The Guardian, By George Monbiot, December 25
The figures were so astounding that I refused to believe them. I found them buried in a footnote, and assumed at first that they must have been a misprint. So I checked the source, wrote to the person who first published them, and followed the citations. To my amazement, they appear to stand up.
A kilogramme of beef protein reared on a British hill farm can generate the equivalent of 643kg of carbon dioxide. A kilogramme of lamb protein produced in the same place can generate 749kg. One kilo of protein from either source, in other words, causes more greenhouse gas emissions than a passenger flying from London to New York.
This is the worst case, and the figure comes from a farm whose soils have a high carbon content. But the numbers uncovered by a wider study are hardly reassuring: you could exchange your flight to New York for an average of 3kg of lamb protein from hill farms in England and Wales. You’d have to eat 300kg of soy protein to create the same impact.
As the world’s people adopt the western diet, a paper in the Climatic Change journal estimates, the methane and nitrous oxide produced by farming could rise to the equivalent of 13bn tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2070. This is more than all human activities combined can safely produce without exceeding 2C of global warming. Climate breakdown looks inevitable – unless we all change our diets.
Being the first in a planned Twilight series of observations and ruminations on the state of the world and its denizens, past, present and future.
Return On Investment: As ye sow, so shall ye reap.
When I was a teenager, I drove a 1924 Star. It rattled, creaked, squeaked, clinked, clanked, banged, jangled, clattered and protested mightily when called upon to actually move, but it did get me to school and an occasional jaunt into the countryside. We had to scrounge up old tires and spare parts, even machining some pieces in shop class, since Durant Motors was long out of business. Keeping it on the road became increasingly difficult and complicated. I finally decided it wasn’t worth the time, money and cussing. It might have had some value to an antique auto collector, but it had a negative ROI as a useful means of transportation. As I look around, a great deal of what I see reminds me of that old car.
There are a lot of individual pieces that need to work together. And they aren’t.
Population growth and climate change will increase global water demand, leaving short supply if usage does not change
Al Jazeera, March 20
The world could suffer a 40 percent shortfall in water in just 15 years unless countries dramatically change their use of the resource, a United Nations report warned Friday.
Many underground water reserves are already running low, while rainfall patterns are predicted to become more erratic with climate change. As the world’s population grows to an expected 9 billion by 2050, more groundwater will be needed for farming, industry and personal consumption.
With “business as usual” the world is facing a “collapse in our global socioeconomic system,” Richard Connor, lead author of the report, told Reuters.
The report predicts global water demand will increase 55 percent by 2050, while reserves dwindle. If current usage trends don’t change, the world will have only 60 percent of the water it needs in 2030, it said.
Al Jazeera: Water rationing may become a way of life in California drought
New York Times, By Andrew Pollack, January 1
Its first attempt to develop genetically engineered grass ended disastrously for the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. The grass escaped into the wild from test plots in Oregon in 2003, dooming the chances that the government would approve the product for commercial use.
Yet Scotts is once again developing genetically modified grass that would need less mowing, be a deeper green and be resistant to damage from the popular weedkiller Roundup. But this time the grass will not need federal approval before it can be field-tested and marketed.
Scotts and several other companies are developing genetically modified crops using techniques that either are outside the jurisdiction of the Agriculture Department or use new methods — like “genome editing” — that were not envisioned when the regulations were created.
The department has said, for example, that it has no authority over a new herbicide-resistant canola, a corn that would create less pollution from livestock waste, switch grass tailored for biofuel production, and even an ornamental plant that glows in the dark.
(Reuters) – A lack of funds has forced the United Nations to stop providing food vouchers for 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Monday.
“Without WFP vouchers, many families will go hungry. For refugees already struggling to survive the harsh winter, the consequences of halting this assistance will be devastating,” said the U.N. agency, which needs $64 million to support the refugees for the rest of December.
Ian Welsh wrote, and we’ve commented, because while Ian provides penetrating analysis, there is no suggestion of solutions, for example those on which Marine Le Pen campaigns, which seem cogent: Restore the Franc, Restore Sovereignty, and Control Multiculturalism.
From a NYT op-ed by Mark Bittman, resident culinary gadfly:
Julia Child, goddess of fat, is beaming somewhere. Butter is back, and when you’re looking for a few chunks of pork for a stew, you can resume searching for the best pieces — the ones with the most fat. Eventually, your friends will stop glaring at you as if you’re trying to kill them.
That the worm is turning became increasingly evident a couple of weeks ago, when a meta-analysis published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that there’s just no evidence to support the notion that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease .(more at the link- it’s worth reading the whole piece)
Tobacco is undeniably still bad, but sugar and ultra-processed foods now head the evil food list again
Salon, By Lindsay Abrams
On the many dangers of methane gas
Cows, man. Their manure, belches and flatulence are a major contributor to human-caused emissions of methane gas, itself sizable contributor to global warming. They pose a more immediate danger, too, the AFP reports:
Flatulence from 90 cows in a German barn sparked a methane gas explosion that damaged the building and left one cow slightly injured with burns, police said Tuesday.
“In the barn for 90 dairy cows, methane built up for unknown reasons and was probably ignited by a static discharge, exploding in a darting flame,” said local police in the central town of Rasdorf in Hesse state.
“Parts of the roof cover were slightly damaged and a cow suffered minor burns,” said police, adding that a fire crew rushed to the scene of Monday’s accident and a gas field crew later measured methane levels.
More at the link
The disaster that is Fukushima is not fixed. Not by a long shot. Considering the lack of coverage mainstream media provides, I’d recommend spending ten minutes of your time to watch this video:
TruthOut/Buzzflash, By Mark Karlin
On Thursday night, October 17, one of the three “nobel prizes” for agriculture — The World Food Prize — will be awarded to the executive vice president and chief technology officer at Monsanto (who specializes in GMO research), Dr. Robert T. Fraley.
Also receiving one of the coveted agricultural honors is Dr. Mary-Dell Chilton, founder and distinguished science fellow, Syngenta Biotechnology, Inc. Syngenta is a competitor to Monsanto in the global GMO and pesticide market.
According to the website of The World Food Prize:
The World Food Prize is the foremost international award recognizing — without regard to race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs — the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
The Prize recognizes contributions in any field involved in the world food supply — food and agriculture science and technology, manufacturing, marketing, nutrition, economics, poverty alleviation, political leadership and the social sciences.
The World Food Prize emphasizes the importance of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people. By honoring those who have worked successfully toward this goal, The Prize calls attention to what has been done to improve global food security and to what can be accomplished in the future.
Even US Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated the Monsanto and Syngenta “laureates,” when the prizes were announced earlier this summer:
More at the link