April 27, 2016
How will the changing climate affect the way we grow fruit now and in the years to come? Greg Peck, Assistant Professor in the Horticulture Section, of Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science sat down with Susan Poizner, host of the Orchard People podcast for a wide-ranging discussion about sustainable fruit productions systems, how climate change will affect fruit trees and what growers and gardeners can do to prepare.
April 22, 2016
In a tale of two life experiences, Mike Hoffmann went to Vietnam for the first time in 47 years: On his first tour of duty, he was a 19-year-old U.S. Marine, and for the March 2016 trip, Hoffmann returned as an environmental scientist.
“Vietnam is in the bull’s eye when it comes to climate change,” said Hoffmann, professor of entomology and executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture, who explained that a rising sea level – for a country with 2,000 miles of coastline – presents a major environmental and food security challenge, especially in the Mekong River Delta region where 22 percent of the population lives and about half of the country’s food is produced.
Farmers are seeing the changes and to paraphrase a scientist there, Hoffmann said, “There are no climate change deniers in Vietnam.”
April 13, 2016
From Jingjing Yin, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Horticulture Section:
We invite everyone with an interest in biochar to attend the first Cornell-wide biochar conference organized by the project team Best use practices for improving soil health and vegetable growth in organic farming using on-site produced biochar on April 15, 9 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. in 135 Emerson Hall.
The program will include talks from invited speakers, a panel discussion, and poster displays, followed by a tour of the Leland pyrolysis kiln at from 3 to 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the Cornell community and is sponsored by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.
April 7, 2016
- Statistical-based Compression of Climate Model Output - Monday, April 11: 12:00, 110 AD White House
- Climate Change Seminar – Climate Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems - Monday, April 11: 3:35, 233 Plant Science
- Cornell Biochar/Bioenergy Conference - Friday, April 15: 9:00-4:00, 135 Emerson Hall
- Climate Change Seminar – Climate Change and the Future of Food - Monday, April 18: 3:35, 233 Plant Science
- India’s Barefoot College: Women and Community Solar Energy Development - Tuesday, April 19: 4:30, G10 Biotech
- 2016 Iscol Environmental Lecture by Sheryl WuDunn - Wednesday, April 20: 5:00, Klarman Hall Auditorium
- The Fukushima Nuclear Accident: Is Nuclear Energy Still a Viable Choice for a Carbon-Constrained World? - Monday, April 25: 3:30, 700 Clark Hall
- Climate Change Seminar – Communicating Climate Change - Monday, April 25: 3:35, 233 Plant Science
April 6, 2016
Here’s the scientific dirt: Soil can help reduce global warming.
While farm soil grows the world’s food and fiber, scientists are examining ways to use it to sequester carbon and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
“We can substantially reduce atmospheric carbon by using soil. We have the technology now to begin employing good soil practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Johannes Lehmann, Cornell professor of soil and crop sciences, co-author of the Perspectives piece, “Climate-smart Soils,” published in Nature, April 6.
Decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, sequestering carbon and using prudent agricultural management practices that tighten the soil-nitrogen cycle can yield enhanced soil fertility, bolster crop productivity, improve soil biodiversity, and reduce erosion, runoff and water pollution. These practices also buffer crop and pasture systems against the impacts of climate change.
April 4, 2016
Now that 195 nations, including the U.S., have agreed to ambitious greenhouse gas emission reductions to slow the pace of climate change, the question everyone is asking is: How will we actually meet our targets set for 2035?
Given past performance, many don’t think we will get there without so-called “geoengineering” solutions, such as blasting sulfur dioxide or other particles into the atmosphere to shade the planet and compensate for the warming effect of greenhouse gases. Clever, eh? Maybe not. Some recent modeling studies show these seemingly easy fixes could backfire in catastrophic ways, such as disrupting the Indian monsoon season and completely drying out the Sahel of Africa. Another risk is atmospheric chemical reactions that deplete the ozone layer. Do we really want to run global-scale experiments for 20 or 30 years and see what happens?
There is another way, one that is zero-risk and builds on something farmers around the world are already motivated to do: manage soils so that a maximum amount of the carbon dioxide plants pull out of the air via photosynthesis remains on the farm as carbon-rich soil organic matter. “Carbon farming,” as it is sometimes called, is Mother Nature’s own geoengineering, relying on fundamental biological processes to capture carbon and sequester it in the soil, carbon that would otherwise be in the air as the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.
March 25, 2016
An international team of scientists – led by a Cornell professor of natural resources – will help communities in Asia’s Pamir Mountains recalibrate their seasonal-indicator ecological calendars to reckon the future effects of climate change. The Belmont Forum, which funds global environmental research, will provide a $1.35 million for a three-year study.
“Indigenous societies in mountain communities around the world have used ‘ecological calendars’ as seasonal indicators for hundreds of years to sow seeds, grow crops, tend to animals, fish, hunt and harvest. Ecological calendars are systems that track time by observing seasonal changes in our habitat, such as the nascence of a flower, the appearance of an insect, the arrival of a migratory bird, the breakup of ice, last day of snow-cover,” said Karim-Aly Kassam, associate professor of environmental and indigenous studies in the Department of Natural Resources, who will lead the project.
Ecological calendars offer a way to anticipate climatic variation, as “Indigenous societies are at the vanguard of climate-change impacts – yet none of these societies contributed to its causes,” he said.
See also National Geographic article: Climate Change Is Making Calendars Run Amok
March 19, 2016
Climate-change-induced heat stress and disease pathogens migrating across borders threaten the world’s wheat supply and food security in conflict zones of Africa and the Middle East. To expand the scope of a global partnership to combat these threats, Cornell University has been awarded a $24 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The grant, Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat (DGGW), will mitigate serious threats to wheat brought about by climate change and develop and deploy new strains of heat tolerant wheat that resist wheat rusts and other diseases.
“Over the last eight years, we have built a global consortium of wheat scientists and farmers whose efforts have so far prevented the global epidemics of Ug99 stem rust predicted back in 2005,” said Ronnie Coffman, international plant breeder and director of Cornell’s International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who leads the consortium. “We have improved wheat resistance to stem and yellow rust globally and increased global yields.
“In the new DGGW grant we will use modern tools of comparative genomics and big data to develop and deploy varieties of wheat that incorporate climate resiliency as well as improved disease resistance for smallholder farmers in these politically vulnerable regions.”
March 8, 2016
No matter what mental picture you conjure, it’s probably got one thing in common with others: whiteness.
Non-white minorities statistically are as concerned with climate change as are whites but are less likely to self-identify as environmentalists. This suggests that racial and ethnic representation, in areas of outreach and climate science advocacy, can shape core climate change beliefs in previously overlooked ways. That’s of major importance for a nation that, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, is on track to become a majority-minority nation by the year 2050.
Race and ethnicity as a function of climate-change attitudes is the subject of a recent study by Jonathan Schuldt ’04, assistant professor of communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and collaborator Adam Pearson ’03, assistant professor of psychology at Pomona (Calif.) College.
March 2, 2016
At the intersection of activism and academia, a climate change and clean energy panel gave details of environmental urgency and impending social refinements. The Feb. 26 panel included Cornell researchers, alumnae, New York Assembly representatives and sustainability advocates, and was hosted by student-led KyotoNow! Cornell.
“We can … actually make our society more socially equitable and socially just,” said Lara Skinner, associate director for Cornell’s Worker Institute. “It’s the cultural, political and social struggles that we face … the greatest social crisis of our time,” she said, noting how environmental changes resulting from a warming climate will modify the social science landscape.