climate change

Nobel Prize winner, Prof. Rattan Lal speaks on marginal soils

Agriculture is a major contributor to global carbon dioxide emission according to Prof. Rattan Lal, distinguished professor at the Ohio State University, USA who presented on marginal soils at Tropentag 2011 . He defined marginal soils as “soils of poor quality and characterized by low ecosystem functions and services”. He also underscored the linkages between soils and the ecosystem and spoke about the importance of soil for humanity. He said that when soils get marginalized, people also get marginalized and that when farming occurs, nutrients are removed and these nutrients must be replaced one way or another, otherwise soils then get marginalized. According to him, if the millennium development goals would be achieved, then soils should be taken more seriously and properly protected. Soil degradation Land is needed for human settlement especially with population growth and urbanization, and Prof. Lal estimates that up to about 400, 000 ha of land is needed per year for one million people which means that about 3 million ha is converted to areas of human habitation each year. Another cause of soil degradation he mentioned is the use of top soil for brick/block making as well as use of soil for sale. He stated that, “soils can provide for our needs but not our greed”.

Living on a (thin) margin

Tropentag 2011 will have a focus on development on the margin. Watching the images and the video from Japan calls for a re-definition of our perspective on margin. There is no nation more modern and more organised than Japan, nevertheless the thinness of the edge on which modernity lives was revealed in the most striking way. JAPAN-QUAKE Photo: Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP/Getty Images JAPAN-QUAKE Photo: Kyodo/Reuters JAPAN-QUAKE/LEAKAGE Photo: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Blowing the whistle against hunger

October is the month of increased attention on hunger and poverty, with special focus on the future and nature of international aid. Twenty-two countries are facing enormous challenges like repeated food crises and an extremely high prevalence of hunger due to a combination of natural disasters, conflict, and weak institutions. These countries are in what is termed a protracted crisis, FAO said in its “State of Food Insecurity in the World 2010” hunger report, jointly published today with the World Food Programme (WFP). The current aid architecture needs to be modified to better address both immediate needs and the structural causes of protracted crises. Findings of the 2010 hunger report will be discussed by members of the newly reformed Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome (11-16 October 2010). This happens while Tropentag keynote speaker Paul Collier blogs about the need for international aid that is subject to the same standards of integrity and transparency, while one of the most important donors' vision for "feeding the world" is questioned.
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