Author Archives: Earth Policy Institute

Dust Bowl Revisited?

November 19th, 2012 | by Earth Policy Institute

Is a new Dust Bowl forming in the US Plains states and Southwest? State officials say "never again," but agricultural practices in those areas could be creating the right conditions for another 30s-style loss of soil fertility


Full Planet, Empty Plates: Quick Facts

November 7th, 2012 | by Earth Policy Institute

With falling water tables, eroding soils, and rising temperatures making it difficult to feed growing populations, control of arable land and water resources is moving to center stage in the global struggle for food security. What will the geopolitics of food look like in a new era dominated by scarcity and food nationalism? Here are a few of the many facts from Full Planet, Empty Plates


The Great Transition, Part II: Building a Wind-Centered Economy

November 2nd, 2012 | by Earth Policy Institute

Over the past decade, world wind electric generating capacity grew at nearly 30 percent per year, its increase driven by its many attractive features and by public policies supporting its expansion. Wind is abundant, carbon-free and nondepletable. It uses no water, no fuel, and little land. Wind is also locally available, scales up easily, and can be brought online quickly. No other energy source can match this combination of features


The Great Transition, Part I: From Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy

October 25th, 2012 | by Earth Policy Institute

The great energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy is under way. As fossil fuel prices rise, as oil insecurity deepens, and as concerns about pollution and climate instability cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new world energy economy is emerging. The old energy economy, fueled by oil, coal, and natural gas, is being replaced with an economy powered by wind, solar, and geothermal energy.


By the Numbers – Data Highlights from Full Planet, Empty Plates

October 17th, 2012 | by Earth Policy Institute

More than 150 data sets accompany Lester R. Brown’s latest book, Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity. These tables and graphs help to explain the precarious situation in which humanity finds itself, as the world leaves an era of food surpluses and enters one of food scarcity. Here are some highlights from the collection


Arctic Sea Ice in Free Fall

October 11th, 2012 | by Earth Policy Institute

The North Pole is losing its ice cap. Comparing recent melt seasons with historical records spanning more than 1,400 years shows summer Arctic sea ice in free fall. Many scientists believe that the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in the summertime within the next decade or two, and some say that this could occur as early as


Heat and Drought Ravage US Crops; Global Stocks Suffer

September 14th, 2012 | by Earth Policy Institute

This Summer's heat and drought are showing their impact on US crops: September estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) show 2012 U.S. corn yields at 123 bushels per acre, down by a fourth from the 2009 high of 165 bushels per acre


World Forest Area Still on the Decline

August 31st, 2012 | by Earth Policy Institute

Forests provide many important goods, such as timber and paper. They also supply essential services—for example, they filter water, control water runoff, protect soil, regulate climate, cycle and store nutrients, and provide habitat for countless animal species and space for recreation. Human demand for their products, though, keeps them in a state of decline globally


Offshore Wind Energy Development Picking Up Pace

August 16th, 2012 | by Earth Policy Institute

Wind power is the world’s leading source of renewable electricity, excluding hydropower, with 238,000 megawatts of capacity installed at the start of 2012. Thus far, almost all of this wind power has been tapped on land; worldwide just 4,600 megawatts of offshore wind farms were operating as of mid-2012. Offshore wind capacity is growing quickly, however, expanding nearly six-fold since 2006. Twelve countries now have wind turbines spinning offshore, and more will be joining them to take advantage of the powerful winds blowing over the oceans


Rising Temperature Raising Food Prices

August 8th, 2012 | by Earth Policy Institute

Over the last two months, the price of corn has been climbing. On July 19th, it exceeded $8 per bushel for the first time, taking the world into a new food price terrain. With heat and drought still smothering the Corn Belt, we may well see more all-time highs in coming weeks as the extent of crop damage becomes clearer



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