Friday, 12 November 2010

Africa, biotech and climate change

A new report claims that the future of Africas food supply risks being put into the hands of corporate biotech as they develop and patent climate ready crops

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Think tank does satire on climate change

Great post from The Onion and CDG on lack of policy action on climate change.

According to a report released this week by the Center for Global Development, climate change, the popular mid-2000s issue that raised awareness of the fact that the earth's continuous rise in temperature will have catastrophic ecological effects, has apparently not been resolved, and may still be a problem.…”

Global warming, if you remember correctly, was the single greatest problem of our lifetime back in 2007 and the early part of 2008,” CGD president Nancy Birdsall said. “But then the debates over Social Security reform and the World Trade Center mosque came up, and the government had to shift its focus away from the dramatic rise in sea levels, the rapid spread of deadly infectious diseases, and the imminent destruction of our entire planet.”

…”I was a bit surprised by our findings, because I, along with the rest of my colleagues, thought that the process of fixing climate change ended soon after [2007 rock concert] Live Earth,” CGD assistant director George Oliver told reporters.

"Last year's federal budget included more than $200 million in funding for the Office of Personnel Management," Birdsall said. "Since nobody really knows what that is, we suggest that money perhaps be spent making sure the oceans don't turn into acid."

Family planning tops for reducing emissions

According to a recent paper by David Wheeler and Dan Hammer, population policy options are much less costly than almost all other reviewed options for low-carbon energy development, including solar, wind, and nuclear power, second-generation biofuels, and carbon capture and storage. They are also cost-competitive with forest conservation and other improvements in forestry and agricultural practices.

This table, based on data in their paper, shows how many tonnes of CO2 would be abated for your $1m:

Intervention Tonnes of CO2
Family planning & girls’ education combined 250,000
Family planning alone 222,222
Girls education alone 100,000
Reduce slash and burn of forests 66,667
Pasture management 50,000
Geothermal energy 50,000
Energy efficient buildings 50,000
Pastureland afforestation 40,000
Nuclear energy 40,000
Reforestation of degraded forests 40,000
Plug-in hybrid cars 33,333
Solar 33,333
Power plant biomass co-firing 28,571
Carbon Capture and Storage (new) 28,571
Carbon Capture and Storage (retrofit) 26,316

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Getting optimism from looking at the past

Podcast from Econ Talk (Russ Roberts) on new book from Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist

1. Musings on the specialization and trade and why humans do it but animals dont

2. First gain from trade:

man goes out hunting warthogs, wife goes out collecting roots . Neither party can guarantee harvest every day and so benefit from trading.

2. Spread the good news: Hundreds of millions coming out of poverty in the last 25 years, lifespan up 30%, per capita income trebled (when population has doubled). Could get alot richer.

We are unappreciative about amazing things that have happened in the last ten years.

The man who despairs when other hope is seen as a sage - yes need to step back and see hope as the podcast says but doesnt really get onto challenge of climate change and sustainability.

Ridley argument against this is :

Humans develop more efficient use of resources - but doesnt mention high incomes making higher overall impact).

Much more productive use of land which is enough to feed the world (including with lots of meat) whilst not putting Amazon at peril - weak argument missing any strong numbers. Can we really go from 6 to 9 billion relying on productivity gains?

Yes we get better but no numbers to say if we can do it fast enough.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Ethiopia's export performance

A report from Access Capital show some suprising trends in Ethiopia's export performance, including the following:

Switzerland has (just barely) surpassed China as the top destination for Ethiopia's exports. In what is probably the start of a longer-term trend, neighboring and regional countries are increasingly among the largest buyers of Ethiopian goods: Somalia and Sudan, for example, are both now individually larger export markets for Ethiopia than is the U.S. or Italy or Great Britain.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

What happens to trade when you visit the Dalai Lama?

An econometric model from Fuchs and Klann show that countries officially receiving the Dalai Lama at the highest political level are punished through a reduction of their exports to China. However, this ‘Dalai Lama Effect’ is only observed for the Hu Jintao era and not for earlier periods. Furthermore, this effect is mainly driven by reduced exports of machinery and transport equipment and that it disappears two years after a meeting took place

Monday, 1 November 2010

How green is growing your own food

A recent MSc thesis finds that growing your own food has a higher Global Warming Potential (GWP) than outdoor production but lower than covered production. Fuel use was the highest contribution - improvements could mainly come from allotment holders cycling to the allotment rather than driving.
Carter C. (2010). Global Warming Potential of produce grown on an allotment using a life cycle assessment approach Case Study: Wellesbourne Allotment, Msc Thesis, University of Surrey, 2010
h/t FCRN

Friday, 29 October 2010

World statistic updated live

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Africa as seen by others

Maps of Africa posted by Chris Blattman

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Ley lines of globalization

My Heart's in Accra reveals the hidden world of shipping and why it is cheaper to the ship goods from China to US than the other way round (demand).

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Farmers dont need to be given info on adaptation

Dave Pannell says giving information to farmers on climate adaptation is a waste of time, because

(1) farmers will adapt appropriately to whatever climate change does occur even in the absence of a government program providing advice about it;
(2) such advice would often prompt little if any further change in behaviour; so
(3) the benefits to farmers of providing this sort of information will be minimal.