Posts Tagged ‘Crisis’
In a Nutshell
An emerging scientific consensus that a shift to small scale sustainable agriculture and localized food systems will address most, if not all the underlying causes of deteriorating agricultural productivity as well as the conservation of natural soil and water resources while saving the climate
To substantially improve living standards, access to modern energy is also crucial. Small agro-ecological farms are known to be highly productive, and are ideally served by new renewable energies that can be generated and used on site, and in off-grid situations most often encountered in developing countries
A model that explicitly integrates sustainable farming and renewable energies in a circular economy patterned after nature could compensate, in the best case scenario, for the carbon emissions and energy consumption of the entire nation while revitalising and stimulating local economies and employment opportunities
Food crisis, global economic instability, and political unrest
Soaring food prices were a major trigger for the riots that destabilized North Africa and the Middle East, and have since spread to many other African countries [1, 2]. The UN Food Price Index hit its all-time high in February 2011, and the May 2011 average was 37 percent above a year ago . This is happening as the global economy is still staggering from the 2008 financial (and food) crisis, with public debt expanding and unemployment sky high .
Lester Brown, venerated veteran world-watcher, says food has quickly become the hidden driver of world politics , and food crises are going to become increasingly common. “Scarcity is the new norm.” The world is facing increasing demand for food as population increases while food crops and land are being diverted to produce biofuels; in 2010, the United States alone turned 126 million tons of its 400 million tons corn harvest into ethanol. At the same time, the world’s ability to produce food is diminishing. Aquifers are running dry in the major food producing countries where half of the world population live. There is widespread soil erosion and desertification; and global warming temperatures and weather extremes are already reducing crop yields [6-9], hitting the most vulnerable people in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia the hardest.
“We are now so close to the edge that a breakdown in the food system could come at any time.” Brown warns . “At issue now is whether the world can go beyond focusing on the symptoms of the deteriorating food situation and instead attack the underlying causes. If we cannot produce higher crop yields with less water and conserve fertile soils, many agricultural areas will cease to be viable…..If we cannot move at wartime speed to stabilize the climate, we may not be able to avoid runaway food prices….The time to act is now — before the food crisis of 2011 becomes the new normal.”
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates decries Europe for general anti-war sentiment, unwillingness to beggar itself with expenditures on war.
But as far as I can tell, Europe is the world’s largest economy and got there without any recent substantial wars except those the US dragged it into. Moreover, the fastest-growing economy for the past nearly 30 years has been China, which spends a fraction on their military of what the US spends on its, and, aside from a skirmish with Vietnam in the early 1980s, has been at peace. Apparently massive war expenditures are unrelated to economic growth or prosperity.
In contrast, the US has been at war for 19 of the last 47 years (not counting US-backed insurgencies such as 1980s Afghanistan, on which we spent billions) but has not grown faster than the other two economically. Moreover, the increasingly unwieldy US national debt, deriving from the US government spending more than it took in in recent decades, would not exist if the US military budget had been the same as that of the European Union since 1980. The US overspent on its military because Washington mistakenly thought the Soviet economy was twice as big as it actually was, and vastly over-estimated Soviet military capabilities. The bloated military budgets continue now, apparently because of a couple thousand al-Qaeda operatives hiding out in caves in the Hadhramawt and Waziristan.
Some statistics to ponder:
US Military Budget 2009: $711 billion
European Union Military Budget 2009: $289 billion
China Military Budget 2009: $122 billion.
US GDP 2009: $14.4 trillion
European Union GDP 2009: $16.5 trillion (PPP)
China GDP 2009: $8.8 trillion (PPP)
US economic growth 2009: 0.2%
European Union economic growth 2009: -4%
China economic growth 2009: 8.7 %
The real military-related expenditures of the US are closer to $1 trillion. If the US cut those back to the level of the European Union and spent the money on promoting solar energy and making it inexpensive, America would have a chance of remaining a great power in the 21st century. If it goes on rampaging around the world bankrupting itself by invading and occupying other countries, the Chinese will laugh at us all the way to world dominance.
Submitted by Mary Bottari on February 2, 2010 Banksterusa.org
SPECIAL RECOGNITION FOR SIFMA’S TURN PITCHFORKS INTO PLOUGHSHARES CAMPAIGN
The Center for Media and Democracy and BanksterUSA are pleased to present our Golden Throne Award to T. Timothy Ryan Jr., President and CEO of the Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA). SIFMA is the leading behind-the-scenes lobby group representing big banks and investment firms, as well as broker-dealers and other peddlers of financial instruments, which Warren Buffett labeled “weapons of mass destruction.” SIFMA lobbies Congress and financial regulators, and handles securities-related press for some of the biggest players in the financial crisis–Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, AIG, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, and Fidelity Investments.
The Golden Throne Award salutes the lobbyists and spinmeisters who have managed to hold off meaningful financial services reform since the Wall Street meltdown. Read the rest of this entry »