Monday, December 30, 2013
In 2013, Earth Policy Institute's researchers investigated a broad range of topics. For instance, over the 4th of July weekend the Guardian/Observer published “Peak Water: What Happens When the Wells Go Dry?” by Lester Brown. The editor accompanied this with his own article based on a conversation he’d had with Lester. It was entitled “Global threat to food supply as water wells dry up, warns top environment expert.”
The op-ed caught the attention of news organizations including Yahoo! News, the Hindu, the Free Republic, Shanghai News, and the Albuquerque Express. Meanwhile, the Institute released Lester’s piece as a Plan B Update to its public and media lists and sent targeted, personal emails to our list of agriculture reporters. We also mailed it to the state secretaries of agriculture.
This year World Food Day coincided with the official release date of Breaking New Ground. The research team released “10 Things to Know about Food.” The list was posted on major blogs including Treehugger, Grist, and Buzzfeed and was picked up by the Globalist, the Huffington Post, and Globe-net, and was even translated into Persian. It served as a good example of how the Institute’s material can be repackaged for an expanded audience.
Janet Larsen conducted a major research effort on bike-sharing. In one of the first reports of its kind, Janet took a global look at bike-sharing and found that today more than 500 cities in 49 countries host advanced bike-sharing programs, with a combined fleet of over 500,000 bicycles. Bike-sharing has come a long way since 1965, when fifty bicycles were painted white and scattered around Amsterdam for anyone to pick up and use free of charge. The piece was reposted on major blogs including Sustainablog, Grist, Treehugger, and the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia and was also reprinted in the Bicycle Times. Micheline Maynard cited it in her Forbes article “With San Francisco On Board, U.S. Bike Sharing Doubles” and the Economist shared some of the data in its October 12th print and online edition.
In June, Janet and Matt Roney collaborated on an Update titled “Farmed Fish Production Overtakes Beef.” For the first time in modern history, world farmed fish production topped beef production. The gap widened in 2012 with output from fish farming or 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. The piece received major attention in Canada where aquaculture plays a prominent role. It was also reposted on the Huffington Post and cited in a National Geographic blog.
Matt wrote a Data Highlight entitled “Wind Surpasses Nuclear in China.” Indeed, wind has overtaken nuclear as an electricity source in China. In 2012, wind farms generated 2 percent more electricity than nuclear power plants did, a gap that will likely widen dramatically over the next few years as wind surges ahead. This major new development was shared widely on social media and Matt eventually sat down with Mike Walter on China Central Television to discuss the decline of nuclear power.
Emily Adams’ Data Highlight “U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Down 11 Percent Since 2007” revealed that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels in the United States peaked in 2007 and have since fallen 11 percent, dropping to over 1.4 billion tons in 2013. The piece was reprinted in the National Journal and Emily was interviewed on the topic for ARD German TV. Emily also had speaking engagements at the Earth 2100 Conference put on by Our Task, the Washington Youth Summit for the Environment at George Mason University, and at the UNICEF International Development Conference at Georgetown University.
Throughout the year, news organizations interviewed researchers on various environmental issues. On the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day in April, Lester was interviewed on NPR’s Talk of the Nation and asked to explain what's changed since the first Earth Day in 1970, as concern about climate change and green energy have come to the forefront of the movement. Lester was also on The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann in October to discuss the release of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report, which he said should serve as a wake-up call.
Janet was interviewed for NPR’s food blog The Salt on the world's first in vitro burger. She concluded that it's far simpler to accelerate the reduction we're already seeing in meat consumption in the U.S. than wait for lab-grown beef. Janet was also asked to weigh in on the destruction of the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan on France 24 News.
Other subjects covered by Data Highlights included China’s rising soybean consumption, falling gasoline use, the U.S bike-share fleet more than doubling in 2013, and China’s growing meat consumption shown by the move to buy Smithfield. The research team also released six Eco-Economy Indicators on solar power, carbon emissions, wind power, ice melt, grain stocks, and global temperature.
The team’s PowerPoint presentations relating to Full Planet, Empty Plates have collectively been viewed online more than 30,000 times. EPI’s PowerPoint presentations and data continue to be some of the most downloaded items from the Institute’s website. (See a listing of all Institute releases.)
Reah Janise Kauffman
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
October and November were whirlwind months for Lester Brown as he was out and about promoting his autobiography, Breaking New Ground.
He started out with an event at Houston’s Progressive Forum on Sunday, October 6. Then, after a fun book party in DC, he headed to New York City where he spoke with Maggie Linton, host of Urban View, Sirius XM Radio and gave a luncheon address at the Friar’s Club sponsored by The Common Good. He also spoke at the Conrad Hilton Humanitarian symposium on peak water.
On October 24, Lester shared his life and vision at Rutgers University through a "fireside chat" with Joseph Seneca, Bloustein professor of environmental economics and policy.
He briefly touched down in the office before heading back on the road, this time stopping in Princeton, New Jersey, for an event sponsored by D&R Greenway. Our thanks to EPI board member Scott and Hella McVay for making this possible. Then he moved on to the Boston area where he gave presentations at the Cambridge Forum, Harvard University where he spoke on peak water, a breakfast hosted by the Environmental League of Massachusetts, and the Lexington Global Warming Action Coalition.
An interview with him has already been published in the Harvard Crimson.
At Harvard he had a chance to catch up with E.O. Wilson over lunch—and even tour Wilson’s famous ant collection. Our thanks to former EPI researcher Jignasha Rana for making this possible.
Next was a stop at some of the environmental hubs on the West Coast. First up was Vancouver, where Lester spoke to a rapt audience on the food situation at an event hosted by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Salt Spring Island was next, which was accessed by a float plane (see photo). Salt Spring Island is where EPI’s editor, Linda Starke, spends her summers and she helped organize the event at the Salt Spring Forum. The articulate and politically savvy audience pelted Lester with questions from GMOs to renewable energy to how to be a change-maker.
While on the island, Lester had a chance to catch up over lunch with Raffi Cavoukian, the children’s troubadour who also heads the Centre for Child Honoring. Raffi founded the Centre because he believes that when we truly honor our children, we will automatically make the right decisions for their future, which means providing an overall healthy environment now and for the future.
From there, Lester headed back to the States with an exceptionally well attended presentation at the Seattle Town Hall and equally enthusiastic audiences at talks sponsored by the World Affairs Councils of Portland and San Francisco.
One more talk remains for this year’s book tour. It will be Thursday, December 12 at the Free Library of Philadelphia beginning at 7:30 PM.
If you haven't already done so, Breaking New Ground, is a great read and is a terrific gift idea. We are offering the $24.95 book for $15.00. If you get your order in to us by December 20, you will have it in time for the holiday.
Cheers to all!
Reah Janise Kauffman
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