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Comment: Re:Nothing important. (Score 1) 199

by lucien86 (#49141347) Attached to: What Happens When Betelgeuse Explodes?

Oh no I sounded like a right wing bigot, didn't intend to do that. Most of the poor don't intend to come here, but the media out there is telling how much better off we all are.
The real problem is the shear number who would have to be educated in things like family planning to make a difference - it would literally take tens of millions of educators.. Besides the biggest problems in the third world isn't just simple poverty - its also political corruption, military conflict, dictatorship, intolerant ultra orthodox religious indoctrination, outright theft, lack of general education... Endlessly growing population is a slower problem that often barely gets noticed on the ground .. but is does slowly make all the other problems worse and increases urbanization, load on food resources, and stress on remaining wilderness..

Comment: Re:Follow the money (Score 2) 83

by morgauxo (#49140983) Attached to: Who's Afraid of Android Fragmentation?

I buy Android apps. Although, I admit I usually download the free version first. If I like it I usually buy it. Otherwise I just uninstall it. I rarely buy anything that I don't get to try this way first. I do have apps that have no free versions. Most of them I would buy just to get rid of the ads if I had a choice!

But... I wouldn't necessarily buy them at iOS prices. I do have an iPad too, on which I rarely install anything. My most used app on either platform is Anki, a flashcard program. It's free on Android, not even any ads. On iOS the same app is $50! iOS is such a ripoff!

Comment: Re: meanwhile at Fort Meade (Score 1) 96

Unless you're just making shit up.

You're looking at the wrong account. Go to the NSA's "Public Affairs Office"

https://twitter.com/nsa_pao

https://twitter.com/NSA_PAO/st...

https://twitter.com/NSA_PAO/st...

https://twitter.com/NSA_PAO/st...

IIRC, the really silly ones go back to right around Thanskgiving.

Comment: Re:Oh bullshit! (Score 1) 297

by lucien86 (#49134587) Attached to: FedEx Won't Ship DIY Gunsmithing Machine

I think the point is that gunsmithing equipment can be used to make guns. If those guns then have no identity or ID stamps then I'm pretty sure they would be illegal. Those guns could be used to commit crimes. Maybe worse if the person doesn't make the guns right there is a good chance someone is going to fire one and blow their face off.
Mostly flowers don't blow faces off or kill people, and are absolutely useless for holding up a store or robbing a bank.

Comment: Re:Realistic (Score 1) 336

by PopeRatzo (#49129807) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

Regarding the incentives (tax credits and the like), again, once solar hits some critical mass, why would the government provide incentives? The incentives did their job, and got some number of people to adopt solar.

Maybe to level the playing field with the fossil fuel industry that has been enjoying those subsidies and incentives forever?

It's funny how certain people are all of a sudden saying, "You mean we're subsidizing energy? I'm shocked, I tell you, just shocked." It's even funnier when the Koch Brothers do it.

Comment: Re:meanwhile at Fort Meade (Score 1) 96

a bunch of NSA geeks are high fiving each other and can't seem to stop hooting and hollering with awesomeness

You are absolutely correct, and they're doing it in public.

Anyone who has seen the NSA's twitter feed knows they love to joke about this stuff. The first time I saw it, I was sure it had to be a parody account, but in fact it was the actual NSA account. The Intercept did a whole story about the sec-bro culture at the NSA and how we've basically got a bunch of 8chan dickheads who have been given the keys to our lives.

Comment: Re:Yes, Haber's life is an example of that irony (Score 1) 224

by Paul Fernhout (#49123981) Attached to: 100 Years of Chemical Weapons

Interesting read, thanks! So true, you comments reflect the adage "taxes are the price we pay for civilization..." And also, capitalism tends toward privatizing gains and socializing costs...

If you see my other posts above though, I am not concerned about the technology to feed the world even without the Haber process (and perhaps better without it). As at this link, we have the technology through organic farming:
"Can Organic Farming Feed Us All?"
http://www.worldwatch.org/node...

Whether we have the political will is a different issue, with so many vested interests in the current synthetic-chemical-based agricultural system.

Another aspect of this craziness:
http://www.seriouseats.com/200...
"The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has posted an easy-to-understand visual on its site that shows which foods U.S. tax dollars go to support under the nation's farm bill. It's titled "Why Does a Salad Cost More Than a Big Mac?" and depicts two pyramids -- subsidized foods and the old recommended food pyramid. It's interesting to note that the two are almost inversely proportional to each other."

Comment: Feeding the world without the Haber process (Score 1) 224

by Paul Fernhout (#49123815) Attached to: 100 Years of Chemical Weapons

Human waste includes urine, which is part of "night soil".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N...

But yes, "night soil" could only be part of a system. But there are other parts, as mentioned in a section quoted at the end.

I don't know about England specifically, or later years, but this says:
"Population and Economy : From Hunger to Modern Economic Growth"
https://books.google.com/books...
"According to official Chinese statistics, by the middle of the 18 century, population density was already over 500 people per cultivated sq. km (see Liang 1980: 400, 546). While these numbers are undoubtedly exaggerated owning to under-registration of cultivated acreage (ho 1995), the contrast with 18th-cent. Europe, where 1 sq. km of cultivated acreage supported 70 people, is quite extreme (see Braudel 1981a: 56-64)."

Much of China is just not that cultivated because of mountains and deserts and such (especially in the West).

Organic agriculture is indeed information and labor intensive -- which is why robotics will revolutionize it -- including robots to pick specific insects off of plants.

On fertilizer loss, see:
http://www.wri.org/our-work/pr...
"Between 1960 and 1990, global use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer increased more than sevenfold, while phosphorus use more than tripled. Studies have shown that fertilizers are often applied in excess of crop needs (MA 2005). The excess nutrients are lost through volatilization (when nitrogen vaporizes in the atmosphere in the form of ammonia), surface runoff (Figure 2), and leaching to groundwater. On average, about 20 percent of nitrogen fertilizer is lost through surface runoff or leaching into groundwater (MA 2005). Synthetic nitrogen fertilizer and nitrogen in manure that is spread on fields is also subject to volatilization. Under some conditions, up to 60 percent of the nitrogen applied to crops can be lost to the atmosphere by volatilization (University of Delaware Cooperative Extension 2009); more commonly, volatilization losses are 40 percent or less (MA 2005). A portion of the volatilized ammonia is redeposited in waterways through atmospheric deposition. Phosphorus, which binds to the soil, is generally lost through soil erosion from agricultural lands."

Comparisons to medicine... Don't get me started. :-) Doctors typically have only a few hours of education about nutrition over the course of several years of study, yet poor nutrition is the root of most Western disease. So, the whole medical community is (profitably for itself) misdirecting its efforts as far as priorities. Sure there is much alternative medicine that is bogus, but the parts based on nutritional research (e.g. Dr. Fuhrman's work) is quite good overall. Yet it is not mainstream. What is mainstream is stuff like "stents", which studies actually show are mostly worthless. For example:
http://www.drfuhrman.com/libra...
"The sad thing is surgical interventions and medications are the foundation of modern cardiology and both are relatively ineffective compared to nutritional excellence. My patients routinely reverse their heart disease, and no longer have vulnerable plaque or high blood pressure, so they do not need medical care, hospitals or cardiologists anymore. The problem is that in the real world cardiac patients are not even informed that heart disease is predictably reversed with nutritional excellence. They are not given the opportunity to choose and just corralled into these surgical interventions. Trying to figure out how to pay for ineffective and expensive medicine by politicians will never be a real solution. People need to know they do not have to have heart disease to begin with, and if they get it, aggressive nutrition is the most life-saving intervention. And it is free."

Same for many other aspects of profit-driven science... I collected some examples here, with one example quote:
http://www.pdfernhout.net/to-j...
"The problems I've discussed are not limited to psychiatry, although they reach their most florid form there. Similar conflicts of interest and biases exist in virtually every field of medicine, particularly those that rely heavily on drugs or devices. It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine." (Marcia Angell)"

Why should mainstream agriculture be any different? Monsanto and the like all have huge profits on the line convincing farmers they need the agricultural equivalent of "stents" and so on... That includes heavy influences in political subsidies and control of research at land grant agricultural schools. And agricultural commodity prices are overall so low in the USA that most farmers need to take off-farm day jobs to pay the bills, and selling the farm land at an appreciated value is pretty much just a retirement plan, with farming a way to keep taxes low on the land. It's a crazy business in that sense. And meanwhile the USA has sold off all of its national grain reserves due to free market fundamentalism and a privatization emphasis and such among our legislators... Its just plain madness. Meanwhile the USA spends (or incurrs) about a trillion US dollars a year on "defense", but it does not have any security of the most basics like good food!

BTW, the rest of this quotes from a document on whether organic farming can feed the world (and bear in mind the suggestion that many organic crops are superior in nutritional quality because of the micro-nutrient issue):
http://www.worldwatch.org/node...
====
The only people who think organic farming can feed the world are delusional hippies, hysterical moms, and self-righteous organic farmers. Right? Actually, no. A fair number of agribusiness executives, agricultural and ecological scientists, and international agriculture experts believe that a large-scale shift to organic farming would not only increase the world's food supply, but might be the only way to eradicate hunger.

There are actually myriad studies from around the world showing that organic farms can produce about as much, and in some settings much more, than conventional farms. Where there is a yield gap, it tends to be widest in wealthy nations, where farmers use copious amounts of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in a perennial attempt to maximize yields. It is true that farmers converting to organic production often encounter lower yields in the first few years, as the soil and surrounding biodiversity recover from years of assault with chemicals. And it may take several seasons for farmers to refine the new approach.

But the long-standing argument that organic farming would yield just one-third or one-half of conventional farming was based on biased assumptions and lack of data. For example, the often-cited statistic that switching to organic farming in the United States would only yield one-quarter of the food currently produced there is based on a U.S. Department of Agriculture study showing that all the manure in the United States could only meet one-quarter of the nation's fertilizer needs-even though organic farmers depend on much more than just manure.

More up-to-date research refutes these arguments. For example, a recent study by scientists at the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture in Switzerland showed that organic farms were only 20 percent less productive than conventional plots over a 21-year period. Looking at more than 200 studies in North America and Europe, Per Pinstrup Andersen (a Cornell professor and winner of the World Food Prize) and colleagues recently concluded that organic yields were about 80 percent of conventional yields. And many studies show an even narrower gap. Reviewing 154 growing seasons' worth of data on various crops grown on rain-fed and irrigated land in the United States, University of California-Davis agricultural scientist Bill Liebhardt found that organic corn yields were 94 percent of conventional yields, organic wheat yields were 97 percent, and organic soybean yields were 94 percent. Organic tomatoes showed no yield difference.

More importantly, in the world's poorer nations where most of the world's hungry live, the yield gaps completely disappear. University of Essex researchers Jules Pretty and Rachel Hine looked at over 200 agricultural projects in the developing world that converted to organic and ecological approaches, and found that for all the projects-involving 9 million farms on nearly 30 million hectares-yields increased an average of 93 percent. A seven-year study from Maikaal District in central India involving 1,000 farmers cultivating 3,200 hectares found that average yields for cotton, wheat, chili, and soy were as much as 20 percent higher on the organic farms than on nearby conventionally managed ones. Farmers and agricultural scientists attributed the higher yields in this dry region to the emphasis on cover crops, compost, manure, and other practices that increased organic matter (which helps retain water) in the soils. A study from Kenya found that while organic farmers in "high-potential areas" (those with above-average rainfall and high soil quality) had lower maize yields than nonorganic farmers, organic farmers in areas with poorer resource endowments consistently outyielded conventional growers. (In both regions, organic farmers had higher net profits, return on capital, and return on labor.)

Contrary to critics who jibe that it's going back to farming like our grandfathers did or that most of Africa already farms organically and it can't do the job, organic farming is a sophisticated combination of old wisdom and modern ecological innovations that help harness the yield-boosting effects of nutrient cycles, beneficial insects, and crop synergies. It's heavily dependent on technology-just not the technology that comes out of a chemical plant.

High-Calorie Farms

So could we make do without the chemical plants? Inspired by a field trip to a nearby organic farm where the farmer reported that he raised an amazing 27 tons of vegetables on six-tenths of a hectare in a relatively short growing season, a team of scientists from the University of Michigan tried to estimate how much food could be raised following a global shift to organic farming. The team combed through the literature for any and all studies comparing crop yields on organic farms with those on nonorganic farms. Based on 293 examples, they came up with a global dataset of yield ratios for the world's major crops for the developed and the developing world. As expected, organic farming yielded less than conventional farming in the developed world for most food categories, while studies from the developing world showed organic farming boosting yields. The team then ran two models. The first was conservative in the sense that it applied the yield ratio for the developed world to the entire planet, i.e., they assumed that every farm regardless of location would get only the lower developed-country yields. The second applied the yield ratio for the developed world to wealthy nations and the yield ratio for the developing world to those countries.

"We were all surprised by what we found," said Catherine Badgley, a Michigan paleoecologist who was one of the lead researchers. The first model yielded 2,641 kilocalories ("calories") per person per day, just under the world's current production of 2,786 calories but significantly higher than the average caloric requirement for a healthy person of between 2,200 and 2,500. The second model yielded 4,381 calories per person per day, 75 percent greater than current availability-and a quantity that could theoretically sustain a much larger human population than is currently supported on the world's farmland. (It also laid to rest another concern about organic agriculture; see sidebar at left.)

The team's interest in this subject was partly inspired by the concern that a large-scale shift to organic farming would require clearing additional wild areas to compensate for lower yields-an obvious worry for scientists like Badgley, who studies present and past biodiversity. The only problem with the argument, she said, is that much of the world's biodiversity exists in close proximity to farmland, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. "If we simply try to maintain biodiversity in islands around the world, we will lose most of it," she said. "It's very important to make areas between those islands friendly to biodiversity. The idea of those areas being pesticide-drenched fields is just going to be a disaster for biodiversity, especially in the tropics. The world would be able to sustain high levels of biodiversity much better if we could change agriculture on a large scale."

Badgley's team went out of the way to make its assumptions as conservative as possible: most of the studies they used looked at the yields of a single crop, even though many organic farms grow more than one crop in a field at the same time, yielding more total food even if the yield of any given crop may be lower. Skeptics may doubt the team's conclusions-as ecologists, they are likely to be sympathetic to organic farming-but a second recent study of the potential of a global shift to organic farming, led by Niels Halberg of the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, came to very similar conclusions, even though the authors were economists, agronomists, and international development experts. ...

  Sidebar one:

Enough Nitrogen To Go Around?

In addition to looking at raw yields, the University of Michigan scientists also examined the common concern that there aren't enough available sources of non-synthetic nitrogen-compost, manure, and plant residues-in the world to support large-scale organic farming. For instance, in his book Enriching the Earth: Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the Transformation of World Food Production, Vaclav Smil argues that roughly two-thirds of the world's food harvest depends on the Haber-Bosch process, the technique developed in the early 20th century to synthesize ammonia fertilizer from fossil fuels. (Smil admits that he largely ignored the contribution of nitrogen-fixing crops and assumed that some of them, like soybeans, are net users of nitrogen, although he himself points out that on average half of all the fertilizer applied globally is wasted and not taken up by plants.) Most critics of organic farming as a means to feed the world focus on how much manure-and how much related pastureland and how many head of livestock-would be needed to fertilize the world's organic farms. "The issue of nitrogen is different in different regions," says Don Lotter, an agricultural consultant who has published widely on organic farming and nutrient requirements. "But lots more nitrogen comes in as green manure than animal manure."

Looking at 77 studies from the temperate areas and tropics, the Michigan team found that greater use of nitrogen-fixing crops in the world's major agricultural regions could result in 58 million metric tons more nitrogen than the amount of synthetic nitrogen currently used every year. Research at the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania showed that red clover used as a winter cover in an oat/wheat-corn-soy rotation, with no additional fertilizer inputs, achieved yields comparable to those in conventional control fields. Even in arid and semi-arid tropical regions like East Africa, where water availability is limited between periods of crop production, drought-resistant green manures such as pigeon peas or groundnuts could be used to fix nitrogen. In Washington state, organic wheat growers have matched their non-organic neighbor's wheat yields using the same field pea rotation for nitrogen. In Kenya, farmers using leguminous tree crops have doubled or tripled corn yields as well as suppressing certain stubborn weeds and generating additional animal fodder.

The Michigan results imply that no additional land area is required to obtain enough biologically available nitrogen, even without including the potential for intercropping (several crops grown in the same field at the same time), rotation of livestock with annual crops, and inoculation of soil with Azobacter, Azospirillum, and other free-living nitrogen-fixing bacteria. ...

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