Wheat for a Penny

A Measure of Wheat: NASA Warnings – The Global Food Crisis Is Here. Videos.

The world is fast approaching a “climate apartheid” where only the wealthy can afford basic food resources in the face of fatal droughts, famine and heatwaves, while the rest of the world suffers. Revelation 6:5-6 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

A Measure of Wheat: NASA Warnings – The Global Food Crisis Is Here. Videos.

August 29, 2019 by IWB

Ask people to name the biggest dangers posed by climate breakdown, and most will start listing off extreme weather events. Destructive hurricanes, towering storm surges, deadly heat waves, flash floods, and wildfires. This is hardly surprising, given how our image-oriented media system has covered the climate crisis. Extreme weather events give us something concrete to point to. We can see them happening in real time, and anyone who’s paying any attention at all can tell that they’re getting worse.

But while extreme weather poses a real threat to human societies (consider what Hurricane Maria did to Puerto Rico), some of the most worrying aspects of climate change are much less obvious and almost even invisible. A new 1,400-page report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a case in point. It explores the impacts of climate breakdown on the most fundamental, even intimate feature of human civilization—our food system.

There is a troubling irony here. Climate change is undermining global food systems, but at the same time our food systems are a major cause of climate breakdown. According to the IPCC, agriculture contributes nearly a quarter of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

Of course, it’s not just any kind of agriculture that’s the problem here—it’s specifically the industrial model that has come to dominate farming over the past half-century or so. This approach relies not only on aggressive deforestation to make way for large-scale monoculture, which alone generates 10 percent of global greenhouse gases; it also depends on intensive plowing and heavy use of chemical fertilizers, which is rapidly degrading the planet’s soils and in the process releasing huge plumes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

This might appear to be an insurmountable problem, on the face of it. After all, we need to feed the world’s population, and intensive farming seems like the most efficient way to do it. If anything, given that around a billion people don’t get enough food to eat as it is, we should probably be doing more of it. And if that’s the case, it seems virtually impossible to meet our climate goals while at the same time producing enough food to feed the world.

VIA : nasa.gov

The study, published Thursday in the journal Science Advances, is based on projections from several climate models, including one sponsored by NASA. The research found continued increases in human-produced greenhouse gas emissions drives up the risk of severe droughts in these regions.

Soil moisture 30 cm below ground projected through 2100 for high emissions scenario RCP 8.5. The soil moisture data are standardized to the Palmer Drought Severity Index and are deviations from the 20th century average. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

“Natural droughts like the 1930s Dust Bowl and the current drought in the Southwest have historically lasted maybe a decade or a little less,” said Ben Cook, climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York City, and lead author of the study. “What these results are saying is we’re going to get a drought similar to those events, but it is probably going to last at least 30 to 35 years.”

Soil moisture 30 cm below ground projected through 2100 for moderate emissions scenario RCP 4.5. The soil moisture data are standardized to the Palmer Drought Severity Index and are deviations from the 20th century average. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

According to Cook, the current likelihood of a megadrought, a drought lasting more than three decades, is 12 percent. If greenhouse gas emissions stop increasing in the mid-21st century, Cook and his colleagues project the likelihood of megadrought to reach more than 60 percent.

However, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase along current trajectories throughout the 21st century, there is an 80 percent likelihood of a decades-long megadrought in the Southwest and Central Plains between the years 2020 and 2050.

The scientists analyzed a drought severity index and two soil moisture data sets from 17 climate models that were run for both emissions scenarios. The high emissions scenario projects the equivalent of an atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration of 1,370 parts per million (ppm) by 2050, while the moderate emissions scenario projects the equivalent of 650 ppm by 2050. Currently, the atmosphere contains 400 ppm of CO2.

In the Southwest, climate change would likely cause reduced rainfall and increased temperatures that will evaporate more water from the soil. In the Central Plains, drying would largely be caused by the same temperature-driven increase in evaporation.

The Fifth Assessment Report, issued by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013, synthesized the available scientific studies and reported that increases in evaporation over arid lands are likely throughout the 21st century. But the IPCC report had low confidence in projected changes to soil moisture, one of the main indicators of drought.

Until this study, much of the previous research included analysis of only one drought indicator and results from fewer climate models, Cook said, making this a more robust drought projection than any previously published.

“What I think really stands out in the paper is the consistency between different metrics of soil moisture and the findings across all the different climate models,” said Kevin Anchukaitis, a climate scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, who was not involved in the study. “It is rare to see all signs pointing so unwaveringly toward the same result, in this case a highly elevated risk of future megadroughts in the United States.”

This study also is the first to compare future drought projections directly to drought records from the last 1,000 years.

“We can’t really understand the full variability and the full dynamics of drought over western North America by focusing only on the last century or so,” Cook said. “We have to go to the paleoclimate record, looking at these much longer timescales, when much more extreme and extensive drought events happened, to really come up with an appreciation for the full potential drought dynamics in the system.”

Modern measurements of drought indicators go back about 150 years. Cook and his colleagues used a well-established tree-ring database to study older droughts. Centuries-old trees allow a look back into the distant past. Tree species like oak and bristle cone pines grow more in wet years, leaving wider rings, and vice versa for drought years. By comparing the modern drought measurements to tree rings in the 20th century for a baseline, the tree rings can be used to establish moisture conditions over the past 1,000 years.

The scientists were interested in megadroughts that took place between 1100 and 1300 in North America. These medieval-period droughts, on a year-to-year basis, were no worse than droughts seen in the recent past. But they lasted, in some cases, 30 to 50 years.

When these past megadroughts are compared side-by-side with computer model projections of the 21st century, both the moderate and business-as-usual emissions scenarios are drier, and the risk of droughts lasting 30 years or longer increases significantly.

Connecting the past, present and future in this way shows that 21st century droughts in the region are likely to be even worse than those seen in medieval times, according to Anchukaitis.

“Those droughts had profound ramifications for societies living in North America at the time. These findings require us to think about how we would adapt if even more severe droughts lasting over a decade were to occur in our future,” Anchukaitis said.

NASA monitors Earth’s vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. The agency shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home plan

In addition to dietary changes and cutting food waste, the IPCC finds that a rapid shift away from conventional industrial farming methods toward regenerative techniques—agroforestry, polyculture, no-till farming, and organic approaches—would go a long way toward restoring soils, sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, improving long-term yields, Many of these ideas have been put forward in the Green New Deal proposal. And U.S. presidential candidate Tim Ryan has made some of them central to his election platform. Of course, we need to throw everything we have at ending the use of fossil fuels as quickly as possible. But if we want to have a decent shot at averting catastrophic climate change, rethinking the food industry has to be part of the plan.

Homesteading is the only (legal) way I know of to become almost completely self-reliant from the food corporations, the utilities companies, the Government and Big Pharma… by harvesting hundreds upon hundreds of dollars of organic food year-round, and collecting thousands of gallons of crystal-clear drinking water for free…

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