Blog - November 2011

MASS CONSUMPTION, MASS EXTINCTION?

November 14th, 2011

 “Infinite growth of material consumption in a finite world is an impossibility” E.F. Schumacher

The environmental crisis of our time is accelerating at the rate of no return.  If human beings do not rapidly enforce sustainable ways of life, humans face the possibility of destroying all life on earth including the human race itself.

 The increasing gap between the rich and the poor, spiking food prices, global warming, depletion of our natural resources, and wildlife extinction are all various components consequentially caused by our mass consumption behaviour. A United Nations report indicates that our current rate of consumption will ultimately use the resources of one and a half planets. We are all consuming from one planet – planet Earth – and we are exhausting it. 

The population of the world’s people has just reached 7 billion and continues to rise consistently. With that in mind, consumption patterns need to be reduced in order to create sustainability. Canada’s sustainability report says, “Historically, rates of consumption and pollution have been rising faster than population, both in Canada and globally.” Yet the report notes that spending on low carbon energy sources is less than 2% of the lowest required estimates. It is clear that there is much work to be done..                                                              

 In order to tackle the environmental crisis of our time, it is evident that people need to work collectively to overcome the deterioration of our planet by confronting the main issue of mass consumption.  The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports that “Over 53% of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited, and 32% are overexploited, already depleted, or recovering from depletion.” Statistics also show that up to 90% of the ocean’s large fish have already been fished out.  Moreover, environmental researchers state that arctic sea ice is melting at a rate of 9% per decade, endangering the habitat and existence of arctic animals. The winter season is being cut short as ice is forming later during the year and melting earlier in the spring.

As a Peterborough community – like all responsible communities – we need to drastically reduce waste, and alter our production and consumption habits, or Canada will have to take major environmental measures with no guarantee of positive results.  This means making cautious decisions toward economic growth through environmental degradation reduction, renewable development strategies and sustainable means of survival.

Canadians for Mining Awareness, a working group of the Kawartha World Issues Centre (KWIC), are helping to host a film event featuring the documentary, Gasland, about natural gas extraction. Otherwise known as ‘fracking,’ this resource extraction method has created catastrophic human, animal and environmental damage.

Join us Tuesday, November 15th, 2011 from 6:30-8:50pm, at Sadleir House, George Street Peterborough. $5 or pay what you can to support the Transition Reskilling Institute.   

Yolanda Ajak

 

Hunger and the World Food Economy at the KWIC World Issues Cafe

October 11th, 2011

Food is an essential component to human life. Imagine going to bed hungry, waking up hungry and not knowing where your next meal will come from.  This is the daily life and struggle of nearly a billion people worldwide. 

The unremitting rise in global food prices is not only problematic for low income families, but it also constitutes a major threat to food security particularly in developing countries.According to the World Bank, between 2010-2011 incessantly rising food costs have resulted in over 70 million people living in extreme poverty, 44 million since June alone.

The price surge for wheat and maize may be an inconvenience for us, but it is a serious issue for the world’s poor who spend more than 50% of their incomes on food.The number of hungry people worldwide is continually increasing, and little attention is paid to the role of global financial markets in shaping the world food systems.

In today’s global international market, the well-being of a country may depend on the export of goods from another country. Russia, one of the world’s leading wheat producers was ravaged by fires during the summer of 2010 record breaking heat wave. Wheat harvests in Ukraine have also dropped 15% as a result of incompetent weather. Both countries have exercised export bans on the commodity therefore resulting on world shortages of the commodity. And like the domino affect, the price of wheat has gone up in the international market.

October 16, 2011 will mark the 32nd annual World Food Day, a globally acknowledged day to commemorate the creation of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.The theme of this year’s FAO World Food Day program is “Food Prices- From Crisis to Stability.”The objective of this year’s theme is to explore the impacts of food prices on the poor and explore alternatives to prevention of the patterns of increasingly rising global food prices.

In conjunction with World Food Day, Kawartha World Issues Centre is hosting a free World Issues Café on Thursday October 18 at 5:30pm at the Market Hall. This event will include a community feast of Indigenous black bean soup from Grandfather’s Catering, wild rice salad from Food Not Bombs, and traditional corn tortillas and salsa provided by Ivan and the ChocoSol Tortilla Project, followed by a presentation and discussion. During the feast, several local groups working on food issues, such the Peterborough Community Food Network will be represented to share information about their work creating links between the local and global food systems. 

Keynote speaker Dr. Jennifer Clapp will focus on the features of the world economy that make the business of food more and more like a global gambling casino. Clapp will give an overview of the causes and possible solutions to the problem of rising global food prices. Clapp is a Professor and CIGI Chair of Environmental Global Governance, Balsillie School of International Affairs and the Department of Environment and Resource Studies, at the University of Waterloo. Clapp is a renowned researcher in the areas of Global food and environment politics and governance; environment and development; trade and environment/agriculture; politics of food aid; global politics of hazardous and plastic waste; agricultural biotechnology and implications for developing countries; transnational corporations and environment. She is also the author of a number of books, including two upcoming works: Food (Polity, 2011) and Hunger in the Balance: The New Politics of International Food Aid (Cornell, 2012).

 Yolanda Ajak