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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #7

Posted on 15 February 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Feb 9, 2020 through Sat, Feb 15, 2020

Editor's Pick

ANALYSIS-Climate change opens up 'frontier' farmland, but at what cost to the planet?

Climate change could expand farmland globally by almost a third but would also bring significant environmental threats, including a risk of increased emissions from soils

Organic Carrot Harvest in Germany 

Kenya's livestock herders planting chilli peppers, Pakistan's mountain farmers rearing fish and tropical fruits in Sicily - farmers around the world are already shifting what they grow and breed to cope with rising temperatures and erratic weather.

In a few more decades, potatoes from the Russian tundra and corn from once-frigid areas of Canada could be added to the list as vast swathes of land previously unsuited to agriculture open up to farmers on a hotter planet.

Climate change could expand farmland globally by almost a third, a study by international researchers found this week.

They examined which new areas may become suitable for growing 12 key crops including rice, sugar, wheat, oil palm, cassava and soy.

"In a warming world, Canada's North may become our breadbasket of the future," the scientists wrote.

But, they warned, opening up new "agricultural frontiers" would also bring significant environmental threats, including a risk of increased planet-warming emissions from soils. 

Climate change opens up 'frontier' farmland, but at what cost to the planet?, Analysis by Thin Lei Win, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Feb 15, 2020

Click here to access the entire article.

Articles Linked to on Facebook

Sun, Feb 9, 2020

Mon, Feb 10, 2020

Tue, Feb 11, 2020

Wed, Feb 12, 2020

Thu, Feb 13, 2020

Fri, Feb 14, 2020

Sat, Feb 15, 2020

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Comments 1 to 5:

  1. Re: "Canada's North may become our breadbasket of the future"

    This week on CBC Radio science news program Quirks & Quarks host Bob McDonald interviewed coauthor Evan Fraser about their study on climate-driven expansion of agricultural frontiers.

    Listen at:

    Fraser admitted that geographical and topographical factors such as soil type, hydrology and the vast expanse of exposed or thinly covered Canadian Shield bedrock were not taken into account in their study, which frankly makes their premise somewhat meaningless. I often used to encounter this common and naive mistake from those seeking to downplay the effects of warming climate by insisting that as the midwestern grain belt climate warmed too much the growing of wheat and corn would just shift north into Canada, but it is shocking to see it coming from trained scientists.

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  2. The expansion of farm lands could and probably will release carbon to the atmosphere if past experience is anything to go by.  But there is a possibility that it could actually sequester masses of carbon into the soil.  Read Growing A Revolution by David R Montgomery for chapter and verse.

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  3. It is my understanding that the northern limit of agriculture in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba is defined by the lack of land suitable for agriculture further north, not by climate. I suspect that a similar situation exists in Eurasia and Siberia.

    As for carbon in soils, few to consider that the rich soils of the northern hemisphere's corn and wheat producing regions developed largely in thick parent materials beneath grasslands subject to cold winters.  Once those soils warm up, especially when they cease to freeze in winter, both carbon content and fertility will markedly decline. The far north will never come close to the agricultural productivity of the farmlands that currently support humanity.  

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  4. i posted a comment but it did not appear

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] It appeared.  It was removed because there are dedicated posts on which you've participated in the past that would be more appropriate than the Weekly Roundup thread.  You are welcome to repost it on one of those dedicated posts.

  5. The comment was regarding the Editor's Pick for this week. What thread is that one on?

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