The days of drinking coffee on the way to work or school may be numbered — experts warn that climate change has the power to deplete the production of this much beloved beverage, in addition to many other fan-favorite foods.
“Melting glaciers are bad enough, but the loss of coffee is downright terrifying,” said Prof. Emeritus Michael Hoffmann, entomology.
Why do agricultural issues matter to young cosmopolites attending an Ivy League institution and who quite possibly are from a family in the top one percent? Besides being consistently ranked as one of the top agricultural schools in the country and the world, Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences conducts an enormous amount of research and outreach to help end food insecurity, combat climate change and, most recently, protect food production workers against COVID-19; just check out the litany of innovations here. Cornell is in a unique position to conduct its research; unlike many of its peers, it’s role as a land-grant institution informs its involvement in communities surrounding it. 43 percent of the counties in the Southern Tier are classified as rural. If you include upstate micropolities, such as Corning and Cortland, as semi-rural, that figure jumps to 57 percent.
Following the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, many on-campus organizations, programs and facilities were forced to close their doors. Cornell’s student-run organic farm, Dilmun Hill, was among these many organizations heavily impacted. Each year, four to five student managers are hired to prepare for the planting season in early spring. They stay through the summer and fall to grow, harvest and distribute food produced on the 12-acre farm plot near the Cornell Orchards on Route 366. Unfortunately this year, because of the sudden undergraduate hiring freeze and other newly-introduced COVID-19 restrictions, Dilmun Hill stayed silent for many of the normally hectic growing months.
Over 150 students from Cornell, the U.S. and the world came together at the Cornell Vet School for 36 hours from Friday to Sunday afternoon to modernize one of the world’s oldest industries — agriculture.
By invoking technologies like AI, and innovations in computer science the organizers hope to address the shortages in agriculture predicted to manifest in the next decade.
Although mention of the word “vegan” can bring up disturbing images of proselytizing protestors armed with signs and graphic visuals of animal cruelty, people often overlook the environmental impacts of reducing their consumption of animal products. Prof. David Wolfe, plant science, revealed his insight on the crippling carbon footprint of the meat industry, and what a plant-based diet would entail for the environment. “A lot of the major meat producers in this country are coming from fairly large operations and corporate farms [where] the carbon footprint is quite a bit higher,” Wolfe said. “The animals are all confined in one place — it could be very far away from where the crops are grown and are then transported to feed the animals.”
According to Wolfe, the excessive amounts of fossil fuels utilized in the production and transport of these crops alone have a significant environmental impact. Ruminant animals, like cattle, have the added detriment of methanogens — microbes required for digestion that release methane, a notorious greenhouse gas.
In one instance, new members — who were made to spend the night at the house — were woken up at 5 a.m and made to listen to the same song for four hours. They were required to play “air instruments” and make “repeated hand gestures” to the song, according to the report, which classified these behaviors as hazing.
“Whether Cornell’s agricultural programs contribute research, species hybridization, or innovative sustainable practices, there are endless opportunities for people of all experience levels to get involved.”
Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and its Center for Regional Economic Advancement, in partnership with the New York State government, are launching a food and agriculture business competition — Grow-NY — with the goal of bringing innovative startups to upstate New York food and agricultural industries.
Similar conversations are happening at café tables across New York. The lucrative potential of hemp is bringing people together: “Investors and businesspeople together with the farmers out there getting their hands dirty. [Hemp is] the best opportunity farmers have had in their lifetime. I don’t know of another crop as lucrative.”