Heatwave's warning for future of farming by Bruce Sterling
Europe may be breathing a sigh of relief as its record-breaking heatwave eases, but there is still plenty to worry about. Temperature changes caused by global warming are likely to transform agriculture on both sides of the Atlantic.
While the heatwave claimed thousands of lives in France, started bush fires in Portugal and toppled temperature records from London to Baghdad, the European Commission (EC) issued a little-noticed bulletin.
It showed a prolonged drought was causing drastic changes in agricultural output, especially in southern Europe. And the changes almost perfectly match predictions of the effects of global warming over the next century.
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"Thursday's blackouts were a wake-up call, (((I hope you can get a "wake-up call" during a blackout))) reminding us that North America's electrical grid is a dysfunctional system that requires dramatic changes. Rising electricity consumption is a significant factor in the instability of the grid. Yet energy-saving products and technologies are widely available. More efficient appliances, compact fluorescent lights, better-constructed buildings, and forms of renewable energy such as solar and wind power can dramatically reduce the amount of electricity we draw from the grid and in most cases ultimately save us money.
"While electricity is on the public's mind and in the press, please use this opportunity to write a letter to the editor of your local paper about the benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency. This is also an opportune moment to remind people that the instability of the power grid is only one of many reasons why we need to change our energy system. For example, if we use less electricity and get more of the electricity we use from solar, wind, and fuel cells distributed locally, it will also slow global warming and reduce air pollution. Below are a couple of sample messages to help get you started..."