75% of Mexico’s soil now too dry to cultivate crops


Jorge Silva/Reuters

At least 9,000 years ago, humans began domesticating corn for the first time near Tehuacán, in the central Mexican state of Puebla, laying the foundation for permanent settlements in the Americas.

But in the past few years, more frequent and longer droughts have forced many farmers in the area to give up corn and other cereals in favor of alternatives requiring less water such as pistachio nuts or cactus.

Agricultural experts predict parts of Mexico will feel the effects of climate change more than many countries, not least because its location between two oceans and straddling the Tropic of Cancer expose it to weather volatility.

Sol Ortiz, director of the Agriculture Ministry’s climate change group, noted that 75% of Mexico’s soil is already considered too dry to cultivate crops. In regions such as Tehuacán, temperatures may rise more than the global average.

Irony doesn’t put beans on the table, though. Or corn. The country that domesticated corn for domestic and export crops…now is the world’s 2nd largest importer of corn.

“Humanity has touched the sun”

A NASA probe has entered the sun’s atmosphere and “touched” the blazing corona, in a first for solar science.

The Parker Solar Probe, which launched in 2018, conducted seven flybys of the sun before dipping into the corona during its eighth flyby on April 28, 2021. It made three trips into the sun’s atmosphere, one of which lasted for 5 hours, mission scientists reported at a press briefing on Tuesday (Dec. 14) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union…

Solar winds and solar flares — swift eruptions of solar radiation — can affect electrical grids and disrupt communication networks on Earth, and the new data from the probe provides an unprecedented glimpse into these solar events, the researchers reported Dec. 14 in the journal Physical Review Letters.

“Our voyage is revealing a range of surprises as we venture into new places,” Nour Raouafi, Project Scientist for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and a researcher at The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, said at the briefing. “The new physics we are learning about the immediate solar environment and the solar wind is mind-boggling.”

Most interesting news of the day…in a long, long time.