily from 1.5 million pounds in 1999, to 18 million five years later in 2003, and 79 million pounds in 2009. In 2011, about 90 million more pounds of herbicides were applied than likely in the absence of HT, or about 24% of total herbicide use on the three crops in 2011.

We are slowly poisoning ourselves.  Premise 1 - Civilization is not sustainable

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/01/genetically-engineered-crops-responsible-increase-383-million-pounds-herbicide-use-u-s-first-13-years-commercial-use.html
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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #339 on: February 02, 2014, 02:34:17 PM »
Disturbing details about the overfishing of menhaden, a fish at the heart of the food system on both land and sea.

Quote
Millions of pounds of menhaden are fished from the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico by a single company based in Houston, Texas, with a benign-sounding name: Omega Protein. The company’s profits derive largely from a process called “reduction,” which involves cooking, grinding, and chemically separating menhaden’s fat from its protein and micronutrients. These component parts become chemical inputs in aquaculture, industrial livestock, and vegetable growing. The oil- and protein-rich meal becomes animal feed. The micronutrients become crop fertilizer.
...
Omega Protein’s “blue chip” customer base for animal feed and human supplements includes Whole Foods, Nestlé Purina, Iams, Land O’Lakes, ADM, Swanson Health Products, Cargill, Del Monte, Science Diet, Smart Balance, and the Vitamin Shoppe.
...
The menhaden population has declined nearly 90 percent from the time when humans first began harvesting menhaden from Atlantic coastal and estuarine waters.
...
In 2012, a panel of marine experts known as the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force estimated that the value of leaving forage fish in the ocean as a food source for predators was $11 billion: twice as much as the $5.6 billion generated by removing species like menhaden from the ocean and pressing them into fish meal pellets (Pikitch et al, 2012).

http://limn.it/the-fish-at-the-heart-of-the-food-system/
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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #340 on: February 06, 2014, 07:01:56 PM »
World Food Costs Drop to 19-Month Low as Sugar to Corn Fall

Quote
World food prices fell in January to a 19-month low, as costs for everything from sugar to grains slid amid ample global supplies, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization said.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-06/world-food-prices-drop-to-19-month-low-as-sugar-to-grains-slide.html
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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #341 on: February 06, 2014, 07:21:48 PM »
World Food Costs Drop to 19-Month Low as Sugar to Corn Fall

A 19 month low is still pretty damn expensive though, according to the FAO index. A little below conflict triggering levels, but not by that much. A bad year this year can easily wipe out all the extra from last year and then some.

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #342 on: February 06, 2014, 07:59:12 PM »
Absolutely.

There will very probably never again be a time when global food stocks are robust.  There will always be fluctuations from year to year but the long term trend is for supply and demand to approach each other and eventually to cross.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #343 on: February 06, 2014, 08:20:47 PM »
Absolutely.

There will very probably never again be a time when global food stocks are robust.  There will always be fluctuations from year to year but the long term trend is for supply and demand to approach each other and eventually to cross.

Somewhere (and I can't remember where offhand) I saw a projection for when food prices would have permanently crossed the conflict triggering threshold. It's downhill all the way from there...

It wasn't that far ahead into the future either, if memory serves. Actually, I suspect that point might also represent peak population...

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #344 on: February 07, 2014, 05:01:26 PM »
Somewhere (and I can't remember where offhand) I saw a projection for when food prices would have permanently crossed the conflict triggering threshold. It's downhill all the way from there...

It wasn't that far ahead into the future either, if memory serves. Actually, I suspect that point might also represent peak population...

That would be a tough calculation.  Predicting real prices as the trigger is far harder than working to try and figure out when per capita food production crosses the 2000 cal day going south.  Naturally the price signal will be spotty as it will hit specific locals which are in untenable positions first (Arab Spring type events).  We can probably guess some of those places pretty easily though.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #345 on: February 13, 2014, 05:44:34 PM »
I wanted to point out something that is relevant here and also relates to my last post in the Renewables topic.

Birds.

Many may not be aware of it but the populations of birds in the world are a pretty small fraction of what they used to be 200 years ago. Especially here in North America.  This human caused population decline has huge repercussions in terms of trying to have sustainable agriculture in the future.  Why?

Bird poop.  Or lack thereof.  When Nature was running along minding its own business before humans screwed it up the single most important natural fertilizing mechanism for the land was not the handy deposits of poop from walking around land animals is was from birds.  There was a sufficient number of birds that they were the species which deposited the greatest volume of manure on the ground to fertilize the plants.  And they spread it pretty evenly too due to the randomness of flight.

Natural soil fertility today is thus diminished over ancient times and results in a circumstance which makes true sustainable agriculture more difficult than it used to be.  This will have an impact as we are forced to move away from industrial agriculture as the years pass.
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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #346 on: February 13, 2014, 08:32:55 PM »
Bird poop.  Or lack thereof.  When Nature was running along minding its own business before humans screwed it up the single most important natural fertilizing mechanism for the land was not the handy deposits of poop from walking around land animals is was from birds.  There was a sufficient number of birds that they were the species which deposited the greatest volume of manure on the ground to fertilize the plants.  And they spread it pretty evenly too due to the randomness of flight.

Natural soil fertility today is thus diminished over ancient times and results in a circumstance which makes true sustainable agriculture more difficult than it used to be.  This will have an impact as we are forced to move away from industrial agriculture as the years pass.

Same note for whale poop in the oceans, if nobody mentioned it before. We wipe out all the whales - and turns out we cut the cycling of bioavailable iron and this reduce total productivity in the ecosystem.

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #347 on: February 13, 2014, 08:46:00 PM »
Bird poop.  Or lack thereof.  When Nature was running along minding its own business before humans screwed it up the single most important natural fertilizing mechanism for the land was not the handy deposits of poop from walking around land animals is was from birds.  There was a sufficient number of birds that they were the species which deposited the greatest volume of manure on the ground to fertilize the plants.  And they spread it pretty evenly too due to the randomness of flight.

Natural soil fertility today is thus diminished over ancient times and results in a circumstance which makes true sustainable agriculture more difficult than it used to be.  This will have an impact as we are forced to move away from industrial agriculture as the years pass.

Same note for whale poop in the oceans, if nobody mentioned it before. We wipe out all the whales - and turns out we cut the cycling of bioavailable iron and this reduce total productivity in the ecosystem.

And anadromous fish. We've made a very thorough mess of it.

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #348 on: February 14, 2014, 03:42:21 PM »
"We've made a very thorough mess of it." It looks like Michael Klare would agree with that assessment.

http://www.juancole.com/2014/02/carbons-scorching-triumph.html

Game Over for Earth: Big Carbon’s Fatal, Scorching Triumph over Greens

Quote
Listening to President Obama’s State of the Union address, it would have been easy to conclude that we were slowly but surely gaining in the war on climate change.  “Our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet,” the president said.  “Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth.”  Indeed, it’s true that in recent years, largely thanks to the dampening effects of the Great Recession, U.S. carbon emissions were in decline (though they grew by 2% in 2013).  Still, whatever the president may claim, we’re not heading toward a “cleaner, safer planet.”  If anything, we’re heading toward a dirtier, more dangerous world.

A series of recent developments highlight the way we are losing ground in the epic struggle to slow global warming.  This has not been for lack of effort.  Around the world, dedicated organizations, communities, and citizens have been working day by day to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote the use of renewable sources of energy.  The struggle to prevent construction of the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline is a case in point.  As noted in a recent New York Times article, the campaign against that pipeline has galvanized the environmental movement around the country and attracted thousands of activists to Washington, D.C., for protests and civil disobedience at the White House.  But efforts like these, heroic as they may be, are being overtaken by a more powerful force: the gravitational pull of cheap, accessible carbon-based fuels, notably oil, coal, and natural gas.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JackTaylor

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #349 on: February 15, 2014, 02:02:16 PM »
Bird poop.  Or lack thereof.  When Nature was running along minding its own business before humans screwed it up the single most important natural fertilizing mechanism for the land was not the handy deposits of poop from walking around land animals is was from birds.  There was a sufficient number of birds that they were the species which deposited the greatest volume of manure on the ground to fertilize the plants.  And they spread it pretty evenly too due to the randomness of flight.

How many wars (skirmishes) have been fought over bird poop?

How much geographical land areas (islands) claimed as sovereign territory because of bird poop?

The "guano trade" before synthetic fertilizer manufacturing - somewhat interesting.
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