Facebook Twitter



Despite climate change, Africa can feed Africa

March 3rd, 2014 | Add a Comment

Despite climate change, Africa can feed Africa
See: http://vibeghana.com/2014/02/28/despite-climate-change-africa-can-feed-africa/

Climate change comes with never-before-experienced impacts. For example, crop yields and growing seasons will decrease even as changing rain patterns will worsen people’s access to water. Yet Africa’s population is projected to reach 2 billion in less than 37 years, and in 86 years three out of every four people added to the planet will be African.

Decreasing crop yields and increasing population will put additional pressure on an already fragile food production system. That is why experts have warned that if the current situation persists, Africa will be fulfilling only 13% of its food needs by 2050. This situation will further threaten about 65% of African workers who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods including children and the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity.

Hunger already affects about 240 million Africans daily. By 2050, even a change of about 1.2 to 1.9 degrees Celsius will have increased the number of the continent’s undernourished by 25% to 95% (central Africa +25%, East Africa +50%, Southern Africa +85% and West Africa +95%). The situation will be dire for children who need proper nourishment to succeed in their education. The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has estimated that African countries could lose between 2% and 16% of gross domestic product due to stunting of children as a result of malnutrition.

See: http://vibeghana.com/2014/02/28/despite-climate-change-africa-can-feed-africa/

Okotoks Madness Continues: Growth the focus as population cap lifted

March 3rd, 2014 | Add a Comment

Growth the focus as population cap lifted
BY ALEX FRAZER-HARRISON, CALGARY HERALD FEBRUARY 26, 2014
See: http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/Growth+focus+population+lifted/9554702/story.html

A year and a half after dropping its population cap, the town of Okotoks is in growth mode and preparing for decades of future development.

In the fall of 2012, the Town of Okotoks transitioned from a “finite growth model” to a “continuous growth model,” explains economic development team leader Shane Olson.

“For us, we’re very much at the crossroads of planning,” Olson says of the time since the change.

“It’s very much about developing our … economic development plan for the next four years and how do we get more investment attraction and business development. Town council is beefing up the economic development department this year.”

By adding resources to his team, Olson says the hope is to target sectors such as technology, professional services, knowledge-based industries and even perhaps entice corporate headquarters to relocate to the town just south of Calgary.

Development has eaten up most of the available land within town boundaries, with only about two years’ worth left. Now, the town is negotiating in hopes of annexing 2,136 hectares (5,280 acres) from the surrounding M.D. of Foothills.

See:  http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/Growth+focus+population+lifted/9554702/story.html

Humanity’s Gamble

March 3rd, 2014 | Add a Comment

HUMANITY’S GAMBLE
Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich

Humanity is taking a gigantic gamble in assuming it can feed and support as many as 9.7 billion people in 2050, a third more than exist today, without revolutionary changes in behavior. The world community is betting that climate disruption will not prevent continuing increases in yields of grains and soybeans and, combined with ocean acidification, not reduce fisheries productivity. It is betting that, in the face of climate disruption, changes in infrastructure and other measures will prevent further deterioration of water security, especially in critical access to water for irrigation. It is betting that the food system, heavily dependent on oil and itself producer of roughly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, can make a substantial start on kicking both habits. It is betting that the need for more food will not prevent society from undertaking a serious commitment towards global atmospheric decarbonization. It is betting that the energy-intensive and highly polluting Haber-Bosch process can continue to keep nitrogen levels in agricultural systems adequate and to a large degree replace sound soil husbandry, even while reducing the deleterious effects of overfertilization runoff on ocean and freshwater productivity. It is betting that the geopolitical problems surrounding the world’s available supplies of phosphorous for fertilizer, especially battles over Western Sahara, will be solved. It is betting that integrated pest management can safely and effectively replace both the pest-control service of winter in midlatitudes as the global annual temperature rises, and the pest-control services of birds, bats, and predacious insects as their populations decline in the great sixth extinction episode now well under way.

That’s far from the last of the bets. Humanity is also betting that, especially for the variety and nutritional quality of food, pollination services will be maintained despite the biodiversity crisis. It is betting that the ‘genetic insurance’ provided by the wild relatives and indigenous cultivars of food crops will not be eroded or eliminated from the countryside and remaining wildlands by the drivers of global environmental change operating in synergy. It is betting that the growing demand for meat and bio-fuels will not greatly reduce the access of the poor to grains. And perhaps most important, it is betting that people will find the jobs that will provide the income to purchase what food is available.

At the moment this looks like a very bad series of bets, especially since close to a billion people are already hungry and more than that are malnourished. Losing several of the bets could easily result in many deaths and great hardship, or even in some combination of mass starvation, epidemics, and warfare (possibly nuclear), leading to a general breakdown.

The odds of avoiding a collapse could be improved if society launched a coordinated effort to stop expanding land under agriculture (to preserve natural ecosystem services); increase yields where possible; revise the industrial agriculture system to make it more ecologically sound, place much more emphasis on soil conservation and increase the efficiency of fertilizer, water and energy use; become more vegetarian; reduce food wastage; stop overfishing and changing the chemistry of the oceans; greatly enlarge investment in, and dramatically change the direction of, agricultural research and development; educate all about how the human food system works, and move proper nutrition for all to the top of the global policy agenda. It is a large order.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jonathon Porritt — Population: Still the Big Taboo

February 27th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Population: Still the Big Taboo

See: http://www.jonathonporritt.com/blog/population-still-big-taboo

I’ve been pre-occupied with the overlap between population and the environment ever since I read the Ecologist’s ‘Blueprint for Survival’ in the early 1970s. I’ve campaigned assiduously for progressive family planning programmes since that time on, just as I have for environmental and social justice issues. It’s always been a no-bloody-brainer that the two go hand in hand.

That’s not the case for the majority of people in the environment movement. For most of the big NGOs in the UK, population has either been completely off-limits or grudgingly acknowledged as an important area of concern but not one in which they feel any need to get actively involved. Throughout that time, the intellectual and moral disconnect has, for me, been startling. And it still is.

A few months ago, as a Patron of Population Matters, I teamed up with my good friend Robin Maynard (who is as baffled by this disconnect as I am) to invite the eight leading environmental NGOs in the UK to review their position. Guided by the headline conclusion from the Royal Society’s ground-breaking ‘People and Planet’ Report in 2012 (“Population and the environment should not be considered as two separate issues”), we asked them whether they would be prepared to commit to the following six actions:

Accept and promote the findings of the Royal Society’s People and Planet Report that population and consumption must be considered as indivisible, linked issues;

Acknowledge publicly and actively communicate the crucial relevance of population to your organisation’s mission and objectives;
Support and advocate the principle of universal access to safe, affordable family planning for all women throughout the world;

Read the rest of this entry »

Pope Francis faces church divided over doctrine, global poll of Catholics finds

February 26th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Pope Francis faces church divided over doctrine, global poll of Catholics finds
See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/pope-francis-faces-church-divided-over-doctrine-global-poll-of-catholics-finds/2014/02/08/e90ecef4-8f89-11e3-b227-12a45d109e03_story.html

Most Catholics worldwide disagree with church teachings on divorce, abortion and contraception and are split on whether women and married men should become priests, according to a large new poll released Sunday and commissioned by the U.S. Spanish-language network Univision. On the topic of gay marriage, two-thirds of Catholics polled agree with church leaders.

Overall, however, the poll of more than 12,000 Catholics in 12 countries reveals a church dramatically divided: Between the developing world in Africa and Asia, which hews closely to doctrine on these issues, and Western countries in Europe, North America and parts of Latin America, which strongly support practices that the church teaches are immoral.

The widespread disagreement with Catholic doctrine on abortion and contraception and the hemispheric chasm lay bare the challenge for Pope Francis’s year-old papacy and the unity it has engendered.

See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/pope-francis-faces-church-divided-over-doctrine-global-poll-of-catholics-finds/2014/02/08/e90ecef4-8f89-11e3-b227-12a45d109e03_story.html

Drought beginning to change how people think about growth in the Sacramento region

February 26th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Drought beginning to change how people think about growth in the Sacramento region
See: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/02/23/6181571/the-sacramento-region-plans-to.html

More people are coming. More water probably isn’t.

Sacramento area leaders are planning for hundreds of thousands of new homes in the coming decades, pegging the region’s economic growth to population growth and new housing starts. Those new residents – along with their houses and lawns – could gulp 50 billion additional gallons of water per year by 2035, if population projections hold and if they consume in the same manner as current residents.

At the same time, California and the Sacramento region are gripped by historic drought. Water districts around the region are calling for residents and businesses to cut water use by at least 20 percent. Farmers throughout the Central Valley are fallowing fields and drawing down groundwater stores because the state and federal water systems that distribute surface water in California have none to send. Folsom Lake, one of the region’s primary reservoirs, is so low that some water agencies say they may not have enough water to meet typical demand come summer.

So how can the region add hundreds of thousands of people without adding more water? And does the state’s water crisis factor into the discussions as cities and counties surge forward with new development?

Local officials are charged under state law with determining whether new subdivisions have an adequate and reliable water supply. But those conversations traditionally have taken a relaxed tone in the Sacramento region, which sits at the confluence of two major rivers, the American and the Sacramento.

“In the past, the basic stance of the average developer and average water provider has been, ‘There’s plenty of water out there,’ ” said Mike McKeever, chief executive officer for the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, a regionwide planning agency. “At the moment, that premise seems like it’s almost certainly false.”

See: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/02/23/6181571/the-sacramento-region-plans-to.html

The Math That Predicted The Revolutions Sweeping The Globe Right Now

February 26th, 2014 | Add a Comment

The Math That Predicted The Revolutions Sweeping The Globe Right Now
See: http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/a-complex-systems-model-predicted-the-revolutions-sweeping-the-globe-right

It’s happening in Ukraine, Venezuela, Thailand, Bosnia, Syria, and beyond. Revolutions, unrest, and riots are sweeping the globe. The near-simultaneous eruption of violent protest can seem random and chaotic; inevitable symptoms of an unstable world. But there’s at least one common thread between the disparate nations, cultures, and people in conflict, one element that has demonstrably proven to make these uprisings more likely: high global food prices.

Just over a year ago, complex systems theorists at the New England Complex Systems Institute warned us that if food prices continued to climb, so too would the likelihood that there would be riotsacross the globe. Sure enough, we’re seeing them now. The paper’s author, Yaneer Bar-Yam, charted the rise in the FAO food price index-a measure the UN uses to map the cost of food over time-and found that whenever it rose above 210, riots broke out worldwide. It happened in 2008 after the economic collapse, and again in 2011, when a Tunisian street vendor who could no longer feed his family set himself on fire in protest.

Bar-Yam built a model with the data, which then predicted that something like the Arab Spring would ensue just weeks before it did. Four days before Mohammed Bouazizi’s self-immolation helped ignite the revolution that would spread across the region, NECSI submitted a government report that highlighted the risk that rising food prices posed to global stability. Now, the model has once again proven prescient-2013 saw the third-highest food prices on record, and that’s when the seeds for the conflicts across the world were sewn.

See: http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/a-complex-systems-model-predicted-the-revolutions-sweeping-the-globe-right

PLANNING FAMILIES TO PROTECT THE FUTURE

February 26th, 2014 | Add a Comment

PLANNING FAMILIES TO PROTECT THE FUTURE
See: http://sierraclub.typepad.com/planet/2014/02/planning-families-to-protect-the-future.html

By the end of the century, scientists expect the global population to reach nearly 11 billion. That’s almost four billion more people than are alive right now.

When you think about population growth, it’s pretty easy to see how it can disturb the environment: more resources used, more energy produced, more housing needed, more food consumed, etc. Over one billion people currently live in biodiversity hotspots, and that number is rapidly increasing.

But what you may not think about is how much of a positive effect family planning can have on the environment and women’s health.

Groups like the Sierra Club and Population Action International (PAI) are actively working to integrate population, health, and environment (PHE) into government plans in the U.S. and around the world, especially in countries like Niger where the average woman has 7.03 children and the unmet need for family planning is high. To put that into perspective, if each woman alive today between the ages of 15 and 44 had 7.03 children–that’s roughly 1.6 billion women–they would have 11.3 billion children.

“When couples can plan the number, timing, and spacing of their children, that helps the environment and the economy,” said Beverly Johnson, chief of the Policy, Evaluation, and Communication Division of the USAID Office of Population and Reproductive Health.

See: http://sierraclub.typepad.com/planet/2014/02/planning-families-to-protect-the-future.html

Strain on resources: Practical measure urged to control population growth

February 26th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Strain on resources: Practical measure urged to control population growth
See: http://tribune.com.pk/story/674250/strain-on-resources-practical-measure-urged-to-control-population-growth/

Speakers have urged the government to take practical steps to control the growing population, which is putting a great strain on economy and resources.

They were speaking at a seminar titled “Demography and Health Survey of Pakistan” jointly organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and the National Institute of Population Studies (NIPS) here on Thursday.

Speakers urged stakeholders and healthcare providers to take the issue seriously, otherwise it will wreak havoc in the future. They also expressed serious concern over indicators of child mortality and fertility rates, alarming and highest in the region.

NIPS Project Director Tanveer Kiyani gave a presentation on PDHS 2012-13 survey that provides data for monitoring the population and the health situation in Pakistan with an explicit goal of providing reliable information about maternal and child health and family planning.

NIPS Executive Director Abdul Basit Khan said, “In Pakistan, high population growth is a huge threat to food security.” He said that the growing population was a vast subject and the government should decide what it has to do to tackle it within the limited resources.

See: http://tribune.com.pk/story/674250/strain-on-resources-practical-measure-urged-to-control-population-growth/

IBM to set system to monitor Bangalore water supply

February 26th, 2014 | Add a Comment

IBM to set system to monitor Bangalore water supply
See: http://my.news.yahoo.com/ibm-set-system-monitor-bangalore-water-supply-181004922–finance.html

Bangalore, Feb 20 (IANS) Global IT major IBM’s big data and predictive analytics will create systems to monitor and manage water supply in Bangalore by the state-run Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB).

“Our intelligent operations centre-based solution, developed at our India software lab, has the GIS (geo information system) for real-time view of flow meters across the city and identify a specific flow meter,” the company said in a statement here Thursday.

As the city’s main source of water are the Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers in the Mysore region, the doubling of its population to 10 million from 5.4 million in 2000 has put the city’s water supply and distribution system to tremendous strain.

See: http://my.news.yahoo.com/ibm-set-system-monitor-bangalore-water-supply-181004922–finance.html