Earth Policy Institute: Podcast
By Janet Larsen
Cancer is now the leading cause of death in China. Chinese Ministry of Health data implicate cancer in close to a quarter of all deaths countrywide. As is common with many countries as they industrialize, the usual plagues of poverty—infectious diseases and high infant mortality—have given way to diseases more often associated with affluence, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
While this might be expected in China’s richer cities, where bicycles are fast being traded in for cars and meat consumption is climbing, it also holds true in rural areas. In fact, reports from the countryside reveal a dangerous epidemic of “cancer villages” linked to pollution from some of the very industries propelling China’s explosive economy. By pursuing economic growth above all else, China is sacrificing the health of its people, ultimately risking future prosperity. For full report, please visit the EPI website.
Direct download: Update_96_Cancer_Now_Leading_Cause_of_Death_in_China.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 10:16pm EST

Education Leads to Lower Fertility and Increased Prosperity

By Brigid Fitzgerald Reading

As the world continues to add close to 80 million people each year, high population growth is running up against the limits of our finite planet, threatening global economic and political stability. To stay within the bounds of the earth’s natural resources, the world’s population will have to stabilize. 

The United Nations’ recently revised “medium” projection shows world population exceeding 9 billion by 2045. In the “high” projection, which assumes high levels of fertility, world population would top 10 billion by the same year. But spreading hunger and poverty, along with the conflict and disease that come with them, could forcibly curtail growth before we reach 9 billion. Alternatively, the “low” projection suggests it is possible for world population to peak at just over 8 billion around 2045 if we voluntarily make rapid reductions in family size. For full report, visit the EPI website.

Direct download: Education_Leads_to_Lower_Fertility_and_Increased_Prosperity.mp3
Category:Data Highlights -- posted at: 2:55pm EST

Wind: The Center of the Plan B Economy

For many years, a small handful of countries dominated growth in wind power, but this is changing as the industry goes global, with more than 70 countries now developing wind resources. Between 2000 and 2010,world wind electric generating capacity increased at a frenetic pace from 17,000 megawatts to nearly 200,000 megawatts.

Measured by share of electricity supplied by wind, Denmark is the leading nation at 21 percent. Three north German states now get 40 percent or more of their electricity from wind. For Germany as a whole, the figure is 8 percent—and climbing. And in the state of Iowa, enough wind turbines came online in the last few years to produce up to 20 percent of that state’s electricity. For full report, visit the EPI website.

Direct download: Wind_The_Center_of_the_Plan_B_Economy.mp3
Category:Book Bytes -- posted at: 3:11pm EST

Why World Food Prices May Keep Climbing

By Lester R. Brown

In February, world food prices reached the highest level on record. Soaring food prices are already a source of spreading hunger and political unrest, and it appears likely that they will climb further in the months ahead.

As a result of an extraordinarily tight grain situation, this year’s harvest will be one of the most closely watched in years. Last year, the world produced 2,180 million tons of grain. It consumed 2,240 million tons, a consumption excess that was made possible by drawing down stocks by 60 million tons. (See data.) To avoid repeating last year’s shortfall and to cover this year’s estimated 40-million-ton growth in demand, this year’s world grain harvest needs to increase by at least 100 million tons. Yet that would only maintain the current precarious balance between supply and demand.

Direct download: Why_World_Food_Prices_May_Keep_Climbing.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 4:34pm EST

Nearly four weeks after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, emergency personnel are still struggling to stabilize the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Beyond the immediate need to minimize further radioactive leakage and protect public health, the government is beginning to reconsider its long-term plans for nuclear power expansion. International media coverage has typically assumed that Japan must expand its electricity generation from coal, oil, and natural gas if nuclear is no longer an option. But the leaders in Tokyo do not have to be restricted to just these choices. A review of Japan’s geothermal, wind, and solar energy potential shows that domestic renewable resources could easily power the world’s third-largest economy. For full report, please visit the EPI website.

Direct download: Time_to_Rethink_Japans_Energy_Future.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 3:47pm EST

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