Europe’s overloaded land is driving forest destruction and climate breakdown | EURACTIV.com


Europe’s hunger for land is driving deforestation around the world, and makes the EU complicit in the Amazon fires. To save the Amazon and fight climate breakdown, EU farming policy has to change, writes Marco Contiero.

People around the world have been shocked by the images of pristine Amazon rainforest in flames, and the dire warnings from scientists of the severe consequences that this destruction has – for local biodiversity, Indigenous Peoples and the global climate.

All over the world, young people are taking to the streets, asking for immediate political action to avoid the worst effects of climate breakdown. Many are demanding protection for the world’s forests, our best line of defense against climate chaos, and are asking our society to stop gorging itself on meat and dairy.

Because they know: these fires and their impacts are not natural disasters, they are very much man-made – forests in South America are purposefully cleared to make way for cattle farms, or to grow animal feed.

More shockingly perhaps, although others poured the petrol and lit the matches, Europe shares the responsibility for these forest fires.

Source: Europe’s overloaded land is driving forest destruction and climate breakdown – EURACTIV.com

Five Roles Robots Will Play in the Future of Farming | Smithsonian

“The future of farming is becoming more sophisticated,” says Peter Liebhold, a curator in the Division of Work and Industry at the Smithsonian’s National Museum for American History. “The notion of farmers wearing denim overalls with a straw in their mouth is dead.”

It might not seem immediately intuitive, given the Old McDonald stereotypes people grow up with, but one major area of tech that stands to be highly influential in bringing precision farming to life is robotics.

Source: Five Roles Robots Will Play in the Future of Farming | Innovation | Smithsonian

Latest IPCC report: The ocean is in more danger than we thought


Each year, as humans emit billions of metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, nearly a third of the emissions ends up in the ocean, changing the chemical balance of the water.

And as the climate changes, the ocean is also absorbing almost all of the Earth’s extra heat, melting ice that creates sea level rise, making the water uninhabitable for marine life, and changing the planet’s weather patterns.

A new report from the IPCC, the UN panel that studies climate change, lays out exactly what’s at stake for the ocean as a result—and for humans, all of whom rely on the ocean either directly or indirectly.

“What comes out of this report is that it’s going to hit us in so many ways,” says Mark Spalding, senior marine scientist for The Nature Conservancy, one of the organizations that contributed to the report.

The litany of potential disasters from a changing ocean is horrifying: As the warming water melts ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, the sea level rises each year, putting hundreds of millions of people who live in low-lying coastal areas at risk of flooding.

A warmer ocean supercharges hurricanes.

Marine heatwaves can boost toxic algae and close fisheries.

As the water absorbs CO2, it becomes more acidic, posing another threat to coral reefs.

And all these impacts can exacerbate each other—coral reefs, for example, “play the role of a sea wall,” says Spalding. “They sit offshore like a barrier and they break waves before the waves get to land.” As storms get stronger, this natural protection is being lost at the same time.

Source: Latest IPCC report: The ocean is in more danger than we thought

The challenging politics of climate change


As the climate crisis becomes more serious and more obvious, Americans remain resistant to decisive and comprehensive action on climate change.

In “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming,” David Wallace-Wells paints a frightening picture of the coming environmental apocalypse. Whole parts of the globe will become too hot for human habitation and those left behind will die of heat. Diseases will increase and mutate.

Food shortages will become chronic as we fail to move agriculture from one climate to another. Whole countries like Bangladesh and parts of other countries like Miami will be underwater.

Shortages of fresh water will affect humans and agriculture. The oceans will die, the air will get dirtier.

“But,” as Wallace-Wells argues, “what lies between us and extinction is horrifying enough.”

That’s because, as climate change takes its toll on Earth’s physical planet, it will also cause social, economic, and political chaos as refugees flee areas that can no longer sustain them.

Source: The challenging politics of climate change

Ultimate Guide to Drought Safety | Angie’s List


Almost every region of the United States occasionally experiences drought conditions and the consequences that come along with them. In the short term, the lack of rain can damage crops, stir up dust storms, and dry up small streams. In the long term, reduced rainfall can cause food shortages, deter tourists, and lead to wildfires.

Like with any other weather-related disaster, it is important for individuals and families everywhere to protect themselves and the people they love from drought-related hardships. The water conservation measures put in place in a time of drought may seem like an inconvenience, and it may be tempting to ignore them because they are hard to enforce.

However, these rules are necessary to keep communities healthy and safe.

Source: Ultimate Guide to Drought Safety | Angie’s List

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Trump trade-war aid sows frustration in farm country | Reuters


The U.S. government is paying Texas cotton farmer J. Walt Hagood $145 an acre for losses related to U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade policies. But Minnesota soybean farmer Betsy Jensen will get just $35 an acre.

Both farmers’ sales have taken heavy blows in Trump’s trade war with China. Neither understands why the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is giving Hagood so much more than Jensen – who grows the nation’s most valuable agriculture export crop, of which China had been the biggest buyer.

“I’m grateful,” Hagood, 64, said of the aid. “But honestly, I’m not sure anyone really understands how this is working right now.”

Source: Trump trade-war aid sows frustration in farm country – Reuters

What Happened After a School District Began Feeding Students Breakfast in Classrooms | Route Fifty


District officials decided to experiment with moving breakfast to the classroom, beginning with a pilot program at one elementary school. The measure expanded steadily after that, eventually moving into middle schools, then into high schools—a first for Massachusetts.

Breakfast participation spiked to 80 percent, according to district statistics, and with it came a host of positive changes.

Tardies went down, and the halls cleared more quickly before morning classes. Fewer kids missed breakfast for being late, because the program allowed a 15-minute grace period after the bell rang.

School nurses reported a 71 percent decrease in visits from hungry children.

Source: What Happened After a School District Began Feeding Students Breakfast in Classrooms – Route Fifty

Protein discussion likely to be on next European Commission agenda | EURACTIV.com


Fires that consume the Amazon rainforest are often started by farmers who are attempting to meet the growing demand for soybeans. Now, France wants to convince its European partners of the EU’s potential role as a leader on the plant protein market. EURACTIV France reports.

Fires in the Amazon rainforest have put a spotlight on South American agricultural production practices. The agricultural sector has been accused of deliberately starting fires in the Cerrado, Brazil’s tropical savanna, and then exploiting the land.

The land is then used to produce soya, cotton and even corn, which EU member states are happy to buy because of competitive prices.

The catastrophic environmental consequences have prompted French President  Emmanuel Macron to propose establishing “European ‘sovereignty’ on protein”, as well as to suspend his support of the EU-Mercosur trade agreement.

In its “hooked on meat” report published last June, Greenpeace stated that “Europe is fueling the climate crisis with its soya addiction.”

Source: Protein discussion likely to be on next European Commission agenda – EURACTIV.com

France’s path towards sustainable farming eroded by increased droughts | EURACTIV.com


This year’s intense drought in France has already led to the elimination of fallow fields. It has also created tensions that are not so favorable to the negotiations over the EU’s new Common Agricultural Policy. EURACTIV France reports.

According to France’s main agricultural trade union, FNSEA, 14,000 farms out of 440,000 have filed compensation claims, following the extreme heat and lack of rain that ravaged France during the spring and summer.

These periods of extreme heat and rain have created severe problems for a sector that is already fragile. Crop loss leads to a loss of revenue, especially for the summer crops, such as maize, sugar beet, potatoes and pastures, which have been hit the hardest.

Winter crops, such as wheat, barley and rapeseed, are doing quite well in terms of volumes, but international market prices are relatively low.

Source: France’s path towards sustainable farming eroded by increased droughts – EURACTIV.com

Inside the movement to kick 3.1 million people off food stamps | Vox

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The FGA (Foundation for Government Accountability), a right-leaning think tank based in Naples, Florida, paid travel and lodging expenses for many of the conservative leaders in attendance, including Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and three White House aides.

While the public officials were being pampered in Florida, hundreds of thousands of people on the SNAP rolls in West Virginia were wondering how they would feed their families.

A month after the FGA’s Disney gala, dozens of them gathered in a hallway at the First Presbyterian Church in Charleston, the state capital, to wait in line for their allotment at the food pantry hosted there so they could supplement their SNAP budgets — at most $192 per month for a single person.

Source: Inside the movement to kick 3.1 million people off food stamps – Vox