• Water Crisis in Asia

    As the contradictions of Asia’s water challenges have been laid bare this summer—with millions affected by flooding while others are hit by droughts—one thing has been made clearer: the coming water crisis could exacerbate already simmering domestic and regional tensions. Heavy monsoon rains have produced the worst flooding in Pakistan’s history, with more than three weeks of flooding leaving at least 1,500 dead and more than 4 million homeless. Millions of Pakistanis already require humanitarian assistance, yet the likelihood that many more could be added to this list has grown with the announcement that 200,000 have been evacuated as flood waters continue to rise in Singh Province in the country’s south. Meanwhile, flash floods and mudslides have submerged some villages in China’s Gansu Province, killing hundreds and leaving more than a thousand missing. Today, Chinese state media announced 250,000 had been evacuated in the north of the country after the Yalu River burst its banks. >> Read the Full Article
  • Mauritania plants trees to hold back desert

    Mauritania has launched a tree-planting program aimed at protecting its capital from the advancing desert and coastal erosion, a project that could eventually extend thousands of kilometers across Africa. President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz on Saturday planted the first of some 2 million trees that are meant to form a "green belt" around the capital, Nouakchott, and curb erosion elsewhere in the desert nation that straddles black and Arab Africa. >> Read the Full Article
  • From machete to machine in Brazil's cane fields

    For nearly five centuries, the classic image of sugar production in Brazil has been one of workers setting cane fields on fire and then descending on the crop with their machetes for harvest. No longer. More than half of the cane in Brazil's main sugar-producing area of Sao Paulo state was harvested using machines during the 2009/10 season, a historic first that portends greater efficiency in coming years. The shift is occurring so quickly that some producers face a four-month waiting list to get the right equipment. >> Read the Full Article
  • Farmers oppose EPA's proposed dust regulation

    American farmers have been ridiculing a proposal by U.S. regulators to reduce the amount of dust floating in rural air. "If there's ever been rural America, that's what rural America is," said Nebraska hog farmer Danny Kluthe. "You know? It's dirt out here, and with dirt you've got dust." The Environmental Protection Agency is looking to tighten standards for the amount of harmful particles in the air, facing opposition from U.S. farming groups who call it an unrealistic attempt to regulate dust. The EPA is reviewing its air quality standards to comply with the Clean Air Act that prescribes reevaluation every five years. The agency's scientific panel proposes either retaining or halving the current standard for coarse particles, commonly containing dust, ash and chemical pollutants--particles 10 microns or smaller in diameter, about one-tenth of human hair. >> Read the Full Article
  • Afghanistan and Africa food supplies most at risk from drought & floods

    Afghanistan and nations in sub-Saharan Africa are most at risk from shocks to food supplies such as droughts or floods while Nordic countries are least vulnerable, according to an index released on Thursday. "Of 50 nations most at risk, 36 are located in Africa," said Fiona Place, an environmental analyst at British-based consultancy Maplecroft, which compiled the 163-nation food security risk index. Maplecroft said that it hoped the index could help in directing food aid or to guide investments in food production. >> Read the Full Article
  • Rising temperatures threaten rice yield growth

    Rising temperatures could slow the growth of rice production unless farmers adapt by changing management practices and switch to more heat-tolerant varieties, scientists say. Rice is among the world's most important crops and a staple for people in Asia and Africa, with Asia producing and consuming more than 90 percent of the world's output. A drop in production could lead to higher prices, fears over food security and more hunger in a world with a rising human population. A team of researchers led by Jarrod Welch of the University of California, San Diego, found that rice yields drop as night time temperatures rise over time, although the exact reasons why are not perfectly understood. >> Read the Full Article
  • New Hampshire Farm Closes After 378 Years

    In 1632, an English settler, John Tuttle, made his way across the pond to the New World. At that time there were only 100 European colonists in what would become the state of New Hampshire. King Charles I granted Tuttle a small land grant in this area. Tuttle felled trees and started a small farm. Eleven generations worked on this land, but the current generation will be the last. The farm, or "Tuttle's Red Barn," which by some accounts is the oldest continually operating farm in the United States, will close. >> Read the Full Article
  • Cork, Plastic, or Twist? The Cork Industry Tightens the Screws on Winemakers

    More wineries are moving towards plastic bottles and aluminum caps and away from cork stoppers. Some would say this is unfortunate for a host of reasons. Harvesting cork is an ancient practice that keeps a cluster of cork trees, which are almost entirely in Portugal and Spain, alive. >> Read the Full Article
  • Food industry's green efforts may hit price wall

    The European food and drinks industry is finalising plans to measure its environmental performance but increasingly price-aware consumers might derail their efforts, the European Commission cautioned. A European round table bringing together the food industry, farmers and consumer groups has drawn up a series of 10 guiding principles to assess the environmental impact of food and drink products during their entire life cycle. >> Read the Full Article
  • Russia swelters in heatwave, many crops destroyed

    Soaring temperatures across large swathes of Russia have destroyed nearly 10 million hectares of crops and prompted a state of emergency to be declared in 17 regions. On Friday the state-run Moscow region weather bureau said it expected the heatwave, which has gripped the country since late June and is estimated to have already cost the agricultural sector about $1 billion, to continue into next week. Saturday could see temperatures in Moscow hit 37 Celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit), which would break the previous record of 36.6C. set in 1936. "It looks like tomorrow could just break the record," the weather bureau's Moscow head Yelena Timakina said. >> Read the Full Article