Category Archives: Ecowatch

The End of Cheap Food Is it Temporary or Prelude to Global Famine?

“Hadn’t you heard, the age of cheap food is over?”, Ibu Susan retorted tersely one day a couple of years back as I was grumbling to her about the succession of price hikes on a number of staple items. Decent olive oil for example, acceptable soy milk, a nice piece of fresh fish, non-rancid walnuts, even plain old legumes or oatmeal, not to mention fresh blueberries. You know, the every day things that keep us expats happy. Well, yes actually, I did sort of know but I hadn’t really adjusted to the reality of expensive food. I still haven’t, though ... [ Read More ]

Then & Now: Forty Years on & Eco-Catastrophe is One Big Yawn

  It wasn’t always so. Forty years ago, 20 million Americans took part in the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Fifth Avenue in New York City was closed to automobiles as 100,000 people joined in concerts, lectures, and street theater. More than 2,000 colleges and universities across America interrupted their anti-war protests to rally instead against pollution and population growth. Even the US Congress recessed, acknowledging that the environment was now on a political par with motherhood. Everything was in place for the single largest national demonstration in American history, the Cuyahoga River had burst into flames, an oil ... [ Read More ]

Goodbye to Cheap Food… Hello, Malthus & Pigweed

Even without taking into account the negative effects of climate change on our food supply, how is the world going to feed itself in years to come? If world population continues to grow at the rate it is we could be looking at a world population of some 12 billion by 2050. Until quite recently few seemed to see this as a problem. Since the 1960s the Malthusian nightmare of an overpopulated starving planet had all but disappeared, to be replaced by the broad sunny uplands of agricultural surplus, miracle rice, butter mountains, wine lakes and a superabundance of wheat, ... [ Read More ]

Lovelock’s Cull or Monbiot’s Snowflake? No wonder we Opt for the Ostrich Option… .

If the polls tell us that ordinary people are denying the reality of global warming, as indeed they do, the collective unconscious is telling us a different story. I can’t think of a time when there have been so many and such bleak books and movies about our post-apocalyptic future – and disconcertingly, not in the distant future either. The current genre really kicks off in the 1980s with Mad Max running via The Handmaiden’s Tale, Waterworld until the last 12 months, when we seem to have gone into overdrive with 2012, The Road, Legion and The Book of Eli ... [ Read More ]

The “Skeptical Environmentalist” Recants  ‘Just Kidding! Climate Change is Real’, he says….

Do you remember Bjorn Lomborg, the peroxide mop-topped Danish business lecturer who won fame and fortune back in 2001 with a tendentious yet readable book The Skeptical Environmentalist, which told us that doing anything about climate change was a waste of our time and money? Now, just on ten years later, he tells us he’s changed his mind. Not only was he flat wrong, he says, and we must act immediately but we need to spend hundreds of billions of dollars every year for the better part of a century to fix things. Well, thanks a lot Bjorn. Maybe you ... [ Read More ]

Homo Sapiens: Long term prognosis – promising “One last chance“ says Prof. Gaia, but warns 90% cull by Century’s end probable

As scepticism about climate change seems to be gaining traction around the world, a group of international scientists hit back last month with a comprehensive report reinforcing the facts and figures behind global warming. It not only updates the information of the UN’s IPCC report of 2007, but shows the situation is actually quite a bit worse. Isolated errors in scientific methodology do not negate the fact that climate change is real and likely to have catastrophic effects for us if we cannot control it, says Prof. David Karoly of Melbourne University. While most of us hope we can muddle ... [ Read More ]

Millennium Development Goals 2015… . 5 Years to Go… . Will we Do it?

In September 2000 world leaders met at the UN headquarters in New York to set out and agree funding for eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to be achieved by 2015, designed to eradicate or reduce world poverty and hunger, alongside improving social, educational and health levels for all. Last month, two thirds of the way through the program, they met again to see if things are on course. Despite the spin – they are not. While significant progress overall has been made on all eight fronts the basic fact is that as per the criteria set, at least five of ... [ Read More ]

New UN Climate Chief gives up on Kyoto Climate Change treaty “impossible in our lifetime”

International bureaucrats and government climate policy advisers are giving up on the attempt to seek a binding agreement on climate change and do not expect a renewal of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, will be possible. Delegates at the UN climate change conference (UNFCCC) in Bonn last month were shocked when Christiana Figueres, who takes over from Yvo de Boer as Executive Secretary this month told them, “I do not believe we will ever have a final agreement on climate change, certainly not in my lifetime. A final, conclusive agreement will solve this problem. It would require the ... [ Read More ]

What DID we do at Copenhagen? Meaningful Step Forward or Abject Failure?

The truth of a candid statement made over two years ago by a senior aide of UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon at the Bali Climate Change of December 2007 is now starkly revealed for all to see. Asked what was really going on at the Bali COP15 meeting he said it was, “the first stage of the battle for economic leadership of the world between the US and China”. In the closing weeks of 2009 world’s leaders from 119 nations flocked to Copenhagen in order to play their part finding a solution to global warming. Hopes for a successful conference ... [ Read More ]

Don’t Throw REDD out with the Bathwater Just make sure the Safeguards work

I don’t recall who said it, probably Oscar Wilde, but whoever it was defines a cynic as just another disappointed optimist. Nowhere in our age would this be more true than in the arena of climate change. A healthy skepticism in all spheres when it comes to what politicos and corporate honchos of all stripes and their pet boffins tell us is clearly warranted. Cynicism can even be an attractive quality, when accompanied by a reasonable degree of  self-knowledge. It’s dangerous however when motivated by prejudice, passivity, sense of hopelessness or mild doses of habitual paranoia. Cynicism does not automatically ... [ Read More ]