April 2014

April 28th, 2014

"At 59.6 percent of sites monitored by the Chinese government, the groundwater quality was “very polluted” or “relatively polluted”—that is, unfit for drinking—in 2013, according to a study released on Tuesday by China’s Ministry of Land and Resources.

The government tested 4,778 sites in 203 cities. The study showed that China’s water quality had worsened somewhat from the previous year, when 57.4 percent of test sites were classified as polluted.

Groundwater supplies about a fifth of China’s total water consumption. In the water-short north and northwest of China, groundwater accounts for 50 percent to 80 percent of water usage.

“It is imperative that the Chinese government move aggressively and assertively to combat groundwater pollution,” scientists Chunmiao Zheng and Jie Liu of Peking University’s Center for Water Research warned last spring in Science magazine. “This is urgent, as potable water is scarce in the most populated areas, and China cannot afford the destruction of its groundwater resources.”

Zheng and Liu pointed out that China could look to the U.S.’s groundwater cleanup campaigns as an example. It wasn’t all that long ago that New York State suffered a similar blight."

Read more from Bloomberg Businessweek

April 23rd, 2014

"Approximately 49 million people in the United States live in food-insecure households, with nearly 16 million of them being children, according to September Department of Agriculture data. A new analysis by hunger nonprofit Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap report seeks to quantify that at the county and congressional district level.

The map above shows the county-level results of their analysis, which found that most of the highly insecure counties are in the South. Of the 33 counties with the lowest food-insecurity rates, all but four are in oil-rich North Dakota. Food-budget shortfalls were estimated by using responses to Census questions.

Here’s a look at some of the report’s key facts, figures and charts."

Read more from Washington Post

April 9th, 2014
"One of the warnings from the new climate change report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, is food insecurity: It will be harder to grow many crops in parts of the world.

That includes staple crops like corn, wheat and rice. In Kenya, this could dramatically shift societal norms, where corn is life.  

“Almost everybody is growing maize [corn], everybody is consuming maize. It’s made into a very thick porridge for the dinner time and into a less thick porridge for the breakfast time,” said Bruce Campbell, director of the climate change and agriculture program at CGIAR, a global food research organization.  

“You can get a vision of what happens with any impact on maize if you go back to 2008 when something like 1 million people in rural areas, 4 million in urban areas, were food insecure.”

Corn prices shot up 60 percent leading to food riots. The social fabric of Kenya began to fray. That corn shortage was caused by failed short-term rains combined with previous harsh seasons. Global economic factors, such as fuel prices, also contributed to the price rise.

Campbell said as the climate warms, incidents like 2008 could become more regular in Kenya.

“Undoubtedly, one does have a vision going forward of price increases both progressively as well as many more spikes in relation to extreme events.”

Extreme events range from drought on the one hand to flash flooding on the other. As to when these changes could become the new normal, Campbell can’t say when exactly for sure. No one can.  But he thinks it could be much more difficult to grow corn in Kenya by 2050."

Read more from PRI The World

April 4th, 2014


Battles over water and food will erupt within the next five to 10 years as a result of climate change, the president of the World Bank said as he urged those campaigning against global warming to learn the lessons of how protesters and scientists joined forces in the battle against HIV.

Jim Yong Kim said it was possible to cap the rise in global temperatures at 2C but that so far there had been a failure to replicate the "unbelievable" success of the 15-year-long coalition of activists and scientists to develop a treatment for HIV.

The bank's president – a doctor active in the campaign to develop drugs to treat HIV – said he had asked the climate change community: "Do we have a plan that's as good as the plan we had for HIV?" The answer, unfortunately, was no.

"Is there enough basic science research going into renewable energy? Not even close. Are there ways of taking discoveries made in universities and quickly moving them into industry? No. Are there ways of testing those innovations? Are there people thinking about scaling [up] those innovations?"

Interviewed ahead of next week's biannual World Bank meeting, Kim added: "They [the climate change community] kept saying, 'What do you mean a plan?' I said a plan that's equal to the challenge. A plan that will convince anyone who asks us that we're really serious about climate change, and that we have a plan that can actually keep us at less than 2C warming. We still don't have one."

Read more from The Guardian