“Climate panel: Time to act is now” – Politico, 31 March 2014

In March, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a new report that urged the world to come to a consensus on a new global climate agreement. The effects of climate change are worsening and will continue to endanger crop yields, the lives of poorer populations, low-lying lands, aggravate droughts and even provoke wars.

The US and the rest of the world must agree on a global climate agreement by the end of 2015, which would become enforced in 2020. For the agreement to have any impact, both the US and the world’s biggest polluters—such as India and China—must cooperate on the agreement’s terms.

The US, however, is still up in arms about its climate policy. To combat the climate skeptics, Obama has begun pushing his climate policy—like regulations on new power plants and limiting international coal use—through executive branch actions. Climate skeptics are fighting Obama’s executive orders in the House and the courts, justifying that the world isn’t actually warming and the US can’t enforce such harsh regulations when major polluters aren’t following suit.

The report details how the poor and other marginalized groups of people will bear the brunt of climate change impacts through employment, lowered crop yields and soaring food prices. There are also other risks, such as:

  • Agriculture: Wheat and corn have weathered the worst effects of climate change. Food accessibility and food prices could also be affected.
  • Global security: Low crop yields and high sea levels will lead to displacement, and will increase and cause new security worries.
  • Human health: Human health will worsen due to extreme heat waves, wildfires, bad nutrition and diseases spread through water and food.
  • Water: Water levels will plummet as greenhouse gases increase. Some areas will have lower sea levels and some, like low-lying areas and islands, will experience floodings.

A report on methods to counteract climate change will be published in April in Berlin. A final report with all the information will be released in Copenhagen in October.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

April 2, 2014

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Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

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“Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies” – New York Times, 1 November 2013

According to a UN report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the effects of climate change are now expected to reach the global food supply: during each decade, our supply is anticipated to decline by 2%, while food prices increase. This comes at a time when food demand is also expected to skyrocket — 14% each decade.

The panel’s 2013 report is far harsher than its previous report, from 2007; the 2013 report includes recent research on how vulnerable crops are to heat waves and droughts, as well as more warnings of the necessity to lower global GHG emissions. However, the panel found that carbon dioxide emissions have the added affect of boosting food production — the gas apparently performs as a type of plant fertilizer.

The panel found that the effects of climate change and global warming will hit tropical regions’ food supplies the worst, due to greater poverty rates and tremendous heat waves. Not being able to satisfy global food demand might force us to cultivate more farm land for production purposes — i.e., deforestation, which would speed up the effects of climate change by releasing significant quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Sweeping climate policy reforms, like the Obama Administration’s, though helpful, come a little late: the report finds that such actions might not be drastic enough to slow down the effects of climate change; advantages from steps, like curbing emissions, will generally be seen late in the 21st century.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

November 20, 2013

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“Food Waste: From Farm to Fork and Landfill” – CNN, 21 December 2012

CNN recently published a chart, mapping global food waste from origination to disposal. Gleaned from this chart are the great food losses amassed by both developed and developing countries, and the improper management and conservation of energy and food sources. Though the world is eager to discuss sustainability, green culture and climate change, it seems that food waste is an often untouched topic; yet, one cannot turn a blind eye to CNN’s statistics.

According to CNN, one-third of food produced is lost or wasted globally, a total of 1.3 billion tons per year. Also according to CNN’s chart, food waste in industrialized countries — 222 million tons — is almost equal to the net food production — 230 million tons — in sub-Saharan Africa. That statistic sheds light on how the world unknowingly wastes vast amounts of food because there are no proper management systems in place. Many of these countries don’t blink twice over food losses; developed countries, like the US, take its food access for granted, while developing countries have continually diminished access.

One would think that since the US is experiencing an economic recession and increased food inflation, it would try to gain control of any food loss; however, that is surely not the case. According to the original source for CNN’s chart, 10% of the US energy budget is used to transport food from farms to households, using 50% of US land and consuming 80% of US freshwater resources. However, 40% of food in the US remains uneaten, which is over 20 pounds of food per person, per month. Americans are unnecessarily wasting $165 billion per year, just on food and water losses alone.

Although we are a world obsessed with green culture and recycling, 3% of food waste is currently recycled. Additionally, 40% of landfill content comes from food waste — uneaten food is going straight into the garbage.

As discussed in previous entries – “Milk Price Fight Boils Over” and “Time Is Running Out to Pass a Farm Bill in 2012″  — US food prices may very well skyrocket due to our country’s indecisive lawmakers. If we are able to properly manage and conserve our food supply, and increase efficiency in our food system and use of natural resources, then we might be able to save ourselves money and food, while also meeting the growing food demand.

Additionally, eating less and eating locally grown food (and thereby wasting less and lowering transportation carbon foot print) promotes a happier and healthier lifestyle, while also lowering personal and societal medical costs.

(source)

Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

January 3, 2013

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