| EXCERPTS & ARTICLES...
FROM THE EARTH POLICY INSTITUTE
ECO-ECONOMY UPDATES & ALERTS
[ www.earth-policy.org ]
WORLD FOOD SECURITY DETERIORATING: Food Crunch in 2005 Now Likely
Lester R. Brown
Closing the gap in the world grain harvest this year following four consecutive grain harvest shortfalls, each larger than the one before, will not be easy. The grain shortfall of 105 million tons in 2003 is easily the largest on record, amounting to 5 percent of annual world consumption of 1,930 million tons. [Full Story]
WIND POWER SET TO BECOME WORLD'S LEADING ENERGY SOURCE
Lester R. Brown
In 1991, a national wind resource inventory taken by the U.S. Department of Energy startled the world when it reported that the three most wind-rich states--North Dakota, Kansas, and Texas--had enough harnessable wind energy to satisfy national electricity needs. Now a new study by a team of
engineers at Stanford reports that [...] Wind power can meet not only all U.S. electricity needs, but all U.S. energy needs. [Full Story]
AIR POLLUTION FATALITIES NOW EXCEED TRAFFIC FATALITIES BY 3 TO 1
The World Health Organization reports that 3 million people now die each year from the effects of air pollution. This is three times the 1 million who die each year in automobile accidents. A study published in The Lancet in 2000 concluded that air pollution in France, Austria, and Switzerland is responsible for more than 40,000 deaths annually in those three countries. About half of these deaths can be traced to air pollution from vehicle emissions. [Full Story]
SINK OR SWIM?
HOW TO DEAL WITH RISING SEA LEVELS
SDU 4/5, OCTOBER 2004
Coastal communities around the world are at the frontline of climate change with rising sea levels and changing weather patterns encroaching on their land. Should these communities act in an anticipatory manner or react to changes as they occur? And who should enforce and pay for these measures?
There is a growing need for a greater diversity of solutions addressing climate change due, not only to the variation of impacts at local levels, but also to the diversity in local stakeholders needs, resources and expectations. This will demand re-thinking of the top-down approaches imposed by many states and international development agencies... [Learn More]
HELP IN DRY REGIONS FOR FOOD SECURITY
SDU 3/6, DECEMBER 2003
In the coming 50 years food production will have to quadruple in dry regions in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia in order to feed the growing population. Harvesting of rainwater is a low-tech alternative solution to increase food production in dry areas with high rainfall variability.
Taking advantage of the vast amount of water that falls on land during heavy rainfall events is one of the most promising areas for increased food production in the dry tropics... [Learn More]
WAR & THE ENVIRONMENT
SDU 3/2, FEBRUARY 2003
The war may be won, now its time to win the peace. Rebuilding a country after a war is not only about reconstructing health services, roads, ports, airports and schools. It is also about cleaning up the environment and restoring damaged ecosystems to secure the future supply of natural resources and ecosystem services needed for filtering air and water, ensuring food supply, and providing erosion control and fertile soil. [Learn More]
TODAY'S HEADLINES FROM
ECOLOGICAL NEWS NETWORK
Excerpts from the
Peer-reviewed Online Publication
CONTRIBUTION OF INBREEDING SPECIES TO EXTINCTION RISK IN THREATENED SPECIES
Barry W. Brook, David W. Tonkyn, Julian J. O'Grady, and Richard Frankham
Wild populations face threats both from deterministic factors, e.g., habitat loss, overexploitation, pollution, and introduced species, and from stochastic events of a demographic, genetic, and environmental nature, including catastrophes. [Abstract]
A NEAR-EXTINCTION EVENT IN LYNX: DO MICROSATELLITE DATA TELL THE TALE?
Goran Spong & Linda Hellborg
This population was hunted to the brink of extinction, with fewer than 100 animals (one estimate was as low as 30 individuals) remaining in the late 1920s. Protection allowed recovery of the population, which currently numbers about 2000 adults. [Abstract]
EXTINCTION RISK IN SUCCESSIONAL LANDSCAPES SUBJECT TO CATASTROPHIC DISTURBANCES
David Boughton & Urmila Malvadkar
Landscape stochasticity increases the extinction risk to species by increasing the risk that the habitat will fluctuate to zero, by reducing the mean abundance of species, and by increasing the variance in species abundance. The highest risk was found to occur in species that inhabit patches with short lifetimes. The results of this general model suggest an important mechanism by which climate change threatens biodiversity: an increase in the frequency of extreme climate events will probably cause pulses of disturbance during some time periods; these in turn would cause wider fluctuations in annual disturbance rates and thus increase the overall level of landscape stochasticity. [Abstract]
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|IN THE NEWS...
PHILIPPINES SUSPENDS LOGGING AFTER 4 TYPHOONS KILL HUNDREDS
4 December 2004
Philippines pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has suspended logging, due to studies showing that legal and illegal overcutting of the nation's forests has worsened the impact of major storms. In the last 2 weeks, heavy rains, flooding and landslides have killed over 1,000 people. The Red Cross estimates that at least 800,000 people are in need of aid or shelter.
PHARMACEUTICALS DETECTED IN DRINKING WATER
25 May 2004
Pharmaceutical residue from human waste returns to the natural water systems, and despite chemical treatments, is often found in the supply of drinking water. "In Kansas City alone, more than 40 percent of stream samples analyzed recently by the U.S. Geological Survey had detectable amounts of over-the-counter-drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, antibiotics, and prescription medications for high blood pressure." [More...]
WRI OFFERS 6 ISSUES TO WATCH
22 December 2003
This morning, Jonathan Lash, President of the World Resources Institute, presented a list of 6 major environmental issues to watch in 2004. As current trends in economics, industry and international politics show environmental degradation ongoing, with no clear established governing authority to scale back pollution, pressures on the environment are likely to bring these issues to the fore in the coming year. [Full Story]
HUMANITY'S CLOSEST RELATIVES ON THE BRINK OF EXTINCTION
26 November 2003
The United Nations Environment Programme has issued a press release stating that the world community urgently needs to devote $25 million to rescue "the worlds remaining gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans" from extinction. The report specifies that $25 million is "the bare minimum" required to pursue this campaign of preservation of those species most closely related to human beings (homo sapiens sapiens). UNEP adds that "Every one of the great ape species is at high risk of extinction" and urges a devotion of moral and financial initiatives to preserving this link to our own evolutionary past, and by doing so to preserve and enhance our own humanity. [Full press release]
EPA TURNS OFF ENFORCEMENT
6 November 2003
The New York Times today featured a front page account of new rules changes at the Environmental Protection Agency. The rules changes, in line with current administration energy policies, will effectively end investigations into Clean Air Act violations at 50 power plants across the United States. The reported rules change would allow energy producers and refineries to upgrade their plants, even where it increases harmful emissions, without installing any pollution controls at all. The Times also reports that a "career E.P.A. enforcement lawyer" said the move was unprecedented and characterized the process as a decision "not
to enforce the law at all." [Full Story]
IS HUMANITY DEFINED BY OPPOSITION TO NATURE?
Of prime importance in attending to ecological sustainability is real and resilient diversity. Science does not yet know how to create ex-nihilo. All materials are derived from natural resources, however microscopic the beginnings. Our power to create and to innovate is only enhanced by diversity....
We did not emerge in a vacuum, and there is no evidence to suggest that humanity's best habitat would be an urban-desertified sphere peppered with wholly artificial agribusiness systems ('dumb' systems, or rather systems so monolithic in design as to serve no larger purpose [a deep economic flaw]). There is no evidence that anything other than the atmosphere whose existence gave rise to ours would support the human species over an extended period of time. [Full Essay]
LARGEST KNOWN POLLUTANT PHENOMENON
South Asia is gasping under a two mile thick cloud of toxic pollutants and carcinogens. This mega-smog is caused by industrial and automotive emissions, and is said to be killing half a million people a year. It is so vast that it is altering some of the most powerful, established weather systems on the planet. And its influence is not restricted to South Asia. It is estimated that the cloud is capable of reaching half-way around the globe at any given time, meaning that the Americas may be seeing environmental impact from this unfettered pollution... [Learn More]
LEFT, RIGHT, GREEN
Is ecology, the study of natural systems, informed by a will to protect the environment, strictly a "leftist" issue?
There are political involvements, inroads, backwaters and obstructions, but the issue itself is simply one of logic, sound science, and sustainable economic integrity. It is entrenched opposition to intelligent ecological policy that makes this very basic scientific field into a political hotzone. [Find out more...]
FEEDING THE BEAST:
ARE WE ADDICTED TO FOSSIL FUELS?
Taxpayer money is being used to increase funding for further dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear energy, even as demand among the public shifts to the need for alternative sources of energy... there have been efforts to double funding for fossil fuel research and development. HR 4, 107th Congress, was designed to increase such subsidies from an estimated $33 billion to an incredible $62 billion per year. [Learn More]
One of the most dire struggles in the new millennium is the use, distribution, cost and funding of clean, drinkable water. Wars are being fought, weapons are being developed, for the sole purpose of controlling the essential resource of life-sustaining water...
In the war-ravaged Republic of the Congo, as many as 94% of people may be without consistent access to safe drinking water, a figure high enough to pose a serious threat to any sort of political regime, or perhaps an opportunity for further brutality and oppression...
In the case of Bolivia, privatization led to riots, martial law, killings, and ultimately to the cancellation of the project. [Learn More]
A LESSON IN ECOLOGICAL AWARENESS
The famed and mysterious Easter Island, isolated in the southern Pacific, and detached from the surrounding sway of competing civilizations, saw its own unique culture thrive and then drive itself to the edge of extinction. It is now thought that the thriving market-oriented culture on Easter Island exceeded the "carrying capacity" of the surrounding ecosystem, as its inhabitants competed to achieve material gain over one another. This led to an ecological collapse which left the island far less capable of supporting an extensive human population. [Learn More]
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