Improving Food Yield in Africa

by Tyler Dean

According to an article in Appropriate Technology in 2014, climate change is predicted to increase the number of malnourished people in Sub-Saharan Africa by nearly forty percent by 2050, from the current 22 million, to 355 million. In East and Central Africa, suitable areas for growing beans could decline up to eighty percent, while areas suitable for growing bananas could decline twenty-five percent. In aggregate, climate change will severely lower crop yields by adversely affecting the length of the growing season and rainfall. It is crucial for African farmers to switch to “climate- smart agriculture”(CSA). CSA will increase resilience by allowing farmers to adapt to climate change and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The government has implemented monitored subsidy programs, consultants and aggregators in order to improve production and instill confidence in Africa’s farmers. Continue reading

The Role of Scavengers in Ecosystems

by Alexander Birk

Vultures act as great scavengers for many different ecosystems. Scavengers are well known for preying on the dead carcasses in their habitat. Vultures, as described by Campbell, are the epitome of natural scavengers. Scavenging is a very difficult way of life and many animals cannot do it successfully. The vulture is the perfect fit for a very specific niche as a scavenger in their ecosystem. Even though the various vulture species are successful scavengers, the exposure to anthropogenic affects may prove to be detrimental to the species’ survival. Campbell (2014)

Vultures prove to be valuable assets to their ecosystems. Consuming dead carcasses is primarily helpful because it decreases the amount of disease. A vulture’s strong digestive system can handle rotting carcasses. If left alone, these carcasses may cause a widespread epidemic among a species. Vultures do not hunt, or eat live prey, therefor they dominate the scavenger niche in their ecosystem.

According to Campbell vulture populations have experienced significant anthropogenic affects. Prior to humans, many large herds of animals led to plentiful food supply for scavenging species. Today those plentiful herds have been replaced with things like road kill, medicated livestock, and overall less food for vultures. The common veterinary drug diclofenac, often used for keeping healthy livestock, has been found to be extremely deadly to vultures. In addition the chemical substances found on road kill have proven to be harmful to vultures as well.

Campbell refers to vultures as permanent scavengers and their presence in an ecosystem does not allow for other temporary scavenging species to thrive because the other scavenging species are not as fit for the niche as vultures. If vultures are not present, the ecosystem lacks the full benefits that the scavengers offer. With various species of vultures heading towards endangerment, the value of their presence is becoming more apparent. While humans may not see the species as valuable, they hold an irreplaceable role in their ecosystems.

Many vulture species around the world have become endangered. Mostly due to anthropogenic affects, either dying off from human-introduced chemicals or starving from humans removing their food source. Vultures are crucially important in many ecosystems, but most people think of them as dirty pests. Without vultures the biodiversity of many ecosystems may be in danger.

Michael O Campbell. 2014. A fascinating example of convergent evolution: endangered vultures. Biodiversity & Endangered Species. doi: 10.4172/2332-2543.1000132

Using Cloud Computing to Monitor Climate Change

by Tyler Dean

The department of Biomedical Engineering at the Adhiyamaan College of Engineering has proposed a system that provides monitoring benefits to a large number of users by deploying a collection of observed data over a long period of time. The system uses a combination of advanced technologies to collect comprehensible environmental data that can be accessed from any location online. The system requires sensors for air pollution, temperature and humidity of a selected place. The data acquisition system acquires the data of temperature, humidity, pollution of air including Illumination, dust, carbon dioxide, ultraviolet, wind direction, wind speed, air pressure and the altitude from remote sensing areas .The system can be used for intrusion detection, used to remotely monitor the conditions of a place, to determine the habitat of a place and to field conditions to specify which cultivation is suitable for a region. Continue reading

Meshing Opposing Methods of Climate Change Measurement

by Tyler Dean

Camille Parmesan and Gary Yohe describe the reasoning and results of the IPCC’s method of measuring the fingerprint of climate change. Their goal was to “improve communication, provide common ground for discussion, and give a comprehensive summary of the evidence.” The IPCC’s method mitigates the result abnormality from the opposing methods and views of biologists and economists by implementing both of their techniques into IPCC’s. The need for the IPCC’s approach comes from both of the existing results being beneficial, but flawed to the point that citizens, readers and policy makers must remain dubious of the results. Economists focus on direct evidence, in the moment and apply time discounting in order to account for their lack of quality control. From this, they conclude that climate change is only important if it is responsible for the current biotic changes; which leads economists to the conclusion that climate change’s fingerprint is weak. Continue reading