• Global grain reserves hit critically low levels
• Extreme weather means climate ‘is no longer reliable’
• Rising food prices threaten disaster and unrest
World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the United States or other food-exporting countries could trigger a major hunger crisis next year, the United Nations has warned.
Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the UN. READ MORE.
After remaining stable for most of human history, the world’s population has exploded over the last two centuries. The boom is not over: The biggest generation in history is just entering its childbearing years. The coming wave will reshape the planet, and the impact will be greatest in the poorest, most unstable countries.
Part 1: The biggest generation
Part 2: Tinderbox of youth
Part 3: Hunger without end
Part 4: The China effect
Part 5: Dream out of reach
The Club of Rome’s Problem — and Ours.
Forty years ago, humanity was warned: by chasing ever-greater economic growth, it was sentencing itself to catastrophe. The Club of Rome, a blue-ribbon multinational collection of business leaders, scholars, and government officials brought together by the Italian tycoon Aurelio Peccei, made the case in a slim 1972 volume called The Limits to Growth. Based on forecasts from an intricate series of computer models developed by professors at MIT, the book caused a sensation and captured the zeitgeist of the era: the belief that mankind’s escalating wants were on a collision course with the world’s finite resources and that the crash would be coming soon.
The Limits to Growth was neither the first nor the last publication to claim that the end was nigh due to the disease of modern development, but in many ways, it was the most successful. Although mostly forgotten these days, in its own time, it was a mass phenomenon, selling 12 million copies in more than 30 languages and being dubbed “one of the most important documents of our age” by The New York Times. And even though it proved to be phenomenally wrong-headed, it helped set the terms of debate on crucial issues of economic, social, and particularly environmental policy, with malign effects that remain embedded in public consciousness four decades later. It is not too great an exaggeration to say that this one book helped send the world down a path of worrying obsessively about misguided remedies for minor problems while ignoring much greater concerns and sensible ways of dealing with them. READ MORE.
With an increase of 1.2 million citizens every year, Uganda is the third-fastest growing country on earth. The population boom is causing bitter fights over land and may lead to food shortages, warn experts. Meanwhile, individual families feel the strain. “I love my children, but just wished I had fewer of them,” says a struggling mother of seven.
A focused conversation with Justine is not possible because a horde of children permanently surrounds her. The twin four-year-old sons scream for attention, while her three-year-old daughter tries to grab the notebook of a visitor.
“Ugandan women are extremely fertile,” says the 40 year old. “I love my children very much, but I fail to give everyone enough attention. I have to combine motherhood with my work as a hotel manager. The youngest children delay going to school because I use the money for school fees for the elder ones,” she explains.
Justine was married twice. Both men left her. Only the second ex-husband contributes to his children’s education. This scenario is commonplace in Uganda, where women give birth to an average of 6.2 children. READ MORE.
We have enough food to feed everyone. But we need to produce even more. Here is why.
The problem of hunger can be solved. The planet creates more than enough food to meet everyone’s needs. But there are still about 925 million hungry people in the world, and nearly 180 million preschool-age children do not get vital nutrients.
In 2008, the last global Copenhagen Consensus project focused attention on the problem of hidden hunger. A team of Nobel laureate economists found that micronutrient interventions—fortification and supplements designed to increase nutrient intake—were the most effective investment that could be made, with massive benefits for a tiny price tag. read more.