Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Crisis 2030?

The BBC News website has an excellent feature on the upcoming resource crunch. The main story gives an overview:

...the warning from John Beddington, the UK government's chief scientific adviser, of a possible crisis in 2030. Specifically, he points to research indicating that by 2030 "a whole series of events come together":
• The world's population will rise by 33%
• Demand for food will increase by 50%
• Demand for water will increase by 30%
• Demand for energy will increase by 50%
He foresees each problem combining to create a "perfect storm" in which the whole is bigger, and more serious, than the sum of its parts.
As far as I can see, that's doesn't include the impact of the lost environmental services due to natural resource degradation and climate change. Considering these aspects, I think we'll face serious crises sooner, especially in the high-population density developing world.

There are accompanying articles with video on the three big aspects of the problem:
as well as on possible solutions:

We have of course survived the previous Malthusian predictions, but this time it might be different:
Since the late 1980s, we have been in overshoot - the Ecological Footprint has exceeded the Earth’s biocapacity - by about 25%. Effectively, the Earth’s regenerative capacity can no longer keep up with demand – people are turning resources into waste faster than nature can turn waste back into resources.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Looks like an Indian version of the Environmental Protection Agency is on the cards:

According to Jairam Ramesh, environment minister, the Congress party-led government plans to set up an Environmental Protection Agency, modelled on that of the US, which would ensure that standards were implemented and monitored.

It has also sought parliamentary approval for the creation of other new environmental institutions including "green courts" aimed at resolving cases long stuck in the existing, overburdened judicial system.

The new push comes as India finds itself in the spotlight in the run up to December's Copenhagen conference on climate change, where world leaders are hoping to hammer out a successor to the Kyoto agreement. India, China, and other developing countries are under pressure to come up with firmer plans to reduce emissions.

Let's hope the EPA is staffed with the best environmentalists we can get, and more importantly, it is actually able to enforce its policies.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Government of India just released a "State of the Environment" report. I can't find the original report, but there is a lot of coverage:

BBC News:

The State of the Environment report says that at least 45% of India's land area is "degraded due to erosion, soil acidity, alkalinity and salinity, water logging and wind erosion".
in the past, a combination of rainfall and surface and groundwater supplies were sufficient for the population. But now it says that rainfall has become more erratic, groundwater supplies are becoming more depleted and surface water is becoming more polluted.
"with an economy closely linked to a natural resource base", India faces big challenges in the future including a scarcity of water and lower crop yields.
...the level of respirable suspended particulate matter--the small pieces of soot and dust that get inside the lungs--had gone up in all the 50 cities across India studied by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the Central Pollution Control Board.
10 percent of its wild flora and fauna are on the threatened list... The main causes, according to the report, were habitat destruction, poaching, invasive species, overexploitation, pollution and climate change.
about 700 million Indians directly face the threat of global warming today, as it affects farming, makes droughts, floods and storms more frequent and more severe and is raising the sea level.
On the plus side:
over two-thirds of the degraded 147 million hectares can be regenerated quite easily, ... and India's forest cover is gradually increasing
India contributes around 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions. That is about a quarter of the emissions of China and the US. ... Indian per capita emissions are one-twentieth of the US and one-tenth of Europe and Japan.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

For the first time, satellite remote sensing of a 2000-kilometer swath running from eastern Pakistan across northern India and into Bangladesh has put a solid number on how quickly the region is depleting its groundwater. The number "is big," says hydrologist James Famiglietti of the University of California, Irvine--big as in 54 cubic kilometers of groundwater lost per year from the world's most intensively irrigated region hosting 600 million people. "I don't think anybody knew how quickly it was being depleted over that large an area."
groundwater was being pumped out 70% faster in this decade than the Central Ground Water Board of India estimated it was in the mid-1990s. The apparent surge in withdrawal would have been large enough to turn a once-stable water table into a falling one that demands ever-deeper wells and bigger pumps and may draw in salty or polluted water
The world's food production needs to double by 2050 to feed the world's growing population. But over this period, climate change, reduced access to water and changing land use are likely to make growing crops harder rather than easier.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Organic/natural farming is not just about indirect environmental benefits:

The carbon-footprinting process often produces surprises. An environmentally conscious consumer in the crisps aisle of the supermarket will probably be thinking about packaging or “food miles”. The Carbon Trust reckons that about 1 per cent of the climate impact of a packet of crisps is from moving potatoes around. The largest single culprit is the production of the nitrogen fertiliser, and half of the climate impact in general takes place at the agricultural stage.


blogger templates