23 June, 2017

Energy and Climate Change/Global Warming

As the former head of Australia’s National Climate Centre, William Kininmonth states:
‘The real challenge for society is to manage within a naturally varying climate. A total of 70 per cent of natural disasters involve weather and climate extremes. Regulating carbon dioxide concentration (indeed, if this is even possible) will not ameliorate these.’
‘Less than 20,000 years ago Earth was in the grip of the last glacial maximum. Deep ice sheets then covered much of North America and northwestern Europe; sea level was 130 metres lower than today. Our present relative warmth is a blessing.
‘It is unfortunate that the Chief Scientist did not conduct an independent review of the science underpinning the contentious hypothesis of dangerous anthropogenic climate change before embarking on a blueprint for the national electricity market. A misplaced objective of emissions reduction at the expense of affordable and reliable electricity services will unnecessarily impoverish Australians.’

20 June, 2017

Counterpoint


New Science Assessment on Climate
It is timely that a group of scientists has published in the US an assessment of a large number of deficiencies in analyses which support the dangerous warming thesis. 

They draw on criticisms made by Professor Rafael Reif, president of MIT,  of President Trump’s decision to exit the Paris Climate Accords.  

Their conclusion is that  “By withdrawing from the Paris agreement, President Trump did a wonderful thing for America and the world. He showed that advocacy masquerading as science should not be the basis for political decisions. He showed that to put America first is to put the planet first. And, by rejecting the non-problem of man-made global warming, he began the long and necessary process of waking up the likes of Professor Reif to the fact that the diversion of time, effort, and trillions of dollars away from real environmental problems and towards the bogus but (to MIT) profitable non-problem of supposedly catastrophic global warming is as bad for the planet as it is for true science”.

06 June, 2017

King Cotton

Cotton’s environmental footprint is much less noticeable today than was the case in the early 1960s, thanks largely to science and technology, says Ryan Kurtz, director of agricultural research at Cotton Incorporated.

 

He said the highly successful Boll Weevil Eradication Program, genetic engineering, innovations in tillage, and changes in farm size and efficiency combined to reduce cotton’s impact on the environment over the past 35 years.

 

Addressing a group of textile manufacturers, retailers and trade journalists during a recent Cotton Incorporated conference—“Everything You’ve Heard About Cotton is Wrong”—in New York City, he said cotton farming has evolved from “horses to robots and drones. We’ve seen great strides in reduced soil loss, water use, and pesticide use.”

 

Those environmental improvements have not been at the expense of production. “From the ‘60s until now, cotton farmers have almost doubled the amount of cotton they grow with no more acreage. Science and technology make that possible.”

 

He said commercial cotton breeding has created new varieties that produce more lint. Integrated pest management (IPM) programs allow producers to be more precise in targeting insect pests, he added. And those pesticides are more selective, targeting specific insects, diseases or weeds.

 

Kurtz said reduced tillage systems conserve moisture, increase organic matter in the soil and limit water and wind erosion. “We’re doing a better job of protecting our soil,” he said.

 

“Biotechnology now protects plants from insect damage,” Kurtz said. Herbicide tolerant varieties also allow a more efficient weed management system. “Cotton farmers also reduce energy consumption because of biotech,” he added.

 

“Genetic engineering has improved varieties in other ways. We have more water efficient varieties,” which improves on a plant already known for drought tolerance. 

 

“Cotton requires significantly less water than corn, wheat and rice.” Only a small portion of U.S. cotton production receives full irrigation, he adds, and most gets by well on supplemental water.

 

“We have improved water efficiency in the past 35 years,” Kurtz said. Better varieties play a crucial role, “but sensors improve efficiency and application timing that works better than just ‘eyeballing.’” Measuring evapo-transpiration offers real-time information to help schedule irrigation. 

 

Kurtz, an entomologist by training, said cotton farmers once followed a calendar approach to insect pest management, sacrificing beneficial insects in an effort to head off damaging populations of pests. Pesticides were non-selective, he said, and took out lady bugs and other beneficials as well as bollworms and boll weevils.

 

“Now, we use more selective pesticides to preserve beneficial insects, and we spray when populations reach economic thresholds. That’s the value of IPM.”

 

“We also have newer, more efficient ways to apply insecticides. Seed treatments, for instance, reduce the need for early (over the top) pesticide applications.” 

These products are applied to the seed before planting and are systemic, so the roots take them in. Amount of product necessary also dropped. “Instead of pounds per acre, we can now apply milligrams per acre,” Kurtz said.

 

He said ongoing research considers the possibility of developing cotton plants that repel insect pests.