Building a world of
resilient communities.

MAIN LIST

 

Nations & resources - Aug 25

Click on the headline (link) for the full text.
Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Averting a perfect storm of shortages

Steven Mulvey, BBC news
As the world's population grows, competition for food, water and energy will increase. Food prices will rise, more people will go hungry, and migrants will flee the worst-affected regions.

BBC correspondents explore the forecast by UK chief scientist John Beddington, of a "perfect storm" of food, water and energy shortages in 2030. They also consider what scientists and members of the public can do to help avert a crisis.

That's the simple idea at the heart of 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 from 6bn to 8bn (33%)

Demand for food will increase by 50%

Demand for water will increase by 30%

Demand for energy will increase by 50%
(24 August 2009)
Related: This story links in with a number of others on the BBC news website on food, climate, and energy issues. -KS


The Future of Food
BBC Two TV series
George Alagiah, BBC Two

Episode 1
George Alagiah travels the world to reveal a growing global food crisis that could affect the planet in the years ahead. With food riots on three continents recently, and unprededented competition for food due to population growth and changing diets, the series alerts viewers to a looming problem and looks for solutions.

George joins a Masai chief among the skeletons of hundreds of cattle he has lost to climate change, and the English farmer who tells him why food production in the UK is also hit. He spends a day eating with a family in Cuba to find out how a future oil shock could lead to dramatic adjustments to diets. He visits the breadbasket of India to meet the farmer who now struggles to irrigate his land as water tables drop, and finds out why obesity is spiralling out of control in Mexico.

Back in Britain, George investigates what is wrong with people's diets, and discovers that the UK imports an average of 3000 litres of water per capita every day. He talks to top nutritionist Susan Jebb, DEFRA minister Hilary Benn and Nobel laureate Rajendra Pachauri to uncover what the future holds for our food.

Episode 2
George Alagiah travels the world to reveal a growing global food crisis that could affect the planet in the years ahead. With food riots on three continents recently, and unprededented competition for food due to population growth and changing diets, the series alerts viewers to a looming problem and looks for solutions.

George heads out to India to discover how a changing diet in the developing world is putting pressure on the world's limited food resources. He finds out how using crops to produce fuel is impacting on food supplies across the continents. George then meets a farmer in Kent, who is struggling to sell his fruit at a profit, and a British farmer in Kenya who is shipping out tonnes of vegetables for our supermarket shelves. He also examines why so many people are still dying of hunger after decades of food aid.

Back in the UK, George challenges the decision-makers with the facts he has uncovered - from Oxfam head of research Duncan Green to Sainsbury's boss Justin King. He finds out why British beef may offer a model for future meat production and how our appetite for fish is stripping the world's seas bare.

Episode 3
George Alagiah travels the world to reveal a growing global food crisis that could affect the planet in the years ahead. With food riots on three continents recently, and unprededented competition for food due to population growth and changing diets, the series alerts viewers to a looming problem and looks for solutions.

George heads out to India to discover how a changing diet in the developing world is putting pressure on the world's limited food resources. He finds out how using crops to produce fuel is impacting on food supplies across the continents. George then meets a farmer in Kent, who is struggling to sell his fruit at a profit, and a British farmer in Kenya who is shipping out tonnes of vegetables for our supermarket shelves. He also examines why so many people are still dying of hunger after decades of food aid.

Back in the UK, George challenges the decision-makers with the facts he has uncovered - from Oxfam head of research Duncan Green to Sainsbury's boss Justin King. He finds out why British beef may offer a model for future meat production and how our appetite for fish is stripping the world's seas bare.
(Aug 2009)
While peak oil is not directly mentioned (so far, at least), the effects of the loss of oil supply from Russia during the Cuban "Special period" are recounted and industrial agriculture's dependence on fossil fuels is highlighted. Some people are comparing it to "A Farm for the Future" without the solutions. Can only be viewed in the UK for now. -KS.



The Big Question: Should Africa be generating much of Europe's power?

Daniel Howden, The Independent
Two hugely ambitious power-generating schemes have been launched in recent weeks, one offering to create the world's largest solar farm and the other to create the biggest hydroelectric dam on the planet. In both cases the location for the mega-projects is Africa: the solar-power scheme envisages harnessing the sun in the Moroccan and/or Algerian Sahara; while the hydroelectric plan centres on damming the mighty Congo River. What the two projects have in common is that they seek to export the majority of the power they intend to generate from impoverished countries to more developed economies. In the case of the Sahara to Southern Europe and in the case of Congo to South Africa, foreign mining interests inside the Democratic Republic of Congo and again, Europe. Even in the best-case scenario neither project will be up and running for 15 years.

How would it work?

Planners behind the Desertec scheme point out that the solar energy that falls on the Sahara in six hours would power Europe for one year. Although the difficulty in harnessing, storing and transferring that electricity means that the eventual aim is to supply 15 per cent of Europe's power needs. The Inga Dam project in DRC aims to generate 40,000MW, meaning twice the capacity of the giant Three Gorges dam in China, which would be more than the output of South Africa's entire troubled national power industry. In terms of how it works, however sophisticated power stations become, they all do broadly the same thing as a bicycle dynamo – they either boil water or harness moving water to turn turbines that generate resistance and charge. In the Sahara it would be done by a new concentrated solar power (CSP) technology which is in effect a vast field of mirrors which collect heat, boil water and turn turbines. The electricity generated would be channelled through direct current cables under the Mediterranean and into Europe. In the case of the Congo it would involve absorbing the extraordinary power of the Inga Falls to power the turbines. The same cables would then transfer that electricity as far afield as South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and southern Europe...
(25 August 2009)

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Sign up for regular Resilience bulletins direct to your email.

Take action!  

Make connections via our GROUPS page.
Start your own projects. See our RESOURCES page.
Help build resilience. DONATE NOW.


From Fire to Fermentation: A Review of Michael Pollan's Cooked

The book, like others Pollan's written, benefits from his exceptional …

Downhome Fibers: A River of Creativity, Care & Quality

Clear decision making accompanied by determination and hard work has landed …

Young Agrarians

At its best the agrarian life is an integrated whole, with work and leisure …

Community Food Activists Tell Their Stories

It’s easy to dismiss issues facing people we don’t know and …

The Energetic Basis of Wealth

Last year I did an analysis to try to understand whether it’s possible …

During extreme drought, farmers try for resiliency

For those who take the long view, there are bigger ideas to achieve …

Crowdfunding and Ownership in the Sharing Economy

What would...our sensibilities regain, if sustainable local food projects …