Two new ‘birdcatcher’ trees described from Puerto Rico

first_imgAnimals, Biodiversity, Birds, Conservation, Deforestation, Environment, Forests, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Islands, New Species, Plants, Research, Species Discovery, Trees, Wildlife Article published by Shreya Dasgupta The two newly described trees have been named Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae after two women who spent several decades trying to document plants of Puerto Rico.The trees belong to the genus Pisonia, a group of “birdcatcher trees” known to produce sticky seeds that can entangle (and sometimes kill) birds.However, whether Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae use birds to disperse their fruits is currently unknown, the researchers say. From the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, scientists have described two new species of Pisonia trees — a group of notorious “birdcatcher trees” known to produce sticky seeds that can entangle (and sometimes even kill) birds.The two newly described trees have been named Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae after Frances W. Horne and Ana Roqué de Duprey respectively, two women who spent several decades trying to document plants of Puerto Rico, researchers report in a new study published in PhytoKeys.“Just like the two large trees remained unrecognised by science until now, the enormous efforts of these two women, who dedicated part of their lives to botanical work, remained largely unrecognised by the community,” Jorge C. Trejo-Torres, researcher at The Institute for Regional Conservation in Florida, U.S., said in a statement.Flowers of Pisonia horneae. Image taken from Caraballo-Ortiz MA, Trejo-Torres JC (2017).Both trees, locally known as corcho, are currently known only from Puerto Rico. So far, the researchers have recorded only isolated individuals or small groups of these trees on ravine banks, cliffs, or rocky areas.“These observations might suggest that either trees tend to colonize these particular habitats due to physiological requirements, or that they represent relicts of a former, more continuous population that was severely fragmented during the intense deforestation period experienced in the island for the past centuries,” the authors write in the paper.Many species of Pisonia are known to disperse their sticky fruits or seeds via birds. However, whether the newly described species use birds to disperse their fruits too, is currently unknown, the researchers say.“So far, we do not know of cases where birds have been trapped by the sticky fruits of the new species, but future studies will explore this possibility,” said the study’s lead author, Marcos A. Caraballo-Ortiz of the Pennsylvania State University.With the formal addition of Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae, Puerto Rico is now home to six species of Pisonia, according to the study.Fully ripe, the infructescences of Pisonia roqueae probably stick to animals as a dispersal strategy. Photo by Jorge C. Trejo-Torres.Citation:Caraballo-Ortiz MA, Trejo-Torres JC (2017) Two new endemic tree species from Puerto Rico: Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae (Nyctaginaceae). PhytoKeys 86: 97-115. DOI: 10.3897/phytokeys.86.11249center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

10 million acres added to Chile’s national park system

first_imgArticle published by Erik Hoffner Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Biodiversity, Biodiversity Crisis, Conservation, conservation players, Habitat, Habitat Loss, Happy-upbeat Environmental, National Parks, Protected Areas, Wildlife center_img The announcement marked the culmination of a plan agreed to in March 2017 by President Bachelet and Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, President and CEO of Tompkins Conservation, to create a network of five new national parks in Chile, and the expansion of three others.As a herd of guanacos grazed in the distance, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared, “With these beautiful lands, their forests, their rich ecosystems, [we] expand the network of parks to more than 10 million acres. Thus, national parklands in Chile will increase by 38.5% to account for 81.1% of Chile’s protected areas.”Tompkins Conservation is a US-based foundation aimed at preventing biodiversity loss and added 1 million acres to the deal — it was founded by Kristine and Doug Tompkins, business leaders of clothing brands The North Face, Esprit, and Patagonia. Yesterday, as a herd of guanacos grazed in the distance, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared, “With these beautiful lands, their forests, their rich ecosystems, [we] expand the network of parks to more than 10 million acres. Thus, national parklands in Chile will increase by 38.5% to account for 81.1% of Chile’s protected areas.”A buzzard eagle soared above as a guanaco in the grasslands behind her took a dust bath in seeming approval.The announcement marked the culmination of a plan agreed to in March 2017 by Bachelet and Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, President and CEO of Tompkins Conservation,  to create a network of five new national parks in Chile, and the expansion of three others.Tompkins Conservation is a US-based foundation aimed at preventing biodiversity loss and was founded by Kristine and Doug Tompkins, business leaders of clothing brands The North Face, Esprit, and Patagonia. Doug Tompkins passed away after a kayaking accident on Chile’s Lake General Carrera in 2015, and Kristine has carried the mission forward.“I am proud of my husband Doug and his vision which continues to guide us, in addition to our entire team, for completing these two national parks and the broader network, a major milestone of our first 25 years of work,” Tompkins said during the signing. “While we will continue to help promote and safeguard these parks, we are beginning to turn our attention [to] new conservation and rewilding projects in Chile and Argentina as we work to save and restore big, wild, and connected ecosystems.”Chile adds Tompkins Conservation’s million acres to 9 million acres of its own federal land. The signed decrees create Pumalín National Park and Patagonia National Park Chile.Read our March 2017 interview with Kristine Tompkins to learn more about the genesis of this project here.Kristine Tompkins and President Michelle Bachelet sign a pledge in March 2017 to expand national parkland in Chile by 10 million acres. Source: Tompkins Conservation.Banner photo: Pumalín Park, via Tompkins ConservationFEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post.last_img read more

Environmental reporting in Vietnam often a comedy of errors

first_imgEnvironmental Journalism, Forests, Freedom of Information, Illegal Timber Trade, Rainforests, Rosewood, Tropical Forests Article published by Genevieve Belmaker Vietnam’s global press freedom ranking is one of the lowest in the world.Reporters Without Borders ranks Vietnam 175 0f 180 in its 2017 annual press freedom index.Environmental journalists in Vietnam, including citizen journalists and bloggers, routinely face roadblocks and sometimes jail time. HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam – This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but reporting on the environment in Vietnam is not an easy task. The one-party state was recently ranked 175 out of 180 in Reporters Without Borders’ 2017 World Press Freedom Index, between Sudan and China.Vietnam’s major newspapers are state-owned, and nearly everything published on paper within the country must go through a censor before it hits the streets. The internet is not restricted in the same way that it is in China, but it is common knowledge that social media networks like Facebook are monitored by government ministries.On the ground, this translates to heavily restricted access for journalists, cagey responses to questions, and absolutely zero interest from anyone involved in the government in talking to the press. Over the last year in particular, numerous citizen journalists have received lengthy prison sentences for writing about corruption and environmental abuses.Since starting as a Vietnam-based correspondent for Mongabay in 2016, I’ve come to rely on NGOs such as the WWF, Forest Trends and Fauna and Flora International (FFI) for access to information and guides when in the field reporting. I quickly learned that emails to government ministries go unread.I’ve gone on four reporting trips in Vietnam for Mongabay; three in the country’s north and one in a national park that is home to several of the world’s largest, most spectacular caves in the central region on the border with Laos. Somewhat surprisingly, given the often suffocating reporting atmosphere here, three out of those four went well, minus a couple of hitches.The main chamber of Hang En, the third-largest cave in the world, located in Phong Nha-Ka Bang National Park. Photo by Michael Tatarski/Mongabay.Power tripsOne trip took me to Cao Bang Province, a poor region in Vietnam’s far north on the border with China. Border regions are particularly sensitive, so I had to send a copy of my passport and visa to the local authorities ahead of time through FFI, as I was reporting on a program they run there.My first day in Cao Bang went off without a hitch, and the local forestry department officers couldn’t have been more helpful or kind. The second day, I was interviewing an older couple in their ramshackle home about a more efficient stove they had received with assistance from FFI.Suddenly, two border police officers barged in without warning.They demanded to know what we were discussing and why I had a camera. An extended conversation ensued between the border officers and my guides, who kept telling me not to worry, but as the discussion went on I became more nervous.If these border guards decided that they didn’t want me there, I would’ve been at their mercy, even though I had received prior approval to be in the area. In the end they simply left. In hindsight the whole encounter was almost comical: two officials on a power trip demanding to know why we were talking about a stove.As if it were some sort of state secret.The most frustrating reporting trip I’ve taken for Mongabay was the most recent, when I went to a small town south of Hanoi called Van Diem. I went there to look into a very reliable tip about an uptick in the import of illegal African timber, much of which is processed for the domestic furniture industry in Van Diem.Huge logs of imported African timber sit on the side of a road in Van Diem, Vietnam. Photo by Michael Tatarski/MongabayIt’s a sensitive issue, so I wasn’t expecting the trip to be a breeze, but I hadn’t foreseen just how ridiculous things would get in the end. Last year, the reporting for a story I did about another wood processing town near Hanoi called Dong Ky went so well that I felt confident this time around.Eyes everywhereI drove down to the town with a Hanoi-based analyst from Forest Trends. That morning, the analyst had called the head of Van Diem, who had promised to show us around and introduce us to timber traders and workshop owners.I was stressed by this, as I prefer to minimize interactions with official oversight, especially when in the field. People on the ground are already often hesitant to talk to a foreign reporter, and with a local leader around there was little chance anyone would be forthcoming. However, I didn’t have a choice.We arrived in Van Diem and repeatedly tried to call the town head, but he didn’t answer. We walked around and talked to some people, but even without a government presence they still weren’t very helpful.An entrance to Hang En the third-largest cave in the world, located in Phong Nha-Ka Bang National Park. Photo by Michael Tatarski/Mongabay.Most professed ignorance regarding where the wood was coming from, or where it was going once they finished working on it. Vietnam does import timber from a number of East African nations – mainly rosewood.Rosewood use and export/import is highly restricted under CITES protections. Yet, the EIA recently released a report on African timber moving into China, some of which also makes its way to Vietnam. It’s described by the EIA as “the world’s most valuable form of wildlife crime.”My tipster told me that Van Diem is one of two towns in the north that work exclusively with African timber.So there I was in Van Diem. Lunchtime arrived, which is when government offices shut down for a full 90 minutes, so we whiled away the time at a simple café on the side of the road. Then we tried the local leader again and this time he answered.However, he was drunk, and had no memory of who we were or why we would be calling him. It was a Saturday, and we learned there were numerous weddings taking place around town. But we were still dumbfounded.A wood workshop in Dong Ky, a town east of Hanoi which processes timber for the domestic and Chinese furniture markets.Photo by Michael Tatarski/Mongabay.We had run out of options for communication, so we simply drove back to Hanoi. As with my experience with the border police in Cao Bang, this interaction would have been quite funny, except for the fact that I had gone all that way for almost nothing. I had spent money and wasted valuable time, which could have been dedicated to other freelance jobs or my work in Ho Chi Minh City.The road aheadGiven some of my experiences, it would be relatively easy for me to decide to stop covering the environment in Vietnam. Every week there is another depressing story in the national news about a beautiful area being trashed in the name of development.So, what is the point?I’m still determined to do my small part by bringing stories, both positive and worrying, to readers. If I can get the attention of someone who can make an important change, then I’ll consider my job done well.Given the prison sentences handed down to Vietnamese journalists and bloggers striving to raise awareness of what is happening to the country’s environment, it is the least I can do.Banner image: A farmer feeds elephant grass to his horses in Cao Bang Province, planted so farmers don’t send their livestock to graze inside a nearby protected forest. Photo by Michael Tatarski/Mongabay.Michael Tatarski is a freelance journalist based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He has covered travel, society, culture, tech and the environment for a variety of publications. Find him on Twitter @miketatarski.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Cerrado: can the empire of soy coexist with savannah conservation?

first_imgCattle, Cattle Ranching, Deforestation, Drivers Of Deforestation, Dry Forests, Grasslands, Industrial Agriculture, Land Use Change, Savannas, Tropical Deforestation With new deforestation due to soy production markedly reduced in recent years by Brazilian laws and by the 2006 Amazon Soy Moratorium, agribusiness, transnational commodities companies like Bunge and Cargill, and investors have shifted their attention to the Cerrado, savannah.Four Cerrado states, Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí and Bahia, known collectively as Matopiba, are seeing a rapid reduction in native vegetation as soy, cotton, corn and cattle production rises. Over half of the Cerrado’s 2 million square kilometers has already been converted to croplands, with large-scale agribusiness owning most land.One reason for the focus on the Cerrado: Brazil’s Forest Code requires that inside Legal Amazonia 80 percent of forests on privately held lands be conserved as Legal Reserves. But in a large portion of the Cerrado, property owners are only required to protect 20 to 35 percent of native vegetation.With little help coming currently from government, conservationists are responding with creative approaches for protection – developing partnerships with local communities, seeking signers for the Cerrado Manifesto to curb new deforestation due to soy, and restoring degraded lands to market the Cerrado’s unique fruits and other produce. Driving deep into the Cerrado, Bahia state, Brazil. Photo by Alicia PragerThis is the second of six stories in a series by journalists Alicia Prager and Flávia Milhorance who travelled to the Cerrado in February for Mongabay to assess the impacts of agribusiness on the region’s environment and people.Soybeans, corn, cotton – seemingly never-ending crops – stretch to the horizon, interrupted often by patches of native vegetation. That’s all there is to see, other than agribusiness signs and big trucks laden with produce as we tool along the arrow-straight asphalt of BR-020 on our 600-kilometer (372 miles) drive northeast from Brasília to Barreiras in Bahia state.That’s the same direction in which Brazil’s agribusiness is expanding as it marches farther and farther, deeper and deeper, into the Cerrado savannah.Over the past half-century technology investment, government subsidies, and cheap, available land have helped Brazil achieve one of the highest agricultural productivity rates in the world. From the 1970s onward, agribusiness grew exponentially in Central and South Brazil. More recently, the commodity sector hotspot has shifted northward into mostly unexploited territory – with predictable deforestation impacts.“It is estimated that the [greatest agricultural] land expansion occurs in areas with great productive potential, such as those of the Cerrado in the region known as Matopiba,” reads a recent Ministry of Agriculture report highlighting optimistic ten-year projections for the country’s agribusiness sector: “Despite its infrastructure shortcomings, [Matopiba] land prices are attractive, the [mild] climate corresponds to that of the Cerrado, and the [topographical] relief is favorable [for industrial cultivation],” says a glowing description in the report.Cerrado soy feeds a booming global soy protein market. Photo by Flávia MilhoranceInside the Matopiba soy empireMatopiba is an acronym for Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí and Bahia states. It isn’t a familiar place name to most Brazilians, but is well known to large-scale farmers, as it refers succinctly to the nation’s latest agricultural frontier.In Matopiba, the soybean – due to its inexhaustible global market demand – stands head-and-shoulders above every other crop in importance. Soy experienced an astounding increase of 15 percent in occupied farmland in Matopiba between 2016/2017, with soy acreage likely to top 8.4 million hectares (32,432 square miles) by 2026/2027, says the ministry report.Crop monoculture, hampered by environmental laws in the Amazon, has been expanding rapidly into the Cerrado, the biodiversity-rich Brazilian tropical savannah which once covered two million square kilometres (772,204 square miles), an area bigger than Great Britain, France and Germany combined.More than half of the Cerrado’s native vegetation has been lost already to soy, corn, cotton and cattle, and the pace of deforestation here is far faster than in the Amazon today.The Cerrado biome, east and south of the Amazon, is largely made up of flat plateaus, ideal for the heavy machinery used in industrial agribusiness. Photo by Flávia MilhoranceCroplands make heavy demands on Cerrado water. Pictured here is a large-scale irrigation system. Conservationists are concerned about the draining of aquifers due to rapid agribusiness expansion. Photo by Flávia MilhoranceData that we compiled exclusively from Brazil’s Environment Ministry reveals that 65 percent of the Cerrado’s forest loss between 2013 and 2015 occurred inside Matopiba’s four states. Agribusiness-dominated Matopiba municipalities named in the government’s report are top deforestors. They includes Balsas, in Maranhão; Uruçuí and Baixa Grande do Ribeiro, in Piauí; and Formosa do Rio Preto, São Desidério, Correntina and Barreiras, in Bahia. Those localities account for 1,500 square kilometers (nearly 10 percent) of the 17,000 square kilometers deforested in the Cerrado over the 2013-15 period.During our February trip there, we drove more than 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles), exploring those Western Bahia municipalities and observing that the protection of the Cerrado’s environment and wellbeing of its people sometimes seems to stand at odds with the interests of the agribusiness sector. We witnessed ongoing deforestation, land conflicts and negative impacts on water resources, all which we will report about in upcoming stories in this series.The big question to be investigated here: can the Cerrado’s rapid ongoing growth in agricultural productivity coexist alongside the biome’s need for conservation?A gate and lane leading into a Cerrado farm. The region is predominantly occupied by large scale farms, but includes small scale farms as well. Photo by Flávia MilhoranceBrazil’s economic strength built on agribusiness Agribusiness accounted for 23 percent of Brazil’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 44 percent of exports in 2017. And while the country is still in the grip of an ongoing economic crisis, the small recovery the nation has celebrated – a 1 percent increase in GDP last year – is largely credited to the agribusiness boom.The huge boost that the sector provides annually to the Brazilian economy has also allowed it to gain tremendous political clout in the National Congress and the Executive branch, Today, the bancada ruralista, the agribusiness lobby, includes around 200 (40 percent) of congressional deputies. The ruralists have worked consistently to weaken environmental policies and laws.“Their influence is so strong, nothing can be done without their consent in Congress,” says Tiago Reis from the NGO Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM).In Matopiba specifically, the conversion of native vegetation to farmland started slowly, as early as the 1980s, but intensified in the 2000s. Agronomist Deosdete Santiago arrived in Barreiras almost forty years ago, and witnessed the early land rush in Western Bahia. He was brought there by a government project job but soon was “seduced,” he says, by the lure of agribusiness.For years, he sold Monsanto pesticides and witnessed a dramatic growth in the size of farms. “I used to work with small farmers, but today I see the region taking the course of Mato Grosso state, Brazil’s greater agribusiness producer,” Santiago explains. Matopiba’s expansion was driven by large-scale, often absentee landowners. Today, just ten Matopiba firms control an area of one million hectares (3,861 square miles) of farmland. Also, many small producers are tied to larger ones via financing and the selling of their crops, writes economist Julliana Ramos Santiago, whose Masters thesis documented agribusiness expansion in Western Bahia.The Cerrado, the second largest biome in Brazil after the Amazon, possesses perfect soils and climate for growing soy, cotton and corn. However, these crops are fed by chemical fertilizers and protected by chemical pesticides, which can pollute rivers and aquifers. Photo by Flávia MilhoranceForest losses in the Cerrado biome, 2000 to 2014. Please click the map for the interactive version. Credit: Willie Shubert  / Map for EnvironmentThe state’s support for the industry in the Cerrado has been intermittent over the years. But in 2015, the Ministry of Agriculture launched a plan to address the lack of infrastructure there and give a boost to farming. Katia Abreu, a politician and cattle breeder from Tocantins state, (as well as the agriculture minister under the Rousseff administration at the time), was put in charge of the infrastructure project. Abreu spread the word to international investors that the Cerrado was open for agricultural expansion.But Rousseff’s impeachment in 2016 changed regional priorities. When Michel Temer took over as president, he extinguished the Matopiba infrastructure program and appointed a new agriculture minister, Blairo Maggi, a politician and large-scale soy grower from Mato Grosso state. Maggi quickly shifted the new administration’s attention to his home state, and sought an increase of investments there. During our travels, we saw partially built railroad and thermoelectric government projects abandoned in São Desidério, Bahia. The Ministry of Agriculture was contacted by Mongabay about this issue, and about the challenges in Matopiba in general, but it didn’t reply to questions.Despite Brasília’s pivot away from the Matopiba region, the expansion northward spurred by Agriculture Minister Abreu has continued, driven by the agribusiness elite, investors, and transnational commodities companies.Farmland investors have rushed to buy land in Matopiba, where soybean production alone has grown by 250 percent in the last decade. And Congress has taken notice: a law currently being reviewed by the legislature (279/16) could give the sector a boost. If approved, it would create the Matopiba Agency, with the goal of strengthening the region’s agribusiness position.A small farm close to Correntina, Bahia state. While soy is king in the Cerrado, cattle ranching also plays a significant role. Photo by Alicia PragerCerrado’s weak protections, growing weaker The bancada ruralista, operating from a position of power in the Congress and within the Temer administration, currently is winning in its effort to boost agribusiness profits while reducing environmental protections, according to conservationists questioned on the matter.The most recent of those battles was won in the courts this year, when the constitutionality of the New Forest Code, legislated in 2012 with the help of the bancada ruralista, was upheld by Brazil’s Supreme Court. The 2012 code, far weaker than the original 1965 forest code, requires that 80 percent of forests on privately held lands be conserved as Legal Reserves, inside Legal Amazonia. However, in a large portion of the Cerrado, property owners are only required to protect 20-35 percent of native vegetation on their lands. This lower ratio of protected-to-cultivated land is a huge reason why the Cerrado has been drawing so much agribusiness attention since 2012.“It is dramatic what is happening,” says Edegar de Oliveira, coordinator of the agriculture and food program at WWF-Brazil, an NGO. “The Cerrado is not being protected by conservation parks nor by the Forest Code.”While environmentalists lament the weak legal protections given the Cerrado, agronomist Fernando Sampaio complains of the law’s stringency. He believes that the New Forest Code represents “one of the most strict conservationists’ laws on the planet” because environmental laws in other nations do not force landowners to set aside portions of their priavate property as Legal Reserves for the preservation of native vegetation, as Brazil does.“Imagine telling a Texan or Australian farmer he can’t use 20, 50 or 80 percent of [his or her] private land! This is unthinkable,” says Sampaio, who is executive-director of the Mato Grosso state project, “Strategy of Producing, Conserving and Embracing.”“The problem,” says Sampaio, is that Brazil is putting “on the shoulders of one part of society, the farmers, all the cost for [protecting] the climate, water and biodiversity, [responsibilities] which belong to everyone.”Sampaio suggests that instead the government should give compensation to farmers who don’t deforest lands which they could legally otherwise convert to crops. He also urges that the government create new protected areas with available but unused public land. Currently, a mere 7.5 percent of the Cerrado has officially been conserved, while nearly 50 percent of the Amazon is under some form of protection, either as government administered conservation units or as indigenous preserves.Importantly, illegal deforestation in both the Amazon and Cerrado remain a very serious problem, a crisis made worse by waning enforcement efforts due to deep budget cuts at IBAMA, and other Brazilian agencies charged with forest protection.A forested area surrounded by pasture and cropland. Most Cerrado property owners are required to protect 20-35 percent of native vegetation on their lands. While some environmentalists would like to see that percentage increased, farmers point out that the U.S. and other countries do not have similarly restrictive laws regulating private property use. Photo by Alicia PragerSaving Matopiba’s natural landscapeAs the agriculture frontier expands, and legal protections remain weak, a host of international, national and regional environmental NGOs have stepped up to try and protect the Cerrado. One strategy is to establish close relationships with local players in order to better surveil and safeguard the forest landscape.Edegar de Oliveira travelled with a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) expedition to Matopiba last year, which resulted in a WWF-Brazil report containing recommendations for responsible investments by companies producing or acquiring commodities. Oliveira believes that, properly encouraged, there is a possibility of achieving the dual goals of Cerrado agribusiness and conservationists, but only through careful attention. The WWF expedition witnessed some environmentally responsible soy producers, he says, but also some “very traumatic ones.”Researchers say that Brazil’s agricultural productivity could easily be increased, while at the same time conserving the Cerrado and not expanding deforestation. For example, cattle sector productivity in the Matopiba region is very low, according to a report by the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. An increase in cattle farm productivity could allow unused pasture to be converted to soy. Agribusiness could also generate more growth by avoiding new deforestation and utilizing already degraded lands for soy, corn, cotton and other crops.“The pieces of the puzzle are already on the table,” says Bernardo Strassburg, founder of the International Institute for Sustainability in Rio de Janeiro. Key policies just need to be enforced and readjusted here and there, he urges.Among suggested changes are better enforcement of the New Forest Code, as well as an expansion of the already successful Amazon Soy Moratorium (ASM) to the Cerrado. The ASM, achieved in 2006 via a coalition of environmental groups and commodities companies, has been a key factor in reducing deforestation due to new Amazon soy farms. The Cerrado Manifesto, a similar voluntary agreement, was recently proposed, but it has so far received support mostly from international food retailers and fast food chains. Critically, to date it has failed to gain backing from the big transnational commodities companies such as Bunge or Cargill.Environmentalists like Strassburg and de Oliveira say that there are numerous other policies on the table, whose implementation will be crucial to save the savannah biome.While in the Cerrado, we reached out to the Association of Farmers and Irrigators of Bahia (AIBA), based in Barreiras and representing 1,300 producers in the region. AIBA didn’t receive us, nor did they reply to our emailed questions.Already degraded Cerrado lands could offer an opportunity for agribusiness expansion without causing further deforestation. Photo by Alicia PragerHome grown Cerrado solutionsDeosdete Santiago told us that he gave up his work with Monsanto in the 1990s, after he realized that the sale of agribusiness pesticides, used in very large amounts on soy, was a “heavy game” and a “harming dazzle” that was “full of contradictions.”“I decided to change to simpler things,” Santiago explains. We met him at his family-owned business, a farming tool store in Barreiras. He was most eager to show us a small cafe and food market tucked in one corner of his store. There he serves food produced by traditional communities and made from the Cerrado’s native plants – more than 10,000 species grow there, including fruits and other produce known nowhere else in the world. Santiago thinks these foods could be cultivated instead of so much soy. The native foods cafe is part of Santiago’s latest endeavor, what he calls, the Mundo Lindo (Beautiful World) Foundation.But building public awareness of the savannah’s natural worth is a slow process, he says. “We try hard, but probably you won’t see anybody coming in here today.” A main goal of Santiago’s foundation is to restore deforested areas surrounding the Cerrado’s natural springs. Water, he explains, is one of the region’s most valuable resources, and one in great danger of harm from agribusiness. “The math of economic growth cannot disregard this liability, which is only increasing through the years.”FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.Deosdete Santiago operates a cafe and food shop that sells sustainably grown regional products. He thinks that if farmers actively grew and marketed the Cerrado’s native fruits and produce, they could diversify their agricultural production, which would help protect both the local economy and the environment. Photo by Alicia Prager Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Article published by Glenn Schererlast_img read more

Keeping carbon in the ground can cut emissions and boost food security, study finds

first_imgAgriculture, Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Emissions, Carbon Sequestration, Climate Change, Environment, food security, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Interns, Land Use Change, Research, Soil Carbon Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Maria Salazarcenter_img A new paper finds that a carbon tax meant to shift agricultural policies could raise food prices and threaten food security.However, improvements in storing carbon in the world’s soils could lessen the potential for worsening food security.The researchers suggest a globally coordinated effort on climate-friendly agriculture and land use would likely result in the best outcome for all. A new study in Environmental Research Letters shows that applying a theoretic carbon tax — one aimed at stimulating changes to farming and land-use practices that minimize emissions —could have a major impact on food security, resulting in as many as 300 million more people suffering food deprivation. But add soil carbon-friendly farming into the mix, and you could limit the impact on food security and reduce calorie loss by 65 percent while at the same time sequestering more carbon in the ground.“Soil carbon sequestration can help to address climate change, and because it also helps to increase productivity, can also help to address food security,” said study co-author Peter Smith, an expert in soils and climate change from Aberdeen University in the U.K. Agriculture is responsible for 10 to 12 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Given the growing global population, experts expect agricultural emissions to continue to rise.Not all farming practices contribute to emissions equally, however. In fact, there is a growing awareness of farming techniques that remove carbon from the atmosphere, a process known as carbon sequestration, storing it in plant material and soils.Locking carbon on the farmDuring photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide. As they grow, the carbon is stored in their stems, leaves and roots. Once the plant dies or its leaves drop, soil microbes break down the material they leave behind. Some carbon is then re-released into the atmosphere, but a percentage can become stabilized and locked in the soil.Scientists have found that certain farming practices can increase the amount of carbon sequestered in the soil. These include zero tillage, in which the soil isn’t disturbed by being cultivated or turned over; crop rotation, or growing different types of crops over several seasons on the same land; and cover cropping, where certain plants are grown primarily to benefit the soil rather than as a crop. As an added bonus, these practices that increase carbon sequestration often reduce soil erosion and help to retain important nutrients in the soil. The result is healthier soil and increased yields. A Colombian cornfield. Agricultural practises such as crop rotation, over cropping and zero tillage can minimize carbon loss and increase soil carbon sequestration. Photo credit: Rhett ButlerIt was these potential “win-win” benefits that led a team of researchers headed by Stefan Frank, from the Austria-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), to model the potential benefits of implementing carbon-sequestering farming practices. Using the Global Biosphere Management Model (GLOBIOM) developed by IIASA, the team found that storing carbon in soil could play an important role in reducing agricultural emissions. Combining a widespread change to carbon-sequestering farming practices with a carbon tax, GLOBIOM predicted a potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture of 11.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. That’s 44 percent higher than the 7.9 gigatons achievable with only a carbon tax. That difference of 3.5 gigatons of CO2e would be roughly the same as taking just over half the world’s cars, 583 million, off the roads. There are caveats to the findings, though. Like any model, the accuracy of GLOBIOM’s output is ultimately determined by the assumptions underpinning it. As the study’s authors note, the reason predictive models have not previously included soil carbon sequestration is that it’s incredibly complex. One of the key issues is the difficulty in measuring changes in soil carbon. “Across a field … a change in 0.1 percent is a huge amount of carbon either being stored or released, but it’s really difficult to measure that change sensitively and accurately,” said Vanessa Bailey, a soil carbon expert from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in Washington state, who was not involved in the study. There is a great amount of variation in the soil carbon across a field, Bailey said. “If you take a sample in a depression there might be 1.1 percent carbon there just because we’ve had runoff there,” she said. A peat bog being drained in Kalimantan. The lack of oxygen due to wet conditions in peat bogs prevents the peat from breaking down. When peat bogs dry out they start to decompose and large quantities of stored carbon are released to the atmosphere. Photo credit: Rhett ButlerThe soil carbon cycle is also a two-way street. Under certain conditions, such as when peat is exposed and allowed to dry out, the soil becomes a major emitter of carbon. Another issue is that soil can only capture so much carbon before it becomes saturated, a point known as soil carbon equilibrium.This means that soil carbon sequestration may not be a long-term solution, but, according to Smith, could contribute “to a medium term solution while we fully decarbonise all sectors.”Research has so far mainly focused on how to stabilize carbon in soil, but there is still a lot to learn about what destabilizes carbon in soil. “We don’t have a good way of assessing how long this new carbon … persists in soils,” Bailey said. “That’s the other side of the coin we don’t understand.”Because soil carbon sequestration is such a complex subject, scientists continue to debate exactly how much carbon could be stored in soils. Certainly no one believes soil carbon sequestration can mitigate all manmade emissions. Soil could potentially sequester 1.5 gigatons to 2.6 gigatons CO2e per year — about 5 percent of manmade greenhouse gas emissions, Smith said. David Powlson, a leading soil scientist at Rothamsted Research in the U.K., who wasn’t involved in the study, was more cautious. “I am concerned that many colleagues seem over optimistic about the amount of carbon that can be locked up this way,” he said.In a recent study, Powlson evaluated the potential of the French government’s “4 per 1,000” initiative to increase global soil carbon stocks by 0.4 percent per year. Based on his research, Powlson said he believed agricultural practices that increase carbon sequestration “are limited by practical and economic factors.” “[M]any ‘good practices’ are already being applied in many places, so scope for [expanding carbon-sequestering farming practices] is further limited,” he said.Deforestation in Belize for cattle ranching. Land use change is one of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Photo credit: Rhett ButlerThe food security wrenchAnother important area that the team was keen to investigate was the impact on food security of tax measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Land-use change and agriculture, as major emitters, have long been the focus of much mitigation research. However, with the global population expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, scientists are faced with the difficult proposition of simultaneously reducing emissions even as the human population looks to continue growing. A carbon tax would theoretically increase the cost of farming practices that produce high greenhouse gas emissions. This cost would then be passed on to consumers as higher food prices. As prices rise, producers and consumers will, in theory, alter their behavior and switch to products and practices with lower greenhouse gas emissions because they are cheaper. At first glance this would seem like an ideal solution. But the GLOBIOM model highlights an important problem: If global warming is to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, the aspirational target set in the Paris Agreement, then major changes will be required from the agriculture and land-use sector. Potential changes range from technical solutions such as the use of anaerobic digesters (which break down waste to produce fuel) to broader structural solutions, such as shifting production across regions. According to Frank’s predictions, a carbon tax sufficient to stimulate this change in behavior would increase the cost of food so much that, theoretically, every person would consume on average 285 kilocalories less per day. GLOBIOM predicts that over the next 20 years, economic development will reduce chronic undernourishment from its current level of 850 million to 200 million. However, with a carbon tax in place, the higher cost of food could reverse some of that progress, resulting in an additional 300 million people unable to meet their calorie requirements.GLOBIOM’s predictions suggest that sequestering more carbon in soils could reduce the carbon tax required, cutting calorie loss by 65 percent while still hitting the 1.5-degree target.It’s important to note, however, that when predicting scenarios without a carbon tax, GLOBIOM does not model the impact of climate change on food security. As Smith says, the food security consequences if we do not act on climate change will certainly be far worse than if we do.“Massive losses of productivity for crops and livestock, mostly in countries already at risk of food insecurity,” he said, “so there is no option to just let it happen.” Unequal risk, unequal rewardsAs is so often the case with climate change, the impacts would be far from evenly distributed. For those in developed countries, where food costs a relatively small percentage of income, a hypothetical rise in price is not likely to greatly affect consumption. In the developing world, where food can cost a large proportion of people’s income, a rise in food costs could prove devastating. There is also a major imbalance in the mitigation potential available to different countries depending on the type of agriculture and how much standing forest remains. In land-rich countries like Brazil, where a large proportion of emissions stem from converting rainforest to cropland or for grazing, targets can be met by limiting deforestation and forest degradation with little impact on food cost. “Reducing emissions from land use change is a very cost-efficient and important strategy,” Frank said. However, in densely populated countries like India, most agricultural emissions come from food production. The carbon tax required to stimulate agricultural change could have a major impact on the cost of food there. With such stark regional differences, the authors emphasize the importance of a globally coordinated strategy. The GLOBIOM model predicts that any scenario without full global buy-in would result in a worse impact to food security than a globally coordinated approach. For Frank, the show of global support for the Paris Agreement offers a glimmer of hope.“Personally I hope that the momentum of the Paris Agreement will be maintained and even further strengthen[ed] so that we can achieve this tremendous challenge,” he said.Cattle ranching in Colombia. Livestock production produces a large quantity of greenhouse gas emissions. The methane produced by cows is 30 times more heat trapping than carbon dioxide. Photo credit: Rhett ButlerNo simple answersPromoting farming practices that help store carbon in the soil could help offset the side effects of carbon tax policies, but more must be done to tackle climate change on a wider scale, Smith said. “It’s not a climate solution in itself — but makes a valuable contribution toward addressing climate change,” he said.“We really have to balance sequestration with mitigation with adaption to new conditions,” Bailey added. “That’s the three legs of a stool we all have to be aware of.” For Powlson, changes in human consumption patterns and behavior are also key. “It’s almost certainly necessary that we reduce food consumption and eat less meat,” he said. Although the exact findings of any model can be open to debate, this study emphasizes the important relationship between soil carbon, food security and tackling climate change.“There are no magic bullets,” Smith said. “It will be tough, but it has to be done.” References:Frank, S., Havlík, P., Soussana, J. F., Levesque, A., Valin, H., Wollenberg, E., … & Smith, P. (2017). Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture without compromising food security?. Environmental Research Letters, 12(10), 105004.Poulton, P., Johnston, J., MacDonald, A., White, R., & Powlson, D. Major limitations to achieving “4 per 1000 ″increases in soil organic carbon stock in temperate regions: evidence from long‐term experiments at Rothamsted Research, UK. Global Change Biology.last_img read more

Amazon Web Services, WikiLeaks and the Elephant in the Room

first_imgTags:#cloud#Vendors A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… klint finley Related Posts Yesterday Amazon Web Services sent out a promotional email titled “Amazon Web Services Year in Review.” Understandably, the email didn’t mention one of the biggest AWS stories of the year: the company’s decision to remove the WikiLeaks website from its servers.Dave Winer noticed something else of note in the email: a paragraph about how the U.S. Federal Government is one of AWS’s customers, with over 20 federal agencies taking advantage of the company’s services. And, according to the announcement, that number is growing. Winer suggests this is the reason that Amazon.com closed WikiLeaks’ account. “It makes perfect sense that the US government is a big customer of Amazon’s web services. It also makes perfect sense that Amazon wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that business,” Winer wrote. “There might not have even been a phone call, it might not have been necessary.”Winer also noted that after the U.S. Army announced it would be purchasing iPhone or Android devices for all its troops, Apple dropped a WikiLeaks app from the App Store.Winer’s explanation is purely speculative, and some might call it a conspiracy theory. But it points to a big issue for free speech in the cloud: what happens if one, smaller customer criticizes a bigger customer? In the Web 1.0 era, if you got kicked off a Web host you just found another. Today, the number of providers like AWS are small. As AWS’s promotion material points out, cloud computing gives smaller outfits the ability to take advantage of high-performance computing.Put WikiLeaks aside for a moment. What happens if a small journalistic outfit starts using a cloud provider to do some serious data journalism, but in the process offends one of its hosts’ large customers. Maybe they’re right-wing journalists criticizing the Obama administration or maybe it’s a group of liberal muckrakers uncovering hidden truths about a major financial institution. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that they have access to the resources they need to learn what they need to learn and publish what they need to publish.And it’s not just a free speech issue: freedom of commerce could be in jeopardy as well. What happens if a small company wants to compete with Netflix? Will AWS find a “terms of service” violation to slap it with? Considering the rumors that Amazon.com is considering competing with Netflix itself, this could become a problem quickly.I’ve focused on AWS in this article, but these concerns apply to any provider. Practically all of the “2011 cloud computing predictions” type articles I’ve read this year mention consolidation as a major trend for 2011. If everyone’s right, we’ll likely see fewer Infrastructure-as-a-Service companies in the next few years. Are data centers becoming the new “means of production”?Like net neutrality, it’s a problem that seems difficult to solve without legislation. But I’m all ears: how else could this issue be solved, or is it really an issue at all?center_img Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Manipur’s women march, urge an end to mob ‘justice’

first_imgFor many nights over the past month, Manipur has been witnessing torch light processions in the valley districts, with the mostly women marchers demanding among other things an end to mob violence directed at those accused of crimes. Over the last few years, at least three persons in Manipur, and two in neighbouring Nagaland, have been victims of mob lynchings. The apprehension of local mobs rendering vigilante justice has even forced the police to spirit away a woman and a man from Manipur. The duo, who are accused of killing a police inspector in order to steal his vehicle, have been placed in the custody of the police in Nagaland, at an undisclosed location, while they await trial. Pishakmacha, a middle-aged woman activist said, “We demand an end to mob crime in this State.” Renubala, a young housewife from Thoubal district who is also participating in the marches said, “A man is not guilty unless a court says so. The government should prevent such mob trials and the beating to death of people. The family members of the accused persons also end up being banished from the locality for ever.” ‘Missing’ wife Chaoba Laishram’s case is an example of the extent to which mob justice has hurt the lives of common people in Manipur. In 2010, when he was 25 years old, he married Naobi Konthoujam in Thoubal district. However, after just eight months she was reported “missing” on April 18, 2011. Accusing Chaoba of murdering Naobi and clandestinely disposing of her body, Naobi’s parents, relatives and other local residents decided to take the law into their own hands. Ignoring Chaoba’s protests of innocence, the mob ransacked and pulled down his tin-roofed house and banished him and his parents from the village, a common form of mob punishment given to those accused of murder in Manipur. On September 21, 2011, a highly decomposed body of a young girl was found by the Bishnupur district police at Ithai barrage. Kunjarani Konthoujam, the ‘missing’ Naobi’s mother, promptly “identified” the body as that of her daughter.The angry villagers brought the mortal remains to the ransacked remnant of Chaoba’s house, piled up wood from the demolished structure and cremated the body in the courtyard.And the following month, a local court remanded Chaoba and his parents to judicial custody.Police, however, subsequently learned that Naobi’s mother had been frequently visiting a house in Thoubal district’s Tekcham belonging to one Sanayai, who it was discovered had secretly married Naobi. Police also found Kunjarani often providing care for an infant. Interrogation established that the baby was the child of her “missing daughter” Naobi and that from the very beginning Kunjarani knew that her daughter was not missing but had been living in Ukhrul district with her new husband.Police arrested Naobi, her mother Kunjarani and the new husband and Chaoba was subsequently acquitted by the court.However, Chaoba’s house had already been destroyed. Importantly, the possible homicide of the unidentified woman who had been cremated was never investigated.On September 19, Manipur’s cabinet decided to introduce ‘The Manipur Mob Violence Control and Prohibition Bill, 2018’ in the Assembly. Chief Minister N. Biren has said that mob violence will never be tolerated or condoned. He disclosed that five persons had been arrested and some policemen suspended in connection with the lynching of Farooque Ahmed Khan, an MBA student, at Tharoijam in Imphal west district on September 13.While villagers claimed that three persons had come in a car to steal two wheelers and that two people had managed to escape, activists demanding justice for Khan said that had been no car and that the victim had likely gone to the village to meet a friend there. Jogeshchandra Haobijam, Imphal west district SP said: “Nothing much can be disclosed since the matter is under investigation”.People recall that on May 3, 1993, a riot had been triggered by a rumour resulting in the loss of 103 innocent lives including those of women and children. The protest marches, according to the participants, are aimed at preventing such rumour-mongering and the recurrence of mob violence. Shymasakhi, a housewife from Bishnupur district, pointed out that in many instances the police “fails to protect the accused persons.” ‘Contempt of court’A. Romenkumar, a retired IPS officer who is now a high court lawyer, told The Hindu that mob violence had reached even into court precincts. He referred to increasing incidents of persons accused of rape or murder and other heinous crimes being thrashed in the court premises, acts which he said amounted to contempt of court.“Adequate security measures should be taken so that the potential trouble makers are not allowed inside the court compound,” he added.Chief Minister N. Biren, who also holds the Home portfolio, had recently said that the State government had set up a fast track court keeping in mind “the gravity of the issue.” The aim was to ensure that persons accused of rape-cum-murder were convicted within a few months. He cited the case of a tribal youth in Manipur’s Senapati district, who had been convicted in July for raping and murdering a young girl and sentenced to death.last_img read more