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Story: What goes around, comes around?

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1 comment on Aug-31-2009   Add a comment   Contributor:  Wavehunter (Aug-17-2009)
Categories: Economic/Financial, Global Warming, Wildlife and Nature

Thousands of years ago the first farmers burnt many hectares of virgin forest to clear land for seed planting. When after several years yields began to decline, they would clear more forest. Though there were few mouths to feed back then, agricultural methods were primitive and inefficient and the forest around must have seemed limitless.

According to recent research from the University of Virginia and University of Maryland-Baltimore County (USA), this activity may have sparked the climatic warming trend we still see today - although it has been vastly accelerated by the widespread burning of fossil fuels in the last two centuries. Ultimately both burning live forests, and burning fossilised forests in the form of coal or oil, add carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere.

Other contemporary research, this time from the University of Hohenheim (Germany), shows the increasing level of CO2 in the atmosphere looks set to affect wheat crops. As early as 2050 wheat is expected to become far less nutritious, with a lower protein content, 8% less iron and 14% more lead - all of which will be detrimental to human health. Other food plants - eucalyptus is one - will also suffer.

We may be able to excuse the first generation of farmers for their ignorance of CO2 and its effects on the climate. Today's generation of farmers, manufacturers, writers, advertisers, marketers, wastrels, speculators, miners, politicians, motorists, educators, actors, tourists, pilots and bloggers cannot be so excused.

The phrase 'we reap what we sow' comes to mind.

Related reading:
  Modern Ocean Acidification Is Outpacing Ancient ... (Jul-5-2014)
  From Farm To Fork (Feb-1-2014)
  Melting Arctic Ice Is Releasing Massive Amounts ... (Dec-22-2011)
  "If your experience is that your food comes from ..." (Jul-19-2011)
  The Shrinking Pie: Post-Growth Geopolitics (Jul-7-2011)
  Happy 35th Birthday, Global Warming! (Aug-27-2010)
  10 Human Fingerprints On Climate Change (Aug-19-2010)
  Another Week On The Trek Toward A Drastically Ch... (Apr-6-2010)
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Comment by: auntiegrav (auntiegrav) (Aug-31-2009)   
This is a good topic to throw up in the air and see what sticks.
The USDA/FDA have data on nutritional content of plants that shows that food from the early 1900's was more nutritious BY FAR than the food we get today. This data seems to confound organic proponents when research doesn't show a drastic difference (in recent testing) between conventional food and organic when it comes to nutrition. (Pesticides are a different story.)
I believe the conundrum is because they aren't comparing food grown slowly in a stressed environment (natural, old fashioned 'wild' food) with modern methods of farming, which stress production quantity first whether organic or conventional.
Foods grown under stress were shown to have higher levels of nutrients in one test.
What we have to consider in that light, then, is a lower level of sustainability to food production from agriculture, or some new methods of agriculture that produce food with more nutrition. I suspect we won't see that kind of data because it would mean we have to seriously consider population/consumption control in conjunction with health care.
It's also a hidden aspect of health care reform: do the foods we eat make us sick, just as they make the planet sick? Are we paying at both ends of the spectrum when we buy cheap food?

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About contributor Member: Wavehunter (William Coffin) Wavehunter (William Coffin)
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Member: Wavehunter (William Coffin) I lived in Britain for many years, where I studied politics and international relations and worked in the charity sector. Now I live in Mexico and juggle my time between bringing up a young son, writing science fiction, teaching English and engaging with the global community on-line. I want to learn more about the enormous changes we all face so we might make a peaceful transition to what is bound to be a very different society.

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