Earth Policy Institute: Podcast

There are still some countries with a large potential for expanding fertilizer use. But in the many countries that have effectively removed nutrient constraints on crop yields, applying more fertilizer has little effect on yields. For the world as a whole, the era of rapidly growing fertilizer use is now history.

Direct download: fertilizer_use_diminishing.mp3
Category:Data Highlights -- posted at: 1:55 PM

While on a brief assignment for the USDA in India in 1965, Lester Brown pieced together the early clues of an impending famine. His urgent warning to the U.S. and Indian governments set in motion the largest food rescue effort in history, saving millions of lives.

Direct download: us_india_monsoon_failure.mp3
Category:Book Bytes -- posted at: 1:18 PM

The world is literally moving off the charts. With the global average temperature up over half a degree Celsius since the 1970s and with more warming in store, we are starting to witness weather anomalies so severe we need to update our metrics and extend our graphs.

Direct download: climate_change_driving_weather_off_charts.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 7:17 PM

Today, with oceanic resources more threatened than ever, the world is far from that envisioned MPA network. Although coverage has doubled since 2010, just 2.8 percent of the ocean surface—some 10 million square kilometers (4 million square miles), roughly the size of the United States—is now in designated MPAs. And the level of protection varies.

Direct download: MPAs.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 1:21 PM

Last year was the thirty-seventh consecutive year of above-normal global temperature. According to data from NASA, the global temperature in 2013 averaged 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit (14.6 degrees Celsius), roughly a degree warmer than the twentieth-century average. Since the dawn of agriculture 11,000 years ago, civilization has enjoyed a relatively stable climate. That is now changing as the growing human population rivals long-range geological processes in shaping the face of the planet.

Direct download: 2013_extreme_weather.mp3
Category:Eco-Economy Indicators -- posted at: 8:24 PM

In China, wind power is leaving nuclear behind. Electricity output from China’s wind farms exceeded that from its nuclear plants for the first time in 2012, by a narrow margin. Then in 2013, wind pulled away—outdoing nuclear by 22 percent. The 135 terawatt-hours of Chinese wind-generated electricity in 2013 would be nearly enough to power New York State.

Direct download: generation_gap_wind_over_nuclear.mp3
Category:Data Highlights -- posted at: 7:14 PM

Overnight, China has become a leading world grain importer, set to buy a staggering 22 million tons in the 2013–14 trade year, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture projections. As recently as 2006—just eight years ago—China had a grain surplus and was exporting 10 million tons. What caused this dramatic shift?

Direct download: can_the_world_feed_china.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 6:32 PM

India is now the world's third-largest grain producer after China and the United States. The adoption of higher-yielding crop varieties and the spread of irrigation have led to this remarkable tripling of output since the early 1960s. Unfortunately, a growing share of the water that irrigates three-fifths of India's grain harvest is coming from wells that are starting to go dry. This sets the stage for a major disruption in food supplies for India's growing population.

Direct download: India_Food_Bubble.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 5:55 PM

Offshore wind power installations are on track to hit a seventh consecutive annual record in 2013. Developers added 1,080 megawatts of generating capacity in the first half of the year, expanding the world total by 20 percent in just six months.

Direct download: Offshore_Wind_2013.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 4:45 PM

Nuclear power generation in the United States is falling. After increasing rapidly since the 1970s, electricity generation at U.S. nuclear plants began to grow more slowly in the early 2000s. It then plateaued between 2007 and 2010—before falling more than 4 percent over the last two years. Projections for 2013 show a further 1 percent drop. With reactors retiring early and proposed projects being abandoned, U.S. nuclear power’s days are numbered.

Direct download: US_Nuclear_Power_2013.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 3:39 PM