The Stream, December 3: World Has Lost A Third Of Its Arable Land

The  Global Rundown

The Global Rundown

Soil degradation caused by erosion and pollution has led to the loss of a third of the world’s arable land, a new study found. Drought and frosts in Papua New Guinea are spreading hunger and disease. A crowd-funded project in India is reviving drinking water sources and helping farmers. Wastewater plants could generate more than a million dollars each year if they recycled valuable materials like nitrogen and phosphorus, scientists say. The most recent tests of water at Olympic competition sites in Rio de Janeiro found high levels of viruses.

“De-silting Nilona would need huge amount of money, time and hard work. A few of us couldn’t do it. We needed a citizen movement.”–Kamal Bagdi, a member of the Prayas professional network in India, on a crowd-funded project in the Vidarbha district that removed the silt choking a local drinking water reservoir and gave it to farmers to improve soil productivity. (Reuters)

By the Numbers

By The Numbers

$1 million Amount scientists say could be generated annually by wastewater treatment plants if they captured useful materials like carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Nature

99 percent Chance that athletes would be infected by viruses if they ingested 3 teaspoons of the water at Olympic competition sites in Rio de Janeiro. Tests of offshore water in the city’s bays and lagoons found that viral levels were just as high there as in nearshore waters. Associated Press


Science, Studies, And Reports

Farming practices that increase erosion and pollution and decrease soil’s ability to hold water have resulted in the loss of a third of the world’s arable land over the past 40 years, according to a study by researchers at the University of Sheffield’s Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures. The findings raise concerns about future food security as well as sediment pollution in rivers, lakes, and oceans. Guardian

On the Radar

On The Radar

Drought and frosts brought on by a strong El Nino are creating hunger and disease in Papua New Guinea. In some areas, people have resorted to eating clay and toxic mushrooms, while dwindling, contaminated water sources are spreading disease, including leprosy, according to reports from international aid workers. Guardian

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