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VERSEKERING

  • Agriculture has become a carbon-intensive endeavour. Crop, livestock and fossil fuel use in agriculture account for about 25 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

  • Energy (heat from the sun) is being trapped in the earth's atmosphere and is not radiated out into space. The earth's atmosphere has always acted like a greenhouse to capture the sun's heat, ensuring the earth has enjoyed temperatures that allowed life forms as we know it, including human life. Without the atmospheric greenhouse, the earth would be a very cold place.

  • Don’t expect much joy in writing about climate breakdown. On one side, there is grief and fear; on the other side, machines. I became an environmentalist because I love the living world, but I spend much of my life thinking about electricity, industrial processes and civil engineering. Technological change is essential, but to a natural historian it often feels cold and distancing. Today, however, I can write about something that thrills me: the most exciting field of research I have covered in years.

  • Investors be warned: If the planet heats up by more than two degrees, it’s going to get a lot harder to make money.

    That’s the conclusion of investment advisory firm Mercer, which modelled the financial fallout from two, three and four degrees Celsius of global warming through 2100 in a report released Monday.

    The report marks one of the first attempts to model sector-specific investment risks from climate change over decades. If warming is limited to no more than two degrees, coal and other fossil fuels lose the most in value, because countries have shifted toward cleaner energy. If temperatures rise further, sectors with the biggest losses will include industrials and agriculture.

    “Asset owners should consider climate change at every stage of the investment process, from investment beliefs, policy and process to portfolio construction decisions,” said Deb Clarke, global head of investment research for Mercer, which is owned by Marsh & McLennan Cos.

    The warning is the latest from the financial sector of the physical and financial risks posed by rising temperatures. While some investment strategists think climate change will offer opportunities, others warn of physical and social damage cascading across the economy.

    Limiting global warming to two degrees would cause significant losses between now and 2030 in coal, oil and gas, and electric utilities, according the report. Those losses would be offset by higher returns on renewable energy investments.

    “On the two-degree scenario, our broad view is that the impact overall on GDP is pretty negligible,” Steven Sowden, a principal at Mercer and one of the report’s authors, said in a phone interview.

    If warming is allowed to exceed that level, however, investors would have few good options.

    Three degrees of warming would spare most of the energy sector from significant losses, Mercer found, with the exception of coal. But the damage from extreme weather events would cause negative returns for almost every other sector between now and 2030, including financials, agriculture, industrials and consumer staples.

    Those losses would accelerate by 2050. For most sectors, the effects of four degrees of warming would be even worse.

    Mercer said its model suggests climate change would depress the economy and weigh on interest rates. While most first-world government bonds could benefit from investors seeking safe havens against climate risks, Australia and New Zealand government bonds could be sensitive to physical damage caused by extreme weather events and resource scarcity.

    Worldwide real estate would also suffer a net loss, Sowden said. While rising seas and more intense hurricanes would likely push people inland, increasing the value of land that is now sparsely inhabited, those gains would be swamped by the loss in value — or simply the outright loss — of wide swaths of coastal property. The land that remains inhabitable would become increasingly expensive to insure.

    “These scenarios are negative for global growth, and they’re not really great for anyone,” Sowden said. Among the few areas of the economy he said were likely to have positive returns in a beyond-two-degrees scenario: Disaster-mitigation infrastructure, such as flood-wall defences.

    Mercer recommends governments take action to stick to their Paris 2015 climate goal commitments, and that investors increase their holdings of sustainable infrastructure and renewable energy assets to take advantage of the shift.

    While scientists are cautious to link any single weather event to global warming, they’ve built consensus around the probability that more powerful floods, fires, droughts and storms will occur with greater frequency as the Earth gets hotter.

    The United Nations wants to hold average temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Celsius, which would still represent the quickest shift in the climate since the last ice age ended some 10 000 years ago.

    Extreme weather events are the most threatening global risks this year, the World Economic Forum said in a report published January. That same month, the US Defense Department warned climate change could compromise US security, with rising seas increasing flood risk to military bases and drought-fueled wildfires endangering those inland.

    As those warnings multiply, some fund managers have been slow to incorporate the dangers of global warming into their investment decisions, Sowden said. But as climate change advances, asset prices could quickly shift to reflect the risk — something he said is likely to happen within the next five years.

    “If the market starts to price in these impacts, it could start to have material impacts, especially at the sector level, in a relatively short period of time,” Sowden said.

  • The Chugach people of southern Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula have picked berries for generations. Tart blueberries and sweet, raspberry-like salmonberries — an Alaska favorite — are baked into pies and boiled into jams. But in the summer of 2009, the bushes stayed brown and the berries never came. 

  • The dwindling agrarian and small farming communities around the world have certainly not had it easy during the last 50 years or so. The lure of urban life and salaried jobs along with the increasing corporatization of agriculture across the world which essentially made small, family farms unprofitable are just two of the many factors that have contributed to the vanishing of many small communities.

  • Sub-Saharan Africa is already experiencing the realities of a changing climate – and the situation is only going to get worse.

  •  Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history, and climate change is amongst the five direct drivers of change in nature with the largest relative global impacts so far.

  • inety people are gathered along a trench—maybe 20 feet long, five feet deep, and three feet wide—in the Montana prairie. It’s an overcast spring day, with a cool breeze stirring the grass.

  • Experts use many numbers when talking about climate change. However, rising temparatures, the resulting crop failures, and the consequent loss of livelihoods and destitution of millions of households are this year’s most important and urgent development for millions of smallholder farmers across the vastness of the African agro-ecological landscapes.

  • The draft National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS), which according to the Department of Environmental Affairs provides a “common vision of climate change adaptation and climate resilience for the country", has been published for public comment.

  • This is the rallying cry I heard on my recent visit to Tuvalu, a stop on my Pacific tour to the frontlines of the global climate emergency. I was there to show solidarity with those suffering the worst impacts of climate change and to draw attention to the innovative climate action underway in the region.

  • We are currently witnessing the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector, both on the local and global fronts. These effects will probably intensify in future.

  • Walk into your typical U.S. or U.K or South African grocery store and feast your eyes on an amazing bounty of fresh and processed foods. In most industrialized countries, it’s hard to imagine that food production is one of the greatest challenges we will face in the coming decades.

  • Penguins! These adorable flightless birds are cherished by adults and kids alike for their funny ways and their tuxedo-like outfits. The penguin lifestyle is fascinating and their behavior is extraordinary. 

  • With one third of the world’s land devoted to it, agriculture is crucial both for the millions of farmers who make their living from it and the societies and economies that depend on it. 

  • When Amanda Little was on tour to promote her 2010 book Power Trip: The Story of America’s Love Affair with Energy, she discovered something unusual. Despite the book’s focus on fossil fuels, her audience was overwhelmingly interested in one specific chapter – the one about food production.

  • As the UN climate change summit in Paris enters its final scheduled day, delegates from 196 countries are desperately trying to hammer out a deal, which could fundamentally alter the future of the planet.

  • On this new global map, huge swaths of land are dotted in green pixels. These are the areas that could potentially be recovered with forests that have disappeared, according to a new study—and in total, could help capture as much as two-thirds of the carbon that humans have pumped into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution.

  • Developing South Africa’s capacity to predict and adapt to the global climate crisis is critical, and local scientists have an ambitious plan to develop the country’s first ‘home-grown’ weather and climate change modelling system.

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