Durban Climate Conference

Later on in 2011, international climate change negotiators will meet in Africa to look back on the famine which is now sweeping the eastern parts of that continent, and make predictions that climate change will be largely injurious to Africa’s future food production.

The World Bank’s special envoy on climate change, Andrew Steer, told The Associated Press:

“The challenges are overwhelming… Africa needs to triple food production by 2050…At the same time, you’ve got climate change lowering average yields …. So, of course, we need something different.”

He hopes for a refocused look at agriculture to take place at the talks that are to be held in South Africa’s eastern city of Durban, the first talks in Africa since Nairobi hosted a round in 2006. South Africa says that as chair of the Durban conference, it will alert the industrializing nations to deliver money and technology to help developing countries in Africa to create clean industries and cope with the droughts and floods.

Africa is hard hit by the effects of climate change and needs more money for managing water and creating seeds for food crops which can withstand droughts and floods.

Researchers with the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that global agriculture accounts for 14 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than transportation’s 13 percent and almost at the industry’s 19 percent. Farming’s contribution to global warming possibly might offset techniques to store and sequester more and more carbon in soil and trees.

Sequestering carbon is good for the environment and has even yielded increases.

“You invest in things that are good for yields, good for resilience and also sequester more carbon…You can have it both ways if you get carbon back in soils.”

Steer says it is hard to determine exactly how much money is needed, and cautioned that while agreements on helping poor countries and a focus on agriculture could emerge at Durban.

Durban isn’t “a pledging session”, mind you, said Mr. Steer on the sidelines of a climate change conference on farming which attracted agriculture ministers from across Africa to Johannesburg.

In a speech which opened the Johannesburg conference, South African agriculture minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said that “Food security, poverty and climate are closely linked and should not be considered separately.”

The Pope on Contraception and The Tragic State of an Epidemic

Every Pope in the history of the Roman Catholic Church has been opposed to the use of contraceptives such as condoms. However, while he does not endorse them, Pope Benedict XVI has made subtle steps toward the upending of this particular piece of dogma drenched conviction, saying condoms could prevent sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS.

(As if, for the thirty-year life-time of the epidemic, the world has not known this).

In the recent book, “Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times’’ Benedict said that condoms were not “a real or moral solution,’’ but in some cases they could be “a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility.’’

In the German and English editions of the book, the text cited an example of a male prostitute, (pointing at homosexual sex) where a condom would not be seen as a form of contraception.

The book’s Italian edition, excerpted by the Vatican newspaper two weeks ago, used the feminine form of prostitute.

The Vatican’s spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Italian translation was an error, but that the pope had specifically told him that procreation was not the issue but rather disease prevention, not considering gender.

This conviction, though, is a massive flip-flop for the pontiff. Just in the last couple of years, when “en route to Africa, the continent hardest hit by AIDS, the pope said condoms not only did not help in reducing the spread of AIDS but actually worsened the problem,” reported the Boston Globe.

Meanwhile, Unaids the United States’ AIDS fighting agency reported less people are becoming infected with H.I.V. In fact, 2.6 million people became newly infected with H.I.V. in 2009; about 20 percent fewer than in the late 1990s.

The report also said roughly 25 countries are doing notably better at prevention, including several southern Africa nations with redoubtable AIDS statistics.

“South Africa, which has the world’s worst epidemic, has benefited from the changeover from the presidency of Thabo Mbeki,” reported the New York Times, “which was hostile to the distribution of AIDS drugs, to that of Jacob Zuma, who has publicly taken an AIDS test and urged citizens to do the same. Still, it faces an estimated 350,000 to 500,000 new infections annually.”

At this moment, an estimated 33.3 million people live with H.I.V.; a count which has never been higher.

Although, in its previous report, Unaids estimated that for every 100 people entering treatment each year, another 250 became infected; today, it estimates that for every 100 on treatment, 200 become infected.

New Ocean Forming in Africa

In the Ethiopian desert of Africa, a rift opened up in the ground, in just a matter of days that is 35 miles long, and at certain spots 20 feet wide. Studies in geophysical research recently found that the processes creating the rift are almost the same as to what goes on at the bottom of oceans. This leads us to believe that there will eventually be a sea in the area.

Red SeaThe volcano Dabbahu, which is located at the northern end of the rift is responsible for creating it. When it first erupted, it pushed magma up through the middle and began cracking open the ground in both directions.

The African and Arabian tectonic plates meet in the remote Afar desert of Northern Ethiopia. They have been spreading apart at a speed of less than 1 inch per year, for the last 30 million years. It is this rifting which made the 186-mile Afar depression, as well as the Red Sea.

Scientists seem to believe that the Red Sea will eventually pour into this new sea in roughly another 1 million years. The new ocean would be connected to both the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, which is an arm of the Arabian Sea between Somalia in eastern Africa and Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula.

African Tree Automatically Fertilizes Crops

Plant crops under this tree, and watch your crop yields increase dramatically. The tree has the potential to aid farmers throughout Africa, South America, and much of south and Southeast Asia.

African Tree Automatically Fertilizes CropsThe issue here is nitrogen. It’s a very important component of fertilizer, and is currently provided through man made manufactured fertilizer. It can get really expensive, especially in cash strapped continents like Africa. The tree’s name is Faidherbia albida. It’s one of several trees that can capture nitrogen from the air through its roots and incorporate it into its leaves.

The kicker is that it grows in the dry season and drops its leaves in the rainy season, when crops start growing. The leaves drop with the nitrogen in them, and fertilize the crops below. That is, if they’re planted below.
Three- to four-fold increases in corn yields were reported, as well as yields for millet and cotton.

Why wasn’t this reported before? Other potentials for this tree are that it makes mining for fertilizer less necessary, once you have a natural source that sucks it out of the air and puts it in its leaves. That clears up a lot of pollution and industrial activity that is invested in producing potash, and things of the like.