Friday, 20 December 2013

IPS Pick of Week 2013,12,20

Caring for Water Is a Must for Brazil’s Energy Industry 
Mario Osava 
As they build huge hydropower dams, the Brazilian government and companies have run into resistance from environmentalists, indigenous groups and social movements. But the binational Itaipú plant is an exception, where cooperation is the name of the game. Involved in a total of 65 environmental, ... MORE >>

And Now This Filthy Flood 
Mohammed Omer 
Wearing tattered shoes and hopping between dirty puddles, 14-year-old Sabeh manages to find his way to the market at the Al Shati refugee camp, one of Gaza’s most heavily populated and poor areas. He asks a man selling socks if he can buy a pair for one shekel (29 cents). Sabeh looks despondent ... MORE >>

Cameroonians Flee Atrocities in Central African Republic 
Ngala Killian Chimtom 
“We couldn’t stand the violence anymore,” said 27-year-old Baba Hamadou shortly after alighting from a chartered flight at the Douala International Airport earlier this week. Hamadou is one of 202 Cameroonians repatriated from the Central African Republic (CAR) on Tuesday, bringing the total ... MORE >>

Q&A: “Libyan Women Were Handed Over as Spoils of War” 
Karlos Zurutuza 
Unless immediate changes are enforced, Libya is heading towards an "Afghan" model regarding women´s rights, Aicha Almagrabi, a Libyan writer and senior women rights activist, told IPS from her residence in Tripoli. Women who fight for their rights in Libya “are constantly insulted, harassed and ... MORE >>

U.N. Advice to Aid Worker: Write Last Will Before Leaving Home 
Thalif Deen 
When Anoja Wijeyesekera, an aid worker with the U.N. children's agency UNICEF, received her new assignment in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan back in 1997, her appointment letter arrived with a "survival manual" and chilling instructions: write your last will before leaving home. "It was an exercise ...MORE >>

When NATO Leaves Afghanistan 
Giuliano Battiston 
Afghanistan’s 30 million people are deeply divided over whether President Hamid Karzai should sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with Washington that will allow U.S. military operations to continue in the conflict-ravaged country after NATO forces leave in 2014. Some believe the BSA is ...MORE >>

Bicycle Use Booming in Latin America 
Estrella Gutiérrez 
“I ride 43 km a day and I love it,” said Carlos Cantor in Bogotá, Colombia. “Five years ago I switched my car for a bike,” explained Tomás Fuenzalida from Santiago, Chile. They are both part of the burgeoning growth of cycling as a transport solution in Latin America. But in the second-most ... MORE >>

Food Security Can Come in Tiny, Wiggly Packages 
Amy Fallon 
It is known as the land of copper to the outside world, but there’s another c-word that does a roaring trade in Zambia, albeit locally - caterpillars. On a street corner in the capital Lusaka on a scorching hot day, Dorothy Chisa, 49, is selling the insects, a popular high-protein delicacy in ... MORE >>

Dam the Fish 
Michelle Tolson 
“I prefer the dam to the fish,” says middle-aged farmer Ton Noun, when asked his opinion on a proposed 400 megawatt dam on Sesan river near his home in northeastern Cambodia. Then he chuckles and asks, “What fish?” That’s because there are few fish in the brown, murky waters of the river, and he ... MORE >>

U.S. Wind Industry Buffeted by Uncertainty 
Carey L. Biron 
The U.S. wind industry looks set to enter a period of uncertainty, with an important government subsidy expiring at the end of the month and no clear plan for lawmakers to work towards an extension. Because of the way the subsidy, known as the wind production tax credit (PTC), was extended in ...MORE >>

An Argentine Town that ‘Celebrates’ Garbage 
Fabiana Frayssinet 
Towns traditionally celebrate their most characteristic aspect. So the town of Bouwer in central Argentina decided to “celebrate” garbage. But the “first provincial festival of pollution and against discrimination” is not a reason for pride, but a mechanism of resistance by a town that wants to ... MORE >>

Doctor Abductions Leave Patients Helpless 
Ashfaq Yusufzai 
Doctors in the Pakistani frontier provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are running scared after nearly 45 consultants were kidnapped for ransom this year. Police suspect that gangs enjoying the Taliban’s patronage are behind the abductions that are just a symptom of the many challenges ... MORE >>

Refugees Struggle in Ruined Camp 
Rebecca Murray 
As the Syrian war intensifies sectarian clashes in Lebanon’s northern coastal city Tripoli, Palestinians in the area worriedly watch the violence from the sidelines. In the summer of 2007, the Palestinian refugees of Nahr el Bared, just 16 kilometers north of Tripoli, paid a devastating price in ...MORE >>

Kremlin Tightens Grip on Media 
Pavol Stracansky 
Russia is set to lose one of its few relatively objective news outlets as the Kremlin moves to tighten its grip on the country’s media. In an unexpected move earlier this week President Vladimir Putin ordered the closure of the RIA Novosti news agency and the creation of a new global news agency ...MORE >>

Zero Garbage Plan Tied to Fate of Ousted Bogotá Mayor 
Constanza Vieira 
The ousted left-wing mayor of the Colombian capital, Gustavo Petro, is a casualty of the battle over the introduction of a Zero Garbage programme, which had included thousands of informal recyclers in the waste disposal business. “His removal was arbitrary,” said Nelson Rojas, one of the workers ... MORE >>

Indian Gays Prepare to Fight Again 
Ranjita Biswas 
Human rights have taken a step back in India, activists say after the Supreme Court overturned a ruling of the High Court that had earlier lifted the ban on gay sex. The Delhi High Court ruling had in effect suspended application of Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The article, which ... MORE >>

Climate Makes Refugees Out of Young Ghanaians 
Albert Oppong-Ansah 
It was 20-year-old Fizer Boa who first migrated south to Ghana’s capital, Accra, to work in the local Abobloshie market as a porter or “Kayayei”. “I agreed with my mother when she advised me to go join my friend who was working as a Kayayei in Accra. I did not object to the idea because … we ...MORE >>

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

POVERTY: Cattle in poor countries produce more earth-warming gases

JOHANNESBURG, 16 December 2013 (IRIN) - Cattle bred for meat and dairy in some poor countries can emit 100 times more earth-warming carbon dioxide than those in rich countries for each kilogramme of protein (milk, meat) produced, says a new study

The study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), is the newest comprehensive assessment of what cows, sheep, pigs, poultry and other farm animals are eating in different parts of the world; how efficiently they convert that feed into milk, eggs and meat; and the amount of greenhouse gases they produce. 

Cattle in developing countries account for 75 percent of global emissions from those particular animals and 56 percent of the global emissions from poultry and pigs. The higher greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries are driven by the animal's consumption of poor-quality food, the quantity of this food consumed and the animal's worse health. 

The study was produced by scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). 

Globally, the scientists found that cattle, bred both for beef or dairy, are the biggest source of greenhouse emissions from livestock, accounting for 77 percent of the total. Pork and poultry account for only 10 percent of emissions. 

The most important aspect of the study relates to the amount of feed livestock consume to produce 1kg of protein, known as “feed efficiency,” and the amount of greenhouse gases released for every 1kg of protein produced, known as “emission intensity.” 

Sub-Saharan Africa is identified as a global hotspot in terms of emissions. Cattle grazing in the arid lands of Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, for example, can release the equivalent of 1,000kg of carbon dioxide for every 1kg of protein they produce, said a fact sheet provided by the research institutions. By comparison, in many parts of the US and Europe, the emission intensity is around 10kg for every 1kg of protein. 

Worse diets, more gas 
This new data offers a more detailed way to help countries establish their emission baselines as related to the livestock sector, compared to other studies and data generated in the past. 

"Cattle grazing in the arid lands of Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, for example, can release the equivalent of 1,000kg of carbon dioxide for every 1kg of protein they produce"
Among the major warming gases, methane (44 percent) accounts for most of the livestock emissions, a report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said earlier this year. 

This is followed by nitrous oxide (29 percent) and carbon dioxide (27 percent). 

Better diets, feeds and feeding techniques can reduce the methane released during digestion, as well as the amount of methane and nitrous oxide released by decomposing manure, say scientists. The nutrient balance in the feed can affect the amount of gases an animal produces. Rich countries provide feeds that are more balanced in their nutrient mix. Scientists areworking with different types of grasses to help poor countries reduce their livestock-sector emissions.  

More information on how the livestock sector affects us is critical, as demand for livestock products is expected to increase by 70 percent by 2050. 

The new study found that grass accounts for most of the feed consumed by livestock in developing countries (73 percent) - with cattle chewing up by far the most. 

Mario Herrero, lead author of the study, who earlier this year left ILRI to take up the position of chief research scientist at CSIRO in Australia, told IRIN that livestock in the developing world emit more methane because “there are more animals in the developing world,” and “what they eat is of lower quality, and hence it releases more methane per unit of feed consumed.” 

A cow in North America or Europe likely consumes at most about 75-300kg of dry matter to produce 1kg of meat protein, while in sub-Saharan Africa, a cow might require between 500-2,000kg of dry matter to produce 1kg of meat, said the fact sheet. "The differences in feed efficiency are mainly due to the higher nutritional and digestive quality of pastures in more temperate regions such as North America and Europe," it said. However, feed efficiency is calculated based on the output of an entire herd, and in Africa, relatively high livestock mortality rates and low reproduction rates also contribute significantly to the overall inefficiency of their livestock systems, added the fact sheet. 

Herrero admits that for the small farmers in the developing world, it is easier to let their animals graze on grass as few are able to afford quality feed. 

“What we need is to intensify smallholder systems in a sustainable manner,” said Herrero in an email. “This not only means improving feeding of animals, but also to develop markets so that farmers can sell their products, create policies and regulations so that farmers in formal and informal markets can also sell quality products and adhere to health regulations and so on. 

"The differences in feed efficiency are mainly due to the higher nutritional and digestive quality of pastures in more temperate regions such as North America and Europe"
“For this we need the right types of investments for markets to develop and for creating incentives for farmers to intensify their systems and produce more milk, meat and crops.” 

There are also examples of how efficient small-scale livestock farmers can be. Jimmy Smith, director general of ILRI, recently provided examples of how competitive these farmers are in the developing world. 

"In East Africa, one million smallholders keep Africa’s largest dairy herd, Ugandans produce milk at the lowest cost in the world, and Kenya’s small- and large-scale poultry and dairy producers have the same levels of efficiency and profits," says the ILRI website. Small-scale farmers in India account for at least 70 percent of the milk produced nationally. 

The need for the data 

Herrero explained that the idea behind the study was to produce a data on the interaction between livestock, consumption of biomass such as grass, land and feed, and the impact it has productivity, emissions of gas and manure. 

He added the new data could be used to study other dimensions of livestock systems - such as incomes, vulnerability, social conditions and adaptation to climate change. 

The data, which reveals the different ways people around the world raise animals, could help inform the “debate over the role of livestock in our diets and our environments and the search for solutions to the challenges they present,” he said. 

While the new data will help to assess the sustainability of different livestock production systems, the authors caution against using any single measurement as an absolute indicator of sustainability, said the fact sheet. For example, the low livestock feed efficiencies and high greenhouse gas emission intensities in sub-Saharan Africa are determined largely by the fact that most animals in this region continue to subsist primarily on vegetation inedible by humans, especially by grazing on marginal lands unfit for crop production and on other residues of plants left on croplands after harvesting. 

“While our measurements may make a certain type of livestock production appear inefficient, that production system may be the most environmentally sustainable, as well as the most equitable, way of using that particular land,” said Philip Thornton, another co-author and an ILRI researcher, in a press release on the study. 

Pork and poultry versus cattle and sheep 
Policymakers can make informed choices based on the detailed data generated by the report. For instance, the study confirmed that pigs and poultry are more efficient at converting feed into protein than cattle, sheep and goats. 

Globally, pork produced 24kg of carbon per 1kg of edible protein, and poultry produced only 3.7kg of carbon per 1kg of protein - compared with anywhere from 58-1,000kg of carbon per 1kg of protein from meat from cattle, lamb or goats, said the fact sheet. Pigs and chicken are monogastric creatures - meaning they rely on a single-compartment stomach to process food - whereas cattle, lamb and goats, which are ruminants, rely on a four-compartment stomach. 

“The large differences in efficiencies in the production of different livestock foods warrant considerable attention,” the authors note. “Knowing these differences can help us define sustainable and culturally appropriate levels of consumption of milk, meat and eggs.” 

However, the authors caution that the lower emission intensities in the pig and poultry sectors are driven largely by industrial systems, “which provide high-quality, balanced concentrate diets for animals of high genetic potential.” These systems also pose significant public health risks with the possibility of transmitting of zoonotic diseases. 


Friday, 13 December 2013

IPS Pick of Week 2013,12,13

Mundurukú Indians in Brazil Protest Tapajós Dams 
Fabiola Ortiz 
It took them three days to make the 2,000-km journey by bus from their Amazon jungle villages. The 10 Mundurukú chiefs and 30 warriors made the trek to the capital of Brazil to demand the demarcation of their territory and the right to prior consultation in order to block the Tapajós ... MORE > >

In Home Gardens, Income and Food for Urban Poor 
Elizabeth Whitman 
Flowers burst out of old tires and rows of pepper plants fill recycled plastic tubs as herbs pop out of old pipes. As utilitarian as it is cheery, this rooftop array is one of several urban agriculture projects that are significantly improving livelihoods for the urban poor in this sprawling ... MORE > >

Reaching Quietly for the ‘Solidarity Basket’ 
Vesna Peric Zimonjic 
In the early morning hours, as hundreds of people grab their breakfast at a busy bakery in Beogradska Street in the Serbian capital, a very special basket quickly fills up with croissants, rolls and breads. It is the ‘solidarity basket’. It’s a concept that around 60 bakeries all over Serbia ... MORE > >

Changes Coming to South Africa’s Patent System 
Brendon Bosworth 
Paul Anley, chief executive officer of Pharma Dynamics, one of South Africa’s leading generic drug companies, wants to sell a cheaper version of popular birth control pill Yasmin. But he legally cannot because German multinational Bayer has patent protection on the drug in South Africa, even though ... MORE > >

Throwing the Tanzania-Zambia Railway a Lifeline 
Amy Fallon 
Some say it's the journey, not the destination that matters. Hop aboard the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) line at Tanzania's Dar es Salaam port and begin the 1,860-kilometre journey to Kapiri Mposhi, a small town in Zambia's Central Province, and you may find yourself pondering this ... MORE > >

Golan Druze Feel the Brunt of Syria’s Civil War 
Pierre Klochendler 
The faint explosion is a reminder that though the newly refurbished fence protects their town, the two-and-a-half-year-old civil war which is tearing their motherland apart is never far off. Separated from Syria for almost five decades, the Syrian Druze living in the Israeli-occupied Golan ... MORE > >

Some Spanish Police Protect Immigrants 
Inés Benítez 
They are members of Spain’s Guardia Civil. But instead of pursuing undocumented immigrants like the rest of the police in Spain, they are there to defend them from the crimes to which they often fall victim. “We frequently dress as civilians and go around the province to gather complaints in ... MORE > >

Africa Prepares for Central African Republic Deployment 
Jacey Fortin 
The African Union is preparing to deploy thousands of troops in the Central African Republic as a deadly conflict there spirals further out of control. On Monday, Dec. 9, African Union (AU) Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha met with diplomats at its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to ... MORE > >

Ukraine Crackdown Turns Sinister 
Pavol Stracansky 
As anti-government protests in the Ukraine move into their third week, there are growing concerns among individuals and civil society organisations in the country over the regime’s approach to protestors. Rights groups say that there are already similarities to the sinister crackdown on ... MORE > >

Indian Boys Get Lessons in Respect 
Shai Venkatraman 
In a shanty tucked inside Dharavi, described as Asia’s largest slum settlement, a little piece of theatre unfolds. Several young boys are heckled as they pretend to go vegetable shopping - and calling them names are young girls. The boys are embarrassed. While the exact opposite happens on ... MORE > >

Lynch Mobs Hide Behind 'Community Justice' in Bolivia 
Franz Chávez 
Images of tortured bodies and barely recognisable faces, victims of lynch mobs made up of furious local residents, periodically shock Bolivian society. It is vigilante justice in impoverished rural and urban areas that has nothing to do with indigenous community justice, which the perpetrators ... MORE > >

Africa Urged to Use Multilateral Approach to Achieve Sustainable Development 
Isaiah Esipisu 
Africa can achieve sustainable development by scaling up "green economy" initiatives. What is needed is increased allocations from within national budgets supplemented by donor funding, claim experts. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) defines a green economy initiative as one that ... MORE > >

Drone Killings Show Numbers, Not Bodies 
Ashfaq Yusufzai 
More than 300 U.S. drone attacks have killed 2,160 militants and 67 civilians in Pakistan since 2008, according to Pakistani defence ministry data. But people living in the affected areas are now questioning these figures, asking why they never get to know the names of the militants or see the ... MORE > >

An African Dream Called Lampedusa 
Karlos Zurutuza 
Youssef crossed the Sahara desert with a folded school map of Europe in his pocket. “Could you please point Lampedusa in the map for me? I cannot find it.” The 28-year-old Nigerian undertook an arduous journey from the capital Abuja to Libya in the hope of some day making it to the Italian ... MORE > >

Mandela, Pacifist or Rebel? 
Diana Cariboni 
Perhaps it’s a false contradiction. But today there are many who stress the pacifist message with which South Africa’s Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) emerged from prison in 1990, while few put an emphasis on his rebellion against apartheid, including armed rebellion, which landed him in ... MORE > >