Earth Policy Institute: Podcast (plan b updates)

Los Angeles rang in the 2014 New Year with a ban on the distribution of plastic bags at the checkout counter of big retailers, making it the largest of the 132 cities and counties around the United States with anti-plastic bag legislation. And a movement that gained momentum in California is going national. More than 20 million Americans live in communities with plastic bag bans or fees.

Direct download: US_Plastic_Bag_Bans.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 2:26pm EST

Worldwide, a trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year, nearly 2 million each minute. Usage varies widely among countries, from over 400 a year for many East Europeans, to just four a year for people in Denmark and Finland. Plastic bags, made of depletable natural gas or petroleum resources, are often used only for a matter of minutes. Yet they last in the environment for hundreds of years, shredding into ever-smaller pieces but never fully breaking down.

Direct download: global_plastic_bags.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 3:29pm EST

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: 3:17pm EST

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: 9:21am EST

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: 2:32pm EST

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: 12:55pm EST

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: 11:45am EST

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: 11:39am EST

We drink on average four liters of water per day, in one form or another, but the food we eat each day requires 2,000 liters of water to produce, or 500 times as much. Getting enough water to drink is relatively easy, but finding enough to produce the ever-growing quantities of grain the world consumes is another matter. Get the full report on the EPI website.

Direct download: peak_water.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 4:09pm EST

The world quietly reached a milestone in the evolution of the human diet in 2011. For the first time in modern history, world farmed fish production topped beef production. The gap widened in 2012, with output from fish farming—also called aquaculture—reaching a record 66 million tons, compared with production of beef at 63 million tons.

Direct download: Fish_Overtakes_Beef.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 10:54am EST