DAILY DOSE: Energy crisis hits food production; Turn yourself into human compost after you die (or don’t).

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FOOD WEB UNDER THREAT.

In a sign of just how interconnected basic necessities are with global geopolitical events, vegetable farmers in Europe are suffering from the current war-induced energy crunch. It is making food production too costly to continue. Per Reuters

Across northern and western Europe, vegetable producers are contemplating halting their activities because of the financial hit from Europe's energy crisis, further threatening food supplies.

Surging power and gas prices will impact crops grown through the winter in heated greenhouses such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, and those which need to be placed in cold storage, such as apples, onions and endives.

Endives are particularly energy hungry. After the bulbs are harvested in the autumn, they are stored in below-freezing temperatures and then later replanted in temperature-controlled containers to allow for year-round production.

It goes without saying that this is a completely man-made crisis. https://reut.rs/3SqDyik


NOT FAIR AT ALL.

Another day, another study highlighting how academia is anything but an equal opportunity meritocracy. Per Nature,

US universities hire most of their tenure-track faculty members from the same handful of elite institutions, according to a study. The finding suggests that prestige is overvalued in hiring decisions and that academic researchers have little opportunity to obtain jobs at institutions considered more elite than the ones at which they were trained.

Specifically, the study, published in Nature on 21 September, shows that just 20% of PhD-granting institutions in the United States supplied 80% of tenure-track faculty members to institutions across the country between 2011 and 2020 (see ‘Hiring bias’). No historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) or Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) were among that 20%, says Hunter Wapman, a computer scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder (UC Boulder) and a co-author of the paper. One in eight US-trained tenure-track faculty members got their PhDs from just five elite universities: the University of California, Berkeley; Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; Stanford University in California; and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

“It’s not surprising, but it is jarring” to see these data, says Leslie Gonzales, a social scientist who studies higher education at Michigan State University in East Lansing. “There’s so much brilliant work and training of brilliant scholars that’s happening outside of this tiny sliver” of institutions, including at HBCUs and HSIs — and it’s being overlooked, she says.

This is obviously a major problem that has direct bearing on what is taught. https://go.nature.com/3DGT3OZ


MINING HURTS FORESTS, STUDY.

A recent study analyzed the effects of industrial mining and artisanal mining on deforestation.  According to the paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,

Driven by rapidly increasing demand for mineral resources, both industrial mining and artisanal mining are intensifying across the tropical biome. A number of regional studies have analyzed mining-induced deforestation, but scope and patterns across all tropical countries have not yet been investigated. Focusing on industrial mining, we use geospatial data to quantify direct forest loss within mining sites in 26 countries. We also perform a statistical assessment to test whether industrial mining drives indirect deforestation in the mine surroundings. We show that direct deforestation concentrates only in a few countries, while industrial mining causes indirect deforestation in two-thirds of tropical countries. In order to preserve tropical forests, direct and indirect deforestation impacts of mining projects should be fully considered.

Unfortunately, their conclusion is slightly obvious. https://bit.ly/3faenCd


CHILD LABOR ON FULL DISPLAY.

Child labor is rampant in developing countries. It’s a fact. And there are few signs that the trend will be rectified anytime soon. A photo essay in the Associated Press captures the brutality and hopelessness of that situation. According to the introduction,

Already high, the number of children put to work in Afghanistan is growing, fueled by the collapse of the economy after the Taliban took over the country and the world cut off financial aid just over a year ago.

A recent survey by Save the Children estimated that half the country’s families have put children to work to keep food on the table as livelihoods crumbled.

Nowhere is it clearer than in the many brick factories on the highway north out of the capital, Kabul. Conditions in the furnaces are tough even for adults. But in almost all of them, children as young as four or five are found laboring alongside their families from early in the morning until dark in the heat of summer.

They pictures are gorgeous and disturbing simultaneously. The hollowness in those kids’ eyes breaks your heart. https://bit.ly/3BzR5wX


HUMAN COMPOST. NUFF SAID.

For people who really want to be one with the Earth in the most direct sense after they die, there’s the recent trend called human composting. The name pretty much tells you everything you need to know. Per Smithsonian Magazine,

California has joined a growing number of states that allow residents to compost their bodies after death. A new law, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday, directs California officials to develop regulations for the practice known as natural organic reduction by 2027.

Washington became the first state in the nation to legalize human composting in 2019, followed by Colorado and Oregon in 2021. Vermont legalized the practice in June 2022.

Human composting typically involves putting a body into a steel vessel, then covering it with organic materials like straw, wood chips and alfalfa. Microbes break down the corpse and the plant matter, transforming the various components into nutrient-rich soil in roughly 30 days. Staffers at special human composting funeral homes then remove the compost from the vessel and allow it to cure for two to six weeks. Family members can then use the human compost like any other type of compost, such as by mixing it into a flower bed, or they can donate it to be spread in conservation areas.

I get the sentiment but this is so grim. https://bit.ly/3DOo43o

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

IMAGE CREDIT: Conscious Design.


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