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Title: The Importance of Environmental Conservation and Its Relation to Food Production


1
The Importance of Environmental Conservation and
Its Relation to Food Production
  • Christopher Teh Boon Sung, Ph.D.
  • Faculty of Agriculture, UPM

2
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3
Earth Hour, 28 March 2009
Earth Hour is a global event organized by WWF
(World Wide Fund for Nature, also known as World
Wildlife Fund). Households and businesses asked
to turn off their non-essential lights and other
electrical appliances for one hour to raise
awareness towards the need to take action on
climate change.
4
Toronto, Canada
5
Dubai
6
Hong Kong
7
Jakarta
8
Singapore
9
Manila
10
Kuala Lumpur
11
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12
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13
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14
Drop in electricity consumption
  • During Earth Hour, Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB)
    reported
  • a 550 megawatt drop in electricity usage
  • equivalent to switching off 14 million 40-Watt
    fluorescent bulbs

15
Response to Earth Hour Letter to New Straits
Times, 3 Apr. 2009
Dr. Mohd Peter Davis Research Fellow, UPM
16
Earth Hour is a Total Farce
As the lights went out for Earth Hour on March
28, organised by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
to protest against man-made global warming, our
scientist family did exactly the opposite.
We switched on every single light in our
energy-efficient bungalow in Bandar Baru Bangi.
We held this mini festival of lights to say that
mankind's increasing use of electricity has
nothing to do with global warming
17
This is immoral and an insult to everything we
have achieved. I studied under oil lamps until I
was 16. Electricity got us out of poverty and
built Malaysia. It transformed society. If anyone
messes up our electricity supply, it's back to
oil lamps and padi farming. That's what our
youth don't realise. But now the WWF is trying to
convince youth to feel guilty about consuming
electricity.
18
My objection to the Earth Hour campaign is also
fundamental. Man-made global warming is simply
not true it is a man-made fraud
Global warming is a perfectly natural
phenomenon
19
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is not an environmental
poison but has been named by 10 generations of
scientists as "the gas of life" which, by
photosynthesis in green plants, gets converted to
organic matter. The small additional carbon
dioxide produced by industrial man is a bonus,
not a threat to life climatologists say will
begin with a mini-ice age by 2050, within the
lifespan of half of the world's population
20
Full column article, about 1000 words, dedicated
to his opinions, published in New Sunday
Times, 19 April 2009
Rehman Rashid On the tragic futility of
debating climate change 22 April 2009, NST
21
Summary of Davis and Rashids attitudes
  1. Global warming is not happening now. We are
    instead heading into Ice Age by 2050
  2. Even if there is global warming, it is a natural
    event and not caused by human activities
  3. Even if man is causing global warming, this is
    not an important question. There are other more
    important issues to worry about.
  4. We should continue with Business-as-usual
    activities that is, unlimited growth
  5. Carbon dioxide is good (not bad) for us because
    it is good for plants and agriculture

22
How does global warming occur?
Heat is able to get in (high energy), but cannot
leave because it has low energy, so heat
accumulates inside car
23
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24
Types of greenhouses gases
  • Major gases
  • water vapour (H2O)
  • carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • methane (CH4)
  • nitrous oxide (laughing gas, N2O)
  • CO2, CH4, and N2O are gases emitted from
    industrial activities from man
  • but CO2 is only 2 of the greenhouses gases, so
    is CO2 important contributor to global warming?

25
  • We should look at efficacy (effectiveness) of a
    molecule, not at its quantity (concentration)
  • lethal dose of arsenic to human adult is 50 mg,
    or less than 0.0001 of average body weight
  • Some gases like N2O and CH4 are much more
    effective in entrapping heat than CO2, even if
    their quantity (concentration) is less than CO2

26
  • IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
  • over 1000 scientists agreed that mankind is
    responsible for climate change
  • 90 certainty

27
Business as usual
  • So if we continue with unlimited economic growth
    and business-as-usual attitude, we will
  • degrade our environment
  • loss of biodiversity
  • pollution
  • loss of natural resources
  • Ultimately, we change our environment into one we
    do not want to live in

28
CO2 emitters by country
29
Percentage change in CO2 emission
30
Oil palm Malaysias golden crop
Historic price high over RM3000 per tonne
31
Palm oil production
32
Rainforest cleared for oil palm
33
Land clearing for oil palm
  • Oil palm cultivation is responsible for the loss
    of 1.87 and over 3 million hectares in Malaysia
    and Indonesia, respectively, from 1990 to 2005
    some are pristine rainforest and peat swamps
  • 55 to 59 per cent of oil palm expansion in
    Malaysia in that period occurred on forest land
  • To produce 1 tonne of palm oil for biofuel, 33
    tonnes of CO2 are produced
  • 10 times higher than diesel production!

34
So what?
  • Is the loss of some trees or the loss of
    biodiversity important?
  • Whats the big deal?

35
We are a part (not separate) of Nature
36
Malaria antidote from Cinchona bark
37
Aspirin from White willow bark
38
Increasing greenhouse gases
  • Increases temperature
  • Melts polar ice caps
  • raises sea levels
  • lesser ice, lesser sunlight reflection
  • so more entrapped heat

39
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40
Increasing greenhouse gases
  • Changes rainfall amount and pattern
  • drought or too much rain
  • rains when we want it dry, or does not rain when
    we want it wet
  • fruiting time needs dry weather
  • mango, guava, durian

41
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42
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43
Increasing greenhouse gases
  • Sea becomes more acidic
  • less able to absorb CO2, so more entrapped heat
  • sea life cannot adapt to more acidic environment
  • affects the whole food chain
  • small organisms to large fishes
  • finally less fish to man

44
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45
Nature provides free service!
  • Some of the many free service provided by Nature
    to all living organisms
  • Supplies, cleans, and recycles water
  • Cleans and recycles air
  • Controls pests and diseases
  • Provides energy from the sun, wind, heat and
    others
  • Removes and recycles wastes
  • Provides and recycles nutrients
  • Estimated that Nature provides a service of worth
    USD18 trillion! (18 x 1012 US Dollars)
  • nearly 100 times Malaysias GDP

46
Effect of carbon dioxide on plants
  • Plants photosynthesise (make their own food)
    using carbon dioxide, so an increase in this gas
    concentration will actually fertilise the plant,
    counteracting the effects of global warming to
    increase crop yields.
  • But rising air temperature, increasing
    concentration of carbon dioxide, and increasing
    air pollution do not act independently on crop
    yields

47
On rice
  • Rice yield in Malaysia, predicted in 1992,
  • to decrease by 12 to 22 per cent due to shorter
    maturation period caused by higher temperatures
  • greater demand for irrigation because of higher
    temperatures
  • more difficult to plant rice twice a year
  • Rice yield, predicted by Ministry of Science,
    Technology and Environment in 2000
  • to fall by 9 to 10 per cent for every 1 degree
    Celsius rise in temperature
  • rice yield is sensitive to climate change

48
On oil palm
  • Oil palm yield rather insensitive to global
    warming but will be severely affected by drought
  • 12 per cent of cultivation areas (about 200,000
    hectares) will become unsuitable for oil palm
    cultivation
  • yield will drop by about 30 to 50 per cent if
    total annual rainfall decreases by 14 per cent

49
On rubber
  • If temperature increases by 4.5 degree Celsius,
    more dry months will occur (drought)
  • 3 to 15 per cent drop in yield if temperature
    increases above 31 degree Celsius
  • Northern states will be more affected badly
    (Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu)
  • Increasing rainfall means loss of taping days and
    crop damage
  • yield to fall by 13 to 30 per cent

50
On cocoa
  • Cocoa yield is sensitive to climate change
  • yield will fall between 17 to 35 per cent with
    increasing temperature and carbon dioxide
    concentration
  • yield will fall between 10 to 50 percent if
    rainfall either increases or decreases

51
If we include air pollution
  • Crop yields worldwide, in particular in the
    tropics, will decline by 5 to 10 percent by 2050
    in the event of global warming, even with
    increased carbon dioxide concentration
  • mainly due to the detrimental effects of air
    pollution that would increase because of
    increasing air temperature.

52
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53
The Changing of Agriculture Today
  • Sustainable food production

54
Sustainable agriculture
  • Sustainable agriculture is about producing food
    and other products with care of the environment
    and well-being of the farm household and local
    community.
  • Sustainable agriculture is not anti-technology,
    but embraces any useful technology provided that
    they do not cause undue harm to the environment.
  • The key to sustainability is to use optimally but
    not damage the environment

55
Sustainable practices
  • Less use of external inputs
  • less synthetic fertilisers and pesticides
  • use natural resources to provide plant nutrients
    and to control pests and diseases
  • depend less of fossil fuels
  • synthetic fertilisers and pesticides are fossil
    fuel-based

56
Use of microorganisms
57
Mycorrhizae fungus
58
Left plant without Mycorrhizae Right plant with
Mycorrhizae
59
Rhizobium bacteria
60
Azotobacter bacteria
61
Soil cover (mulching)
62
Cover crops
  • Protect soil surface from erosion
  • Conserve water
  • Increase soil fertility

63
Pueraria javanica
64
Pueraria phaseoloides
65
Calopogonium mucunoides
66
Centrosema pubescens
67
Mucuna bracteata
68
Arachis pintoi
69
Compost
70
Animal dung as fertiliser
71
Crop rotation
72
Intercropping
Two or more crops planted together
73
Rice-fish culture
74
Mixed farming system
75
Cows and sheep
76
Chicken and fish
77
Livestock and crops
78
Rubber and sheep (in Malaysia)
79
Animal welfare
Large pens, plenty of room to move, and fresh air
80
Cramp!
81
Organic farming
  • Agriculture production that excludes the use of
    any
  • synthetic agrochemicals
  • plant and animal growth regulators
  • livestock feed additives
  • GM organisms
  • Organic farming relies on, among others, crop
    rotation, green manure, compost, biological pest
    control, and mechanical cultivation to maintain
    soil productivity and control pests

82
Rapid growth in Malaysia
  • In 2001, Malaysia only had 131 hectares of
    organic land.
  • But in 2006, the Ministry of Agriculture and
    Agro-based Industry said that Malaysia then had
    2,367 hectares of organic land
  • an 18x expansion or 3.6x increase per year

83
Urban agriculture
  • Agriculture done within cities and towns
  • brings food closer to people
  • cheaper and less dependency on fossil fuels
  • support local farmers and community
  • Urban agriculture is agriculture activities done
    within or around cities
  • usually for growing food like vegetables and
    fruits
  • can also involve animals such as poultry, goats,
    cattle, and ducks

84
Resident of Phase 4, Precinct 8, Putrajaya,
planting sawi seeds on the plot in front of their
apartments with the help of children. - NST, July
5, 2008
Residents of Lorong 23, Taman Seri Inderapura,
Kuantan, tending their organic vegetable plot. -
NST, July 8, 2008
85
Cuba
86
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87
Singapore
Raffles City complex of 3 hotels and a shopping
centre
88
Hydroponic farm on the top of the Changi General
Hospital, growing cherry tomatoes and herbs, and
supplying patients with healthy fresh food
High-rise apartment owners operate these two
rooftop hydroponic units to grow white spinach
that they share
89
Bogota, Columbia
Bixton, London
USA
90
Urban agriculture of the future?
91
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92
Dickson D. Despommier
93
Farmers market in Cuba
94
Farmers market in Malaysia
95
Agriculture in Malaysia
  • Heavily export-based
  • Oil palm is the major crop
  • over 4 million hectares (12 of land area of
    Malaysia is oil palm!)
  • Food insecurity
  • heavily import our food (such as rice)
  • amount spend for import of food increases every
    year
  • Non-fertile soils left for agriculture
  • Labour shortage
  • Rising costs

96
Conclusion
  • For some, talk of sustainable agriculture
    sounds like a luxury the poor can ill-afford. But
    in truth it is good science, addressing real
    needs and delivering real results. For too long
    it has been the preserve of environmentalists and
    a few aid charities. It is time for the major
    agricultural research centers and their funding
    agencies to join the revolution.
  • New Scientist, Feb. 3, 2001

97
Conclusion
  • We can build an economy that does not destroy
    its natural support systems, a global community
    where the basic needs of all the Earths people
    are satisfied, and a world that will allow us to
    think of ourselves as civilized. This is entirely
    doable.
  • Lester Brown
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