Integrated Planning and Management of Land ResourcesFAOCSDUNEP
World Summit on Sustainable Development, South Africa 2002


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Message 28

        Message 28 - Intervention of Ryan Curtis on Questions for Week 2
        Thu, 15 Mar 2001 18:34:17 +0100

I am going to go out on a limb here and make some observations, which also
qualify as answers to the questions, and indeed as the subject of further

Environmental considerations:

For Global Warming, what implications for agriculture will there be
generally?  There will be general climatic changes that will necessitate the
redesign of farming methods throughout the world; traditional crops will
need to be replaced with those more suited to the new climate.  Seasonal
variations with shortened or lengthened growing periods have to be

There is also the fact that rising water levels generally over the coming
years will adversely affect the use of many superb farm areas (both arable
and pasture) that are located on ancient flood plains.  Using even the most
conservative estimates - some of these areas will be underwater within the
lifetimes of many of the members of this conference.

As the local water tables rise due to deforestation there is increased
degradation of farmlands due to salinisation.  There is also the case that
polluted water tables containing run off and waste from industrial areas
will be contaminating vast tracts of farmland.  Consider the 'Silent Spring'
scenario where contaminants that had not been used in a variety of areas
were discovered in the water supplies - having leeched into the watercourse
from miles away.

The loss of topsoil due to deforestation .... We should be encouraging
afforestation - permacultured agro-forestry and perennial crops rather than
annual ones. The degradation of marginal areas due to overgrazing has
contributed to the increase in desertification (in the generic sense as
opposed to the 'actual' use of the term).  I have a hypothesis/theory that
the spread of desert areas is directly proportionate to the reduction of the
ice caps ... which is directly proportionate to the reduction of the
rainforests - but I have no figures to back up my claims - merely a gut
feeling.  As the Albedo effect of the ice caps is reduced - thus
accelerating the warming process - it is necessary for the functioning of
the ecosphere to expand the deserts (which also have an Albedo effect) to
compensate.   If there is anyone here who would like to discuss the matter
further (outside the conference) then I would appreciate it.

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