What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Global map of seeds, food and biodiversity launched, SciDev.Net

CAADP 10 Years Out: How Have Countries Fared in Agricultural Development?, IFPRI

Next generation of biofuels is still years away, CTV News

Empowering people and shaping policies for resilient agriculture and food systems, Wilton Park

Transformation of food systems needed for better nutrition, FAO

Changing the Global Food Narrative, Ensia

No-till farming is on the rise. That’s actually a big deal, The Washington Post

What does ‘big business’ say about Africa when it’s off the record?, From Poverty to Power, Duncan Green

Emissions of CO2 driving rapid oceans ‘acid trip’, BBC

Environmental pressures driven by EU consumption but faced by other countries, EC Science for Environment Policy

An Accidental Cattle Ranch Points the Way in Sustainable Farming, The New York Times

Bringing perennial grain crops to Africa is aim of new Gates Foundation-funded project, Michigan State University

Warsaw climate talks expected to deliver loss and damage mechanism, Thomson Reuters Foundation

 

 

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

How economic growth has become anti-life, The Guardian

Group claims GMOs failed to deliver promised benefits, Inquirer News

Orange Sweet Potato One of the Most Innovative Ways to Feed the Planet, Says USAID Administrator, HarvestPlus

A YOUng FARMer’s vision, PAEPARD

UK agricultural research aid should do more for poor farmers, says watchdog, The Guardian

Yields of new varieties of agricultural crops continue to increase, Wageningen University

The Idealist: a brilliant, gripping, disturbing portrait of Jeffrey Sachs, From Power to Poverty, Duncan Green

Three Billion Poor People Are Waiting for Business to Reinvent Itself, The Business Solution to Poverty

Science has bigger say in GM food, China Daily

How African innovation can take on the world, PC Tech Magazine

Have a Coke and a … GMO?, Politico

Landscapes debate could reinvigorate UN climate talks in Warsaw – negotiator, CIFOR, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Traditional innovation in farming is under threat, IIED

End Of The Egg? ‘Fake Egg’ Company Aims To Replace 79 Billion Chicken Eggs Laid Each Year, Civil Eats

How to end world hunger, CNN

 

Where are we on climate change?

ID-100103034 (2)Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and advisor to the UK government through the Committee on Climate Change, recently gave a talk at Imperial College London on the latest research and actions around climate change.

Global CO2 levels are currently at 397ppm (parts per million), a level not seen for 4.5 million years. We have increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere by 40% since the Industrial Revolution. While there has been a clear and significant increase in global temperatures since 1850, we have seen a hiatus on temperature rises in the last decade. While sceptics may use this as evidence to support their claims, a decade of cooler temperatures is not outside the range of predictions from climate models.

Global sea levels are rising 3mm per year. While the melting of the Western Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets is contributing around 1mm of this increase, it is unknown how likely this is to accelerate if we reach a threshold point of destabilisation. In the Arctic, recent pictures of the ice cap in mid-September (when it is at its minimum size) show it is half the average size it was in the last century. By 2050-2060 we would expect the arctic ice cap to have vanished come September.

We have seen some significant heat extremes in the past decade: the 2003 European heatwave, 2010 Russian heatwave and more recently the 2012 US drought. Work by NASA scientists Dr James Hansen and colleagues indicates a shift to more frequent and severe bouts of high temperatures. But it is not just heat extremes, as the climate changes we are also seeing cold extremes in certain locations despite remarkable warmth elsewhere. This indicates our ability to predict regional trends is much more limited than our ability to predict global averages and while we may, in the past have viewed climate change as a warming of the planet, now we are trying to understand it as a disruption of our climate systems, one that will have severe and varied results. [Read more…]

Progress from Doha on tackling climate change

A series of articles by Smita Nakhooda for the Overseas Development Initiative, Amy Goodman for The Guardian, and Aljazeera News lay out the progress made at the 18th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC held from in Doha from the 26th November to the 8th December 2012. As Amy Goodman points out, “latest findings suggest that the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 2ºC may now be beyond reach, and that we may now be locked into a 4-6ºC temperature increase”. So what are global leaders doing to avoid ‘dangerous climate change’?

1)    The Kyoto Protocol will run for a second commitment period from 1st January 2013 to 31st December 2020. But only the EU and Australia are bound by commitments to reduce emissions, and emissions reductions, an average of 18% relative to 1990 levels by 2020, are ‘not particularly challenging’. Further to this, countries such as the US and Canada are unlikely to adopt these commitments anytime soon. [Read more…]