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by Klaus Schlichtmann


ART. IX / 九条




Walther SCHÜCKING, The International Union of the Hague Peace Conferences


INDIA and the Quest for an effective UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION


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Täglich sterben über einhunderttausend Menschen an Hunger.





Der Drei-Billionen-Dollar-Krieg


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THE DAILY YOMIURI, October 19 , 2003

See also: http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/Update28_printable.htm

Copyright © 2003 Earth Policy Institute


Lester R. Brown

This year's world grain harvest is falling short of consumption by 93 million tons, dropping world grain stocks to the lowest level in 30 years. As rising temperatures and falling water tables hamstring farmers' efforts to expand production, prices of wheat and rice are turning upward.

For the first time, the grain harvest has fallen short of consumption four years in a row. In 2000, the shortfall was a modest 16 million tons; in 2001 it was 27 million tons; and in 2002 a record-smashing 96 million tons. In its September 11 crop report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that this year's shrunken harvest of only 1,818 million tons is falling short of estimated consumption of 1,911 million tons by a near-record 93 million tons. (See data.)

Agricultural leaders are now looking to next year's crop with fingers crossed. If 2004 brings another large shortfall comparable to this year or last year, there could be chaos in world grain markets by this time next year as more than 100 grain-importing countries scramble for scarce exportable supplies.

Higher temperatures are thwarting farmers' efforts to expand food production. The earth's average temperature has been rising since the late 1970s, with the three warmest years on record coming in the last five years. As temperatures continue to rise, crop yields start to fall.

Last year India and the United States suffered sharp harvest reductions because of record temperatures and drought. This year Europe bore the brunt of higher temperatures. Record heat in late summer scorched harvests from the United Kingdom and France in the west through Ukraine in the east. Bread prices are rising in several countries in the region.

After several years of seeing crops withered by heat, scientists are now beginning to focus on the precise effect of temperature on crop yields. New research from crop ecologists at the International Rice Research Institute and the USDA's Agriculture Research Service shows an emerging consensus that a 1-degree Celsius rise in temperature (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above the optimum during the growing season leads to a 10-percent decline in grain yields.

How much will the earth's temperature rise? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)with some 1,500 of the world's leading climate scientistsis projecting a rise of 1.4-5.8 degrees Celsius (2.5-10.4 degrees Fahrenheit) during this century if carbon emissions continue to increase. Farmers on the land now are facing the prospect of higher temperatures than those faced by any generation of farmers since agriculture began.

Although the IPCC projections are presented as global averages, the rise in temperature will be geographically uneven. Temperature rise is projected to be much greater over land than over the sea, in higher latitudes than in equatorial regions, and in the interior of continents than in coastal regions. The higher latitudes and continental interiors where the projected temperature rise is to be greatest neatly defines the North American breadbasketthe wheat-growing Great Plains of the United States and Canada and the U.S. Corn Belt.

This generation of farmers is also the first to face widespread aquifer depletion due in part to the use of powerful diesel and electric pumps that have become widely available only in the last few decades. Prospects for the big three grain producersChina, India, and the United States, which account for nearly half of the world's grain harvestshow the potential consequences of future water shortages.

Under the North China Plain, which produces half of China's wheat and a third of its corn, water tables are falling up to 3 meters per year. A World Bank assessment of China's water situation says, "Anecdotal evidence suggests that deep wells [drilled] around Beijing now have to reach 1,000 meters [more than half a mile] to tap fresh water, adding dramatically to the cost of supply." In unusually strong language for a Bank report, it foresees "catastrophic consequences for future generations" unless water use and supply can quickly be brought back into balance.

In India, water tables are falling throughout most of the country. As a result, thousands of wells are going dry each year. The USDA reports that water tables have dropped by more than 100 feet (30 meters) in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Water supplies are even tighter in California.

Overpumping for irrigation is a way of satisfying the growing demand for food today that almost guarantees a future drop in food production when the aquifer is depleted. For a few countries, the day of reckoning with aquifer depletion is already here. For many others it is drawing near.

Over the last four years the world's farmers have fallen further and further behind the growth in grain demand. We must now at least ask the question: Are the positive influences on production, such as advances in technology and investment in land improvement, largely being offset by negative influences, such as soil erosion, aquifer depletion, and rising temperature?

Since there has not been any growth in world grain production in eight years, the answer to that question may be yes. If so, we will need to move quickly to stabilize population, raise water productivity, and stabilize climate. If future grain shortages lead to dramatic price rises, they could destabilize governments in low-income grain-importing countries, disrupting global economic progress. Food security could quickly become the overriding security issue.

With most of the nearly 3 billion people who are due to be added to world population by 2050 coming in countries where wells are already going dry, there is an urgent need to stabilize population size as soon as possible. Some 34 countries have already stabilized their population. It is time for the remaining 150 countries to do so.

With water shortages spreading, we need a concerted global effort to raise water productivity, one patterned on the highly successful effort to raise land productivity that was launched a half century ago and that has nearly tripled world grain yields since then.

With rising temperature now shrinking harvests, we need to get serious about stabilizing climate, going far beyond the global goal set in the Kyoto Protocol of a 5-percent cut in carbon emissions by 2012. Reducing fossil fuel use is the key to stabilizing climate. It is perhaps a commentary on the complexity of our time that decisions made in ministries of energy may have a greater effect on food security than those made in ministries of agriculture.

Future food security may depend not only on stabilizing population, raising water productivity, and stabilizing climate, but on doing all these things at wartime speed. A plan to do this is detailed in the new book Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble. The Japanese edition of the book will be available in the middle o9f next mo9nth through Ieno Hikari.



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Human, All too Human

284 The means to real peace. -

No government nowadays admits that it maintains an army so as to satisfy occasional thirsts for conquest; the army is supposed to be for defence. That morality which sanctions self-protection is called upon to be its advocate. But that means to reserve morality to oneself and to accuse one‘s neighbour of immorality, since he has to be thought of as ready for aggression and conquest if our own state is obliged to take thought of means of self-defence; moreover, when our neighbour denies any thirst for aggression just as heatedly as our State does, and protests that he too maintains an army only for reasons of legitimate self-defence, our declaration of why we require an army declares our neighbour a hypocrite and cunning criminal who would be only too happy to pounce upon a harmless and unprepared victim and subdue him without a struggle. This is how all states now confront one another: they presuppose an evil disposition in their neighbour and a benevolent disposition in themselves. This presupposition, however, is a piece of inhumanity as bad as, if not worse than, a war would be; indeed, fundamentally it already constitutes an invitation to and cause of wars, because, as aforesaid, it imputes immorality to one‘s neighbour and thereby seems to provoke hostility and hostile acts on his part. The doctrine of the army as a means of self-defence must be renounced just as completely as the thirst for conquest. And perhaps there will come a great day on which a nation distinguished for wars and victories and for the highest development of military discipline and thinking, and accustomed to making the heaviest sacrifices on behalf of these things, will cry of its own free will: ,we shall shatter the sword‘ - and demolish its entire military machine down to its last foundations. To disarm while being the best armed, out of anelevation of sensibility - that is the means to real peace, which must always rest on a disposition for peace: whereas the so-called armed peace such as now parades about in every country is a disposition to fractiousness which trusts neither itself nor its neighbour and fails to lay down its arms half out of hatred, half out of fear. Better to perish than to hate and fear, and twofold better to perish than to make oneself hated and feared - this must one day become the supreme maxim of every individual state! - As is well known, our liberal representatives of the people lack the time to reflect on the nature of man: otherwise they would know that they labour in vain when they work for a ,gradual reduction of the military burden‘. On the contrary, it is only when this kind of distress is at its greatest that the only kind of god that can help here will be closest at hand.  The tree of the glory of war can be destroyed only at a single stroke, by a lightning-bolt: lightning, however, as you well know, comes out of a cloud and from on high. (R.J. Hollingdale, transl., Human, All Too Human. A Book for Free Spirits, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy (1996), pp. 380-81)