agriculture * food * energy * environment
With a major winter storm blasting its way across the country leaving fridge temperatures, howling winds and a lot snow, global warming may not be on the minds of a lot of people.
But theWorld Meterological Organzation (WMO) reported Tuesday that the year 2009 is likely to rank in the top 10 warmest on record since the beginning of instrumental climate records in 1850.
According to WMO, the global combined sea surface and land surface air temperature for 2009 (January–October) is currently estimated at 0.44°C ± 0.11°C (0.79°F ± 0.20°F) above the 1961–1990 annual average of 14.00°C/57.2°F. The current nominal ranking of 2009, which does not account for uncertainties in the annual averages, places it as the fifth-warmest year. The decade of the 2000s (2000–2009) was warmer than the decade spanning the 1990s (1990–1999), which in turn was warmer than the 1980s (1980–1989).
This year above-normal temperatures were recorded in most parts of the continents, WMO reported. Only North America (United States and Canada) experienced conditions that were cooler than average. Given the current figures, large parts of southern Asia and central Africa are likely to have the warmest year on record.
Climate extremes, including devastating floods, severe droughts, snowstorms, heatwaves and cold waves, were recorded in many parts of the world, according to WMO. This year the extreme warm events were more frequent and intense in southern South America, Australia and southern Asia, in particular. La Niña conditions shifted into a warm-phase El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in June. The Arctic sea ice extent during the melt season ranked the third lowest, after the lowest and second-lowest records set in 2007 and 2008, respectively.
Global warming is not in your backyard type of observable phenomena. Since our planet is mostly water and our oceans are a big weather maker, warming up the seas, even by a degree or two, impacts weather across the globe.
Since 1996, crop plants genetically modified to produce bacterial proteins that are toxic to certain insects, yet safe for people, have been planted on more than 200 million hectares worldwide.
The popularity of these Bt crops, named after the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, comes from their ability to kill some major pests, allowing farmers to save money and lessen environmental impacts by reducing insecticide sprays.
Nebraska farmers planted 91 percent of their corn crop this year to biotech varieties, including Bt crops.
According to lead author of a new study looking at biotech crops, Dr. Bruce E. Tabashnik, “Resistance is not something to be afraid of, but something that we expect and can manage if we understand it. Dozens of studies monitoring how pests have responded to Bt crops have created a treasure trove of data showing that resistance has emerged in a few pest populations, but not in most others. By systematically analyzing the extensive data, we can learn what accelerates resistance and what delays it. With this knowledge, we can more effectively predict and thwart pest resistance.”
Among the authors’ conclusions are:
With Bt crop acreage increasing worldwide, Tabashnik said incorporating enhanced understanding of observed patterns of field-evolved resistance into future resistance management strategies can help to minimize the drawbacks and maximize the benefits of current and future generations of transgenic crops.
Richer nations with competitive crop production and few trade barriers would fare the best if climate change, weather events or other factors cause yields of grain and oilseed crops to become more volatile, a new study has found.
By these criteria, the United States is poised to do well, but France would come out on top, according to the study of 21 countries conducted by economists at Oregon State University.
“It’s important to know this because yields of most rain-fed grains and oilseeds remain highly variable despite decades of agronomic advances,” said the study’s lead author, Jeff Reimer. “Their yields depend largely on weather. Research shows that climate change may increase variability in yields of some crops.”