Salt Poisoning Costs Agriculture $27 Billion Every Year

Imagine once healthy farmland rich with the signs of life reduced to a barren wasteland. Even as you walk across it, a strange white crust crunches under your feet, reminding you of the root of the problem: salt. A team of international experts has now found that salt poisoning costs the world an additional 2,000 hectares of agricultural soil every day, and while some of this is natural, a large part can be blamed on irrigation.

Salt is naturally present in most soil already. However, if left to accumulate with the help of irrigation, increasingly high levels of salt can cut crop yields by 15 to 70 percent, and eventually render entire swaths of farmland unusable.

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Now, a new agriculture assessment from the United Nations has found that salt poisoning is affecting more than a fifth of the world’s irrigated soil, and is leading to a gradual loss in productive farmland.

The study, described in the journal Economics of Salt-induced Land Degradation and Restoration, was based on data compiled in an international effort by researchers from Canada, Jordan, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Paying special attention to instances of salt poisoning among irrigated cropland, agricultural and economic experts found that salt poisoning is costing the world a whopping $27.3 billion (USD) in lost crop production. (Scroll to read on…)

“There are other cost implications such as employment losses, increase in human and animal health problems, and treatment costs, infrastructure deterioration (including roads, railways, and buildings), losses on property values of farms with degraded land, and the social cost of farm businesses,” the researchers added. “In addition, there could be associated environmental costs as these lands emit more carbon thus contribute to global warming.”

With these indirect factors considered, that $27.3 billion is but a drop in the bucket of salt poisoning costs, especially as the world’s reliance on irrigation continues to grow. However, a “salt apocalypse” is not upon the world’s farmers just yet.

The authors found that bringing salt-damaged farmlands back into use with the help of trusted chemicals such as gypsum could help. Improving the maintenance and quality of irritation systems to cut down deposited salinity is another option.

The study also acknowledges that these solutions are costly and sometimes even impossible. Most regions that employ strictly irrigated farmland do so because of their lack of regular precipitation in the first place, which makes the regular flushing of accumulating salt a difficult task.

However, the authors are quick to add that “salt-affected lands are a valuable resource that cannot be neglected nor easily abandoned.”

“To feed the world’s anticipated nine billion people by 2050, and with little new productive land available, it’s a case of all lands needed on deck,” principal author Manzoor Qadir said in a statement. “We can’t afford not to restore the productivity of salt-affected lands.”

Article source: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/9908/20141028/salt-poisoning-costs-agriculture-27-billion-year.htm

Children & Nature Network’s Natural Leaders Network Presents Inaugural Legacy Award to Local Outdoor Champions

Natural Leaders Legacy Camp 2014

I’m proud to partner with the Natural Leaders Network and continue this important conversation about connecting more young people in the Latino community to outdoor activities

Kennewick, Wash. (PRWEB) October 28, 2014

The Natural Leaders Network, a program of the Children Nature Network, continues to build momentum around the need for increased diversity in the outdoors. In partnership with The REI Foundation and Senator Patty Murray, they will host a reception to celebrate the honorees of the inaugural Legacy Award in the Tri-cities area. This award pays tribute to three diverse millennial leaders who are engaging their community in outdoor recreation and conservation, which addresses the decline of diversity among outdoor participants and conservationists.

Contreras, Hernandez-Osorio, and Lazaro were chosen by an esteemed panel including Martin Valadez, board member and past president of the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Leonor de Maldonado, Director Columbia Basin College’s High School Academy, and Martin LeBlanc, Senior Vice President of External Affairs from Bainbridge Island based IslandWood. This event will highlight the work being done by these organizations, as well as positive outcomes of the Land and Water Conservation Fund projects in the Tri-Cities area.

“This is a great opportunity for Latino youth to develop their leadership skills while enjoying and learning more about the outdoors,” said Valadez, “As the Latino population grows it’s important for us to prepare our youth to take on leadership roles and to learn how to protect and enjoy the environment.”

The presentation of this award follows other notable events in 2014, including a Congressional Briefing with the office of Senator Patty Murray in Washington D.C., designed to address the existing challenges facing the conservation community, and specifically, the lack of diversity of park users and outdoor enthusiasts, during Great Outdoors America Week in June.

“I’m proud to partner with the Natural Leaders Network and continue this important conversation about connecting more young people in the Latino community to outdoor activities, and to all of the educational and professional opportunities our great outdoors has to offer,” said Senator Murray. “The leaders we’re recognizing today have already done an enormous amount to support this effort, and I look forward to working with them to encourage families and communities across Washington state to enjoy our beautiful public lands.”

“Our students are thrilled to be receiving this recognition. We find that our students consistently demonstrate courage and perseverance in overcoming obstacles. It is an honor that our Latino youth have this opportunity to hone their leadership skills in order to take on their role as community leaders who will promote the protection, enjoyment, and conservation of our natural resources.” said Leonor Maldonado, Director of Columbia Basin College High School Academy.

As the largest and fastest growing demographic group in the country, trends indicate a growing opportunity for Latinos to help contribute to many of the conservation and outdoor recreation challenges we face. For instance, in this year’s 2014 Outdoor Recreation Top line Participation Report, authored by the Outdoor Foundation, young outdoor enthusiasts were slightly more diverse in 2013 than they were in 2012, thanks to increased Hispanic participation. In fact, Hispanic participation increased from eight percent in 2012 to 10 percent in 2013.

“We applaud these award winners for their leadership to inspire their peers, family and community to make recreating outside part of everyday life. Simple encouragement and an open invitation to join a loved one or friend in a natural setting is a very powerful step,” said Marc Berejka, REI director of Government and Community Affairs. “The REI Foundation is a proud supporter of Natural Leaders Network and the Children Nature Network.”

“Engaging the Latino community is key to closing the diversity gap in the conservation and outdoor recreation fields,” said Juan Martinez, Director of the Natural Leaders Network. “We want to take this opportunity to recognize the existing leaders who are already doing this work on the ground, and highlight their accomplishments with the hope of inspiring others in their community to do the same,” he said.

(To follow conversation on Twitter, please use #LegacyAward2014.)

About The Children Nature Network:

Since it’s founding in 2006, the Children Nature Network has been advocating for children, their families and communities to enhance their health and well being through direct experiences in nature. CNN’s vision is a world in which all children play, learn and grow with nature in their everyday lives. The Children Nature Network is leading a movement to connect all children, their families and communities to nature through innovative ideas, evidence-based resources and tools, broad-based collaboration and support of grassroots leadership. CNN provides a wide range of research and user-friendly tools, including those to enhance positive family bonding and access to fun, friendly nature-based activities. For more information, visit childrenandnature.org.


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Article source: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/10/prweb12266739.htm

Yoga, India's ethos of harmony with nature can help environment, UN told

United Nations, Oct 28 (IANS) Pressing ahead with the campaign for an International Day of Yoga, India projected yoga and its reflection of “Indian ethos of harmony with nature” as factors that can help the environment in an age of globalisation and rapid development.

“The holistic approach to life that yoga fosters could contribute not only to an improvement in quality of life but also greater harmony between people and between man and nature,” Amit Narang, a counsellor at the Indian mission here, said Monday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the UNGA last month spoke of what yoga can do for the environment. “By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change,” Modi had said proposing that June 21 be declared International Yoga Day.

Echoing the theme, Narang asserted that that the nation’s wisdom of millennia emphasised a “culture of frugality, of doing more with less, of taking only as much as required from nature and of no wastage. It was particularly relevant for today’s world struggling to manage global commons and achieve sustainable development,” he said during a discussion on globalization and interdependence at a meeting of a UNGA committee.

“The Indian ethos of harmony with nature, of treating nature’s bounties as sacred, of seeking a dialogue with nature rather than seeking to dominate it has special relevance in today’s day and age,” he said.

Globalisation required a free flow ideas and embracing the good ones from all over, he said, adding that India “as a millennia old civilization and with its multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-lingual social ethos and a pluralistic, democratic polity, has a lot to contribute to enrich the global discourse of ideas.”

On other issues impacting globalisation, Narang called for liberalising movement of temporary workers across nations, he said. “Such liberalization would permit mutually beneficial solutions, matching the demand for specialists in developed countries with the availability of such talent in developing countries.”

At the same time, he said international coordination was needed to tackle “irregular migration” which had “serious security implications” and also had led to people trafficking.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at arul.l@ians.in)

Article source: http://en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com/yoga-indias-ethos-harmony-nature-help-environment-un-124420828.html

India's ethos of harmony with nature can help environment, UN told

United Nations, Oct 28 (IANS) In the age of globalisation India’s ethos of harmony with nature can help find solutions for a world struggling to balance the needs of development and the environment, Amit Narang, a counsellor at the Indian Mission said Monday.

“The Indian ethos of harmony with nature, of treating nature’s bounties as sacred, of seeking a dialogue with nature rather than seeking to dominate it, has special relevance in today’s day and age,” he told a UN General Assembly (UNGA) committee that deals with economic and financial matters during a discussion on globalization and interdependence.

Narang referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the UNGA last month extolling yoga’s relevance for the globalized world, in particular for the environment. “The holistic approach to life that yoga fosters could contribute not only to an improvement in quality of life but also greater harmony between people and between man and nature,” Narang said.

He asserted that the nation’s wisdom of millennia emphasised a “culture of frugality, of doing more with less, of taking only as much as required from nature and of no wastage.” It was “particularly relevant for today’s world struggling to manage global commons and achieve sustainable development,” he said.

Globalisation required a free flow ideas and embracing the good ones from all over, he said, adding that India “as a millennia old civilization and with its multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-lingual social ethos and a pluralistic, democratic polity, has a lot to contribute to enrich the global discourse of ideas.”

On other issues impacting globalisation, Narang called for liberalising movement of temporary workers across nations, he said. “Such liberalization would permit mutually beneficial solutions, matching the demand for specialists in developed countries with the availability of such talent in developing countries.”

At the same time, he said international coordination was needed to tackle “irregular migration” which had “serious security implications” and also had led to people trafficking.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at arul.l@ians.in)

Article source: http://en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com/indias-ethos-harmony-nature-help-environment-un-told-034422326.html

India’s ethos of harmony with nature can help environment, UN told

United Nations, Oct 28 (IANS) In the age of globalisation India’s ethos of harmony with nature can help find solutions for a world struggling to balance the needs of development and the environment, Amit Narang, a counsellor at the Indian Mission said Monday.

“The Indian ethos of harmony with nature, of treating nature’s bounties as sacred, of seeking a dialogue with nature rather than seeking to dominate it, has special relevance in today’s day and age,” he told a UN General Assembly (UNGA) committee that deals with economic and financial matters during a discussion on globalization and interdependence.

Narang referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the UNGA last month extolling yoga’s relevance for the globalized world, in particular for the environment. “The holistic approach to life that yoga fosters could contribute not only to an improvement in quality of life but also greater harmony between people and between man and nature,” Narang said.

He asserted that the nation’s wisdom of millennia emphasised a “culture of frugality, of doing more with less, of taking only as much as required from nature and of no wastage.” It was “particularly relevant for today’s world struggling to manage global commons and achieve sustainable development,” he said.

Globalisation required a free flow ideas and embracing the good ones from all over, he said, adding that India “as a millennia old civilization and with its multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-lingual social ethos and a pluralistic, democratic polity, has a lot to contribute to enrich the global discourse of ideas.”

On other issues impacting globalisation, Narang called for liberalising movement of temporary workers across nations, he said. “Such liberalization would permit mutually beneficial solutions, matching the demand for specialists in developed countries with the availability of such talent in developing countries.”

At the same time, he said international coordination was needed to tackle “irregular migration” which had “serious security implications” and also had led to people trafficking.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at arul.l@ians.in)

Article source: http://nvonews.com/indias-ethos-of-harmony-with-nature-can-help-environment-un-told/

Book review: ‘Second Nature’ details complex environmental history of New …

Writing an environmental history of New England is a Sisyphean task; in fact, it’s several of them.

The region is hardly monolithic. Neither is “environmental history.” Is it a history of land use? Of natural resource exploitation? Of changes in the landscape? How does it mesh with the human events being played out across its mountains and plains, forests and fields, rivers and coast?

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Review

“Second Nature: An Environmental History of New England.” By Richard W. Judd. University of Massachusetts Press. May 2014. Paperback. 328 pages. $24.95.

Even the word “environmental” – and its close cousin, “conservation” – is tricky, having implied different things over the centuries.

Richard Judd is certainly no stranger to these problems. “This book is an experiment,” he announces with his first sentence. Historically, his subject has been addressed from two points of view: either the environment determines the culture of those living in it or the culture of those living in it subdues and degrades the environment. “I resolved to combine these approaches by describing nature and culture not as antagonistic or even as dialectical, but essentially as an ecological whole: a bioregion.”

For better or for worse, New England has essentially nothing left of its “true first-nature wilderness.” Instead, it contains “several iconic second-nature landscapes, ranging from working woods to rolling farmland.” Hence the title of the book.

“Second Nature” begins with the arrival of humans following the retreat of the glaciers some 12,000 years ago. Although we complacently assume that the first 10,500 of those years were a period of little change, Judd demonstrates with considerable detail the different Native American cultures, how a warming climate changed the ecology and how indigenous customs reacted to these changes.

With the arrival of agriculture, “Gardens had to be defended against weeds and animals, which added a degree of tension in a society’s consciousness of the natural world,” Judd writes. “This tension probably crystallized village leadership and emphasized the arts of warfare, diplomacy, and ceremony; relations with other peoples became more important than relations with the natural world.”

Then the Europeans arrived. Judd, who is chairman of the history department at the University of Maine, takes the reader through the colonial period and then focuses on the “ecologies of frontier farming.”

At times, his narrative raises the question of where to draw the line between “regular” and environmental history. The Beaver Wars were “perhaps the most brutal in North American history,” but except for their range – Cape Breton to the Chesapeake to the Great Lakes – that’s all we learn. That is probably more than enough, given his topic, but it is tantalizing, to say the least, to one who never heard of them.

Judd grapples with another challenge: Beauty and/or evil are in the eye of the beholder. Farming in the new republic was seen as “harmonious adjustment” and the “only successfully blended … natural and man-made environment that America has ever known” by one generation of historians, but as environmental abuse by the next. Judd’s scrupulous inclusion of a wide range of points of view (there are 50 pages of notes) frequently leaves the reader reeling.

In the section covering the 19th century and the Industrial Age, he is particularly insightful on the Romantics, the artists and writers who paved the way for summer rusticators. And he has an interesting way of approaching the industrial landscape – the cities and mills – as “products of nature as well as constructions of culture.”

Finally, he leads us through the conservation efforts of the past more than 150 years. “Saving second nature,” he sums up, “was less dramatic than protecting the great earth monuments of the West, but it was a goal worth pursuing at a time when ‘first’ nature was shrinking at an alarming rate.… New England’s preservationist achievements remain, today more than ever, the region’s greatest gift to the American environmental legacy.”

There is a plethora of fascinating material in “Second Nature,” but its organization led to confusion, if not apparent contradictions.

Some of the author’s references to European history seem eccentric. European conquest, he writes, was framed by, among other things, “dispossession of indigenous peoples in Moorish Iberia.” The Moors were hardly indigenous. They had conquered the Iberian peninsula in the early 8th century, and the Spanish “Reconquista” started almost at once.

Although Judd does not wish to propose “a simple celebration of second-nature landscapes,” I suspect he would agree, as I do, with T.S. Eliot that “it is not necessarily those lands which are the most fertile or most favored in climate that seem to me the happiest, but those in which a long struggle of adaptation between man and his environment has brought out the best qualities of both.”

Thomas Urquhart is the author of “For the Beauty of the Earth” and “A Certain Persistence of Character: Land Conservation in Maine – 1900-2000.”

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Article source: http://www.pressherald.com/2014/10/26/book-review-second-nature-details-complex-environmental-history-of-new-england/

World’s largest snake species has ‘virgin birth’

Thelma, an 11-year-old reticulated python – the longest species of snake in the world – laid 61 eggs in the summer of 2012. This is despite having had no contact with a male in her four years at Louisville Zoo in Kentucky, USA.

After six months of extensive tests on the shed skins of the mother and her daughters, a study published in July this year in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society confirmed that Thelma was the sole parent, in the first recorded example of virgin birth in the species.

Bill McMahan, Curator of Ectotherms at Louisville Zoo, told National Geographic: “We didn’t know what we were seeing. We had attributed it to stored sperm. I guess sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.”

The research revealed that offspring were in fact the result of terminal fusion automixis, a process whereby cells known as polar bodies fuse with the egg to trigger cell division, effectively acting as sperm.

 

McMahan added: “It is not uncommon for a snake to lay infertile eggs, so the staff was surprised when the eggs appeared to be full and healthy instead of shrunken and discoloured shells.

“It is a very exciting thing to be able to witness something like that first hand, especially something that has never been documented before in this species.”

Virgin births have been observed in other species of reptiles, including other pythons, as well as birds and sharks.

The process of fatherless reproduction in animals that normally require two parents is called parthenogenesis, although it is still a mystery to scientists, who are unable to explain the phenomenon.

Article source: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/worlds-largest-snake-species-gives-virgin-birth-9818968.html