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July 25, 2012

New Dire Claims about Problems Supporting 10 billion people in 2050 to 2100

New Scientist reports that computational scientist Stephen Emmott has a one man show warning about resource problems if the world population reaches 10 billion.

Stephen Emmott claims that overpopulation is the root cause of all the environmental problems with the planet. He also claims there will be no political solution and no technological solutions.

At ThinkProgress, Joe Romm is predicting dustbowlification and drought around the world by 2050-2070.

Joe Romm got a comment article into the journal Nature.

Carbon Dioxide and Population

Joe Romm rants against carbon dioxide but that is a slower temperature effect. Many decades longer than fixing soot emissions.

Also, population takes decades to change. So if the warning is about 2050 then population is not where you should be looking for any solution.

Any climate result is already "baked in" based on population levels and carbon dioxide. I think the forecasts are overstating the issue or are wrong and that more can be done to modify the climate if needed and more effective steps can be taken around climate, food and resources.

The problem that many environmentalists have is that they see trends around resource demand but do not try to see what is being done to increase supply and automatically fall back to wanting people to be poor, dead or unborn.

Food

Meat and grain yields are still increasing now and are projected to continue to increase through 2020.

Studies using existing agricultural methods indicates that feeding 15 billion people is feasible.




Agrimonde describes the findings of a huge five-year modeling exercise by the French national agricultural and development research agencies, INRA and CIRAD.

The French team began with a goal – 3000 calories per day for everyone, including 500 from animal sources – then ran a global food model repeatedly, with and without environmental limits on farming. The aim was to see how the calorie goal could be achieved. The model suggested that realistic yield increases could feed everyone, even as farms take measures to protect the environment, such as preserving forests or cutting down on the use of fossil fuels. The key will be to tailor detailed solutions to different regions.

"We found three main conditions," says Hervé Guyomard of INRA. "The biggest surprise was that some regions will depend even more on imports", even as their production rises. This, he says, means that we will need to find ways to counter excessive fluctuations in world prices so that imports are not hindered.

The world will have to make farming more productive but less dependent on harmful chemicals, curb food losses and waste, protect the environment and reduce agriculture's exposure to disastrous price swings

The Agrimonde study said that North Africa and the Middle East, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, all with fast-growing populations today, will be heavily dependent on imported food in 2050

UPDATE - Fungus and Microbiomes better than Genetic Modification for increasing crop yields, cold, heat, salt and drought resistance

- researchers sprayed spores from D. lanuginosum's endophytes (fungus) and sprayed them onto wheat seeds, which normally grow at temperatures up to 38 °C. With the spores, the wheat could grow at 70 °C and needed up to 50 per cent less water than normal.

Different microbiomes can confer a range of superpowers to a number of crops. Rodriguez's group have also isolated endophytes from a salt-loving dunegrass (Leymus mollis), and a strawberry plant (Fragaria vesca) that grows at high altitude at temperatures as low as 5 °C. Rice plants that had been sprayed with the fungi became able to tolerate salt and cold, respectively. They also grew five times larger and needed half the water of normal plants

The results were immediate: within 24 hours of being sprayed, the seeds began sprouting a greater number of longer roots than untreated seeds, and the team found that they expressed genes involved in stress-resistance and drought-tolerance. That suggests endophytes could help crops cope with droughts like the one afflicting the US.

Rodriguez thinks the fungi are jump-starting the plants' metabolism, although the exact mechanism is still unclear. "The plant has the ability to do all this, it just can't get its act together without the fungi," he says

While attempts to genetically engineer plants to become drought-tolerant involve switching on metabolic pathways one at a time - a costly, drawn-out process - the fungi appear to activate them all in one go. "Nature's figured it out, we haven't," says Jerry Barrow, now retired from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces

Drought Resistant Wheat

Drought resistant crops are being developed now.

Salt Tolerant Wheat

A team of Australian scientists involving the University of Adelaide has bred salt tolerance into a variety of durum wheat that shows improved grain yield by 25% on salty soils.

Using 'non-GM' crop breeding techniques, scientists from CSIRO Plant Industry have introduced a salt-tolerant gene into a commercial durum wheat, with spectacular results shown in field tests. Researchers at the University of Adelaide's Waite Research Institute have led the effort to understand how the gene delivers salinity tolerance to the plants.

Reducing Soot and Methane to Reduce Future Temperatures

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants is a voluntary Partnership of governments (21 countries), intergovernmental organizations, representatives of the private sector, the environmental community, and other members of civil society that have joined forces to address the challenge of short lived climate pollutants.

There are basic actions being taken to reduce soot and methane. These steps will work faster than action against carbon dioxide



Energy and Resources

There is increasing production of natural gas, oil and coal. The natural gas increase is likely to handle demand increase for the next 20-30 years.

There are ways to increase the amount of clean energy that is available in a timely fashion.

* Uprating existing nuclear reactions by 20% conventionally and by up to 50% using annular fuel.
* Factory mass produced deep burn nuclear reactors
* Solar, wind are being increased
* There are new technologies which will substantially increase efficiency (Sky city mass produced skyscrapers use 5 times less cement and are 6 times more energy efficient for heating and cooling). Transportation can be made more efficient
* There is a rush for developing mineral resources on the ocean floor. There are likely over two times the resources on the ocean floor as there is on land
* Uranium and other resources can be extracted from seawater
* Phosphate deposits have over 4 times the current conventional uranium reserves.

The PhosEnergy process is designed as a "bolt-on" that can be added to existing phosphate processing facilities. A fully integrated and process controlled demonstration plant that fits into two 40-foot (12-metre) shipping containers has been built in Australia and is now undergoing final commissioning before being shipped to the USA.

Worldwide, more than 100 million tonnes of phosphate rock is processed into phosphoric acid annually, with major producers in North America, northern Africa and Asia. According to UEQ this could represent potential uranium production of 20 million pounds U3O8 (7690 tU) per year. Total world uranium production from all sources in 2010 was 53,663 tU, with Cameco producing some 16% of that from its interests in Canada, the USA and Kazakhstan.

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