Earth Policy Institute: Podcast (data highlights)
Rising Meat Consumption Takes Big Bite out of Grain Harvest

World consumption of animal protein is everywhere on the rise. Meat consumption increased from 44 million tons in 1950 to 284 million tons in 2009, more than doubling annual consumption per person to over 90 pounds. The rise in consumption of milk and eggs is equally dramatic. Wherever incomes rise, so does meat consumption. As the oceanic fish catch and rangeland beef production have both leveled off, the world has shifted to grain-based production of animal protein to expand output. With some 35 percent of the world grain harvest (760 million tons) used to produce animal protein, meat consumption has a large impact on grain consumption, and therefore global food security. For full report, visit the EPI website.

Direct download: Rising_Meat_Consumption_Takes_Big_Bite_out_of_Grain_Harvest.mp3
Category:Data Highlights -- posted at: 9:29am EST

Troubling Health Trends Holding Back Progress on Life Expectancy

People born today will live for 68 years on average, 20 years longer than those born in 1950. By the mid-twentieth century, industrial countries had already made major strides in extending lifespans with improvements in sanitation, nutrition, and public health. After World War II, rapid gains in life expectancy in developing countries began to narrow the gap between these nations and industrial countries. Although average life expectancy worldwide continues to increase, gains have come more slowly in the last few decades. Worryingly, life expectancy has actually declined in some developing countries, while a few industrial countries have stalled or made slow progress on this important indicator of human health and well-being. For full report, visit the EPI website.


Demographics Loom Large in State Failure

After a half-century of forming new states from former colonies and from the breakup of the Soviet Union, the international community is today faced with the opposite situation: the disintegration of states. Failing states are now a prominent feature of the international political landscape. For full report, visit the EPI website.

Direct download: Demographics_Loom_Large_in_State_Failure.mp3
Category:Data Highlights -- posted at: 1:01pm EST

Learning from China: Why the Existing Economic Model will Fail

For almost as long as I can remember we have been saying that the United States, with 5 percent of the world’s people, consumes a third or more of the earth’s resources. That was true. It is no longer true. Today China consumes more basic resources than the United States does. For full report, visit the EPI website.

Direct download: Learning_From_China_Why_the_Existing_Economic_Model_Will_Fail.mp3
Category:Data Highlights -- posted at: 10:06am EST

Two Stories of Disease: Smallpox and Polio

Smallpox plagued humanity for thousands of years. In the 18th century, smallpox killed one out of every ten children in France and Sweden. Over the 20th century, the virus caused between 300 and 500 million deaths worldwide. No effective treatment was ever developed. For full report, visit the EPI website.

Direct download: Two_Stories_of_Disease_Smallpox_and_Polio.mp3
Category:Data Highlights -- posted at: 7:08pm EST

Iowa Eclipses Canada in Grain Production, Challenges China in Soybean Production

The U.S. state of Iowa is an agricultural superpower, simultaneously eclipsing Canada in grain production and challenging China in soybean production. No, these are not mathematical errors. For full report, visit the EPI website.


Our inefficient, carbon-based energy economy threatens to irreversibly disrupt the Earth’s climate. Averting dangerous climate change and the resultant crop-shrinking heat waves, more-destructive storms, accelerated sea level rise, and waves of climate refugees means cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020.

The first key component of the Earth Policy Institute’s climate stabilization plan is to systematically raise the efficiency of the world energy economy. One of the quickest ways to increase efficiency, cut carbon emissions, and save money is simply to change light bulbs. For full report, visit the EPI website.

Direct download: Shining_a_Light_on_Energy_Efficiency.mp3
Category:Data Highlights -- posted at: 2:25pm 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