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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet


Georgia peach crop decimated by bad weather, warming climate – WABE

Summer is around the corner, and in Georgia, summer means peaches.  But horticulturists at the University of Georgia say roughly 90% of the Peach State’s crop has been destroyed by bad weather and a warming climate. The last time things…

Finding Climate Solutions in a Spanish Village

LA ALMUNIA DE DOÑA GODINA, Spain — Crisscrossed by irrigation canals — one of which was built by the Moors in the Middle Ages — and surrounded by fields filled with peach, apple and cherry orchards, this place, at first…

What Is The Human Cost Of Global Warming?

With at least 192 nations preparing to gather in Bonn, Germany, in June for a major climate conference, scientists at the Universities of Exeter in the UK and Nanjing in China have quantified the human cost of global warming. Their…

Italy floods: Was climate change the cause of deadly rainfall?

Six months’ worth of rain fell in 36 hours resulting in over 300 landslides and submerging fields and roads. Disastrous flooding in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna has displaced more than 36,000 people and killed 14. Violent downpours caused…


World Bee Day: Climate change may be causing an apple crisis in Himachal and Kashmir this year; here’s how

A decline in native and foreign bees due to change in weather and the use of pesticides means that apple production in both areas may take a hit

Climate change is causing bees, among nature’s primary pollinators, to die in Himachal Pradesh and the Kashmir Valley. This has led to major losses for apple growers in the two areas and could impact their respective economies, horticulturists have told Down To Earth (DTE).

While apple production is estimated to decrease by about 30 per cent this time in Himachal Pradesh, 20 per cent loss is estimated in Kashmir.

“This year, when it rained in mid-April, bees in our garden died in their boxes,” Marshall Thakur, an apple grower from Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu district, told DTE.

“They didn’t get a chance to come out. When they did not come out, our apple crop could not be pollinated. Due to this, there is going to be a loss of 30 to 35 per cent in apple production,” Thakur added.

Akash Bhimta, from the Kotkhai area of Shimla district, made similar observations. “April was extremely cold. The last time this was the case was 37 years ago,” Bhimta said.

“It was time for the apple crop to flower. But from April 15, there was very heavy rainfall. Consequently, the cold increased. I had bee boxes in my gardens. But the bees died. Apple flowers could not be pollinated properly. Therefore, the loss of apples is bound to happen,” Bhimta added.

Almost every apple grower in Himachal Pradesh is distressed about the lack of pollination of apple flowers due to the change in weather this time. It is believed that this could have a big impact on the economy of Himachal Pradesh this year.

Apple cultivation generates an annual turnover of about Rs 5,000 crore in the state every year. Apples are grown on some 0.12 million hectares in Himachal.

Just north of the state, apples have also been damaged this time in the Kashmir Valley. Fayyaz Ahmad Malik, president of the Sopore Fruit Association, told DTE that due to sudden rain and a drop in temperature at the time of ‘setting’, the bees could not get out of their boxes, due to which the fruits could not be pollinated.

Sopore is the Valley’s largest fruit market. ‘Setting’ is a temporary phase between the pollination of flowers and the development of fruits. Malik estimated that due to lack of pollination, there may be a loss of 20 to 30 per cent in the production of apples.

Mohammad Amin Bhat, technical officer of the Directorate of Horticulture, Kashmir, told DTE that almost 100 per cent of apple growers in Kashmir use bees for pollination. But this time, due to rain and low temperature, the bees could not come out.

Consequently, cross-pollination will not be possible. The effect of this is visible on apple production. The department is assessing how much damage has been caused because of this, Bhat added.

The annual turnover from apple cultivation in Kashmir is Rs 8,000 to 10,000 crore, which is about 10 per cent of the total gross domestic product.

Bee apocalypse

Climate change is causing the deaths of bees across Himachal, though the state’s economy depends on the insect pollinators.

Bees fill their stomachs with nectar and pollen obtained from flowers. But for doing so, bees have to go to the female and male part of flowers.

Since bees have hair on their body, pollen and nectar stick to these hairs and reach from the male to the female part. 

According to an estimate, it is possible to increase the yield of many crops by 10 to 12 times through bee pollination. A study by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University shows that pollination from bees increased apple production by 44 per cent.

A paper published by Yashwant Singh, Jitendra Kumar Gupta and Harish Kumar Sharma of the Department of Insect and Mice Husbandry at the Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry states that the bee is the most accompolished insect in pollination.

But in Himachal, it is not just native bees but also bees brought from abroad six decades ago that are dying off due to climate change.

The Crop Load Management: Polynation Report published by the Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Department shows that two species are used for large and commercial pollination in India.

These are the Apis mellifera or the Italian bee and the Apis cerana indica or the Indian bee. Of these, Apis mellifera is mostly used as it is much larger than Apis cerana.

Cerana usually flies less than a kilometre while the Italian bee flies up to six kilometres. At the same time, there is a lot of difference between the two bee species in terms of temperature.

Cerana flies at temperatures between 16 and 21 degrees Celsius and low light, while mellifera flies at temperatures between 21 and 25 degrees Celsius.

Due to these qualities, mellifera is more agile than native bees. It reaches 25 to 30 flowers in a minute. Because of this, this bee also does the pollination process faster.

As far as Apis cerena is concerned, it goes from one flower to another in three to four seconds and can pollinate only 20 flowers in a minute.

Mellifera bees were first brought to India in 1962 and reared in Nagrota, Himachal Pradesh. Since then, they have been used to promote horticulture in the state.

Although it is true that Italian bees have proved to be very helpful in fruit pollination, the increase in its numbers is also said to be due to the gradual decline in the number of native bees. There are many reasons for the decrease in the number of naturally occurring insects.

One of them is the clearing of forests for farming and horticulture. Due to this, there has been a decrease in the habitat and plants which supply food to these insects.

Along with this, the indiscriminate use of pesticides has also led to a drastic reduction in the number of natural pollinating insects. But a major reason is also the change in weather.

Apple growers said when the temperature started rising in the medium altitude areas of Himachal Pradesh, the native bees could not withstand it. But Italian bees could. However, these bees are not able to withstand the low temperature (like this year), due to which they die.

Marshall Thakur said the vagaries of climate have become a big problem for farmers and horticulturists. This time, their crop has been delayed by about a month. This was not the case two years ago.

3 Children and a Baby Survived for Weeks in Colombian Jungle After Their Plane Crashed

Rescuers followed a trail of cast-away objects. credit – Colombian Armed Forces

3 children aged 13, 11, and 4, along with an 11-month-old infant, have reportedly been found alive in the jungles of Colombia after miraculously surviving a plane crash that killed all 3 adults on board.

Together, these durable youths stuck it out for over 2 weeks on their own, sheltering in simple hutches made of palm fronds and sticks and eating wild fruit.

Sounding like the beginning of a young adult novel series, the crash took place on May 1st on a route between the cities of Araracuara, in Amazonas province, and San Jose del Guaviare, a city in Guaviare province.

It took 2 weeks for Colombian military and rescue units to locate the crashed Cessna 206 light aircraft.

“We think that the children who were aboard the plane are alive. We have found traces at a different location, away from the crash site, and a place where they may have sheltered,” Colonel Juan José López said on Wednesday.

The units followed a trail of cast-away items, including a baby bottle, hair scrunchies, scissors, and plastic wrapping, to several areas where they are believed to have sheltered and found food to eat.

The crashed plane – Colombian armed forces

On Wednesday, the president tweeted that all four children, belonging to the Huitoto Indigenous people, had been located, but deleted the tweet after learning that the source of the claim could not be verified by the Colombian Child Welfare Agency.

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For their part, the agency said they believed the sources were reliable.

“We are still missing that very, very last link that confirms all our hopes. Until we have the photo of the kids we won’t be stopping,” Director of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF), Astrid Caceres, told CNN. “We are not underestimating the information we received but we want to confirm [directly] ourselves.”

Several other sources, the BBC reports, say the children have been found, including Avianline, a local plane operator, and local Huitoto radio stations. The word is that they were found by one of Avianline’s pilots who landed in the village of Cachiporro, and that it was here the pilot heard they had been found in a remote location called Dumar, and were being transported to Chachiporro via boat.

MORE STORIES OF SURVIVAL: Woman Lost 8 Days in the Australian Bush Survives to See Her 4 Children Again ‘It is miraculous’

This is extremely rugged and rural rainforest terrain, and the company said that heavy rains may have made the river difficult to navigate.

One thing is for certain, their indigenous knowledge of the forest allowed them to survive an ordeal in which many people would surely perish.

SHARE This Inspiring Story Of Survival With Your Friends… 


How small family farms are adapting to climate change in Brazil

Agroecology offers a production strategy that enables small farmers in northeastern Brazil’s semi-arid region to survive through droughts

Just a few days before the first round of Brazil’s most recent electionsAlexandre Pires was dancing with fellow progressives. Hundreds of people, many wearing red shirts, a nod to Brazil’s Workers’ Party, had gathered inside the gates of the May 13th Park in central Recife, banners unfurled and flags waving.

Pires, who had been campaigning throughout the inland rural communities he had worked with on family farm issues for some two decades, was feeling upbeat. Those hopes ended up dashed, however, when voters opted not to send Pires to the state legislature. Instead, he returned to being a coordinator for the Centro Sabiá, which supports family farms by teaching and supporting an agroecology approach to farming. Sabiá can refer to a common bird that resembles a robin and to a fruit-bearing tree indigenous to the country’s northeastern Caatinga forest, a scrubby environment adapted to scant rainfall.

Having grown up on a small family farm in northeastern Brazil’s semi-arid region, Pires’ commitment stems from his own roots.

“Like all children of the Sertão, my childhood was very limited in terms of access to certain things, but it was also very free in terms of being able to play in and live in the inland towns,” Pires said in a cavernous room in Centro Sabiá’s office in central Recife, just a few days had passed since the first round of the presidential election in October 2022.

Recife, the capital of the northeastern state of Pernambuco, hugs the coast and attracts people from across the region to its job opportunities and thriving cultural scene. For rural residents like Pires, the city offers hope of a better, less physically-demanding life. In a region plagued by drought, poverty, and “coronelismo,” a system of agrarian oligarchy where large landowners control both local economies and politics, a city like Recife can appear like a beacon.

Moving to Recife

Pires’ family owned a small general store in the town of Jabitacá, some 240 miles from Recife. Pires’ father had no illusions about what the best path was for his sons. At the time, the Catholic Church was a powerful progressive force in the region, and Pires recalls how a local bishop stood up to the local landowners who benefitted from state-financed construction projects on their land while the community members who did the work were paid a pittance.

“When I finished primary school, my parents and one of my aunts, who was a teacher, wanted us to study because they didn’t want us to be farmers,” Pires recalls. “Because a farmer’s life, especially in the semi-arid region, was always a really difficult life, a really hard one. The lack of water, of public policies, of programs that could support agriculture.”

His aunt Lina, who lived with Pires and his parents and siblings, paid his private school tuition from her teaching salary. She was the first female town council member elected in their community, and Pires says she was harassed and received death threats because of her progressive political views and support for rural workers. His father also became a council member.

And so, at age 14, Pires packed his bag and moved in with relatives in Recife. And while the school he attended offered Pires an excellent education, it also exposed him to a different world.

“When I migrated to Recife, I went through a really difficult period because I felt very excluded. I studied in a private high school where the students were rich — and I wasn’t rich,” Pires says. “So, I closed myself off a lot to relationships.”

But class wasn’t the only issue. Pires had also realized that he was gay.

“I was afraid about my sexuality, and I was wary of going to ranches or wealthy apartments in Recife because my reality was another,” he said.

Once he finished secondary school, Pires threw himself into earning a living however he could.

“I sold clothes, food, I made hand-crafted cards to get by until I entered the university in ’97, and I began to work in more formal jobs on the books.”

Becoming an activist

Pires was 10 years old when Brazil’s dictatorship fell in 1985, and the country returned to a democratic system. He entered the university as Brazil’s government was implementing significant measures to control inflation and stabilize consumer prices. In the university, he studied biology and began engaging in student activism around environmental issues.

“This thing of cutting down trees has always generated a lot of indignation for me,” Pires said. “We would question the university on garbage, on the sewers within the university; we would challenge the city on issues related to the mangrove swamps.”

Recife faces the ocean and the two rivers that empty into the Atlantic there are lined with mangrove swamps, providing habitat for birds like egrets as well as crabs and other animals. Sewer systems are lacking in many Brazilian cities and towns, and only half of Recife’s residents are connected to the city’s sewers.

In 2002, a few years after graduating, Pires found his way to the Centro Sabiá after funding cuts put him out of his job with a union. Sabiá had been founded some ten years earlier with a goal of protecting and nurturing agroforestry systems, which, Pires says, was very unusual at the time.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization defines agroecology as:

“A holistic and integrated approach that simultaneously applies ecological and social concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable agriculture and food systems. It seeks to optimize the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment while also addressing the need for socially equitable food systems within which people can exercise choice over what they eat and how and where it is produced.”

Agroecology offers a production strategy that enables small farmers in northeastern Brazil’s semi-arid region to survive through droughts half the without rain. Concentrated in the northeastern part of the country, the semi-arid region covers roughly 12% of Brazil’s land mass.

During the dry season, a drive inland from Recife will show the landscape changing from the lush green of the coastal forest region to scraggly, leafless trees and gray-ish brown grasses. But usually, in April, the rains wash away dust from the trees and green leaves while shoots emerge from the ground.

In this context, cisterns to capture and hold rainwater are the difference between the ability to sustain oneself and the opportunity to support crops and a few animals. Cisterns are one of the tools the Centro Sabiá and partner organizations like the Articulação Semiárido Brasileiro (ASA) use to help farmers develop their operations in these challenging conditions, but so are strategies like planting cover crops like beans and feeding cactus to livestock. Pires participated in ASA’s Executive Coordinating Committee between 2015 and 2021.

In spite of his experience studying conservation and pushing for environmental justice, the latter techniques were new to Pires. “I was unfamiliar with agroecology. We didn’t study agroecology at the university,” he acknowledged.

That first contract Pires landed with the Centro Sabiá was slated for just six months. And right away, the organization and shipped him back to the Sertão to provide technical assistance to small-holding farmers. But before he could begin work, Sabiá sent Pires to live for a month with two different farm families in the semi-arid Sertão and the less arid Agreste region. These stays helped him settle in, connect with people, and begin to understand the community’s dynamics and experiences.

“Even though I was the son of farmers, I didn’t know how to deal with this [culture] as an adult,” Pires said. Learning curve or not, the new job evoked something profound.

“I very much discovered myself in this work of popular education, of caring for, dealing with, and valuing the farmers’ knowledge and wisdom. It was a massive education,” Pires acknowledged.

Pires remained in the state’s interior for three years. During that time, he was hired on permanently and found himself connecting deeply with the people Sabiá served and the work it was doing to promote sustainable paths for small-scale farms.

Supporting Family Farms

Recife’s first farmers’ market was held in 1997 as a demonstration of the produce that local farmers were growing. Pires said that using the agroecology techniques that the Centro Sabiá had been sharing for four years, not only were the farmers feeding themselves, they had extra produce to sell — and everything sold out. Now the city hosts 50 farmers’ markets each week, and nearly a hundred more serve smaller communities across the state. One weekend market in the well-off Casa Forte neighborhood sees farmers take a bus to the square where they set out their stalls, but the farmers themselves pay for this bus, Pires says.

“Farmers perform a role and carry out a task by bringing food to the cities, but the state doesn’t recognize this as far as public policy goes,” Pires said. “Of course, the state can’t subsidize everything,” he acknowledged, “but it’s important to have some support.”

Pires sees these markets as an educational opportunity for city dwellers, as well as providing a source of healthy food. Since the produce available varies by season, Pires says, shoppers are faced with the reality that growing in accordance with local conditions means things like mangoes only appear at certain times of the year.

But there’s another surprising aspect to this story. A study the Centro Sabiá undertook with the Federal Institute of Pernambuco, a public, highly competitive high school focused on science and technology, compared 17 “traditionally” grown products in five large supermarket chains with the cost of those same products at the farmers’ markets.

“Agroecological products were cheaper or the same price as equivalent products in grocery stores and ordinary markets,” Pires said. This was true in the state’s interior near the farms that grow these products. In the city, Pires acknowledged, the cost of transportation can make them slightly more expensive, but he said the cost is “substantially lower than the [cost] of organics sold in supermarkets.”

Still, Pires says these markets aren’t serving the city’s low-income neighborhoods, which suffer from higher rates of health issues like high blood pressure and obesity. Around 2014 Centro Sabiá drafted a proposal to place farmers’ markets in locations around the city where there were outdoor fitness equipment sets that help low-income residents work out without shouldering the cost of a gym membership.

“The Ministry [of Health] didn’t fund it, the administration changed, and that’s it,” he said.

Since then, Brazil’s economy has slowed, inflation has grown, and some anti-hunger measures have been dismantled — including government purchases of small-farm produce — leaving some 33 million Brazilians hungry. In Pernambuco alone, Pires said, there were half a million people experiencing food insecurity and hunger in 2022, but a September report from a food-focused research group put that figure four times higher – at 2.1 million.

“This group of public policies: the program of food purchasing; the national program of school food, which changed the law in 2009 to purchase at least 30% of its supply from family farms; the cistern program, that brought water to the semi-arid population and with it the ability to grow; the national policy of agroecology and organic production, and the national policy of technical assistance and rural extension — all of these policies were simply gutted by the Bolosonaro government,” Pires said. “This means that since farmers don’t have a market, so they can’t produce.”

Meanwhile, the COVID crisis hit while the economic situation worsened along with a turbulent political scenario.

In this context, Pires ran for the Pernambuco state legislature in 2022, highlighting the need for state policies to support family farms. “There’s an absence of a political strategy that values peasant farming, that values family farms,” Pires said. “With the exception of my campaign, all the others neglected the role of family agriculture. When that happens, there’s an emptying of rural communities,” he affirmed.

“So, what my father told me when I was 14 years old, that he wanted me to study outside because there was no future in agriculture; today we’re living through the same reality,” he said.

“Governments don’t value family farms. Governments value agribusiness, big producers, big industries,” Pires said, describing how young people, instead of focusing on small holding farms, tend to look to agribusiness for work opportunities. At the same time, he says, people have lost faith in politics, and so they focus on the now.

“There’s a historic movement in Brazil, from the right and the extreme right, to put [money and faith] in place of politics,” Pires said. “Discussing politics in this broader context of what the problems are and how to solve them, what bills and public policies can help solve these problems, there’s no belief in this anymore. People don’t believe in politics,” he concluded as a result of his campaign experience in which he lost his bid to enter the state legislature.

In spite of that, in March 2023, Pires was offered a position within President Lula da Silva’s government. Now, Pires is the director of efforts to prevent desertification within the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. Pires’ name was proposed by ASA, which has long worked on ensuring access to water in Brazil’s semi-arid region.

“The Minister [Marina Silva] recognizes ASA’s civil society network that focuses on this issue, but that does so in a humanized way. So, it’s not just about recovering the physical environment but about recovering the environment where people live, where people are living with all of their socially productive and reproductive projects. So, I feel very honored — and of course challenged as well — by the invitation,” Pires said.

The article has been republished from Pressenza. Read the original article here

Vietnam is going all-in on a climate-change resistant coffee bean

BAO LOC, Vietnam — For decades, the world of coffee has had one star: the arabica bean. It is “complex” and “deliciously refined,” according to companies such as Starbucks that have refused to use any other bean. It has engendered…

To cope with climate change, California tries new crops – CalMatters

In summary The future of farming in California is changing as the planet warms, altering the rain and heat patterns that guide which crops are grown where. “We’re adjusting for survival,” one grower said. In a world of worsening heatwaves,…

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