Archive for ‘Economic Costs’

Shorter Lived Climate Forcers: Agriculture Sector and Land Clearing for Livestock

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

In this video presentation, Gerard Wedderburn-Bisshop, World Preservation Foundation Senior Scientist, puts forward the case for how, with the devastating effects of climate change being felt ever-more quickly and with increasing intensity, the importance of embracing fast-acting solutions to mitigate climate change has increased dramatically.

In recent years, greater understanding of climate science has advanced considerably, and scientists and even policy makers now recognise that climate change in the short term is being driven by extremely potent, shorter-lived climate forcers. By reducing these climate forcers — namely black carbon, methane and tropospheric ozone — cooling begins rapidly.

Globally, the production of meat and dairy are significant contributors of these fast warming agents with far reaching consequences on planetary warming and environmental devastation. These include the major effects of black carbon due to biomass burning, on West Antarctica as well as the tropical monsoons; deforestation; soil carbon loss; and, food and water security. It’s estimated that 47% to 60% of the black carbon reaching West Antarctica and causing rapid melting is due to biomass burning resulting from livestock pasture management.

CO2 from pasture maintenance fires, reforestation of pastures and soil carbon uptake on relief of grazing pressure may also play a part in a fast-acting solution to the climate crisis.

This video is a synopsis of the paper Gerard wrote that examines the contributions of agriculture, namely livestock farming, to planetary warming through the shorter-lived climate forcers, and the effect of animal agriculture abatement on alleviating global warming and environmental collapse. We also propose four policy measures to immediately reduce the shorter-lived warming agents.

(By: Gerard Wedderburn-Bisshop: Senior Scientist, World Preservation Foundation )

World ‘must invest $40bn a year in forests’: UN

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Investing $40 billion annually in the forest sector is needed for the world to transition into a low carbon, resource-efficient green economy, according to a UN report released here Sunday.

The additional investment “could halve deforestation rates by 2030, increase rates of tree planting by around 140 per cent by 2050,” said the report published by the Nairobi-based United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

“Carefully planned investments would also contribute to increased employment from 25 million today to 30 million by 2050,” it also added.

The cost of ensuring a green transition would equal $40 billion a year or around 0.034 per cent of global GDP, the report said.

Such an investment, equivalent to about two-thirds more than what is currently spent on the sector, would also remove an extra 28 per cent of carbon from the atmosphere, the Nairobi-based UNEP said.

Earlier this week the UNEP warned that fires, felling and agriculture are whittling Europe’s forests down into isolated patches, threatening to speed up desertification and deplete wildlife.

The UN Environment Programme is working with scientists to draw up maps of areas that need to be replanted to help reconnect fragmented forests. The maps will submitted at a June 14-16 ministerial meeting in Oslo.

Source: World ‘must invest $40bn a year in forests’: UN – France 24 International News

Date: 05 June 2011

People destroy forests at peril – ILO chief

Monday, June 6th, 2011

“This year’s theme “Forests – nature at your service” reminds us that we destroy forests at our peril,” Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Juan Sumavia said here Sunday.

“Their fate dramatically illustrates how social development, economic growth and environmental sustainability are inextricably intertwined,” noted Sumavia. “The un-sustainability of the prevailing model of growth has been increasingly laid bare – economically, environmentally, socially and politically.”

Environmental degradation is one manifestation of the imbalances produced by this inefficient model of growth. Another is its failure to yield sufficient opportunities for the decent work that people need.

“The economic crisis which it did produce has forced millions of people out of work and pushed many more back into poverty. Globally, there were 27.6 million more unemployed people in 2010 than before the crisis. The number of workers in extreme poverty in 2009 is estimated to have been over 40 million more than it would have been without the crisis. And the pre-crisis situation was already unacceptable”, he explained.

Environmental degradation and misuse of the forest resource and the deep-seated crisis of jobs and decent work are interconnected.

In an inefficient growth model with a marked deficit of decent jobs, the quest for survival along with the unbridled exploitation of resources fuels unsustainable use of forests with loss of jobs and livelihoods. It also and fosters intolerable labour practices such as forced labour.

Yet forests are at the service of job creation. We must also take steps to ensure that they are at the service of decent job creation.

Tens of millions depend directly on forests for their living. For 60 million indigenous and tribal peoples, forests are not only the economic basis of their survival but also the very foundation of their cultural and spiritual identity. Some 14 million are employed in the formal forestry sector. And the survival of a much larger number depends on informal and often subsistence use of forests.
ILO research has shown that there are significant sustainable employment and income opportunities in Amazon forests. Another study in collaboration with China suggests that reforestation can create several hundred thousand temporary and permanent rural job opportunities.

Under the Green Jobs Initiative involving the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Trade Union Confederation, the International Organisation of Employers and the ILO, “our recent global study “Skills for Green Jobs” highlights the role of training in controlling deforestation (Brazil), job creation for low income and unemployed youth (Republic of Korea), and contributing to poverty reduction (Uganda),” he pointed out.

Brazil is building decent work standards into forest management in the Amazon region. Similarly, programmes for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) increasingly recognize that the co-benefits of employment, income and local governance are critical for the success of these schemes.

“We must use the opportunity of the Rio UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 to make progress towards an inclusive growth model with policies that are efficient for people, for productive investment and for nature,” concluded Samuvia.

Source: People destroy forests at peril – ILO chief – Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)

Date: 05 June 2011

Cut out meat to stop nitrogen pollution say scientists

Monday, April 11th, 2011

First they told us not to eat meat because of climate change. Now scientists are telling the public to adopt a ‘demitarian’ diet, that contains half as much meat, to stop an even more dangerous threat to the planet – nitrogen pollution.

The first study in the world to calculate the total costs of nitrogen pollution across a whole continent found that the problem is costing each person in Europe up to £650 every year because of health and environmental damage.

The main cause of the pollution is agriculture through the manure of animals and the nitrogen fertilisers spread on crops. Around half of nitrogen added to farm fields in Europe leaks into the surrounding environment rather than feeding plants. This causes algae slimes to grow in water and on trees, suffocating wildlife and disturbing delicate ecosystems.

Also nitrogen ‘smog’ released into the air by burning fossil fuels in power stations and cars cause breathing or heart problems that take six months off the life of all Europeans, as well as being a greenhouse gas.

The ground-breaking European Nitrogen Assessment by more than 200 scientists from 21 countries concludes that nitrogen pollution poses an even greater threat to humankind than carbon. The cost is greater than the benefits gained by using nitrogen fertiliser to grow food and therefore it is in the EU’s interest to take action.

Dr Mark Sutton, the UK lead author, said the best way to control the problem is through eating less meat.

He explained that most of the nitrogen used in agriculture is used to grow feed crops for animals or comes from manure.

Therefore cutting down on animal protein, would significantly reduce the amount of pollution.

“The largest challenges are to manage nitrogen better in agriculture and to moderate Europeans’ consumption of animal protein,” he said. “Amazingly, livestock consume around 85 per cent of the 14 million tonnes of nitrogen in crops harvested or imported into the EU; only 15 per cent is used to feed humans directly. European nitrogen use is therefore not primarily an issue of food security, but one of luxury consumption.”

Already celebrities like Sir Paul McCartney and Joanna Lumley have urged people to give up meat at least once a week for ‘Meat Free Mondays’. The United Nations and well known academics like Lord Stern also advocate cutting down on meat to help the environment.

Dr Sutton, from the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology, and the other scientists involved in the project have signed an agreement pledging to be ‘demitarians’ or eat half as much meat.

He also said people can switch to public transport and use less energy in order to cut nitrogen use.

However he ruled out a tax on nitrogen fertiliser because of the threat to food security.

Source: Cut out meat to stop nitrogen pollution say scientists – The Telegraph UK

Date: 11 April 2011

Report says swine flu cost Britain 1.2 Billion Pounds

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

An independent review says Britain spent 1.2 billion pounds ($1.8 billion) fighting swine flu, including 1 billion pounds on drugs, according to AP.

The study published Thursday says officials spent 654 million pounds preparing for a possible pandemic of H1N1 influenza and 587 million pounds responding to the outbreak. The total includes 1.01 billion pounds spent on drugs including antivirals, vaccines and antibiotics.

The review by former senior medial official Deirdre Hine calls the government response “proportionate and effective,” but says inflexible contracts for vaccines left Britain with many extra doses.

The World Health Organization says more than 17,000 people have died worldwide since swine flu emerged in April 2009. There have been 457 deaths in Britain.

Source: Report says swine flu cost Britain $1.8 billion – Saudi Press Agency

Date: 01 July 2010

Climate change threatens food supply

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Climate change and extreme weather events pose a grave challenge to the country’s food supply, agricultural researchers have warned.

Gu Lianhong, a senior researcher with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US, said the lab’s research had shown climate change will cause China’s per capita grain output will dramatically drop after 2020, even taking technological progress into consideration.

The study suggests the projected geographical pattern of earth’s surface temperature will dramatically increase in the late 21st century (2090-2099). This will cause more extreme weather and climate events to impact such industries as agriculture, Gu said.

He stressed that increasing droughts and heavy precipitation, more intense tropical cyclones and warmer days will very likely happen globally.

“These are all closely related with grain output,” Gu said.

The researcher made the remarks on the sidelines of the International Forum on the Mitigation of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD) in World Dryland, which ended over the weekend.

By the 2050s, freshwater availability in Central, South, East and Southeast Asia is projected to decrease, particularly in large river basins, Gu said. The regions’ coastal areas, especially heavily populated mega deltas, will be at great risk due to increased flooding from the sea or rivers.

Because China is the world’s most water-deficient country, climate change will definitely harm its agricultural production, Gu said.

The researcher’s warning came as China is faced with a challenging grain situation this summer because of strong rainfalls in the south during the summer harvest season. Other problems include droughts in northern grain production areas and lingering low temperatures in the south.

In the past few years, the country has experienced more frequent extreme weather events against the backdrop of global climate change. These include severe droughts, ice storms, sandstorms and floods that harm the economy and security.

The severe drought in Southwest China, which has lasted since late 2009 and is one of the worst in decades, has affected about 8.3 million hectares of arable land. It also left at least 17.9 million people and 12.4 million heads of livestock facing water shortages as of this May, the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said in a statement.

A report by McKinsey & Co released last year said extreme drought caused by a “high climate change scenario” could more than triple crop losses in Northeast China. They could reach 13.8 million metric tons, or 12 percent of the total, by 2030.

The average annual temperature in China has increased by 0.5 C to 0.8 C, a little higher than the global average, over the past 100 years and especially in the past five decades. But the country’s precipitation volume did not change much during the period, China’s National Climate Change Program said in June 2007.

The average temperature in China will possibly rise 1.3 C to 2.1 C from 2000 to 2020, increasing the risks of extreme weather and climate events in the country, the plan said.

China must maintain an annual grain output of 500 million tons to feed the nation’s 1.3 billion people, the Ministry of Agriculture said.

The country’s summer grain output rose six years in a row to exceed 123.35 million tons in 2009, 2.6 million tons more than the previous year.

Source: Climate change threatens food supply – China Daily

Date: 22 June 2010

Climate Change Increases Hazard Risk in Alpine Regions, Study Shows

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Climate change could cause increasing and unpredictable hazard risks in mountainous regions, according to a new study from the University of Exeter and Austrian researchers. The study analyzes the effects of two extreme weather events — the 2003 heatwave and the 2005 flood — on the Eastern European Alps. It demonstrates what impact events like these, predicted to become more frequent under a changing climate, could have on alpine regions and what implications these changes might have for local communities.

The mean summer temperatures during the 2003 heat wave in a large area of the European Alps exceeded the 1961-1990 mean by 3-5˚C. This triggered a record Alpine glacier loss that was three times above the 1980-2000 average. Furthermore, melting permafrost caused increased rock-fall activity.

The severe floods that occurred as a result of heavy rainfall in August 2005 were the most damaging for 100 years and led to high volumes of water and sediment being deposited downstream, causing an estimated €555 million worth of damage in Austria to buildings, railways, roads and industrial areas. In Switzerland, this has been estimated to have caused one quarter of all damage by floods, debris flows, landslides and rock falls recorded since 1972.

Source: Climate Change Increases Hazard Risk in Alpine Regions, Study Shows - Science Daily

Date: 15 June, 2010

Better Way to Calculate Greenhouse Gas Value of Ecosystems

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a new, more accurate method of calculating the change in greenhouse gas emissions that results from changes in land use. The new approach, described in the journal Global Change Biology, takes into account many factors not included in previous methods, the researchers report.

Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to climate change. The most problematic greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2); methane (CH4), which is about 25 times more effective than CO2 at trapping heat but persists in the atmosphere for much less time; and nitrous oxide (N2O), an undesirable byproduct of crop fertilization.

The new approach accounts for emissions of each of these gases, expressing their net climatic effect in “carbon-dioxide equivalents,” a common currency in the carbon-trading market. This allows scientists to compare the long-term effects of clearing a forest, for example, to the costs of other greenhouse gas emissions, such as those that result from burning fossil fuels for transportation, electricity, heat or the production of biofuels.

“What some analyses miss is the potential for that forest to take up more carbon in the future,” she said.

“And they’re missing the greenhouse gas costs — the added emissions that result from intensively managing the land — that are associated with that new cropland.”

Using the new method, the researchers calculated the GHGV of a variety of ecosystem types, including mature and “re-growing” tropical, temperate and boreal forests; tropical and temperate pastures and cropland; wetlands; tropical savannas; temperate shrublands and grasslands; tundra; and deserts.

“In general, unmanaged ecosystems — those that we are leaving alone, such as a virgin forest or an abandoned farm where trees are re-growing — are going to have positive greenhouse gas values,” Anderson-Teixeira said. Managed ecosystems such as croplands or pastures generally have low or negative greenhouse gas values, she said. (See chart.)

Source: Better Way to Calculate Greenhouse Gas Value of Ecosystems – Science Daily

Date: 6 June 2010


Eat less meat to save the planet – UN

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

The world needs to change to a more vegetarian diet to stand a chance of tackling climate change, according to a major new United Nations report.

The group of international scientists said the greatest cause of greenhouse gas emissions is food production and the use of fossil fuels.

But while the use of coal and oil could be gradually replaced by renewable energy sources like wind and solar, the world will always need to eat.

As the world population increases it is feared that the production of food will become the main cause of climate change and environmental degradation.

The International Panel of Sustainable Resource Management pointed out that agricultural production accounts for 70 per cent of global freshwater production, 38 per cent of land use and 19 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The report, that will be presented to world governments, said the only way to feed the world while reducing climate change is to switch to more a more vegetarian diet.

“A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change,” it read.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, said ordinary consumers can help fight climate change by eating less meat.

“The Panel have reviewed all the available science and conclude that two broad areas are currently having a disproportionately high impact on people and the planet’s life support systems—these are energy in the form of fossil fuels and agriculture, especially the raising of livestock for meat and dairy products,” he said.

Mr Steiner said governments could encourage people to eat less meat by reforming the system of taxes and subsidies so vegetarian food is cheaper.

“Smart market mechanisms, more intelligent fiscal policies and creative policy-making are among the options for internalising the costs of unsustainable patterns. Some tough choices are signalled in this report, but it may prove even more challenging for everyone if the current paths continue into the coming decades,” he added.

Lord Stern of Brentford, the author of the influential Stern Review that first argued for economic measures to fight climate change, also believes the world needs to eat less meat.

He has already warned that the price of meat and other “carbon intensive” goods will need to go up to fight climate change.

Source: Eat less meat to save the planet – UN – The Telegraph UK

Date: 02 June 2010

Saving Rainforests May Help Reduce Poverty

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010


A new study shows that saving rainforests and protecting land in national parks and reserves reduced poverty in two developing countries, according to research by a Georgia State University professor.

Paul J. Ferraro, associate professor of economics in GSU’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, with four co-authors, looked at the long term impacts of the poor living near parks and reserves established in 1985 or earlier in Costa Rica and Thailand.

The logic goes against the conventional wisdom that says taking away resources, such as farm land and forests, exacerbates poverty.

“The results are surprising,” Ferraro said.

“Most people might expect that if you restrict resources, people on average will be worse off.”

The research, entitled “Protected areas reduced poverty in Costa Rica and Thailand,” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America journal.

The authors speculate that the conservation of biodiverse areas may have helped the poor because of tourism and infrastructure, such as new roadways, which may have provided new economic opportunities.

Source: Saving Rainforests May Help Reduce Poverty – Science Daily

Date: 25 May 2010

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Reversing Meat-Eating Culture to Combat Climate Change

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Livestock Production and Shorter-Lived Climate Forcers

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Plant-Based Diets - A solution to our public health crisis

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Leaders Preserving Our Future - Insights Paper - WPF - November 2010

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Maintaining a Climate of Life - Summary Report

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Livestock's Climate Impact

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Livestock & Sustainable Food

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Reducing Shorter-Lived Climate Forcers Through Dietary Change

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The global cost of biodiversity loss: 14 trillion Euros? - EU Commission (2008)

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Forests, Fisheries, Agriculture: A Vision for Sustainability (2009)

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