Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Irene ‘just devastating’ in Vermont, governor says | COLLAPSENET

Irene ‘just devastating’ in Vermont, governor says | COLLAPSENET.

 

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Hurricane Irene Update ~ Collapsenet’s CEO gives warning and tips for preparation

Hurricane Irene Update

Heat Wave May Hit Corn Crop—And Food Prices – CNBC

Heat Wave May Hit Corn Crop—And Food Prices – CNBC.

AFP: World food prices rise 1% in June as sugar soars

AFP: World food prices rise 1% in June as sugar soars.

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.

China’s largest inland lake dries up as country battles drought – Telegraph

China’s largest inland lake dries up as country battles drought – Telegraph.

Record Chinese Drought Leads To “Crazy” Food Prices

The PBoC may be guilty of many things, but manipulating the weather is not one of them. Yet it is precisely this that is causing the latest surge in various food prices in the mainland, and which will likely force the Chinese central bank to accelerate its tightening regime even more than before. For once the weather can be blamed, only this time, due to an already redhot inflationary indicator, it will have a far broader impact on both domestic and global monetary policy. China Daily reports: “The impacts of China’s worst drought in 50 years have been served up on the nation’s dining tables as the price of rice and vegetables from drought-hit provinces have skyrocketed. The average price of staple foods in 50 cities has increased significantly, and the price of some leaf vegetables has jumped 16 percent in one month, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics….I didn’t buy many leaf vegetables in the last week because the price is getting crazy,” said Zhang Weirong, a 67-year-old Shanghai resident.” We wish the PBoC the best of luck as it now has to use its futile monetary instruments to neutralize the lack of rain. With the Dragon Boat Festival hoiday between June 4 and 6, we now expect another interest rate hike to be announced in less than a week, in keeping with the central bank’s practice of intervening monetarily during major domestic and international holidays.

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More from China Daily:

Decreased production because of the drought has been cited as the major reason for price increases, and the prices of rice and vegetables may not drop soon, according to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Statistics from the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters show that an area of nearly 7 million hectares of arable land has been affected by the drought, with Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces most seriously affected.

“Cabbage used to be as cheap as paper, and for 5 yuan (77 cents) you would get too many cabbages to carry home,” she said.

She has had to switch to melons and pumpkins, which are getting cheaper this year.

She also changed from eating porridge for breakfast to noodles.

“My grandson said he doesn’t like the dishes I cook these days, but what else can I do?” she said.

Shoppers at a supermarket in Shanghai’s Huangpu district complained that the price of rice produced in Hubei increased 20 percent in one month to 2.6 yuan a kg. Lotus root produced in Hunan also climbed 20 percent during the same period to 4.2 yuan a kg.

In Wuhan, capital of drought-hit Hubei, the average price of 20 monitored vegetables climbed 7.3 percent in one month. The price of cabbage almost doubled in May to 2.22 yuan a kg, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

The price of freshwater fish, crab and shrimp also witnessed a surge in the past week. Freshwater fish production in several provinces has reached bottom as lakes and rivers are drying up.

And the scariest thing for the PBoC’s Zhou Xiaochuan:

If food prices continue to soar during the summer, the increase may exceed 20 percent, which will push up inflation in the short term, Liu Ligang, an economist for the Greater China area with the ANZ Bank, said in his column for Financial Times.

It’s not all bad news: aphid lovers can rejoice:

On another note, Gao Wenqi, a researcher with the Shanghai Agricultural Technology Extension and Service Center, said the drought has provided better conditions for aphids to reproduce. Aphids can produce a new generation in days with no rain, said Gao.

Hopefully this will appease the population when they are starving and looking for scapegoats to blame for the complete supply collapse in already tight foodstocks.

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