tagged w/ Famine
New paper series tackles climate challenges for agriculture
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, December 1, 2009
Straight to the Source
[ Download Climate Agreement Must Support Shift Toward Sust... ]
Minnnneapolis – To effectively address global climate change, policy solutions must support a transition toward more sustainable agriculture systems that recognize the critical role agriculture plays in the world, concludes a series of issue briefs released today by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). The papers are being published a week before global climate talks begin in Copenhagen.
“We cannot truly address climate change without getting it right on agriculture,” said IATP President Jim Harkness. “Agriculture is a contributor to climate change, but just as importantly it profoundly affects land use around the world, and has the potential to be part of the solution. Smart climate policy for agriculture can help address hunger, support rural livelihoods, improve water quality and biodiversity, and strengthen our energy security.”
The climate series covers a wide range of topics:
Agriculture and Climate—The Critical Connection, by Jim Kleinschmit, gives an overview of the science of agriculture and climate change.
Putting Agriculture on the Global Climate Agenda, by Anne Laure Constantin, sets benchmarks for including agriculture within global climate negotiations.
U.S. Climate Policy and Agriculture, by Julia Olmstead, reviews how agriculture is considered in U.S. legislation and makes recommendations for a better approach.
Speculating on Carbon: The Next Toxic Asset, by Steve Suppan, analyzes how Wall Street speculators could influence agriculture and climate goals.
Eye of the Storm: Integrated Solutions to the Climate, Agriculture and Water Crises, by Shiney Varghese, explains water’s role in the climate and agriculture crises.
Climate Inequity, by Shalini Gupta and Dr. Cecilia Martinez, traces the historical inequities that have contributed to climate change, and proposes a more equitable climate policy.
“We are at a unique moment in history that compels us to face several crises at the same time,” said Harkness. “In addition to global warming, there are now over one billion people around the world who are hungry. Our financial meltdown has led to growing unemployment, particularly in rural communities. A shift toward low-input, sustainable agriculture systems is a crucial part of building a greener, more stable economy and addressing each of these crises.”
IATP is sending a delegation of eight to Copenhagen and will conduct a series of workshops on climate and agriculture. You can read all the issue briefs, and find out more about IATP’s activities in Copenhagen at: www.iatp.org/climate.
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy works locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems. www.iatp.orgNew paper series tackles climate challenges for agriculture Institute for... more
Who doesn't love eggos?
http://money.cnn.com/2009/11/18/news/companies/eggo_waffle_shortage/Who doesn't love eggos?... more
SHOCKING NEW NASA DATA / NEW PREDICTION = "3 TO 5 YEARS NO ICE IN ARCTIC"
THE PERMAFROST = IS NOW THAWING....
3-5 years All Arctic Ice will be gone. Five years after that... no ice on either pole!
Watch Video as prehistoric methane gas is released under the ice from the thawing permafrost below is ignited.
NEW DATA: The original time to reach the permafrost thawing tipping point wasn't predicted to happen until 2050.
We need to understand what is happening and how the effects of what is now taking place... will change all our lives in the "months and few years ahead".SHOCKING NEW NASA DATA / NEW PREDICTION = "3 TO 5 YEARS NO ICE IN ARCTIC"... more
Global warming... is much worse that you think.
PLEASE SELECT: "WATCH FULL PROGRAM"
Dan Miller's presentation focuses on why the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports are actually best case scenarios. For example, IPCC climate models do not include the effect of melting permafrost releasing greenhouse gases, even though the permafrost is melting now and it holds more greenhouse gases than all that mankind has ever released.
Another example is that IPCC predictions of sea level rise only take into account thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of glaciers; the largest factor, disintegration of glaciers, was not included because it is hard to model. The result is that sea level rise will likely be substantially higher this century than the IPCC predicts.
Miller discusses several other potential catastrophes that are not included in IPCC predictions and also discusses tipping points that could put climate change solutions out of our reach in years or decades, the psychology of climate change, and why it is difficult for people to respond to the threat posed by a warming earth.
His talk concludes with a discussion of ways to address climate change and the risks and opportunities that companies face due to the climate crisis.
The Climate Project
NASA | Earth Observatory
NASA | Science for a Hungry World: Part 6
HOME PROJECT: A Visual Global Tour /current effects of global warming.
.Global warming... is much worse that you think. PLEASE SELECT: "WATCH FULL... more
NAIROBI, Kenya - Ethiopia said Thursday it needs emergency food aid for 6.2 million people, an appeal that comes 25 years after a devastating famine compounded by communist policies killed 1 million and prompted one of the largest charity campaigns in history.
The crisis stems from a prolonged drought that has hit much of the Horn of Africa, including Kenya and Somalia.
Drought is especially disastrous in Ethiopia because more than 80 percent of people live off the land. Agriculture drives the economy, accounting for half of all domestic production and most exports.
Mitiku Kassa, Ethiopia's state minister for agriculture and rural development, appealed to donors Thursday for more than $121 million. In January, he had said that 4.9 million of Ethiopia's 85 million people needed emergency food aid.
Ethiopia has long struggled with cyclical droughts, which are compounded by the country's dependence on rain-fed agriculture and archaic farming practices.
In 1984, Ethiopia's famine drew international attention as news reports showed emaciated children and adults with limbs as thin as sticks. The crisis launched one of the biggest global charity campaigns in history, including the concert Live Aid.
...More...NAIROBI, Kenya - Ethiopia said Thursday it needs emergency food aid for 6.2 million... more
Iraq’s devastating water shortages have three main causes: upstream dams in Turkey and Syria have drastically reduced the flow of the Tigris and Euphrates; rainfall levels have hit record lows; and inefficient management techniques mean Iraq wastes what limited water it does have.
“The drought has been a real issue; without rain there has been no replenishment of rivers and groundwater aquifers,” says Mohammed Amin Faris, a leading Iraqi water official. “We used to have droughts once a decade. Now we are worried they are coming every two or three years because of global climate change.
“In addition to that, we have other problems. Neighbouring countries are putting up dams that have stopped us getting the water we had in the past.”
According to Iraqi government figures, water flow in the Euphrates is currently some 200 cubic metres per second as it crosses into Iraq, less than half of the minimum amount required to help the country meet its basic needs. Much of the water is stopped in Turkey, while Syria, battling its own water crisis, is also drawing on supplies. Iraq, downstream of both, pays the price for their consumption.
Similar problems face the Tigris and will be greatly exacerbated if Turkey pushes ahead with its controversial US$2 billion (Dh7.35bn) Ilisu dam project.
“The Euphrates River is already cut as far as Iraq is concerned and the Tigris will be cut as well if Turkey goes ahead,” says Mr Faris. “If these dams are completed the flow from the Tigris will be halved from 20.9 billion cubic metres a year to 9.7 billion cubic metres.”
Most of the cities in Iraq, he says, are dependent on that water: “Vast areas of land will be dry. This dam could destroy Iraq.”
As a member of Iraq’s international water negotiating committee, Mr Faris has been involved in talks with Turkey and Syria designed to come up with an equitable solution for water sharing. Discussions so far have been inconclusive.
“We are trying to get a third party involved in the talks as a mediator, the United States or the United Nations,” he says. “But they have refused. Water is a political issue, it’s part of a political game and of course it’s far more important than oil. There are alternatives to oil but there is no alternative to water.”
The next round of talks was due to take place yesterday in Ankara, and follows claims by the Iraqi water minister, Latif Rashid, that Turkey had broken a promise to increase water flows in the Euphrates.
Iraq also faces reduced water flow from Iran but, according to Mr Faris, government attempts to open dialogue with Tehran on the issue have failed.
“We want negotiations but Iran is just ignoring us,” he says. “They are upstream and we are downstream and there’s not much you can do about it, especially if you are weak.”
Water shortages, acute in the cooler and traditionally wetter northern part of the country, are even worse in central and southern zones. Agriculture has been hit hard.
“We simply don’t have enough water,” says Salam Iskander Zait, the head official for the Ministry of Agriculture in Wasit province, south of Baghdad. His offices are in Kut, on the Tigris. “Water levels have been falling consistently, this is the thing that worries me. It’s not a problem I can solve, it’s something the government will have to do at a national level, working with our neighbours. It’s an international matter.”
Iraqi farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet and impoverished rural areas are slipping further into destitution. Iraqi politicians, government officials and local leaders warn that such developments will serve only to undermine fragile security gains and could provide a breeding ground for insurgents.
There are even suggestions that water shortages could trigger a new international conflict between Iraq and its neighbours. Allegations are increasingly being made, in particular against Turkey and Iran...Iraq’s devastating water shortages have three main causes: upstream dams in... more
NAIROBI — A sweeping drought across East Africa has left millions of people at risk of starvation, in a region plagued by increasingly erratic rainfall, humanitarian organisations and officials warn.
Huge food shortages and loss of livelihood has left 6.2 million Ethiopians needing relief aid, while about 3.8 million in Kenya's arid areas, where livestock is being decimated, have also been affected, UN agencies say.
War-ravaged Somalia is witnessing its worst humanitarian crisis since civil unrest erupted there two decades ago, with a third of its 10 million people in need of food assistance and one in every five children acutely malnourished.
Three years ago, a searing drought put more than 11 million people in the region at risk of starvation.
For Kenya, "this is the worst (drought) in nearly a decade. One in ten Kenyans are in need of food assistance," Marcus Prior, a World Food Programme spokesman in Nairobi, told AFP.
"The situation is extremely serious. Rains have failed across many areas," said Prior, whose organisation recently appealed for 230 million dollars to help drought victims.
In a region where small scale subsistence farming is the mainstay of a majority of the population, the impact of climate change on rainy seasons can often have dramatic consequences.
Response to drought disaters have similarly been erratic and band-aid: appeals for donor aid, emergency food distributions and medical assistance, all of which quickly dry up when the first drops of rain fall.
And in the absence of permanent solutions, many of those affected by drought find no respite even when the rains come as floods sweep their homes, destroy crops and cause water-borne diseases.
Tanzania recently sent 40,000 tonnes of cereals to its northern regions affected by drought, and where Agriculture Minister Stephen Wasira said famine has been reported.
"There are pockets of famine in northern regions... 'Short' rains failed and 'long' rains were inadequate," Wasira said, referring to the two main rainy seasons.
The WFP is also feeding more than one million Ugandans, mainly in the northern and eastern regions as a prolonged drought weighs heavy on the people.
"If the rains do not (increase) in the next few days then we are headed for trouble," Ugandan Information Minister Kabakumba Masiko told AFP.
"Daily, we get reports of food shortage from some regions and the government has been intervening by delivering relief (food)."
Ugandan livestock have also started dying and officials fear the trend will have a negative impact on meat and milk supplies to a large swathe of east Africa.
"We are losing animals due to starvation because of drought especially in the cattle corridors," Ugandan state minister for animal husbandry, Bright Rwamirama told a news conference in Kampala Thursday, but gave no figures.
Animals are also dying for lack of water and foliage and a result of overgrazing, the minister said. Rwamirama is the first government official to confirm death of animals in Uganda, a food basket for Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya.
Rather than suffer food and water shortages sparked by recurring droughts, east African states can take a cue from desert countries like Egypt or Sudan and use irrigation to turn around their plight, experts argue.
"We wait for harsh events to occur and then run in panic," said Kenyan soil scientist Peter Okoth. "Irrigation would certainly overcome the perennial drought."
"It's a shame that we are actually begging for food yet we have a lot of water and we have enough land that is lying idle."
Food shortages also spark an increase in commodity prices, feeding a vicious cycle that drives millions closer to starvation.
According to official figures, food prices in Uganda increased by six percent in the last month, while the cost of electricity in neighbouring Kenya rose by 6.5 percent after two key hydroelectric dams shut due to low water levels.NAIROBI — A sweeping drought across East Africa has left millions of people at... more
"Every human being has the right to submit an application to have the status of refugee or international protection," said European Commission spokesman Dennis Abbott. The EU is aware of the rejection to Libya of a boat with 75 Eritrean and Somali refugees, including 15 women and 3 children, and will send a request of information to the two countries involved, Italy and Malta."Every human being has the right to submit an application to have the status of... more
that's just not cheerful news at all.
The spectre of famine has returned to the Horn of Africa nearly a quarter of a century after the world's pop stars gathered to banish it at Live Aid, raising £150m for relief efforts in 1985. Millions of impoverished Ethiopians face the threat of malnutrition and possibly starvation this winter in what is shaping up to be the country's worst food crisis for decades.
[Women and children gather at a food distribution centre in Ethiopia's Oromiya region. (Photo: The Independent)]Women and children gather at a food distribution centre in Ethiopia's Oromiya region. (Photo: The Independent)
Estimates of the number of people who need emergency food aid have risen steadily this year from 4.9 million in January to 5.3 million in May and 6.2 million in June. Another 7.5 million are getting aid in return for work on community projects, as part of the National Productive Safety Net Program for people whose food supplies are chronically insecure, bringing the total being fed to 13.7 million.
Donor countries provided sustenance to 12 million Ethiopians last year, more than half of it through the UN's World Food Programme (WFP). Having passed that total only eight months into this year, and with the main harvest already in doubt, aid agencies fear the worst is still to come. "We're extremely worried," said Howard Taylor, who heads the Department for International Development's office in Ethiopia. DfID has given £54m in aid to the country this year, and Britain has also contributed through the EU. "This is exactly the time when we shouldn't turn away from the people in need," he said.
"Critical water shortages" were reported in some areas by the UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs last week with water-borne diseases such as acute diarrhoea spreading as communities resort to drinking from insanitary wells and ponds. Unicef said that the outbreaks are putting extra pressure on its Out-Patient Therapeutic Programme, which provides healthcare in some of the most needy areas.
In Somali, the hardest hit region with a third of the humanitarian caseload and complications caused by a low-intensity insurgency, the mortality rate for infants has risen above two per 10,000 per day according to a regional nutrition survey, which gives newborns roughly a one-third chance of dying before their fifth birthdays. While there is no clear definition, one widely used threshold for famine is four infant deaths per 10,000 per day.
Declaring a famine is a political decision. While it can galvanise public opinion and bring millions into aid programmes, it is widely seen as a political failure. President George Bush challenged his officials to avoid the word, a policy known as "No famine on my watch". Ethiopia's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission is charged with preventing famines of the 1984-85 type, the sort that bring down governments, argued Tufts University academics Sue Lautze and Angela Raven-Roberts in a 2004 paper.
Dismissing the warning signals, Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, said earlier this month that there was no danger of famine this year. And Berhanu Kebede, Ethiopia's ambassador to Britain, said at the weekend: "We are addressing the problem. Food is in the pipeline."
The main practical difference between a food crisis and a famine is whether enough aid arrives to keep the starving alive. So while the scope of the problem can be measured in the number of hungry people, the severity depends on the generosity of those in the rich world. And this year they have been miserly. Despite the promise of G8 leaders at their summit in L'Aquila, Italy, last month to provide $20bn (£12bn) to improve food security in poor countries, contributions have slumped dramatically this year as donor states have shifted priorities to supporting banks and stimulating their own economies.Christ.... that's just not cheerful news at all. The spectre of famine... more
MEXICO CITY - Mexico is suffering from its driest year in 68 years, killing crops and cattle in the countryside and forcing the government to slow the flow of water to the crowded capital.
Below-average rainfall since last year has left about 80 of Mexico's 175 largest reservoirs less than half full, said Felipe Arreguin, a senior official at the Conagua commission, which manages the country's water supply.
"We have zones where the reservoirs are totally full but others that don't have even a drop of water," he said in an interview late on Tuesday.
More than 1,000 cattle have been lost due to lack of rainfall, and up to 20 million tons of crops managed by 3.5 million small farmers are at risk of being lost, agriculture groups say.
The arid northwest region of Mexico has been hardest hit, along with the central part of the country surrounding Mexico City where 20 million people live.
Mexico typically has a rainy season from around June to October, topping up lakes and reservoirs that supply much of the country's water during the rest of the year.
The El Nino weather phenomenon, a warming of the seas in the Pacific Ocean, has induced a dry spell in South America and is likely partly to blame for Mexico's lack of rain, experts say.
Authorities have reduced the flow from the Cutzamala series of dams and rivers more than 60 miles long that supplies a quarter of Mexico City's water to ensure enough is available until next year's rainy season.
Trucks are delivering water to some parts of the capital where cuts have made the flow of water intermittent.
"If all we have is a bucketful, we wash up with a cloth, but not well, not like you should," said Maria de la Luz, who has sold chicken at a neighborhood market for 48 years. "Now is the worst it's been since I was a girl."
Arreguin said the water situation in the capital was alarming but not yet a full emergency.
"If it were a traffic light it would be yellow," Arreguin said.
In Mexican states like San Luis, Aguascalientes and Colima, some farmers have been unable to successfully plant their crops because of a lack of rain, while others watched their corn and beans plants wilt. Authorities are handing out cash to small farmers in hard-hit areas.
Four-fifths of Mexico's water resources are used to irrigate crops and the government is encouraging farmers to adopt more efficient methods over the long term.
In neighboring Guatemala, the government is distributing emergency food to 56,000 families whose crops have been damaged.
"This problem happens every year, but this year it seems particularly serious," said Guatemalan government official Juan Aguilar.
Mexico's sugar crop was harvested before the drought set in, and coffee farms are mostly in unaffected areas.
Already-taxed underground water accounts for most of the supply to Mexico City, an urban sprawl built over a drained lake bead, and will likely face more stress.
Mexico has had slightly less rainfall over the past decade but there is insufficient data to say how much global warming can be blamed, Arreguin said.
"How much of this phenomenon is from El Nino? How much is from climate change? The best thing is to hope for the best but prepare for the worst," Arreguin said.
Mexico City officials are urging residents to conserve water by installing efficient shower faucets and to use buckets instead of hoses to wash their cars. (Additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg and Sarah Grainger; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)MEXICO CITY - Mexico is suffering from its driest year in 68 years, killing crops and... more
Groundwater levels in northern India have fallen about 20 percent more than expected because of excessive pumping, threatening to spark a major food and water crisis, according to a study based on U.S. space agency data.
The study, led by Matthew Rodell of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said groundwater across three states, including the New Delhi region, dropped at a rate of 1.6 inches per year between August 2002 and October 2008.
That depletion is double the capacity of India's largest reservoir and is around 20 percent higher than previous estimates by Indian authorities. More than 110 million people live across the three states, or nearly twice the population of Britain.
"If measures are not taken soon to ensure sustainable groundwater usage, the consequences ... may include a reduction of agricultural output and shortages of potable water, leading to extensive socio-economic stresses," the study said.
The findings, published in the journal Nature, come as almost a quarter of India faces drought because of failing monsoon rains this year. But the drop reported in the study came in years where there was no shortage of rainfall, so the decline was caused by excessive demand for irrigation and other uses.
The study, nonetheless, only confirms what has been long feared. Water shortages plague Indian cities and villages alike as a burgeoning population of 1.1 billion people tries to meet growing economic and farming activity, stretching natural resources.Groundwater levels in northern India have fallen about 20 percent more than expected... more
Three million dead from famine?! This is a holocaust. The human rights abuses of North Korea cannot stand. I would hope that the current events of the past five months will now play out into the next chapter... that being exposing the truth of the concentration camps and slave trade in North Korea with people caring as well for the over 200,000 people being held and tortured in these concentration camps.
This video gives a stark view of life in North Korea, which is no life at all.
Will the Obama Administration now stand up to North Korea about this? Or will it look the other way regarding the hundreds of thousands still in these camps because it doesn't support their "geopolitical" position? I would hope not.Three million dead from famine?! This is a holocaust. The human rights abuses of North... more
Please watch Howard Buffett's Crusade Against African Famine, a Wall Street Journal Digital Network special based on the book "Enough: How the world's poorest starve in an age of plenty" a book about philanthropist Howard Buffett, son of Warren Buffett, the second richest man in the world, and his plight to take on a cause that most have deemed as lost.Please watch Howard Buffett's Crusade Against African Famine, a Wall Street... more
The World Food Programme's director for North Korea said the agency was unable to reach millions of North Koreans due to a shortfall in funding.
The director, Torben Due, said the WFP had received no new donations for North Korea since Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test in May.
He also said Pyongyang had barred the WFP from using Korean-speaking staff.
North Korea had given no reason for that decision, he added.
Mr Due told reporters in Beijing that the WFP had received only 15% of an international appeal for $504m (£306m) and had to cut back plans to provide food aid to 6.2 million North Koreans to 2.27 million.The World Food Programme's director for North Korea said the agency was unable to... more
There are some parallels between the North Korean and Iranian situation. The difference lies in the former having already reached weaponization of their nuclear capability while Iran is still in the development stage.
While President Obama is still extending a hand to Iran, he seems resolute about keeping a clenched fist toward Kim Jung Il, who had, at one point, requested direct dialogue with the American President. Why the snub?There are some parallels between the North Korean and Iranian situation. The... more
For at least 3,000 years, a regular drumbeat of potent droughts, far longer and more severe than any experienced recently, have seared a belt of sub-Saharan Africa that is now home to tens of millions of the world’s poorest people, climate researchers reported in a new study.
The lead authors of the report, Timothy M. Shanahan of the University of Texas at Austin and Jonathan T. Overpeck of the University of Arizona, warned that global warming resulting from human-generated greenhouse gases was likely to exacerbate those droughts and that there was an urgent need to bolster the resilience of African countries in harm’s way.
But many stressed that the most urgent concern arising from the study was for the welfare of tens of millions of people with little capacity to endure today’s vagaries in rainfall, let alone epic dry spells.
“It’s a critical report,” said Kevin Watkins, the director of the Human Development Report office of the United Nations.
“Many of the 390 million people in Africa living on less than $1.25 a day are smallholder farmers that depend on two things: rain and land,” he said. “Even small climate blips such as a delay in rains, a modest shortening of the drought cycle, can have catastrophic effects.”For at least 3,000 years, a regular drumbeat of potent droughts, far longer and more... more
Since the beginning of the 1990s the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea suffers an increasing lack of adequate supply because of its centralised mismanagement. This resulted in one of the biggest famines of the 20th century. Between 1994 and 1998 about 2-3 million people died because of the consequences of malnutrition. People fled to China in order to find food and accommodation. Many tried to travel on to South Korea, to freedom. Humanitarian aid organisations speak of an estimated number of refugees of up to 300,000 per year.
Because of the 1968 agreement with Pyongyang, North Korean refugees are expelled by Chinese authorities. This exposes them to severe punishment and persecution in their home country.Since the beginning of the 1990s the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea... more
What became of over ten million American citizens who disappeared from US population records in the 1930s?What became of over ten million American citizens who disappeared from US population... more