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keep land for the growing, hungry population - farm upwards!

With more and more people needing housing and feeding, keeping the land for homes and putting crops in skyscapers could make sense.

Most of the constructions shown at this web-site are speculative designs. We do not know whether they will make economic and energy sense.

[Note that the linked web-site is somewhat clumsy with their handling of image files.]

Pyramid vertical farm proposal. Image: http://www.verticalfarm.com/Designs.aspx

Skyscraper farm proposal by Chris Jacobs.  Image: http://www.verticalfarm.com/Designs.aspx“By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth's population will reside in urban centers. Applying the most conservative estimates to current demographic trends, the human population will increase by about 3 billion people during the interim. An estimated 109 hectares of new land (about 20% more land than is represented by the country of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today.”

“Vertical farms, many stories high, will be situated in the heart of the world's urban centers. If successfully implemented, they offer the promise of urban renewal, sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply (year-round crop production), and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming.”

Advantages of Vertical Farming

  • Year-round crop production; 1 indoor acre is equivalent to 4-6 outdoor acres or more, depending upon the crop (e.g., strawberries: 1 indoor acre = 30 outdoor acres)
  • No weather-related crop failures due to droughts, floods, pests
  • All VF food is grown organically: no herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers
  • VF virtually eliminates agricultural runoff by recycling black water
  • VF returns farmland to nature, restoring ecosystem functions and services
  • VF greatly reduces the incidence of many infectious diseases that are acquired at the agricultural interface
  • VF converts black and gray water into potable water by collecting the water of evapotranspiration
  • VF adds energy back to the grid via methane generation from composting non-edible parts of plants and animals
  • VF dramatically reduces fossil fuel use (no tractors, plows, shipping.)

Presentation with a lot of analysis.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0803.php#vertical_farms_290408





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water shortages, and not just in australia

“Australia's water shortage is so severe there's speculation that it could force the shutdown of part of the Snowy Mountains power scheme.

“10 years of drought-caused by climate change?”

There are growing fears that the south-western USA is headed in the same direction and, of course, the Middle East is already way way beyond sustaining its populations without outside help.

related material
pressure on water resources

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0803.php#water_shortages_050408

food price pressures growing

“The shadow of "a new hunger" that has made food too expensive for millions is the result of a sudden and dramatic surge in food prices around the world.

“Rising prices for all the world's crucial cereal crops and growing fears of scarcity are careening through international markets, creating turmoil.

“Last Thursday, as world rice prices soared by as much as 30% in one day, Egypt decided to suspend rice exports for six months to meet domestic demand and to try to limit price increases.

“That was bad news for its main rice customers -- Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

“Egypt's move was matched by Vietnam, the world's second-largest rice exporter after Thailand, which cut exports by 25% and ordered officials not to sign any more export contracts this year.

“India and Cambodia also rushed to curb their exports in order to have enough supplies to feed their own people.” [Quoted from nationalpost.com]

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Food riots:

“THE food crisis is real and will last for a long time. The less we inject politics to it, the less will be our problems coping with the food crisis. The shortage of food is worldwide. Rice, corn, bread, milk, pork, chicken and beef will cost much more than you can ever imagine, assuming they are even available.

“You see will long lines of people buying their staple food. You will see boycotts, riots and governments being overthrown. Food price inflation has reduced considerably people’s purchasing power. In Manila, the rice that could be bought for just P18 a kilo last year is no longer available, unless you pay P30 a kilo, a 66-percent increase.

“West Bengal and Mexico have had food riots. India, Yemen, Burkina Faso and other countries are seeing signs of food riots. Australia ousted its prime minister this year after a ten-year drought that devastated that country’s wheat crop.”

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UN world food programme under pressure:

“To deal with soaring food prices that have caused riots in some countries, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Wednesday that government leaders must act now to help people whose needs are immediate.

“He said the U.N. World Food Program needs at least $500 million (€319 million) in additional food commitments to meet emergency demands and urged the United States, the European Union, Japan and other developed countries "to fill this gap or many more people will suffer and starve."

“In a speech that suggested a "New Deal for Global Food Policy," Zoellick said the new mechanism should focus not only on hunger, malnutrition and access to food and its supply but also on the interconnections with energy, crop yields, climate change and the marginalization of women and others.

“Speaking at the Center for Global Development, a Washington research group, in the run-up to the April 12-13 spring meeting of the World Bank, Zoellick said that as financial markets have tumbled, food prices have soared. Staples such as rice and wheat have shot up 80 percent.”

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Even in the West:

“What's more, the Department of Agriculture predicts food prices will rise another four-to-five-percent this year.

“The USDA says the price of whole milk has increased nearly 19 percent over the last year, cheddar cheese has climbed by 15 percent, and eggs are up a whopping 25 percent.

“Jennifer Strauss, who does the shopping for her family of five, calls the higher prices "kind of scary," saying, "Every time you go to the store, even when you run in for one thing, you spend $50-to-$100 on a few items."

“Some of the biggest jumps have been in wheat products. Over the last year, white bread is up 11 percent and pasta 13 percent.”

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Meanwhile US and EUSSR subsidies for biofuel generate foolish behaviour:

“Created under the 2004 American Jobs Act, the "blenders tax credit" was supposed to boost US production of biodiesel by encouraging US diesel marketers to blend regular petroleum diesel with fuel made from soybeans or other agricultural products. It succeeded, perhaps too well.

“Attracted by the $1-per-gallon subsidy, US diesel-fuel marketers mixed away, setting off a nationwide boom in biodiesel refinery building. But no one anticipated splash-and-dash.

“The maneuver begins with a shipload of biodiesel from, say, Malaysia, which pulls into a US port like Houston, says John Baize, an industry consultant in Falls Church, Va. Unlike domestic diesel-biodiesel blends, which typically contain from 1 to 10 percent of biodiesel, the Malaysian fuel starts off as 100 percent biodiesel, typically made from palm oil.

“Then, the vessel receives from a dockside diesel supplier a "splash" of US petroleum diesel. It doesn't take much to turn it into a diesel-biodiesel blend that is eligible for US subsidies.

“If the ship holds roughly 9 million gallons, it takes only about 9,000 gallons of traditional diesel (0.1 percent of the total) to make the entire load eligible for the blenders tax credit.

“The US importer of the load applies to the Internal Revenue Service for the credit - a dollar for each of the 9 million biodiesel gallons, Mr. Baize calculates. The next day the tanker can set sail - dash - for Europe. There, the US importer resells the biodiesel, taking advantage of European fuel-tax credits that, in effect, keep biodiesel prices above US prices.”

related material
land conservation and food production
biofuels
population

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0803.php#food_prices_030408

fauna and flora alien list for europe

Alien and invasive species in Europe - an impressive site giving much information.
Here’s the page that lists, alphabetically, the 100 worst invasive species,
from

French mimosa - acacia dealbataAcacia dealbata - common names: Silver wattle, or mimosa (in France particularly)

 

 

 

 

to

Undaria pinnatifida. Image: CRIMP, CSIRO Marine ResearchUndaria pinnatifida - common names: Wakame, Japanese kelp

Image: CRIMP, CSIRO Marine Research

 

 

 

This web site is part of the DAISIE - Delivering Alien Invasive Species In Europe project.

“Reliable, detailed information on the most invasive alien species in Europe is an essential tool for preventing their spread and impact, and for applying effective and appropriate control strategies.”

“Biological invasions by non-native or 'alien' species are one of the greatest threats to the ecological and economic well-being of the planet.

“Alien species can act as vectors for new diseases, alter ecosystem processes, change biodiversity, disrupt cultural landscapes, reduce the value of land and water for human activities and cause other socio-economic consequences for man.

“To help those tackling the invasive species challange, this website provides a 'one-stop-shop' for information on biological invasions in Europe.”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0803.php#european_aliens_010408

lecture by lovins on escaping the energy crunch without tears

Recommended talk by a world expert in this field. [Talk length: 19:30 minutes]

Winning the oil endgame by Amory Lovins, the book for this lecture. It is seriously heavy going.
[Link goes to page where you can download a 332-page .PDF version of this book.]

related material
Factor Four: Doubling Wealth, Halving Resource Use by von Weizsacker, Lovins and Lovins four GoldenYak (tm) award

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0803.php#lovins_290308

biggest antarctic peninsula ice shelf yet goes unstable

Wilkins ice shelf break-up sequence. Image: NSIDC
Wilkins ice shelf break-up sequence. Image: NSIDC

“41-by-2.5km (25-by-1.6 mile) berg appears to be breaking away”
[The area of the whole Wilkins ice shelf is roughly about 5,280 square miles, or the size of the Isle of Man.]

“ Professor David Vaughan of BAS said: "Wilkins is the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula yet to be threatened.”

“ Scientists say the Antarctic Peninsula, which juts out into the Southern Ocean towards the tip of South America, has experienced unprecedented warming over the last 50 years.

“Several ice shelves have retreated in the past 30 years - six of them collapsing completely.

“Other researchers believe the Wilkins Ice Shelf may hang on a little longer, as Antarctica's summer melt season draws to a close.” [Quoted from bbc.co.uk]

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“The Wilkins is one of a string of ice shelves that have collapsed in the West Antarctic Peninsula in the past thirty years. The Larsen B became the most well-known of these, disappearing in just over thirty days in 2002. The Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen A, Wordie, Muller, and the Jones Ice Shelf collapses also underscore the unprecedented warming in this region of Antarctica.” {Quoted from NSIDC]

Press releases:

related material
Antarctica melting ice, sea levels, water and weather implications
Arctic melting ice, sea levels

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0803.php#wilkins_iceshelf_260308

filthy fossil fuels - hundreds of thousands of deaths and maybe global warming

“ "The aerosols in aggregate are either acting to, you could say, cool the atmosphere or mask the effect of CO2," said Carmichael, "[Black carbon] is the only component of this aerosol mix that in and of itself is a heating element."

“Previous estimates had not taken into account the fact that it has a larger impact at high altitude in the atmosphere and that it interacts with other particulates in the atmosphere. Scientists do not fully understand these interactions, but observations suggest that they result in more warming. The researchers said that programmes to replace wood-burning stoves with clean technology such as solar energy in developing countries such as India should be pursued to reduce the number of deaths caused by inhaling the smoke.” [Quoted from guardian.co.uk]

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Meanwhile, reality is creeping up on the socialist legacy in Germany:

“Senior German energy executives warned yesterday that Europe's biggest economy faces growing blackouts unless it follows the Franco-British lead in promoting new nuclear power stations.” [Quoted from guardian.co.uk]

related material
fossil fuel disasters
the nuclear energy option
nuclear power - is nuclear power really really dangerous?

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0803.php#carbon_pollution_240308

why the world needs corporate america

“The Coca-Cola Company is committed to the good health and well being of communities around the world. One vital way that our Company is contributing to communities is through our water stewardship programs. Water, our most critical ingredient, is fast becoming one of the world’s most pressing global challenges. It is estimated that by 2025, two-thirds of the global population will live in water-stressed areas.

“In June 2007, The Coca-Cola Company made a significant aspirational pledge to return the water we use in our beverages and their production. For us, this means reducing the amount of water used to produce our beverages, recycling water used for manufacturing processes so it can be returned safely to the environment, and replenishing water in communities and nature through locally relevant projects.

“This report focuses on the "replenish" aspect of our Company’s goal. Our commitment to replenish means that on a global basis we aspire to give back by supporting healthy watersheds and sustainable community water programs to balance the water used in our finished beverages. We will do this by working on a wide range of locally relevant initiatives, such as watershed protection, expanding community drinking water access, rain water harvesting, reforestation and agricultural water use efficiency.” [Quoted from thecoca-colacompany.com, 49-page .pdf]

Locations of Coca-Cola's Community Watershed Partnership (CWP) program members
Locations of Coca-Cola’s Community Watershed Partnership (CWP) program members

Another source.

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“[...] Currently, between 500 million and 2 billion people are living in conditions of water stress. It is estimated that this number will rise to about 5.5 billion people by 2025.

“Meanwhile, experts expect water use to increase by 22 percent over the next two decades.”

“• Increasing freshwater scarcity and threats to water quality are making water one of the leading social, environmental, and economic challenges of the 21st Century.
• Water presents both a major business risk and an increasingly important corporate social responsibility issue.
• Businesses can make a big difference in achieving sustainable use of water resources while adding business value.” [Quoted from treehugger.com]

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0803.php#coke_water_050308

computer simulation of climate - persistence of co2 effects

“Abstract
Current international climate mitigation efforts aim to stabilize levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, human-induced climate warming will continue for many centuries, even after atmospheric CO2 levels are stabilized. In this paper, we assess the CO2 emissions requirements for global temperature stabilization within the next several centuries, using an Earth system model of intermediate complexity. We show first that a single pulse of carbon released into the atmosphere increases globally averaged surface temperature by an amount that remains approximately constant for several centuries, even in the absence of additional emissions. We then show that to hold climate constant at a given global temperature requires near-zero future carbon emissions. Our results suggest that future anthropogenic emissions would need to be eliminated in order to stabilize global-mean temperatures. As a consequence, any future anthropogenic emissions will commit the climate system to warming that is essentially irreversible on centennial timescales.”

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“Pulse sizes of 50, 200, 500 and 2000 billion tonnes of carbon were used. The model was set to calculate global temperatures and atmospheric and ocean carbon dioxide levels over a simulated 500 years.

“At the end of that period, Matthews and Caldeira found that between 20% and 35% of the initial emission pulse remained in the atmosphere - even for the smallest emission pulse - with the remainder having been absorbed by land and ocean carbon sinks.

“The lingering carbon dioxide means that global warming persisted for the entire simulation. For the four different emission scenarios, global temperatures stabilised at 0.09, 0.34, 0.88 and 3.6 ºC above pre-industrial levels respectively.

“So far industrial emissions total around 450 billion tonnes. "Even if we eliminated carbon dioxide today we are still committed to a global temperature rise of around 0.8 ºC lasting at least 500 years," says Caldeira.” [Quoted from newscientist.com]

These same authors have previously suggested geo-engineering approaches - for instance, sunshades in space. They have also modeled that such approaches have rapid response times.

So be wary of the simplisms from school of “we’re all doooooooomed”.

related material
anthropogenic global warming, and ocean acidity
shame about that global freezing predicted in the ’70s

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0803.php#climate_simulation_030308

shame about that global freezing predicted in the ’70s

“But Thomas Peterson of the National Climatic Data Center surveyed dozens of peer-reviewed scientific articles from 1965 to 1979 and found that only seven supported global cooling, while 44 predicted warming. Peterson says 20 others were neutral in their assessments of climate trends.

“The study reports, "There was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed into an imminent ice age.

“ "A review of the literature suggests that, to the contrary, greenhouse warming even then dominated scientists' thinking about the most important forces shaping Earth's climate on human time scales." ”

related material
global warming
anthropogenic global warming, and ocean acidity

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0803.php#global_freezing_020308

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