Aid Projects, Community Projects, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Structure, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Miles Durand June 20, 2013
Miles Durand (right), in Lesotho
Lesotho is a small, mountainous country in Southern Africa. There has been an alarming two third reduction in its food production since colonial times. The signs and causes are self-evident and can be seen on the landscape and within the population. There is an urgent need to move the existing agriculture, in decline, to one of ascendancy in food production, and return the soil to good health and fertility. Many of the ingredients needed for this transformation are located within the country and its neighbour of South Africa. And within the world wide sustainable / conservation agriculture community, accessible on the internet is all the knowledge, information and technology needed to make it happen.Comments (2)
Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Society — by George Monbiot June 18, 2013
Who do Bono and the ONE campaign really represent: the very poor or the very rich?
It was bad enough in 2005. Then, at the G8 summit in Scotland, Bono and Bob Geldof heaped praise on Tony Blair and George Bush, who were still mired in the butchery they had initiated in Iraq(1,2,3). At one point Geldof appeared, literally and figuratively, to be sitting in Tony Blair’s lap. African activists accused them of drowning out a campaign for global justice with a campaign for charity.
But this is worse. As the UK chairs the G8 summit again, a campaign that Bono founded, with which Geldof works closely(4), appears to be whitewashing the G8’s policies in Africa.
Last week I drew attention to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched in the US when it chaired the G8 meeting last year(5). The alliance is pushing African countries into agreements which allow foreign companies to grab their land, patent their seeds and monopolise their food markets. Ignoring the voices of their own people, six African governments have struck deals with companies such as Monsanto, Cargill, Dupont, Syngenta, Nestlé and Unilever, in return for promises of aid by the UK and other G8 nations.Comments (3)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Earth Policy Institute June 14, 2013
Janet Larsen and J. Matthew Roney, Earth Policy Institute
The world quietly reached a milestone in the evolution of the human diet in 2011. For the first time in modern history, world farmed fish production topped beef production. The gap widened in 2012, with output from fish farming—also called aquaculture—reaching a record 66 million tons, compared with production of beef at 63 million tons. And 2013 may well be the first year that people eat more fish raised on farms than caught in the wild. More than just a crossing of lines, these trends illustrate the latest stage in a historic shift in food production—a shift that at its core is a story of natural limits.
As the global demand for animal protein grew more than fivefold over the second half of the twentieth century, humans began to press against the productivity constraints of the world’s rangelands and oceans. Annual beef production climbed from 19 million tons in 1950 to more than 50 million tons in the late 1980s. Over the same period, the wild fish catch ballooned from 17 million tons to close to 90 million tons. But since the late 1980s, the growth in beef production has slowed, and the reported wild fish catch has remained essentially flat. (See Excel data.)Comments (2)
Biofuels, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Society — by George Monbiot June 11, 2013
Under the pretext of preventing hunger, the rich nations are engineering a new scramble for Africa.
One of the stated purposes of the Conference of Berlin in 1884 was to save the people of Africa from the slave trade. To discharge this grave responsibility, the European powers discovered, to their undoubted distress, that they would have to extend their control and ownership of large parts of Africa.
In doing so, they accidentally encountered the vast riches of that continent, which had not in any way figured in their calculations, and found themselves in astonished possession of land, gold, diamonds and ivory. They also discovered that they were able to enlist the labour of a large number of Africans, who, for humanitarian reasons, were best treated as slaves.Comments (1)
Aid Projects, Biodiversity, Community Projects, Food Shortages, Health & Disease, Rehabilitation, Salination, Soil Biology, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Structure, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Tejal Heblekar June 6, 2013
A non-profit teaches a soil education program to combat the farmer suicide epidemic in rural India.
By Tejal Heblekar, and edited by Eileen Mello
A few kilometers from the Bay of Bengal in the Indian state of Orissa, rural farmers have gathered around a microscope to see what lies hidden in the ground. The Hummingbird Project, an American based non-profit organization, has equipped a soil laboratory with a microscope and resources for visiting farmers to test the quality of their farm’s soil and learn specific organic methods for improving its health. Farmers are eager to use the lab resources to test their samples and excitedly look from the microscope to the computer, watching the enhanced images of microbes moving throughout the soil. Proud chemical farmers are shocked to discover their samples — white and chalky with synthetic fertilizer salts and residues and reeking like chemicals — have no biodiversity like that found in samples from farms employing organic techniques.Comments (3)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Deforestation, Desertification, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Population, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Joel Dunn May 31, 2013
Genetically modified crops are hailed by their proponents as the basis for a “new green revolution”, and as the key solution to feeding the world in the face of population growth and the exhaustion of new sources of agricultural land. There is a massive volume of research and research literature around genetically modified crops, but how much of it is really of value in assessing this often heard hypothesis about “GM is needed to feed the world?”Comments (1)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, Food Shortages, Society — by Stefan Boone April 29, 2013
Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is.Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Desertification, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor April 23, 2013
John D. Liu of the EEMP, who has partnered with us in spreading the permaculture message, has created yet another excellent documentary — this time focussing on drylands, their past function and their present dysfunction through a broadscale loss of forest cover, and its impact on soil loss and on the hydrological cycle.
In this video we travel vicariously with John as he takes us from Jordan to Africa to Asia and the Americas, showing us both degradation and restoration — and sharing the inspirational message we all need to hear: that we can undo the damage we’ve inflicted on planet earth, our home.Comments (3)
Biofuels, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change — by Earth Policy Institute April 12, 2013
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
The world is in transition from an era of food abundance to one of scarcity. Over the last decade, world grain reserves have fallen by one third. World food prices have more than doubled, triggering a worldwide land rush and ushering in a new geopolitics of food. Food is the new oil. Land is the new gold. 1
The abrupt rise in world grain prices between 2007 and 2008 left more people hungry than at any time in history. It also spawned numerous food protests and riots. In Thailand, rice was so valuable that farmers took to guarding their ripened fields at night. In Egypt, fights in the long lines for state-subsidized bread led to six deaths. In poverty-stricken Haiti, days of rioting left five people dead and forced the Prime Minister to resign. In Mexico, the government was alarmed when huge crowds of tortilla protestors took to the streets. 2
After the doubling of world grain prices between 2007 and mid-2008, prices dropped somewhat during the recession, but this was short-lived. Three years later, high food prices helped fuel the Arab Spring. 3Comments (0)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Rhamis Kent February 13, 2013
A student I had recently in my short course in California sent me a link to an award-winning NGO working in Haiti called SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods) — a nonprofit working within the country performing truly beneficial work, utilizing compost toilets to deal with the perennial problem of waste management.
In the following clip SOIL’s Co-Founder & Executive Director, Dr. Sasha Kramer, provides an excellent, well-contextualized explanation of her organization’s work as well as the legacy of ecological & environmental degradation (and its corresponding effects on impacted human populations) often missing from discussions about colonial history:
Further Reading:Comments (1)
Biofuels, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Population, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Earth Policy Institute February 8, 2013
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
The world is in transition from an era of food abundance to one of scarcity. Over the last decade, world grain reserves have fallen by one third. World food prices have more than doubled, triggering a worldwide land rush and ushering in a new geopolitics of food. Food is the new oil. Land is the new gold.
This new era is one of rising food prices and spreading hunger. On the demand side of the food equation, population growth, rising affluence, and the conversion of food into fuel for cars are combining to raise consumption by record amounts. On the supply side, extreme soil erosion, growing water shortages, and the earth’s rising temperature are making it more difficult to expand production. Unless we can reverse such trends, food prices will continue to rise and hunger will continue to spread, eventually bringing down our social system. Can we reverse these trends in time? Or is food the weak link in our early twenty-first-century civilization, much as it was in so many of the earlier civilizations whose archeological sites we now study?Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Economics, Fish, Food Shortages — by Earth Policy Institute February 4, 2013
by J. Matthew Roney, Earth Policy Institute
The fish near the bottom of the aquatic food chain are often overlooked, but they are vital to healthy oceans and estuaries. Collectively known as forage fish, these species—including sardines, anchovies, herrings, and shrimp-like crustaceans called krill—feed on plankton and become food themselves for larger fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. Historically, people have eaten many of these fish, too, of course. But as demand for animal protein has soared over the last half-century, more and more forage fish have been caught to feed livestock and farmed fish instead of being eaten by people directly. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that current fishing levels are dangerously high—both for the forage fish themselves and for the predators and industries that depend on them.Comments (1)
Ladbroke’s is offering odds on fish populations collapsing; the government is shortening them.
I’ve come across some odd ways to make a living, but few as strange as this. The gambling company Ladbrokes has been offering odds on the conservation status of various fish species. Until last night it was taking bets on mackerel; recently it has encouraged people to punt on the survival prospects of stocks of yellow fin tuna, swordfish and haddock. You can, if you wish, gamble on extinction.
It’ll be a while before I put my money on the recovery of any species in British waters.Comments (2)
Food Shortages, Population, peak oil — by Paul Chefurka February 2, 2013
The linkage is this tight:
In this graph "grain" is the world’s annual production of rice, wheat and corn, "oil" is the global production of all petroleum liquids, and people are people. I normalized the numbers so that they all start off from an index of 100 in 1985. This is a standard technique that makes the relationship between the three elements visible.
It’s obvious at a glance that food, oil and population are tightly related, but the nature of their relationship is open to interpretation. If you were an economist you could say that as the number of people grows, we go out and grow more food and find more oil to meet our growing needs. Conversely if you were an ecologist you might say that increasing supplies of oil and food allow our population to grow. Or you could say (as I do) that they all exist in a complex feedback loop.Comments (14)
Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change — by Zaia Kendall February 1, 2013
Editor’s Note: The PRI Sunshine Coast starts their next Internship on February 11, 2013. Get in quick!
After being flooded in again recently (an at least once a year occurrence), this time with PDC students and volunteers on the property, we are very happy we are somewhat prepared….
by PRI Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
Our road floods on both sides of our property
Disaster is a word that strikes fear into most people. We usually believe disaster is out of our control. The actual happening of the disaster may be out of our control, but how we deal with it and how we come out the other end, is fully in our control. Last weekend we had a major rain event here, from an ex-tropical cyclone swooping through the region. Wind pushed trees over and there was major flooding in this and other areas. We were flooded in for two days.Comments (3)