The United Nations food agency reports that food prices are rising again, reaching 6-month highs and nearing levels not since 2008. Higher prices then spurred food riots in the Middle East and North Africa, which fueled the Arab Spring.
Lester Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute, tells Earth Focus that new forces including life style and demographic changes are reducing the use of both coal and oil in the United States. He expects that carbon emissions could decline by as much as 20% in the United States by 2020.
Countries that have well-developed urban transit systems and a mature bicycle infrastructure are much better positioned to withstand the stresses of a downturn in world oil production than are countries whose only transport option is the car. With a full array of walking and biking options, the number of trips by car can easily be cut by 10–20 percent.
The bicycle, a form of personal transportation, has many attractions. It alleviates congestion, lowers air pollution, reduces obesity, increases physical fitness, does not emit climate-disrupting carbon dioxide, and has a price within reach for the billions of people who cannot afford an automobile. Bicycles increase mobility while reducing congestion and the area of land paved over. Six bicycles can typically fit into the road space used by one car. For parking, the advantage is even greater, with 20 bicycles occupying the space required to park a car.
The bicycle is not only a flexible means of transportation; it is an ideal way of restoring a balance between caloric intake and expenditure. The opportunity to exercise is valuable in its own right. Regular exercise of the sort provided by cycling to work reduces cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and arthritis and it strengthens the immune system.
Watch’n’Share: Lester Brown’s ‘Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization’
Last nightI was thrilled when I read that Lester Brown’s excellent book ‘Plan B’ had been made into a TV documentary. Unfortunately, I missed it but all is not lost because now available for watching online (e.g. above), albeit in a shorter version. The full length should be repeating sometime this Saturday. Check your local PBS listings.
Brown, together with other notable scholars and scientists, including Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, former Governor and Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, provides a glimpse into a new and emerging economy based upon renewable resources as well as strategies to avoid the growing threat of global warming.
You can read about, buy or download a copy of Brown’s latest book through an earlier post here.
(UPDATE: The show will be replayed on Saturday, April 2, check your local PBS listings for the time)
We are facing issues of near-overwhelming complexity and unprecedented urgency. Our challenge is to think globally and develop policies to counteract environmental decline and economic collapse. The question is: Can we change direction before we go over the edge?
If you’re interested in reading ityou can buy a hard copy or download the book as a free PDF! Its website also has downloadable datasets, a fact sheet and a great PowerPoint presentation on the global food situation. Powerful stuff!