Archive for the tag “food security”

Industrial civilisation can’t wean itself off fossil fuels painlessly

Chris Martenson writes: The data seems to confirm this: Humanity is not going to painlessly wean itself off of fossil fuels. Instead, we will hit some sort of a wall: a food/population crisis, a climate crisis, or a debt/fiscal/economic crisis.  Each of those candidates has its roots in our global societys addition to fossil fuels.

Read more…

Peak Oil (Or why city slickers should learn to get their hands dirty)


Peak Oil, Food Security and Urban Agriculture

T. Vijayendra

Abstract
Peak Oil refers to the point when oil production reaches a peak, and henceforth can only fall. This has already happened. This has enormous implications for food security. It raises cost and prices of food because farm inputs – primarily fertilisers and pesticides are petroleum based products. Also the cost of transport goes up. This has resulted in food prices going up and within the present system it will only go up further. The alternative is socialism with local food security based on organic food production. Urban agriculture, particularly for perishable foods like vegetables and fruits is becoming a must. Read more…

News update

World will pass crucial 2C global warming limit, experts warn
The Guardian UK
Pledges by nations to cut carbon emissions will fall far short of those needed to prevent global temperatures rising by more than the crucial 2C by the end of the century. This is the stark conclusion of climate experts who have analysed submissions in the runup to the Paris climate talks later this year. A rise of 2C is considered the most the Earth could tolerate without risking catastrophic changes to food production, sea levels, fishing, wildlife, deserts and water reserves. Even if rises are pegged at 2C, scientists say this will still destroy most coral reefs and glaciers and melt significant parts of the Greenland ice cap, bringing major rises in sea levels.

Climate Change “Tipping Points” and the Fate of the Earth
Michael T. Klare, Tom Dispatch
Not so long ago, it was science fiction. Now, it’s hard science and that should frighten us all. The latest reports from the prestigious and sober Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) make increasingly hair-raising reading, suggesting that the planet is approaching possible moments of irreversible damage in a fashion and at a speed that had not been anticipated. Scientists have long worried that climate change will not continue to advance in a “linear” fashion, with the planet getting a little bit hotter most years.  Instead, they fear, humanity could someday experience “non-linear” climate shifts (also known as “singularities” or “tipping points”) after which there would be sudden and irreversible change of a catastrophic nature.

Inadequate attempts by US to combat climate change shifted burden to India: CSE
Livemint.com
Inadequate attempts by the US to combat climate change have shifted the major burden of battling it to countries like India, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said, calling American promises ‘much ado about nothing’. In a report released on Wednesday, CSE, a noted environment think-tank in India, termed US’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) as just ‘business-as-usual’. The study said the energy system in the US would remain fossil fuel dependent, with 76% of total primary energy coming from fossil fuels in 2030 while renewables will contribute just 15%, up from the current 11%. (Also read, CSE press release: ‘Capitan America’ and its climate promises: Much ado about nothing)

Southeast Asia’s energy demand to grow by 80 per cent in 2040: IEA
Down to Earth
Southeast Asia’s demand for energy is projected to grow by 80 per cent to just under 1,100 million tonnes of oil in 2040, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The share of fossil fuels in the energy mix of the region is expected to rise from 74 per cent in 2013 to 78 per cent in 2040, the report titled “Southeast Asia Energy Outlook 2015” said.

Elon Musk says the current refugee crisis is just a glimpse of whats to come if world ignores climate change
Tech Insider
Billionaire visionary Elon Musk painted a bleak picture of the future on Wednesday when he said the current refugee crisis is just a glimpse of what we can expect if nothing is done to address climate change. “Today’s refugee problem is perhaps a small indication of what the future will be like if we do not take action with respect to climate change,” Musk said during his opening remarks at a business seminar.

Worlds oceans facing biggest coral die-off in history, scientists warn
The Guardian UK
Scientists have confirmed the third-ever global bleaching of coral reefs is under way and warned it could see the biggest coral die-off in history. Since 2014, a massive underwater heatwave, driven by climate change, has caused corals to lose their brilliance and die in every ocean. By the end of this year 38% of the world’s reefs will have been affected. About 5% will have died forever. But with a very strong El Niño driving record global temperatures and a huge patch of hot water, known as “the Blob”, hanging obstinately in the north-western Pacific, things look far worse again for 2016. (Also read: Coral reefs are not just pretty – they are vital to life)

Oil and the Global Economy
Jan Mueller, Jim Hansen, Stephen P.A. Brown, The Energy Xchange
The remarkable economic expansion of in the United States and other industrial nations over the past century or more has been fueled by a steadily growing supply of low-cost energy—mostly from fossil fuels—oil in particular which accounts for more global energy consumption than any other source.
But there is growing uncertainty whether this trend will continue as it has in the past. How will shifting trends regarding the cost, demand, and supply for oil affect the global economy and the outlook for investment and economic growth?

The Peak Oil Story We Have Been Told Is Wrong
Gail Tverberg
Most people believe that low oil prices are good for the United States, since the discretionary income of consumers will rise. There is the added benefit that Peak Oil must be far off in the distance, since “Peak Oilers” talked about high oil prices. Thus, low oil prices are an all-round benefit. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The Peak Oil story we have been told is wrong. The collapse in oil production comes from oil prices that are too low, not too high. If oil prices or prices of other commodities are too low, production will slow and eventually stop. Growth in the world economy will slow, lowering inflation rates as well as economic growth rates.

Anna Swaraj: The only way we can rescue Indian farmers from debt and suicide
Vandana Shiva, Scroll.in
After the crash of the Green Revolution dream, the loss of this season’s cotton is the second big blow to Punjab’s farmers. Stemming from the failure of genetically modified cotton crops, it makes clear again that genetically modified organisms and chemical pesticides are ineffective at pest control. Scientific studies worldwide prove that their use has birthed super weeds and pests – and yet state governments in India continue to promote their excessive use and subsidise them. (Also read: How 18 villages in Haryana kept the whitefly attack on cotton away)

Means of transport to be switched to electric mode in 2 years: Gadkari
Business Standard
In a bid to cut oil import bill and mitigate pollution, the government is working on an ambitious project to switch diesel and petrol-run vehicles across the country to electric mode in two years, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday. Our scientists have made cost-effective, made-in-India lithium-ion battery (rechargeable) which will be extensively used to convert all means of transport to electric mode, the minister said here at a function organized by the Indian Womens Press Corps (IWPC).

One Scientist’s Hopeful View On How to Repair the Planet
Yale Environment 360
For a researcher who studies how humanity is pushing the earth close to potentially disastrous tipping points, Johan Rockström is surprisingly optimistic. Although he reckons that our species has crossed four of nine “planetary boundaries” — including those on climate change and deforestation — he believes there is still time to pull back from the brink and create a sustainable future based on renewable energy and a “circular” economy that continually reuses resources.

Oxfam Report: 10 Million at Risk of Hunger Due to Climate Change and El Niño

Common Dreams

At least ten million of the poorest people face food insecurity in 2015 and 2016 due to extreme weather conditions and the onset of El Niño, Oxfam has reported.

In Oxfam’s new report called Entering Uncharted Waters, erratic weather patterns were noted including high temperatures and droughts, disrupting farming seasons around the world.

Countries are already facing a “major emergency,” said Oxfam, including Ethiopia where 4.5 million people are in need of food assistance due to a drought this year. Read more…

Event: TARAgram Yatra on India Post 2015 : Investing in Sustainability

www.taragramyatra.org

TARAgram Yatra 2015 is an annual event that holds global multi-stakeholder consultation,organised by the Development Alternatives in partnership with Technology & Action Rural Advancement (TARA), Heinrich Böll Stiftung / Foundations (HBF), OXFAM, Deutsche Gesellschaft for Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the Department for International Development (DFID).

TARAgram Yatra brings together practitioners and policy makers from India and across the world to discuss germane issues of sustainability and identify what can we do more and different such that India transforms to a greener, more sustainable, resilient and inclusive nation. Read more…

Down to Earth issue on the elusive monsoon

Stop the killing fields

Farmers are in a terrible situation, with no water for crops, livestock or drinking. If we dismiss this year as a freak weather year, we will never make the necessary corrections 

Sunita Narain, Editor  Down To Earth magazine

dte

This is our season of despair. This year, it would seem, the gods have been most unkind to Indian farmers. Early in the year came the weird weather events, like hailstorms and freak and untimely rains that destroyed standing crops. Nobody knew what was happening. After all, each year we witness a natural weather phenomenon called the Western Disturbance, winds that emanate from the Mediterranean and travel eastward towards India. What was new this year was the sheer “freakiness” of these disturbances, which brought extreme rain with unusual frequency and intensity. More importantly, instead of “breaking” over the Himalayas, as these disturbances are prone to do, these winds with moisture travelled eastward towards Bengal and even southward towards Madhya Pradesh. Meteorologists were spooked. Read more…

News update

Warming of oceans due to climate change is unstoppable, say US scientists
The Guardian UK
The warming of the oceans due to climate change is now unstoppable after record temperatures last year, bringing additional sea-level rise, and raising the risks of severe storms, US government climate scientists has said. The annual State of the Climate in 2014 report, based on research from 413 scientists from 58 countries, found record warming on the surface and upper levels of the oceans, especially in the North Pacific, in line with earlier findings of 2014 as the hottest year on record.

Climate Change And India: The Way Ahead
Kashif Islam, Countercurrents.org
Since climate change is a global and not national problem, any successful climate action must include both today’s emitters as well as limit future emissions. If it’s India and China who ask for exemptions today, it will be Africa’s turn tomorrow. In the absence of alternatives, the poor and low consuming Indian or African of today becomes perforce the polluter and wasteful consumer of tomorrow. We simply don’t have that kind of leeway and time in dealing with climate change.

Wicked problems and wicked solutions: the case of the worlds food supply
Ugo Bardi
Im back from two days of full immersion in a meeting on something rather new for me: the worlds food supply. I am still reeling from the impact. Whenever you go in some depth into anything; you see how immensely more complex things are in comparison to the pale shadow of the world that you perceive in the glittering screen of your TV. Everything is complex, and everything complex becomes wicked once you start seeing it as a problem. And wicked problems usually generate wicked solutions.

What Greece, Cyprus, and Puerto Rico Have in Common
Gail Tverberg
We all know one thing that Greece, Cyprus, and Puerto Rico have in common–severe financial problems. There is something else that they have in common–a high proportion of their energy use is from oil. Figure 1 shows the ratio of oil use to energy use for selected European countries in 2006. Greece and Cyprus are at the top of this chart. The other “PIIGS” countries (Ireland, Spain, Italy, and Portugal) are immediately below Greece.

Austerity and Degrowth
André Reichel
I want to argue about the strange siding of degrowth thinkers and activists with Syriza, its stimulus-oriented economic agenda, and their overall rebuttal of ‘austerity’. Because suddenly growth-oriented policies appear to be OK if they are somehow against ‘austerity’ or ‘neoliberalism’. Can it get, intellectually, any more shallow than that?

Muslim scholars say climate change poses dire threat
Climate News Network
Human beings could cause the ending of life on the planet, says a group of Islamic scholars − and countries round the world, particularly the rich ones, must face up to their responsibilities. Climate change, they say, is induced by human beings: “As we are woven into the fabric of the natural world, its gifts are for us to savour – but we have abused these gifts to the extent that climate change is upon us.” The views of the scholars – some of the strongest yet expressed on climate from within the Muslim community – are contained in a draft declaration on climate change to be launched officially at a major Islamic symposium in Istanbul in mid-August.

The real ‘struggle of our generation’ is not terrorism
George Monbiot
In the longer term, climate change, antibiotic resistance, soil loss and nuclear proliferation by states (including our own) are orders of magnitude more dangerous. But a Churchillian struggle against an identifiable enemy is grander and more glamorous than the battle against faceless but much greater threats. It is also politically less costly, as it offends the interests of neither corporations nor billionaires.

Straight Talk On The Pope And Climate Change
Raymond Lotta, Revcom.us
Many within the environmental movement, including some of its most prominent leading figures, have jumped on the encyclical as a “game-changer.” People are making the argument that one of the world’s most powerful religious-moral voices is now sounding the climate alarm, that he is opening Church discourse to the science of global warming, and that the pope is uniquely capable of inspiring and moving public policy in the right direction. So we should welcome the pope’s encyclical on climate change. To which our reply is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

Global threat interactive: Whats the world scared of?
The Guardian UK
Climate change is what the world’s population perceives as the top global threat, followed by global economic instability and Isis, according to research conducted by the Pew Research Center. The report focuses on those who say they are “very concerned” about each issue. India, and the African and Latin American countries top the list when it comes to climate change and economy. Tensions between Russia or China and their neighbours, “remain regional concerns”.

40% Of Russia’s Food Is Grown From Dacha Gardens
Trueactivist.com
While the majority of citizens in developed nations rely on transported produce and packaged goods to satiate their grumbling stomachs, the people of Russia feed themselves. They have little need for large-scale agriculture, as their agricultural economy is small scale, predominantly organic, and in the capable hands of their nation’s people. Natural Homes has reported that in 2011, 51% of Russia’s food was grown either by dacha communities (40%), or by peasant farmers (11%). The remaining 49% of production was left to large agricultural enterprises.

LibCom series on Capitalist agriculture

Part 4 Capitalist agriculture: class formation and the metabolic rift

Libcom.org

Capitalist agriculture: class formation and the metabolic rift

In this fourth installment on our series on food and climate, we look at the dynamics of capitalist agriculture in terms of production, class formation, and the ‘metabolic rift’ in the nitrogen cycle.

Part 1 (Climate, class, and the Neolithic revolution) looked at the first emergence of agriculture at the end of the last ice age. Part 2 (Class struggles, climate change, and the origins of modern agriculture) looked at the early modern emergence of specifically capitalist agriculture though enclosures and colonialism in the Little Ice Age. Part 3 (The political economy of hunger) analysed the political economy of hunger.

Read part 4: Capitalist agriculture: class formation and the metabolic rift

George Monbiot: Soil the crisis to beat them all?

Tractor ploughing

War, pestilence, even climate change, are trifles by comparison. Destroy the soil and we all starve.
George Monbiot

Imagine a wonderful world, a planet on which there was no threat of climate breakdown, no loss of freshwater, no antibiotic resistance, no obesity crisis, no terrorism, no war. Surely, then, we would be out of major danger? Sorry. Even if everything else were miraculously fixed, we’re finished if we don’t address an issue considered so marginal and irrelevant that you can go for months without seeing it in a newspaper.

It’s literally and – it seems – metaphorically, beneath us. To judge by its absence from the media, most journalists consider it unworthy of consideration. But all human life depends on it. We knew this long ago, but somehow it has been forgotten. As a Sanskrit text written in about 1500BC noted: “Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Husband it and it will grow our food, our fuel and our shelter and surround us with beauty. Abuse it and the soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it.”

The issue hasn’t changed, but we have. Landowners around the world are now engaged in an orgy of soil destruction so intense that, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, the world on average has just 60 more years of growing crops. Even in Britain, which is spared the tropical downpours that so quickly strip exposed soil from the land, Farmers Weekly reports, we have “only 100 harvests left”.

To keep up with global food demand, the UN estimates, 6m hectares (14.8m acres) of new farmland will be needed every year. Instead, 12m hectares a year are lost through soil degradation. We wreck it, then move on, trashing rainforests and other precious habitats as we go. Soil is an almost magical substance, a living system that transforms the materials it encounters, making them available to plants. That handful the Vedic master showed his disciples contains more micro-organisms than all the people who have ever lived on Earth. Yet we treat it like, well, dirt.

The techniques that were supposed to feed the world threaten us with starvation. A paper just published in the journal Anthropocene analyses the undisturbed sediments in an 11th-century French lake. It reveals that the intensification of farming over the past century has increased the rate of soil erosion sixtyfold.

Another paper, by researchers in the UK, shows that soil in allotments – the small patches in towns and cities that people cultivate by hand – contains a third more organic carbon than agricultural soil and 25% more nitrogen. This is one of the reasons why allotment holders produce between four and 11 times more food per hectare than do farmers.

Continue reading

Soil degradation: SAO Soils portal

Scientific American article: Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues

Four Reports: Global Risks, Water, Food Policy Natural Capital

Environmental Risks Dominate the WEF Global Risks Report 2015
Edge Environment
Surveyed responses ranked the risks of ‘Water Crises’, ‘Failure of Climate Change Adaptation’ and ‘Extreme Weather Events’ among the topmost likely and impactful global risks in the World Economic Forums Global Risks Report 2015. These potential risks were considered of greater importance than other possible responses such as ‘Terrorist attacks’, ‘Fiscal Crisis’ and ‘Cyber attacks’. Of the 5 umbrella risks areas assessed (Economic, Geopolitical, Societal, Technological and Environmental), the report identifies ‘Environmental risks’ as the area in which there has been the least progress over the past 10 years.
Read the article   View the report

UN report: Earth is facing a 40% shortfall in water supply by 2030
India Environmental Portal
Earth is facing a 40% shortfall in water supply by 2030, unless we dramatically improve the management of this precious resource warns this latest edition of the UN World Water Development Report. The WWDR 2015 demonstrates how water resources and services are essential to achieving global sustainability.
View/download the report

IFPRI: Global Food Policy report 2014-2015
International Food Policy Research Institute
This 2014–2015 Global Food Policy Report is the fourth in an annual series that provides a comprehensive overview of major food policy developments and events. In this report, distinguished researchers, policymakers, and practitioners review what happened in food policy in 2014 at the global, regional, and national levels, and—supported by the latest knowledge and research—explain why. This year’s report is the first to also look forward a year, offering analysis of the potential opportunities and challenges that we will face in achieving food and nutrition security in 2015.
View/download the report

TEEB Report: No top industry would be profitable if it paid for natural capital
Shareable.net
This recent report was undertaken by environmental consultancy Trucost on behalf of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program sponsored by United Nations Environmental Program. TEEB asked Trucost to tally up the total “unpriced natural capital” consumed by the world’s top industrial sectors. (“Natural capital” refers to ecological materials and services like, say, clean water or a stable atmosphere; “unpriced” means that businesses don’t pay to consume them.)

Trucost’s big finding is that of the top 20 region-sectors ranked by environmental impacts, none would be profitable if environmental costs were fully integrated. Ponder that for a moment: None of the world’s top industrial sectors would be profitable if they were paying their full freight. Zero. That amounts to an global industrial system built on sleight of hand. As Paul Hawken likes to put it, we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP.
Read the article   Download the report (pdf) 

Post Navigation