Green but hungry
Due to teaching over the last few weeks, I’m WAY behind on bringing you stuff. So you may have seen this already but maybe not! The New York Times recently had a ‘green issue‘ that includes advice on how to make your carbon footprint smaller. The issue is divided into 7 sections that you can browse: Act, Eat, Invent, Learn, Live, Move and Build. Each section is stuffed full of great articles and advice. I must say I hadn’t considered Pig Power before (in the Invent section). There are 150,000 pigs in Reynolds, Indiana doing their bit for the environment by eating, sleeping and…eliminating their waste, which is collected into a massive, US $15 million “anaerobic digester” where the pig’s waste is converted to methane, synthetic gas and biodiesel. Reynolds is hoping that the pigs’ efforts will generate 100% of the town’s electricity demands and part of its transport-fuel.
You know, we need to educate ourselves around how to live more sustainably so check out the green issue. At the same time, arm yourself with information about rising food costs – this is going to be the real dark age ahead I think – riots over scarcity of food and a global food crisis. There have already been food riots in Haiti, Egypt and the Philippines. Basic food stuff is going to become unaffordable and forget about purchasing organic food because it will be too pricey. The UN recently named 36 countries as staggering under a food crisis, of which 21 are in Africa.
A ThinkingShift reader in Thailand says that the price of B grade rice has increased to AU $950 per ton, rising from $383 per ton at the beginning of 2008. According to stuff I’ve been reading, the rice crisis is being caused by a variety of factors: support and financing for agriculture has been neglected whilst Asian countries build cities; overpopulation; climate change; the credit crisis. But the crisis has hit us fast. In the last 18 months, a commodities super-cycle has risen its ugly head. This means that investors who used to plough their money into equities and mortgage bonds (and who have been spooked by the sub-prime mortgage debacle) are now taking their money and investing in food and commodities: gold and oil, sugar, wheat and rice, cocoa and cattle. So investors reap a profit out of the very basic food stuff and commodities that those who live on $2.00 per day depend on. Poor people simply will not be able to afford the basics of sugar, rice, wheat and so on. The World Bank estimates food prices have risen by an average of 83% in the past three years and is warning that at least 100 million people could be tipped into poverty as a result.
We should all be arming ourselves with information on this global food crisis because it will threaten global security. So check out the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN – their website has two reports looking at crop prospects and the food situation in 2008. Read the recent speech by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, delivered in Bern on April 29, 2008. As a result of the impending food crisis, the UN has established a task force.
Are we going to witness a revolution of the hungry? In the Ivory Coast, for example, thousands of hungry people marched on the home of President Laurent Gbagbo, chanting “we are hungry” and “life is too expensive, you are going to kill us”. In Egypt, at least 10 people have died over the past two weeks, in riots that erupted at government-subsidised bakeries. According to the UN, 1 out of every 80 people relies on somebody else to provide for basic food requirements.
We have basic rights as humans: the right to privacy (which as you know I think is stuffed in our society) and the right to food. How dark is our future going to be?