News on three fronts this week with global relevance: China is facing a diabetes epidemic more severe than previously thought. Ninety-two million Chinese have the disease, almost one in 10 adults. Factors cited include more sedentary lifestyles, urbanization, and fast-changing diets (an issue explored in Brighter Green’s policy paper, “Skillful Means: the Challenges of China’s Encounter with Factory Farming.”) China now has the largest number of diabetics in the world, surpassing India. For the world’s forests, the news is good…and bad. Forests are being cleared at lower rates and more trees are being planted (good). But (bad) nearly four million hectares, about 10 million acres, were lost in Latin America alone over the last decade; Africa’s forest losses were almost as high. And, large-scale tree-planting programs in China, India, and Vietnam are set to end — too soon — in 2020.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, which monitors deforestation, “conversion of forest to other uses continued at high rates in many countries.” The world’s water? Muddied, and not only by dirt. Two or more billion tons of wastewater is released into rivers, seas, lakes, and streams every day. A UN Environment Program report, just released for World Water Day (celebrated March 22), defines wastewater as “a cocktail of fertilizer run-off and sewage disposal alongside animal, industrial, agricultural and other wastes.” Among the report’s prescriptions: “…reducing the volume and concentrations of wastewater will require multiple actions ranging from reducing run-off from livestock and croplands to better treatment of human wastes.”
Photo courtesy of World Water Day