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October 2017, Volume 23, Number 4

Climate Change

The National Climate Assessment, prepared by 13 federal agencies, concluded that global warming is contributing to extreme weather events. The surface, air and ground temperatures in Alaska and the Arctic are rising twice as fast as the global average. The last NCA was released in 2014, and there was some question about whether the Trump administration would release the 2017 NCA.

The New York Times July 29, 2017 reported on African land conflicts, citing population growth, climate change, soil degradation, erosion and governments selling or leasing large tracts to foreigners. More people trying to survive on shrinking parcels of deteriorating land leads to conflict, as in Laikipia county north of Nairobi, which has conflicts between herders and subsistence farmers and between commercial farms and safari businesses.

Drought elsewhere has prompted herders with guns to move into Laikipia in search of grass, prompting commercial farms to use drones and guns to fend off invaders. Armed herders have invaded private wildlife refuges, prompting them to hire guards. Elections in August 2017 fueled the violence over land as politicians seeking votes found convenient scapegoats and urged invaders to take what is theirs.

White families of European descent own many of the commercial farms and wildlife refuges, which prompts some Blacks to see them as invaders who acquired land unfairly. The invaders say they need grass to keep animals alive. Some say that climate change is turning Kenya into another Zimbabwe, where the government confiscated white-own land and turned it over to well-connected Blacks. The challenge of "too many people, too many cattle and too little planning" to cope with the effects of climate change is likely to spread.

Netherlands. Wageningen University & Research (WUR) 50 miles southeast of Amsterdam is credited with making the Netherlands a major exporter of high-value food. Many vegetables are grown under glass. The Netherlands has 36-square miles of farm land under glass, more than the 23 square miles of Manhattan. Yields are very high in Dutch greenhouses, and quality is often higher than for produce grown in open fields. Many greenhouses minimize their use of fertilizers and chemicals.