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]