How ancient wisdom can help us adapt to climate change

Coco Liu, an award-winning journalist who writes frequently about energy and climate change.

Here is a nice post from Liu on going back to ancient wisdom for managing the climate risks:

Extreme weather has become the norm across the globe, in large part thanks to climate change, and it’s playing havoc with farmers and ranchers who depend on predictable weather to grow our food. But while some growers are turning to new technology to adapt to this strange new weather, some farmers are looking backward, exploring old ideas that once worked and might again. As Keith Alverson, an expert at the United Nations Environment Programme, explains, there’s probably no “silver bullet that would solve everything,” but it’s important to look both forward and backward to develop a wide set of tools as we adapt. Below are four examples of old ideas — some going back 2,400 years — that are finding new relevance in the 21st century.

Rediscover ancient grains. Floods are a part of life in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. But now they’re occurring with greater frequency and intensity, swamping and destroying rice and other essential crops. The conventional approach to floods has been to build dykes around rice paddies; instead, Nguyen Van Kien wants to remove such barriers altogether. Nguyen, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Australian National University, has been showing farmers in his country how to work with floods by planting a local rice variety called “floating rice.” It was widely grown in the region for years until it was replaced in the 20th century by high-yield rice (which produces four times the output).

“Floating rice is well adapted to floods,” Nguyen says. When heavy rains come, the plants grow at an accelerated rate so their foliage always remains above water — they can reach up to six meters (20 feet) in height. And since floodwaters can safely fill floating-rice paddies rather than swelling the river, the cities and villages downstream escape being submerged. “When we first reintroduced floating rice to the village of  Vinh Phuoc in 2013, nearby farmers wanted us to teach them as well,” Nguyen says. His team is running a pilot program in two provinces in the Mekong Delta, and they plan to launch field work in Cambodia and Myanmar next year.

There are other ancient techniques as well like using ducks instead of pesticides for managing insects etc.

Fascinating to read about lost ancient wisdom..

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