Multiple cropping to increase agrobiodiversity and sequester carbon by eddie5690


trying to have the most stringent norms             to put forward an idea in the light of          strate to the prospective employer is
for hiring human resource for R&D.                  facts and figures to make it cogent.            an insatiable curiosity and a burning
   Industry expects the prospective can-        •   Ability to work in a team or coordi-            desire to learn and deliver.
didates to have the following skills:               nate and collaborate with different in-
                                                    stitutions is highly desirable, which        1.
• A sound research base, including capa-            can be judged from the individual’s             dian-youth-are-simply-unemployable.html
                                                                                                 2. Krishnamurthy, V., Business Line; http://
  city for troubleshooting, problem-                role in publications.
  solving skills and systematic approach        •   They are expected to be resourceful.
  towards any problem. They are ex-                 They should have demonstrated their
  pected to be able to come up with spe-            ability to do the job or get it done.                                  SHWETA SHARMA
  cific examples demonstrating each of              They should have the knack for ‘fini-
  these skills.                                     tiative’ that is, taking things to a logi-   Department of Medicine,
• Effective communication and lucid                 cal end in a time-frame.                     SCRB 210-DD,
  presentation skills.                          •   They should have a drive and instinct        University of California,
• Another important desirable attribute             for initiative.                              San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive,
  is openness to accept or reject an idea,      •   The most important characteristic that       La Jolla, CA 92093-0673, USA
  on the basis of sound logic and ability           a candidate should possess and demon-        e-mail:

Multiple cropping to increase agrobiodiversity and sequester carbon
The use of chemical fertilizers in the past     could check pests. Mixed cropping also           unwanted genetically modified crops? If
6–7 decades has left the soils less fertile     promotes agrobiodiversity1.                      we can do wonders with existing varieties,
and filled with residual pesticides and other      Mixed cropping would also absorb              is it necessary to pump in money unneces-
inorganic chemicals. Before the advent of       more carbon dioxide as higher plant di-          sarily for genetically engineered crops
chemical fertilizers we were happy with         versity in the form of trees and the main        just to show that we have a Department
organic agriculture. One of the main prac-      crop would mean more efficient conver-           of Biotechnology and that it needs to be
tices in organic agriculture is that this       sion of carbon dioxide to organic form           kept busy with some fashionable research
system does not believe in monoculture          during photosynthesis, thus reducing the         activities?
but strongly advices mixed crops. The           chances of global warming and climate
advantage of mixed cropping is that it          change. A few vegetables, fruit-producing        1. Shiva, V., Pande, P. and Singh, J., Princi-
will ensure some income even if one of          trees, legumes, climbers, etc. could all be         ples of Organic Farming. Renewing the
the crops fails due to pests, diseases,         grown in a unit area with trees providing           Earth’s Harvest, Navdanya, New Delhi,
drought or any other natural calamity. If       a boundary. Different designs on the dis-           2004, p. 189.
no damage occurs, additional income could       tribution of this kind of plant diversity
be generated from the trees. A few trees        can be formulated, but the basic idea is                         V. VENKATESWARA SARMA
planted intermittently or along the borders     to maintain high agro-biodiversity and
is part and parcel of mixed cropping and        absorption of carbon dioxide in the at-          G1, Ganpath Villa,
the same would provide some additional          mosphere. Is it not prudent to try this          67, Padmavathy Nagar,
income, a boundary, and could harbour           method, i.e. mixed cropping with trees and       Chennai 600 092, India
birds and other predatory organisms which       other plants instead of surrendering to          e-mail:

Variables unaccounted for in global warming and climate change
From a personal perspective, Balaram’s          learned from my association with Hans            league, Jensen, a share of the Nobel Prize
editorial on ‘Carbon dioxide, climate           Suess in the 1970s, which connect quite          in physics2. In 1957, Revelle and Suess
change and geoengineering’1 resonates at        strikingly to Balaram’s statement,’ . . .        published one of the seminal papers
several levels. There is no replacement         based entirely on simulations’.                  warning of the inability of the oceans to
for wisdom tempered by long experience             Suess made numerous discoveries of            absorb carbon dioxide at the rate being
and deep understanding. His introduction        note. For non-exhaustive examples, he            produced, thus leading to the possibility
of the subject by describing the activities     co-discovered the shell structure of the         of global warming3. Although radiocarbon
of Charles Keeling reminds me of lessons        atomic nucleus, which won for his col-           (14C) dating was the Nobel-Prize winning

CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 95, NO. 7, 10 OCTOBER 2008                                                                                           815
discovery of Libby, Suess did much to         the earth is constant. The reason for as-
                                                                                                  1. Balaram, P., Curr. Sci., 2008, 95, 291–292.
develop the technique.                        sumed constancy is that such models are             2. Haxel, O., Jensen, J. H. D. and Suess, H.
   Models, also called simulations, are       based upon the assumption that the heat                E., Die Naturwissenschaften, 1948, 35,
not formulated within the framework of        exiting earth comes solely from the ra-                376.
the scientific method, but are built upon     dioactive decay of long-lived radionu-              3. Revelle, R. and Suess, H. E., Tellus,
assumptions and generally are intended        clides, which, on a human timescale, would             1957, 9, 18–27.
to yield what is being modelled. To para-     be essentially constant. But that model of          4. Box, G. E. P., Empirical Model-Building
phrase Box, all models are wrong, a few       the earth is wrong.                                    and Response Surfaces, Wiley, New
are useful4. Underlying all global warming       From fundamental considerations, I                  York, 1987.
                                                                                                  5. Suess, H. E., Radiocarbon, 1980, 20,
and climate change models are two             have shown that the earth in the main is
fundamental assumptions, namely, that         not like an ordinary chondrite, but is in-
                                                                                                  6. Cini-Castagnoli, et al., Nuovo Cimento C
the sun’s output is constant and that the     stead like an enstatite chondrite7, which              Geophys. Space Phys. C, 1998, 21, 237.
energy coming out of the earth is also        leads to the possibility of the earth hav-          7. Herndon, J. M., Curr. Sci., 2005, 88,
constant. There are reasons to question       ing at its centre a nuclear fission reactor8–10,       1034–1037.
the validity of these two assumptions.        called the georeactor, as the energy source         8. Herndon, J. M., J. Geomagn. Geoelectr.,
   One of Suess’ activities in developing     and operant fluid for generating the                   1993, 45, 423–437.
radiocarbon dating was to radiocarbon-        geomagnetic field by dynamo action11.               9. Herndon, J. M., Proc. R. Soc. London,
date wood that had been dated by count-       Unlike the natural decay of long-lived                 1994, A455, 453–461.
ing tree rings. When Suess plotted abso-      radionuclides, which change only gradu-            10. Herndon, J. M., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.
                                                                                                     USA, 2003, 100, 3047–3050.
lute (tree-ring) dates against radiocarbon    ally over time, the energy output of the
                                                                                                 11. Herndon, J. M., Curr. Sci., 2007, 93,
dates, measured in his own laboratory,        georeactor can be variable12. I have also
instead of a straight line, he observed       introduced the concept that the earth’s            12. Rao, K. R., Curr. Sci., 2002. 82, 126–
wiggles5, especially pronounced during        dynamics is powered by the energy of                   127.
the so-called Little Ice Age, ca. 1560–       protoplanetary compression13 and sug-              13. Herndon, J. M., Curr. Sci., 2005, 89,
1850. As 14C is produced in the upper         gested a process whereby such energy                   1937–1941.
atmosphere from solar wind bombard-           may be deposited at the base of the                14. Herndon, J. M., Curr. Sci., 2006, 90,
ment, to Suess the wiggles meant that         crust14. There is no reason to assume that             1605–1606.
the sun’s output is not constant and          the release of stored protoplanetary com-          15. Herndon, J. M., Maverick's Earth and
that that variability is reflected in the     pression energy would be constant. Such                Universe, Trafford Publishing, Vancou-
                                                                                                     ver, 2008.
earth’s climate. Solar variability eviden-    potentially variable energy exiting the
ced by ‘Suess wiggles’ is being con-          earth may contribute not only to variability
firmed6.                                      in the overall heat budget of the earth,                                  J. MARVIN HERNDON
   Models of the earth, based upon the        but in exiting undersea may affect change
incorrect assumption that the earth in the    to sea-water circulation currents, which           Transdyne Corporation,
main is like an ordinary chondrite mete-      may potentially affect the global weather          11044 Red Rock Drive,
orite, are widespread and have led to the     patterns. The degree and extent has not            San Diego, CA 92131, USA
assumption that the heat coming out of        yet been measured15.                               e-mail:

Mangalajodi wetland: Priority site for conservation
Mangalajodi village with a population of      between Kalupada Ghat and Teenmuhani,              (A1: the site regularly holds significant
3088 is located about 5 km from Tangi         attract a large congregation of water-             numbers of a globally threatened species,
town in Khurda District, Orissa. It is one    fowls, especially dabbling ducks such as           or other species of global conservation
of the villages situated along the banks      Northern Pintail (Anas acuta), Northern            concern; A4i: the site is known or
of the Chilika lake and most of its inhabi-   Shoveller (Anas clypeata), Garganey (Anas          thought to hold, on a regular basis, ≥ 1%
tants are fishermen. Thousands of migra-      querquedula) and Brahminy Shelduck                 biogeographic population of a congrega-
tory waterfowls and resident birds visit      (Tadorna ferruginea). In addition, the             tory waterbird species; A4iii: the site is
and breed each year in the wetland marshes    wetland is frequented by Purple Moorhen            known or thought to hold, on a regular
of the village. This area is primarily a      (Porphyrio porphyrio), Asian Openbill              basis, ≥ 20,000 waterbirds or ≥ 10,000
freshwater zone with marshes, emergent        Stork (Anastomus oscitans), Common                 pairs of seabirds of one or more species).
vegetation and reed beds consisting           Moorhen (Gallinula coromandelicus),                This is a well-known recognition for the
mostly of Typha angustata and Phragmites      Grey-headed Lapwing (Vanellus ciner-               Mangalajodi site after Nalabana Sanctu-
karka. This village is connected to the       eus) and many other birds1. This site has          ary of the Chilika Lake and thus further
northern sector of the Chilika lake and       been recognized as one of India’s impor-           warrants its protection. Spot-billed Peli-
Kalupada Ghat by way of channels dug          tant bird areas (IBA), which are identi-           can (Pelecanus philippensis), which is
through the Phragmites karka reed beds.       fied on the basis of a set of internationally      placed in the Near Threatened category
With a length of 1.5 km, the marshes          accepted criteria. The area is classified          of IUCN Red List, is also seen in this
around Mangalajodi, and the open water        under A1 + A4i + A4iii criteria of IBA             site2.
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