Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday Hope Blogging

No grand theme this week...but lots of pleasing news.

Contra James Fattorini, a new study suggests that sustainable farming improves Third World food production:

Crop yields on farms in developing countries that used sustainable agriculture rose nearly 80 percent in four years, according to a study scheduled for publication in the Feb. 15 issue of the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology. The study, the largest of its kind to date -- 286 farm projects in 57 countries -- concludes that sustainable agriculture protects the environment in these countries while substantially improving the lives of farmers who adopt the resource-conserving practices.

Yields increased by an average of 79 percent during the study, according to corresponding author Jules Pretty of the University of Essex in England. Working with colleagues in Thailand, China, Sri Lanka and Mexico, Pretty found nearly all of the farm projects increased their yields, and harvests of some crops like maize, potatoes and beans increased 100 percent.

Sustainable agriculture practices, such as conservation tillage and integrated pest control, also reduced pesticide use and increased carbon sequestration.
An inexpensive solar-power system is being deployed to excellent effect in Sri Lanka, and is also providing local jobs:
Project manager for LUTW, RenĂ© Scalabrini said, “this lighting systems cost around US$85 per unit, require very little maintenance and are extremely energy efficient, as they generate almost no heat....It has also reduced the reliance of some families on illegally tapping electricity from overhead power cables; a risky practice that has the potential for electrocution and fire.
I enjoyed this interview with the Rocky Mountain Institute's Amory Lovins, especially this quote:
I used to work for Edwin Land, the father of Polaroid photography. Land said that invention was the sudden cessation of stupidity. He also said that people who seem to have had a new idea often have just stopped having an old idea.
I haven't had a chance to read this link from Treehugger carefully, but it looks fascinating:
Eprida offers a revolutionary new sustainable energy technology that will allow us to remove CO2 from the air by putting carbon into the topsoil where it is needed.

The process creates hydrogen rich bio-fuels and a restorative high-carbon fertilizer from biomass alone, or a combination of coal and biomass, while removing net carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
For more details, visit Epidra.

There's apparently some progress being made on an avian flu vaccine:
"The results of this animal trial are very promising, not only because our vaccine completely protected animals that otherwise would have died, but also because we found that one form of the vaccine stimulates several lines of immunity against H5N1," said Andrea Gambotto, M.D., assistant professor in the departments of surgery and molecular genetics and biochemistry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and lead author of the study.
Last, check out these remarkable tilt-shift photographs, which have the odd property of making real landscapes look like toy miniatures. In case that doesn't sate you, here's a tilt-shift gallery devoted to ravishing views of Toronto. (Links via BLDGBLOG.)


Diane said...

Thanks again for the good news, Phila. The article on sustainable agriculture especially cheered me.


Anonymous said...

How delightful to see someone searching for the golden positives among the seeming hopelessness of the current political spectrum!

Please keep up the good work. Your efforts are really appreciated