Global Food Security and Sustainability

We wanted to spread the work about this Global Education event that connects to our sustainability mission.

Global Food Security and Sustainability
December 4th: 10:30-12:30, Moraine Room 2 (M Building)
Two key issues in nearly every country are the cost and availability of food and energy. Rising prices of commodities, such as wheat, corn, rice, and gasoline can lead to many problems, including: riots, hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. This event will discuss the causes, interconnections, and implications of rising commodity prices throughout the world.



Predicting Risk and Super Storm Sandy

Back in 2006, analysts from the insurance industries predicted the storm surge caused by Super Storm Sandy. Yet, they do not include this risk in their cost models. The US government is actually on the hook for flood insurance, not the industry. This piece from the PBS News Hour outlines the issues around this topic. Many analysts recognize that climate change is making extreme storms more possible, and they are able to identify areas where major storms are likely. But, the industry is still scared of climate skeptics who do not want to pay for models that incorporate the costs of climate change.

Climate Change Causes Insurers to Rethink Price of Risk After Hurricane Sandy

SUMMARY: The insurance industry looks at historical data, old and new, in order to assess the risk for potential disasters and put a price on premiums. But when Sandy hit the Northeast, some insurance companies reconsidered if they priced insurance high enough for the greater risks brought on by climate change. Paul Solman reports.

The Bad Old Days for Wild Life

As our Thanksgiving turkey hangover fades away, I thought it appropriate to share this video from CBS’ Fast Draw guys. They use James Sterba’s book Nature Wars as one of their sources.

I thought that this was illustrative of how we remember the past. We tend to forget about the progress we have made in terms of conservation. The late 19th and early 20th century industrialization decimated our enviroment, and through government and private groups, we have preserved many lands. We also forget that people and other animals are creating a new equilibrium in how we live together. Clearly, this equilibrium is not perfect, but it also highlights how limited our perspectives can be on problems that span generations.

The Fast Draw: Pros and cons of growing animal population
Mitch Butler and Josh Landis show us that the good old days weren’t always good for America’s wildlife.

Development, Rain Forest, and Climate Change

Over the break, I came across this article and bookmarked it. The impact of urbanization on environment and climate is not new but it is something that still warrants discussion.

Swallowing Rain Forest, Cities Surge in Amazon
By Simon Romero SIMON ROMERO, November 24, 2012

The Amazon has been viewed for ages as a vast quilt of rain forest interspersed by remote river outposts. But the surging population growth of cities in the jungle is turning that rural vision on its head and alarming scientists, as an array of new industrial projects transforms the Amazon into Brazil’s fastest-growing region.

The torrid expansion of rain forest cities is visible in places like Parauapebas, which has changed in a generation from an obscure frontier settlement with gold miners and gunfights to a sprawling urban area with an air-conditioned shopping mall, gated communities and a dealership selling Chevy pickup trucks.

Scientists are studying such developments and focusing on the demands on the resources of the Amazon, the world’s largest remaining area of tropical forest. Though Brazilian officials have historically viewed the colonization of the Amazon as a matter of national security — military rulers built roads to the forest under the slogan “Occupy it to avoid surrendering it” — deforestation in the region already ranks among the largest contributors to global greenhouse-gas emissions…read entire article here.

Marketplace: U.S. to pass Saudi Arabia as top oil producer

Yesterday, American Public Media’s show Marketplace had a story noting that the US will pass Saudia Arabia as the top oil producer (see below). The story concerned me because they were noting that this increase would come from the hydraulic fracking, which has caused concern about the sustainability of the practice. I have pasted the Marketplace story below. I am not sure that the story spend enough time discussing the nature of fracking, so it falls on our shoulders to do our research.

U.S. to pass Saudi Arabia as top oil producer
A new projection suggests the United States will leapfrog the Saudis in oil come 2020 or so. This comes not from an oil company or a bank, but the blue-ribbon International Energy Agency in Vienna. It advises governments around the world.”

Planetary Emergency: NASA Scientist Speaks Out

NASA Scientist: We face a Planetary Climate Emergency

Posted on 11/01/2012 by Juan

NASA scientist James Hansen explains that we are facing a planetary emergency and that the public is still largely unaware of how menacing it is.

The danger is that we could pass tipping points, such as melting of ice sheets, which could lead to rapid increases in sea level.


Cole: If the public understood what is about to befall them, they’d agree with me that mining, distributing and burning coal should be criminalized, like, today and that a global crash program to depend primarily on green energy by 2020 should be launched by all the countries of the world.

Likewise, climate change denial should be treated with the same horror in polite society as genocide denial, with similar ostracization.

Scotland plans to get 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2015. That is a country in a hurry, and we all should be like that.

Powerful words- what do you think?

Global Warming and Sandy

This photo was making the rounds on social media following hurricane Sandy.

The recovery from hurricane Sandy is underway, and our hearts and thoughts are with the people struggling to return to everyday life.

As the recovery picks up, the debate will (and should) begin. What role did climate change play in the size and intensity of this storm? Perhaps just as important: is this size of storm going to be more common in the future?

This discussion has been started on the New York Times Green Blog: Did Global Warming Contribute to Hurricane Sandy’s Devastation? by Justin Gillis.

Since discussions of climate change have been absent from the presidential election (see the post: Global Warming Absent from Last Night’s Debate), it seems that hurricane Sandy may force the discussion.