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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

EPI Staff at the Green BallEPI had the pleasure of honoring President Obama at the Green Inaugural Ball on Sunday. The ball was an opportunity to bring together the broad environmental, conservation, and clean tech community to celebrate the past four years and look forward to the future. EPI was thrilled to be a member of the host committee, so we put on our Sunday best and braved the cold D.C. streets the night before inauguration.

The event took place on the seven floors of the Newseum in downtown Washington D.C. and featured performances by seven-time Grammy Award winner will.i.am, master trombonist Trombone Shorty, and soul singer Mayer Hawthorne with appearances by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, "Damages" actor Tate Donovan, "Breaking Bad's" Giancarlo Esposito, and Bill Nye "The Science Guy," a crowd favorite.Green Ball: Hadan & Reah Janise, Matt & Sarah, Bill & Janet, Emily & Steve

The highlight of the night though was a surprise appearance by Vice President Joe Biden. “I came to say thank you,” Biden said. “I also came to tell you what my green wish is: that we finally face up to climate change.” Little did we know that the President himself would reiterate the need to fix climate change the next day in his inaugural address.

Green Ball 2013: Steve, Reah Janise, Emily, Julianne, LauraAlong with the celebrity appearances, EPI staff enjoyed the elevator bars—that’s right bars in the elevators—where the event’s exclusive signature cocktail, the OM-bamGreen Ball: Julianne, Laura, and Lestera was served, appetizers by Wolfgang Puck, with 98% of the ingredients on the menu procured from within 300 miles, and the freedom to explore the exhibits of the Newseum. It was a truly unforgettable night for the staff, our families, and fellow environmentalists, and we are looking forward to what the next four years bring.

 

Best,

Julianne

Green Ball: The Whole Gang

 

p.s. There's a great Huffington Post article with their coverage of the event and more pictures.

 

 

Posted by julianne on 01/23 at 09:00 AM

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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Outreach is an essential part of the mission of the Earth Policy Institute (EPI). Our in-house team of two works to get EPI's research into the hands of those who can use it.
Swedish edition of World on the Edge
Publishing and Book Releases
Our books are the foundation for reaching a global constituency. Thus far our books have been published in 33 languages. Major languages (more than 50 million speakers) include English, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marathi (India), Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish, and Ukrainian. Other languages include Bulgarian, Catalan, Czech, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Esperanto, Greek, Hungarian, Malayalam, Norwegian, Romanian, Slovenian, Swedish, and Vietnamese for a total of 137 contracts.

Whenever possible Lester Brown likes to launch the various language editions. Early in 2012 he was inducted into the Kyoto Environmental Hall of Fame. While in Japan, he launched the Japanese edition of World on the Edge. From Japan, he flew to Beijing to launch the Chinese edition. In October he launched the Spanish edition in Colombia via video. And in late November, he launched the Dutch and Italian editions of Full Planet, Empty Plates. In addition to launching books, he spoke at a conference on energy hosted by the New York Times. Harvard University gave him their first Environmental Alumni Award. And the University of Maryland asked him to give the inaugural talk for a new environmental lecture series. He also spoke at the 40th anniversary event for the Club of Rome’s “limits to growth” and at a major food conference in Milan.

Media Outreach
We work closely with the world's major news organizations. Since we opened our doors in May 2001, we have generated over 46,000 news clips, about 17 each weekday. Institute researchers have given some 600 interviews for radio and television, including national and international networks such as ABC, NBC, Bloomberg, the BBC World Service, Voice of America, CNN International, Al Jazeera, CCTV (China), NHK TV (Japan).
Korean edition of World on the Edge
This year, we boldly entered the visual world by making a video summary of Full Planet, Empty Plates. This five-minute clip has been posted to the Institute website as well as on the sites for Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, W.W. Norton, and the many blogs where EPI usually posts research. Our international publishers are now beginning to post the video on their sites as well. We also are posting shorter clips on specific subjects from the book.

Plan B Teams
With the original Plan B, over 700 individuals bought a copy, read it, and then became personally engaged, buying 5, 10, 20, or even 50 or more copies for distribution to friends, colleagues, and political leaders. They became EPI’s Plan B Team. The release of Full Planet, Empty Plates swelled the number of team members to some 4,000. Some members purchase copies and then return to purchase more. Ted Turner is the de facto captain with his distribution of some 4,200 copies to the Fortune 500 CEOs, state governors, Congress, university presidents, heads of state, ministers of environment, ministers of energy, ministers of agriculture, heads of the major environmental NGOs, the major media outlets, and, perhaps most importantly, to each of the world’s billionaires.

Website
EPI incorporates Web 2.0 tools into its media outreach and communications marketing strategy to disseminate releases, data, and any information that the research team releases for the public. Included in these tools are blogs, RSS feeds, public and media listservs (containing some 14,321 and 1,813 addresses respectively), networking sites, podcasts, Twitter, and a micro-blogging site. This year also included the successful launch of EPI’s mobile website, designed specifically for mobile devices.
Chinese edition of World on the Edge
Twitter has become an essential tool for promoting events, releases, and our books. With 10 posts per week on average and around 125 followers added each month, we now have nearly 4,000 followers. Our Facebook Fan Page has also grown to some 6,000 fans. Our newest social media venture is Pinterest, a virtual bulletin board. On this visual site, we post photos of EPI’s books, graphs that accompany our releases, and videos. We are excited to see what this new venture brings.

Twitter and Facebook are consistently among the top referrals back to our website, along with international Google search engines and EPI’s Wikipedia page. When Googling for issues on which we work, EPI is often at the top of the list due in large measure to the over 275,000 links to our website. As to be expected, our publications and data are a major attraction. On average, EPI’s website has 24,000 unique visitors per day spending about 11 minutes per session.

We live-tweet our press conferences, providing an easily accessible channel for journalists. Prominent reporters and their affiliated news organizations repost EPI content, creating a multiplier effect. Notable reporters include David Roberts of Grist, who posts direct links to EPI’s website regularly, Anca Novacovici of the Huffington Post, and John Vidal of the Guardian. Other notables who retweet and re-post include Daryl Hannah, Sean Ono Lennon, Occupy Wall Street, Earth Business Network, Greenpeace USA, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, Sustainablog, and Treehugger.
Romanian edition of Full Planet, Empty Plates
Podcasts of our releases and book chapter introductions generate an average of 280 monthly downloads. The most downloaded podcasts in 2012 were the press teleconference for the release of Full Planet, Empty Plates, and the Update on meat consumption in China, and the Indicator on wind power. (Click here for our newest podcast.)

And last, through our blog, we give readers insight into the Institute beyond its research. For instance, in addition to the blogs on World Water Week and Rio+20, were ones on the completion of EPI’s mobile website and new shopping cart, Lester’s trip to Harvard to receive the first-ever Alumni Environmental Sustainability Award, how some people are working with Plan B, and Matt Roney’s graduation from Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Science degree.

We are grateful that our publications are regularly reposted, reprinted, excerpted, and otherwise distributed. Change requires information and we work to provide carefully researched information in ways that will inspire global change.

Sincerely,

Reah Janise Kauffman

 

Posted by Reah Janise on 01/08 at 02:32 PM

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

With the pressure of writing two books this year, Lester Brown has kept his travel to the bare minimum. Nevertheless, he managed a weeklong trip to Europe following Thanksgiving.

Dutch edition: Full Planet, Empty PlatesHis first stop was The Netherlands where he launched the Dutch edition of Full Planet, Empty Plates. The publisher, Maurits Groen, who owns an environmental consultancy, has been a fan of Lester’s work for some time. Recently Maurits’ company developed a solar lamp, called Waka Waka, to be used in Africa to replace the dangerous kerosene lamps used by many households in the developing areas. Lester also spoke at the Waterproof conference, focusing on the water-food-energy nexus.

Next stop was Brussels where Frank Schwalba-Hoth, former member of the Green Party, arranged an excellent program for Lester, which included speaking at the European Parliament. Lester spoke about the new geopolitics of food scarcity.Italian edition: Full Planet, Empty Plates

Finally Lester landed in Milan where he gave a keynote address at Barilla’s 4th Annual Forum on Food and Nutrition. The video is available on their website. (Go to the Nov 29 tab. There are 4 pages of videos. Lester’s is on the third page.) Following his keynote, he autographed copies of the Italian and English editions of Full Planet, Empty Plates and gave a presentation on the book.

Friday morning he spoke at the IULM University in Milan followed by an afternoon presentation at the University of Bologna. The Italian press interviewed Lester before he left on the trip and during. Our thanks to Barilla for inviting Lester to speak and to our publisher Edizioni Ambiente.

Next stop for Lester is a visit to his family for the holidays.

Happy Holidays to all!

Reah Janise Kauffman

Posted by Reah Janise on 12/26 at 08:00 AM

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In this spot, we often talk about happenings at Earth Policy other than our research. But at this time of the year, we wanted to give you a sense of what our research team has produced in 2012.

Full Planet, Empty PlatesTwo major activities have kept the research team hopping this year. The first centered on research for Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity, the book by Lester Brown that was released at a press teleconference on September 28, just two months after delivery to W.W. Norton & Company. Belying the book’s short page length (123 pages) is a mountain of data and resources supporting each fact, all of which have been posted on our website. The second major activity has been researching new Data Highlights, Plan B Updates, and Eco-Economy Indicators, along with Book Bytes, and two PowerPoint presentations summarizing Full Planet, Empty Plates.

The major theme of the book is that we are entering an era of food scarcity that is leading to intense competition for control of land and water resources—a new geopolitics of food. This new era is visible in dangerously low levels of grain stocks and the deepening of hunger, with some families resorting to scheduling foodless days each week. While some 3 billion increasingly affluent people are moving up the food chain, consuming more grain-intensive livestock and poultry products, climate change, water shortages, crop-shrinking heat waves, and the diversion of grain to fuel cars are making it more difficult for farmers to keep pace with demand.

The tightening grain situation has led many grain-importing countries to buy or lease large tracts of land in other countries to grow food for themselves, often in countries whose populations receive assistance from the U.N. World Food Programme. This onslaught of land acquisitions has now become a land rush as governments, agribusiness firms, and private investors seek control of land wherever they can find it. Many of the land deals are made in secret, and much of the time the land involved is already being farmed by villagers, who are summarily displaced. The potential for conflict is high.

Meanwhile, a second book has been taking shape: Lester’s autobiography, Breaking New Ground: A Personal History. Staff have been engaged in compiling Lester’s speaking engagements for the past 50 years, going through old files from his USDA, Overseas Development Council, and Worldwatch Institute days, and compiling a chronicle of his life through photographs. (We are looking at a late October/early November 2013 release, so stay tuned!)

Books notwithstanding, the research team has been mindful of global environmental trends. For instance, with the drought and heat toasting much of the country, the team closely monitored the corn crop. On July 19, EPI held a press teleconference where Lester stated that the USDA’s estimate of a corn harvest shortfall of 12 percent was likely to be closer to 25 percent. The Institute’s findings meshed with reports from farmers who were expecting exceptionally poor harvests. On Monday, June 23, the Guardian asked Lester to write an op-ed on the harvest, prices, and weather—and wanted it that evening for a Tuesday release on its environment page, which we provided.

The op-ed caught the attention of news organizations including NPR’s Talk of the Nation, the Leonard Lopate Show, Alternet, and Bloomberg television. Meanwhile, the Institute released the Guardian piece as a Plan B Update to its public and media lists. Food related issues were the major news draw to the Institute this year. In addition, an interview with Lester published in IFC’s magazine Handshake resulted in additional articles quoting Lester.

Janet Larsen’s Update “Meat Consumption in China Now Double That in the United States” also garnered global attention. Janet found that a quarter of all meat produced worldwide is now eaten in China. Since 1978, China’s meat consumption has risen from 8 million tons to 71 million tons. The piece was reposted on major blogs including Sustainablog, the Economist, and the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. Robert Samuelson cited it in his May 13 Washington Post Op-Ed piece "The Boom on the Farm."

Janet also wrote “The Dust Bowl Revisited,” an Update to coincide with the November release of Ken Burn’s PBS dust bowl series. Shortly after Thom Hartmann had her on his television program, “The Big Picture,” to discuss it and the World Bank's warning of a 7 degree temperature rise by 2100.

The tsunami that wiped out a number of cities in Japan and created a meltdown in the Fukushima nuclear plant that resulted in all of the country’s nuclear reactors being shut down for a time, led Matt Roney to write an Update entitled “Fukushima Meltdown Hastens Decline of Nuclear Power.” Fukushima led some European countries to phase out their nuclear programs entirely, while other countries were proceeding cautiously with their nuclear program. As Matt noted, the world’s fleet of reactors is aging and new plants are suffering construction delays and cost increases, likely presaging a long-term decline in reliance on nuclear power.

During the sprint to complete Full Planet, Empty Plates, Mother Earth News, which often reprints EPI’s releases, asked for a piece on wind power, which was then sent to them within a day and a half. A few months later, the piece was transformed into a long article entitled “Exciting News About Renewable Energy” and published in the October/November issue. Retitling the piece “The Great Transition,” EPI released it as two Updates, which were reposted to major environmental blogs and websites and retweeted over 50 times, most notably by Eco Watch and Earth Business Network.

Subjects covered by Data Highlights included meat consumption peaking in the United States, the rise in Arab grain imports, the growth in hydropower, the free fall in Arctic sea ice, the shortfall in contraceptive coverage, and how governments spend $1.4 billion per day in subsidies that destabilize the climate. And five Eco-Economy Indicators were released on grain, temperature, wind, forestry, and the economy.

In addition to posting the immense database supporting the analysis in Full Planet, Empty Plates, the research team developed two PowerPoint presentations relating to the book. The first was a comprehensive look at the book, while the second was a shorter version. Another presentation was developed to draw attention to some of the 150-plus datasets that accompany the book. Collectively the presentations have been viewed online more than 20,000 times. EPI’s PowerPoint presentations and data are some of the most downloaded items from the Institute’s website.

Cheers,

Reah Janise Kauffman

Posted by Reah Janise on 12/19 at 08:00 AM

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On November 12, 2012, Lester Brown gave the inaugural talk of a new environmental lecture series at the University of Maryland, the institution where he earned a Master’s degree in agricultural economics in 1959. He was introduced by Herman Daly, professor emeritus and former senior economist at the World Bank, widely known as the founding father of ecological economics.

Dr. Daly noted in his heartfelt introduction that he thought of Lester Brown as an older brother, someone to be followed (“not like on Twitter”) in the field of economics. In the late 1950s and early 1960s when academic economics were entrenched in a “sterile formalism,”he said that Lester stuck with “substance,” focusing on the importance of things that were real, like soil, water, and food.

Throughout his productive career Daly had the opportunity to visit ministries of the environment around the world, where, he recounted, he would almost always see some Worldwatch and Lester Brown books on the shelves, generally looking well-used. In true form for an economist, Daly couldn’t resist measuring Lester's efficiency, which he calculated as a ratio of valuable output over costly input.  With the output evident in citations “all over the place,” 50 books, 25 honorary degrees, and a number of apprentices mentored, divided by monetary input (looking at Lester’s institutional budgets, it’s “almost like dividing by zero!”)  He then compared Lester’s near infinite efficiency to that of the World Bank: a ratio of minor accomplishments to a massive budget, not a promising figure.

Daly concluded his remarks with a fantasy vision of a statue of Lester on the University of Maryland campus. To bookend the existing statue of alumnus Jim Henson conversing with Kermit the Frog, he envisioned the inscription reading “It’s not easy being green, especially for an economist.”

Thank you Dr. Daly, for such a thoughtful and kind introduction, and—most of all—for your tireless work in greening economics, institutions, and the world.

More than 200 people attended the standing-room only lecture. In his remarks, Lester spoke about his most recent book, Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity. He warned of the tightening margin between food production and fast-growing demand, noting that the major threats to security in the world today are not armed aggression or advanced military technologies, but climate change, population growth, food shortages, rising food prices, and spreading instability. He concluded by asking people to pick an issue that they felt strongly about—from the movement to close coal-fired power plants, to banning bottled water on college campuses—and get to work. “Saving civilization is not a spectator sport!”

Here’s hoping that more people take that message to heart.

 

Best,

Janet Larsen

 

Herman Daly’s article, “From a Failed Growth Economy to a Steady State Economy,” can be read in Solutions Journal.

Posted by julianne on 12/11 at 12:47 PM

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

One of the many things we love about Lester Brown’s Full Planet, Empty Plates is its readability. The book is only 160 pages with graphs and tables to provide visuals of the discussion. In his review, Jeff McIntire-Strasburg of Sustainablog wrote, “As with all of Brown’s books, Full Planet, Empty Plates is very well-documented: over 150 data sets accompany the book. Brown fully explains the extent of food challenges in various regions of the globe, and the potential impacts based on environmental and socioeconomic factors in these regions.”

As we said last week, we at Earth Policy Institute like to offer an array of options for our research to reach as wide an audience as possible. Here are a few quick facts to get you thinking about the global food crisis:

  • Food prices are rising dramatically. The U.N. Food Price Index in June 2012 was twice the base level of 2002-04.
  • Between 2005 and 2011, the amount of grain used to produce fuel for cars in the United States climbed from 41 million to 127 million tons—nearly a third of the U.S. grain harvest.
  • The 464 land acquisitions identified by the World Bank in 2010 totaled some 140 million acres—more than is planted in corn and wheat combined in the United States.

 

Even quicker is the video of Brown himself discussing the main issues raised in the book.

 



Enjoy!

Julianne

Posted by julianne on 11/13 at 09:00 AM

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Monday, November 05, 2012

The written word is a wonderful way to communicate ideas, but to reach out as widely as possible, we at Earth Policy Institute like to offer an array of options for our research.

Take a look at this five-minute video where Lester Brown speaks on some of the major topics covered in Full Planet, Empty Plates.

We have also uploaded two Power Point presentations providing graphic and textual highlights from the book.

And we are working on short video clips on some of the specific issues raised in the book.

Happy viewing!


Cheers,

Reah Janise Kauffman


Posted by julianne on 11/05 at 08:30 AM

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ken Burn’s new film The Dust Bowl, a two-part, four-hour documentary airs on PBS November 18 and 19, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET (check local listings). The film chronicles this 1930s environmental catastrophe that destroyed the farmlands of the Great Plains. It is based on Timothy Egan’s 2006 National Book Award winning The Worst Hard Times, a history of the Dust Bowl, and includes interviews with twenty-six survivors and seldom seen movie footage.

On an ironicallyFrom right, Lester Brown, Tim Egan, Clay Pope hot 106-degree July afternoon, the staff at Earth Policy Institute attended a special preview screening of the film sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The screening was followed by a panel discussion featuring Lester Brown, Tim Egan, and Clay Pope, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts and a sixth generation Oklahoma farmer. The panel was moderated by Ann Yonkers, FRESHFARM Markets Co-Executive Director.

Since news of the extent and degree of the Midwestern American drought was just reaching mass media, the discussion was both lively and at times a bit frightening. The audience had many questions for the panelists.

Lester spoke of the food unrest that lay ahead, of overpumping aquifers, and of moving down the food chain, topics that are discussed in his new book Full Planet, Empty Plates. Tim spoke about the people he met while writing his book, the factors that led to the Dust Bowl, and how we are making similar mistakes with soil erosion and overplowing. Clay gave a firsthand account of the effects of the drought in his home state and discussed other challenges farmers are now facing in the wake of climate change.

Those of us fortunate to be at the screening are now looking forward to seeing the documentary in its entirety. Burns believes the film should be taken as a cautionary tale for more contemporary environmental issues. A preview is available at pbs.org/dustbowl.

For information on dust bowls forming in other countries, see Chapter 3 of World on the Edge: Eroding Soils and Expanding Deserts, and the Plan B Updates: Dust Bowl Threatening China’s Future and Deserts Advancing, Civilization Retreating.

 

Best,

Julianne

Posted by julianne on 10/16 at 08:15 AM

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

After the arrival of Full Planet, Empty Plates on bookstore shelves last week, Earth Policy Institute hosted a party to celebrate its official release. We invited friends, family, reporters, and other environmental gurus to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in the heart of Dupont Circle. Along with good food and drink, Lester gave a brief talk on the main points of the book and answered questions from the attendees. It was a wonderful gathering to commend Lester and the EPI team on another great accomplishment.    

The party came after months of researching, fact checking, and editing and weeks of promotion that included a mail promo and teleconference. The researchers also developed two summary presentations to go along with the book, which have been viewed over 10,000 times thus far and are available for free downloading.

Friday was also the end of a busy week for Lester. First he was in New York City where he was interviewed on the Leonard Lopate show and later with Matt Miller on Rewind Bloomberg TV. Then he was off to Columbus, Ohio where he joined other environmental leaders for EcoSummit. He was the plenary speaker on Wednesday and a panelist for the Food Security and Climate Change Forum on Thursday. The week rounded out with the release of his interview on Yahoo Finance.

We are thrilled that people are so excited about the new book and are loving all the action on Twitter.

The Globalist tweeted: What we're reading: Lester Brown's "Full Planet, Empty Plates." Cogent and fact-based as ever. @earthpolicy

Journalist Dennis Dimick tweeted: "Full Planet, Empty Plates" by @EarthPolicy: I gave one to my @JMU college student @claudiaeleni http://www.earth-policy.org/books/fpep/fpep_presentation #foodsecurity #educate

Sean Ono Lennon tweeted: Land and Food will be 'Oil' of tomorrow. Read up! Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity By Lester Brown.

News of Lester’s latest book has also reached other important outlets like the Daily Beast and Mother Earth News. Permaculture Australia and EcoWatch have shared the summary presentations on their websites.

We think the release of the book couldn’t have come at a better time. With the extent of the Great Drought of 2012 still being reported on daily and the effects of climate change being felt more than ever before, Full Planet, Empty Plates is a quick, yet important read for the times.

 

Best,

Julianne

Posted by julianne on 10/09 at 08:15 AM

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food ScarcityLester Brown's book, Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity examines the underlying causes of what is likely the first link in our modern civilization to show that we have pushed beyond the boundaries of the natural systems that support us. As a result, food supplies are tightening and this is moving us, as Lester says, into a new food era, one in which it is every country for itself. Welcome to the new geopolitics of food scarcity.

This is evidenced most clearly in some of the more affluent grain-importing countries—led by Saudi Arabia, China, India, and South Korea—buying or leasing land long term in other countries on which to grow food for themselves. Most of these land acquisitions are in African countries where millions of people are being sustained with food aid from the U.N. World Food Programme.

As of mid-2012, hundreds of land acquisition deals had been negotiated or were under negotiation, some of them exceeding a million acres. A World Bank analysis of these “land grabs” reported that at least 140 million acres were involved—an area that exceeds the cropland devoted to corn and wheat combined in the United States. This onslaught of land acquisitions has become a land rush as governments, agribusiness firms, and private investors seek control of land wherever they can find it.

There was a time when if we got into trouble on the food front, ministries of agriculture would offer farmers more financial incentives, like higher price supports, and things would soon return to normal. But responding to the tightening of food supplies today is a far more complex undertaking. It involves the ministries of energy, water resources, and health and family planning, among others. Because of the looming specter of climate change that is threatening to disrupt agriculture, we may find that energy policies will have an even greater effect on future food security than agricultural policies do. In short, avoiding a breakdown in the food system requires the mobilization of our entire society.

Is History Repeating Itself?

Food shortages undermined earlier civilizations. The Sumerians and Mayans are just two of the many early civilizations that declined apparently because they moved onto an agricultural path that was environmentally unsustainable. For the Sumerians, rising salt levels in the soil as a result of a defect in their otherwise well-engineered irrigation system eventually brought down their food system and thus their civilization. For the Mayans, soil erosion was one of the keys to their downfall. We, too, are on such a path. While the Sumerians suffered from rising salt levels in the soil, our modern-day agriculture is suffering from rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. And like the Mayans, our twenty-first century civilization is mismanaging land and generating record losses of soil from erosion.

While the decline of early civilizations can be traced to one or possibly two environmental trends such as deforestation and soil erosion that undermined their food supply, we are now dealing with several.

Can We Prevent a Food Breakdown?The short answer is “Yes.” We have the resources to address these seemingly insurmountable issues.

On the demand side of the food equation, there are four pressing needs—to stabilize world population, eradicate poverty, reduce excessive meat consumption, and reverse biofuels policies that encourage the use of grain to produce fuel for cars. We need to press forward on all four fronts at the same time.

On the supply side of the food equation, we face several challenges, including stabilizing climate, raising water productivity, and conserving soil. Stabilizing climate is not easy. It will take a huge cut in carbon emissions, some 80 percent within a decade, to give us a chance of avoiding the worst consequences of climate change. This means a wholesale restructuring of the world energy economy.

The world is in serious trouble on the food front. But there is little evidence that political leaders have yet grasped the magnitude of what is happening. The gains in reducing hunger in recent decades have been reversed. Feeding the world’s hungry now depends on new population, energy, and water policies. Unless we move quickly to adopt new policies, the goal of eradicating hunger will remain just that.

Get your copy of Full Planet, Empty Plates today. You can order through our secure online shopping cart. Or call us between normal business hours at (202) 496-9290 x 13. We are offering the book at a discount, with even bigger discounts with orders of 2 or more.

And if you want to see more, check out Chapter 1, Food: The Weak Link, which is available for free on our website.

Cheers,

Reah Janise Kauffman

Posted by Reah Janise on 09/26 at 12:52 PM

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