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ever increasing pressure on food supplies

  1. United States The last time America's grain silos were so empty was in the early seventies, when the Soviet Union bought much of the harvest. Washington is telling the World Food Programme it is facing a 40% increase in food commodity prices compared with last year, and higher fuel bills to transport it, so the US, the biggest single food aid contributor, will radically cut the amount it gives away.

  2. Morocco 34 people jailed this month for taking part in riots over food prices.

  3. Egypt The world's largest importer of wheat has been hard hit by the global price rises, and most of the increase will be absorbed in increased subsidies. The government has also had to relax the rules on who is eligible for food aid, adding an extra 10.5 million people.

  4. Eritrea It could be one of the states hardest hit in Africa because of its reliance on imports. The price rises will hit urban populations not previously thought vulnerable to a lack of food.

  5. Zimbabwe With annual inflation of 100,000% and unemployment at 80%, price increases on staples can only worsen the severe food shortages.

  6. Yemen Prices of bread and other staples have nearly doubled in the past four months, sparking riots in which at least a dozen people were killed.

  7. Russia The government struck a deal with producers last year to freeze the price of milk, eggs, vegetable oil, bread and kefir (a fermented milk drink). The freeze was due to last until the end of January but was extended for another three months.

  8. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has asked the WFP to feed an extra 2.5 million people, who are now in danger of malnutrition as a result of a harsh winter and the effect of high world prices in a country that is heavily dependent on imports.

  9. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf announced this month that Pakistan would be going back to ration cards for the first time since the 1980s, after the sharp increase in the price of staples. These will help the poor (nearly half the population) buy subsidised flour, wheat, sugar, pulses and cooking fat from state-owned outlets.

  10. India The government will spend 250bn rupees on food security. India is the world's second biggest wheat producer but bought 5.5m tonnes in 2006, and 1.8m tonnes last year, driving up world prices. It has banned the export of all forms of rice other than luxury basmati.

  11. China Unusually severe blizzards have dramatically cut agricultural production and sent prices for food staples soaring. The overall food inflation rate is 18.2%. The cost of pork has increased by more than half. The cost of food was rising fast even before the bad weather moved in, as an increasingly prosperous population began to demand as staples agricultural products previously seen as luxuries. The government has increased taxes and imposed quotas on food exports, while removing duties on food imports.

  12. Thailand The government is planning to freeze prices of rice, cooking oil and noodles.

  13. Malaysia and the Philippines Malaysia is planning strategic stockpiles of the country's staples. Meanwhile the Philippines has made an unusual plea to Vietnam to guarantee its rice supplies. Imports were previously left to the global market.

  14. Indonesia Food price rises have triggered protests and the government has had to increase its food subsidies by over a third to contain public anger.

related material
land conservation and food production

the web address for the article above is




it’s obvious the planet is too big for humans to have much effect

Keep on treating the planet as a dustbin....
dump the muck in the oceans....
dump it in the air....
dump it in the rivers....

no-one will notice.

The ocean pollution map incorporated into Google Earth.
The ocean pollution map incorporated into Google Earth.
The deeper the red, the greater the stress or impact.

“Only about 4% of the world's oceans remain undamaged by human activity, according to the first detailed global map of human impacts on the seas.” [Quoted from bbc.co.uk]

Ocean pollution around Europe.
Ocean pollution around Europe.
Note the high pollution in the shipping lanes of the English Channel and the fishing and oil rig zones north of Scotland, as well as ‘hot spots’ near many major ports, high traffic zones and places little concerned about pollution

“Four years in the making, a groundbreaking new map of the state of the world's oceans was released today [15/02/2008], and its message is stark: Human activity has left a mark on nearly every square kilometer of sea, severely compromising ecosystems in more than 40% of waters.

“The map, presented here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (publisher of ScienceNOW)--and published tomorrow in Science--combines 17 anthropogenic stressors, including coastal runoff and pollution, warming water temperature due to human-induced climate change, oil rigs that damage the sea floor, and five different kinds of fishing. Hundreds of experts worked to weigh and compare the stressors, overlaying them on top of maps that the scientists built of various ecosystems, with data obtained from shipping maps, satellite imagery, and scientific buoys. Then marine scientists modeled how different ecosystems would be affected by the stressors, mapping so-called impact scores onto square-kilometer-sized parcels worldwide. The scores correspond to colored pixels on the new map.” [Quoted from sciencemag.org]

The 17 anthropogenic stressors are:

  • Artisanal Fishing
  • Demersal Destructive Fishing
  • Demersal Non-Destructive, High-Bycatch Fishing
  • Demersal Non-Destructive, Low-Bycatch Fishing
  • Inorganic Pollution
  • Invasive Species
  • Nutrient Input
  • Ocean Acidification
  • Benthic Structures (Oil Rigs)
  • Organic Pollution
  • Pelagic High-Bycatch Fishing
  • Pelagic Low-Bycatch Fishing
  • Ocean-Based Pollution
  • Population Pressure
  • Commercial Activity (Shipping)
  • Climate Change (SST)
  • Climate Change (UV)

Pollution in the ocean to the east of the USA.
Pollution in the ocean to the east of the USA.
Note, Iceland and the UK to top right.

The 14 distinct marine ecosystems studied are:

  • Beach
  • Coral Reefs
  • Rocky Reef
  • Hard Shelf
  • Hard Slope
  • Deep hard Bottom
  • Intertidal Mud
  • Kelp
  • Mangroves
  • Surface Waters
  • Deep Waters
  • Rocky Intertidal
  • Sub-tidal Soft Bottom
  • Soft Shelf
  • Soft Slope
  • Deep Soft Benthic
  • Salt Marsh
  • Seagrass
  • Seamounts
  • Suspension-Feeder Reef

Pollution in the seas around south-east Asia.
Pollution in the seas around south-east Asia.

[All illustrations from Marine Impacts KML viewed in Google Earth.
To use the KML file linked above,
first download and install the Google Earth program [12.79Mb] on your computer.
Then click on the KML link and either “Open with Google Earth”,
or “Save To Disk”, saving to your computer to open in Google Earth later.
This information to be developed in detail.]

related material
anthropogenic global warming, and ocean acidity

the web address for the article above is

wheat prices near quadruple in two years

graph showing the rise of wheat prices. Source: Bloomberg

“The highest wheat price in U.S. history - more than $15 a bushel - was reached Thursday in Minneapolis as a trading frenzy inflames the grain markets, fans fears of spiking food costs and revives worries about food shortages.

“With wheat stockpiles dwindling, a worldwide scramble is under way for bushels of high-protein spring wheat, the variety grown in Minnesota and the Dakotas and traded at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. Already, spring wheat prices have tripled in the past year and are poised to move even higher.” [Quoted from twincities.com]

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“Wheat prices may rise further because Farmers India, the world's second-biggest grower, may harvest a smaller crop after dry weather delayed planting.

“The crop may decline 5 percent to as low as 72 million metric tons in the March-April harvest from 75.8 million tons a year earlier, S. Pramod Kumar, president of Karnataka Roller Flour Mills Association, said yesterday. That's less than the government estimate of 74.8 million tons.” [Quoted from bloomberg.com]

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“Wheat surged to a record in Chicago, leading other grains and oilseeds higher, on shrinking U.S. and Canadian supplies of high-protein varieties used for bread and pasta.

“Canada, the largest wheat exporter after the U.S., said yesterday its inventories of the grain plunged by almost a third after adverse weather hurt crops. U.S. spring-wheat inventories will total 88 million bushels on May 31, down 25 percent from a year earlier, according to government forecasts.” [Quoted from bloomberg.com]

related material
land conservation and food production

the web address for the article above is

trees versus pv panels

Redwoods shading a solar panel in California. Credit: San Jose Mercury News“Sunnyvale homeowners told to cut redwoods that block solar panels


“ "On average, a tree only sequesters 14 pounds of carbon dioxide a year and a solar electric system offsets that every two or three days," he said.

“ [...] His 10-kilowatt solar system, which he installed in 2001, is so big he pays only about $60 a year in electrical bills[...] ”

“a solar electric system” is not defined in this new report. They may mean this particular system, they may mean the shaded array, or they may not!

Keep in mind that a 10kw unit will not produce at night, and will not produce 10kw all day or in cloudy conditions.

related material
Photovoltaics (solar cells)

the web address for the article above is

some environment ‘reports’ this day

Increased antarctic melt rate

“Using satellites to monitor most of Antarctica's coastline, the scientists estimate that West Antarctica lost 132 billion tonnes of ice in 2006, compared to about 83 billion tonnes in 1996. The Antarctic Peninsula, which stretches toward South America, lost about 60 billion tonnes in 2006.—

related material
antarctica melting ice, sea levels, water and weather implications

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biotech push drought-resistant crops

“Two years ago, drought ate into corn production in France and Spain so severely that analysts pegged it as the worst in fifty years.

“US corn production was down 5 percent because of drought in 2006.

“In Australia, where drought has persistent since 2002, some wheat farmers last year reported failing to harvest a crop for the first time in 40 years.

“And in Argentina, which grows about 22 million tonnes of corn a year, drought has delayed planting of the current crop.”

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large corps start to free up ecology-related patents

“International Business Machines Corp, Pitney Bowes Inc and other major companies will allow free use of 31 patents designed to reduce pollution, the pro-ecology World Business Council for Sustainable Development announced on Monday.

“IBM, which is spearheading the plan, is donating 27 patents to the Eco-Patent Commons, which will be maintained by the World Business Council.”

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special eco courts to open in the philippines

“The Philippine Supreme Court will designate special courts to speed up a backlog of environmental cases and ensure polluters are penalised for breaking the law, a spokesman confirmed on Monday.

“Manila's decision came as experts from the Asia-Pacific region began a conference in Bangkok aimed at improving enforcement of environment laws.

“Illegal mining, logging and overfishing are serious problems in the Philippines but few violators are punished either because they pay off officials or because overworked judges tend to prioritise civil and criminal cases over environmental disputes.”

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Plenty more at this increasingly useful source.

the web address for the article above is

mass extinction of frogs threatened

Fire salamander“Scientists fear the largest mass extinction since the disappearance of the dinosaurs because of a deadly virus which is sweeping through populations of frogs, toads, newts, salamanders and caecilians across the globe.

“Amphibians have thrived for hundreds of millions of years but as many as half of all species could perish unless a solution is found. The spread of the parasitic fungus amphibian chytrid, which has proved deadly for hundreds of amphibian species, may have been made worse by the effects of global warming. The disease has so far proved unstoppable in the wild and can kill 80 per cent of native amphibians within months once it has taken hold.”

“In addition to their intrinsic value, they offer many benefits and are a critical part of a healthy world. They play an important role in the food web as both predator and prey, eating insects which benefits agriculture and minimizes disease spread. Their skin also has substances that protect them from some microbes and viruses, offering promising medical cures for a variety of human diseases.”

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the nature of extinction

When a species is heavily reduced, they are much more vulnerable to small changes. The prey of birds and frogs may expand greatly, or the raptors may run out of food.


the web address for the article above is

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