Archive for the ‘Gas’ Category

Local Food or Less Meat? Data Tells The Real Story – Andrew Winston – Harvard Business Review

Local Food or Less Meat? Data Tells The Real Story – Andrew Winston – Harvard Business Review.

In recent years, one part of the food business has rivaled organics as the hot growth area: “local” food (defined vaguely as coming from the same state or from less than 100 miles away, for example). It’s a market segment that has just about doubled in sales and number of outlets over the last decade. The world’s biggest food buyer, Wal-Mart, jumped on the bandwagon last fall and announced that it would double the amount of local food it sells (to 9 percent of all its food sales).
The idea of buying locally is not new, and farmers’ markets have been big for years. It’s become almost gospel that the food on our plates has traveled about 1500 miles to get to us.

So it would seem logical that the best way to shrink your food-related carbon footprint associated would be to buy from near by. But it turns out that this assumption is wrong.

Thankfully, a couple scientists took a harder look at the data and published an analysis in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology. The abstract for this article is a prime example of clear writing and good lifecycle analysis — which don’t usually go together — so check it out. But here’s the essence:

  • Food is transported a long way, going about 1,000 miles in delivery and over 4,000 miles across the supply chain.
  • But 83% of the average U.S. household’s carbon footprint for food comes from growing and producing it. Transportation is only 11%.
  • Different foods have vastly different greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity, with meat requiring far more energy to produce, and red meat being particularly egregious, requiring 150% more energy than even chicken.

So the journal article adds this up to an obvious conclusion: if you want to reduce your food’s carbon footprint, eat less meat. In short, “Shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more GHG reduction than buying all locally sourced food.”

As a numbers geek, I love this kind of analysis. Now for the caveats: none of this data should dissuade anyone from eating locally also. The footprint benefits are real, even if dwarfed by food choice. And the benefits to local economies and smaller farms are very important.

But let me repeat: just moving away from meat for one day a week is more effective than buying everything you eat locally. This number will be surprising to most people, but it’s partly why the global call for “Meatless Mondays” is gaining steam, with school systems and universities adopting the approach in cities around the world, from Baltimore to Tel Aviv.

As companies keep discovering, it really helps to run the numbers. As I’ve written about before, Pepsi discovered that the largest chunk of the footprint of its Tropicana orange juice was not in production (squeezing oranges) or in distribution (shipping heavy liquids is fuel-intensive), but in growing the oranges with natural-gas-based fertilizer.

Smart, knowledgeable execs are consistently surprised when good lifecycle data trumps seemingly solid assumptions. So we shouldn’t expect consumers to figure out the right choices themselves. Buying local food seems like the obvious choice — until you run the numbers.

We have a lot of work to do, both in companies and in our homes, to tackle climate change. Good data and analysis will let us focus on the quickest paybacks and get the most out of our efforts.

everyday-food-items-now-then-foxbiz: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

everyday-food-items-now-then-foxbiz: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance.

20 Signs That A Horrific Global Food Crisis Is Coming

Courtesy of Michael Snyder, Economic Collapse


In case you haven’t noticed, the world is on the verge of a horrific global food crisis. At some point, this crisis will affect you and your family. It may not be today, and it may not be tomorrow, but it is going to happen. Crazy weather and horrifying natural disasters have played havoc with agricultural production in many areas of the globe over the past couple of years. Meanwhile, the price of oil has begun to skyrocket.

The entire global economy is predicated on the ability to use massive amounts of inexpensive oil to cheaply produce food and other goods and transport them over vast distances. Without cheap oil the whole game changes. Topsoil is being depleted at a staggering rate and key aquifers all over the world are being drained at an alarming pace. Global food prices are already at an all-time high and they continue to move up aggressively. So what is going to happen to our world when hundreds of millions more people cannot afford to feed themselves?

Most Americans are so accustomed to supermarkets that are absolutely packed to the gills with massive amounts of really inexpensive food that they cannot even imagine that life could be any other way. Unfortunately, that era is ending.

There are all kinds of indications that we are now entering a time when there will not be nearly enough food for everyone in the world. As competition for food supplies increases, food prices are going to go up. In fact, at some point they are going to go way up.

Let’s look at some of the key reasons why an increasing number of people believe that a massive food crisis is on the horizon.

The following are 20 signs that a horrific global food crisis is coming….

#1 According to the World Bank, 44 million people around the globe have been pushed into extreme poverty since last June because of rising food prices.

#2 The world is losing topsoil at an astounding rate. In fact, according to Lester Brown, “one third of the world’s cropland is losing topsoil faster than new soil is forming through natural processes”.

#3 Due to U.S. ethanol subsidies, almost a third of all corn grown in the United States is now used for fuel. This is putting a lot of stress on the price of corn.

#4 Due to a lack of water, some countries in the Middle East find themselves forced to almost totally rely on other nations for basic food staples. For example, it is being projected that there will be no more wheat production in Saudi Arabia by the year 2012.

#5 Water tables all over the globe are being depleted at an alarming rate due to “overpumping”. According to the World Bank, there are 130 million people in China and 175 million people in India that are being fed with grain with water that is being pumped out of aquifers faster than it can be replaced. So what happens once all of that water is gone?

#6 In the United States, the systematic depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer could eventually turn “America’s Breadbasket” back into the “Dust Bowl”.

#7 Diseases such as UG99 wheat rust are wiping out increasingly large segments of the world food supply.

#8 The tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis in Japan have rendered vast agricultural areas in that nation unusable. In fact, there are many that believe that eventually a significant portion of northern Japan will be considered to beuninhabitable. Not only that, many are now convinced that the Japanese economy, the third largest economy in the world, is likely to totally collapse as a result of all this.

#9 The price of oil may be the biggest factor on this list. The way that we produce our food is very heavily dependent on oil. The way that we transport our food is very heavily dependent on oil. When you have skyrocketing oil prices, our entire food production system becomes much more expensive. If the price of oil continues to stay high, we are going to see much higher food prices and some forms of food production will no longer make economic sense at all.

#10 At some point the world could experience a very serious fertilizer shortage. According to scientists with the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative, the world is not going to have enough phosphorous to meet agricultural demand in just 30 to 40 years.

#11 Food inflation is already devastating many economies around the globe. For example, India is dealing with an annual food inflation rate of 18 percent.

#12 According to the United Nations, the global price of food reached a new all-time high in February.

#13 According to the World Bank, the global price of food has risen 36%over the past 12 months.

#14 The commodity price of wheat has approximately doubled since last summer.

#15 The commodity price of corn has also about doubled since last summer.

#16 The commodity price of soybeans is up about 50% since last June.

#17 The commodity price of orange juice has doubled since 2009.

#18 There are about 3 billion people around the globe that live on the equivalent of 2 dollars a day or less and the world was already on the verge of economic disaster before this year even began.

#19 2011 has already been one of the craziest years since World War 2. Revolutions have swept across the Middle East, the United States has gotten involved in the civil war in Libya, Europe is on the verge of a financial meltdown and the U.S. dollar is dying. None of this is good news for global food production.

#20 There have been persistent rumors of shortages at some of the biggest suppliers of emergency food in the United States. The following is an excerpt from a recent “special alert” posted on Raiders News Network….

Look around you. Read the headlines. See the largest factories of food, potassium iodide, and other emergency product manufacturers literally closing their online stores and putting up signs like those on Mountain House’s Official Website and Thyrosafe’s Factory Webpage that explain, due to overwhelming demand, they are shutting down sales for the time being and hope to reopen someday.

So what does all of this mean?

It means that time is short.

For years, many “doom and gloomers” have been yelling and screaming that a food crisis is coming.

Well, up to this point there hasn’t been much to get alarmed about. Food prices have started to rise, but the truth is that our stores are still packed to the rafters will gigantic amounts of relatively cheap food.

However, you would have to be an idiot not to see the warning signs. Just look at what happened in Japan after March 11th. Store shelves were cleared out almost instantly.

It isn’t going to happen today, and it probably isn’t going to happen tomorrow, but at some point a major league food crisis is going to strike.

So what are you and your family going to do then?

You might want to start thinking about that.

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35 Facts That Show Just How Much The Average American Has Been Destroyed By This Economy

35 Facts That Show Just How Much The Average American Has Been Destroyed By This Economy.

Twelve tips for profiting on commodity demand Paul B. Farrell – MarketWatch

Twelve tips for profiting on commodity demand Paul B. Farrell – MarketWatch.

Why We Are Totally Finished | FINANCIAL SENSE

Why We Are Totally Finished | FINANCIAL SENSE.

Gas prices in ‘firing range’ of all-time high – CNN.com

Gas prices in ‘firing range’ of all-time high – CNN.com.

Rush to Use Crops as Fuel Raises Food Prices and Hunger Fears | Truthout

Rush to Use Crops as Fuel Raises Food Prices and Hunger Fears | Truthout.

THE IMPORTANCE OF EFFECTIVELY DISCHARGING ACCUMULATED STRESS AS OUR WORLD MOVES INTO CRISIS

by
Jerry Allen, MFT, MPH, in collaboration with Suzie Gruber, MA, SEP
© Copyright 2011 Jerry Allen, MFT, MPH, all rights reserved

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April 1, 2011, Sebastopol, CA – Here is a piece written by my colleague, Jerry Allen, emphasizing once again the need for inner preparation in the face of collapse. Jerry has worked in Child Protective Services here in Sonoma County for twenty-one years, miraculously maintaining a compassionate open heart in the face of constant familial crises, making him well-suited to write on this topic. Emotional preparation is often dismissed as being unimportant, prioritized well-behind physical preparation. At the end of the day we don’t know where we will be when a crisis hits and we can only count on our inner resilience being available at all times. – Suzie Gruber

]Emergency responders value the ability to be cool-headed in a crisis. It takes people with that ability to handle urgent tasks effectively. Yet as we look toward the long emergency of the end of the era of boundless economic growth and the beginning of hard limits, shortages, permanent energy crises, and the decay or collapse of many complex human societal institutions and much of industrial society, a question arises. How can people and communities prepare ourselves emotionally, bodily, spiritually and socially to effectively handle the rigors and stresses coming at us with flexibility, adaptability, love, honor, integrity and kindness?

Some of these values are being seen right now in quake and tsunami ravaged towns in Japan, people reaching out with generous hearts to take care of each other, a very moving, noble example. Some people naturally have that gift of a generous heart. But how can more of us be both effective and adaptable and to be good leaders in our communities, especially in times of crisis? Much of what we face in coming years will be potentially traumatic, with a lot to grieve about the loss of what has been, and much to fear about our unknown future. How can we ready ourselves to move through those experiences and remain balanced, resilient and adaptive?

If we turn to what is known about trauma and trauma recovery, we see that most animals in the wild live with daily life-threatening events, like being chased and nearly eaten. They are able to discharge the highly arousing survival energy and move on to be ready for what comes next. They reset themselves, or re-regulate their nervous systems. Humans have that ability as well. If humans are able to discharge stress and re-regulate our nervous systems during and after crisis events, then accumulated stress in our nervous systems doesn’t build up, so no post-traumatic stress. In human cultures back through the ages, the use of storytelling, dance, song and ritual has served that vital purpose of restoring balance and preparing for action.

In modern culture much of that has been lost. Pioneers such as Peter Levine have articulated the way stress accumulates in humans and developed educational body-based methods to help people quickly unstick themselves when post-traumatic stress has a grip on them. Our bodies are at the heart of such work. Mental work in our heads doesn’t resolve trauma. Body-based work can. Other pioneers are working on re-invigorating the use of dance, story, music, sweats, Aikido, and rituals to the same ends, with a strong body orientation.

Learning to effectively release accumulated stress is not some peripheral process that is needed primarily to treat returning soldiers and victims of abuse, as important as that treatment is. Learning to let go of accumulated stress and discharge new stresses is a vital skill for all of us who are preparing ourselves to face the unknown future. It is as important as doing physical emergency preparations. We have witnessed the chaos, rage and panic that can grip communities when devastating changes happen. When panic hits as someone yells “fire” in a crowded theatre, other voices need to be ready to stand aside and start singing loudly to calm the people and re-direct their energies. Such work has saved hundreds of people from trampling deaths in panicked crowds. If we are still too activated by our own build-up of trauma, we will not be in a position to discharge fast and take quick decisive community initiative.

As we prepare to serve in a helping role among many, it makes sense to train a vibrant cadre of community members on how to cultivate body awareness, let go of stress fast, remobilize our adaptive capacity and be ready for action. It also makes sense to explore and adapt the use of story, song, dance, ritual and whatever works to help our communities come together, heal together and strengthen our joint body for action.

We can do these preparations by making a conscious choice to work on this aspect of emotional, somatic and spiritual wholeness, while we also choose to work on physical community preparation. They go hand in hand.

How do we begin? Step one in each community is engage in dialogue. Find community members with training and experience in Somatic Experiencing trauma recovery or other similar modalities and who have a willingness to offer support groups. Encourage community members to attend. Use the feelings we have as we watch the headlines unfold as a starting place to grieve, discharge, and come into balance together. Inject some of this work into community meetings to widen the experience. Ask community members what support they need and respond. Another step is to devote conscious community intention to re-establish song, dance, story, Aikido and ritual time in community gatherings.

This may feel a little strange to some who are not familiar with the usefulness of such efforts, but keep at it. The relevance will become more obvious as the long emergency plays out.

—————————————

References

Levine, P.A., (2010), “In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness.”

Jerry Allen, MFT, MPH is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a master’s degree in public health education, and a certificate from UC Berkeley in financial and investment planning. He spent 8 years in hospital management, developing treatment clinics before training as a psychotherapist. He has spent the past 22 years in public child protective services helping families undergoing abuse, stress, violence and addiction. He holds three black belts in Aikido, and has a lifelong interest in the peaceful resolution of stress and conflict and the development of healthy families and communities.

Suzie GruberM.A., SEP., holds advanced degrees in chemistry & psychology and spent 15 years working in the biotechnology industry before waking up to the reality of peak oil, climate change and economic instability. In response she completely rebuilt her career, becoming an energetic herbalist, a Somatic Experiencing® practitioner and a 5Rhythms® moving meditation teacher. Working one on one with people in person and over the phone, she uses a holistic approach to help her clients restore physical, emotional and spiritual balance, with particular emphasis on working with those on the front lines of societal collapse. You can contact Suzie directly at stardancer260@sonic.net.

Wal-Mart US CEO To America: “Prepare For Serious Inflation”

To those who think that buying food in the corner deli is becoming a luxury, we have five words: you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. U.S. consumers face “serious” inflation in the months ahead for clothing, food and other products, the head of Wal-Mart’s U.S. operations warned Wednesday talking to USA Today. And if Wal-Mart which is at the very bottom of commoditized consumer retail, and at the very peak of avoiding reexporting of US inflation by way of China is concerned, it may be time to panic, or at least cancel those plane tickets to Zimbabwe, which is soon coming to us.

The world’s largest retailer is working with suppliers to minimize the effect of cost increases and believes its low-cost business model will position it better than its competitors.

Still, inflation is “going to be serious,” Wal-Mart U.S. CEO Bill Simon said during a meeting with USA TODAY’s editorial board. “We’re seeing cost increases starting to come through at a pretty rapid rate.”

Along with steep increases in raw material costs, John Long, a retail strategist at Kurt Salmon, says labor costs in China and fuel costs for transportation are weighing heavily on retailers. He predicts prices will start increasing at all retailers in June.

“Every single retailer has and is paying more for the items they sell, and retailers will be passing some of these costs along,” Long says. “Except for fuel costs, U.S. consumers haven’t seen much in the way of inflation for almost a decade, so a broad-based increase in prices will be unprecedented in recent memory.”

Consumer prices — or the consumer price index — rose 0.5% in February, the most since mid-2009, largely because of surging food and gasoline prices. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose a more modest 0.2%, though that still exceeded estimates.

Add to this the shock that was today’s grains report, and the summer is about to seem like straight out of Harare.

Farmers will struggle to replenish rapidly shrinking U.S. grain stocks this year, despite plans to sow the most land to corn since World War Two and near-record acreage to soybeans, two U.S. government reports showed on Thursday.

Chicago corn prices surged their daily limit, while soybeans and wheat jumped more than 3 percent as traders looked past higher-than-expected figures in the Department of Agriculture’s annual planting survey to focus on inventories, which fell much more than forecast.

The report underscored the fact that U.S. farmers are now reaching the limits of arable land in the world’s biggest crop exporter, with increased corn sowing coming at the expense of soybeans and cotton. The spring wheat crop, while among the biggest in decades, could yet shrink.

Here is why some grain traders made millions today:

This year’s spring planting season in the world’s biggest crop exporter is being watched more closely than ever by countries fearful that further increases in already record-high food prices could stoke unrest.

An analysis of the data based on the acreage estimates and historical yields suggested that the corn harvest could be the largest ever and soybeans the third-largest.

But that would still leave corn inventories at the end of the 2011/12 season at the equivalent of just three-weeks’ supply, and soybeans would dwindle to scarcely 10 days’ cover. Analysts say prices must rise high enough to reduce demand.

“This turns us back to having to ration the corn,” said Charlie Sernatinger, analyst at ABN Amro.

May corn jumped 30 cents to $6.93-1/4 a bushel, hitting the daily exchange limit; options trading suggested further gains to more than $7.15, near the post-2008 peak of $7.35 hit on March 4. Soybeans jumped to over $14.18 and wheat recouped part of its 20 percent slump since mid-February.

As we expected over the weekend, the commodity correction is over, and absent another nuclear explosion (which still will be priced in within minutes) commodities have only one way to from here.

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