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News at Brighter Green

Executive Director Mia MacDonald Quoted in Civil Eats Article 1/26/15

Executive Director Mia MacDonald was quoted in Advisory Board member Anna Lappe's article on Chatham House's recent study on peoples' understanding of climate change and food, particularly meat production. You can view the Civil Eats article here.

New Report Released by Brighter Green and the Global Forest Coalition on the Unsustainable Impacts of Livestock and Soybean Production in Paraguay 1/22/15

Brighter Green and the Global Forest Coalition, published a new report entitled, "Meat from a Landscape Under Threat: Testimonies of the Impacts of Unsustainable Livestock and Soybean Production in Paraguay". You can access the report here.

Brighter Green Featured in NYC Meatless Monday Press Release 1/22/15

Brighter Green and Executive Director Mia MacDonald were featured in NYC City Council Representative Helen Rosenthal's press release on the push for NYC to adopt the Meatless Monday campaign.

Executive Director Mia MacDonald Appears on Our Hen House's Highlight Reel Podcast Episode 1/10/15

Brighter Green Executive Director Mia MacDonald appears on Our Hen House's highlight reel episode on January 10th. The original TV episode can be viewed here.

East African Girls' Leadership Initiative Program Update 1/10/15

Brighter Green and Tribal Link released a January Program Update on the East African Girls' Leadership Initiative. You can access it here.

Brighter Green and Humane Society International Publish COP 20 Policy Recommendations 12/4/14

Brighter Green and Humane Society International published a policy recommendation document on animal agriculture and climate change for the COP 20 meeting in Lima, Peru. You can access the document here.

Brighter Green Releases Summary on Forthcoming Nature's Rights Paper 10/14/14

Brighter Green released a summary of a forthcoming nature's rights paper entitled Nature's Rights: Rivers, Trees, Whales, and Apes.

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Record-Setting Droughts in China Could Send Food Prices Even Higher

March 1, 2011 12:23pm

China's parched earth has far-reaching impacts

Both the United Nations and China's government are sounding the alarm as Shangdong province is facing its worst drought in over sixty years. Shangdong province is of central importance because it is the center of wheat production in China, which is also the world's top wheat producer. Water shortages and crop damage has also been felt in China's Western, Northern and Central regions. The consequences of continued drought could continue to drive up global grain prices, with myriad effects on both the developing and developed world.

In China the effects are being felt by an estimated 2.6 million people and an additional 2.8 million livestock. Beijing is also feeling the strain, as it has not received rain in over three months. Urban areas like Beijing are one factor in the water shortage for agriculture, as the concentrated population's demand for water for domestic and industrial use draws away water supplies for farming. The scope of the drought's effects on crop land are staggering, as at least 5.6 million hectares have been affected, which make up two thirds of the country's wheat crop.

Despite recent snowfalls, the Ministry of Agriculture reports that the situation has not improved. Desperation has led to meteorologists and the Chinese military attempting to seed clouds in order to encourage precipitation. The government has announced that it will start releasing some of its grain reserves in order to reduce strain on the market, and has pledged more than 1 billion dollars worth of emergency water aid to farmers. Follwing Prime Minister Wen Jibao's call for increased investment in drought-mitigating technologies, China's officials have initiated water desalinization projects, well digging, and irrigation improvements. However, some of the help may have come too late.

According to Robert S. Zeigler, the director of the International Rice Research Institute, "China's grain situation is critical to the rest of the world. If they are forced to go out on the market to procure adequate supplies for their population, it could send huge shock waves through the world's grain markets." Higher food prices are especially problematic for developing countries, many of which import food and are already struggling to feed their people. The current high food prices are even said to have contributed to the political and social unrest recently seen in Tunisia, Egypt, and other parts of Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Global wheat prices increased by 76% in the last year, partly because of rising demand and climate impacts on Canadian production, as well as Australian flooding, European and Russian dry spells. Growth in global demand for grain has been driven by several factors, including population growth, increasing affluence, and the use of grain to fuel automobiles.

Lester R. Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute argues in reference to food prices that "we can no longer expect that things will soon return to normal, because in a world with a rapidly changing climate system there is no norm to return to."
Despite this grim prognosis, governments can and must act in concert to avert catastrophe by aiming for more sustainable agricultural practices and by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Everyone has to eat, after all.

Image courtesy of Mundoo