Earth Policy Institute

U.S. Bike-Sharing Fleet More than Doubles in 2013

by Janet Larsen, Earth Policy Institute The opening of the San Francisco Bay Area bike share on August 29, 2013, brings the combined fleet of shared bikes in the United States above 18,000, more than a doubling since the start of the year. The United States is now home to 34 modern bike-sharing programs that allow riders to easily make short trips on two wheels without having to own a […]

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Grain Yields Starting to Plateau

Editor’s Note: As regular readers will know, I don’t agree 100% with everything I post to the site. The article below, for example, has somewhat of a focus on fossil-fuel-based fertiliser, as the means to increasing yields. But, I put this piece up anyway, as the statistical information it contains on plateauing yields is an important one for all permaculturists (and all humans in general) to consider, acknowledge, and prepare […]

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Fossil Fuel Use Pushes Carbon Dioxide Emissions into Dangerous Territory

by Emily E. Adams, Earth Policy Institute Increasing global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a heat-trapping gas, are pushing the world into dangerous territory, closing the window of time to avert the worst consequences of higher temperatures, such as melting ice and rising seas. Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels have grown exponentially. Despite wide agreement by governments on the need to limit […]

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Food or Fuel?

by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute At the time of the Arab oil export embargo in the 1970s, the importing countries were beginning to ask themselves if there were alternatives to oil. In a number of countries, particularly the United States, several in Europe, and Brazil, the idea of growing crops to produce fuel for cars was appealing. The modern biofuels industry was launched. This was the beginning of […]

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Eroding Soils Darkening Our Future

by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute In 1938 Walter Lowdermilk, a senior official in the Soil Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, traveled abroad to look at lands that had been cultivated for thousands of years, seeking to learn how these older civilizations had coped with soil erosion. He found that some had managed their land well, maintaining its fertility over long stretches of history, and were […]

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Peak Water: What Happens When the Wells Go Dry?

by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute Peak oil has generated headlines in recent years, but the real threat to our future is peak water. There are substitutes for oil, but not for water. We can produce food without oil, but not without water. We drink on average four liters of water per day, in one form or another, but the food we eat each day requires 2,000 liters of […]

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Farmed Fish Production Overtakes Beef

Janet Larsen and J. Matthew Roney, Earth Policy Institute The world quietly reached a milestone in the evolution of the human diet in 2011. For the first time in modern history, world farmed fish production topped beef production. The gap widened in 2012, with output from fish farming—also called aquaculture—reaching a record 66 million tons, compared with production of beef at 63 million tons. And 2013 may well be the […]

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China’s Growing Hunger for Meat Shown by Move to Buy Smithfield, World’s Leading Pork Producer

by Janet Larsen, Earth Policy Institute Half the world’s pigs—more than 470 million of them—live in China, but even that may not be enough to satisfy the growing Chinese appetite for meat. While meat consumption in the United States has fallen more than 5 percent since peaking in 2007, Chinese meat consumption has leapt 18 percent, from 64 million to 78 million (metric) tons—twice as much as in the United […]

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Dozens of U.S. Cities Board the Bike-Sharing Bandwagon

by Janet Larson, Earth Policy Institute When New York City opened registration for its much anticipated public bike-sharing program on April 15, 2013, more than 5,000 people signed up within 30 hours. Eager for access to a fleet of thousands of bicycles, they became Citi Bike members weeks before bikes were expected to be available. Such pent-up demand for more cycling options is on display in cities across the United […]

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Bike-Sharing Programs Hit the Streets in Over 500 Cities Worldwide

by Janet Larsen, Earth Policy Institute Politicians, lobbyists, and tourists alike can ride bicycles along a specially marked lane between the White House and the U.S. Capitol, part of the 115 miles of bicycle lanes and paths that now crisscross Washington, DC. In Copenhagen, commuters can ride to work following a “green wave” of signal lights timed for bikers. Residents in China’s “happiest city,” Hangzhou, can move easily from public […]

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Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity – Chapter 1, Food: The Weak Link

by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute The world is in transition from an era of food abundance to one of scarcity. Over the last decade, world grain reserves have fallen by one third. World food prices have more than doubled, triggering a worldwide land rush and ushering in a new geopolitics of food. Food is the new oil. Land is the new gold. 1 The abrupt rise in world […]

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Falling Gasoline Use Means United States Can Just Say No to New Pipelines and Food-to-Fuel

by Janet Larsen, Earth Policy Institute Freeing America from its dependence on oil from unstable parts of the world is an admirable goal, but many of the proposed solutions—including the push for more home-grown biofuels and for the construction of the new Keystone XL pipeline to transport Canadian tar sands oil to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast—are harmful and simply unnecessary. Gasoline use in the United States is falling, […]

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