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Earth Biotech Science

Scientists Race To Develop Livestock That Can Survive Climate Change 291

Posted by timothy
from the just-need-to-outrun-you dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Evan Halper writes in the LA Times that with efforts to reduce carbon emissions lagging, researchers, backed by millions of dollars from the federal government, are looking for ways to protect key industries from the impact of climate change by racing to develop new breeds of farm animals that can stand up to the hazards of global warming. ""We are dealing with the challenge of difficult weather conditions at the same time we have to massively increase food production" to accommodate larger populations and a growing demand for meat, says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. For example a team of researchers is trying to map the genetic code of bizarre-looking African naked-neck chickens to see if their ability to withstand heat can be bred into flocks of US broilers. "The game is changing since the climate is changing," says Carl Schmidt. "We have to start now to anticipate what changes we have to make in order to feed 9 billion people," citing global-population estimates for 2050." (More below.)
"Warmer temperatures can create huge problems for animals farmed for food. Turkeys are vulnerable to a condition that makes their breast meat mushy and unappetizing. Disease rips through chicken coops. Brutal weather can claim entire cattle herds. Some climate experts, however, question the federal government's emphasis on keeping pace with a projected growing global appetite for meat. Because raising animals demands so many resources, the only viable way to hit global targets for greenhouse gas reduction may be to encourage people to eat less meat and point to an approach backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates that takes animals out the process altogether. "There's no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people," says Bill Gates. "Yet we can't ask everyone to become vegetarians. We need more options for producing meat without depleting our resources.""
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Scientists Race To Develop Livestock That Can Survive Climate Change

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  • Re:are you kidding? (Score:2, Informative)

    by rossdee (243626) on Monday May 05, 2014 @08:42AM (#46918143)

    CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it aborbs infra red that would otherwise escape.

    "3.6% of that 1% is CO2"

    Its up to 400ppm now, so that should read 4% of that 1% is CO2

    So thats a 10% increase in a couple of decades

    How would you like a 10% increase in temperature
    Note that we would have to use an absolute temperature scale, not some arbitrary 0 like C or F

    So an overnight temp of freezing (32f) would become about 80F
    and a daytime temp of 71F would become 124F or so

  • Way Way off. (Score:4, Informative)

    by crmanriq (63162) on Monday May 05, 2014 @09:56AM (#46918651)

    A 10% increase in atmospheric CO2 does not equate to a 10% increase in temperature. Not by a long shot. According to the IPCC, a _DOUBLING_ of CO2 will lead to an increase in temperature of between 1.5 and 3 degrees. (With a lot of debate as to where this number lies. The IPCC itself has declined to issue a "best guess").

    The current rate of increase in atmospheric CO2 is somewhere between 2-3 ppm/year. (http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/#mlo_growth) At this rate, (and even taking into account that there is acceleration in the rate), the 400ppm will double in somewhere around 130 years.

    So even at the more extreme case (3 degrees per doubling of CO2), we are looking at 1 degree increase in temp every 43 years.

    I'm not really certain that this equates to a "race" to get poultry to adapt. (Especially if it would just mean a slow migration of poultry farming to more northern areas.)

  • Made up crisis (Score:5, Informative)

    by Alomex (148003) on Monday May 05, 2014 @10:10AM (#46918757) Homepage

    develop new breeds of farm animals that can stand up to the hazards of global warming.

    Currently we graze cattle from the frozen plains of North Dakota to the deserts of Africa. From the dry lands of Texas to the Alpine mountains of Vevey, Switzerland. From the Northern outback in Australia to the Amazon jungle of Manaus.

    It seems to me that we already have the breeds for all possible climates and the whole article is just scientists doing whipping up yet another crisis to score more funding.

  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Monday May 05, 2014 @11:28AM (#46919413) Journal
    What a load of frog shit! [youtube.com].

    Seriously, don't pay any attention to the beautiful mathematics and painstaking research that created the dancing hurricanes on the screen and go straight to the quote at the end of that Ted talk, roughly translated into politics, it means you're a luddite using creationist debating tactics.

    Do you not realise that these models work on the same finite element analysis techniques and "physical laws" (mathematical models) used to successfully model everything from atomic bombs, to the flow of molten metal in an engine block cast. These everyday and exotic engineering models are so successful that over the last 30yrs (just over half my lifetime) it has become virtually impossible to finance an engineering project without them. And if you do realise that, then why are you so quick to argue these methods cannot provide useful insights into the behaviour of Earth's climate but are presumably ok with passenger jets flying around that were designed by these techniques? Perhaps Boeing added one molecule too many to the missing jet's wing tip? Turbulence is the physical manifestation of chaos , so it's like totally unpredictable, right? - Please, give rational discussion a fucking break and shut the fuck up with this tiresome "scientists are know-nothing morons" nonsense.

    In the philosophy of Science ALL models are "wrong" [tufts.edu] by definition, what matters is the degree of "wrongness" (or "truthiness" as it's known in the US). When we look at observations of water vapour [www.ipcc.ch] over the past few decades they are a very good match for model outputs from 1980's models, they are a much better match for the average of ALL 1980's model outputs. Why? - because the models are just as likely to be "wrong" in either direction.

    There are plenty of solid examples on google detailing phenomena that were first seen in climate models and later observed in nature, but I doubt you have heard about phenomena such as "polar amplification" or "stratospheric cooling", Why? - because google will tell you "anything you want to hear", right?

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