Global environmental challenges
Amid the worry about water and food scarcity, some hints of good news: a five-year, 30-nation analysis suggests there might be enough water – and therefore enough food — for Earth’s hungriest and thirstiest as the human population heads toward the 9 billion mark sometime around mid-century.
Anxiety about food and water supplies stems in part from the effects of climate change, with its projected rise in droughts, wildfires, floods and other events that cut down on food production. Another factor is the increase in population, much of it grouped around water sources in the developing world. But water experts said at a conference this week in Brazil that there could be plenty of water over the coming decades if those upstream collaborate with those downstream and use water more efficiently.
The leader of the study, Simon Cook of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, said this is actually possible. And he said it wouldn’t require the repeal of the more selfish impulses of human nature.
Citing an article in Harvard Business Review, Cook said, “It’s not necessarily human to be totally individualistic. There’s substantial evidence that people can collaborate.”
When munching on a sumptuous spread of white truffles, sampling almonds tucked into syrupy preserved figs or chomping on a cigar-sized chunky chocolate bar, do you ever wonder about these luxury foods’ environmental impact?
Apparently lots of consumers do — enough that organic, sustainable and otherwise “green” foods are proliferating at this year’s Fancy Food Show.
Would you eat a genetically modified fish? What about pork from a pig with mouse genes? Beef from cattle with genes spliced to resist “mad cow” disease?
These are questions Americans may soon have to answer for themselves if the U.S. health regulators allow the sale of a genetically engineered salmon. The company that makes it, Aqua Bounty Technologies Inc <ABTX.L>, expects an agency decision by year’s end.
First it was slow. Then local, then organic. Now it is firmly grass-fed.
As a rare geophysicist studying diet’s environmental consequences, I am asked daily by my colleagues – a bit bemused by my new field yet quantitatively astute and environmentally concerned – about the latest claim made about impacts of food production on the physical environment.
In this role, I get to keep a sensitive finger on the envirofood pulse. Unambiguously, grass-fed beef is all the rage now. Even the New York Times Op-Ed page featured a recent piece extolling the virtues of grazing cattle.
from India Insight:
There's nothing Indians like better than a good debate.
So when Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh announced last month that he would hold public debates to decide the commercial fate of genetically modified brinjal (eggplant), there were hopes these would provide a chance for all stakeholders to be heard.
But the debates, in seven cities including Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, were chaotic, nothing more than acrimonious shouting matches between environmental activists and scientists, who say they were not given a fair chance to voice their opinion.
The terrace of the elegant 18th-century chateau offers views over the formal French garden and fields filled with neat rows of vines.
This idyllic scene could be reminiscent of Bordeaux or the Cotes du Rhone … were it not for all the snow.
from The Great Debate UK:
Everybody wants to end hunger, but just how to do so is a divisive question that pits environmentalists against anti-poverty campaigners, big business against consumers and rich countries against poor.
The Food Chain Campaign is not about becoming vegetarian, say the Friends of the Earth, it is about putting pressure on the government to mitigate the damaging impact of meat and dairy production on the environment.
You have to be creative when you’re a Russian scientist, bad weather is preventing your research ship from picking you up for your expedition and you’ve got time to kill in Nome, Alaska.
Such was the case for a group waiting to begin a joint mission with U.S. researchers in the Bering Sea in late August.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
If Pakistan is to dig itself out of its current crisis it needs two things to happen. It needs strong economic growth to tackle poverty and undercut the appeal of hardline Islamists; and it needs peace with India if it is to permanently cut its ties with militants it has traditionally seen as a reserve force to be used against its much bigger neighbour. Or so goes the prevailing view.
This week's United Nations report on pollution in Asia -- and the melting of glaciers which feed the rivers of India and Pakistan -- suggest there are serious risks to that scenario of an ultimately prosperous Pakistan at peace with its neighbours. In other words, can it achieve the economic growth it needs without worsening pollution further? And can it make peace with India if the two countries end up at loggerheads over dwindling supplies of water?