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Storm damages crops in Haiti, fueling food price woes

Storm damages crops in Haiti, fueling food price woes | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
PORT-AU-PRINCE Haiti-As Hurricane Sandy barreled toward the U.S. East Coast Monday, the full extent of the storm's havoc on Haiti was just beginning to emerge.

 

"Most of the agricultural crops that were left from Hurricane Isaac were destroyed during Sandy," he said, "so food security will be an issue."

 

Sandy also destroyed banana crops in eastern Jamaica as well as decimating the coffee crop in eastern Cuba.

 

But the widespread loss of crops and supplies in the south, both for commercial growers and subsistence farmers, is what has Haitian authorities and aid organizations had worried about most. ...

 

"We'll have famine in the coming days," said Abricots Mayor Kechner Toussaint. "It's an agricultural disaster."

 

The main staples of the local diet, bananas and breadfruit, were ripped out by winds and ruined by heavy rains....

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Rachelle F. Lubin's comment, November 1, 2012 11:50 AM
Anytime. Haiti is my sweet home !
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Sky lantern inquiry welcomed by WFU | News | Farmers Guardian

Sky lantern inquiry welcomed by WFU | News | Farmers Guardian | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
AS Halloween is celebrated around the UK this week, with sky lanterns aplenty, the Government is expected to launch a long-awaited inquiry into their impact on livestock.

 

WFU president Helen Bower said: “Our members first started campaigning for a ban on the lanterns three years ago, so we are delighted there will be an inquiry.”

 

Evidence

 

Mrs Bower said the group had evidence, pictures and ‘a constant stream’ of post-mortems to prove how dangerous the lanterns can be.

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Climate change poses hazard to infrastructure, report says

Climate change poses hazard to infrastructure, report says | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
AS a land of droughts and flooding rains, Australia should be well prepared for the extreme weather that climate change will bring - but it isn't.

 

"Australia, with its history of extreme weather events, should be better prepared, but our performance is patchy at best," The Climate Institute chief executive John Connor told AAP.

 

"It's a high-stakes gamble with predictions that we're going to see more and more extreme weather events in the future."

 

The institute's report, Coming ready or not: Can Australia's Infrastructure Handle Climate Change?, says the electricity, financial services and insurance, and road and rail sectors are underprepared.

 

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India’s Plague, Trash, Drowns Bangalore, Its Garden City

India’s Plague, Trash, Drowns Bangalore, Its Garden City | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Outside Bangalore’s last official landfill, the garbage trucks regularly lined up here for hours, their burdens putrefying in the afternoon sun. A stinking mountain of trash, the landfill has been poisoning local waters and sickening nearby villagers. Another dump site was in even worse shape before it was closed recently after violent protests.

 

Bangalore, the capital of India’s modern economy and home to many of its high-tech workers, is drowning in its own waste. Last week, local villagers blocked the roads leading to the Mandur landfill on the city’s outskirts even as many of Bangalore’s trash haulers went on strike, saying they had not been paid in months. Some neighborhoods have not had trash pickups for nearly three weeks, and vast mounds of garbage are scattered through what is known in India as the Garden City.

 

Trash is India’s plague.

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The Ozone Hole Has Shrunk To The Second Smallest It's Been In 20 Years

The Ozone Hole Has Shrunk To The Second Smallest It's Been In 20 Years | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
The ozone hole above the Antarctic has hit its maximum extent for the year. Due to warm temperatures, the opening in the protective atmospheric layer was the second smallest it has been for 20 years, scientists said Wednesday (Oct. 24).

 

Stretching to 8.2 million square miles (21.2 million square kilometers), an area roughly the size of all of North America, the ozone hole reached its peak on Sept. 22. The largest one recorded to date spanned 11.5 million square miles (29.9 million square km) in 2000.

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Can the Isle of Wight start a power revolution?

Can the Isle of Wight start a power revolution? | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
The island has taken its first steps towards a smart grid that will reduce electricity consumption and manage renewables...

 

The £300m initiative aims to turn the islanders from some of the heaviest to some of the lowest energy users in Europe. It comes via Ecoisland, a small, not-for-profit partnership of local environmentalists seeking to reduce emissions by generating renewable energy, backed by a group of giant technology companies including IBM, Cable and Wireless and Toshiba who want an ambitious testbed to roll out and develop their technology ahead of other regions.

 

Together they are confident that the island of 130,000 people can be turned into one of the world's largest "smart communities" - using possibly 40% less electricity and paying "significantly" lower bills.

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UK makes biggest emissions cuts in Europe

UK makes biggest emissions cuts in Europe | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

The UK cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than any other European country last year, over-achieving on targets under the Kyoto protocol on climate change. Some of the reduction was owing to milder weather and an increase in renewable energy generation, but the sluggish economy is also likely to have contributed.

 

France and Germany also made sizeable cuts in emissions, but Spain and Italy are lagging and are in danger of missing their Kyoto targets, according to figures released by the European Environment Agency on Wednesday.

 

The EU as a whole will meet its target under the 1997 treaty, which requires developed countries to cut their emissions by a total of just over 5% from 1990 levels by the end of 2012. Currently, EU member states are the only major countries pledging to continue the Kyoto protocol beyond the end of this year, when its current provisions expire.

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Green energy would save EU trillions by 2050

Green energy would save EU trillions by 2050 | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

BRUSSELS, Oct 24 (Reuters) - A green revolution to make EU energy almost totally carbon-free by 2050 would generate 3 trillion euros ($3.9 trillion) in fuel savings, a report commissioned by environmental campaigners said.

 

The energy shift would already create around half a million extra jobs by 2020, researchers from German aerospace centre DLR, which also specialises in energy and transport, found.

 

The European Union has legislated to ensure that 20 percent of the energy mix is green by 2020, as part of a set of three main environmental goals.

 

But it has yet to achieve agreement on binding targets beyond 2020, even though non-binding roadmaps have laid out the need for a virtually carbon-free electricity mix by 2050.

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Sustainable food cities : Soil Association

Sustainable food cities : Soil Association | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Throughout the UK, pioneering communities at every scale - from individual institutions through to entire city-regions - have recognised the key role food can play in dealing with some of today’s most pressing social, economic and environmental problems. From obesity and diet-related ill-health to food poverty and waste, climate change and biodiversity loss to declining prosperity and social dislocation, food is not only at the heart of some of our greatest problems, but also a vital part of the solution.

 

The Sustainable Food Cities Network is an alliance of public, private and third sector organisations that believe in the power of food as a vehicle for driving positive change and that are committed to promoting sustainable food for the benefit of people and the planet. The Network aims to help people and places to share challenges, explore practical solutions and develop best practice in all aspects of sustainable food.

 

And it is not just for cities. Any community can get involved - from a village or town to a district, county or region.

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Brazil: the world's 21st Century breadbasket

Brazil: the world's 21st Century breadbasket | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Oct 23 (Reuters) - Brazil has for centuries been known as a leading producer and exporter of the world's breakfast, or soft, commodities - orange juice, coffee, sugar and cocoa.

 

But over the past two and a half decades since opening to foreign participation, Latin America's largest economy has also become a leading supplier of important grains and meats, through investments in technology and land.

 

Following is a list of Brazil's main agricultural products and exports:-

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Economic crisis casts shadow over biodiversity talks

Economic crisis casts shadow over biodiversity talks | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
HYDERABAD - The global economic crisis cast its shadow over UN talks that closed in India on Saturday after two weeks of intense wrangling on funding to reverse the decline of Earth’s natural resources.A deal was finally signed a day later than planned,...

 

Countries decided at the last CBD conference in Nagoya, Japan, two years ago on an ambitious 20-point plan to turn back the tide of biodiversity depletion by 2020.


The so-called Aichi Biodiversity Targets include halving the rate of habitat loss, expanding water and land areas under conservation, preventing the extinction of species on the threatened list, and restoring at least 15 percent of degraded ecosystems.


But the plan has been hamstrung by a lack of cash for conservation, research, and the creation of green business alternatives.


“The need for the world’s nations to come together to implement the Aichi Targets grows more pressing with widespread extinction increasing every year,” said Conservation International president Russell Mittermeier.

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Sustaining a powerless environment

Sustaining a powerless environment | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Planning for the future has never been a Pakistani trait, but one would expect mountain people to realise that endlessly cutting down trees without planting any more just cannot go on. But, ridiculously, they seem to be under the impression that some kind of miracle will cause replacement trees to pop up, fully mature, overnight and that life will go on as always when, quite obviously, this is simply not the case.

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At United Nations Biodiversity Conference, Countries Agree to Double Resources for Biodiversity Protection by 2015 - UNEP

At United Nations Biodiversity Conference, Countries Agree to Double Resources for Biodiversity Protection by 2015 - UNEP | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Biodiversity-Rich Marine Areas in Focus as Countries Renew Efforts to Curb Species Loss...

 

Developed countries agreed to double funding to support efforts in developing states towards meeting the internationally-agreed Biodiversity Targets, and the main goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.


The Saragasso Sea, the Tonga archipelago and key corals sites off the coast of Brazil are among a range of marine areas to receive special attention by governments as part of renewed efforts agreed in Hyderabad to sustainably manage the world's oceans. Many of the areas are beyond national jurisdictions and, as such, receive little or no protection at presen

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Land deals in Africa have led to a wild west – bring on the sheriff, says FAO

Land deals in Africa have led to a wild west – bring on the sheriff, says FAO | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Food and Agriculture Organisation chief José Graziano da Silva demands high noon on land grabs that jeopardise food security...

 

Large land deals have accelerated since the surge in food prices in 2007-08, prompting companies and sovereign wealth funds to take steps to guarantee food supplies. But, four to five years on, in Africa only 10-15% of land is actually being developed, claimed Graziano da Silva. Some of these investments have involved the loss of jobs, as labour intensive farming is replaced by mechanised farming or some degree of loss of tenure rights.

 

Oxfam said the global land rush is out of control and urged the World Bank to freeze its investments in large-scale land acquisitions to send a strong signal to global investors to stop.

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Agricultural Technology - A killer app - The Economist

Agricultural Technology - A killer app - The Economist | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Enter Lettuce Bot, the brainchild of Stanford-trained engineers, Jorge Heraud and Lee Redden. Their diligent robotic labourer, pulled behind a tractor, takes pictures of passing plants. Computer-vision algorithms devised by Mr Redden compare these to a database of more than a million images, taken from different angles against different backdrops of soil and other plants, that he and Mr Heraud have amassed from their visits to lettuce farms. A simple shield blocks out the Californian sun to prevent odd shading from confounding the software.

 

When a plant is identified as a weed—or as a lettuce head that is growing too close to another one—a nozzle at the back of the unit squirts out a concentrated dose of fertiliser. If this sounds bonkers, it turns out that fertiliser can be as deadly as a pesticide, which is why farmers usually sprinkle it at a safe distance of 10-15cm from the plants to be nourished, so as to dilute its effect. So the robot not only kills weeds and excess heads, but feeds the remaining crops at the same time.

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Consumers, farmers squeezed as grain giants tighten grip

Consumers, farmers squeezed as grain giants tighten grip | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

LONDON, Oct 28 (Reuters) - A global race for grain trading power is putting more of the world's vital cereals in the hands of fewer companies, with a string of recent acquisitions raising fears that consumers will pay even more for their food, while farmers are squeezed.

 

Archer Daniels Midland last week bid for Australia's last independent grain handler GrainCorp, the latest in a series of moves by grain trading heavyweights to grab a larger slice of a booming market as developing economies seek food security.

 

The four "ABCD" firms - ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus - dominate global grain trading along with top global commodities trader Glencore and Japan's Marubeni, both of which have made major acquisitions in the last few months.

 

With food price volatility increasingly coming to the fore, most recently in the wake of drought in the U.S. and other key producing regions, concern is growing among importers about extra upward pressure on prices.

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The real reason for spikes in food prices

The real reason for spikes in food prices | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Spikes in grain prices are regularly blamed on oil shocks, droughts and emerging markets’ hunger for meat. The real culprit in the three bubbles-and-busts of the last five years, however, isn’t the weather.

It’s financial speculation.

 

The Midwest drought this summer, the worst in a half-century, produced a bumper crop of profits for derivatives traders like Chris Mahoney, the director of agricultural products for Glencore, the world’s largest commodities trading firm. Mahoney noted during one August conference call that tight grain supplies and the resulting arbitrage opportunities “should be good for Glencore.”

 

They’ve been a disaster, however, for the world’s poor. More than 40 percent of grain futures can now be traced to financial institutions, which nearly doubled their commodity bets over the last five years — from $65 billion to $126 billion.

 

Recognizing the dangers of food speculation, six European banks – including Commerzbank, Germany’s second largest – this summer removed agricultural products from their commodity funds altogether. Wall Street, however, has not been so accommodating.

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Smuggling of illegally logged rosewood in Madagascar continues, alleges report

Smuggling of illegally logged rosewood in Madagascar continues, alleges report | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Timber traders in Madagascar are smuggling illegally logged rosewood despite an official export ban, alleges a new report published by a Malagasy researcher..

 

Logging of rosewood and ebony has hit Madagascar's endangered rainforests hard. In 2009 and 2010 loggers invaded several of Madagascar's most biodiverse rainforest parks, extracting timber, hunting wildlife, and threatening conservation workers and local communities. Logging has since been linked to a rise in a commercial bushmeat trade for lemurs.

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Indonesia remains epicenter for illegal wildlife trade in reptiles and amphibians

Indonesia remains epicenter for illegal wildlife trade in reptiles and amphibians | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Demand for exotic pets is driving the illegal harvest and trade of herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) in Indonesian New Guinea, according to a recent study published in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation.

 

Between September 2010 and April 2011, Daniel Natusch and Jessica Lyons of the University of New South Wales surveyed traders of amphibians and reptiles in the Indonesian provinces of Maluku, West Papua and Papua.

 

According to the paper, they recorded, "5,370 individuals representing 52 species collected solely for the pet trade. At least 44 % were either fully protected or had not been allocated a harvest quota, making their harvest and trade illegal. Approximately half were listed within the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)."

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Pollution Might Be As Dangerous As Malaria, Report Finds

Pollution Might Be As Dangerous As Malaria, Report Finds | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

NEW YORK, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Pollution from factories and mines is putting the health of 125 million people at risk worldwide and is as dangerous in the developing world as malaria or tuberculosis, according to a report published on Tuesday by two environmental advocacy groups.

 

The researchers behind the "2012 World's Worst Pollution Problems" report say theirs is the first substantial attempt to estimate the number of people sickened or killed worldwide because they work in or live near tanneries, recycling plants, chemical factories or mines, among other toxic industries.

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Protecting Afghanistan’s environment and tourist future

Protecting Afghanistan’s environment and tourist future | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
In Bamiyan's isolated mountain valleys the threat is not from the Afghan Taliban but drought, partly induced by human activity, reports the BBC's Andrew North.

 

If the high mountain lakes of Band-e Amir were not in a country in its fourth decade of war they would be world famous.

 

Outsiders lucky enough to see them today are often lost for words when they first set eyes on the ethereal blue of their waters and the Martian-orange and red cliffs surrounding them.

 

The lakes, in Bamiyan province, are Afghanistan's first-ever national park, and draw thousands of local visitors every year. The government hopes foreign tourists will one day come too.

 

If that sounds quixotic now, so too may the UN and the government's launch here of the country's first-ever environmental protection plan - with a solar-powered kettle one of its signature initiatives.

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The Green Climate Fund Board Meeting: Highs, Lows, and a Host Country | WRI Insights

The Green Climate Fund Board Meeting: Highs, Lows, and a Host Country | WRI Insights | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

... While the GCF Board reached an important milestone in selecting a host country, it has its work cut out in 2013. All eyes will be watching to see if it can live up to the bold ambitions it has set for itself and attract significant funding pledges in a timely manner so that it can begin disbursing funds.

 

The Board will need to be focused and pro-active in pursuing its vision. It will also need to draw on the collective wisdom and creativity of its members, as well as external stakeholders in civil society and the private sector. These actions are needed in order to create a Fund that inspires the confidence of all its stakeholders and achieves its lofty goal of spurring low-carbon, climate-resilient development.

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Was Deadly Quake Caused By Humans?

Was Deadly Quake Caused By Humans? | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
MADRID (AP) — Farmers drilling ever deeper wells over decades to water their crops likely contributed to a deadly earthquake in southern Spain last year, a new study suggests.

 

Using satellite images, scientists from Canada, Italy and Spain found the quake ruptured a fault running near a basin that had been weakened by 50 years of groundwater extraction in the area.

 

During this period, the water table dropped by 250 meters (274 yards) as farmers bored ever deeper wells to help produce the fruit, vegetables and meat that are exported from Lorca to the rest of Europe. In other words, the industry that propped up the local economy in southern Spain may have undermined the very ground on which Lorca is built.

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World's cities can get greener by 2030: UN - Hindustan Times

World's cities can get greener by 2030: UN - Hindustan Times | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
The world's urban areas will more than double in size by 2030, presenting an opportunity to build greener and healthier cities, a UN study showed today.

 

The world's urban population is expected to surge from just over 3.5 billion now to 4.9 billion by 2030, according to the assessment by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

 

At the same time, the area to be covered by cities will expand by 150%, it said.

 

"Most of this growth is expected to happen in small and medium-sized cities, not in megacities," according to the report, issued to coincide with a UN meeting on biodiversity in Hyderabad.

 

More green spaces in cities can filter dust and pollution and soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide. Some studies have shown that the presence of trees can help reduce asthma and allergies for children living nearby, it said.

 

And the study said that cities were also home to a wide range of animals and plants.

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UN Biodiversity talks move forward but nature needs more - IUCN

UN Biodiversity talks move forward but nature needs more - IUCN | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Hyderabad, India, 19 October 2012 – Despite good progress towards achieving the 2020 targets to halt the loss of biodiversity, efforts to conserve nature must be urgently scaled up if we want to meet the 2020 deadline to save all life on earth - says IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

 

The UN Biodiversity talks closing today in Hyderabad, India, saw an overall consensus on the urgent need for more and better managed funds to reach the targets but countries have failed to agree on the exact amount needed to ensure their successful implementation.

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