October 15 News: World Grain Reserves ‘At A Very Low Level, Leaving No Room’ For Extreme Weather, Warns UN

World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the United States or other food-exporting countries could trigger a major hunger crisis next year, the United Nations has warned. [Guardian]

Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the UN.

“We’ve not been producing as much as we are consuming. That is why stocks are being run down. Supplies are now very tight across the world and reserves are at a very low level, leaving no room for unexpected events next year,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). With food consumption exceeding the amount grown for six of the past 11 years, countries have run down reserves from an average of 107 days of consumption 10 years ago to under 74 days recently.

In previous elections, candidates from both parties have campaigned on pledges to be environmental presidents. This time, neither candidate is talking much about cleaning up the air or protecting scenic lands. [NPR]

Despite ongoing controversy — in the last week and a half alone environment groups have sued 14 power plants in North Carolina and four in Illinois over coal ash contamination — no one expects anything more to happen before the election. After that, it depends on the priorities of the party controlling the White House. [Washington Post]

The company at the centre of Japan’s worst-ever nuclear crisis has acknowledged for the first time it could have avoided the disaster that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi power plant last year. [Guardian]

Iowa is on pace to see the quietest tornado season in nearly 50 years, thanks to the drought. State climatologist Harry Hillaker said this summer’s extreme dry conditions have helped keep tornadoes at bay. Iowa has recorded just 16 twisters this year. [Des Moines Register]

Environmental scientists and other experts are currently grappling with the proposed geoengineering technologies and are studying the impact they could have on biodiversity. [Times of India]

Scorching weather this summer in the Midwest left crops parched and livestock famished. Restaurants, already struggling with high fuel costs and a sluggish economy, are starting to feel the pinch of higher food costs. [Los Angeles Times]

Some of Britain’s top environmental science agencies are being told to use their skills to help “de-risk” investment for UK oil companies in the polar regions. [Guardian]

Rising acidity doesn’t just imperil the West Coast’s $110 million oyster industry. It ultimately will threaten other marine animals, the seafood industry and even the health of humans who eat affected shellfish, scientists say. [PhysOrg]

15 Responses to October 15 News: World Grain Reserves ‘At A Very Low Level, Leaving No Room’ For Extreme Weather, Warns UN

  1. Spike says:

    UK Met Office responds to David Rose’s UK newspaper article claiming global warming stopped 16 years ago.

  2. intwa says:

    The matter of agricultural productivity and its associated concerns with climate change should not be shrugged off as the implications are global and there is great certainty to believe that there will be an intensification of the water cycle whereby droughts could be severely more intense and have a longer duration and rain events more severe thereby imposing a greater risk for flooding. My comment is neither to support or reject a correlation between climate change and agricultural production but rather to state that it is better to be prepared for possibilities of changes in the water cycle and prepare for these accordingly.Coming from Africa, where agriculture is a massive part of our economic commodity, I believe we cannot afford the luxury to debate whether there will be more severe floods/droughts or not and should rather be spending that time developing a strong contingency plan in times of extreme weather.

  3. ColoradoBob says:

    Nigeria: Floods Wash Away Nigeria’s Hope On Rice Self-Sufficiency

  4. catman306 says:

    Carpe Diem from the Rolling Stones! Who’d a thunk?
    (but no mention of ozone or climate change or ocean acidification.)

    Doom and Gloom new from the Rolling Stones

  5. Darth Vader says:

    UN can hope as much as they want, but believing in low levels of extreme weather during an el nino season nowadays, is like believing in santa clause. It is doing to be a food crisis next year, and it is doing to be really, really bad.

  6. Darth Vader says:

    “It is going”, and not “doing”, of course

  7. Paul Magnus says:

    You get a feeling that there is a rising panic appearing at all level of society. What is in store for our future…?

    Business bosses attack George Osborne’s policy of ‘dash for gas’

    After a week in which two of Britain’s biggest energy suppliers shocked customers by announcing increases of up to 9% on gas and electricity bills from next month, business leaders are warning that the chancellor’s enthusiasm for a “dash for gas” looks like a recipe for economic and environmental disaster.

  8. Paul Magnus says:

    “The ever greater number of weather-related crises suggests strongly that climate change is beginning to bite and that the heatwaves, droughts and excessive rainfall around the world in the last few years have not been a blip, but a new reality”

  9. Paul Magnus says:

    Armed aggression is no longer the principal threat to our future. The overriding threats are now climate change, population growth, water shortages and rising food prices. The challenge is to save civilisation itself.”

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    In the MSM the growing food crisis has simply been the excuse for a new campaign to push GE crops. Despite the GE crops so far being very problematic, leading to the appearance of herbicide resistant super-weeds, having generally low yields, promoting massive over-use of chemicals, particularly the highly dangerous glyphosphate etc, they have one great advantage that overwhelms all the drawbacks. Being patented they ensure mega-profits for the agrichemical giants, and increasing corporate control over the planet’s food crops, long a Rightwing obsession. To control a country’s food supplies gives one a lot of leverage over that country.

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    George Osbourne would not know that a tram was up him until they rang the bell. An hereditary idiot, in my humble opinion.