Monday, November 28, 2022

Scientists trawl through 12,000 wheat specimens in 300-year-old collection in hopes of finding a strain that can cope with climate change

This is a total crock. Warmth is good for crops. And wheat already grows in a variety of climates. Global warming would expand cool climate crops (e.g. in Northern Canada) into new lands and lead to an INCREASE in wheat availability. Global warming is most likely to cause a GLUT of grain crops. It wouldn't take much warming for Canada's arable area to expand 100 miles further North

Scientists are hunting through 300-year-old wheat samples kept by the Natural History Museum to find a variety resilient enough to face the challenges of our changing climate.

The archives of the museum in London could hold the key to finding the hardier wheat type that could help feed the world as conditions become more unfavourable to modern-day wheat.

Out of the 12,000 samples held by the museum, scientists will sequence the genomes of the most promising specimens to find the genetic secrets of the toughest types of wheat.

The old varieties of wheat are stored in hundreds of old cardboard files in the museum vaults, containing dried leaves, stems or ears of grain, and sometimes all three, from centuries ago.

They're carefully labelled with information on where and when they were found.

Larissa Welton, who is part of the team digitising the archive so it can be accessed online, told the BBC: 'The collection spans back to the 1700s, including a specimen that was collected on Captain Cook's first voyage to Australia.'

The war in Ukraine, disease and pests are jeopardising the supply of modern-day wheat which is used globally for staples in our diets such as, bread, pasta, cereals and cakes.

Scientists predict that a one degree rise in climate temperature could decrease the production of wheat by an alarming 6.4 per cent.

Pests and diseases are also causing major challenges, reducing the projected annual yield by about a fifth each year.

The Green Revolution of the 1950s meant that wheat strains that could provide the greatest yield were favoured, which has shrunk the diversity in wheat varieties.

With a smaller pool of wheat varieties, farmers have now lost access to types of wheat that could survive the more extreme weather conditions we are seeing as a result of climate change today.

Last week, the global population hit eight billion and is projected to continue growing by an estimated 60% more by 2050.

Scientists are hoping to find strains that will grow in places that wheat does not currently grow in order to keep up with the demands of a booming world population.

Dr Matthew Clark, a geneticist at the Natural History Museum told the BBC: 'We want to be able to see whether there are some of the things that we have lost, that we could basically capture and bring back to the modern varieties,'

'For example, by looking at crops that were able to survive in more marginal areas - places with hot and dry climates - that could help more developing countries increase their food supply,' added Dr Clark.

He explained that this could be done through traditional plant breeding, genetic modification or gene editing - a technique where genes can be very precisely added, removed or replaced.

Scientists at the John Innes Centre in Norwich are searching for solutions through old wheat samples.

Their archive, called the Watkins landrace collection, contains samples for a hundred years ago and contains varieties from all over the world.

The samples are stored at a chilly 4C to preserve the seeds, which means they can be planted and grown.

The team at John Innes have had some success in taking some of the older varieties of wheat and cross-breeding them with modern ones.

Dr Simon Griffiths said: 'Within this collection of old wheats, there are new resistances to that disease, which stand up against this disease, and that's being deployed by breeders right now to defend this really important threat to wheat production.'

The team is also interested in finding more nutritious wheat varieties. 'What about what's in the wheat? We know that we can increase the fibre content, the mineral content of wheat,' he said.

'There's so much diversity that hasn't been fully exploited yet by modern wheat breeders, and we think we can bring that to them.'


Europe Pays for Green-Energy Illusions

Europe is struggling to keep its lights and the heat on this winter, and fuel supply is only half of the energy crisis. The other half, now coming into view, is the ruinous fiscal cost associated with the failure of green-energy flights of fancy. European taxpayers will pay this bill for years to come.

Governments across Europe have announced €674 billion ($696 billion) in handouts and subsidies to alleviate the burden of skyrocketing energy prices between September 2021 and October 2022, according to Bruegel, the Brussels-based think tank. The money includes €264 billion in Germany alone and the equivalent of €97 billion in the United Kingdom. This is on top of what households and businesses are paying in higher energy bills even after the subsidies.

Some policies will help. Almost every European country has reduced excise taxes on fuel. This is a rare instance of the energy crisis forcing a beneficial rethink of green fixations—in this case, Europe’s tendency to treat energy levies as a green “sin tax.” But for the most part the money is subsidizing households and businesses directly or indirectly. One common tactic is to impose a retail price cap, with taxpayers plugging the gap between the costs that utilities must pay for energy and what they’re allowed to charge consumers.

A special dishonorable mention goes to countries such as France and Germany whose energy policies have dragged the government directly into the utility business. Paris has turned majority-state-owned utility EDF into a subsidy slush fund, using state control to limit retail prices today while apparently hoping taxpayers won’t notice plunging dividends or a big equity injection tomorrow. Berlin may nationalize Uniper and is offering tens of billions of euros in subsidized credit to other utilities.

This tabulation assumes “temporary” subsidies will expire on schedule, such as Britain’s energy price cap that’s due to end in April. If you think politicians will do that willingly, we have a hydropower dam in the Sahara to sell you.

This tally doesn’t include costs associated with the race to build new energy infrastructure, especially to import natural gas from sources other than Russia. Governments seem to be in denial about how to encourage private investment to shoulder more of this load.

Politicians still claim their medium-term plan is to ramp up renewables such as wind and solar. But those subsidies will skew incentives against investing in gas terminals or pipelines and the like. Taxpayers may end up footing bills that private investors would have been willing to pay if politicians hadn’t promised to put fossil fuels out of business within 10-15 years. Governments also are rushing to impose windfall taxes on the profits from the fossil-fuel investments they say they want to encourage.

Add it all to the tab. It’s impossible to say how much money Europe has wasted on its failed green-energy transition over the past few decades. Estimates for Germany alone start in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Taxpayers shouldn’t be surprised if their total bill to bail out that failed energy transition tops $1 trillion in coming years. When it comes to green energy, the motto is “pay, and pay again.”


Europe needs to start fracking now! Hungary could have shale gas lasting a century

The Corvinus project, designed to kick-start shale gas extraction in Hungary, aims to ensure that the natural gas field in Békés county, at a depth of 3,700-4,500 metres, can be exploited as soon as possible, reported the economy portal Világgazdaság.

Former Minister of Innovation and Technology László Palkovics said encouragingly in early October that a priority was to review the Energy Strategy, including a significant reduction in the share of natural gas in the energy mix. The current national gas demand of 11.1 billion cubic meters per year would be reduced to 9.2 billion in the medium term, by 2030, and to 3.9 billion in the long term, by 2050. 40 percent of this would be imports. But the Hungarian government declared an energy emergency in the summer of 2022, and its action plan to address it includes an increase in domestic gas production from 1.5 billion cubic meters per year to at least 2 billion.

The ex-minister said in a statement in October that this could be done by 2023 without opening new fields. The project has been declared a priority investment by the government and is therefore exempted from the normal rules on historical monuments, environmental protection and local building regulations.

As part of the project, shale gas extraction in the Great Plain could start as early as January 2023.
Shale gas is largely methane, which is nearly 80 times more greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, and therefore, when released into the atmosphere, will accelerate global warming.

The new well was put into production on November 11 and will start with a production of 600 barrels per day.Continue reading

The Association of Hungarian Nature Protectors (MTVSZ) has warned though that shale gas is produced by a process known as hydraulic fracturing, whereby shale gas is drilled vertically and horizontally several kilometers into the rock and then fractured at high pressure with a mixture of water, granular material such as sand, and chemical additives such as highly carcinogenic benzene and formaldehyde, forcing the gas into the extraction well. One fracking operation requires roughly 15 million liters of water, and a shale gas well can be fracked up to ten times.


Australia: Chicken Little propaganda dressed up as science

The Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO have delivered their ­biennial dose of depression about the climate in their latest State of the Climate report. The climate has warmed by 1.5C and there is barely a single benefit – it is all ­disaster.

It is often said, “if it is too good to be true, it probably is” and you are being conned. What about too bad to be true? Can a gently warming climate have no significant benefits at all? The only marginally encouraging part of the report is about northern Australia. There might have been a slight reduction in cyclone numbers, and there has been a bit more rain in the recent decades.

Apart from that, the report reads like the Book of Exodus – one disaster after another. Only the frogs and boils are missing.

But it is significant that the period when Egyptians were building pyramids, which was hotter than today’s climate, is often called the Holocene Climatic Optimum. The word “optimum” was an indication that scientists working in the era before climate alarmism could see some advantage of a warmer climate.

A sure sign that the report tries too hard to find disaster is when it discusses coral bleaching and the Great Barrier Reef. It stresses that there have been four bleaching events in the past six years, which it implies were devastating. But for some reason the report fails to mention that this year the reef recorded its highest amount of coral since records began in 1985.

This proves that all the hype about the coral loss from bleaching was greatly exaggerated. But the report writers were obviously ­untroubled by the contradictory evidence. They ignored it.

And they also ignore the fact that corals grow about 15 per cent faster for every degree temperature rise, and that almost all the corals on the reef also live in much warmer water near the equator. We should expect better coral, and it should extend further south. That is not too bad, is it?

Why doesn’t the report mention that the extra CO2 in the atmosphere improves the water utilisation efficiency of dryland plants, which occupy most of Australia, and that this has caused plants to thrive? According to NASA satellites, there is a “greening” of Australia of at least 10 per cent. Overall, the world has seen the area of green leaves expand by the equivalent of twice the area of the United States in just 35 years.

In a changing climate, there will be winners and losers, and it might be that the net effect is a major problem. But if the report writers will not even mention the good bits, how can we have any confidence in its findings?

The latest report should ring alarm bells – but not just about climate. Is this an excellent tool of propaganda, or is it a scientific statement?

We should all worry about whether groupthink has taken hold of the BOM and CSIRO.

We should worry when the BOM says it has recently adjusted all the temperature records reducing the temperatures a century ago by up to a degree. Can we have any confidence they did this with a good scientific reason?

And we should worry about the BOM’s claims that the fire seasons are now much worse than in 1950. Why is all the information on huge bushfires before 1950 ignored – like the devastating 1851 Victorian bushfire and the 1939 fires? It is not like there is no data before 1950.

Did they ignore that data for a good reason? Is this similar to the US fire statistics, which are often reported by authorities as having a major increase in fire acreage burnt since the early 60s, but fail to mention that there was almost 10 times more acreage burnt in the “dust-bowl” period in the 1930s?

In the next decades, Australian governments plan to spend hundreds of billions attempting to prevent climate change. Before we do that, maybe we could spend a few million doing an audit of BOM and CSIRO reports.

Maybe we would find that adapting to a changing climate is by far the best way to proceed. We might even find that some of what we have been told is wrong.

Why will the conservative parties not commit to an audit? Who would argue against a bit of checking of the science, when the Great Barrier Reef statistics prove scientists got something badly wrong?

And the latest report is a sure sign that the BOM and CSIRO are drifting into political advocacy rather than science, observation, and objective prediction.




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The article on wheat sounds like they are using the nonsensical worry about AGW to actually go and improve the diversity of wheat lest some of that diversity be lost forever. By planting and growing some varieties of wheat that have not been grown in decades they plan to refresh the stored seed while using a trope that ensures grant money is provided as cover.