Food for Thought

A recent Time article takes a look at the effect of the rise of food prices worldwide especially among poor nations. Growing demand for food among fast growing economies such as India and China, rising oil prices affecting other agriculture commodities in turn, and global warming affecting harvests because of changes in climate, were among the main reasons raised in the material. That as images of riots related to basic commodities in poor nations in Asia and Africa are mentioned to depict a worsening global problem.

Now I wouldn’t have written about this were it not for a local problem related to the issue. Last week, leelock wrote about another Arroyo-China deal “allowing the lease of 1,000,000 hectares of our land to Jilin Fuhua Corporation.” Towards the end of the her entry, she posted a question of why we won’t grow food from our own land.

Given the global basic commodity problem international organizations express concern over and a largely unaddressed overpopulation problem, it all the more makes sense to support agriculture domestically. If the trend on global food and basic necessities Time reports and the growth of the Philippine population are indications, it would be worse to become more dependent on the global market for agriculture.

Grilled Bitefulls

Sleepless as an owl, hungry as a bear…

So before I go get my fill, here’s a blog entry on do’s and don’t’s for your grilled cheese, (something I want right now really.) Of course tons of recipes should come with it.

*Makes a mad dash to the kitchen…*

A Thought For Food

With the growth of the global population, there is a great deal of attention on the sustainability of food among other resources. Sectors such as agriculture and the fishing industry are under pressure to cope with the challenge of feeding humans.

Water Woes

That’s why in these days, water scarcity in different countries receive due attention. In his article featured at peopleandplanet.net last month, Earth Policy Institute president Lester Brown comprehensively discusses the water-related problems in different regions of the world such as Central and East Asia, the Middle East and the U.S. because of the growing population.

Climate changes don’t help either as concerns are understandably raised as well when crops are affected by natural calamities or disasters. The severe monsoon flooding experienced in South Asia aggravated by inundating rivers from July to about last month this year, or the drought experienced in this country just these past few months has yet to have farmers recovering, according to Arthur Yap is to be believed, are some examples of the attention authorities give to such agricultural woes.

No More Tuna?

The fisheries scene have the authorities’ attention too. Fish still continues to remain an important source of food and is an important industry for many Asian countries near the Pacific. While it may seem that the ocean’s resources have yet to be exhausted by humans, a lot in the international science community and the fishing industry recognize the need to protect the tuna industry recently in the Pacific Tuna Forum in Port Moresby a few days ago.

From the resource, pertinent issues raised include:

  • Cut tuna catches by 50 percent, going beyond the reductions already recommended by the Science committee;
  • Ban all at-sea transhipments in the Pacific which will stop thousands of tons of tuna being smuggled out of the region;
  • Set up no-take marine reserves in the high seas to allow depleted stocks to truly recover, and;
  • Eradicate pirate fishing which steals up to 15 per cent of the region’s tuna.

Human Behavior Tidbits

Really stuff for the news entry previously, (only more dated that is.)

One of Four American Adults Read No Books Last Year

Not really surprising as far as I’m concerned. I think advances in technology has something to do with the dent on the amount of time people get to spend with books significantly. A lot has been said about the impact of such technological development on human behavior from shorter attention spans brought about by the ease of access to necessary information to more distractions brought about by the increased multitasking capabilities inherent in today’s computing technologies.

Even the definition of books themselves have become vague as a lot of publications have gone digital much like the trend seen for music records last year as I have written in this blog entry.

Anyway here’s the said Associated Press report:

One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and older people were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.

The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn’t read any, the usual number read was seven.

Web Usage Eats Up TV Time

Knew this one was coming when earlier this year related studies came out reporting on more people spending time on YouTube than in front of the TV. The sky’s still very much the limit for the growth of the internet as a related Reuters report on the findings of an IBM survey on consumer behavior goes:

In the latest sign of television’s decline as the primary media device, 19% of respondents said they spend six hours or more each day on personal Internet usage. That compares with 8% who said so about the TV. One to four hours of TV usage was reported by 66%, compared with 60% for the Web.

The number of TV viewers using digital video recorders continues to expand, with 24% of U.S. respondents saying they have a DVR and watch 50% or more of TV programming in replay mode, IBM found. Of those viewers, 33% said they are watching more TV since owning a DVR, in line with other recent studies.

New Diseases Due to Sex, Farming and Population Growth.

Yup, that’s pretty much a no brainer there. Consider the following Associated Press report quoting WHO authorities. WHO epidemics expert Dr. Mike Ryan in particular says:

“We’ve seen a shift in trend that reflects a transition of human civilization,” Ryan said. “The relationship to the animal kingdom, our travel, our social, sexual and other behaviors have changed the nature of our relationship with the microbial world and the result of that is the emergence of new pathogens and the spread of those pathogens around the world.”

And the facts laid down:

  • The increase of the rate at which food and people around the world carries risks which must be managed effectively. The increase in poultry to meet the demands of the growing world population for example might have resulted in the spread of bird flu according to WHO-Director General Dr. Margaret Chan.
  • Majority of the 39 new diseases recently including AIDS, Ebol, SARS and bird flu came from animals.

Architects and Urbanization

The global warming issue has been touching on the topic of urban living for a good reason: this year’s summer marks the first time that more people living in urban areas compared to those in rural areas. Effective policies and measures in place in cities therefore should translate to a considerable if not significant plus towards the effort.

Anyway a livemint article features the architect’s take on the subject:

As the demands on the world’s planners grow, academics from around the world gathered at a recent conference and expressed great unease about their ability to prepare the next generation of architects to build for this urban future.

“Every year the urban population increases by 80 million, equivalent to the population of Germany,” said Lars Reutersward, an architect and director of the global division at UN Habitat, the UN department that looks at urban development.

“Within that, there will be an increase in slum dwellers the size of Holland and Belgium put together—35 million—every year. This is a complete disaster, and it doesn’t have to happen,” he added. “People are dying in slums every day. It is horrible. We are lacking a sense of urgency; we are not coping with the speed of it.”

For a good reason. UN estimates place properly planned building work in expanding cities around the world at a dismal 5%. In Asia for instance, it is estimated that 70% of urban residents live in the said unplanned areas.

Cows and Cars Re-engineering vs. Global Warming

 

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Just one of the things I had to endure in a yuppie’s life this past week. After two dry months of what supposedly should have started the rainy season, (June and July,) it just won’t stop raining these days. After concerns of the dams’ water levels going critical, we now get urban flashfloods for almost the entire month of August so far. The previous years might have gotten people to get used to rains and floods from storms this time of the year but back then, the typhoon visits were somewhat staggered compared to the continuous run of storms now.

Whether the change in climate has to do with the global warming issue or not, I hope to have a ceasefire from the rains soon. I sure could use a rain-free week, (or weekend at least.)  Anyway here’s a couple of global warming tidbits:

Cow Modifications

One nice thing about the attention and concern given to global warming is that it had scientists looking for a lot of ways to curb harmful emissions to the atmosphere even from those from where we least expect.

For instance, in the Christian Science Monitor report, “How better-fed cows could cool the planet“, cows are put in focus as they along with other “ruminant livestock – including… goats, and buffaloes – produce about 80 million metric tons of methane a year, accounting for about 28 percent of man-made methane emissions annually.” The article simply puts it:

When cows digest, they burp methane gas, a powerful greenhouse agent. Scientists are working to try to reduce that.

And proceeds to detail how scientists are looking at changing the grasses and livestocks these cows eat to playing around with their digestive mechanisms. Other important points and interesting facts from the said report include:

  • According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, pound for pound methane is about 21 times more effective at warming Earth’s atmosphere than carbon dioxide is.
  • According to researchers from the Japanese National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Tsukuba “the production of one kilogram of beef (2.2 pounds) results in the emission of greenhouse gases with a warming potential equivalent to 80 pounds of carbon dioxide. In other words: Serving steak to your family is the greenhouse-gas equivalent of driving 155 miles.”

Car Modifications

Fuel consuming transportation is one obvious aspect of Global Warming that has scientists’ and researchers’ attention for a good reason.

Late last June, a The Economist article came out featuring Thailand’s long shelved plan of coming up with environmental friendly car which are affordable and have low exhaust emissions and fuel consumption. Back in 2004, the Thaksin administration had the plan of the eco-car’s large-scale production in its priority but it was only last June 15 that the Board of Investment (BoI) “finalised a range of incentives for the production of such vehicles, and the government has also approved a large cut in excise taxes.”

Food Safety an Issue Across Asia

The past summer in this country brought a common problem prevalent in the hot months of the year: food safety. Thus news of people rushed to the hospital because of eating spoiled food becomes a staple fodder within the media these days.

On a larger scale however, the issue remains a real one in different nations across the continent as well. An online article from the Khaleej Times includes the following:

Across Asia governments appear to be struggling to control the use of toxic chemicals in manufactured and fresh food, chemicals that experts believe are responsible for deteriorating public health.

Formaldehyde seems to be one of the most widely found chemicals, used for everything from keeping flies off fresh meat in wet markets to prolonging freshness and enhancing the colour of manufactured foodstuffs.

Boric and benzoic acid, industrial dyes, fertilisers and pesticides, antibiotics, bad oil and sulphur dioxide are among the substances found in fresh and packaged foodstuffs throughout Asia.

Experts across the region are beginning to blame a range of illnesses, including rising cancer rates, liver and kidney ailments, stunted mental and physical development in children — and, in extreme cases, death — on adulterated food.

Follow the complete article here.