Modern Wheat More Robust Than Older Varieties

From wattsupwiththat.com:

Wheat myth debunked

The pervasive myth that intensive breeding has made modern wheat cultivars weaker and more dependent on pesticides and fertilisers is debunked by a major new study

University of Queensland

This is Kai Voss-Fels at the wheat trial site. Credit: Kai Voss-Fels

This is Kai Voss-Fels at the wheat trial site. Credit: Kai Voss-Fels

The myth that modern wheat varieties are more heavily reliant on pesticides and fertilisers is debunked by new research published in Nature Plants today.

Lead author on the paper, Dr Kai Voss-Fels, a research fellow at The University of Queensland, said modern wheat cropping varieties actually out-perform older varieties in both optimum and harsh growing conditions.

“There is a view that intensive selection and breeding which has produced the high-yielding wheat cultivars used in modern cropping systems has also made modern wheat less resilient and more dependent on chemicals to thrive,” said Dr Voss-Fels.

“However, the data unequivocally shows that modern wheat varieties out-perform older varieties, even under conditions of reduced amounts of fertilisers, fungicides and water,” he said.

“We also found that genetic diversity within the often-criticised modern wheat gene pool is rich enough to generate a further 23 per cent increase in yields.”

Dr Voss-Fels said the findings might surprise some farmers and environmentalists.

“Quite a few people will be taken aback by just how tough modern wheat varieties proved to be, even in harsh growing conditions, such as drought, and using less chemical inputs.”

Dr Voss-Fels said the findings could have potentially important implications for raising the productivity of organic cropping systems. “It’s been widely assumed that the older wheat cultivars are more robust and resilient but it’s actually the modern cultivars that perform best in optimum and sub-optimum conditions.”

Wheat is the world’s most important food crop.

However, with global wheat yields reduced due to droughts in recent years and more climate risk anticipated in the future, the hardiness of modern wheat varieties is an issue of global significance.

The study is believed to provide the most detailed description of the consequences of intensive breeding and genetic selection for high grain yield and associated traits in European wheat over the past 50 years.

It was led by Professor Rod Snowdon of the Justus-Liebig-University Gießen (JLU), who is also an honorary Professor at UQ, in collaboration with seven other German universities.

The genetic analysis was undertaken at QAAFI under the leadership of Professor Ben Hayes.

The first part of the study involved testing 200 wheat varieties that have been essential to agriculture in Western Europe in the past 50 years.

Performance was compared between those varieties in side-by-side field trials under high, medium and low chemical input conditions. The second part of the study was undertaken at QAAFI, to match the performance differences with the different varieties’ genetic make-up.

“This genetic information allows us to take the discovery to the next level,” Dr Voss-Fels says.

“We can use artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to predict the optimal crosses needed to bring together the most favourable segments as fast as possible.”

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The paper ‘Breeding improves wheat productivity under contrasting agrochemical input levels’ was published in Nature Plants 17 June 2019 (DOI: 10.1038/s41477-019-0445-5).

 

The Great Extinction Myth Exploded

A few weeks ago when the UN report about biodiversity was released, the media unquestioningly reported that millions of species were going extinct and humans are the problem.

My initial, cynical reaction was, “Gee they have discovered that nobody is listening to the climate change scare any more so they’ve found a new scare.”

It also runs counter to what we are seeing around the world. Every year more and more land is converted to national parks, and for some years now the amount of land being reforested exceeds the area being cleared. Agriculture is becoming more efficient, food is more plentiful, people are moving to cities. Even with a still increasing global population we will have plenty of potential food for decades to come.

In fact, the only bleak spots are those caused by the demands of environmentalists. For example the EU has mandated a certain amount of so-called bio-diesel to be used in vehicles, leading to massive clearing of forests in Indonesia and Malaysia to plant palm trees. The other folly is the requirement to use ethanol in petrol in many developed countries. The main source of this is from corn in North America, leading to an increase in the price of corn, a staple food for millions of poor people, of between 5% and 10%

Anyway the extinction report claims that millions of species are going extinct in our time. Here is the only graph in the Summary for Policy Makers

Scary graph, until you look at the labels on the axes. “Cumulative % of species driven extinct.” It is not clear exactly what that means, but it does seem to be adding all the previous values as you go. That curve can never go down. It’s a bit like the old “hockey stick” of Al Gore fame.

Here is the actual number of extinctions per decade recorded by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

So, it’s not quite zero, but we are heading in the right direction- the opposite direction to the one the UN would have us believe.

Oh look that decline is happening right through the period of time when so-called human caused global warming is happening.

These graphs are from a much more detailed article by Gregory Wrightson which I encourage you to read.

The so-called “Mass Extinction” is, sadly, another example of science being politicised and twisted to cause alarm.

Volcano produced in 6 months

Some people ridicule creationists for believing in a “Young Earth”, but when geology happens in front of your eyes, then there is a deep flaw in the “deep time” theory.

From wattsupwiththat.com

Birth of an underwater volcano: “This thing was built from zero in 6 months!”… Which is a lot less than 12 years

David Middleton / 1 hour ago May 22, 2019

Guest geological observation by David Middleton

From the American Association for the Advancement of SCIENCE! of America…

Ship spies largest underwater eruption ever
By Roland PeaseMay. 21, 2019 , 1:20 PM


Last week, Marc Chaussidon, director of the Institute of Geophysics in Paris (IPGP), looked at seafloor maps from a recently concluded mission and saw a new mountain. Rising from the Indian Ocean floor between Africa and Madagascar was a giant edifice 800 meters high and 5 kilometers across. In previous maps, there had been nothing. “This thing was built from zero in 6 months!” Chaussidon says.

His team, along with scientists from the French national research agency CNRS and other institutes, had witnessed the birth of a mysterious submarine volcano, the largest such underwater event ever witnessed. “We have never seen anything like this,” says IPGP’s Nathalie Feuillet, leader of an expedition to the site by the research vessel Marion Dufresne, which released its initial results last week.

The quarter-million people living on the French island of Mayotte in the Comoros archipelago knew for months that something was happening. From the middle of last year they felt small earthquakes almost daily, says Laure Fallou, a sociologist with the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre in Bruyères-le-Châtel, France. People “needed information,” she says. “They were getting very stressed, and were losing sleep.”

[…]

Science! As in “She blinded me with…”

China Leaps Forward With Fusion Power

From the ABC, an exciting step forward in cheap, sustainable power generation

China’s ‘artificial sun’ reaches 100 million degrees Celsius marking milestone for nuclear fusion

By Jack Kilbride and Bang Xiao

Chinese nuclear scientists have reached an important milestone in the global quest to harness energy from nuclear fusion, a process that occurs naturally in the sun.

Key points:

  • The ‘artificial sun’ is designed to replicate the fusion process that occurs in the sun
  • Dr Matthew Hole said the achievement is significant for fusion science around the world
  • Fusion is seen as a solution for energy issues as it is clean, sustainable and powerful

The team of scientists from China’s Institute of Plasma Physics announced this week that plasma in their Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) — dubbed the ‘artificial sun’ — reached a whopping 100 million degrees Celsius, temperature required to maintain a fusion reaction that produces more power than it takes to run.

To put that in perspective, the temperature at the core of the sun is said to be around 15 million degrees Celsius, making the plasma in China’s ‘artificial sun’ more than six times hotter than the original.

The news comes after China shocked the science community last month with plans to launch an ‘artificial moon’ bright enough to replace city streetlights by 2020.

A moon, which replaces the globe in a light globe, hangs over Chengdu's cityscape.

PHOTO: Chinese scientists plan to send three artificial moons into space in the next four years. (ABC News: Graphic by Jarrod Fankhauser)

Speaking to the ABC, associate professor Matthew Hole from the Australian National University said the achievement was an important step for nuclear fusion science.

“It’s certainly a significant step for China’s nuclear fusion program and an important development for the whole world,” Dr Hole told the ABC, adding that developing fusion reactors could be the solution to global energy problems.

“The benefit is simple in that it is very large-scale base load [continuous] energy production, with zero greenhouse gas emissions and no long-life radioactive waste.

“It provides a silver bullet energy solution … providing that one can harness it.”

Fusion vs fission

How close are we to having nuclear plants that fit the clean, green bill? We explain the how different nuclear technologies work and where the research is up to.

He added that nuclear fusion reactors also avoid risks associated with the currently employed nuclear fission reactors, which can be adapted into dangerous weapons and are prone to possible catastrophic meltdowns.

The news went viral on Chinese social media, with most users excited by the achievement.

“There is nothing China can’t make,” one user on Weibo said.

Another proclaimed that “if this technology is put in use, the world will no longer feel anxious about the energy crisis.”

So how did China manage to pull it off?

China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), dubbed the 'artificial sun'.

PHOTO: China’s Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), dubbed the ‘artificial sun’. (Supplied: Institute of Plasma Physics Chinese Academy of Sciences)

While current nuclear power plants rely on nuclear fission — a chain reaction where uranium atoms are split to release energy — nuclear fusion effectively does the opposite by forcing atoms to merge.

One way of achieving this on Earth is by using what’s known as a tokamak, a device designed to replicate the nuclear fusion process that occurs naturally in the sun and stars to generate energy.

The EAST that pulled off the 100 million Celsius feat stands at 11-metres tall, has a diameter of eight metres, and weighs around 360 thousand kilograms.

The metal insides of the EAST

PHOTO: High-powered magnets line the ‘doughnut shaped’ inside of EAST. (Supplied: Institute of Plasma Physics Chinese Academy of Sciences)

It uses a doughnut-shaped ring to house heavy and super-heavy isotopes — atomic variations — of hydrogen known as deuterium and tritium.

The isotopes are heated by powerful electric currents within the tokamak, tearing electrons away from their atoms and forming a charged plasma of hydrogen ions.

Powerful magnets lining the inner walls of EAST then contain the plasma to a tiny area to maximise the chance that the ions will fuse together.

When the ions fuse they give off a large amount of energy, which can then be harnessed to run a power plant and produce electricity.

The Chinese research team said they were able to achieve the record temperature through the use of various new techniques in heating and controlling the plasma, but could only maintain the state for around 10 seconds.

The latest breakthrough provided experimental evidence that reaching the 100 million degrees Celsius mark is possible, according to China’s Institute of Plasma Physics.

Nuclear fusion a global mission, but not in Australia

Aerial shot shows the construction of the ITER

PHOTO: ITER is set to be completed around 2025. (Supplied: ITER Organization/EJF Riche)

Dr Hole said that while the energy possibilities of nuclear fusion as a clean energy source has attracted large investment from countries all over the world — including China — Australia has lagged behind.

“As a nation, Australia is about to lose its capability in fusion,” Dr Hole said, adding that many of his colleagues have changed field or are looking for work overseas due to a lack of investment in fusion science.

“Australia used to have good investment in this space, but it has really been neglected in recent years.”

He said that the achievement by EAST will be important to the development of the next major experiment in global nuclear fusion science: the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).

Currently being built in southern France with collaboration from 35 nations including China, ITER is set to be the first fusion device to consistently produce net energy, producing 500 Megawatts of clean and sustainable power.

As EAST has a similar design to ITER but on a far smaller scale, it is likely to be an important testing device during the development of ITER, according to China’s Institute of Plasma Physics.

ITER is expected to be ready to create its first plasma and begin operations in 2025.

An aerial view shows the ITER site spanning across the French countryside

PHOTO: ITER will be the first in the world to produce more energy than it takes to run. (Supplied: ITER Organization/EJF Riche)

Jo Nova: Wind Turbines New Apex Predator

Everything that the environmentalists and Greens demand that we have to do to “save the environment” just does the opposite.

From joannenovaova.com.au

Wind Turbines are new top predator in the ecosystem

Wind turbines either kill or scare away three quarters of buzzards, hawks and kites at three sites in India. That makes them the new “top predator” in the ecosystem according to new research.  Perhaps not the niche that Greens were expecting wind farms to occupy.

It’s not all bad news though, fan-throated lizards are pretty happy about not being dinner.

h/t GWPF

75% of Buzzards Vote For Coal Power

Lizards vote for wind.

Wind farms are the ‘new apex predators’: Blades kill off 75% of buzzards, hawks and kites that live nearby, study shows

Harry Pettit for Daily Mail Online

  • Predatory bird numbers are four times higher in areas away from wind turbines
  • This is having a devastating ’ripple effect’ across the food chain
  • It means numbers of certain small animals are growing unchecked

Wind turbines are the world’s new ‘apex predators’, wiping out buzzards, hawks and other carnivorous birds at the top of the food chain, say scientists. A study of wind farms in India found that predatory bird numbers drop by three quarters in areas around the turbines. This is having a ‘ripple effect’ across the food chain, with small mammals and reptiles adjusting their behaviour as their natural predators disappear from the skies.

Study coauthor Professor Maria Thaker said:
‘Every time a top predator is removed or added, unexpected effects trickle through the ecosystem. What is actually happening here is the wind-turbines are akin to adding a top predator to the ecosystem.’

From the abstract:

The cascading effects of wind turbines on lizards include changes in behaviour, physiology and morphology that reflect a combination of predator release and density-dependent competition. By adding an effective trophic level to the top of food webs, we find that wind farms have emerging impacts that are greatly underestimated. There is thus a strong need for an ecosystem-wide view when aligning green-energy goals with environment protection.

300,000 wind turbines too late.

“Science shows sex is binary”

gender_theory_810_500_75_s_c1Those pesky facts do get in the way of a “good” social change program.

From lifesitenews.com

Tired of left-wing media manipulation, liberal researcher declares: ‘Science shows sex is binary’

After The New York Times leaked a memo describing how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to reverse the Obama administration’s guidance allowing students to use restroom and locker room facilities of the opposite sex based on which sex students “identify” as, media outlets and activist organizations unleashed relentless attacks on the Trump White House, claiming it seeks to harm “transgendered” people.

In two recent articles, one written for RealClearPolitics and the other for PlayboyDebra W. Soh, who holds a Ph.D in sexual neuroscience research from New York University, doused the raging firestorm with facts.

“As much as I understand the public’s concern, it’s important to offer a fact-based approach to the issue,” wrote Soh, a self-described liberal, in her Playboy essay.

Playboy

@Playboy

In light of the news that the Trump administration is seeking to define sex on the basis of genetics, writer @DrDebraSoh explores the importance of having “difficult, honest & fact-based conversations instead of derailing potentially meaningful progress.” http://ply.by/f4rMmC 

“It isn’t necessary to redefine ‘sex’ in order to facilitate the acceptance of people who are different,” said Dr. Soh in her RealClearPolitics commentary. “Pushing for social change for the sake of change, as many of those on the left seem wont to do, only leads to misguided policies and unnecessary confusion for the public.”

Humanity: 10 fingers, two sexes

Soh points out that the inflammatory New York Times article incorrectly sought to use the existence of a very small minority of people who are “intersex,” i.e., born with genitalia of both sexes or otherwise ambiguous genitalia, as proof that sex is on a spectrum, not binary.

Certainly, research has shown that as many as 1 percent of the population is intersex, a medical condition denoting that an individual possesses anatomy characteristic of both sexes, such as a combination of vulvar and testicular tissue. Statistically speaking, however, this means that the vast majority of us fall into one category of sex or the other.

It therefore becomes a question of whether a statistically rare occurrence in the general population should be considered typical. An analogy that is commonly used to illustrate this is the fact that most of us have 10 fingers. There exist individuals who possess fewer or more than 10 digits on their hands, but this hasn’t called for a re-conceptualization of how many fingers a human being has.

Ironically, the term ‘transgender’ implies that sex is binary

“This argument has been extended to include the transgender community, with its proponents contending that transgender people defy male and female categorization, and offer proof that sex and gender are a spectrum,” said Soh. “But in reality, the term ‘transgender’ means that a person identifies more as the opposite sex than their birth sex — which still operates within a framework of sex being binary.”

Left-wing media incite outrage, falsely accuse Trump administration of bigotry

According to Soh, the HHS memo suggesting that governmental agencies define sex as being “either male or female, unchangeable and determined by the genitals that a person is born with” is an accurate statement based on science.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ clear statement on defining sex “left most of us with a half-hearted understanding of human biology confused exactly why people are outraged, as there is nothing factually incorrect with this definition,” said Soh.  “And yet, left-wing media has been treating it as bigotry.”

Trump administration has it right

“Indeed, a single definition of sex should be reinstated across the U.S. government’s agencies,” asserted Soh. “This is basic demographic information that shouldn’t be seen as controversial or difficult to attain. Don’t get me wrong: acknowledging a transgender person’s sex at birth feels insensitive, especially for those of us who aren’t transgender. But the solution to ending discrimination against gender-variant people is not to adopt the position that biological sex doesn’t exist.”

“To suggest that this group proves that gender is completely unrelated to anatomy, or that a person’s sense of gender in the brain somehow operates in a way that is distinct from the rest of their body, is foolish and erroneous,” she added.

Tired of left-wing media’s manipulative tactics

Soh, who is a supporter of equal rights for “transgender” people, nonetheless views the stances of left-wing activists and media as unsupportable, arguing that important differences between females and men who identify as female certainly do exist. “We should be able to advocate for equal rights for transgender individuals while also acknowledging that differences exist between trans women and women who were born female.

People should not “deny science” or “make sweeping claims in order to ramp up the backlash,” said Soh in her Playboy essay. “In our current climate, heightening political polarization is reckless and only serves to frustrate and alienate well-meaning people who would otherwise be sympathetic to the cause.”

“Rather, they must contend with whether they are being manipulated by the media,” continued Dr. Soh. “These changes have no doubt been a wider response to the left’s increasingly extreme views on gender; some liberals, including myself, have become tired of its nonsensical ideas, including the concept that self-identification supersedes everything else, and that shaming and silencing someone is the only acceptable reaction should they question the outrage.”