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TSS独家:理想植物:气候变化的潜在缓解措施

TSS EXCLUSIVE – The Ideal Plant: A Potential Relief for Climate Change

by T.G.

A Bleak Future
未来严峻

Desolate. Seemingly abandoned. Appearing on the surface to be barren and lifeless. Imagine a world where a catastrophic event – likely humankind itself – has rid the planet of the tallest trees, the thickest mangroves, the most luscious rainforests. Richly abundant orchards and seemingly endless crop fields are long since a remnant of the past, no longer needed to support an evidently dwindling population. A sparse few patches of trees remain, the last of the architects of the very breath of life all creatures need to survive.

荒凉。被遗弃。贫瘠无生气。想象这样一个世界:一场灾难性的事件——很可能使人类本身——使地球上最高的树木、最茂密的红树林、最甜美的雨林都消失了。丰富的果园和似乎无边无际的庄稼地早已成为过去的遗迹,不再需要养活明显减少的人口。仅存的几片树木,是所有生物生存所需的生命气息的最后建筑师。

But survive they do. Perhaps…they could even thrive. What if there was a counter balance to this devastation? What if there was a way for humans to engineer a world that could keep up with their own destruction?

但他们能活下来。也许……他们甚至可以茁壮成长。如果这场灾难有一个平衡点呢?如果有一种方法可以让人类创造一个能跟上他们自身毁灭速度的世界呢?

A Snowball Effect
滚雪球效应

With destruction of the largest rainforests already standing at a rate of over 85,000 acres a day, it’s not hard to imagine a desert world. Scientists propose that the Amazon rainforest alone will have declined by more than 25% by 2030, and could potentially disappear altogether within the next hundred years. With it will go the largest producers of oxygen, leaving humankind scrambling to somehow make up for the loss of one of the most basic requirements for life.

随着最大的雨林以每天超过85000英亩的速度遭到破坏,不难想象一个沙漠世界正在形成。科学家们提出,到2030年,仅亚马逊雨林就将减少25%以上,并有可能在未来100年内完全消失。随着它的到来,最大的氧气生产商将离开人类,以某种方式来弥补生命最基本需求之一的损失。

The largest contributor to deforestation in the Amazon is land clearing for livestock use. Approximately 80% of deforestation is due to cattle farming, as ranchers expand to take advantage of a favorable meat market. The rest is largely attributed to agricultural use, especially soybeans that are mostly for livestock feed. The clearing and burning of trees, cattle farming, and agricultural activities have also contributed to greenhouse gases, releasing carbon dioxide into the air as well as reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that can be held by the forest. 

亚马逊地区森林砍伐的最大原因是为牲畜而开垦土地。大约80%的森林砍伐是由于畜牧业牧场主为利用有利的肉类市场扩大规模。其余的主要是农业用途,尤其是主要用于牲畜饲料的大豆。树木砍伐和焚烧、养牛业和农业活动也造成了温室气体排放,向空气中排放二氧化碳,同时也减少了森林可容纳的二氧化碳量。

The effect snowballs; as land is cleared and the amount of carbon dioxide that is released increases, the fewer trees and plants are available to fix it. This also affects the amount of water that can be held and cycled by the land and the remaining forest, leading to area droughts, forest die back, and affecting agricultural yields.

影响如同滚雪球一般积累:土地的清理和二氧化碳排放量的增加,可用于修复的树木和植物就越少。这也会影响土地和剩余森林所能容纳和循环的水量,导致地区干旱,森林退化,并影响农业产量。

Once the land has been converted from forest to farmland, the ecological status of that parcel changes – often permanently. There are multiple instances of farmland becoming a savannah, devoid of substantial life and lacking the biodiversity that once thrived on the land. Even if replanted, this land can no longer sustain the rainforest landscape it once held. The damage is irreversible and devastating.

一旦土地从森林变成了农田,那块土地的生态状况就会发生变化——通常是永久性的。有许多例子表明,农田变成了大草原后,没有实质性的生命,也缺乏曾经在土地上繁衍生息的生物多样性。即使重新种植,这片土地也无法维持它曾经拥有的雨林景观。这种损害是不可逆转的和毁灭性的。

A Global Effect
全球性影响

Destruction of land by humans and climate change have similarly affected landscapes around the globe. It is estimated that urbanization will lead to a loss of 2% of the world’s agricultural land by 2030 with 80% of that occurring in Asian and Africa. In the United States, around 31 million acres were lost to urbanization from 1992 to 2012, with 11 million of that being considered some of the best agricultural land due to prime soil conditions for crops.  Urbanization not only forces agricultural land to be sought elsewhere – often less sustainable and efficient areas – but it also leads to a loss of biodiversity and an increase in pollution from the incoming human inhabitants.

人类对土地的破坏和气候变化同样影响了全球各地的景观。据估计,到2030年,城市化将导致全球2%的农业用地流失,其中80%发生在亚洲和非洲。在美国,从1992年到2012年,大约3100万英亩的土地因城市化而丧失,其中1100万英亩被认为是最好的农业用地,这是由于作物的良好土壤条件。城市化不仅迫使人们在其他地方寻找农业用地(通常是可持续性和效率较低的地区),而且还导致生物多样性的丧失和外来人口污染的增加。

The economic effects are also a consideration, as the loss of cropland caused Asian countries a 6% loss in production and a 9% loss in Africa. In a world where the requirements of food are ever-increasing, the loss of agricultural land is causing food costs to go up and the need to find more sustainable and efficient growing methods more obvious.

经济影响也是考虑因素之一,耕地减少导致亚洲国家生产损失6%,非洲损失9%。在一个对粮食需求不断增加的世界里,农业用地的损失导致粮食成本上升,更明显的是需要找到更可持续、更高效的种植方法。

Alongside the direct human influence, climate change has also led to various issues with plant life. In places not going through deforestation and urbanization, droughts and abnormal weather patterns frequently lead to low crop yields and land destruction. Late snow and rain in 2019 led to a sharp decrease in yield to both many crops. In the US from 2018 to 2019, yields for corn and soy were down 3%, dry beans down 18%, sugar beets down 13%, and alfalfa down 6%. Corn especially has endured hardship from the weather, as the amount of land planted was actually 5% higher than it was last year. This once again highlights the need to develop more sustainable and efficient methods of crop production.

除了人类的直接影响,气候变化也导致了植物生命的各种问题。在没有砍伐森林和城市化的地方,干旱和异常的天气模式经常导致农作物减产和土地破坏。2019年的晚雪和降雨导致两种作物的产量大幅下降。在美国,从2018年到2019年,玉米和大豆的产量下降了3%,干豆下降了18%,甜菜下降了13%,苜蓿下降了6%。玉米由于种植的土地比去年增加了5%因此经受了恶劣天气的考验。这再次突显出需要开发更可持续、更高效的作物生产方法。

Fighting Climate Change
对抗气候变化

One of the many arms of climate change is the reaction of carbon with other molecules – in the atmosphere, in plants and animals, and in the ground. Carbon dioxide is the major component of greenhouse gases. While it is a natural by-product of living creatures, carbon dioxide is largely created by the actions of humans – such as in the case of the destruction and burning of the Amazon rainforest for cattle production. 

气候变化有众多因素,其中之一是碳与大气、动植物和地下其他分子的反应。二氧化碳是温室气体的主要成分。虽然二氧化碳是生物的自然副产品,但二氧化碳主要是由人类活动产生的,比如亚马逊雨林被破坏和烧毁,用于养牛。

However, during photosynthesis plants have the ability to convert carbon dioxide to water, oxygen, and carbohydrates. That ability is one of the reasons life on earth can exist. Unfortunately, the rate at which carbon dioxide is being produced is less than the rate at which it can be fixed by plants.

然而,在光合作用过程中,植物有能力将二氧化碳转化为水、氧气和碳水化合物。这种能力是地球上生命存在的原因之一。不幸的是,二氧化碳的产生速率高于植物所能固定的速率。(注:我们认为原文存在事实性错误,已对翻译做出修正)

The Salk Institute out of California sought to address this issue as the same as producing a plant that can provide a sustainable and profitable food yield. They are calling this their Harnessing Plants Initiative. Based on the recognition that deep root systems are important for healthy and hardy plants, the Salk Institute isolated the gene and hormone that is responsible for root growth. By controlling these, they can design a plant with a deep root network. This creates a more stable soil network for both the plants and the environment, and helps protect both against poor weather conditions and erosion. Deep roots also allow the plants to reach further into the soil to gain and store nutrients. This leads to the second part of “The Ideal Plant”, as they have patented it.

加利福尼亚州的索尔克研究所试图解决这个问题,就像生产一种可以提供可持续和盈利的粮食产量的植物一样。他们称这是他们的植物治理计划。基于深根系统对健康和耐寒植物的重要性的认识,索尔克研究所分离出了负责根系生长的基因和激素。通过控制这些,他们可以设计出一种具有深根网络的植物。这为植物和环境创造了一个更稳定的土壤网络,并有助于防止恶劣的天气条件和侵蚀。深根还允许植物深入土壤中获取和储存养分。这导致了“理想工厂”的第二部分,因为他们已经申请了专利。

Plants already have the ability to store carbon, and the Salk Institute sought to hyperdrive this ability in order to combat the increasing carbon load in the environment. By storing the carbon deep in the root systems of a plant, they stabilize it, preventing it from so readily reacting with the environment. However, to increase efficiency, they paired this technology with a carbon rich material called suberin. Suberin is found naturally in plants and acts as storage for carbon dioxide. Increasing the amount of this material in plants allows them to sequester more carbon in their roots and hold it stable in the environment.

植物已经具备了储存碳的能力,索尔克研究所(Salk Institute)试图通过超能力驱动这种能力,以应对环境中不断增加的碳负荷。通过将碳储存在植物根系深处,它们使其稳定,防止其与环境发生如此容易的反应。然而,为了提高效率,他们将这种技术与一种叫做suberin的富碳材料配对。suberin天然存在于植物中,是二氧化碳的储藏库。增加这种物质在植物中的含量可以使它们在根部吸收更多的碳,并在环境中保持稳定。

By combining both of these features, the Salk Institute created a plant that holds twenty times as much carbon as a conventional plant and can stabilize a soil ecosystem. By applying this technology to food crops, they hope to fight the growing need for food and the losing efficiencies of conventional farming at the same time as combatting the increasing carbon emissions from human activities including farming. “The Ideal Plant” could potentially be used in landscapes already affected by climate change and human caused deforestation – such as the dieback areas near the Amazon rainforest. Planting with these more efficient crops could also lead to higher yields per acre, thereby reducing the amount of land needed for food production.

通过结合这两种特性,索尔克研究所创造了一种碳含量是传统植物20倍的植物,可以稳定土壤生态系统。通过将这项技术应用于粮食作物,他们希望在对抗包括农业在内的人类活动不断增加的碳排放的同时,应对日益增长的粮食需求和传统农业的效率下降。“理想植物”可能被用于已经受到气候变化和人为砍伐森林影响的景观中,比如亚马逊雨林附近的枯死地区。种植这些效率更高的作物还可以提高每英亩的产量,从而减少粮食生产所需的土地数量。

Not Quite There
没有那么理想

While the science and early experiments are promising, the technology still has years of development before it is a reality. The race to perfect “The Ideal Plant” is shadowed by the urgency for the technology. Human actions are damaging the environment at unmanageable rates, with many scientists agreeing that much of the damage may be un-mediatable by 2030. 

虽然科学和早期实验是有希望的,但这项技术还需要多年的发展才能实现。追求完美“理想工厂”的竞赛被这项技术的紧迫性所遮蔽。人类活动正在以难以控制的速度破坏环境,许多科学家一致认为,到2030年,大部分破坏可能无法弥补。

Within the next decade, humans are tasked with addressing climate change as well as the many social and economic issues associated where mankind and nature collide. Will they learn to use technology such as “The Ideal Plant” to fight their own destruction, or will they will choose to ignore the warning signs and allow the destruction to irreversibly and drastically affect the planet that they depend on for life?

在未来十年内,人类的任务是应对气候变化以及人与自然发生冲突的许多社会和经济问题。他们会学习使用诸如“理想植物”这样的技术来对抗自己的毁灭,还是会选择无视警告信号,让破坏不可逆转地、彻底地影响到他们赖以生存的星球?

翻译:STARSET Mirror翻译组

STARSET_Mirror

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