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The Environment

ladybug Ladybugs Among the Biocontrols To Reduce Harmful Pesticide Uses

Fighting fire with fire: pest control by playing nature at its own game

By Natasha Foote | EURACTIV.com

"Biological pesticides are rapidly gaining attention as a sustainable and viable environmentally friendly alternative to chemical pesticides. However, they are currently hampered by maladapted regulation. As the harmful effects of chemical pesticides have increasingly become a cause for concern, the reduction of pesticide use has been put high on the political agenda. This is reflected in both the European Green Deal, which specifies an “increased level of ambition to significantly reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides”, and the new Farm-to-Fork (F2F) strategy.

There have recently been a number of banned active substances. While lauded by campaigners and environmentalists, this reduces the number of tools that EU farmers have at their disposal. In their roadmap for collaboration report, the association of European farmers and agri-cooperatives Copa-Cogeca highlights this problem, saying that since 2009, EU farmers have faced “increasing obligations to use alternative non-chemical pest control techniques, despite the insufficient information, knowledge and products at their disposal”. So while the ambition to reduce pesticides is clear, what remains less clear is how this will be achieved and what the future of plant protection will look like.

... Biological pesticides are a form of biocontrol based on living organisms, which includes microbial pesticides based on bacteria or fungi as the active ingredient. These living organisms are naturally pathogenic to or out-compete pests. Biocontrol technologies are becoming an increasingly more important addition to the farmers’ toolbox, helping them ensure the future sustainability of the crop sector. According to IBMA, an association which represents biocontrol manufacturers, microbial biocontrol products are a growing market in the EU, currently representing a European market size of approximately €2bn of a €3.6bn market. Geraldine Kutas, director-general of the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA), told EURACTIV that there is no question that farmers require “effective and safe solutions to fight with pests and diseases”. There is also little doubt that using nature as a starting point provides “more opportunities to develop products with low-risk toxicological profiles, low residue levels and even more rapid degradation.”

However, although there are various incentives in Europe to promote the commercialisation and use of biopesticides, there is a lack of specific regulation regarding products based on microorganisms or biochemical extracts, meaning that they generally follow the same regulatory path as chemicals. Anika Gatt Seretny, senior communications manager at ECPA, concurred, telling EURACTIV that nearly 40% of all new actives that have been put on the market since regulation 1107 took effect have been biopesticides but that the “poor execution of the 1107 timelines has clearly hindered the development of biopesticides”.

...Andreas Huber, Corteva's Integrated Field Science Leader in Europe said“Some of these biologicals are quite potent and, when combined with other methods of control, show very promising efficacy and very promising value for growers.” He added that there is a “huge incentive for growers” to use biological pesticides because they help lower residues on crops and many of the compounds are compatible with organic agriculture. In reference to the increasing number of pesticides which have been recently banned, “there’s often now almost nothing available anymore [for the farmer] because in the past we had pesticides such as organophosphates, but now they’re all gone so there’s nothing really left now to control certain diseases”.

He added that microbial biopesticides will play an increasingly important role in agriculture to help face the challenges brought by climate change. “There are a lot of examples showing that with warmer climate, new pests are coming into Europe that really require control,” Huber said. He added that biological pesticides, combined with conventional pesticides and new digital techniques, can be an important part of the toolbox for farmers to deal with these new challenges." . . . . . . Read this complete article and the source of this information at: Pest Control Using Nature's Tools

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solar Fracking Halted in England in Major Government U-turn

The Guardian photo showing Fracking at Cuadrilla’s site in Lancashire was out on hold after a major earth tremor. Photograph: Cuadrilla/PA

 

The GuardianDateline November 1, 2019:   British newspaper The GUARDIAN "The government has banned fracking with immediate effect in a watershed moment for environmentalists and community activists. Ministers also warned shale gas companies it would not support future fracking projects, in a crushing blow to companies that had been hoping to capitalise on one of the new frontiers of growth in the fossil fuel industry. The decision draws a line under years of bitter opposition to the controversial extraction process in a major victory for green groups and local communities. The decision was taken after a new scientific study warned it was not possible to rule out “unacceptable” consequences for those living near fracking sites.

The report, undertaken by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), also warned it was not possible to predict the magnitude of earthquakes fracking might trigger. Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, involves pumping water, chemicals and sand underground at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release trapped oil and gas. The government said it would not agree to any future fracking “until compelling new evidence is provided” that proves fracking could be safe. The UK’s only active fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire was brought to an immediate halt this summer after fracking triggered multiple earth tremors that breached the government’s earthquake limits."Read this complete article and the source of this information at: England Now Bans Fracking

 

Another British news source, phys.org reported. "The recent Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) report found that it was not currently possible to accurately predict hydraulic fracturing's potential for triggering earthquakes, leading Prime Minister Boris Johnson to say he had 'very considerable anxieties' about the extraction of shale gas. The decision comes weeks before Britain goes to the polls in a general election, with the issue expected to be raised during campaigning."Read this complete article and the source of this information at: Fracking Banned in England

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solar6,952 Square Mile Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone

As of August 1, 2019, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) determined that this year's 6,952 square miles Dead Zone, the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico, is the 8th largest ever measured over the 33-years of the study. The data was recorded between July 23 - August 1, 2019. The Red area denotes 2 mg/L of oxygen or lower, the level which is considered hypoxic, at the bottom of the seafloor.

"This year’s Gulf of Mexico “dead zone”— an area of low oxygen that can kill fish and marine life — is approximately 6,952 square miles, according to NOAA-supported scientists. The measured size of the dead zone, also called the hypoxic zone, is the 8th largest in the 33-year record and exceeds the 5,770-square-mile average from the past five years. The annual survey was led by scientists at Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) during a research cruise from July 23 to 29 aboard LUMCON’s R/V Pelican.

In June, NOAA forecasted a near historic hypoxic zone of 7,829 square miles, close to the record size of 8,776 square miles set in 2017. The prediction relies primarily on the Mississippi River discharge and nutrient runoff data during May from the U.S. Geological Survey. With high discharge and nutrient loading this spring and summer, the models predicted a very large hypoxia zone to form during the time of the cruise. The forecast models, however, do not account for large mixing events such as storms, which are only predictable on shorter timescales.

This year, the passage of Hurricane Barry prior to the research cruise helped mix the water column over the Louisiana shelf, which proved to be a temporary disruption to the hypoxic zone that had already formed. Typically, the hypoxic zone changes in size throughout the summer, and when reduced during storms, as seen this year, usually increases once the water column restratifies.

Each year, excess nutrients from cities and farms in upland watersheds drain into the Gulf and stimulate massive algal growth during the spring and summer. The algae eventually die, sink and decompose. Throughout this process, oxygen-consuming bacteria decay the algae. The resulting low oxygen levels near the bottom are insufficient to support most marine life, rendering the habitat unusable and forcing species to move to other areas to survive. Exposure to hypoxic waters has been found to reduce the reproductive capabilities of some fish speciesoffsite link and slow shrimp growth, leading to reductions in theoffsite link average size of shrimp. . . . . . . Read this complete article and the source of this information at: Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone

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solarIs a Mini Ice Age Coming? 'Maunder Minimum' Spurs Controversy

By Elizabeth Goldbaum July 18, 2015 Planet Earth

Image of the sun taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on July 18, 2015.(Image: © NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory)

A scientist who claims waning solar activity in the next 15 years will trigger what some are calling a mini ice age has revived talk about the effects of man-made versus natural disruptors to Earth's climate.

Valentina Zharkova, a professor of mathematics at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom, used a new model of the sun's solar cycle, which is the periodic change in solar radiation, sunspots and other solar activity over a span of 11 years, to predict that "solar activity will fall by 60 percent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the 'mini ice age' that began in 1645," according to a statement.

At the National Astronomy meeting in Llanduno, north Wales last week, Zharkova said that a series of solar phenomena will lead to a "Maunder Minimum," which refers to the seven decades, from 1645 to 1715, when the sun's surface ceased its heat-releasing magnetic storms and coincided with the Little Ice Age, a period of chillier temperatures, from around 1550 to 1850 in Europe, North America and Asia, according to NASA.

"The upcoming Maunder Minimum is expected to be shorter than the last one in 17th century (five solar cycles of 11 years)," Zharkova told Live Science in an email. "It will be lasting about three solar cycles."

However, many scientists are not convinced. Georg Feulner, the deputy chair of the Earth system analysis research domain at the Potsdam Institute on Climate Change Research, has studied the effect a solar minimum might have on Earth's climate. His research has shown that temperature drops correlated to a less intense sun would be insignificant compared with anthropogenic global warming, according to the Washington Post. . . . . . . Read this complete article and the source of this information at: Exploring the Maunder-Minimum-Mini-Ice-Age Theory

 

On the other hand.

 

NASA Report: Greenhouse Gases, Not Sun, Driving Warming

By Wynne Parry February 01, 2012 Planet Earth

The sun's activity recently picked up, as shown here in this image of a massive eruption on its surface on Jan. 23. As part of its 11-year cycle, the sun is now ramping up, after an unusually long lull. The sun's activity recently picked up, as shown here in this image of a massive eruption on its surface on Jan. 23. As part of its 11-year cycle, the sun is now ramping up, after an unusually long lull. (Image: © Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASAGoddard Spaceflight Center & the AIA Consortium) This article was updated at 10:42 a.m. EST on Feb. 2.

A recent, prolonged lull in the sun's activity did not prevent the Earth from absorbing more solar energy than it let escape back into space, a NASA analysis of the Earth's recent energy budget indicates. An imbalance like this drives global warming — since more energy is coming in than leaving — and, because it occurred during a period when the sun was emitting comparatively low levels of energy, the imbalance has implications for the cause of global warming.

The results confirm greenhouse gases produced by human activities are the most important driver of global climate change, according to the researchers.

They found that the Earth absorbed 0.58 watts of excess energy per square meter than escaped back into space during the study period from 2005 to 2010, a time when solar activity was low. By comparison, the planet receives 0.25 watts less energy per square meter during a solar minimum, than during a period of maximum activity in the sun's 11-year cycle. (Currently, the sun is in the midst of Solar Cycle 24, with activity expected to ramp up toward solar maximum in 2013.)

"The fact we still see a positive imbalance despite the prolonged solar minimum isn't a surprise given what we've learned about the climate system," lead researcher James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in a statement. "But it's worth noting, because this provides unequivocal evidence that the sun is not the dominant driver of global warming."

However, in an email to LiveScience, Hansen noted that "the sun is a small but not negligible factor," in determining the size of the imbalance. Over the past decade, the imbalance declined slightly due, in part, to the solar minimum, according to Hansen.

Solar activity refers to the activity of the sun's magnetic field. Fluctuations in solar activity, including magnetic field-powered sunspots and solar flares, have been linked to past changes in climate, including, controversially, the Little Ice Age. Some skeptics have attributed contemporary climate change to natural fluctuations in solar activity, rather than human-emitted greenhouse gases — the explanation endorsed by nearly all climate scientists, including those convened by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Incoming solar radiation is measured by satellites; the recent minimum set records for the reduction in solar radiation since satellite measurements began in the 1970s.

The study appeared in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics in December. . . . . . . Read this complete article and the source of this information at:NASA Report: Greenhouse Gases, Not Sun, Driving Warming

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Fighting For Columbia's Rainforests

Former Farc rebels become eco-warriors to stop deforestation in the Amazon.

Former Farc rebels in Columbia, who spent decades fighting the government over land and power, have reinvented themselves as eco-warriors protecting the Amazon rainforest from illegal logging. According to the government, deforestation in the Columbian Amazon rose by 60% between 2015 and 2018. . . . . . . Read this complete article, the video and the source of this information at:Columbian Fighting For Rainforests

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