Jul 24, 2010
Major Flooding Quad City Area coming Monday Tuesday and Wednesday - Significant Rain Last 24 Hours 07_24_2010_1247
Daily River Forecasts
FGUS53 KDVN 241841
DAILY RIVER AND LAKE SUMMARY
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE QUAD CITIES IA IL
141 PM CDT SAT JUL 24 2010
RIVER FORECASTS TAKE INTO ACCOUNT PAST PRECIPITATION...AS WELL AS
PRECIPITATION AMOUNTS EXPECTED 24 HOURS INTO THE FUTURE FROM THE
FORECAST ISSUANCE TIME.
ADDITIONAL RIVER AND WEATHER INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE AT
.B DVN 0724 C DH07/DC1007241340/HT/HG/
: FLD 7 AM ********* FORECAST *********
: ID LOCATION STG STG SUN MON TUE WED THU
: MISSISSIPPI RIVER
DLDI4 :DUBUQUE LD11 16: 14.3//15.8//15.5//14.7//13.7//12.8/
DBQI4 :DUBUQUE 17:/16.2//17.9//17.7//17.1//16.3//15.1
BLVI4 :BELLEVUE LD12 17: 15.3//17.6//18.0//17.3//16.3//15.3/
FLTI2 :FULTON LD13 16: 12.8//16.3//17.9//18.0//17.3//16.1/
CMMI4 :CAMANCHE 17:/14.8//17.5//18.6//18.8//18.2//17.4
LECI4 :LE CLAIRE LD14 11: 8.3//11.3//12.4//12.6//12.1//11.3/
RCKI2 :ROCK ISLAND LD15 15: 11.6//15.1//17.1//18.2//18.5//17.9/
ILNI2 :ILL. CITY LD16 15: 9.8//13.0//15.6//17.4//18.0//17.8/
MUSI4 :MUSCATINE 16:/11.5//14.6//17.2//18.8//19.5//19.2
NBOI2 :NEW BOSTON LD17 15: 11.6//14.1//16.6//18.2//19.3//19.3/
KHBI2 :KEITHSBURG 14:/11.3//12.7//14.8//16.6//17.7//18.0
GLDI2 :GLADSTONE LD18 10: 7.7// 8.8//11.0//12.8//13.9//14.4/
BRLI4 :BURLINGTON 15:/12.3//13.4//14.9//16.5//17.8//18.6
EOKI4 :KEOKUK LD19 16: 12.8//13.1//14.8//16.8//18.5//19.2/
GGYM7 :GREGORY LANDING 15:/14.7//14.8//15.5//17.3//19.1//20.4
: WAPSIPINICON RIVER
DEWI4 :DE WITT 11:/ 8.0// 9.9//11.4//11.3//12.1//13.3
: CEDAR RIVER
CIDI4 :CEDAR RAPIDS 12:/ 6.5// 7.4// 8.9// 9.9//10.4// 9.9
: IOWA RIVER
IOWI4 :IOWA CITY 22:/19.9//19.9//19.9//19.9//19.9//19.9
LNTI4 :LONE TREE 15:/13.1//13.4//13.1//13.1//13.1//13.0
WAPI4 :WAPELLO 20:/17.6//18.2//19.0//19.4//20.3//21.3
: DES MOINES RIVER
KEQI4 :KEOSAUQUA 22:/22.4//23.9//23.7//22.5//22.1//22.0
SFLM7 :ST FRANCISVILLE 18:/22.0//22.5//22.9//21.7//21.2//21.0
: ROCK RIVER
CMOI2 :COMO 10:/ 6.5//11.8//12.1//11.2//10.3// 9.6
JOSI2 :JOSLIN 12:/ 8.9//13.7//16.1//17.0//16.7//15.9
MLII2 :MOLINE 12:/ 9.3//11.2//12.9//13.9//13.9//13.5
Jul 21, 2010
Jul 20, 2010
By Francesca Rheannon Green Right Now
Biochar has emerged over the last couple years as a ray of hope on the otherwise bleak horizon of the planet’s environmental future. It has been hailed as a possible solution to climate change, world hunger, and rural poverty — though doubts are being raised in some quarters.
Last year, some of the world’s most eminent biochar experts gathered for a biochar conference at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst to discuss this ancient technology that is getting a new look by scientists, governments and investors. To the packed audience, this promising technology sounded like a panaceafor a whole host of problems. Biochar, the speakers said, could soak up large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, supercharge soil fertility to feed the world’s hungry, promote jobs and economic opportunities for farmers, safely get rid of animal and plant waste, heat buildings greenly, and slash the kind of fertilizer use that is creating vast dead zones in coastal waters from nitrogen runoff.
“We see the synergisms in terms of food security, energy security, rural economic development and climate change working together,” the USDA’s David Laird explained between conference sessions. Laird runs the biochar research program at the agency’s National Laboratory For Agriculture and The Environment in Ames, Iowa.
Created by burning plant matter or animal wastes at low temperatures (pyrolysis), biochar has been around for centuries. The ancient indigenous civilizations of the Amazon may have supported their large populations on the rich soil, called “terra preta”, they created when they made charcoal – soils far more fertile than even those naturally occurring in the rainforest. These soils not only yield more crops, they also – critically for our warming planet — store carbon, sequestering it in the ground where it can be kept safely out of the atmosphere for hundreds or even a thousand years.
But can what the ancients did be replicated today?
Critics charge that the Amazonian terra preta was built up slowly over centuries in a process we still don’t understand. They question whether we know how to make biochar stable enough to sequester carbon over the centuries we will need to bring the earth’s atmosphere back within pre-fossil fuel era limits.
But Cornell soil scientist Johannes Lehmann, author of the definitive scientific study of biochar, said in an interview last week that the evidence is getting stronger that biochar can store carbon in the soils safely over the long term. “Biochar is stable,” he says. “Charring prolongs the life and increases the stability by 1.5 and 2 orders of magnitude; instead of half of the carbon in the soil decomposing in ten years, it will take a thousand years to decompose.”
How long it really takes depends on where you are, Lehmann cautioned. “For a leaf falling in Alaska, the carbon will normally stay in the soil in a hundred years (without charring); in Nigeria, it will only stay a week,” he says “but the critical point is that charring increases stability everywhere.”
David Laird says the problem is that biochar is not a simple system. “We think of charcoal and immediately we think of having a barbecue in the backyard and a bag of charcoal. But the reality is, there are many different forms of charcoal.” There’s good char and bad char, he told me – and what may be good on one type of soil may be bad for another – something biochar entrepreneurs need to know to make sure they use the right kind of char under the right conditions. “We need to think about char by soil, by crop, by climate interactions, and ultimately optimize systems that work.”
But other problems may not be so easily remedied by providing better scientific information to entrepreneurs. Climate change journalist George Monbiot set off a fierce debate last year when he lambasted biochar as more hype than hope and charged that “charleaders” like NASA climatologist Jim Hansen and scientistJames Lovelock (creator of the Gaia Hypothesis) would be “pyrolising the planet in the name of saving it.”
The problem stems not so much from the science as from the business model for biochar. Bringing biochar into the market for trading carbon credits – which is being considered by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for inclusion in UN Certified Emission Reductions (CER) and Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) – would kickstart biochar production on an industrial scale. It would create a market for biochar carbon offsets that polluters would buy. That means biochar companies would need enough biomass to fuel their furnaces – and their bottom lines. That could mean more than a billion hectares worldwide devoted to biochar.
Where would the biomass on such a massive scale come from? From monocultural tree plantations, which could take over arable land, be carved out of existing natural forests, or displacepastoralists and nomads from so-called “marginal” lands – lands that don’t have a commercial value on the global market, but that provide habitat for diverse species and sustenance for the largely poor people who depend on them. And if native forests are cut down to feed biochar furnaces, their ability to capture carbon out of the atmosphere will be lost.
Johannes Lehmann says carbon trading mechanisms must look at the full life cycle of the biochar getting the credits. For example, is it displacing natural forests without replacing them? Is it being transported long distances using fossil fuels? Is it using more energy to produce char than it saves? Is it staying long enough in the soil? He advocates using agricultural waste, like rice straw in India, which is already being burned but not being turned into char or being returned to the soil.
But biochar doesn’t have to be produced on a large-scale commercial basis in order to accomplish the wonders for which it’s been touted. Small farmers all over the world can pyrolize their agricultural waste, turn it into energy for heat and use it to enhance soil fertility. Small-scale biochar technology is not expensive – you can build a tin-can pyrolizer in your garage, and backyard inventors are creating models that can be used on the small to medium scale for farms and communities.
Municipal governments can use it to turn garbage into compost and energy. Portable biochar furnaces could, for example, be leased from local manufacturers in western states to turn forests devastated by the pine bark beetle into usable fertilizer. (They may have to compete with those who want these dead pine trees for biofuel).
The real question is: Will biochar become a feedstock for profits by global companies who use their clout to water down or kill environmental regulations? Or will it be a feedstock fueling solutions to humanity’s most pressing problems? The jury is still out.
For more about biochar see these resources:
- International Biochar Initiative — This association will hold its third annual conference in Rio de Janeiro in September.
- Biochar in the Soil — A IBI report on how biochar enriches soil.
- Biochar and the Mitigation of Climate Change — A report by Dr. Johannes Lehmann.
Francesca Rheannon writes about sustainability and corporate social responsibility. She is a contributing writer for CSRwire.com and co-manages the CSRwire blog, Talkback. She is also host and producer of the weekly radio show and podcast, Writers Voice.
Jul 19, 2010
THE NECESSITY OF AGRICULTURE
By Wendell Berry, from a May 16 speech given in acceptance of the annual Louis Bromfield Society Award. Novelist and conservationist Louis Bromfield (1896–1956) was the author of over thirty works of fiction and non-fiction, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel Early Autumn. Berry’s new collection of poems, Leavings, was published by Counterpoint in October. His essay “Faustian Economics” appeared in the May 2008 issue of Harper’s Magazine.
I read Louis Bromfield’s Pleasant Valley and The Farm more than forty years ago, and I am still grateful for the confirmation and encouragement I received from those books. At the time when farming, as a vocation and an art, was going out of favor, Bromfield genuinely and unabashedly loved it. He was not one of those bad pastoral writers whose love for farming is distant, sentimental, and condescending. Bromfield clearly loved it familiarly and in detail; he loved the work and the people who did it well.
In any discussion of agriculture or food production, it would be hard to exaggerate the importance of such love. No doubt there are people who farm without it, but without it nobody will be a good farmer or a good husbander of the land. We seem now to be coming to a time when we will have to recognize the love of farming not as a quaint souvenir of an outdated past but as an economic necessity. And that recognition, when it comes, will bring with it a considerable embarrassment.
How great an embarrassment this may be is suggested by a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about Japan’s effort to “job-train” unemployed urban young people to be farmers. This is a serious, even urgent, effort. “Policy makers,” the article says, “are hoping newly unemployed young people will help revive Japan’s dwindling farm population. . . . ‘If they can’t find workers over the next several years, Japan’s agriculture will disappear,’ says Kazumasa Iwata, a government economist and former deputy governor of the Bank of Japan.” But this effort is falling significantly short of success because “many young people end up returning to cities, unable to adjust to life in the countryside.” To their surprise, evidently, farming involves hard work, long hours, and getting dirty—not to mention skills that city-bred people don’t have. Not to mention the necessity of loving farmwork if you are going to keep at it.
Even so, the prospect of reviving agriculture in Japan is brighter than in the United States. In Japan 6 percent of the population is still farming, as opposed to 1 or 2 percent of our people. And in Japan, as opposed to the United States, policymakers and economists seem to be aware of the existence of agriculture. They even think agriculture may be a good thing for a nation of eaters to have.
If agriculture and the necessity of food production ever penetrate the consciousness of our politicians and economists, how successful will they be in job-training our overeducated, ignorant young people to revive our own aging and dwindling farm population? What will it take to get significant numbers of our young people, white of collar and soft of hands, to submit to hard work and long days, not to mention getting dirty? In my worst, clearest moments I am afraid the necessity of agriculture will not be widely recognized without the sterner necessity of actual hunger. For half a century or so, our informal but most effective agricultural policy has been to eat as much, as effortlessly, as thoughtlessly, and as cheaply as we can, to hell with whatever else may be involved.
Such a policy can of course lead to actual hunger.
In Goethe’s Faust, the devil Mephistopheles is fulfilling some of the learned doctor’s wishes by means of witchcraft, which the doctor is finding unpleasant. The witches cook up a brew that promises to make him young, but Faust is nauseated by it. He asks (this is Randall Jarrell’s translation):
Has neither Nature nor some noble mind Discovered some remedy, some balsam?
Mephistopheles, who is a truth-telling devil, replies:
There is a natural way to make you young. . . . Go out in a field And start right in to work: dig, hoe, Keep your thoughts and yourself in that field,
Eat the food you raise . . . Be willing to manure the field you harvest. And that’s the best way—take it from me!— To go on being young at eighty.
Faust, a true intellectual, unsurprisingly objects:
Oh, but to live spade in hand— I’m not used to it, I couldn’t stand it. So narrow a life would not suit me.
And Mephistopheles replies: Well then, we still must have the witch.
Lately I’ve been returning to that passage again and again, and every time I read it I laugh. I laugh because it is a piece of superb wit, and because it is true. Faust’s idea that farm life is necessarily “narrow” remains perfectly up to date. And it is still true that to escape that alleged narrowness requires the agency of a supernatural or extrahuman power—though now, for Goethe’s witchcraft, we would properly substitute industrial agriculture.
This process from witchcraft to industrial agriculture does not seem to be especially happy. We could be forgiven, I think, if we find it horrifying. Farming does involve working hard and getting dirty. Faust, perhaps understandably, does not love it. To escape it, for a while at least, he has only to drink a nauseating beverage concocted by witches. But we, who have decided as a nation and by policy not to love farming, have escaped it, for a while at least, by turning it into an “agriindustry.” But agri-industry is a package containing far more than its label confesses. In addition to an array of labor-saving or peoplereplacing devices and potions, it has given us massive soil erosion and degradation, water pollution, maritime hypoxic zones; destroyed rural communities and cultures; reduced our farming population almost to disappearance; yielded toxic food; and instilled an absolute dependence on a despised and exploited force of migrant workers.
This is not, by any accounting, a bargain. Maybe we have begun to see that it is not, but we have only begun. We have ahead of us a lot of hard work that we are not going to be able to do with clean hands. We had better try to love it.
Louis Bromfield's Malabar Farm - man whose vision made him an early supporter of sustainable agricultural practices
Radio Interview about farming
Speech about soil conservation
A 1946 Radio Interview about the food crisis
A short documentary about the life and farming practices of Mansfield, OH native Louis Bromfield.
This video was used in "The Man Who Had Everything," a documentary produced by WOSU about the writer-turned-farmer's life.
Find more info about it here: