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Sustainability

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How to Double Global Food Production by 2050 and Reduce Environmental Damage

Agriculture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The statistics are simple. The world’s population increases. Currently, about 1 billion people worldwide are starving. At the same time, the food production chain is one of the main factors for over-exploitation of the planet – it goes hand in hand with deforestation, land degradation, high water consumption for irrigation,  high amount of CO2 emissions and lots of non-organic fertilizers. The statistics do not look rosy, but there are solutions to it. The important thing is to find someone to listens and understands the solutions and later implement them.

International research team at the University of Minnesota led by Jonathan Foley, has reached the conclusion that it takes five steps to solve the problems with the current food production chain and the damage it causes. Here they are:

  1. Improvement of the yields of cereals (more efficient use of arable land)
  2. Less meat consumption(average vegetarian diet includes about 130 to 180 kg of grain per year, while meat eaters consume about 900 kg of grain pre-chewed and digested by cows, chickens and pigs)
  3. Reduction of the food lost throughout the chain (you can read this article about it)
  4. Stop the deforestation of tropical forests (in 2004, only in Brazil around 500,000 small farmers have every one of them on average destroyed about one hectare of forest)
  5. More rational use of water and fertilizers.

More details with maps and charts on: SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN

The Other Inconvenient Truth – TED lecture by Mr. Foley:

 

Global Atlas for solar and wind + Water Risk Atlas

This week I came across two really useful online tools. The one is about getting information for the renewable energies potential on worldwide scale. The second one presents an overall picture of water risk around the world.

 

The open access ‘Global Atlas for Solar and Wind’ is launched by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organisation based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The project aims to help users identify areas of interest for future investment by enabling them to visualise data on wind and solar resources, and then overlay additional information on such things as roads and protected areas. This software tool will allow users to calculate the amount of power that can be generated from a renewable energy resource and so its economic potential.

 

The second free online tool is called Aqueduct, which layers a zoomable map with 12 different indicators that could contribute to water risk, including flood occurrence, drought severity, threatened wildlife and media attention.This tool could be useful for researches in this sphere, companies looking to reduce water risk in their supply chains and for half of the world’s population that would be living under conditions of ‘water stress’ by 2030.

Good Food Goes Bad

Tristram Stuart

“If we fail to deal with the disposal of edible food, then what about problems that do not depend only on us!”

He is an environmentalist from a young age. When he was fifteen he started his own little farm and fed the animals in it with discarded food from the school kitchen and local shops. Then he realized that the complex system for creation and delivery of food to consumers leads to heavy losses throughout the supply chain. Later he began unravelling this problem through a targeted media campaign. After releasing his book “bloodless revolution” ( Bloodless revolution ), he published “Waste: exposing the global food scandal” ( Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal). In the same year he comes to a thought that the best way to demonstrate the extent of the scandal – and moreover the fact that his decision tastes superb (ie – eating food instead of throwing it) – is to feed five thousand people with food that would otherwise be discarded. Since then, the event (called Feeding the 5000 ) occurs in several cities in the United Kingdom and the European Commission, hearing the whole story, ordered its organization throughout Europe.

In addition to promoting the ideas and delving into containers in supermarkets, Tristram Stuart has been involved with teaching English in one of the colleges of the University of Cambridge.

You can learn more about his initiative from this video:

Sooo… what is the fuss all about?!? I don’t spill that much food!!!

The publication of the UK Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Report, ‘Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not’ estimated that 30-50% of food produced around the world (or between 1.2-2 billion tonnes) ends up as waste every year.

This is an obscene statistic when millions of people globally go to bed hungry every night, and it has serious implications for climate change: the amount of fossil fuels used to grow, fertilise, harvest and transport goods that are then thrown away, is immense.

It also puts strain on water resources as many of these wasted crops are irrigated, depleting rivers and reservoirs and leading to conflict ‘downstream’. The manner of disposal of this ‘waste’ must be questioned too. Is it redistributed for social good, composted or as a last resort, burned to create energy from waste? No – much of it is landfilled, producing methane and other greenhouses gases as it rots. What a waste!

One of the reasons for the shocking wastage of perfectly good food is ridiculously limiting sell-by and use-by dates. Food is often safely edible days after its expiry date, but consumers will throw it away because of the use-by date.

There are lots of pioneering organisations in the UK that are looking at reducing food waste, but one of my favourites is The Gleaning Network, which takes its name from the ancient practice of ‘gleaning’: the collection of surplus crops after harvest.

The Gleaning Network aims to address food waste on farms by coordinating local volunteers, growers and food redistribution charities to harvest unwanted fruit and vegetables (rejected because they don’t conform to supermarkets’ strict ‘aesthetic’ regulations) and transport them to groups that are helping the most vulnerable members of society.

To ensure that the maximum amount of surplus produce is saved in the most energy-efficient way, The Gleaning Network established a national network of local ‘gleaning hubs’, each consisting of local growers, food redistribution charities and volunteers who can rapidly mobilise and work together to harvest and redistribute the produce to local charities.

To date, five pilot projects have already salvaged several tonnes of apples, cabbages, spring greens and strawberries on farms in Kent, Sussex and Lincolnshire; food which has the been used to make thousands of meals for vulnerable people across the country. Gleaned produce was also used in Feeding the 5000 events in London and Bristol, which provided a free meal for 5,000 people made from food that would otherwise have been thrown away.

Tristram Stuart, Founder of The Gleaning Network, said: “Amazingly, there has been no systematic study of food waste at the farm level either in the UK or elsewhere in Europe or the US. In my experience, it’s normal practice for farmers to assume that 20% to 40% of their fruit and vegetable crops won’t get to market [because they are misshapen or the wrong size], even if they are perfectly fit for human consumption.”

Another good initiative is the Fødevarebanken in Denmark. The Foodbank is a voluntary association that receives surplus food from food manufacturers, supermarkets and wholesalers and distribute it among society socially vulnerable – including children, crisis battered women, the homeless, drug addicts and mentally ill. People who have no psychological or economic profits to buy and make healthy and nutritious food.

 The amount of food lost through its supply-chain journey throughout the world is unthinkable. This is an estimation of the amount of food lost in India and China:

Food is lost at every stage of the farm-to-table journey. Take produce: a report from America’s Natural Defense Resource Council estimates that 7 percent of planted fields in the United States go unharvested each year. Some fruits and vegetables are never harvested because of damage from pests, disease, or bad weather. (Consider this summer’s record-setting drought.) Produce also goes unpicked when farmers can’t find buyers, or when prices are so low they don’t even cover the cost of harvest and transport.

Even produce that’s harvested may still be thrown out simply because of its appearance: it isn’t the right color, size, or shape, or it has other imperfections. If a peach isn’t pretty enough, it doesn’t make it to the store.

Grocery stores are another source of food waste. Heaping displays of fruits and veggies that are designed to entice consumers crush produce at the bottom. Milk and dairy products with sell-by dates — which are not the same as expiration dates — are often pulled from the shelves well before they would spoil. Prepared foods are also an increasing source of food waste, as groceries keep their buffets fully stocked until closing time, resulting in many trays of discarded edibles.

A staggering amount of food waste, however, occurs in restaurants and in our own homes. American families throw out a significant portion of the food they buy, according to the report. “Imagine walking out of the grocery store with three bags of groceries, then just leaving one in the parking lot,” says Dana Gunders, a food and agriculture expert at NRDC and the author of the report. “A lot of people are trying to be conscious eaters, but this issue just isn’t on their radar,” she says. Even when consumers buy organic and limit meat consumption, they often buy and cook more than they can eat.

Restaurants often contribute to the problem by featuring extensive menu choices and oversize portions. Diners leave 17 percent of their meals uneaten, and 55 percent of those leftovers aren’t even taken home, according to the report.

Conclusion:

Now that the problems are identified, we should not hide them in the closet and pretend that they do not exist. These problems call for attention and there are many possibilities to solve them. The farm-to-market supply chain craves for modernisation, the food waste networks long for attention and participation in them. Let’s take the challenge and face the problems!

DEMENA evaluation videos: Climate Ambassadors (Egypt)

Interviews with two of the Egyptian Climate Ambassadors about being part of the project:

The first DEMENA evaluation videos, Innovation Cup winners (Jordan)

Interviews with two of the Jordanian Innovation Cup winners about their projects:

7.1 on Greenpeace scale

This 18th edition of Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics evaluates leading consumer electronics companies based on their commitment and progress in three environmental criteria: Energy and Climate, Greener Products, and Sustainable Operations.

 

Wipro, an Indian electronics company that has previously participated in Indian editions of the Guide, makes its debut in the international version of Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics with 7.1 points – placing it in 1st position.

This guide is useful for users (quickly and easily to choose who to support when you need next purchase) and also for the companies themselves, who could race with the competition and lead the industry forward.

GioTTo

FREE ONLINE COURSE – Introduction to Sustainability

Hi all! I want to spread the message about a great FREE ONLINE course that you can follow on the platform Coursera. The course is an Introduction to Sustainability from the University of Illinois.

  “This course introduces the academic approach of Sustainability and explores how today’s human societies can endure in the face of global change, ecosystem degradation and resource limitations. The course focuses on key knowledge areas of sustainability theory and practice, including population, ecosystems, global change, energy, agriculture, water, environmental economics and policy, ethics, and cultural history.”

  The structure of the course is not difficult to follow. There are 5-7 video lectures each week and 2 tests with a deadline – the end of the week. If you are a passionate young environmentalist but you lack some theoretical foundation for your passion – this is the course for you!

Ooops, I forgot to mention something… All the study materials are free. Here you can download the book for this course.All you need for this course is a laptop, internet, 7-8 hours of your time each week and a lot of motivation.

Oh, and one more thing – if you perform well, you can even get a Statement of Accomplishment for this course. Don’t hesitate! Sign up!

 

GioTTo

COP18 negotiations, between rigid politics and demanding reality.

Some people find it rather impossible to depend on Arab Countries in the UNFCCC negotiations, especially that amongst those very countries are oil and natural gas exporters, and the top emitters per capita. Surprisingly though, approaching the end of the first week of negotiations, and while Australia pledges an “embarrassing” -as referred to by Australian activists- 0.5% decrease in emissions, and while the US continues to try to block the negotiations in any way possible, the UAE announced that they’ll be producing 100 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP), and they are preparing the next 100 MW tranche which will be solar Photovoltaics (PV). That announcement was rather a surprise to negotiators on one hand and civil society on the other. It’s highly expected that a chain reaction of some sort will take place in the second week, especially amongst the Arab countries, which is a valid point but other things need to be taken into consideration. While some of the countries are trying to mitigate, a negotiator from Saudi Arabia, which is THE highest emitter worldwide and an oil exporter said that Climate Change is “a merely Economical and Political issue” which might sound like an innocent statement to the naked eye, but it’s a very dangerous statement, not only does it deny all the Climatic catastrophes taking place right now, it also denies all the scientific evidence that Climate Change is the epidemic of this era. Also, an Egyptian negotiator talked about the obstacles that face Egypt and other Arab countries that would make it difficult for those countries to take mitigation actions against climate change, and it’s valid on some level that many countries in the Arab region are going through difficult economic and political conditions, but that raises the question, why didn’t those countries take any actions before they went through those unstable conditions? Or is it just another excuse for countries that have caved in to the power of oil?

Between promises, statements and endless sessions, the vision stays hazy and unclear to a lot of people and the painful reality stays the same, the decisions that are being made right now are too little and too late, even if positive. It’s going to be very hard for us to undo the damage that we have done so farm and it’s going to be impossible for us to make this world livable for future generations if we do not start acting this very instant because we, have created a time bomb.

 

 

An action by IndyAct in the halls of Qatar National Convention Center symbolizing how political will in Arab countries prevents any real climate action. Photo by: Sarah Rifaat.

A tiny country with a huge footprint

According to the World Wildlife Fund Denmark is in the top 5 countries consuming the most of Earth’s natural resources compared to the amount of renewable resources used. [Link]

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National Climate Ambassadors in Dana, Jordan

I just got back home after two amazing days in Dana for national climate ambassadors training, the two days training was great, full of energy, hot topics, Jordan environment challenges and creative idea.

In the first day when I have meet the participant most of them they were guys! I was worried about it as it’s so hard to make guys setting and listing! But the opposite happen and they were so interested to get the knowledge, discuss, share ideas, ready to apply project action and hit the ground!

During the training we have discussed Jordan most environment challenges which are: waste, energy and water scarcity. Then we have presented theory and knowledge about campaigning, this was helpful for the participant to think about campaigning idea to solve Jordan challenges.

In the second we have talked about the Innovation cup, where there is going to be competition between participant to get 1000$ as prize to start apply their own project. In order to plan for the Innovation cup, participant got the knowledge about the innovation, brain storming about ideas, categories the projects and then planning for the project. The participants come up with 5 projects and four of them were match the C SMART criteria.

The overall experience was very good as the feedback from the participant was good and I have notice that they starts seriously about the environment challenges, their life style of consuming and their behaviors. The hope always exists and I am sure that youth in Jordan are smart and can protect their country and do an action!
Every time I participated in training as participant but this time I was as facilitator, it was a very good experience for me as I have got the chance to see things from different angel, as I could see the energy in the participant and this make me more insist to continue what I have started from last 5 years ago by get people attention and flashing the environment challenges, In addition appreciate every the environment around us! Can’t wait for the Innovation Cup and see what kind of successful project the participant will present :)

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