Biden names Kerry as climate envoy on national security team

Former secretary of state John Kerry pledged on Monday to treat climate change “as the national security threat it is” as the presidential envoy for climate in the Biden administration. “The climate crisis demands nothing less than all hands on deck,” said Kerry on social media soon after …

Ag must make big changes to reach climate goals, says report

Progress toward limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius — the goal of the Paris Agreement — is “highly insufficient,” “off-track,” “too slow,” and “inadequate” across almost every key sector: power, buildings, industry, transport, agriculture, and forests, the World Resources Institute and the ClimateWorks Foundation said Wednesday in their State of Climate Action report. (No paywall)

Alliance including farm groups seeks tax credits to fight climate change

The government would create a range of tax credits to encourage carbon sequestration in the soil and forests, deploy “digesters” nationwide to convert manure into energy, and work more aggressively to reduce food waste if it follows the recommendations of farm, conservation and food retail …

Biden review of USDA may have a climate mitigation perspective

Robert Bonnie, an Obama appointee at the USDA and now the head of an initiative to identify agriculture's role in mitigating climate change, will lead a review of the Agriculture Department to prepare the way for the incoming administration, said the Biden transition office. Meanwhile, Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge said on Wednesday that she would be honored to serve as Biden's agriculture secretary. If chosen, she would be the first Black woman to hold the cabinet post. (No paywall)

Book: Climate change and the looming crisis in U.S. food production

In his new book Perilous Bounty, Tom Philpott takes a deep look at perhaps the two most important farming regions in the country, California and the Midwest, and finds that both face what might be called an under-appreciated existential crisis. In California, recently engulfed in wildfires, the …

Agriculture a key source of nitrous oxide emissions

Farmers around the world are using ever-larger amounts of nitrogen fertilizers to improve yields and harvest more food. But the synthetic fertilizers, along with manure produced by livestock and used as a natural fertilizer, are the "dominant driver" in rising levels of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere, said a paper published Wednesday in Nature.

Opinion: How land — and the way we use it — is at the center of the climate crisis

It’s time to bring the conversation about climate down to earth, says Judith Schwartz. How we treat our land matters. This is good news, because by managing our land for enhanced ecological function — for operational carbon, water, nutrient, and energy cycles — we are enhancing climate resilience and mitigation. We can also produce healthier and more abundant crops while relying less on expensive and environmentally counterproductive inputs. In short, we will be working with nature rather than against her. (No paywall)

Study: U.S. commodity farmers imperil biodiversity for ever-lower yields

In less than a decade, U.S. corn, soybean and wheat fields wiped out an expanse of native grasslands and other ecosystems larger than the state of Maryland, according to a new analysis, destroying crucial wildlife habitat and spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The new fields produced lower crop yields than existing farmland.(No paywall)

In ‘final report card,’ world fails to meet biodiversity goals, says UN

In 2010, global leaders set 20 goals for preserving biodiversity worldwide in the decade ahead. Today, none of the targets has been met fully and only six are even partially achieved, said the United Nations in "a final report card" on the effort. "Biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate,” said the Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 report, “and the pressures driving the decline are intensifying." Still, the UN said, "it is not too late to slow, halt, and reverse current trends." (No paywall)