Agriculture

Ancient Hawaiian Farms
May 17, 2011 02:36 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The original settlers of Polynesia migrated through South-East Asia and Indonesia across Melanesia, before settling the Polynesian islands beginning in 1000 BC. Hawaii was one of the last island groups to be settled. Archaeological evidence indicates the first Polynesians arrived in Hawaii from the Marquesas between 500 and 700 AD. Hawaii has often been thought of as an earthly paradise. Still people must live and eat. A pattern of earthen berms, spread across a northern peninsula of the big island of Hawaii, is providing archeologists with clues to exactly how residents farmed in paradise long before Europeans arrived at the islands.

Drought crisis in France
May 17, 2011 06:46 AM - Reuters

France has imposed limits on water consumption in 28 of its 96 administrative departments, the environment ministry said Monday, amid signs that a prolonged dry spell that has hit grain crops would continue. "We are already in a situation of crisis. The situation is like what we would expect in July for groundwater levels, river flows and snow melting," Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet told a press conference. The government had previously put 27 departments under water consumption limits, and Kosciusko-Morizet said Monday that similar measures could be extended to three more -- effectively affecting a third of the country. One of the hottest and driest Aprils on record in France has parched farmland and cut water reserves, stoking worries of a drought similar to that experienced in 1976 and fuelling concern harvests will suffer in the European Union's top grain producer.

The Parakeet Invasion of England
May 16, 2011 09:45 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

This green and pleasant land is quickly becoming home to a green and not so pleasant bird. The Rose-Ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri), an exotic bird from India and sub-Saharan Africa is spreading like wildfire in London and its surrounding suburbs. Their population was estimated at 1,500 in 1995. Only a few years ago, their numbers have jumped to an estimated 30,000! At first they seemed like a new attractive bird in people's backyards. Now they are a pest, hogging bird feeders and causing a nuisance. However, the greatest fear is that they will spread to agricultural areas and threaten crops.

Mongol Invasion in 1200 Altered Carbon Dioxide Levels
May 10, 2011 04:11 PM - Stephanie Pappas, Live Science

The Mongol invasion of Asia in the 1200s took enough carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to offset a year's worth of the world's gasoline demand today, according to a new study. But even Genghis Khan couldn't create more than a blip in atmospheric carbon compared to the overwhelming effect of agriculture.

Brazil's forest code debate may determine fate of the Amazon rainforest
May 9, 2011 03:03 PM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Brazil's forest code may be about to get an overhaul. The federal code, which presently requires landowners in the Amazon to keep 80 percent of their land forest (20-35% in the cerrado), is widely flouted, but has been used in recent years as a lever by the government to go after deforesters. For example, the forest code served as the basis for the "blacklists" which restricted funds for municipalities where deforestation has been particularly high. To get off the blacklist, and thereby regain access to finance and markets, a municipality must demonstrate its landowners are in compliance with environmental laws.

What makes humans special? The Power of communication. New from BBC Earth
May 6, 2011 10:10 AM - Editor, BBC Earth

A human's need to communicate, can be observed from the first moments of life. The intuitive reaction of a newborn to cry, lays the stepping-stone for a process which at its heart, will enable every human to successfully communicate their experience of being alive. It has been said that words are man's greatest achievement. With the first utterances of symbolic language emerging 2.5 million years ago, slowly evolved by the first Homo sapiens – the solid foundations of modern articulation have decidedly been set. Yet many would argue that speech and language was developed not out of want, but out of need. Therefore in what ways do humans communicate…without using words? Music has long been a way of communicating for necessity as well as pleasure. Such as the use of a lullaby to sooth, a folk song to warn and a chant to call to arms! But in what ways do we use rhythm and melody to communicate with nature itself?

Climate change has spurred food prices
May 6, 2011 07:08 AM - Gerard Wynn, Reuters, LONDON

Climate change cut global wheat and corn output by more than 3 percent over the past three decades compared to growth projections without a rise in temperatures, a study found on Friday. The impacts translated into up to 20 percent higher average commodity prices, before accounting for other factors, according to the paper published in the journal Science. Crop yields rose over the period for example as a result of improvements in practices and plant breeding, and the isolated, negative impact of climate change was equivalent to about one tenth of those advances. But that varied widely between countries with Russia, Turkey and Mexico more affected for wheat, for example. The isolated impact of climate change on wheat and corn was a warning of the future food supply and price impact from an expected acceleration in warming, the paper said.

Who is Top Banana in Sustainable Banana Business?
May 4, 2011 08:47 AM - Tina Casey, Triple Pundit

When it comes to fresh produce, establishing brand recognition is a tricky business. Many commercially grown fruits and vegetables are indistinguishable from one company to the next. Bananas are one standout exception largely thanks to the Chiquita company's groundbreaking ad campaign in the 1960's. The company also has a jump on sustainability marketing, having worked with the Rainforest Alliance since the 1990's. Now there's a new banana vying for attention in that arena: Dole has just announced that it is selling bananas from farms in South America that are certified by the Rainforest Alliance.

Waters still rising around evacuated Cairo, Illinois
May 2, 2011 05:57 AM - Miriam Moynihan, Reuters, ST. LOUIS

Missouri's attorney general asked the Supreme Court on Sunday to intervene and block a proposed federal plan to protect the southern Illinois town of Cairo by blowing up a levee on the Mississippi River. State Attorney General Chris Koster asked the nation's highest court for a temporary injunction to prevent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from intentionally breaching the Birds Point levee, a move that would flood 130,000 acres of farmland and destroy the homes of an estimated 200 people in Missouri. Visiting the soggy levee on Sunday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon told reporters: "We are here for the long run, and stand ready to make sure that people of this region of our state are safe. I just ask each one to stay calm and stay focused on the weather that's here and the weather that's coming." By blowing up the levee, the Corps hopes to increase the Mississippi River's ability to accommodate the rising waters of the Ohio River, relieving Cairo and other towns.

Can Wasps Squash The Stink Bug Plague?
April 26, 2011 08:10 AM - Sabri Ben-Achour, NPR Topics: Environment

Home is where the heart is. It's also probably where a lot of stink bugs are right now, crawling out from cracks and crevices. They were somehow introduced into Allentown, Pa. from Asia in the 1990s, and have been spreading ever since, reaching seemingly plague-like proportions in the mid-Atlantic states. But an experiment is underway to re-introduce the stink bug to its mortal enemy: a parasitic Asian wasp.

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