Earth Policy Institute: Podcast (eco-economy indicators)

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: 4:24pm EST

The world installed 31,100 megawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2012—an all-time annual high that pushed global PV capacity above 100,000 megawatts. There is now enough PV operating to meet the household electricity needs of nearly 70 million people at the European level of use. While PV production has become increasingly concentrated in one country—China—the number of countries installing PV is growing rapidly.

Direct download: Solar_Power_2013.mp3
Category:Eco-Economy Indicators -- posted at: 1:56pm EST

Increasing global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a heat-trapping gas, are pushing the world into dangerous territory, closing the window of time to avert the worst consequences of higher temperatures, such as melting ice and rising seas. Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels have grown exponentially.

Direct download: Carbon_Emissions_2013.mp3
Category:Eco-Economy Indicators -- posted at: 10:14am EST

Even amid policy uncertainty in major wind power markets, wind developers still managed to set a new record for installations in 2012, with 44,000 megawatts of new wind capacity worldwide. With total capacity exceeding 280,000 megawatts, wind farms generate carbon-free electricity in more than 80 countries, 24 of which have at least 1,000 megawatts.

Direct download: World_Wind_Power_2013.mp3
Category:Eco-Economy Indicators -- posted at: 1:55pm EST

As the earth warms, glaciers and ice sheets are melting and seas are rising. Over the last century, the global average sea level rose by 17 centimeters (7 inches). This century, as waters warm and ice continues to melt, seas are projected to rise nearly 2 meters (6 feet), inundating coastal cities worldwide, such as New York, London, and Cairo. Melting sea ice, ice sheets, and mountain glaciers are a clear sign of our changing climate.

Direct download: Where_Has_All_the_Ice_Gone.mp3
Category:Eco-Economy Indicators -- posted at: 3:28pm EST

Forests provide many important goods, such as timber and paper. They also supply essential services—for example, they filter water, control water runoff, protect soil, regulate climate, cycle and store nutrients, and provide habitat for countless animal species and space for recreation. For full report, visit the EPI website.

Direct download: World_Forest_Area_Still_On_the_Decline.mp3
Category:Eco-Economy Indicators -- posted at: 5:16pm EST

Wind energy developers installed a record 41,000 megawatts of electricity-generating capacity in 2011, bringing the world total to 238,000 megawatts.  With more than 80 countries now harnessing the wind, there is enough installed wind power capacity worldwide to meet the residential electricity needs of 380 million people at the European level of consumption. For the full report, visit the EPI website.

Direct download: Wind_power_climbs_to_new_record_in_2011.mp3
Category:Eco-Economy Indicators -- posted at: 9:33am EST

Global Economy Expanded More Slowly than Expected in 2011

The global economy grew 3.8 percent in 2011, a drop from 5.2 percent in 2010. Economists had anticipated a slowdown, but this was even less growth than expected, thanks to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, unrest in oil-producing countries, the debt crisis in Europe, and a stagnating recovery in the United States. As richer economies struggle to recover from the financial crisis of 2008–09, poorer countries are facing high food prices and rising youth unemployment. Meanwhile, growing income inequality and environmental disruption are challenging conventional notions of economic health. For full report, visit the EPI website.


2011: A Year of Weather Extremes, with More to Come

The global average temperature in 2011 was 14.52 degrees Celsius (58.14 degrees Fahrenheit). According to NASA scientists, this was the ninth warmest year in 132 years of recordkeeping, despite the cooling influence of the La Niña atmospheric and oceanic circulation pattern and relatively low solar irradiance. Since the 1970s, each subsequent decade has gotten hotter—and 9 of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred in the twenty-first century. For full report, visit the EPI website.

Direct download: 2011_A_Year_of_Weather_Extremes_with_More_to_Come.mp3
Category:Eco-Economy Indicators -- posted at: 10:45am EST

Bumper 2011 Grain Harvest Fails to Rebuild Global Stocks

The world’s farmers produced more grain in 2011 than ever before. Estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show the global grain harvest coming in at 2,295 million tons, up 53 million tons from the previous record in 2009. Consumption grew by 90 million tons over the same period to 2,280 million tons. Yet with global grain production actually falling short of consumption in 7 of the past 12 years, stocks remain worryingly low, leaving the world vulnerable to food price shocks. For full report, visit the EPI website.