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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Climate' Category


02
Dec

Climate-Friendly Organic Systems Are More Profitable for Farmers than Chemical-Intensive Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, December 2, 2022) The longest-running — four-decade — investigation comparing organic and conventional grain-cropping approaches in North America is reporting impressive results for organic. Recently announced in the Rodale Institute’s Farming Systems Trial — 40-Year Report are these outcomes: (1) organic systems achieve 3–6 times the profit of conventional production; (2) yields for the organic approach are competitive with those of conventional systems (after a five-year transition period); (3) organic yields during stressful drought periods are 40% higher than conventional yields; (4, 5, and 6) organic systems leach no toxic compounds into nearby waterways (unlike pesticide-intensive conventional farming), use 45% less energy than conventional, and emit 40% less carbon into the atmosphere. Beyond Pesticides reported in 2019 on similar results, from the institute’s 30-year project mark, which have been borne out by another three years of the trials. The current report builds on results from the FST that were shared in the RI’s 2020 white paper, Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming,” which integrated the newest research data and offered action steps for consumers, policymakers, farmers, and others. That report asserted that a global switch to a regenerative food system could not […]

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03
Nov

California Petition Seeks Removal of Hazardous Fumigant Linked to Climate Crisis

(Beyond Pesticides, November 3, 2022) In a fight against global warming, environmental groups Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR) filed a formal legal petition in October 2022 urging the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to phase out the use of sulfuryl fluoride insecticides. Sulfuryl fluoride is a fluoride compound with various adverse health effects, including cancer, endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity (reduced IQ), and reproductive damage. CARB added sulfuryl fluoride to its list of “short-lived climate pollutants,” being the only state to do so since 1990. However, California does not include sulfuryl fluoride in the list of GHG emissions to reduce by 2020 as researchers were unaware the chemical was a greenhouse gas (GHG) until 2008. These termite and food use insecticides are 4,800 times more potent GHG than carbon dioxide at trapping carbon in the atmosphere. Furthermore, sulfuryl fluoride has high global warming potential and can remain in the atmosphere for more than 36 years. The case of sulfuryl fluoride presents an all too familiar pattern of widespread chemical use without proper knowledge of health and environmental effects before implementation and a failure to take regulatory action on known hazards after allowed in commerce. Therefore, CBD’s […]

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22
Aug

Groups Call for Organic Action to Implement Climate Solutions under Historic Federal Law

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2022) The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is, as President Biden claims, “The single most aggressive action the U.S. is taking to tackle the climate crisis and create clean energy solutions in American history.” However, that is a low bar to clear. There is much more required to meet the President’s climate goals and much is needed to ensure that the IRA is implemented in a way that helps farmers, fenceline communities, and biodiversity. As stated by Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, “President Biden and his administration should take this moment not only to celebrate, but also to recommit and refocus on addressing the environmental injustice and wildlife crises.” For more in-depth coverage, see Beyond Pesticides’ Daily News. Tell President Biden that funds in the Inflation Reduction Act must meet the need for a transformative moment to address the existential health (including environmental justice), biodiversity, and climate crises and shift society to organic practices by eliminating fossil fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers; and that further steps are needed to reach critical and urgent goals.  We cannot meet climate goals while maintaining a dependence on fossil fuels. Eliminating that dependence requires more than a shift from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, shifting from […]

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19
Aug

Historic Federal Support Could Effectively Take on Climate, Health, and Biodiversity Crises—with Grassroots Advocacy

(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2022) On August 16, President Biden signed a bill — the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” — that will provide unprecedented sums to address the existential threats we face related to climate, biodiversity, and health. The $750 billion total appropriation is far less than the original $1.75 trillion hoped for early in the legislative process, but nevertheless is an historic level of federal investment. Beyond Pesticides sees in the bill, now law, opportunities to make significant headway on our call for the elimination of toxic pesticides over the next decade, which launches during our 2022 National Forum Series. The new law could (and should) also provide investment in the critical transition to organic production methods in agriculture. Should the federal government advance organic systems as a climate, health, and environmental justice solution, those two priorities would go far to improve health, reduce dependence on synthetic, fossil-fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers, and allow natural systems to begin to heal from 70+ years of chemical assault. Component sections of the Inflation Reduction Act include those on Clean Energy and Transmission, Clean Transportation, Buildings and Energy Efficiency, Manufacturing, Environmental Justice, Conservation and Agriculture, Fossil Fuels, and Permitting Reform. Within those categories, […]

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08
Jul

Supreme Court Politicizes Fed Agency Response to Climate Crisis, Limiting Broad Regulatory Action without Congressional Mandate

(Beyond Pesticides, July 8, 2022) Among the multiple, wrenching decisions handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in a week-long tranche (June 24–30) was one that limits the ability of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants. The decision may also, and with much broader implication, call into question the established authority of federal agencies to promulgate regulations not specifically authorized by Congress, but related to their overall mission to protect health and the environment. In this respect, the current court majority of six, arguably very conservative, justices has thus dealt a serious-though-not-fatal blow to EPA’s ability to carry out efforts to thwart the existential climate crisis and other crises on the short horizon, such as biodiversity collapse. The court has left these science-based decisions and strategies to a body locked in political logjam—the U.S. Congress. As Chief Justice John Roberts opined for the majority, “A decision [on carbon emissions] of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body.” Beyond Pesticides and other health, environmental, and environmental and climate justice advocates, as well as Democrats across […]

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04
May

Climate Change and Industrial Agriculture Are Supercharging the Insect Apocalypse

(Beyond Pesticides, May 4, 2022) Agricultural intensification and climate change are driving unprecedented losses in insect abundance and biodiversity, placing key ecosystem functions like food production in peril. The findings of this research, published in Nature by scientists at University College London, UK, are the first to elucidate the interactions between major drivers of the ongoing insect apocalypse. As civilization moves deeper into a time in which the impacts of a rapidly warming planet meet the devastating effects of habitat loss and rampant chemical use, it becomes ever more critical that action be taken now to avert the worst outcomes for the future of life on the planet. While the solutions are in reach, tremendous public action is needed to stop the fossil fuel and agrichemical industries from their short-sighted pursuit of profit at any cost, climate advocates say. To conduct their analysis, scientists utilized both short-term studies and the Projecting Responses of Ecological Diversity in Changing Terrestrial Systems (PREDICTS) database, which contains insect biodiversity sampling comprising twenty years of information (1992 to 2012). Species richness and total abundance were reviewed for nearly 20,000 insect species, including dragonflies/damselflies, moths and butterflies, flies, true bugs, beetles, bees and wasps, and grasshoppers/crickets […]

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08
Apr

Broken Promises, Empty Pledges Leading to Irreversible Climate Disaster: UN Says It’s Now or Never

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2022) “The jury has reached a verdict. And it is damning. This report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a litany of broken climate promises. It is a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world. We are on a fast track to climate disaster.” These words came from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement responding to the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report released on April 4. As a Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog headline virtually shouted in October 2021, “Climate Crisis, Soil, Pesticides, Fertilizers: Red alert! This is Not a Drill!” This IPCC report — Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change — is the third and final part of the panel’s latest review of climate science. It is informed by the work of thousands of scientists, and follows on the first two of the trio of reports that comprise the comprehensive Sixth Assessment Report. The first, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, from the IPCC Working Group I, was released on August 9, 2021. The second, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, from Working Group II, […]

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23
Mar

Climate-Induced Melting of Arctic Ice Threatens the Reemergence of Toxic Chemicals

(Beyond Pesticides, March 23, 2022) A study published in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment warns that thawing of permafrost (a ground that remains completely frozen for two or more years) in the Arctic region can prompt the reemergence of greenhouse gases (e.g., methane and carbon dioxide), microbes, and chemicals (e.g., banned pesticides like DDT). Past research finds gases, microbes, and chemicals drift near the poles, becoming entrapped in ice under the accumulating snowfall. As the global climate continues to rise and the climate crisis worsens, studies like this show significant effects, as ice encapsulating these toxic chemicals is melting. Upon melting, some chemicals can volatilize back into the atmosphere, releasing toxicants into the air and aquatic systems, with the ensuing consequences. Microbes frozen for thousands to millions of years can also emerge from thawing permafrost, with unknown implications on human, animal, and ecosystem health. The melting permafrost is already beginning to impact infrastructure, creating sinkholes that damage roads, trees, and utility poles. Moreover, mixtures of chemicals, microbes, and greenhouse gases (GHGs) in permafrost are difficult to assess. Therefore, studies like this highlight the need to evaluate the health and ecological effects of melting arctic permafrost (and glaciers) from anthropogenic (human)-induced climate change. […]

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02
Feb

Interplay Between Pesticides and Climate Change Has Driven Down Dragonfly Populations

(Beyond Pesticides, February 2, 2022) Over the last 40 years, dragonfly species have declined in the United States due to an interplay between increasing pesticide use and rising temperatures from climate change, according to a recent study published in Ecological Applications by researchers at the University of Ottawa. The study highlights the need to evaluate and address insect declines on a macroecological scale, as human activities over the last several decades have become key drivers of Earth system processes in the Anthropocene era. At this macroecological level, the authors call for analysis of multiple interacting stressors, including land use change, pesticide applications, precipitation, and temperature. To conduct their macro-scale analysis, researchers used a dataset consisting of over 200,000 observation records for dragonflies in the U.S since 1980. Then, U.S. land was subdivided into 100 x 100 km (62 x 62 mile) quadrants, and observation records plotted and refined to ensure that at least 15 species were observed in each quadrant used. Datasets were also obtained on land use changes (via HYDE dataset), pesticide applications (via U.S. Geological Survey), and changes in precipitation and temperature (via Climatic Research Unit). Review of the data found that out of 104 dragonfly species, each […]

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08
Nov

States Need to Adopt a Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy

(Beyond Pesticides, November 8, 2021) California state agencies, led by the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), released a draft Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy to guide and accelerate near- and long-term climate action across key California landscapes. All states need such strategies, and to be effective, they must be backed by ambitious targets focused on reduction of pesticides and support for organic agriculture. Tell your state legislators and governor to adopt a Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy that supports organic agriculture and land management. (CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS: Please use this form.) A Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy will identify our natural and working lands as a critical yet currently underutilized sector in the fight against climate change. These lands can sequester and store carbon emissions, limit future carbon emissions into the atmosphere, protect people and nature from the impacts of climate change, and build resilience to future climate risks. Climate smart management of our natural and working lands also improves public health and safety, secures our food and water supplies, and increases equity. The strategy should define the state’s natural and working landscapes; describe how these lands can deliver on climate change goals; highlight priority nature-based climate […]

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05
Nov

California Releases Strategy for Land Management Practices that Confronts Climate Crisis

(Beyond Pesticides, November 5, 2021) Once again earning its environmental leadership reputation, California has released a draft strategy document designed to catalyze near- and long-term climate action through focused attention on the state’s natural and working lands, and on nature-based solutions. The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) announced the draft Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy in mid-October. In the announcement, CNRA asserts that the state’s 105 million acres can “sequester and store carbon emissions, limit future carbon emissions into the atmosphere, protect people and nature from the impacts of climate change, and build resilience to future climate risks.” The agency also notes that the plan would secure food and water supplies, improve public health and safety, and forward equity. It has invited public comment, and a coalition of California (and national) nonprofit advocates is delivering a letter that calls on the agency to include, in the plan, ambitious targets to move the state’s agricultural sector away from the use of harmful synthetic pesticides. Beyond Pesticides will sign on to the letter. This “natural and working lands” document will inform California’s 2021 State Adaptation Strategy and the 2022 Scoping Plan — master documents guiding the state’s climate action during […]

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01
Nov

EPA and Congress Must Act to Correct a Failed Pesticide Program

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2021) Join with 37 environmental and health groups, farm organizations, and beekeeper councils, who have delivered a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leaders seeking major reforms in the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP). They provided a comprehensive list of OPP’s major failures as the lead federal office for pesticide regulation and management, including: Allowing chlorpyrifos to stay registered for more than 14 years after health experts and affected farmworkers petitioned for its removal based on its known neurological danger, Allowing unlimited use of Roundup (glyphosate) long after it was shown to contribute to deadly non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in heavy users and it devastated the treasured monarch butterfly, now driven to near extinction in North America, Approving hundreds of neonicotinoid systemic insecticides, now the most widespread insecticide in the country where they are decimating honey and native bees and other key pollinators and beneficial species; and Registering dicamba in a highly volatile herbicide, a shocking blunder later overruled by a federal court ruling that stated OPP “not only substantially understated the risks …. It also entirely failed to acknowledge other risks, including those it was statutorily required to consider.” Take action: Tell EPA and Congress that the […]

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08
Oct

Ag Secretary Vilsack Pushes Petroleum Farming Inputs, Fights EU’s Climate-Friendly Organic “Farm to Fork’ Initiative

(Beyond Pesticides, October 8, 2021) Taking a page from the playbook of Trump Administration Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, the current secretary, Tom Vilsack, used a September G20 summit in Italy to target the European Union’s “Farm to Fork” (F2F) strategy, a part of its European Green Deal. Mr. Perdue had said that F2F is “more . . . ‘political science’ than demonstrated agricultural science”; Secretary Vilsack called it “a path very different from the one the U.S. is pursuing.” The F2F initiative aims to transition the EU to a sustainable food system such that it also achieves significant mitigation of climate change. But Mr. Vilsack chose to counter the F2F efforts by promoting an “alternative strategy” — under the moniker “Coalition for Productivity Growth” — through which “other nations pledge not to follow the European path on farm policy.” He has described this alternative, U.S.-led strategy as “a market-oriented, incentive-based, voluntary system [that] is effective” at slashing agricultural carbon emissions. Climate, pesticide, organics, and other environmental and health advocates, including Beyond Pesticides, are troubled by these actions. Mother Jones poses the central question in the headline of its September 30 article: Why is Secretary Vilsack So Afraid of a Plan to Cut […]

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02
Aug

Tell USDA to Ensure that Organic Farming Protects Ecosystems!

(Beyond Pesticides, August 2, 2021) One reason to eat organic food is to join with a crucial national and global campaign to eliminate toxic, petroleum-based pesticides and fertilizers and protect ecosystems in the urgent fight to curtail the climate crisis and biodiversity decline—in addition to local and immediate health and environmental benefits. Despite an important and timely vote by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in 2018 to protect native ecosystems as a critical tool in sequestering carbon and improving environmental resiliency, and despite the Biden Adminstration’s stated commitment to fighting the climate crisis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its National Organic Program (NOP) have not acted to put this recommendation in force. As our understanding of the connection between protecting intact ecosystems and combating climate change has grown, the urgency to implement this recommendation cannot be overstated. We must act now! Sign the petition to tell the National Organic Program (NOP) to take action to finalize the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recommended rulemaking that will protect Native Ecosystems and thereby preserve the integrity of the organic seal, help reverse the biodiversity crisis, and reduce global climate change. Sign by September 20, 2021. The Organic Foods Production Act […]

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