Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

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.

Hunger crisis worsens, food system broken: Oxfam | Reuters

Hunger crisis worsens, food system broken: Oxfam | Reuters.

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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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.

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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.

U.S. Farmers Head Into Key Stretch for Harvests – WSJ.com

U.S. Farmers Head Into Key Stretch for Harvests – WSJ.com.

World News: A Message from Steve Shenk, CEO of eFoods Global

Listen to Steve Shenk’s message in the eFoods Global Media Center or on our replay line, 507-726-3822, option 3.

Two weeks ago, after one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history, the ocean rose up and swallowed entire coastal regions of Japan, killing thousands, rendering tens of thousands homeless, and crippling critical industries. Our prayers go out to those who lost their lives and to the survivors, many of whom were able to salvage nothing more than life itself.

At eFoods Global we’re not surprised by natural (or man-made) disasters. These unfortunate events have been occurring with greater and greater frequency. However, we ARE shocked and saddened that so few people are prepared for even small disruptions in our often-tenuous supply chain.

Helping folks prepare for the predicted and the unexpected has been the mission of eFoods Global. Today, we are sounding the alarm for a coming economic crash that is not only expected, it is a certainty. The tragedy in Japan is just the latest shock in a series of tremors that will result in the most destructive economic tsunami to ever hit our planet!

Here are just a few more urgent matters foretelling the perfect storm:

* Rising worldwide demand for commodities to be intensified as Japan begins to rebuild
* Shortages of critical automobile and computer components from Japanese industry will result in more layoffs here in America
* Increasing tensions in the Middle East driving gas prices to record levels (food prices always match fuel prices)
* High gas prices are forcing more businesses to close their doors, ensuring more lost jobs
* Countries with the highest populations have lost their crops to drought and are buying American unprotected exports of food, creating huge future shortages
* The US dollar is falling against all major currencies, inflating prices of gold and silver
* We are in the sixth year of a worldwide famine caused by erratic weather that has destroyed global crops
* Banks are refusing necessary seasonal loans to farmers causing fewer acres to be planted and food items to be sold
* Ethanol subsidies are driving fuel and food prices
* Relaxed investment regulations allowing speculation in food commodities
* Modern agricultural methods are dependent on petroleum—as fuel prices rise, food costs skyrocket

The fuse is now lit for the greatest explosion in FOOD prices the world has ever seen! Millions of people will ultimately have to grow their own food. With the speed at which the world and American food conditions are deteriorating, there is not time to grow food, and the task of canning to freeze food prices and availability at present levels is virtually impossible.

Will you be able to feed yourself and your loved ones when a cup of soup and a slice of bread sells for $50 or more? For most of us, the ONLY option is to secure a supply of food now before these economic tidal waves flood our shores.

These events that affect us so intensely are beyond our control. But our greatest dependency, food, will enable us to deal with all of these adversities if we are wise in our preparations and to empower ourselves with the thought that “if it is to be, it’s up to me”.

Please consider freezing the cost and availability of your food by getting the most you can, while you can.

Steve Shenk, eFoods Global CEO

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