Efita Newsletter 1053, dated August 22, 2022

Efita Newsletter 1053, dated August 22, 2022
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Châtenay-Malabry (FR - 92290), August 22, 2022

EFITA newsletter / 1053 - European Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture, Food and the Environment

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Les Foins, par Edouard Leon Cortes (1882 - 1969), postimpressionniste français
01 - 18/08/22  

A few quotes by Salman Rushdie

What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.

From the beginning men used God to justify the unjustifiable.

A poet's work... to name the unnamable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.

Free societies...are societies in motion, and with motion comes tension, dissent, friction. Free people strike sparks, and those sparks are the best evidence of freedom's existence.

Faith without doubt is addiction.

Cour de ferme, Normandie, par Edouard Leon Cortes (1882 - 1969)
02 - 18/08/22  

How did we see the future yesterday??
See the incredible collection developed by Alain Fraval

Archives of our newsletters in French and English
Voir Afia
Voir Efita


'Climate-Anxious' College Students Troubled By Pesticides Need Science Lesson, By Cameron English — July 25, 2022

Suffering from "climate anxiety," some of America's entitled college students are working to get low-risk pesticides banned from their campuses, in a bid to slow global warming. They all need therapy and a basic science lesson.
The claim that all these chemicals can increase indirect emissions is nebulous. It's like warning that food contributes to obesity; technically, that's correct, but it's useless information. The term “pesticide” describes many products used to solve a variety of problems. To say anything definitive about any one of them we need more information.

For instance, use of the “synthetic” weed killer glyphosate improves soil health and slashes carbon emissions by reducing tillage and fuel use on farms. Banning this particular pesticide would be unwise given the trade-offs involved, especially since there is no "natural" alternative to glyphosate.

Some of the campuses with active student campaigns already have made the leap to organic land care, ditching synthetic pesticides. In 2018, UC Berkeley began going organic, and now synthetic pesticides are only used in urgent situations.

When this trend expands beyond colleges that cater to wealthy sociology majors, urgent situations become more common. That's because pesticides play a vital role in food production today. They kill the weeds, insects, and microorganisms that destroy crops. Take these chemicals away and more people go hungry. It's as simple as that.

These conventionally managed, heavily manicured campuses can come at a cost: increased cancer risk, contaminated waterways, poisoned wildlife and lifeless soil.

Certain pesticides may carry these risks when misused. Applied by a groundskeeper in accordance with EPA regulations? Unlikely, to say the least.

The UC Berkeley campaign also worked successfully to get the entire UC system to restrict the use of glyphosate, a popular herbicide and a probable carcinogen as determined by the World Health Organization.

Glyphosate is not a carcinogen. Study after study for the last 40 years has failed to turn up evidence to the contrary. The assessment issued by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has been almost universally panned by experts. The World Health Organization, not its IARC sub-agency, has thrice determined that the weed killer isn't linked to cancer.

Charlene added that “This work reminds me to be in the present moment as I play my role in reducing toxin use and keeping my campus safe and healthy.” I hope our troubled college student never has to pull weeds in order to survive, because that's the reality for many poor children around the globe. They don't go to school, they spend hours bent over under the hot sun pulling weeds so they can eat.

If Charlene thought climate change was bad for her anxiety, imagine the terror she'll experience in the pesticide-free world she foolishly longs for.
See acsh.org

Intérieur, Normandie, par Edouard Leon Cortes (1882 - 1969)
03 - 18/08/22  

New data explorer on air pollution

Air pollution is responsible for millions of deaths each year, making it one of the world’s leading risk factors for death. Death is not the only negative consequence of air pollution: many millions more suffer from poor health as a result.

How are emissions of air pollutants changing across the world? Where are they increasing, and where are they on the decline?

Explore the data on historical and recent emissions of air pollutants.

See ourworldindata.org

Almond Growers Use Less Water, by Amanda Zaluckyj, July 27, 2022

Did you know? Almond growers today can produce a pound of almonds using 33 percent less water than they did 20 years ago. It’s yet another example of how U.S. farmers are leaders in sustainability.
See thefarmersdaughterusa.com

The power and importance of modern ports, by Gabriel Carballal, JULY 21, 2022

On a recent trip to Uruguay’s biggest port, I watched men and machines unload 30 tons of timber from a truck in just five minutes. I was surprised and delighted to see how much material they could move and how quickly they moved it. The wood went onto a ship that was bound for Asia. The port where it happened is a showcase of technology, commerce, and raw power.

I’m a farmer in Uruguay who relies on this port in our capital city of Montevideo and another large one in Nueva Palmira. We have a national population of less than 3.5 million, but the food the farmers of Uruguay produce feeds an estimated 40 million people in other countries. We couldn’t do it without state-of-the-art ports, which are necessary links in our international supply chains—and an economic lifeline from my farm in Uruguay’s interior.

The work never stops on my farm. Here in the southern hemisphere, we just planted our winter crops: wheat, barley, canola, and oats. Soon we’ll get ready for our summer crops of corn and soybeans. A large majority of everything I produce is exported, moving to faraway customers through these gateways to the world.
See globalfarmernetwork.org

Les Blanchisseuses, par Edouard Leon Cortes (1882 - 1969)
04 - 18/08/22  


> Video: Trabotyx, weeding robot of Dutch origin
During the Dutch Future Farming & Food Experience in the Netherlands twelve field robots and implements for precision hoeing showed what they are capable of. At the event, the Trabotyx showed its weeding technology. Weeds right next to carrots are a priority because they are difficult to remove manually.

> CHCNAV Automated Steering System maximizes operational efficiency.
The NX510 SE is a high-precision automated steering system that can be quickly and easily mounted on many types of tractors to achieve ±2.5 cm pass-to-pass accuracy. The entire system can be installed in less than 30 minutes and calibrated in approximately 15 minutes, significantly reducing downtime costs.

> Soil sampling: Precision Planting launches fully automated soil sampling laboratory
Precision Planting has launched Radicle Lab, a fully automated soil sampling laboratory. With Radicle Lab, agronomists can run hundreds of soil samples unattended.

> Irrigation: BayWa invests in digitalising and automating existing irrigation systems
BayWa AG has invested in the Spanish start-up Spherag through its investment arm, BayWa Venture GmbH. Spherag has developed an internet of things (IoT) solution to digitalise and automate existing irrigation systems, reducing water and energy consumption in agriculture by one-third.

> Drought resistant crops: Growing crops without water or fertilizer (not credible – GW)
Marc Mascetti’s 17-hectare clay soil plot in Marcoussis, France is extremely dry as a result of the drought affecting large parts of Europe. Despite the drought, Mascetti still managed to grow, pumpkins, beans, tomatoes, onions and more. And he did that without irrigating of fertilising them.

> ‘Field robots are no miracle solution’
The CEOL field robot is an inter-row crawler developed in Toulouse by the young company Agreenculture. French grower Quentin Terrigeol bought one 2 years ago and shares his experiences with us.

> Grain classification: Cropify offers growers technology for objective grain classification
Growers will soon be able to use artificial intelligence for grain classification on the farm. A new South Australian technology can replace the current subjective assessments, says co-founder Andrew Hannon of Cropify.

> Weed Control: Effectiveness of electricity in weed control explored
Researchers from the University of Missouri recently conducted two field studies to explore the effectiveness of electricity in weed control. They used a tractor attachment called The Weed Zapper to electrocute eight types of weeds common in soybean crops.

> Soil health: Improving soil health in potato cropping systems
A long-term rotational experiment in the United States is exploring strategies to improve soil health in potato-based systems. What options are there to improve soil health for crops that grow underground – like potatoes?

> Crop science: Natural mechanism that helps plants limit their water loss identified
Scientists from The Australian National University (ANU) and James Cook University (JCU) have identified a natural mechanism that helps plants limit their water loss with little effect on carbon dioxide (CO2) intake – an essential process for photosynthesis, plant growth and crop yield.

See futurefarming.com

Sector by sector: where do global greenhouse gas emissions come from? By by Hannah Ritchie, September 18, 2020

Globally, we emit around 50 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases each year. Where do these emissions come from? We take a look, sector-by-sector.

See ourworldindata.org

Why John Deere invested in Africa’s Hello Tractor, AFN, by Lucy Ngige

American ag machinery behemoth Deere & Company — more commonly known as John Deere, recently invested in Hello Tractor, a Nigeria-headquartered marketplace and fleet management technology for African farmers to rent tractors.

The startup was one of the first participants in John Deere’s Startup Collaborator program, which launched in 2019 to help the company engage with tech startups and trial their innovations with customers without a formal partnership. Another early participant was Bear Flag Robotics, which was acquired by John Deere earlier this year. [Disclosure: AgFunder, AFN’s parent company, was an investor in Bear Flag Robotics.]

John Deere’s director of Ag & Turf Sales & Marketing in Africa and Asia Jason Brantley, told AFN that Hello Tractor aligns with the business’s “Leaps Ambition” which aims to see 100% of small ag equipment connectivity enabled by 2026. He said the deal also presents an opportunity for Deere “to learn from Hello Tractor about how it connects with customers and helps solve problems in Deere’s Region 1 markets of Africa and Asia.”

“Sustainable food security in these regions will require new solutions to persistent problems in agriculture, but at the scales and costs that match the market and the mechanization levels of the farmer’s production system. It’s exciting to see the energy and efforts that new startups are directing towards production agriculture and we think this will increase as more connectivity is established,” he said.

He added that the partnership with Hello Tractor is really aimed squarely at increasing access to affordable mechanization for small farmers and to help mechanization contractors run more efficiently and profitably.
See agfundernews.com

Le repas du soir, effet de lampe, par Edouard Leon Cortes (1882 - 1969)
05 - 18/08/22  

Ukraine conflict puts food security at risk for 3% of global population, says McKinsey, AFN, by Jennifer Marston

- Logistical problems stemming from war, climatic events, and supply chain disruptions, and an expected 35% to 45% decline in Ukraine crop production next year, is set to impact the nutritional needs of up to 250 million people or 3% of the world population, according to a new report from McKinsey.

- The invasion is already expected to reduce grain exports from two of the world’s breadbaskets, Ukraine and Russia, by as much as 22 million metric tons, in 2022.

- Up to 60 million tons of grain may “be lacking” from the world’s food supply by the end of 2023.

- Some countries will suffer more than others — many in Africa and Asia that rely on grain imports could be hit by price increases, impacting more than 1 billion people and up to nearly 2 billion if the global shortage continues.

- “Swift mitigations” including de-risking logistical routes and reducing trade restrictions may help, but the window to use these is closing, according to the report.
See agfundernews.com

Dry Rhine

01 - 18/08/22


Why John Deere invested in Africa’s Hello Tractor, AFN, by Lucy Ngige

American ag machinery behemoth Deere & Company — more commonly known as John Deere, recently invested in Hello Tractor, a Nigeria-headquartered marketplace and fleet management technology for African farmers to rent tractors.

The startup was one of the first participants in John Deere’s Startup Collaborator program, which launched in 2019 to help the company engage with tech startups and trial their innovations with customers without a formal partnership. Another early participant was Bear Flag Robotics, which was acquired by John Deere earlier this year. [Disclosure: AgFunder, AFN’s parent company, was an investor in Bear Flag Robotics.]

John Deere’s director of Ag & Turf Sales & Marketing in Africa and Asia Jason Brantley, told AFN that Hello Tractor aligns with the business’s “Leaps Ambition” which aims to see 100% of small ag equipment connectivity enabled by 2026. He said the deal also presents an opportunity for Deere “to learn from Hello Tractor about how it connects with customers and helps solve problems in Deere’s Region 1 markets of Africa and Asia.”

“Sustainable food security in these regions will require new solutions to persistent problems in agriculture, but at the scales and costs that match the market and the mechanization levels of the farmer’s production system. It’s exciting to see the energy and efforts that new startups are directing towards production agriculture and we think this will increase as more connectivity is established,” he said.

He added that the partnership with Hello Tractor is really aimed squarely at increasing access to affordable mechanization for small farmers and to help mechanization contractors run more efficiently and profitably.
See agfundersnews.com

UK down? (I hope NO! GW)
02 - 18/08/22  

Polio eradicated
03 - 18/08/22  

Kenya’s iProcure closes $10.2m Series B to digitize rural supply chains in Kenya and beyond, AFN, by Lucy Ngige

Kenya’s iProcure, a startup offering agricultural inputs and digital supply chain solutions in rural Africa, has announced the closure of its $10.2 million Series B round.

The investment was in debt and equity which came from a number of international investors led by impact investor Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P).

Joining the round were Novastar Ventures and British International Investment (BII) (formerly CDC Group) which injected $3 million into the deal. The impact investment group and US-based New General Market Partners and Ceniarth also participated in the round.

iProcure, which has grown 23 times in the past five years, will use the investment to scale and solidify its position in East Africa and support its expansion into Uganda and Tanzania, as well as upscaling its technologies, logistical infrastructure, and distribution network. iProcure will also launch a credit offering for agro-retailers to purchase supplies.

Niraj Varia, iProcure’s new CEO and former partner at Novastar Ventures, said, “In addition to bolstering our existing operations with more warehouses and delivery vehicles, this funding will expand iProcure’s product offering to include credit services and a new POS system for agro-dealers to better forecast their inventory needs and reduce pilferage within their shops. This will help our 5,000+ partner retailers increase their earnings and better serve the hundreds of thousands of farmers that depend on each shop.”
See agfundernews.com

Life expectancy 1543 to 2011
04 - 18/08/22  

The World Factbook

The World Factbook presents the basic realities about the world in which we live in and is one of the U.S. Government’s most accessed publications.

The World Factbook provides basic intelligence on the history, people, government, economy, energy, geography, environment, communications, transportation, military, terrorism, and transnational issues for 266 world entities.
See cia.gov

Opinion (GW): I prefer Our World in Data!

Meet the GROWhort: LYRO builds produce-packing robots to fix food’s broken supply chains, AFN, by Jack Ellis

Australia’s LYRO Robotics, a startup building robots and AI for the fresh fruit and vegetable industry, recently raised A$1.5 million ($1.07 million) in seed funding from investors including machinery manufacturer Toyo Kanetsu and agrifoodtech VC firm AgFunder.

This follows LYRO’s participation the latest cohort of the GROW Impact Accelerator, run by AgFunder and agrifood ecosystem catalyst GROW.

AFN got the chance to chat with LYRO co-founders Juxi Leitner (JL) and

AFN: What problem is LYRO trying to solve, and how does your tech offer a solution?

AFN: What gives your company its competitive edge and differentiates it from others trying to solve the same problem?

AFN: What have been some of the biggest challenges for your company so far? What have been some of the biggest successes?

AFN: What does ‘impact’ mean to you personally, and to your organization? Why is social and environmental impact so important?

See agfundernews.com

Le moulin, par Edouard Leon Cortes (1882 - 1969)
06 - 18/08/22  

A first thought for today

I like the pluralism of modernity; it doesn't threaten me or my faith. And if one's faith is dependent on being reinforced in every aspect of other people's lives, then it is a rather insecure faith, don't you think?
Andrew SULLIVAN, author and editor (1963 -)

A second thought for today

A writer is, after all, only half his book. The other half is the reader and from the reader the writer learns.
P.L. (Pamela Lyndon) TRAVERS, author, creator of the "Mary Poppins" series (1899-1996)

A third thought for today

How would you describe the difference between modern war and modern industry -- between, say, bombing and strip mining, or between chemical warfare and chemical manufacturing? The difference seems to be only that in war the victimization of humans is directly intentional and in industry it is "accepted" as a "trade-off".
Wendell BERRY, farmer and author (b. 5 Aug 1934)

A fourth thought for today

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.
James BALDWIN, writer (2 Aug 1924-1987)

Femme récurant les cuivres, par Edouard Leon Cortes (1882 - 1969)
07 - 18/08/22  

A meat tax is probably inevitable – here’s how it could work, The Conversation, by Cameron Hepburn and Franziska Funke
Our calculations suggest that the average retail price for meat in high-income countries would need to increase by 35%-56% for beef, 25% for poultry, and 19% for lamb and pork to reflect the environmental costs of their production. In the UK, where the average price for a 200g beef steak is around £2.80, consumers would pay between £3.80 and £4.30 at the checkout instead.
A tax levied on any firm selling meat – including restaurants and cafes as well as supermarkets – in a given country would capture all meat producers. Other research indicates that consumers are typically more supportive of environmental taxes of this nature if they are phased in with a lower tax rate initially.

Some of the revenue raised by the tax could be given directly to farmers, leaving them with higher profits than before. This could be paid according to their work stewarding the land, restoring habitats like peat bogs. Or it could help them invest in the transition to new income streams, such as producing high-quality, organic meat from low-density herds which, when consumed in much lower quantities, may still be compatible with emissions targets.

Taking steps to make plant-based foods more affordable and meat substitutes more attractive will pave the way for a future in which it’s possible to make meat and dairy much more expensive. The good news is that – once their time has come – meat taxes could actually help us eat better, at lower cost.

If implemented correctly, a meat tax could protect the environment, while helping secure a sustainable future for livestock farmers, as well as affordable and sustainable food for all.
See theconversation.com

About the above article (GW), it seems to me that people who have no practical agricultural knowledge may be completely wrong about bovine meet industry, that is today, at least in Europe, a kind of by-product of the milk industry… This means that if less cows give birth to less calves, they will not produce the milk that is necessary to meet today needs.

From the technical point of view, there are many ways to reduce carbon emissions of bovine cattle:

See Life Beef Carbon EU R&D project

See EIP-AGRI Focus Group Reducing emissions from cattle farming

See Climate change and the global dairy cattle sector: The role of the dairy sector in a low-carbon future

Some statistics from “Our World in Data” may help to understand my point of view.

Meat production by animal

At a global level we see that the dominant livestock types are poultry, cattle (which includes beef and buffalo meat), pig, and sheep & goat to a lesser extent. However, the distribution of meat types varies significantly across the world; in some countries, other meat types such as wild game, horse, and duck can account for a significant share of total production.

Although production of all major meat types have been increasing in absolute terms, in relative terms the share of global meat types have changed significantly over the last 50 years. In 1961, poultry meat accounted for only 12 percent of global meat production; by 2013 its share has approximately tripled to around 35 percent. In comparison, beef and buffalo meat as a share of total meat production has nearly halved, now accounting for around 22 percent. Pigmeat’s share has remained more constant at approximately 35-40 percent.

Meat & Milk

- The world now produces more than three times the quantity of meat as it did fifty years ago. In 2018, production was around 340 million tonnes.
- Pigmeat is the most popular meat globally, but the production of poultry is increasing most rapidly.
80 billion animals are slaughtered each year for meat.
- The average person in the world consumed around 43 kilograms of meat in 2014. This ranges from over 100kg in the US and Australia to only 5kg in India.
- Meat consumption increases as the world is getting richer.

- The world now produces around 800 million tonnes of milk each year – more than double the amount fifty years ago.
- Richer countries tend to consume more milk per person.

Inequality of life years (GINI Index)
05 - 18/08/22 The Gini coefficient is a number ranging from 0 to 1, where 0 means perfect equality and 1, which cannot be achieved, would mean perfect inequality: one person has all the income and an infinity of others have no income).

The number of people in extreme poverty - including projections to 2030
06 - 18/08/22  

Red States are Green!
07 - 18/08/22  

Science-Free Webinar: Carey Gillam's Latest Glyphosate Hysteria, Debunked, By Cameron English - July 20, 2022

Anti-pesticide activist Carey Gillam recently moderated a panel discussion about the weed killer glyphosate. I attended and took notes. Here's what I saw.
See acsh.org

Lower US Gasoline Demand (Good News!)
08 - 18/08/22  

'Regenerative' Farming: AOC's Overhyped Climate Change Solution, by Cameron English

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently came out in support of "regenerative" farming as a solution to climate change. There is little evidence to justify her advocacy.
In 2018 alone, farmers who cultivated these GE crops reduced their carbon emissions by 23 billion kilotons, the equivalent of pulling 15.3 million cars off the road. NRDC acknowledged the value of no-till farming, calling it "a technique that leaves the soil intact when planting rather than disturbing the soil through plowing." But the group has also lambasted glyphosate as "a toxic weed killer."

This isn't to say that agrochemicals have no negative impact on the environment, because they certainly do. But that externality has to be balanced against the enormous production increases pesticides and fertilizers enable, which reduce the amount of land we dedicate to farming while feeding more people.

In any case, the solution isn't to ban technologies that have proven their efficacy in spades. We instead have to devise new solutions that build upon earlier innovations. The end result is an increasingly sustainable food system.This is the key concept Ocasio-Cortez and other ideologues miss when they wax poetic about “regenerative farming techniques.” Let's give Nordhaus and Saloni the last word:

… [t]here is no shortage of problems associated with chemical-intensive and large-scale agriculture. But the solutions to these problems—be they innovations that allow farmers to deliver fertilizer more precisely to plants when they need it, bioengineered microbial soil treatments that fix nitrogen in the soil and reduce the need for both fertilizer and soil disruption, or genetically modified crops that require fewer pesticides and herbicides—will be technological, giving farmers new tools instead of removing old ones that have been proven critical to their livelihoods.
See acsh.org

My thought (GW)..

I generally share the points of view of Cameron English about pesticides, GMO and NBT for example and I thank you very much for all the interesting posts that I am pleased to share with members of my community of people interested in the use of ICT in Agriculture (see “my weekly newsletter”).

It is clear for me that American farmers are practicing no tillage agriculture since a long time and are better protecting their soils than many of their European colleagues. And I understand that the concept of regenerative agriculture is a little bit fuzzy.

However, it seems to me that if we keep it simple, and adopt a simple (limited!) definition of “regenerative agriculture” (in French “Agriculture de conservation des sols” or “Soil Conservation Agriculture”), we could retain a few main basic characteristics:
- No or very little tillage,
- Soils covered at least 300 days a year,
- Relatively high number of crops and diversified rotations.

Adopting these principles help farmers to improve the structures and organic matter contents of their soils. Glyphosate remains necessary since it provides the farmers with a cheap and efficient solution to weeds control. Farmers adopting this way of working are using pesticides, when necessary, i.e., far less than with their old way of working, and fix carbon in significative proportions.

And Carbon fixation is really crucial today, making “Regenerative agriculture” (with the above simple definition) all the most important

You find hereafter a paper by Gérard Ross, a main promoter of “Soil Conservation Agriculture” in France.

Soil Conservation Agriculture: How to help farmers accelerate the transition to avoid a famine (first part). By Gérard Rass - 29.07.2022
See europeanscientist.com

It seems to me that many (including myself) would be pleased if Cameron English could provide us with a positive simple short definition of “Regenerative Agriculture” focusing on Carbon fixation.

Famille le soir à la veillée, par Edouard Leon Cortes (1882 - 1969)
08 - 18/08/22  

US nuclear regulator greenlights its first small modular reactor, by Loz Blain, August 01, 2022

The first small modular reactor (SMR) design has been approved for certification by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). NuScale's tidy reactor design promises safe, clean energy at radically reduced cost, land use and installation time.
See newatlas.com

Bill Gates, heroe of progress (or Steve Jobs)

Personal computers entered the market in the 1970s, but they were difficult to use and appealed only to devoted hobbyists.

Thanks to Bill Gates, computers are now a home and office staple, likely adding trillions to the global economy.
See video
See article

Gazette de vitisphere.com,
portail vitivinicole


Interest, Inflation, and Innovation, by Gale Pooley

An economy can experience both inflation and innovation simultaneously, and monetary inflation can be offset by innovation.
Recognizing that nominal interest rates contain both inflation and innovation elements also explains why we could have negative nominal interest rates. If the real interest rate is 3 percent, and inflation is 4 percent, but innovation is 10 percent, the nominal interest rate would be negative 3 percent.
See humanprogress.org

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True Environmentalists Should Prioritize Economic Prosperity, by Alexander C. R. Hammond

We've written a lot about the Environmental Kuznets Curve—the notion that economic growth initially leads to environmental damage but eventually causes that degradation to reverse.

Air pollution is one example. In this chart generated using Our World in Data's data explorer, you can see sulphur dioxide emissions rising in low-income countries while plunging in high-income countries. In upper-middle-income countries like China, air pollution has recently reached its peak.

As long as economic growth continues, we can expect other kinds of environmental damage to follow a similar trend.

See humanprogress.org


GDP per capita, 1 to 2018
09 - 18/08/22  

State of the UK’s Woods and Trees 2021: the UK’s woodland cover has more than doubled in the last 100 years
The trends for the UKs woods and trees are concerning. The UK’s woodland cover has more than doubled in the last 100 years, but much of this is non-native trees. Existing native woodlands are isolated, in poor ecological condition and there has been a decline in woodland wildlife.
See woodlandtrust.org.uk

Drought devastates U.S. cotton harvest, Wall Street Journal

Farmers, particularly in Texas, are abandoning failed crops in droves, and cotton prices are rising.

Southwestern cotton growers are abandoning millions of parched acres that they planted in spring, prompting forecasts for the weakest U.S. harvest in more than a decade and sending prices sharply higher.
See wsj.com/

How Green Ideologies are Relegating the EU to Third World Status, Risk Monger on July 31, 2022

I have too often warned that Western affluence and prosperity can disappear in a heartbeat through irrational policies. Europe has pilfered its post-Cold War peace dividend, borrowed from the next generation and is now facing a long cold winter with no options other than hardship. All of this by pandering to a green ideology it can no longer economically afford and seems politically unable to give up.
See risk-monger.com

End of the last (?) Covid wave
10 - 18/08/22  

What the “Woke” Left and the Alt-Right Share, by Slavoj Žižek, Aug 3, 2022 (Usually I do not really agree with by Slavoj Žižek but find him interesting – GW)
Where does that leave Europe? The Guardian’s Simon Tisdall paints a bleak but accurate picture:

“Putin’s aim is the immiseration of Europe. By weaponising energy, food, refugees and information, Russia’s leader spreads the economic and political pain, creating wartime conditions for all. A long, cold, calamity-filled European winter of power shortages and turmoil looms. … Freezing pensioners, hungry children, empty supermarket shelves, unaffordable cost of living increases, devalued wages, strikes and street protests point to Sri Lanka-style meltdowns. An exaggeration? Not really.”

To prevent a total collapse into disorder, the state apparatus, in close coordination with other states and relying on local mobilizations of people, will have to regulate the distribution of energy and food, perhaps resorting to administration by the armed forces. Europe thus has a unique chance to leave behind its charmed life of isolated welfare, a bubble in which gas and electricity prices were the biggest worries. As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently told Vogue, “Just try to imagine what I’m talking about happening to your home, to your country. Would you still be thinking about gas prices or electricity prices?”

He’s right. Europe is under attack, and it needs to mobilize, not just militarily but socially and economically as well. We should use the crisis to change our way of life, adopting values that will spare us from an ecological catastrophe in the coming decades. This may be our only chance.
See project-syndicate.org

Petit village en Normandie, par Edouard Leon Cortes (1882 - 1969)
09 - 18/08/22  

How big a deal was the Industrial Revolution? By Luke Muehlhauser

One way to look for opportunities to accomplish as much good as possible is to ask “Which developments might have an extremely large impact on human civilization, and is there any way we can (in expectation) nudge those developments in a positive direction?”

For example, in the context of philanthropy, the Rockefeller Foundation funded work on an improved agricultural approach that led to the Green Revolution, which some people have credited with kickstarting the development of the “Asian Tigers,” helping several countries transition from “poor” to “middle income,” transforming India from being in the middle of a famine to being a wheat exporter, and saving over a billion people from starvation. Of course, the Rockefeller Foundation had no way of knowing their funding would have such incredible impact, but a rare win of that magnitude can make up for a large number of failed (and similarly uncertain) funding efforts. (See Holden Karnofsky’s hits-based giving.)

However, some future developments might have even greater impact than the Green Revolution, and be more comparable in magnitude to the changes often attributed to the industrial revolution. Here, I refer to changes of this magnitude as “transformative,” and I refer to developments which might precipitate such transformative changes as potential “transformative developments” for human civilization.

In the future, I hope to spend more time identifying potentially transformative developments, especially those which might also be tractable and neglected. In this report, I hope to lay some groundwork by examining the magnitude of “transformative” change. In particular, I ask:

- The industrial revolution is often considered the most transformative event in recorded history. 6 How large, exactly, were the differences in human well-being before and after the industrial revolution?

- Have there been other transitions in recorded history of comparable magnitude, either positive or negative?

- How catastrophic would a development need to be to plausibly result in negative transformative change?

What do these initial findings suggest about potential future transformative developments?

My initial tentative conclusions from this preliminary investigation can be summarized as follows:

The gains in human well-being observed since the industrial revolution are vastly larger than pre-industrial fluctuations in human well-being. No other transitions in recorded history, either positive or negative, are remotely similar in magnitude. When thinking about which future developments might be most important, we should not forget that the size of their likely impact may differ by orders of magnitude. For example, a universal cure for cancer would bring a huge benefit to human well-being, but its expected impact seems likely to be vastly smaller than (for example) the likely impact of AI systems capable of automating most human labor, or the counterfactual benefit of preventing large-scale nuclear war.
See lukemuehlhauser.com

Attelage en Normandie, par Edouard Leon Cortes (1882 - 1969)
10 - 18/08/22  

Two old Jewish men are talking

One says to the other, “Every morning, like clockwork, I pee at 7:30.”

The other one says, “That’s great!”

The first one replies, “No, it isn’t. I don’t get out of bed till 9!”


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