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August 09 2012


Another Jolt to Global Food Prices

A global food price index jumped 6 percent in July, with the drought afflicting grain crops in the United States the leading factor.

August 03 2012


On Our Radar: Hunger in North Korea

Floods have swept away crops and damaged wells and pumping stations, leaving many without food or clean drinking water, a United Nations agency said.
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March 28 2012


A Clarion Call on the Food Supply

An influential commission calls for an ambitious new program to tackle the problems of food supply, food waste and sustainability all at once.

June 15 2011


New Push on Sustainable Agriculture

The Food and Agriculture has compiled the best techniques, from minimizing the use of pesticides to meting out water more judiciously, in one document and urged specialists to use it as they plan development projects.

June 10 2011


June 06 2011


Reverend Malthus and the Future of Food

By raising the rewards for innovation, won't higher food prices prompt creative efforts by companies and farmers to break the barriers and produce more? Even a passing familiarity with history suggests that the answer must be yes. And yet...
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March 31 2011


Check Out This PBS Show Tonight, Lester Brown's Plan B: Mobilizing To Save Civilization

If you're looking for something good to watch or record on TV tonight, tune in to PBS's 'Journey To Planet Earth' series for a special called 'Plan B: Mobilizing To Save Civilization.' (10pm EST, or check local listings)

The program - nicely narrated by Matt Damon - is based on the book of the same name by author and environmentalist Lester Brown, and it details the impacts that climate change is having on food systems already, with troubling indications for political stability in an increasingly destabilized climate. 

As Brown points out ominously, global food shortages are already causing political turmoil in several areas of the world, and as glaciers and ice caps continue to melt, the situation is sure to get much worse.  Brown asserts that food shortages will pose the greatest threat to civilization out of all the negative consequences anticipated with climate disruption.<!--break-->
We often hear about tipping points in natural systems and how the climate could spiral out of control if we don't act fast to eliminate global warming pollution, but there is a lot less attention paid to the political tipping points that climate change will create as well. 

How many people have paused to think about what might happen if (or when) the 1.3 billion Chinese population has to compete with Americans for our grain? Or how glacial melt in South America's Andes region and Asia's Himalayas will impact U.S. and European food prices?

Brown points out that as long as we consider pollution 'free' by failing to account for the hidden costs of our energy diet, we will never grasp the full dimensions of the extraordinary challenge facing humanity - and we may fail to correct our course because of this giant blind spot.

The result could be catastrohic for the world as we know it.  As Brown asks repeatedly in the piece, how many failing states can the climate crisis produce before we have a failing global civilization? 

I know what you're thinkng, but the piece isn't all doom and gloom, honestly. In fact, Brown lays out a compelling and doable plan to steer our civilzation back from the brink of failure towards a sustainable future.

It won't be easy, but we don't really have much choice in the matter.  And the steps needed - eradicating poverty, stabilizing population, drastically cutting pollution, and restoring earth's systems - will all be beneficial for humanity anyway. We've put them off for too long as it is, and now we must achieve all four simultaneously, or else that doom and gloom will become reaility.

Tune into PBS's "Journey To Planet Earth" tonight for this important piece.

January 20 2011


November 30 2010


End Ethanol Subsidies, Senators Say

A bipartisan group says that subsidies and tariffs to spur domestic production are "fiscally irresponsible and environmentally unwise."

November 24 2010


October 27 2010


November 20 2009


Is Food the Last Thing to Worry About?

Toby Hemenway is my favorite permaculture writer because of the sense of balance he brings to his writings. By that I mean he has a great deal of plain old-fashioned common sense, and he doesn't let emotions or ideology cloud his intellect. His recent essay, Is Food the Last Thing to Worry About? is another excellent analysis. I hope everyone will take a moment to click over to his website and
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