climate change

Brazil and Colombia sharply reduce forest loss

With new leaders in office, Brazil and Colombia dramatically reduced their loss of mature tropical forest in 2023, said Global Forest Watch in an annual report on Thursday. Nonetheless, the world’s tropics lost 3.7 million hectares (more than 14,000 square miles) of primary forest. Losses have run at 3 to 4 million hectares annually for the past two decades.

EPA calls for lower-polluting buses and heavy trucks

Manufacturers of heavy-duty trucks and buses will be required to produce vehicles that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 60 percent by model year 2032 under a new EPA regulation. The agency said a variety of technologies can be used by truck makers to meet the tailpipe emissions target, from cleaner-burning internal combustion engines to hybrids, electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cells.

Midwest maple syrup producers adapt to uncertainty in face of changing climate

This year’s maple sap season began early for many producers in Upper Midwestern states, who experienced shorter seasons. Some credit those shifts to the year’s record-warm winter. Thanks to the El Niño effect, the season ranked among the top 10 warmest. But Indigenous and non-Native experts say human-caused climate change also is having varied and unpredictable effects on the maple harvest. Farmers and Indigenous communities whose ancestors have tapped trees since time immemorial are altering their practices and planning for an erratic future. (No paywall)

Farmworkers gather in New York to chart future of policy and organizing goals

Farmworkers and labor organizers from across North America will convene in New York City this weekend for a “people’s tribunal,” where they plan to produce a list of overarching priorities that will guide their organizing efforts going forward. (No paywall)

Pennsylvania dairies put the notion of climate-smart milk to the test

The U.S. dairy industry is aiming to go greenhouse gas neutral by 2050. Researchers have many ideas to help get them there — from feed additives that minimize methane-filled cow burps to new timing for fertilizer applications. But there’s little data on how well many of these strategies work on actual dairies with varying environmental conditions. (No paywall)

Study: Climate change will drive up food costs, threatening political stability

Global warming may drive up food inflation by as much as 3.2 percentage points a year, based on temperature increases projected for 2035, according to a paper published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment on Thursday. Warming is also projected to cause an overall rise in inflation of up to 1.2 percent annually during that period.

Ice cover on the upper Mississippi was fleeting this winter. Is this our future?

The above-average temperatures across the upper Midwest, driven in part by the El Niño climate pattern and in part by human-caused climate change, made for less than one month of safe ice on the Mississippi River this winter, scientists estimate. (No paywall)

We need a farm bill for farmworkers

In the latest piece in our series with Mother Jones, The Farm Bill Fight, Teresa Cotsirilos explains why the nation's most important agricultural law largely ignores farmworkers—and why that needs to change. 

The ‘four corners’ struggle to square the farm bill circle

House Agriculture chairman Glenn Thompson declared, "I am at the table" to write the new farm bill — with multibillion-dollar cuts already rejected by Democrats on the committee. "I hope my colleagues across the aisle join me," said Thompson, as farm bill leaders clashed over the direction of the moribund legislation.

While still above average, farm income is forecast to fall this year

U.S. farm income will tumble for the second year in a row from the record set in 2022, pulled down by lower commodity prices and rising production costs, forecast the Agriculture Department on Wednesday. Net farm income would fall 25 percent, to $116.1 billion, but still run 15 percent ahead of its 10-year average.

World’s first ethanol-to-SAF facility opens

Sustainable fuels producer LanzaJet officially opened the first ethanol-to-sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) refinery in the world in southeastern Georgia on Wednesday. The Freedom Pines Fuels plant, which will be able to produce 10 million gallons of SAF and renewable diesel annually, has buyers lined up for its fuel for the next 10 years, said an aviation news site.

After warmest year, world likely to cross 1.5 degree C climate-change threshold

The world in 2023 recorded its warmest calendar year since the start of the industrial era, with an average surface temperature that was 1.48 degrees C higher than preindustrial times, said the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service on Tuesday. Very soon, the world will see a 12-month period that exceeds the 1.5 degree threshold, where sustained high temperatures heighten the risk of climate-related catastrophes.

USDA to hire climate change fellows

Facing a record number of applications for clean energy funding, the USDA said it would hire 40 Climate Change Fellows to speed up the disbursal of $2 billion through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The $2 billion was part of the 2022 climate, healthcare, and tax law.

USDA announces plan to conserve old-growth forests

In a first-of-its-kind step, the Agriculture Department proposed to amend all of its 128 forest management plans to conserve and steward old-growth forests in its 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands on Tuesday. "This will provide consistent direction across the Forest Service on how to conserve and restore old-growth forest conditions across the nation," said the White House.

COP28 encourages global shift to sustainable agriculture

In their wide-ranging “stocktake” at the UN climate summit, world leaders urged the adoption of sustainable agriculture and resilient food systems on Wednesday without setting goals for the sector that produces one-third of global greenhouse gases. “We have to cross our fingers and hope that governments deliver on promises to put food in new national climate plans,” said Wanjira Mathai of the World Resources Institute.

Put more climate change into the farm bill, suggests think tank

The next farm bill, "an unwieldy pile of programs," could be the vehicle to improve the Farm Belt's response to climate change while exercising restraint in commodity subsidies, said an American Enterprise Institute publication on Monday. In essays modeled on Christmas wish lists, seven agricultural economists expressed hopes ranging from more money for agricultural research to splitting the farm bill in two.

India’s long and tortured relationship with beef

In FERN's latest story, published with Switchyard magazine as part of its special food issue, Siddhartha Deb delivers and intimate portrait of how beef has been used in India to define the social order, punish political opponents, and legitimize political power.

Despite the hype, COP28 likely to say little about agriculture and climate

As they seek consensus for action against global warming, negotiators at the UN climate summit may skip over food and agriculture while assembling a final statement on climate adaptation, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Sunday. Instead, food and agriculture's contribution to COP28 would be a non-binding endorsement of sustainable production, unveiled on the opening day of the summit in Dubai.

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