The impacts of climate change on Zimbabwe’s economy, which is primarily agro-based, with over 70 percent of the population living in rural areas and dependant on climate sensitive livelihoods such as arable farming and livestock, is large
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
City dwellers across the nation have taken on the challenge of growing greens in a concrete jungle. Now recent research shows the interconnected benefits of urban agriculture.
A team funded by the National Science Foundation and led by Arizona State University and Google researchers has assessed the value of urban agriculture and quantified its benefits at a global scale. Their results showed how city agriculture has the potential for millions of tons of food production, thousands of tons of nitrogen sequestration, billions of kilowatt hours of energy savings, and billions of cubic meters of avoided storm runoff.
On an economical scale the annual value of selected ecosystem benefits of urban agriculture is approximately $33 billion. Researchers say city agriculture could help feed a world that may face future challenges in industrial agriculture as a result of climate change.
Other than improving access to healthy foods, researchers found that there is a correlation between the health of the ecosystem and urban agriculture. Cities with agricultural plots experience, urban nitrogen fixation, pollination, biological control of pests, control of stormwater runoff and energy conservation.
Babies are mostly bright eyes and fat rolls, but don’t be fooled. Those rotund legs pack a powerful punch—more than 4 kilograms of force—according to the first study ever to measure babies’ kicks in the womb. To quantify fetal brawn, scientists built computer models from MRI scans that tracked the movements of fetuses from 20 to 35 weeks (above). They found that the kicks become stronger from 20 to 30 weeks. But after 30 weeks, kick force plummets, likely because the fetuses have less and less room to move around as they grow. The kicking exercises benefit babies in two ways, the researchers say: First, it’s literally exercise, which helps develop muscles and bones. Second, the effort increasingly strains joints from mid- to full-term. That strain likely helps their joints form properly, the scientists report today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface; having normally shaped joints could prevent osteoarthritis later in life.
Whether they’re in the brain or intestines, many tissues are programmed to bend, twist, and fold in specific ways. Now, scientists have harnessed this programming to create bowls, coils, and ripples out of living tissues that fold themselves up. To do so, the researchers started with plugs of cells taken from a connective tissue in mouse embryos. Called the mesenchyme, this tissue contains cell layers that either stretch or pinch together. When a pinching layer sits above a stretching layer, the two together cause the tissue to bend inward like a bow. Using a 3D printer, the researchers patterned sets of cell plugs in a culture dish filled with a gel containing tiny fibers made of extracellular matrix, a structural support naturally secreted by cells in the body. And by choosing which way they knew each set of cells would bend, they caused the overall collection of tissue to fold up into the variety of preprogrammed shapes seen in the image above, the team reports today in Developmental Cell. Eventually, researchers hope to use this strategy to engineer more natural tissues and organs able to replace those in lost in people because of age or disease.