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Editorial (September 2009)

The monsoon rains in India have been about 30 per cent below normal (WRENmedia)
The monsoon rains in India have been about 30 per cent below normal
WRENmedia

With less than one hundred days to go until the UN summit in Copenhagen, the news reports on climate change are becoming more numerous and more varied. The impact of global warming on coral reefs, glaciers, ice sheets and the Arctic permafrost have all featured in the UK press in recent weeks, as has the continuing drought in Kenya.

In India, the weakest monsoon in seven years has brought drought to two-fifths of the country's districts. One of India's leading meteorologists contends, "It is a warning to our policy-makers and a challenge for the people to adapt to new rainfall trends." Around the world, as seasons become more unpredictable, there is an even greater need for strategies to help poor people cope.

Coping with changes in the climate is a major theme in this issue of New Agriculturist. Participants from a recent conference, Seasonality Revisited, offer their Points of view and in Focus on we examine some of the technologies, practices and policies that are helping, as well as also hindering, climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.

In Books, we review former World Bank and UK government advisor Nicholas Stern's Blueprint for a safer planet. He believes that climate change must indeed be managed if we are to survive and outlines the role that agriculture can play. For vulnerable communities in Nepal, and the Pacific (My perspective), survival may literally depend on the decisions reached by policy-makers in the coming months.

In the northwest of Mexico, yellow bean is an important staple and source of income for small farmers (Neil Palmer/CIAT)
In the northwest of Mexico, yellow bean is an important staple and source of income for small farmers
Neil Palmer/CIAT

Bringing you developments in other areas, we also cover the latest twists and turns in the legal fight over a patent for yellow Enola bean. In East Africa, the fight is with locusts, using a fungus-based biopesticide, Green Muscle. And for a history of humanity through the lens of food production, look no further than our lead book, An edible history of humanity.

As always, we hope you'll find more than enough food for thought in New Agriculturist; why not use the new 'comment' option found at the foot of each page, and let us know?

Finally, we would like to remind you that archive editions of New Agriculturist are available on CD. Contact us if you would like to order the latest version.

Date published: September 2009

 

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