Thursday, December 26, 2019

Glyphosate (Roundup) to the rescue

The weedkiller that Greenies hate is the only one that can control black grass

The UK's food security is being put at risk by herbicide-resistant black-grass, ZSL [Zoological Society of London] has revealed, as it calls for a ban on overuse of weed killer.

The grass out-competes wheat for soil nutrients and reduces the number of wheat plants where it grows - and it is likely to spread further across the UK.

This would increase the prices of bread and biscuits, and there would be less animal feed available so could also affect how much meat costs.

Black-grass (Alopecurus myosuroides) is a native annual weed which although natural, large infestations in farmers’ fields can force them to abandon their winter wheat – the UK’s main cereal crop.

Farmers have been using herbicides to try and tackle the black-grass problem – but ZSL has found that in many areas of England the agricultural weed is now resistant to these herbicides.

According to new research from the scientists at Rothampsted Research in Hertfordshire as well ZSL and the University of Sheffield, the cost of black-grass , is setting back the UK economy £400 million and 800,000 tonnes of lost wheat yield each year, with potential implications for national food security.

A spokesperson for ZSL said: "We must reduce herbicide use. We need government policy to address this at a national level and drive behaviour change, e.g. through a national action plan.

"Farmers must adopt more truly integrated past management practices, using all the tools available to them rather than relying mainly on chemical herbicides. This will include much more diverse crop rotations, cultural control methods, direct sowing, strict field hygiene measures and regular monitoring and delayed drilling to allow stale seedbeds."

The report, published in Nature Sustainability today, found the UK is losing 0.82 million tonnes in wheat yield each year (equivalent to roughly 5 per cent of the UK’s domestic wheat consumption) due to herbicide resistant black-grass.

The worst-case scenario – where all fields contained large amounts of resistant black-grass – is estimated to result in an annual cost of £1 billion, with a wheat yield loss of 3.4 million tonnes per year.

Lead author and postdoctoral researcher at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, Dr Alexa Varah said: “This study represents the first national-scale estimate of the economic costs and yield losses due to herbicide resistance, and the figure is shockingly higher than I think most would imagine.

“We need to reduce pesticide use nationwide, which might mean introducing statutory limits on pesticide use, or support to farmers to encourage reduced use and adoption of alternative management strategies. Allocating public money for independent farm advisory services and research and development could help too.”

Over-use of herbicides also leads to poor water quality and biodiversity loss, meaning a reduction in numbers of insects and rare farmland birds.

 Glyphosate is now one of the few herbicides that black-grass has not evolved resistance to, with farmers now reliant on repeated applications to control the weed. However, evidence from a recent study shows that resistance to glyphosate is now evolving in the field too.

Dr Varah added: “Understanding the economic and potential food security issues is a vital step, before looking at biodiversity, carbon emissions and water quality impacts in greater detail. We hope to use this method to aid the development of future models to help us understand how British farmers battling black-grass could do it in a way that is more beneficial to biodiversity like insects, mammals, wild plants and threatened farmland bird species like skylarks, lapwing and tree sparrows – unearthing how their numbers are linked to changes in farming practices.”


World Faces Trash Glut After China Ban

Recyclers search for alternatives to exports, while some towns drop programs

For decades, America and much of the developed world threw their used plastic bottles, soda cans and junk mail in one bin. The trash industry then shipped much of that thousands of miles to China, the world’s biggest consumer of scrap material, to be sorted and turned into new products.

That changed last year when China banned imports of mixed paper and plastic and heavily restricted other scrap. Beijing said it wants to stimulate domestic garbage collection and end the flow of foreign trash it sees as an environmental and health hazard. Since then, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia—other popular markets for the West’s trash—have implemented their own restrictions.

The moves have caused a seismic shift in how the world deals with its waste. Long used to shipping off trash to poorer countries to sort and process, nations are now faced with the question of what recycling is worth to them. They are undertaking new investments in domestic processing, ramping up alternative strategies such as incineration and rolling out education campaigns to teach homeowners to sort trash. Others are dropping programs altogether.

Recycling is “something that’s ingrained in you, and one day it suddenly all goes away,” said Kyle O’Brien, the town manager of Broadway, Va. The town had offered curbside recycling for two decades but canceled the service last year after Beijing started turning away the world’s recyclables. The company that processed the materials, van der Linde Recycling, closed its household waste processing facility, blaming the severe drop in prices.

For years, the world’s bottles and boxes made their way to China on ships that offered deep discounts to avoid returning empty after dropping off cargo in the U.S. and other countries. Since 1992, China has imported 45% of the world’s plastic waste, according to data published last year in the journal Science Advances.

“It was a great relationship, where we bought their goods and sent them back the empty boxes,” says Brent Bell, vice president of recycling for Houston- based Waste Management, the largest waste management company in the U.S.

Last year, China instituted a ban on 24 categories of waste— including, for example, plastic clamshell containers, soda and shampoo bottles, and junk mail. It said foreign garbage was “provoking a public outcry.”

As of October, U.S. scrap exports of plastic to mainland China were down 89% since early 2017, when China began to make clear it would ban many categories, while mixed paper exports were down 96%, according to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

Total U.S. plastic scrap exports to all countries were down 64% in that period, while mixed paper exports were down 42% according to ISRI.

Scramble for buyers

Cities and towns have been scrambling to find new buyers for their waste ever since. One big problem is that many locations outside cities such as New York are used to putting recycling in a single bin. Different materials must be painstakingly separated before they can be processed. Much paper is too damp and plastic too soiled with food or grease to be recycled at all.

China accepted dirty and mixed recyclables because it had low-wage workers to sort out unwanted material, often by hand. That gave American contractors little incentive to weed out food scraps, plastic bags and nonrecyclable junk stateside.

After China rejected imports, a flood of trash was rerouted to countries such as India, Indonesia and Malaysia. Many of those places now say they are overwhelmed and have imposed their own restrictions on paper or plastic imports. The countries also want to focus on developing their own waste collection industries.

Malaysia in May began sending back 60 containers of imported trash to the U.S. and other countries, complaining it had become a dumping ground for rich countries. The containers were meant to contain plastic scrap but were contaminated with other items such as cables and electronic waste. A government spokeswoman said more containers will be returned as Malaysia ramps up inspections.

Japan, which historically sent most of its plastic exports to China, had been redirecting trash to Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam after China’s ban. But when those countries began turning dirty recycling away, Japanese collectors started stockpiling, in hopes a new market would arise. Over the past year, Japan has amassed 500,000 tons of plastic waste, according to Hiroaki Kaneko, deputy director of recycling at the environment ministry.

Japan, the second-biggest exporter of plastic waste behind the U.S., is trying to stimulate domestic processing by earmarking billions of yen to subsidize plastic recycling machinery for private companies.

Daiei Kankyo Holdings, a recycling company based in Kobe, recently applied for the government subsidies, which are estimated to cover up to half the cost of recycling equipment for a new plant slated to open next year in Osaka. The plant will double the company’s current capacity to around 30,000 tons a year.

Asei Co., a Japanese plastic waste exporter, moved the production of plastic pellets, which are created during the recycling process and used to produce new products, home from its factory in Shanghai. It spent 500 million yen, or close to $5 million, on two new facilities northeast of Tokyo.

The U.K. is burning more of its trash, including dirty or low-value recycling. Attitudes toward incineration vary greatly by country. In the U.S., where space is plentiful, it has long been cheaper to send materials to landfills, and incineration has remained unpopular. Across much of Europe, by contrast, trash burned for energy has been popular for years.

Incineration and recycling rates in England are now on par at roughly 42%, according to government data. Waste collected by local authorities sent for incineration climbed to 10.8 million metric tons last year from 10.2 million tons a year earlier, while recycling dropped to 10.9 million tons from 11.3 million tons.

“We are fast moving into a crisis where we don’t have market capacity for the materials collected, and already prices have plummeted,” said Simon Ellin, CEO of the Recycling Association, a U.K. trade body.

London-based waste contractor Paper Round has begun asking customers to stop putting plastic film, which isn’t easily recyclable, into recycling bins dotted around the office buildings, hotels and restaurants it collects from, because buyers don’t want it.

It is holding breakfast seminars for office workers and sending educational emails to staff at the buildings it serves explaining what can and can’t be recycled. It has also warned customers that unless prices for cardboard rise it will start charging for some collections.

“The China ban has highlighted that we can no longer export our problem,” said managing director Bill Swan. Paper Round’s buyers have much higher standards now, he said, such as checking moisture levels, which can decrease the quality of paper.

In Memphis, Tenn., Republic Services Inc., one of America’s largest waste haulers, last year stopped accepting mixed recycling put in a single bin from some businesses, saying it was too contaminated.

“When you’re in a buyer’s market—and we are certainly in a buyer’s market—you can demand higher quality,” said Pete Keller, head of recycling at Phoenix-based Republic.

The move in Memphis prompted the city’s airport to send bottles, cans and paper to landfills. For months it left in place recycling bins in case the service returned but recently gave up and removed them.

To improve the quality of what it does still collect, Republic has hired more staff to sort materials and acquired new optical scanners to distinguish between metals, colored paper and different types of plastic. It opened a new facility in Texas earlier this year that uses a variety of technologies to sort material in milliseconds.

Other waste collectors have also made investments, which have driven up costs for customers. Philadelphia is paying $92 a ton for its recyclables to be collected, up from $44 a ton before the China ban. Higher costs initially prompted the city to start burning half its recyclables before backtracking after public criticism.

The city is now spending $500,000 on an advertising campaign it hopes will reduce contamination rates—down to 10% from the current 25%—to secure it a discount on collection costs. “Often the material people put in bins, they don’t know whether it’s recyclable,” said Department of Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams, who counts bowling balls, garden hoses and old toys among examples of contaminants he has seen.

This summer, Philadelphia put ads on bus shelters and the radio telling people to “take a minute before you bin it” and “if in doubt throw it out.” The campaign asks residents to stop putting plastic bags in recycling bins and to rinse food containers. It has also sent staff doorto- door to tell residents what should go in the recycling bin, and has put lids on bins to protect paper from the rain.


Now Alcohol and Sugar Are Even Worse for the Planet Than Eating Meat

Scientists want us to eat bugs. Eating actual meat, from delicious cows and chickens and pigs and whatnot, is supposedly killing the planet. Instead, we should be eating wormburgers and maggot-dogs and cricket tacos. That's literally what the eggheads want. They say it's the only way we'll keep everybody from dying of global warming. Every other day there's another "news" story encouraging us all to eat filthy insects, like the mud-caked peasants they think we are.

So let's say you do what your moral, ethical, and intellectual betters tell you to do. You stop eating meat. Maybe you don't choke down cockroach casserole like they keep telling you, but you stop eating dead animals. You make that sacrifice for the common good. Now you're off the hook, aren't you? Now they'll leave you alone, right?


Daily Mail:

Families that often dine out and consume large quantities of sweets and alcohol are likely to have a higher carbon footprint than meat eaters, a study claims.

Researchers came to this conclusion after studying the food habits and carbon footprints of around 60,000 households across Japan.

They found that meat consumption typically only accounts for only 10 per cent of the different in environmental impact between low and high carbon households.

In contrast, households with high carbon footprints typically consumed around two to three times more sweets and alcohol than those with low footprints.

Well, it's Japan, so I really feel like Godzilla screws up the average. He's got a huge footprint, in every sense. But even so, obviously this means everybody should stop eating sugar and drinking alcohol. Otherwise, Greta Thunberg won't grow up to scold us some more.

You know what? Why stop there? Everybody should just stop eating, period. Let's all starve ourselves to death. Our only carbon footprint will be whatever is released as our corpses decompose. And then, that'll be it. Just let mankind die off to save the world. (Everybody except Arnold Schwarzenegger and Leonardo DiCaprio, of course. As always, they're exempt from the rules they want to impose on the rest of us.)

Environmentalists hate humanity and feel guilty for being part of it. If you derive any pleasure out of life, you must be stopped. Or as raconteur Jesse Kelly puts it: "The entire climate change platform is, 'If you're evil enough to be alive, at least have the decency to be miserable.'"

The holidays are depressing enough as it is. Go ahead, have some eggnog. Eat some cookies shaped like snowmen and Christmas trees. Flip off a scientist. Whatever makes these next few weeks bearable. Tell those Scrooges to go scold themselves.


Australia building gas-fired generators

A NEW power station to help keep the lights on in Queensland and NSW will "be announced today, the first of a series of new electricity generators to be given the tick. The gas-fired power plant at Gatton will be underwritten by the Morrison Government and is one of 12 generators short-listed just prior to the election.

No decision has yet been made on a coal-fired power station at Collinsville, championed by some LNP MPs, which was also short-listed.

At 132 megawatts, the Gatton gas plant is a smaller generator but can be used to firm up renewable power and can switch on with little notice during peak periods. It is also hoped it will put downward pressure on power prices should it be given final approval by the company behind it, Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners.

Quinbrook, which specialises in renewable and low-carbon projects, has previously warned the project would not go ahead without government support. Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the decision to underwrite the project was made after consideration of the project's financial viability, benefit to consumers and potential environmental impacts: "The Government will now enter detailed underwriting and contractual negotiations with the project proponent ahead of its financial investment decisions," he said.

Construction will begin once private sector funding is secured. The Federal Government is not funding the project, but instead underwriting its debt, so taxpayers will not have to fork out for the construction and any financial exposure is expected to be minimal.

Mr Taylor said it would increase competition, helping to keep energy prices down. Any excess gas from the project will be put on the Queensland gas market, which would increase competition for AGL and Origin.

An interconnector linking the Queensland and NSW power grids means the project could boost the southern state's energy supply if needed.

In relation to Collinsville, Mr Taylor said a first study was due this week, but further feasibility studies would be needed early in the new year.

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail' of 23 December, 2019


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