Earth Policy Institute: Podcast

Podcast of Lester Brown on Guardian.co.uk‘s Global Development website, titled “The 21st century goldrush - African arable land grabs.” Posted January 28, 2011.


Topping off the warmest decade in history, 2010 experienced a global average temperature of 14.63 degrees Celsius (58.3 degrees Fahrenheit), tying 2005 as the hottest year in 131 years of recordkeeping. This news will come as no surprise to residents of the 19 countries that experienced record heat in 2010. Belarus set a record of 38.7 degrees Celsius (101.7 degrees Fahrenheit) on August 6 and then broke it by 0.2 degrees Celsius just one day later. A 47.2-degree Celsius (117.0-degree Fahrenheit) spike in Burma set a record for Southeast Asia as a whole. And on May 26, 2010, the ancient city of Mohenjo-daro in Pakistan hit 53.5 degrees Celsius (128.3 degrees Fahrenheit)—a record not only for the country but for all of Asia. In fact, it was the fourth hottest temperature ever recorded anywhere. For full report, please visit the EPI website.


As the new year begins, the price of wheat is setting an all-time high in the United Kingdom. Food riots are spreading across Algeria. Russia is importing grain to sustain its cattle herds until spring grazing begins. India is wrestling with an 18-percent annual food inflation rate, sparking protests. China is looking abroad for potentially massive quantities of wheat and corn. The Mexican government is buying corn futures to avoid unmanageable tortilla price rises. And on January 5, the U.N. Food and Agricultural organization announced that its food price index for December hit an all-time high. But whereas in years past, it's been weather that has caused a spike in commodities prices, now it's trends on both sides of the food supply/demand equation that are driving up prices. On the demand side, the culprits are population growth, rising affluence, and the use of grain to fuel cars. On the supply side: soil erosion, aquifer depletion, the loss of cropland to nonfarm uses, the diversion of irrigation water to cities, the plateauing of crop yields in agriculturally advanced countries, and—due to climate change —crop-withering heat waves and melting mountain glaciers and ice sheets. These climate-related trends seem destined to take a far greater toll in the future. For full report, please visit the EPI website.

*NOTE: This piece originally appeared in Foreign Policy on Tuesday, January 10, 2011.

Direct download: Plan_B_Update_The_Great_Food_Crisis_of_2011.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 4:19pm EST

Teleconference with Lester Brown on World on the Edge: How To Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse

Lester Brown discusses his latest book World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse and food production bubbles in a press teleconference. Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2011. Click here for the Press Release.


1