Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations


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Climate Change has been at the Root of Major Famines

Drought in India

Indian drought causes famine.

“The demand and supply of food has been in a delicate balance for the human species throughout history.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

October 30, 2018—–The term famine produces an image of starvation and suffering in the minds of most people. In general a famine is a lack of food sufficient to produce malnutrition in large numbers of people over a wide area. The United Nations considers several conditions for a regional food shortage to be considered a famine. They are:

1. At least 20% of families in the area face extreme food shortages that they cannot cope with.
2. Acute malnutrition in children exceeds 20%.
3. The death rate exceeds two persons for each 10,000 people per day.

The Role of Climate Change in Historic Famines

There are many causes of famine, including climate changes, war, and political policies. One of the major ones is drought. Most of the catastrophic famines in historic times have been precipitated by drought. Drought can affect the quality and quantity of crop yields and the food supply for domestic animals. In the case of severe drought there may be a substantial loss of domestic animals due to lack of food. The loss of milk products or meat itself can precipitate the effects of the drought.

The demand and supply of food has been in a delicate balance for the human species throughout history. When the food supply has increased there has been a gain in population, and when food has been in short supply there has been some sort of trauma inflicted on the populace. Starvation results from insufficient food intake. During the long period of the hunting and gathering societies, starvation was probably often near at hand for individuals, family groups and tribes.

Indian drought

Millions effected by the drought

Agriculture and Famine

The development of agriculture allowed the world population to expand rapidly and greatly. At the same time, the basis for the supply of food, namely agriculture, became more directly dependent upon the weather. Famine as a phenomenon did not become a part of human experience until after agriculture began. However, as agriculture expanded so did the frequency of famines. The number of times that famine has spread on the continents is enormous. Nearly all histories of peoples and nations record famines.

Great famines have occurred throughout the Asian continent. India, China, Russia and the countries of the Middle East have all suffered from famine, many times which were drought related. An example is the famine described as occurring during the time of Abraham (about 2247 B.C). Another massive famine occurred in Egypt prior to the exodus of the Israelites. Drought and famine are endemic in India and China. The oldest record of famine in India goes back to 400 B.C. and in China to 108 B.C. Since the time of the earliest known famine there have been nearly continuous episodes of drought and famine in many parts of Asia or Africa.

Indian drought

Global warming raises temperatures around the world.

The Impact of Drought in Developing Countries

Drought has a much greater impact on people in developing countries than it does in industrial societies. The primary reason for this is that in the developing countries there is more dependence on agriculture as a way of life. When crops fail, or there isn’t enough forage for livestock, there is an immediate effect on the populace.

A very positive aspect of famine is that they are becoming fewer and less extensive due to the ability of the global economy to move large quantities of food from place to place.

Climate change and famine

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Climate Change: Investing in Education for Girls


“Early marriage of girls, because of drought and extreme weather, forces them to stay in existing conditions of poverty.”

Drawdown

Global warming and educating girls.

By Linn Smith

October 25, 2018—-What does educating girls have to do with climate change? According to a book called “Drawdown” by Paul Hawken, educating girls is a climate solution which could save 59.6 gigaton (millions of tons) of CO2 in our atmosphere by 2050.

Hawkins says that in many countries such as Africa, girls marry early, which extends the length of childbearing years. More than 700 million girls worldwide today have married as children. In countries where drought, flooding and extreme weather have affected resources, to ease the burden on families and collect the dowries, girls are married as children. So it’s a circle of devastation for our planet. Girls marry because of climate extremes which perpetuates climate change with population increases!

Drawdown

Education and family planning decreases the effects of climate change.

Ending Child Marriage

The following excerpt is from the article, “Ending Child Marriage in Africa” by Annerieke Smaak, “This man went to my uncles and paid a dowry of 80 cows. I resisted the marriage. They threatened me. They said, ‘If you want your siblings to be taken care of, you will marry this man.’ I said he is too old for me. They said, ‘You will marry this old man whether you like it or not because he has given us something to eat.'”

Girls give up school in drought conditions, staying home to carry water long distances or help find food for the family. Hawken states, “In Malawi, some people estimate 30-40% of child marriages are due to poverty caused by flooding and drought due to climate change.”

climate change

Education and family planning for girls

Reproductive Choices for Women

Educating women in reproductive choices will help tackle birth rates by improving lives when we make families secure with necessary resources. Supporting girls education is a positive investment benefiting the family, community, planet, and the girls themselves.

Educated women have smaller families. Data shows that girls with 12 years of education or more will have 4-5 fewer kids than girls with little or no education. This directly effects a country’s economy as failure to educate can cost the global economy 15-30 trillion dollars.

Hawkins states “The exact dynamic between family planning and girls’ education is impossible to determine, but our models allocate 50% of the total potential impact to each….by funding education and family planning it would close an annual financing gap of $39 billion to lower income counties for implementing these solutions.”

Hawkins Drawdown

Early marriage leads to more children.

Early Marriage and Climate Change

Finally, Christina Wauk and Amanda Braga state, “Early marriage of girls, because of drought and extreme weather, forces them to stay in existing conditions of poverty, vulnerability and marginalization that perpetuates low-skill development. Climate change increases peoples’ vulnerability to the shocks of weather related disaster and exuberant existing gender inequalities that obstruct opportunities for a girl’s social and economic empowerment.”

Educating and family planning for girls in lower socio-economic countries is one of the many solutions we need to look at in alleviating future climate destruction!

Educating girls and climate change


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Refugee Population Explodes

“What the future is for global refugees is unknown.”

Overpopulaton

Overpopulation and turmoil leads to current migration patterns.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

September 21, 2018—–Refugees are a particular group of migrants. Refugees are people fleeing violence or being forced to move by violent groups and cannot safely return. Refugees have often been subject to practically every form of physical and mental abuse known to the human species. They include beheading, burning alive, and rape. Most refugees leave their home country but a large portion move from one part of their home country to another. Most people become refugees for being a part of a group of people that are disliked or hated by another group, which is often a larger group.

The refugee group may be identified on ethnic, religious reasons, or simply despised for economic reasons. An example of an economic basis might be a group of people that controls most of the good agricultural land. Many people have become refugees due to internal problems within their countries. South Sudan is one such country. More than 2.5 million people have, or are seeking safety outside their own country. The problem in the country is the struggle for power between different tribes.

Global Distribution of Refugees

There are refugee groups in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Perhaps the best known group of refugees today are those in the Middle East, particularly in Syria where the number of refugees from the civil war numbers in the millions. The United Nations estimates the total number of global refugees at more than 65 million. The number of refugees crossing national boarders is estimated to be more than 25 million.

By continent the numbers of refugee believed to exist are:
Africa, 6.6 million
Europe 6.1 million
Middle East & North Africa:2.6 million
The Americas: 480.000 .

By country the five countries which have contributed the most refugees are:
Syria: 6+ million
Afghanistan: 2.6 million
South Sudan: 2.4 million
Myanmar: 1.2 million
Somalia: 0.9 million (World Vision Star)

Refugee Camps

Scattered throughout the regions where refugees have escaped to are large refugee camps. A refugee camp is an area controlled by a government, national, or international agencies. A camp is constructed as a temporary featyre and the services are also provided on a temporary bases.

Worlds 10 largest Refugee Camps (Source: Raptim.org}
1. Kutupalong in Cox’s Bazarr, Bangladesh 885,000+
2. Bidi Bidi: Northwest Uganda 285,000
3. Dadaab Refugee complex: Kenya 235,000
4. Kakuma : Kenya 184,000+
5. Nyarugusu Kigoma Tanzania 139,000+
6. Jabaliea: Gaza Strip 119,000+
7. Zaatari: Jordan 80,000+
8. Yida: South Sudan 70,000+
9. Katumba: Tanzania 66,000+
10. Pugnido: Ethiopia 53,000 +

What the future is for global refugees is unknown. However, based on economic policies that exist around the world today and the growing global population it would quite reasonable to see the numbers rise.

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Irrigation and Water Depletion in the Southwest United States

Water depletion

Irrigation in the Southwest U.S.

“We need to work together to feed the world, but we also need to work together to save and monitor our water resources.”

By Linn Smith

August 26, 2018—- On the farmland of my youth in the Midwest, my brothers and I spent much time baling hay for our cattle, but water was plentiful and plants thrived with no irrigation. Cows were in green pastures in the summertime and in winter months we fed hay when grasses died.

Farming in the Southwest

When traveling to southern New Mexico and southern Arizona, I often see hay and cotton fields in the middle of the desert and semi arid terrain. It seems an unlikely place to grow crops that have high water needs! 

Today the Southwest is water-stressed with many lawsuits taking place, both privately and between states, over water rights. The projection is that reduced precipitation by mid-century will result in reduced runoff into the water basins that feed irrigated fields.

I recently heard a local resident from Arizona say that Saudi Arabia was buying land in Arizona and California’s arid landscape for growing hay and shipping it back to their country. The export of hay (grasses grown for feeding animals) is booming in the U. S., with the amount of hay leaving the west coast ports increasing yearly. In 2017, the total exports of alfalfa and other hay reached 4.2 million metric tons and is continuing to grow.

The fact that hay and cotton are being exported is healthy for our economy, as many U.S. farmers are growing and exporting this commodity, mostly from states that require little irrigation for agriculture. The issue is growing crops in the desert Southwest in what is fast becoming an area where water is not replenishing itself in the rivers and reservoirs.

The Colorado river

Farmers in the Southwest are left little water for irrigation.

Depletion of our Water Resources

What is healthy for our aquifers and rivers when they are not replenishing? Doug Kenny, Director of the Western Water Policy Program at University of Colorado, says about potential water shortage. “Right now, it’s the effort to maintain the levels of water stored in the big reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell. They’re about half full, which is about as low as they can go before mandatory cuts in water deliveries. It’s a math problem—managing water coming in vs. water going out. So far this century, people have pulled more water out than consistently flows in. That has to change.”

Saudi Arabia and the Southwest

 Most crops will only thrive with irrigation in the arid Southwest.  Saudi Arabia is confronting a major depletion in its aquifers which has brought its wheat and hay production to a halt. They have bought 1,000’s of acres in arid parts of the U.S., Arizona and Southern California (and several other countries), allowing them to take advantage of the U.S. water laws. The Laws of the Colorado River are currently under scrutiny by the Upper and Lower Basin states because of continuing depletion of the river and Lake Mead, which supplies water to the lower Colorado river basin states. Most crops will only thrive with irrigation in the arid Southwest.

The drought of Southwest U.S.

Lake Mead depletion

Southern California: Irrigating Crops vs Urban Use

In Southern California the Metropolitan Water District pays landowners to fallow their land, letting it lay without planting crops so that water is freed up for urban areas. Since 2005, over $200 million has been paid to farmers not to grow crops on this program. This allows water to be directed to Los Angeles and other cities in Southern California.

Has this program enabled corruption and profit from drought conditions? A single recipient, Fisher Ranch, owned by a board member of the operation, has received over $27 million a year since 2005 for leaving his land fallow.

Colorado River

Depletion of water for crop irrigation

The Water Crisis

As I continue to study depleting water conditions in the Western U.S., I realize in 20 years, if not sooner, we are going to be facing a water crisis due to climate change and over allotment of water rights and usage. We need to ask ourselves what changes are necessary today to alleviate the impending crisis.

Water shortage is going to be a complex problem in the future requiring many people to make sacrifices. We need to work together to feed the world, but we also need to work together to save and monitor our water resources. Education and awareness is a place to start.

The Southwest Water Crisis

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Global Population on the Move: Few Places to Go

Overpopulaton

Overpopulation and turmoil leads to current migration patterns.

“There is no easy solution to the growing human stress, but there are humane solutions.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

August 12, 2018—-People in many parts of the world move in a rhythmic fashion with the seasons. Some follow herds of livestock or wildlife that move with the seasonal rains. However, the use of the term human migration is generally applied to those people that move from one region to another on a long term, or permanent basis.

People have been migrating from the time the species originated. Today migrants number in the millions and they frequently cross national borders. They are fleeing from violence, hunger, unemployment, and poverty. Unfortunately, doors are legally closing for many of them and so they turn to crossing borders illegally. Most of these are soon caught and taken to detention centers. Such detention centers are found in many countries in Europe as well as in the United States, Australia, and Japan. How long they are detained in detention centers varies considerable. Some are held for a specific period of time and in some centers they are held indefinitely. Most are sent back to the country of origin. A few are granted entry visas.

migration and population

Overpopulation can lead to migration

Across the Mediterranean

In mid-summer of 2018, there are millions of people attempting to cross international borders. Up until recently there has been a major flow of refugees across national borders. Examples are the steady flow of refugees across the Mediterranean Sea into Greece, Italy, and other countries. At present a wave of nationalism is spreading across the earth greatly slowing or stopping this flow. This is visible in the alt-right movement in Europe.

The alt-right consists of a group of organizations made up of white supremacists. It includes neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers. As a result, immigration is being limited. The primary reason is there are no longer economic opportunities available for the incoming migrants in the destination countries. These countries are already experiencing over-population. Where there has been over-population in many of the less developed countries, it is becoming apparent even in the developed countries.

Overpopulation and migration

Overpopulaton leads to turmoil.

The American/Mexican Border

No place has the door been slammed harder than along the border between Mexico and the United States. The president of the United States (POTUS) has tried for all practical purposes to close the border. The difficulty in getting into the United States legally has been greatly increased. Crossing into the United States illegally has resulted in horrific measures to stop it. At the time of this writing there are still more than 500 young children that have not been united with their parents. Near the end of July, POTUS threatened to shut down the government if congress does not provide the money to build his wall along the border. This is an example of the turmoil each country faces in dealing with migration.

The World Problem

The examples presented here are just that. The problem also exists along national borders in Africa, Asia, and South America. Widespread over-population results in more and more attempted migration. At the same time there is increased resistance to immigration by more and more nations.

Adding another 83,000,000 people to the planet each year can only exacerbate the problem. There is no easy solution to the growing human stress, but there are humane solutions.

Population and Migration


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The Origin of Lawns and Their Environmental Impact

“We should all know by now that lawns of green grass aren’t so “green” for the environment.”

By Linn Smith

This is an article I published several years ago, but felt it needed reiterating, as it is summer, the time most people drag their mowers out if the garage. Our changing climate requires rethinking our former habits.

Sustainable living

It’s our responsibility to change.

Lawns of the 16th century

Lawns are not a natural part of our environment. Lawns originated around the 16th century as grassy fields around English and French castles. Trees were cut down around the castles, leaving only grassy fields that would reveal an enemy coming forth in the wide open spaces. When the trees were cut, the grasses and flowers sprouted naturally, creating a meadow. “Lawn” originated from the word Launde, which means an opening in the woods. The moist climate of Europe supported these grassy meadows which eventually became our lawns of today.

The History of Grass Lawns

“Grass” is from the plant family Gramineae, which has over 9000 species of plants. In the late 16th century “grass” lawns became fashionable, rapidly catching on among the wealthy. In 16th and 17th centuries lawns were mostly wildflowers and herbs such as chamomile.

Origination of the Lawn

The castles created meadows, “lawns”, to watch for
approaching enemies.

Until the 19th century, mowing consisted of a scythe, shears for edge trimming, a gardener to maintain the lawns, and/or cattle and sheep grazing around the estates. In the 18th century this was a sign of the wealth, the vast lawn showing the amount of wealth of the owner (reminds me of Jane Austin novels)–lawns implied a staff and servants with scythes, shears and edging irons.

Mowers: Creating Easier Lawn Maintenace

In 1870 the push mower was invented, and in 1919 the gasoline mower allowed for much less effort in maintaining a lawn. (A note of interest: during World War 1, Woodrow Wilson had a flock of sheep, about fifty, cutting the White House lawn, which saved manpower during the war. He sold their wool to the Red Cross.)

When the suburbs sprouted up in the U.S. after the war, the architects created lawns around homes, which increased the value of the house and was inviting to the post war families who enjoyed lawn games of croquet, badminton, ect. In the late 1940’s and 1950’s, houses were sold with lawns already in place. With the gasoline mower and the sprinkler system, the lawns were easily maintained.

Xeriscaping

Save water with Xeriscaping

The Downside of the Beautiful Lawn

So, here’s the downside of our beautiful, European lawns today! In an article on Smithsonian.com, Sarah Zielinski says it nicely, “We should all know by now that lawns of green grass aren’t so “green” for the environment. Keeping turf from turning brown wastes water, people use too many pesticides and herbicides, toxic chemicals that contaminate the fish we eat and water we drink. And mowing burns fossil fuels, releasing greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Plus nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas, is released into the atmosphere with fertilization!”

And one more negative impact of our nice lawns–we are harming the bee population which we depend so heavily on for pollinating the wonderful foods we love! So, unless you are maintaining your lawn with only a scythe, push mower or sheep, maybe it’s time to rethink what we plant in our yards!

Overpopulation and hunger

A depletion of resources.

Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping is a water conserving method that orginated in Colorado. It originated from the Greek word “Xero”, which means dry and “Scape” meaning view. It does not mean zero landscaping. It does mean planting plants that will do well with little watering. The plants are not necessarily native to the area, but are selected for their water conserving abilities.

Xeriscaping makes more water available to the community and the environment and reduces maintenance, with just occasional weeding and mulching. Less cost and less maintenance leaves more time for other things! Xeriscaping also reduces water pollution, as herbicides and pesticides don’t end up in the groundwater.

New Mexico has been planting the most beautiful yards using water conserving plants for centuries! It’s time to rethink our beautiful lawns and think about creating beautiful Xeriscaped yards instead!

Lawns of green grass aren’t so “green” for the environment!

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Global Violence Is a Symptom of Overpopulation and the Need to Limit Growth

Aristotle

Poverty and Revolution

“There are many factors which precipitate violence. Poverty and unemployment are two key ones in today’s world.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

March 16, 2018—-Among the symptoms of global overpopulation and the need to limit population growth are widespread human health problems, resource depletion, and migration. Violence must be added to these symptoms.

Violence can be defined as the use of physical force to injure or abuse another person or persons. It also includes mental injury due to the distorting of the truth or verbal abuse. It should be pointed out that most violence does not result in death. Among the elements that most often lead to violence are: poverty, resource depletion, regional health problems, such as under nutrition, and alternative facts. These factors are often difficult to separate from one another. By far the greatest number of acts of violence do not result in death. These acts include physical assaults such as rape and beatings. Verbal abuse and threats of physical violence are also widespread, particularly. Deaths due to violence have increased in recent decades. In 2013, the most recent year for which the World Health Organization has data, an estimated 1.3 million people died from violence. Self inflicted action, or suicide, was responsible for the greatest share of the deaths, 65% of the total.

Crime and revolution

Poverty and Crime result from overpopulaton.

Violence by Individuals

Violence involving relationships between individuals accounts for another 32% of deaths. In the interpersonal death by violence, knifes and guns were the primary weapons used. The United States is the worlds leader in death by firearms. Approximately 70% of all guns privately owned on the planet are in the United Sates, mostly by men. In total numbers it is estimated there are about 300 million guns privately owned in the United States. In the last few years death by gun has passed the 30,000 mark. It now exceeds those killed in automobile accidents. Mass shootings are increasing in frequency and numbers killed. Many of these involve killing children in schools.

Overpopulation and hunger

A depletion of resources.

Group Violence

The remaining deaths were due to war between tribes or nations. In today’s world extreme violence has become global. Religion is one of the factors in group violence and tribal wars. The best known of these tribal wars is that between Christianity and Islam. However, there is violence between Islamic groups and between groups classified as Christians. The clash between Shiite and Sunni Muslims is one example. Within the major religions there are often extremist sections that promote violence such as the Ku Klux Klan in the United States and Isil in the middle east.

Contributing Factors and Trends

There are many factors which precipitate violence. Poverty and unemployment are two key ones in today’s world. The prospects for much of the population in the poor countries are not good. It should be clear that the income gap is contributing to global unrest and increased violence. Most of the increase in national wealth will go to just a few people.

One can only conclude there will be more and more violence as civil uprisings by every large numbers of people as they protest the continual decrease in income and resources available to them. It should be reiterated that the vast majority of violence does not result in death. However, the physical and mental pain that accompanies non-fatal incidents is just as real and long lasting.

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Global unrest and violence


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The State Of The Human Species On Planet Earth

By Dr. John J. Hidore

“Undernutrition is probably the greatest health problem in the world today.”

February 2, 2018—-The human population on planet Earth has grown astonishingly fast and spread over the earth as few other species have. Global population is growing faster than at any time in history. We are now adding over 200,000 people per day to the planet. This amounts to 85,000,000 people each year.

What is astonishing is how fast the rate of growth has been increasing. It took hundreds of thousands of years for the first billion to be reached in about 1800. The last billion was added in just 12 years from 1999 to 2011. At the beginning of 2018 global population growth stood at about 7.6 billion.

Adding the billions

1 billion 1800 200,000 Years of population growth for modern humans
2 billion 1930 130 years
3 billion 1960 30 years
4 billion 1974 14 years
5 billion 1987 13 years
6 billion 1999 12 years
7 Billion 2011 12 years
8 Billion 2023-2025 12-15 years (Date estimated from various sources)

Are there enough resources for overpopulation?

With climate change will there be enough resources for all?

Food Shortages and Undernourishment

In the early 21st Century, global food production is the highest it has ever been. However, the availability of food varies greatly from place to place. Estimates of the number of people on Earth facing food shortages today vary between 800,000 and two billion. Globally, undernutrition is probably the greatest health problem in the world today. It is clear that food production and distribution is not keeping up with demand regionally, if not globally.

Undernutrition does not mean starvation. It means those suffering from undernutrition are in some way being physically affected by not getting either enough food or not getting the right kind of food. The extreme health problem is starvation.

According to data from the UN, in 2016 the number of people experiencing undernutrition grew to an estimated 815 million. Of these, approximately 200 million children suffered some form of reduced physical growth.

overpopulation

Overpopulation and climate change creates environmental stress.

Fresh Water Shortages

The absence of safe water to drink is widespread over the planet. Estimates if the number of people suffering from a shortage of safe water for drinking ranges from 600 million upwards to two billion. Over a third of the global human population now lives in water stressed regions. The ratio of population living with water related stress may increase by half by 2100. Disease is common in areas where there is no safe water to drink. Diarrhea is the most common problem resulting from contaminated water. Cholera is also prevalent.

South Sudan is one of many countries suffering from a shortage of potable water. It is estimated that less than half of the population has access to safe water. In some areas of the country women must spend an hour or more each day to get to a safe water supply and return. The trip must be made regardless of danger.

In the country of Puerto Rico, which was devastated by a hurricane last September, many residents do not have access to safe drinking water four months after the event.

At the time of this writing the city of Capetown, South Africa, with a population of four million, is faced with the possible shutoff of its water supply. Unless rains come soon this may happen within a few months. A three year drought in the watershed is responsible for the problem. How the population will react to the situation remains to be seen.

Overpopulation and violence

Overpopulation can cause world disaster.

Lack of Sanitation Facilities

Between a half billion and a billion people do not have access to a sanitary toilet facility. The majority live in Asia, but this lack of sanitation is spread over the globe, including countries such as Haiti and Mexico. In the beginning when human population numbers were small and scattered, defecating in the open was the standard. This behavior probably predominated over most of human history. It has only been in the last few thousand years that it has not been the standard. As population densities have grown it has become unacceptable. The activity became not only unsavory but unhealthy, as it became a mechanism for transmitting disease. Defecating in the open, whether in fields or vacant lots, is responsible for a many diseases and fatalities, particularly among children. Diarrhea is common among children that play in areas used for defecation. Diarrhea is estimated to kill more than 600,000 children a year under the age of five. The UN estimated that in 2016 nearly 40% children in India had stunted growth due to a combination of undernutrition and disease. The problem now is the numbers and concentration of people spreading diseases through unsanitary conditions.

That the human population has been successful on the planet is clearly evident from the growing numbers. However, while the population has grown by leaps and bounds, there has been, and currently is, much suffering by a substantial portion of the population. The number facing severe problems of survival at the current time is the greatest in history.

Inherent in this situation are two problems. One is the tremendous rate of growth of the population itself. The second is that of the uneven distribution of wealth and resources. Both the population growth rate and the unequal distribution of resources could be changed fairly rapidly, but is unlikely. It appears neither the wealthiest one per cent nor the world religions want to reduce population growth. In the last year for which data is available 82% of all income went to the richest one percent.


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 Agrivoltaics: Growing Food for the Future

Agrivoltaics

Agrivoltaics: Food and Solar

“Agrivoltaics combines agriculture with energy efficiency while growing plants beneath solar panels.”

By Linn Smith

January 28, 2018—- Co-location means two or more groups, sharing the same place. Agrivoltaics, also known as Agrophotovoltaics, means using the same piece of land for solar power plus agriculture. Agrivoltaics, or solar farming, is a new way of growing plants, combining agriculture with energy efficiency while growing plants beneath solar panels.

Agrivoltaics: Dual Use of Land

In 1981, Adolf Goetzberger and Armin Zastrow developed the idea to improve overall production of crops. Dr. Goetzberger founded the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Germany. His work involved making solar an alternative to fossil fuels. In 1981, he published a paper titled, “Potatoes under the Collector,” which proposed a setup for solar energy systems in combination with agricultural land use.

agrivoltaics

Growing food with solar

Dr. Eicke Weber, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute stated, “In view of the dynamic worldwide growth of solar installations of the last decade and the increase in land usage resulting from solar installation systems, innovative concepts, like agrophotovoltaics (agrivoltaics) which facilitates the dual usage of agricultural land, help to further and accelerate the transformation of the global energy system.”

Dr. Goetzberger used the term Agrophotovoltaics or APV, as a method of harvesting the sun for both power and production of crops. APV is currently an ongoing project in Germany which demonstrates that land for both growing crops and solar electricity are compatible. Dual use of the land is resource efficient, reduces competition for land and opens up a new source of income for farmers.

The APV System

The APV system was installed on organic farmland in Germany in 2015. Approximately seven acres were used to produce crops under the ground-mounted solar panels, which were built about 5 yards off the ground. Four different crops were planted. The land in use not only generates electricity from the solar panels but is also growing food. The solar panels provide a uniform light distribution on the crops using reflection. To prove their theory, they also planted a control plot nearby using the same 4 crops, excluding the solar panels. The scientists wanted to determine which crops would grow best. Result: The crops under the APV system produced about 80% of that of the control crop. This experiment is ongoing and data will be analyzed in 2018.

agrivoltaics

Agrivoltaics: Growing food to feed the planet.

Agrivoltaics and Biosphere2

A similar experiment was being conducted at Biosphere2 when I visited several weeks ago. This research, headed by Barron-Gafford, Assistant Professor, revealed that the solar system above the crops created a warmer environment than normal when no plants were beneath , similar to the heat-island effect that happens in cities surrounded by cement and asphalt. He stated, “So think about it, if you get rid of all the plants when you put in renewables energy, you’ve gotten rid of that cooling potential… plants under the panels would allow the air to circulate and would take up carbon for photosynthesis by opening up their pores, or stomata, while letting water escape from their leaves and you get a warmer environment. We wanted to see if you put the cooling effect back into the system by growing plants beneath the solar panels, you can actually cool those panels back down and mitigate that heat island effect.”

When solar panels get too warm they start to lose their efficiency. By growing plants beneath the panels they can cool down and retain that efficiency, which makes for more renewable energy per parcel of land. The panels also shade the plants, reduce evaporation and the crops require less water to grow underneath.

agrivoltaics

Agrivoltaics

In the future, as world population grows, solar and land for food must not be in competition. The world population today is approximately 7.6 billion. Two hundred years ago it was 1 billion. At the close of the 21st century the population will be more than 11 billion. The question remains…will we be able to feed our planet’s population and meet the demand for clean energy?

Agrivoltaics and Clean Energy

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Migration and Human Overpopulation

Overpopulation and violence

Overpopulation can cause world disaster.

There are a number of attributes of the human population occurring globally that indicate overpopulation and the need to limit growth”.

By Dr. John J Hidore

October 26, 2017—When the term migration comes up in conversation most people think of migration of wildlife with the seasons. For people living in the northern hemisphere, it is the migration of birds with the seasons that most often comes to mind. 

Flocks of ducks and geese moving south for the winter are common sights in some areas. The longest bird migration is that of the Arctic tern. This bird breeds in the Arctic in the summer and then flies to the Antarctic to spend the summer. The birds make a round trip of 44,000 miles.

All change is not growth

Moving Backwards

Animal Migrations

Others think of the annual migration of herds of African animals that migrate to follow the seasonal rains. The wildebeest is an example of the latter. Huge herds of these animals travel from the Serengeti in Tanzania across the Mara River into Kenya and back.

Human Migration

Humans have been migrating almost from the origin of the species. Although people in many parts of the world move in a rhythmic fashion with the seasons, human migration is not basically movement with the seasons, although some follow herds of livestock that move with the seasonal rains.

Human migration is generally applied to those people that move from one region to another on a long term or permanent basis. Often these migrants cross national borders, but many move from one part of a country to another.

Reasons For Human Migration

There are a variety of reasons that humans migrate:

1. In the past some people migrated out of curiosity. They wanted to explore. This was a viable reason why
early mankind moved about.
2. The decline of basic resources such as food or water in the homeland. There was not enough to support the
existing population, so they were searching for a more fruitful environment.
3. Some migrated to avoid the effects of natural hazards. In the 1930’s a large part of the population of New England. in the United States, fled westward to avoid the destruction caused by hurricanes. Today there is a lot of movement out of areas where recurring drought has made agriculture too great a hazard.
4. To the list must be added migration due to climate change. Migration due to climate change is not new. It has been
around for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Island people are moving to escape rising sea level.
5. Today, as in the past, people migrate to avoid violence. There was massive migration out of parts of Europe to avoid the second world war. Millions sought refuge elsewhere.

In some cases, as in Myanmar today, large numbers of people are forced to move from their homes.

overpopulation

Overpopulation and climate change creates environmental stress.

Global Migration Today

Today there is massive migration on several continents. Some of the regions and causes are:

1. Sub-Saharan Africa: Due to resource depletion, civil war, and climate change.
2. Central American: Due to civil war and poverty.
3. North America: Due to poverty and lack of opportunity in rural areas.
4. South America: Due to resource depletion and civil war.
5. In Asia: Due to resource depletion and civil war.
6. Oceania: Due to rising sea level and the increasing severity of tropical storms.
7. The Middle East: Due to war.

There are a number of attributes of the human population occurring globally that indicate overpopulation and the need to limit growth. In addition to health problems and resource depletion, current human migration must be added as a major symptom.

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