food miles

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pages: 329 words: 85,471

The Locavore's Dilemma by Pierre Desrochers, Hiroko Shimizu


air freight, back-to-the-land, British Empire, Columbian Exchange, Community Supported Agriculture, edge city, Edward Glaeser, food miles, Food sovereignty, global supply chain, intermodal, invention of agriculture, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, labour mobility, land tenure, megacity, moral hazard, mortgage debt, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, planetary scale, profit motive, refrigerator car, Steven Pinker, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl

Yes, We have no Bananas. A Critique of the ‘Food Miles’ Perspective .Mercatus Policy Series Primer no. 8, Mercatus Center (George Mason University) 29 Caroline Saunders and Peter Hayes. 2007. Air Freight Transport of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables- Report for the International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva, Switzerland. Research Report No. 299. New Zealand: AERU, Lincoln University) 30 DEFRA. 2005. Validity of Food Miles as an Indicator of Sustainable Development , ED50254 Issue 7 (July) 31 Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews. 2008. “Food Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States,” Environmental Science & Technology 42 (10): 3508-3513. 32 DEFRA. 2005 Validity of Food Miles as an Indicator of Sustainable Development , ED50254 Issue 7(July).

Unfortunately, these considerations are never addressed by locavores, whose primary focus is on reducing the distance that foodstuff travels between producers and final consumers. The Basic Problems with Food Miles The locavores’ only original addition to the rhetoric of past generations of food and environmental activists is the concept of “food miles”—the distance food items travel from farms to consumers—which they use as a proxy for greenhouse gas emissions. In short, the more distance traveled, the more greenhouse gases emitted and the more overall environmental damage. Despite its popularity, the concept and its underlying rationale have been convincingly debunked in numerous Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies, a methodology that examines the environmental impact associated with all the stages of a product’s life cycle, from raw material extraction to disposal of the finished product. Not surprisingly, it turns out that food miles can only be taken at face value in the case of identical items produced simultaneously in the exact same physical conditions but in different locations—in other words, if everything else is equal, which is obviously never the case in the real world.28 What follows is a brief summary of the most relevant findings of LCA researchers.

The first was vehicle kilometers—the distance traveled by vehicles carrying food and drink regardless of the amount being transported. The second was ton kilometers—the distance multiplied by load, which gives a better sense of the amount of energy required for each item transported.32 The researchers observed that 82% of the estimated 30 billion food miles associated with U.K.-consumed food are generated within the country, with car transport from shop to home accounting for 48% and tractor-trailers (what they call HGVs—heavy goods vehicles) representing 31% of food miles. Remarkably, air transport amounted to less than 1% of total food miles. The large share accounted for by cars was the result of individual families making numerous trips to the supermarket. By contrast, delivering these goods to stores using much more efficient means required much less energy per item. In other words, transporting a large volume of broccoli in a refrigerated container that had been moved around on a boat, a railroad car, and a truck to a distribution point required a lot less energy than a few thousand consumers bringing the same volume of broccoli back to their homes.


pages: 357 words: 95,986

Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work by Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams


3D printing, additive manufacturing, air freight, algorithmic trading, anti-work, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, battle of ideas, blockchain, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, deskilling, Doha Development Round, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ferguson, Missouri, financial independence, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, housing crisis, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, intermodal, Internet Archive, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, late capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market design, Martin Wolf, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, patent troll, pattern recognition, post scarcity, postnationalism / post nation state, precariat, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Slavoj Žižek, social web, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, surplus humans, the built environment, The Chicago School, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wages for housework, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

Here we find ecologically motivated arguments (for reducing energy expenditure by reducing the distances over which food is transported, for example) combined with class differentiation (in the form of marketing designed to promote identification with organic food). Similarly, complex problems are condensed into poorly formulated shorthand. For instance, the idea of ‘food miles’ – identifying the distances that food products have travelled, so as to reduce carbon outputs – appears a reasonable one. The problem is that it is all too often taken to be sufficient on its own as a guide to ethical action. As a 2005 report by the UK’s Department of Agriculture and Food found, while the environmental impacts of transporting food were indeed considerable, a single indicator based on total food miles was inadequate as a measure of sustainability.79 Most notably, the food-miles metric emphasises an aspect of food production that contributes a relatively small amount to overall carbon outputs. When it is simply assumed that ‘small is beautiful’, we can all too easily ignore the fact that the energy costs associated with producing food locally may well exceed the total costs of transporting it from a more suitable climate.80 Even for the purpose of assessing the contribution of food transportation, food miles are a poor metric.

When it is simply assumed that ‘small is beautiful’, we can all too easily ignore the fact that the energy costs associated with producing food locally may well exceed the total costs of transporting it from a more suitable climate.80 Even for the purpose of assessing the contribution of food transportation, food miles are a poor metric. Air freight, for example, makes up a relatively small portion of total food miles, but it makes up a disproportionately large slice of total food-related CO2 emissions.81 The energy consumption involved in putting food on our plates is important, but it cannot be captured in anything as simple as food miles, or in the idea that ‘local is best’. Indeed, highly inefficient local food production techniques may be more costly than efficiently grown globally sourced foodstuffs. The bigger question here relates to the priorities we place on the types of food we produce, how that production is controlled, who consumes that food and at what cost.

Contexts 13: 3 (2014). 77.Miriam Glucksmann and Jane Nolan, ‘New Technologies and the Transformations of Women’s Labour at Home and Work’, Equal Opportunities International 26: 2 (20 February 2007). 78.Will Boisvert, ‘An Environmentalist on the Lie of Locavorism’, New York Observer, 16 April 2013. 79.Alison Smith, Paul Watkiss, Geoff Tweddle, Alan McKinnon, Mike Browne, Alistair Hunt, Colin Treleven, Chris Nash and Sam Cross, The Validity of Food Miles as an Indicator of Sustainable Development: Final Report (London: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2005). 80.Caroline Saunders, Andrew Barber and Greg Taylor, Food Miles: Comparative Energy/Emissions Performance of New Zealand’s Agriculture Industry, Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit, Lincoln University, Canterbury, NZ, July 2006, pdf available at 81.In the UK in 2005, air freight made up just 1 per cent of food tonne miles travelled, but 11 per cent of food-related emissions. Smith et al., Validity of Food Miles, p. 3. 82.Doug Henwood, ‘Moving Money (Revisited)’, LBO News, 2010, at 83.Stephen Gandel, ‘By Every Measure, the Big Banks Are Bigger’, Fortune, 13 September 2013, at 84.Victoria McGrane and Tan Gillian, ‘Lenders Are Warned on Risk’, Wall Street Journal, 25 June 2014. 85.OTC Derivatives Statistics at End-June 2014, Basel: Bank for International Settlements, 2014, p. 2, at 86.David Boyle, A Local Banking System: The Urgent Need to Reinvigorate UK High Street Banking (London: New Economics Foundation, 2011), p. 8. 87.Ibid., pp. 8–9. 88.Giles Tremlett, ‘Spain’s Savings Banks’ Culture of Greed, Cronyism, and Political Meddling’, Guardian, 8 June 2012. 89.Boyle, Local Banking System, p. 10. 90.Andrew Bibby, ‘Co-op Bank Crisis: What Next for the Co-operative Sector?’


pages: 603 words: 182,781

Aerotropolis by John D. Kasarda, Greg Lindsay


3D printing, air freight, airline deregulation, airport security, Akira Okazaki, Asian financial crisis, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blood diamonds, borderless world, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, Clayton Christensen, cleantech, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, edge city, Edward Glaeser, failed state, food miles, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, fudge factor, full employment, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, global supply chain, global village, gravity well, Haber-Bosch Process, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, intermodal, invention of the telephone, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Kangaroo Route, knowledge worker, kremlinology, labour mobility, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, megacity, Menlo Park, microcredit, Network effects, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Peter Thiel,, pink-collar, pre–internet, RFID, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Seaside, Florida, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, telepresence, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, thinkpad, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Tony Hsieh, trade route, transcontinental railway, transit-oriented development, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, Yogi Berra

As far as the public is concerned, flying deserves much of the blame. One outlet for their anger is the debate over Heathrow. Another, referenced by Leahy in his speech, is the concept of “food miles”—the distance a product travels from the farm or ocean to your home. Food miles have become a shorthand for measuring food’s carbon footprint. It’s logical to assume that food—or flowers—traveling thousands of miles might have a larger footprint than the same items grown or made locally. But we’re often highly illogical about both. We are what we eat, and in our identities as consumers we are what we consume—and how visibly we consume it. As a result, food miles and carbon footprints have become wrapped up in a much larger critique of global food chains. Less-than-scientific correlations have been found between how far food has traveled and how it tastes.

The United Nations estimates livestock’s share of worldwide greenhouse gases at 18 percent, more than all forms of transport on the planet combined. We could erase the footprint of food miles—and all miles—by becoming vegetarians. We could do it if we gave up beef and dairy only once a week. “Dietary shift can be a more effective means of lowering an average household’s food-related climate footprint than ‘buying local,’” recommend Christopher Weber and H. Scott Matthews, Carnegie Mellon engineers who analyzed the American food chain. Food miles compose 4 percent of its emissions, the pair found; seen from this perspective, the Big Mac is healthier than a home-cooked meal. But from what perspective does that make sense? Air Miles and Fair Miles And thus food miles hit a dead end. “If you care about the environment, there’s certainly a case to be made for growing things where they grow best, or at least better than they do now,” Adrian Williams told me.

This means refrigerated trucks in the United States, where the average head of lettuce travels eighteen hundred miles before ending up an iceberg wedge at a steakhouse in Chicago. Britain discovered just how much of its produce is grown and flown from overseas during last April’s volcanic ash crisis, when grounded flights led to shortages. Asparagus, grapes, green onions, and lettuce all went missing at Heathrow. Airlifted food miles have tripled in Britain since 1992, growing an average of 9 percent annually while total imports barely budged. This, in turn, has sparked a heated debate on the future of food: Will it be locally grown, or global? And which is the right thing to do? Flowers and Food Miles In January 2007, Sir Terry Leahy, the chief executive of Tesco, Britain’s largest retailer, delivered a speech about climate change. The grocery chain faced mounting pressure from customers to reduce its carbon footprint—and, by extension, their own. It was incumbent on him to say something.


Future Files: A Brief History of the Next 50 Years by Richard Watson


Albert Einstein, bank run, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Black Swan, call centre, carbon footprint, cashless society, citizen journalism, computer age, computer vision, congestion charging, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, deglobalization, digital Maoism, disintermediation, epigenetics, failed state, financial innovation, Firefox, food miles, future of work, global supply chain, global village, hive mind, industrial robot, invention of the telegraph, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, linked data, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, Northern Rock, peak oil, pensions crisis, precision agriculture, prediction markets, Ralph Nader, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, RFID, Richard Florida, self-driving car, speech recognition, telepresence, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Turing test, Victor Gruen, white flight, women in the workforce, Zipcar

Seasonal, regional and slow While some people will crave food that’s fast and cheap, others will pay large amounts of money to slow things down. This means locally grown food eaten in season. It also means animal rights and all kinds of information about where food is from and how it was produced. For some people provenance will mean buying directly from the producer, while for others technology will allow them to interrogate individual products or the companies that make them. The food-miles debate will move to center stage, as will fair-trade products and practices. For people with the luxuries of time and space, growing your own fruit and vegetables will make a comeback as the ultimate form of traceability. Health versus indulgence We eat with our eyes. We also eat with our heads and our hearts, so while our logical side tells us to Food and Drink 179 eat healthy foods, our emotional side tells us to eat things that we shouldn’t — foods that are naughty but nice.

Provenance will become increasingly important, not just for the chattering classes buying organic Welsh lamb in Harrods but for soccer mums buying sliced white bread in Wal-Mart. In other words, the type of information provided to the public on a bottle of wine (who made it, when, where and how) will become the norm on all other foodstuffs. This will mean a return to the consumption of seasonal products because they will be local, which means cheaper and more environmentally sustainable. If a product involves too many food-miles we won’t buy it and we may boycott the company that makes it or transports it. You can see the early signs of this already. Back in the 1960s and 1970s the slogan of US student activists was “No War”. These days, although they may be protesting about the wars raging in Afghanistan and Iraq, they’re also proclaiming “Eat Local” as they boycott national and global brands in favor of locally grown produce that supports the livelihoods of local farmers and that (they think) stops global warming and pollution.

These days, although they may be protesting about the wars raging in Afghanistan and Iraq, they’re also proclaiming “Eat Local” as they boycott national and global brands in favor of locally grown produce that supports the livelihoods of local farmers and that (they think) stops global warming and pollution. Back in 2001 the University of Portland, which dishes up 22,000 meals a week, spent just 2% of its food budget on purchases from local suppliers. Now the figure is closer to 40% and 200 other US universities have jumped onto the local-supplier bandwagon (over half of them since 2001). Students are busy pushing organic, seasonal, slow food and food-miles agendas to catering giants such as Sodexho and Armamark Corporation. However, while these students are full of idealism for eco-eating, they (and we) are finding out the hard way the practicalities of global economics. Sourcing local ingredients from a multitude of small suppliers is time-consuming and expensive compared to hiring a single company with a global supply chain. But, like they say, principles aren’t principles until they cost time and money. 194 FUTURE FILES Buying an organic tomato in a supermarket is all very well, but if the tomato has been grown using child labor in Zimbabwe and then flown from Harare to London by a company owned by a corrupt politician it’s not ethically produced, is it?


pages: 462 words: 150,129

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley


23andMe, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Glaeser,, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial innovation, Flynn Effect, food miles, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, informal economy, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kula ring, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, packet switching, patent troll, Pax Mongolica, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Productivity paradox, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, working poor, working-age population, Y2K, Yogi Berra

Prosperity, or growth, has been synonymous with moving from self-sufficiency to interdependence, transforming the family from a unit of laborious, slow and diverse production to a unit of easy, fast and diverse consumption paid for by a burst of specialised production. Self-sufficiency is poverty It is fashionable these days to decry ‘food miles’. The longer food has spent travelling to your plate, the more oil has been burnt and the more peace has been shattered along the way. But why single out food? Should we not protest against T-shirt miles, too, and laptop miles? After all, fruit and vegetables account for more than 20 per cent of all exports from poor countries, whereas most laptops come from rich countries, so singling out food imports for special discrimination means singling out poor countries for sanctions. Two economists recently concluded, after studying the issue, that the entire concept of food miles is ‘a profoundly flawed sustainability indicator’. Getting food from the farmer to the shop causes just 4 per cent of all its lifetime emissions.

p. 41 ‘not just the services you need but also those you crave.’ The distinction between needs and wants, as expressed by Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, is a mischievous one: people evolved to be ambitious, to start exaggerating their social status or sexual worth, long before they have satisfied their basic needs. See Miller, G. 2009. Spent. Heinemann. p. 41 ‘the entire concept of food miles is “a profoundly flawed sustainability indicator”’. Bailey, R. 2008. The food miles mistake. Reason, 4 November 2008. p. 41 ‘Ten times as much carbon’. See p. 42 ‘six times the carbon footprint of a Kenyan rose’. Specter, M. 2008. Big foot. The New Yorker, 25 February 2008.

The availability of almost everything a person could want or need has been going rapidly upwards for 200 years and erratically upwards for 10,000 years before that: years of lifespan, mouthfuls of clean water, lungfuls of clean air, hours of privacy, means of travelling faster than you can run, ways of communicating farther than you can shout. Even allowing for the hundreds of millions who still live in abject poverty, disease and want, this generation of human beings has access to more calories, watts, lumen-hours, square feet, gigabytes, megahertz, light-years, nanometres, bushels per acre, miles per gallon, food miles, air miles, and of course dollars than any that went before. They have more Velcro, vaccines, vitamins, shoes, singers, soap operas, mango slicers, sexual partners, tennis rackets, guided missiles and anything else they could even imagine needing. By one estimate, the number of different products that you can buy in New York or London tops ten billion. This should not need saying, but it does.


pages: 264 words: 71,821

How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything by Mike Berners-Lee


air freight, carbon footprint,, energy security, food miles, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Skype, sustainable-tourism, University of East Anglia

The CO2 comes from machinery but also from the heating of greenhouses to grow crops out of season or in countries that just don’t have the right climate. Transport The first thing to say about transport emissions is that, for all the talk that we hear about food miles, they are not the most pivotal thing to think about. At Booths, over one-quarter of the transport footprint comes from the very small amount of air freight in their supply chains—typically used for expensive items that perish quickly. Conversely, most of their food miles are by ship (partly because the U.K. is an island), but because ships can carry food around the world around 100 times more efficiently than planes, they account for less than 1 percent of Booths’ total footprint. The message here is that it is OK to eat apples, oranges, bananas, or whatever you like from anywhere in the world, as long as it has not been on a plane or thousands of miles by road.

An orange Zero g CO2e grown in your own garden 90 g or 500 g CO2e per kilo (230 g per pound) shipped 2,000 miles by boat and 500 by truck. 1 kg CO2e each or 5.5 kg per kilo (2.5 kg per pound) air-freighted for the start of a season Most oranges, along with most apples and bananas, are great from a carbon perspective.11 They keep well and so can be grown in natural conditions and shipped around the world to wherever they are required. The important thing to note here is that although there are often lots of food miles, these ones are usually fairly climate friendly. Like bananas, oranges can go on a huge boat and take their time. However, I was told by someone who buys fruit commercially that some supermarkets airfreight some varieties of orange at the start of the season to get them into the stores a couple of weeks early. A quart of orange juice can have a footprint equivalent to several pounds of oranges.

If we make the very broad assumption that cycling goods are typical of this, and if we say that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is being roughly fair to reimburse you at 20p (31 cents) per mile for business travel on a bike, then we would need to add about 50 g CO2e per mile to take account of the wear and tear on your bike, your waterproof gear, lights, helmet, and so on. Actually, as someone one who is frequently cycling between offices and train stations trying to keep jacket, tie and laptop dry, I suspect that HMRC has underestimated it and should be paying out the full 40p (62 cents) per mile that they allow for car users. (This would also provide a beneficial incentive.) 4. C. Saunders, A. Barber, and G. Taylor (2006), Food Miles— Comparative Energy/Emissions Performance of New Zealand’s Agriculture Industry. Research Report no. 285. Lincoln, New Zealand: Lincoln University. 5. Blanke and Burdick (2005), referenced in Defra (2006), Environmental Impacts of Food Production and Consumption, p. 47, Document.aspx?Document=EV02007_4601_FRP.pdf. 6. For the footprint up to the farm gate I’ve used a number from A.


pages: 614 words: 176,458

Meat: A Benign Extravagance by Simon Fairlie


agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, call centre, carbon footprint, Community Supported Agriculture, deindustrialization,, food miles, Food sovereignty, Haber-Bosch Process, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, informal economy, Just-in-time delivery, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, megacity, Northern Rock, Panamax, peak oil, refrigerator car, scientific mainstream, stem cell, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, University of East Anglia, upwardly mobile, women in the workforce

He initiated a number of agrarian settlement schemes (some more successful than others), worked in India with Jayaprakash Narayan on the financing of the gramdan land resettlement project, founded a ‘School for Living’ which is still going, and helped introduce the now flourishing concept of Community Land Trusts.62 However his economic analysis was ignored and the academics and campaigners who initiated the concept of food miles in the early 1990s did not appear to remember him.63 Now, when even the NFU is talking about food miles and has belatedly launched a campaign in support of farmers’ markets, most commentators have not yet caught up with Borsodi, nor will they until they recognize (a) that it is not just a matter of food miles but ‘resource miles’; and (b) that we will just be tinkering around with this problem unless we find a way of siting people close to the resources that they use.64 The case for ruralization has been advanced recently by Richard Heinberg, as a corollary of his view that oil prices will rise dramatically when global oil reserves reach their predicted peak in the next few years.65 Heinberg anticipates that in an economy running on limited supplies of oil (and without any substitute form of energy, such as nuclear) the US will need to find another 50 million farmers to grow its food.

Even trees that grow semi-naturally in England, such as chestnuts and walnuts, have yet to produce commercial yields that can compete with imports from China or Italy. This could change if global warming raises the mean temperature in the UK by several degrees. But for the time being a shift towards a more vegan diet in a country such as the UK is likely to lead either to a more boring diet, or else to greater food miles. More food miles means greater energy expenditure; but we should be wary of exaggerating this factor of the energy equation. In 2008, an influential study by Christopher Weber and H Scott Matthews concluded that transport accounted for 11 per cent of US food greenhouse gas emissions, while most of the rest was due to production processes, particularly of meat and dairy.45 Surprisingly this is rather lower than the figure provided by the British Cabinet Office who state that 15.3 per cent of UK food emissions are caused by transport.46 But Weber and Matthews’ figures are better supported, and they use them to draw a challenging conclusion, namely that consumers concerned about the carbon impact of their food would do better to reduce meat and dairy consumption than to turn to a local diet: For the average American household, ‘buying local’ could achieve, at maximum, around a 4-5 per cent reduction in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions,due to large sources of both CO2 and non-CO2 emissions in the production of food.

As for countries like New Zealand that have a surplus of land and food, perhaps they should open their doors to immigrants and parcel out some of their farms to landless peasants. If we are going to globalize everything else, we should globalize land reform as well. At the end of their paper, Weber and Matthews point out that GHG emissions are ‘only one dimension of the environmental impacts of food production’. Food miles may not be over-extravagant in their energy use, but they are thickly implicated in a centralized distribution system which multiplies our energy expenditure at every opportunity and whose impacts include excessive packaging and refrigeration, waste, traffic congestion, road-building, noise, accidents, loss of local distinctiveness, exploitation and displacement of peasants, excessive immigration, urban slums, deforestation and habitat destruction, removal of biomass from third world countries, the undermining of local communities in the UK, the collapse of UK farming and the blood which is spilt over oil fields.


pages: 342 words: 88,736

The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis by Ruth Defries


agricultural Revolution, Columbian Exchange, demographic transition, double helix, European colonialism, food miles, Francisco Pizarro, Haber-Bosch Process, Internet Archive, John Snow's cholera map, out of africa, planetary scale, premature optimization, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade

Plant-based diets lessen the spewing of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in the form of methane from cows and other ruminants, nitrous oxide from the synthetic fertilizers used to produce feed grains, and carbon dioxide spewed as forests are cleared for grazing. Not every pivot turns out to hit the mark. Take the well-meaning movement to buy groceries on the basis of “food miles.” Surprisingly, driving a long distance to purchase locally produced food can be less energy efficient than having distant, commercially produced food delivered to your doorstep. The “food mile” calculation also ignores the benefits to poor farmers’ livelihoods when they get access to premium-paying customers in faraway markets. But the modern pivot to eating locally produced food does have its benefits: it can make for fresher, less processed, and healthier meals and more tightly knit communities.

Creating clean, reusable water from human waste. June 1, Cleland, G. 2008. Food riots will spread, UN chief predicts. London Daily Telegraph, April 9. Cohn, A., and D. O’Rourke. 2011. Agricultural certification as a conservation tool in Latin America. Journal of Sustainable Forestry 30:158–186. Coley, D., M. Howard, and M. Winter. 2009. Local food, food miles and carbon emissions: A comparison of farm shop and mass distribution approaches. Food Policy 34:150–155. Cordain, L., S. B. Eaton, A. Sebastian, N. Mann, S. Lindeberg, B. Watkins, J. O’Keefe, and J. Brand-Miller. 2005. Origin and evolution of the Western diet: Health implications for the 21st century. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 81:341–354. Cordell, D., A. Rosemarin, J. Schroder, and A.

See Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane de la Vega, Garcilaso, 89 Dead zone, 121 Death rates, 6 Decomposition, 65, 67 Deforestation, ix–xi, 60, 69–70, 197 Demographic transition, 6 The Descent of Man (Darwin), 38 Detasseling, 148–149 Detergents, phosphate, 119 Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT), 151 ban on, 163–164 biomagnification of, 160–161, 164 consequences of use, 157, 159–165, 199 early synthesis of, 153 exemptions for use of, 165 for gypsy moth control, 156 human health effects of, 164–165 long-range transport of, 164 persistence in the environment, 160 properties of, 156–157, 160 resistance to, 157–159 in World War II, 154 Dickens, Charles, 86 Diet changed by Haber-Bosch process, 112 eating locally and sustainably-produced foods, 202 fat in, 191–193 movement toward more plant-based, 202 overweight and obesity increase and, 193–195 protein-deficient, 61 shift to more meat, less starch, 142–144, 191–192 sugar in, 96–97, 193 transformation by New World crops, 96 transformation from farmer to urbanite and, 192–195 in transition from foraging to farming, 191 Digestive tracts, short, 43 Dinosaurs, extinction of, 32 “Dirty dozen” chemicals, 164 Disease in ancient China, 77 spread from Old World to New World, 95 spread with crowding of people, 55 water contaminated with human waste and, 86, 87 Diversity of life, 29–32 Dobzhansky, Theodosius, 38 Domesticated animals, 52–53 human labor supplemented by, 73, 74–75, 78–79 of New World, 93 transport to New World, 94–95, 97 Domesticated plants, 52–55, 184–185 Dominant gene, 131–132 Doomsday vault, 185 Dorset, Bill, 139 Drake Well, 124 Drinks, sugary, 193 Drought, in England (1790s), 82 Dutch Elm disease, 156 Dwarf genes, 174, 176–177 Earth average temperature, 20 basic machinery of, 18–19 life development on, 30–32 life supported on, 18–19 magnetic field, 21 number of species on, 30 recycling machinery of, 23–28 tilt of, 22–23 Earthquakes, 25 East, Edward Murray, 134, 172 East India Company, 139 Economic entomology, 147, 153 Ecuador, 90 Egypt crop rotation in, 78 Nile River and, 71–72 pest control by ancient Egyptians, 151 Ehrlich, Paul, 175, 176 Einkorn, 52 Elephants, learning by, 40 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 109–110 Emerson, Rollins Adam, 134, 172 Emmer, 52, 185 Energy animal power, 73, 74–75, 123 from burning coal, 81–82 cost in calories to produce food, 141–142 cost of meat, 77, 143–144 human to produce food, 122–123 in industrial nitrogen fixation process, 109 loss in food chain, 74, 77 from sunlight, 73–75 used to obtain food, 72–73 England human waste disposal, 85–88 industrial revolution, 81–82 manure use in, 78 nineteenth century, 85–88 sugar consumption, 96 Environmental issues biodiversity loss, 197 biomagnification of DDT, 160–161, 164 Green Revolution, effects of, 182–183 greenhouse gases, 121, 125, 196–197 persistence of pesticides, 157, 160 Espionage, industrial, 110 Euphrates River, 70–71 Europe animal power use in, 78–81 bubonic plague in, 80 diet transformation by New World crops, 96 famines in, 78–80, 82, 83 four-course system of farming, 80–81 medieval, 78–80 moldboard plow use in, 78 sugar from New World, 96–97 three-field system of farming, 80 Eutrophication, 118–120 Evergreen Revolution, 183 Evolution of human brain, 42–43 of human lineage species, 47–51 pest reemergence, 184 of pesticide resistance, 158–159 of photosynthesis, 31 role of culture in human, 37–38 Exoticorum Libri Decem (Culsius), 98 Experimental Lakes Area, Canada, 118 Experiments, 3 Extinctions of plant and animal species, 32 Families, size of, 6 Famine, 4 in ancient China, 77 in Europe, 79–80, 82, 83 Great Irish Famine, 10–13, 148 in India, 175–176 Malthus’ prediction of, 2 Farming and farmers in Amazon region, 59–60 animal labor used in, 73, 74–75 civilization link to, 8 crop rotation, 75–76, 78, 80 dairy, 46 four-course system, 80–81 of Old World crops in New World, 97 by other animal species, 5, 9–10 pest control by traditional practices, 151–153, 166 population growth and, 56–57 three-field system, 80 transition from foraging to, 5, 52–57, 191 transition to urbanites, 5, 15, 203–205 Fat increase in diet, 191–192 sources of, 192–193 Fermi, Enrico, 17 Fermi’s paradox, 17–18 Fertile Crescent, 52, 53, 57, 136 Fertilizer guano as, 88–92 Haber-Bosch process and, 109–113 industrial production, 109 lake eutrophication from, 119–120 Liebig as father of fertilizer industry, 62 mineral theory and, 107 phosphorus, 113–118 saltpeter, 91–92 Finches, of Galapagos Islands, 37–38, 39–40 Fire, 43, 49–50 Fire ants, 155 Floods, 71, 79 Flush toilets, 86, 87 Food abundance of, 5, 6–7 as civilization’s engine, 7–10 cooked, 43, 49 cost of, 5 energy used to obtain, 72–73 hunger, 7 processed, 194, 195 spread to new areas, 149 stored, 55, 56 surplus, 8, 70, 81–83 virtual water and, 98–99 wasted, 201 Food chain, 143, 160–161 Food miles, 202 Food production focus on quality, 201 greenhouse gases from, 196–197 interference with planet’s recycling machinery, 197 land surface area devoted to, 190 local, 202 paradox of success, 200 sustainably-produced foods, 202 threat to diversity of life, 197 See also Agriculture; Farming and farmers Food riots, 82, 83, 198 Foraging, 52, 55, 56, 72–73, 191 Fossil fuels agriculture powered by, 123–124, 140–141 biofuels as replacements for, 198 greenhouse gases from burning, 125 Fossil phosphorus, 116–117 Franklin, Benjamin, 139 Franklin, Lady Jane, 36 Franklin, Rosalind, 186 Franklin, Sir John, 35–37, 39, 45 Frying food, 193 Fungi, 31 Fungus farms, 9 Galapagos Islands, 37–38, 39–40 Gaud, William, 178 Genes, 131–132 diversity of, 29 dwarf, 174, 176–177 tomato, 184 in wild relatives of domesticated species, 184, 186 Genetic engineering Bt crops, 168, 186 criticisms of, 186–187 Genetics genetically engineered crops, 168 Mendel’s experiments, 129–132 See also Inheritance Gilbert, Sir Henry, 62, 103 Global warming, atmospheric carbon dioxide and, 27 Golden Rice, 186 Goodall, Jane, 48 Grains, whole, 194 Great Irish Famine, 82, 83, 148 Great Splash, 22 Grebes, 161 Green Revolution, 176 criticisms of, 179–183 effect on environment, 182–183 failure to reach southern Africa, 182 origin of term, 178 water dependence, 181–182 yield increases with, 178–179 Green spider mite, 150 Greenhouse effect, 20–21 Greenhouse gases, 121, 125, 196–197 Grocery stores, 189 Groundwater, 100, 101 Guano, 88–92, 103 Guano Island Act in 1856, 90 Guatemala, pest management in, 152 Gulf of Mexico, 121 Gunpowder, 110 Gypsy moth, 151, 156 Haber, Fritz, 108–113, 197 Haber-Bosch process, 110–112 Habitable Zone, 19–21 Hadley, George, 94 Hadley cells, 94, 95 Hamburger connection, 198 Harness, collar, 78 Hays, Willet, 137 Herbivore, 74 Hessian fly, 150 Hi-Bred Corn Company, 135 High-fructose corn syrup, 193 Holmes, Arthur, 24–25 Homo erectus, 47, 49 Homo floresiensis, 47 Homo habilis, 47, 48 Homo heidelbergensis, 47 Homo sapiens, 47, 48 Honeybees, 50 Horses, 78, 97, 98 Hoskins, William, 153, 155, 166 Houseflies, resistance to DDT, 158 Hugo, Victor, 76, 87 Human ingenuity, 199–200 civilization and, 8 interplay with nature, 2, 7, 15, 18 overshoot and, 14 as ultimate resource, 2 Human labor, supplementing with domestic animals, 73, 74–75, 78–79 Human waste, 85–88 Humans brain size and complexity, 42–43 evolution and extinction of early human species, 47–51 lactose digestion by, 45–46 Humboldt, Alexander von, 89, 103 Humpback whales, 50 Humus theory, 106–107 Hundred Years’ War, 79 Hunger, 7 Hunter-gatherers, 55, 56, 57, 141 Hutton, James, 28 Hutton, John, 100 Huxley, Aldous, 117 Hybrid vigor, 129, 134, 135, 177 Hybrids corn, 134–136 cross-bred, 130 rice, 177–178 Ice Ages, 43 Ice cream, 190–191 Inbreeding, 128–129, 134 Inca, 88–89 India food production in, 175–176 groundwater extraction, 181–182 growth of urban population in, 203–204 uneven access to Green Revolution, 180–181 Indigenous people, Kayapó, x–xii Indus River, 70, 72 Industrial revolution, 81–82 Inheritance, genetic, 39–40 blended, 129, 132 Darwin and, 128–129 Mendel’s experiments with, 129–132 randomness of, 127 Innovations, cumulative learning and, 44 Insecticides for fire ant control, 155 for gypsy moth control, 156 synthetic organic, 156–157 See also Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane; Pesticides Integrated pest management, 166–167 Intelligent brains, 40 Intelligent life, elsewhere in the universe, 17–18 Internal combustion engine, 123 Introduced species, 150 Inuit, 35–37, 38–39, 45, 164, 194 Invasive species, 150 IR8 (rice variety), 176–177 Ireland, Great Famine in, 10–13, 148 Irrigation, in Mesopotamia, 71 James (King of England), 95 Japan manure use in, 78 short wheat varieties, 174 Japanese macaque, 41, 44 Jericho, 8, 101 Jones, Donald, 135 Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry, 111 Kayapó (indigenous people), x–xii Kellogg, Luella, 43, 50 Kellogg, Winthrop, 43, 50 Kenya, increase in overweight people in, 194 Knowledge, building across generations, 3 Kwashiorkor, 60–61 Lactase, 45–46 Lactose, digestion of, 45–46 Lake, eutrophication, 118–120 Lake Mendota, 119–120 Language, 50–51 Law of the Minimum, 65 Lawes, Sir John, 62, 103, 114, 115 Lead arsenite, 156 Leaf-cutter ants, farming by, 9, 149 Learning compensating for locked-in inheritance, 40 cumulative, 44–46, 49, 50 social, 41–43 trial-and-error, 40 Legumes, 62–63, 75 Lenoir, Jean J., 123 Les Misérables (Hugo), 76 Levees, 71 Lice, control with DDT, 153, 154 Liebig, Justus von on Chinese agriculture, 75 law of the Minimum, 65 mineral theory, 106–107 phosphorus and, 62, 65, 103, 113–116 on sewage return to field, 87–88 Life biological homogeneity, 94–95, 98 building blocks of, 30 diversity of, 29–32 diversity threatened by food production, 197 liquid water as requisite for, 19 planets supporting, 17–18 from rivers, 70–72 transcontinental transfer of species, 94–95, 97–98 Life-span, average, 5 Limits to Growth (Meadows), 2 Little Ice Age, 57 Livestock, corn-fed, 133, 134 Lockwood, Jeffrey, 147 Locusts, 145–147, 165–166 London human waste disposal, 86–88 population growth in, 105 London’s Farmer Club, 87 Longping, Yuan, 177–178 Los Baños, Philippines, 176 Maggi, Blairo, x, xii Magma, 24, 26, 27 Magnetic field, planetary, 21–22 Maize.


pages: 288 words: 76,343

The Plundered Planet: Why We Must--And How We Can--Manage Nature for Global Prosperity by Paul Collier


agricultural Revolution, Berlin Wall, business climate, Doha Development Round, energy security, food miles, megacity, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shock, profit maximization, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, Scramble for Africa, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Stewart Brand

Far from being the answer to global poverty, organic self-sufficiency is a luxury lifestyle. Local self-sufficiency in rich countries is being encouraged through the concept of “food miles”—the ideal being the shortest route between production and consumption. But there is no virtue in minimizing the transportation of food. Indeed, from the perspective of carbon emissions it usually makes more sense to grow food in the most conducive climates, wherever they are, and transport it. The image of vegetables being flown around conjures up carbon profligacy, but the key carbon emissions are in cultivation not transportation. While food miles do not reduce carbon, they do reduce incomes in the bottom billion: horticulture for export creates scarce rural jobs. Nor will organic self-sufficiency produce the food the world needs.

See also auctions Conrad, Robert, 38, 39, 41 construction, 131, 136, 147–48 Construction Sector Transparency Initiative, 136 consumption and appreciation of assets, 105–6 and Bird-in-the-Hand Rule, 108, 109–10 and booms, 116, 118 cutting consumption, 116–17, 118 in decision chain, 127 and domestic investment, 114 and future generations, 97–98, 111 in low-income countries, 114 and Permanent Income, 103 and resource curse, 48 versus savings, 97–98, 119–20 “contract farming” model, 215 cooperation and coordination of efforts, 175, 237–43 Copenhagen conference on climate change, 175, 183, 190, 195 copper, 32, 42, 64, 86–87, 142–43 corruption and capturing natural assets, 79 and construction deals, 131 countering corruption, 80–83, 128–30, 135–36 and fishing, 164 and prospecting rights, 70 in public-investment projects, 128–31, 135 and resource extraction, 4, 79, 80, 82, 136 and taxation, 51–52, 88 and transparency, 94 cost-benefit analyses, 136–37 crashes, 145–46 creativity, 28 Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, 220 custody principle and carbon emissions, 201, 202–3 and compensation for assets, 31–33, 112–13, 114, 155–56 and nonrenewable natural assets, 155–56 obligations of, 11, 32–33, 112 (see also future generations) and renewable natural assets, 155, 157, 161 and resource revenues, 98–99 Dasgupta, Sir Partha, 9, 121 Davies, Victor, xiv De Beers, 76 decision chains, 60–62, 127 demand for raw materials, ix, 116 democracy and accountability, 23 and checks and balances system, 55–56, 57, 58, 135 and economists, 10, 33 and elections, 50, 54–55, 56–58, 59 and future generations, 33 and information sharing, 239–41 and international coordination, 237–43 and leaders, 59 and regulation, 7 and resource revenues, 53, 54 in resource-rich countries, 50–53 spread of, 49 and technology, 235 transparency in, 55 Democratic Republic of the Congo, 5, 64, 69, 89 demurrage, 141 Denmark, 30 depletion of natural assets, 120–21 Dercon, Stefan, xiv Developing Asia, 99 developing countries, 184–85, 195, 211 diamonds, 37, 48, 76, 165 dictatorships, 49 Dimbleby Lecture, 16 discovering natural assets, 63–77 in bottom billion countries, 68, 74–76 dilemmas in, 68–74 distribution of assets, 64–68 and governance, 54 in OECD countries, 67–68 as a public good, 74–77 risks of, 74, 75 and selling prospecting rights, 69–74 Doha Round of trade negotiations, 237 Doing Business survey, 145 domestic investment and absorption problems, 128, 133 and consumption, 114 and corruption, 128–31, 135 and development, 128 IMF on, 128, 133 and liquidity funds, 119 volatility of, 117–18 See also investments Dominican Republic, 19 donors, 76 drought-resistant crops, 222–23 Duponchel, Marguerite, xiv, 142 Dutch Disease, 48 Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, 129–30 economists and democracy, 10, 33 environmentalists versus, 9–13 and ethics, 10 on popular opinion, 203 value system of, 11, 12 efficiency, 21, 22, 179 elections, 50, 54–55, 56–58, 59 emerging market economies and carbon emissions, 192–93, 197 land area represented by, 6, 63 and resource management, 241–43 employment commitments, 90 enclosures movement, 214 endogeneity, 39–40 energy exports of, 193–94 production of, 180, 181–82 enforcement, 241 entitlements, 165, 168 entrepreneurship, 213 environmentalists economists versus, 9–13 and farm sizes, 212–19 and nuclear power, 181–82 and preservation of nature, 32 and prioritization of issues, 225–26 value system of, xiii, 11–12, 16 Equatorial Guinea, 29, 133 equipment, 131, 148 equity, 103 Eritrea, 158–59 ethanol, 223–25 ethics and economic responsibilities, 32 and natural asset management, 236 and rights, 9–10 and Utilitarianism, 10, 25, 26 Ethiopia, 29, 158, 218 Eurasia, 3 Euro, 238 Europe and carbon emissions, 183, 188, 240 and genetically modified crop ban, 225 taxation in, 27 European Commission, 208 European Community, 27–28 European Union, 27–28, 190 excess-profits tax, 88–89 expected values, 72 exports energy exports, 193–94 and food crises, 218 and import duties, 101 and international coordination, 237 restrictions, 208 externalities, 68–69, 168, 173, 214 extinction, 154, 161 extraction rights in Africa, 95 auctions for, 83–84, 90–91, 124–25 and geological surveys, 75 and infrastructure, 91–92 and prospecting, 76 and time-inconsistency problem, 74 Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), 80, 82, 136, 232–33 family farming, 216–17 famine, 211 farmed fish, 160, 162, 168–69 Financial Action Task Force, 129–30 financial assets, 22 Financial Times, 89 finders-keepers rule of assets, 21, 22, 46 Fiscal Affairs Office of the IMF, 232 fisheries, 160–67 farmed fish, 160, 162, 168–69 fishing lobbies, 163, 170 and international coordination, 238, 239, 240 price of, 169 and resource scarcity, 229–30 and sustainability, 154, 161, 164, 168–71 taxation of, 169–70 UN management of, 168–71 flexible business environments, 145–46 Florida, 189 food food fashions, 213 food miles, 213 prices of, x, xiii, 207–12, 218, 237 See also agriculture forests and cooperation of locals, 166 and custody principle, 157–59 of Eritrea, 158–59 and governance, 19 as natural assets, 160 rain forests, 15, 17, 23, 33–34, 215 France, 137, 181–82 free-rider problem and carbon emissions, 188–91, 197, 240–41 and international cooperation, 238 and public goods, 170 Freetown, Sierra Leone, 147 Friedman, Milton, 102, 103 fuel production, 223–24.


pages: 293 words: 81,183

Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference by William MacAskill


barriers to entry, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, Cal Newport, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, effective altruism,, experimental subject, follow your passion, food miles, immigration reform, income inequality, index fund, Isaac Newton, job automation, job satisfaction, labour mobility, Lean Startup, M-Pesa, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, Nate Silver, Peter Singer: altruism, purchasing power parity, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, randomized controlled trial, self-driving car, Skype, Stanislav Petrov, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, universal basic income, women in the workforce

In reality, plastic bags only account for a tiny amount of the trash that we produce (Joseph Stromberg, “Why Our Environmental Obsession with Plastic Bags Makes No Sense,” Vox, October 4, 2014, only 10 percent of the carbon footprint of food comes from transportation, whereas 80 percent comes from production: Sarah DeWeerdt, “Is Local Food Better?” World Watch 22, no. 3 (May/June 2009), 6–10; “The Tricky Truth About Food Miles,” Shrink that Footprint, Cutting out red meat: Christopher Weber, and Scott Matthews, “Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States,” Environmental Science & Technology 42, no. 10 (2008), 3,508–13. locally grown tomatoes: Annika Carlsson-Kanyama, “Food Consumption Patterns and Their Influence on Climate Change,” Ambio 27, no. 7 (November 1998), 528. (beef, which can cut out about a metric ton of CO2eq per year): Gidon Eshel and Pamela A.


pages: 459 words: 103,153

Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure by Tim Harford


Andrew Wiles, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, car-free, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, charter city, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dava Sobel, Deep Water Horizon, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, Edmond Halley,, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Fermat's Last Theorem, Firefox, food miles, Gerolamo Cardano, global supply chain, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, John Harrison: Longitude, knowledge worker, loose coupling, Martin Wolf, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Netflix Prize, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, PageRank, Piper Alpha, profit motive, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, rolodex, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South China Sea, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, the market place, The Wisdom of Crowds, too big to fail, trade route, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, web application, X Prize

Best of all for the planet, Geoff could have had an entirely vegan supper, but it’s going to take more than Al Gore and a pretty face to persuade Geoff that this is a good idea. Geoff was at pains to buy local, organic food. This helped – but only a little. Going organic trims 5 to 15 per cent off the cheeseburger and lamb chop figures. Buying local produce to reduce ‘food miles’, however, is often a counterproductive exercise. While it’s clearly true that freighting food around the world uses energy, the impact is less than you might think: most of it travels by ship; when it does travel by plane, it doesn’t get a big seat with ample legroom and free champagne (the term ‘food miles’ misleadingly echoes ‘air miles’, with its connotations of business-class indulgence rather than efficiently packed containers); and it was probably produced in a much more sensible climate. Geoff’s choice of British lamb over New Zealand lamb might well have released more carbon dioxide – four times as much, if one team of academic researchers (admittedly, based in New Zealand) is to be believed.

., 55, 59, 71 catastrophe experts, 184–6, 191, 194–5, 208 Cave-Brown-Cave, Air Commodore Henry, 81, 83, 85, 88, 114 centralised decision making, 70, 74–5, 226, 227, 228; warfare and, 46–7, 67–8, 69, 71, 76, 78–9 centrally planned economies, 11, 21, 23–6, 68–9, 70 Challenger shuttle disaster, 184 Charles, Prince, 154 Chernobyl disaster, 185 Chile, 3, 69–72, 76, 148 China, 11, 94, 131, 143, 147, 150, 152 Christensen, Clayton, 239–40, 242, 245 Chuquicamata mine (Chile), 3 Churchill, Winston, 41–2, 82, 85 Citigroup, 205131 Clay Mathematics Institute, 110 climate change, 4, 20; carbon dioxide emissions and, 132, 156, 159–65, 166–9, 173, 176, 178–80; ‘carbon footprinting’, 159–66; carbon tax/price idea, 167–9, 178–80, 222; environmental regulations and, 169–74, 176, 177; ‘food miles’ and, 159, 160–1, 168; governments/politics and, 157–8, 163, 169–74, 176, 180; greenhouse effect and, 154–6; individual behaviour and, 158–63, 164, 165–6; innovation prizes and, 109, 179; methane and, 155, 156, 157, 159–60, 173, 179, 180; new technologies and, 94–5; simplicity/complexity paradox, 156, 157–8; Thaler-Sunstein nudge, 177–8; uncertainty and, 156 Coca-Cola, 28, 243 Cochrane, Archie, 123–7, 129, 130, 140, 238, 256 cognitive dissonance, 251–2 Cold War, 6, 41, 62–3 Colombia, 117, 147 complexity theory, 3–4, 13, 16, 49, 72103, 237 computer games, 92–3 computer industry, 11–12, 69, 70–1, 239–42 corporations and companies: disruptive technologies and, 239–44, 245–6; environmental issues and, 157–8, 159, 161, 165, 170–1, 172–3; flattening of hierarchies, 75, 224–5, 226–31; fraud and, 208, 210, 212–13, 214; innovation and, 17, 81–2, 87–9, 90, 93–4, 95–7, 108–11, 112, 114, 224–30, 232–4; limited liability, 244; patents and, 95–7, 110, 111, 114; randomised experiments and, 235–9; skunk works model and, 89, 91, 93, 152, 224, 242–3, 245; strategy and, 16, 18, 27–8, 36, 223, 224–34; see also business world; economics and finance cot-death, 120–1 credit-rating agencies, 188, 189, 190 Criner, Roy, 252 Crosby, Sir James, 211, 214, 250, 256 Cuban Missile Crisis, 41, 63 Cudahy Packing, 9 dairy products, 158, 159–60, 164–5, 166 Darwin, Charles, 86 Dayton Hudson, 243 de Montyon, Baron, 107–8 Deal or No Deal (TV game show), 33–5, 253 decentralisation, 73, 74–8, 222, 224–5, 226–31; Iraq war and, 76–8, 79; trial and error and, 31, 174–5, 232, 234 decision making: big picture thinking, 41, 42, 46, 55; consistent standards and, 28–9; diversity of opinions, 31, 44–5, 46, 48–50, 59–63; doctrine of unanimous advice, 30–1, 47–50, 62–3, 64, 78; grandiosity and, 27–8; idealized hierarchy, 40–1, 42, 46–7, 49–50, 55, 78; learning from mistakes, 31–5, 78, 119, 250–1, 256–9, 261–2; local/on the ground, 73, 74, 75, 76–8, 79, 224–5, 226–31; reporting lines/chain of command, 41, 42, 46, 49–50, 55–6, 58, 59–60, 64, 77–8; supportive team with shared vision, 41, 42, 46, 56, 62–3; unsuccessful, 19, 32, 34–5, 41–2; see also centralised decision making Deepwater Horizon disaster (April 2010), 36, 216–19, 220 Democratic Republic of Congo, 139–40 Deng Xiaoping, 1 Denmark, 148 Department for International Development (DFID), 133, 137–8 development aid: charter cities movement, 150–3; community-driven reconstruction (CDR), 137–40; corruption and, 133–5, 142–3; economic ‘big push’ and, 143–5, 148–9; feedback loops, 141–3; fundamentally unidentified questions (FUQs), 132, 133; governments and, 118, 120, 143, 144, 148–9; identification strategies, 132–5; microfinance, 116, 117–18, 120; Millennium Development Villages, 129–30, 131; product space concept, 145–8; randomised trials and, 127–9, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135–6, 137–40, 141; randomistas, 127–9, 132, 133, 135–40, 258; selection principle and, 117, 140–3, 149; SouthWest project in China, 131; success and failure, 116, 118–20, 130–1; Muhammad Yunus and, 116, 117–18 digital photography, 240–1, 242 Dirks, Ray, 211–12, 213 disk-drive industry, 239–40, 242 Djankov, Simeon, 135 domino-toppling displays, 185, 200–1 Don Basin (Russia), 21–2, 24, 27 dot-com bubble, 10, 92 Dubai, 147, 150 Duflo, Esther, 127, 131, 135, 136 Dyck, Alexander, 210, 213 eBay, 95, 230 econometrics, 132–5 economics and finance: banking system as complex and tightly coupled, 185, 186, 187–90, 200, 201, 207–8, 220; bankruptcy contingency plans, 204; Basel III regulations, 195; bond insurance business, 189–90; bridge bank/rump bank approach, 205–6; capital requirements, 203, 204; centrally planned economiepos=0000032004 >11, 21, 23–6, 68–9, 70; CoCos (contingent convertible bonds), 203–4; complexity and, 3–4; decoupling of financial system, 202, 203–8, 215–16, 220; Dodd-Frank reform act (2010), 195; employees as error/fraud spotters, 210, 211, 212, 213, 215; energy crisis (1970s), 179; evolutionary theory and, 14–17, 18–19, 174–5; improvements since 1960s, 215; inter-bank payments systems, 207; latent errors and, 209–10, 215; ‘LMX spiral’, 183–4, 189; narrow banking approach, 206–7, 215; need for systemic heat maps, 195–6; reinsurance markets, 183; zombie banks, 201–2; see also business world; corporations and companies; financial crisis (from 2007) Edison, Thomas, 236, 238 Eliot, T.S., 260 Elizabeth House (Waterloo), 170–1, 172 Endler, John, 221–2, 223, 234, 239 Engineers Without Borders, 119 Enron, 197–8, 200, 208, 210 environmental issues: biofuels, 84, 173, 176; clean energy, 91, 94, 96, 245–6; corporations/companies and, 159, 161, 165, 170–1, 172–3; renewable energy technology, 84, 91, 96, 130, 168, 169–73, 179, 245; see also climate change Equity Funding Corporation, 212 Ernst and Young, 199 errors and mistakes, types of, 208–10; latent errors, 209–10, 215, 218, 220 European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), 188 European Union, 169, 173 Evans, Martin, 100 evolutionary theory, 6, 12–13, 15–17, 174, 258; business world and, 14–17, 174–5, 233–4; Darwin and, 86; digital world and, 13–14, 259–60; economics and, 14–17, 174–5; Endler’s guppy experiments, 221–2, 223, 239; fitness landscapes, 14–15, 259; Leslie Orgel’s law, 174, 175, 176, 177, 178, 180; problem solving and, 14–15, 16; selective breeding and, 175–6 expertise, limits of, 6–8, 16, 17, 19, 66 extinction events, biological, 18–19 Exxon (formerly Jersey Standard), 9, 12, 188, 245 F-22 stealth fighter, 93 Facebook, 90, 91 failure: in business, 8–10, 11–12, 18–19, 36, 148–9, 224, 239–46; chasing of losses, 32–5, 253–4, 256; in complex and tightly coupled systems, 185–90, 191–2, 200, 201, 207–8, 219, 220; corporate extinctions, 18–19; denial and, 32, 34–5, 250–3, 255–6; disruptive technologies, 239–44, 245–6; of established industries, 8–10; government funding and, 148–9; hedonic editing and, 254; honest advice from others and, 256–7, 258, 259; learning from, 31–5, 78, 119, 250–1, 256–9, 261–2; modern computer industry and, 11–12, 239–42; as natural in market system, 10, 11, 12, 244, 245–6; niche markets and, 240–2; normal accident theory, 219; recognition of, 36, 224; reinterpreted as success, 254–5, 256; shifts in competitive landscape, 239–46; ‘Swiss cheese model’ of safety systems, 186–7, 190, 209, 218; types of error and mistake, 208–10; willingness to fail, 249–50, 261–2; of young industries, 10 Fearon, James, 137, Federal Aviation Administration, 210 Federal Reserve Bank, 193–4 feedback, 25, 26, 42, 178, 240; in bureaucratic hierarchies, 30–1; development and, 141–3; dictatorships’ immunity to, 27; Iraq war and, 43–5, 46, 57–8, 59–62; market system and, 141; praise sandwich, 254; public services and, 141; self-employment and, 258; yes-men and, 30 Feith, Douglas, 44, 45 Ferguson, Chris ‘Jesus’, 32 Fermi nuclear reactor (near Detroit), 187 Festinger, Leon, 251 financial crisis (from 2007), 5, 11, 25; AIG and, 189, 193–5, 215–16, 228; bankers’ bonuses, 198; banking system as complex and tightly coupled, 185, 186, 187–90, 200, 201, 207–8, 220; bond insurance business and, 189–90; collateralised debt obligations (CDOs), 190, 209; credit default swaps (CDSs), 187–9, 190, 194; derivatives deals and, 198, 220; faulty information systems and, 193–5; fees paid to administrators, 197; government bail-outs/guarantees, 202, 214, 223; Lehman Brothers and, 193, 194, 196–200, 204–5, 208, 215–16; ‘LMX spiral’ comparisons, 183–4, 189; Repo 105 accounting trick, 199 Financial Services Authority (FSA), 214 Firefox, 221, 230 Fleming, Alexander, 83 Food Preservation prize, 107, 108 Ford Motor Company, 46–7 fossil record, 18 Fourier, Joseph, 155 fraud, corporate, 208, 210, 212–13, 214 Friedel, Robert, 80 Frost, Robert, 260 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (musical), 248 Gage, Phineas, 21, 27 Galapagos Islands, 86, 87 Gale (US developer), 152 Galenson, David, 260 Galileo, 187 Galland, Adolf, 81 Gallipoli campaign (1915), 41–2 Galvin, Major General Jack, 62, 256 game theory, 138, 205 Gates, Bill, 110, 115 Gates, Robert, 59, 64, 78 Gates Foundation, 110 Geithner, Tim, 193–5, 196 GenArts, 13 General Electric, 9, 12, 95 Gilbert, Daniel, 255, 256 GlaxoSmithKline, 95 Glewwe, Paul, 127–8 Global Positioning System (GPS), 113 globalisation, 75 Google, 12, 15, 90, 91, 239, 245, 261; corporate strategy, 36, 231–4; Gmail, 233, 234, 241, 242; peer monitoring at, 229–30 Gore, Al, An Inconvenient Truth, 158 Göring, Hermann, 81 government and politics: climate change and, 157–8, 163, 169–74, 176, 180; development aid and, 118, 120, 143, 144, 148–9; financial crisis (from 2007) and, 193–5, 198–9, 202, 214, 215–16, 223; grandiosity and, 27–8; ideal hierarchies and, 46pos=00002pos=0000022558 >7, 49–50, 62–3, 78; innovation funding, 82, 88, 93, 97, 99–101, 102–3, 104, 113; lack of adaptability rewarded, 20; pilot schemes and, 29, 30; rigorous evaluation methods and, 29* Graham, Loren, 26 Grameen Bank, 116, 117 Greece, 147 Green, Donald, 29* greenhouse effect, 154–6 Gulf War, first, 44, 53, 65, 66, 67, 71; Battle of 73 Easting, 72–3, 74, 79 Gutenberg, Johannes, 10 Haldane, Andrew, 195, 258 Halifax (HBOS subsidiary), 211 Halley, Edmund, 105 Halliburton, 217 Hamel, Gary, 221, 226, 233, 234 Hanna, Rema, 135 Hannah, Leslie, 8–10, 18 Hanseatic League, 150 Harrison, John, 106–7, 108, 110, 111 Harvard University, 98–9, 185 Hastings, Reed, 108 Hausmann, Ricardo, 145 Hayek, Friedrich von, 1, 72, 74–5, 227 HBOS, 211, 213, 214 healthcare sector, US, 213–14 Heckler, Margaret, 90–1 Henry the Lion, 149, 150, 151–2, 153 Hewitt, Adrian, 169 Hidalgo, César, 144–7, 148 Higginson, Peter, 230 Hinkley Point B power station, 192–3, 230–1 Hitachi, 11 Hitler, Adolf, 41, 82, 83, 150 HIV-AIDS, 90–1, 96, 111, 113 Holland, John, 16, 103 Hong Kong, 150 Houston, Dame Fanny, 88–9, 114 Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), 101–3, 112 Hughes (computer company), 11 Humphreys, Macartan, 136, 137, 138–40 Hurricane aircraft, 82* IBM, 11, 90, 95–6 In Search of Excellence (Peters and Waterman, 1982), 8, 10 India, 135, 136, 143, 147, 169 individuals: adaptation and, 223–4, 248–62; climate change and, 158–63, 164, 165–6; experimentation and, 260–2; trial and error and, 31–5 Indonesia, 133–4, 142, 143 Innocentive, 109 innovation: corporations and, 17, 81–2, 87–9, 90, 93–4, 95–7, 108–11, 112, 114, 224–30, 232–4; costs/funding of, 90–4, 99–105; failure as price worth paying, 101–3, 104, 184, 215, 236; government funding, 82, 88, 93, 97, 99–101, 102–3, 104, 113; grants and, 108; in health field, 90–1, 96; large teams and specialisation, 91–4; market system and, 17, 95–7, 104; new technologies and, 89–90, 91, 94–5; parallel possibilities and, 86–9, 104; prize methodology, 106–11, 112, 113–14, 179, 222–3; randomistas and, 127–9, 132, 133, 135–40, 258; return on investment and, 83–4; skunk works model, 89, 91, 93, 152, 224, 242–3, 245; slowing down of, 90–5, 97; small steps and, 16, 24, 29, 36, 99, 103, 143, 149, 153, 224, 259–60; space tourism, 112–13, 114; specialisation and, 91–2; speculative leaps and, 16, 36, 91, 99–100, 103–4, 259–60; unpredictability and, 84–5 Intel, 11, 90, 95 International Christelijk Steunfonds (ICS), 127–9, 131 International Harvester, 9 International Rescue Committee (IRC), 137–8, 139 internet, 12, 15, 63, 90, 113, 144, 223, 233, 238, 241; randomised experiments and, 235–6, 237; see also Google Iraq war: al Anbar province, 56–7, 58, 64, 76–7; civil war (2006), 39–40; Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP), 77; counterinsurgency strategy, 43, 45, 55–6, 58, 60–1, 63–4, 65; decentralisation and, 76–8, 79; feedback and, 43–5, 46, 57–8, 59–62; FM 3–24 (counter-insurgency manual), 63; Forward Operating Bases (FOBs), 51–3, 57, 65; Haditha killings (19 November 2005), 37–9, 40, 42, 43, 52; new technologies and, 71, 72, 74, 78–9, 196; Samarra bombing (22 February 2006), 39; Tal Afar, 51, 52, 53–5, 61, 64, 74, 77, 79; trial and error and, 64–5, 66–7; US turnaround in, 35, 40, 46, 50–1, 53–6, 57–8, 59–61, 63–5, 78; US/allied incompetence and, 38, 39–40, 42–5, 46, 50, 64, 67, 79, 223; Vietnam parallels, 46 J&P Coats, 9 Jacobs, Jane, 87 James, Jonathan, 30 Jamet, Philippe, 192 Janis, Irving, 62 Japan, 11, 143, 176, 204, 208 Jay-Z, 119 Jo-Ann Fabrics, 235 Jobs, Steve, 19 Joel, Billy, 247–8, 249 Johnson, President Lyndon, 46, 47, 49–50, 60, 62, 64, 78 Jones, Benjamin F., 91–2 Joyce, James, 260 JP Morgan, 188 Kahn, Herman, 93 Kahneman, Daniel, 32, 253 Kantorovich, Leonid, 68–9, 76 Kaplan, Fred, 77 Karlan, Dean, 135 Kauffmann, Stuart, 16, 103 Kay, John, 206–7, 208, 215, 259 Keller, Sharon, 252 Kelly, Terri, 230 Kennedy, President John F., 41, 47, 62–3, 84, 113 Kenya, 127–9, 131 Kerry, John, 20 Keynes, John Maynard, 181 Kilcullen, David, 57, 60–1 Klemperer, Paul, 96, 205 Klinger, Bailey, 145 Kotkin, Stephen, 25 Kremer, Michael, 127–8, 129 Krepinevich, Andy, 45 Lanchester, John, 188 leaders: decision making and, 40–2; failure of feedback and, 30–1, 62; grandiosity and, 27–8; ignoring of failure, 36; mistakes by, 41–2, 56, 67; need to believe in, 5–6; new leader as solution, 59 Leamer, Ed, 132* Leeson, Nick, 184–5, 208 Lehman Brothers, 193, 194, 196–200, 204–5, 208, 215–16 Lenin Dam (Dnieper River), 24 Levine, John, 48–9 Levitt, Steven, 132–3 Liberia, 136–9 light bulbs, 162, 177 Lind, James, 122–3 Lindzen, Richard, 156 Livingstone, Ken, 169 Lloyd’s insurance, 183 Lloyds TSB, 214 Local Motors, 90 Lockheed, Skunk Works division, 89, 93, 224, 242 Lomas, Tony, 196, 197–200, 204, 205, 208, 219 Lomborg, Bjorn, 94 longitude problem, 105–7, 108 Lu Hong, 49 Lübeck, 149–50, 151–2, 153 Luftwaffe, 81–2 MacFarland, Colonel Sean, 56–7, 64, 74, 76–7, 78 Mackay, General Andrew, 67–8, 74 Mackey, John, 227, 234 Madoff, Bernard, 208212–13 Magnitogorsk steel mills, 24–5, 26, 153 Malawi, 119 Mallaby, Sebastian, 150, 151 management gurus, 8, 233 Manhattan Project, 82, 84 Manso, Gustavo, 102 Mao Zedong, 11, 41 market system: competition, 10–11, 17, 19, 75, 95, 170, 239–46; ‘disciplined pluralism’, 259; evolutionary theory and, 17; failure in as natural, 10, 11, 12, 244, 245–6; feedback loops, 141; innovation and, 17, 95–7, 104; patents and, 95–7; trial and error, 20; validation and, 257–8 Markopolos, Harry, 212–13 Marmite, 124 Maskelyne, Nevil, 106 mathematics, 18–19, 83, 146, 247; financial crisis (from 2007) and, 209, 213; prizes, 110, 114 Mayer, Marissa, 232, 234 McDonald’s, 15, 28 McDougal, Michael, 252 McGrath, Michael, 252 McMaster, H.R.


pages: 306 words: 85,836

When to Rob a Bank: ...And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, feminist movement, food miles, George Akerlof, invisible hand, loss aversion, mental accounting, Netflix Prize, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, pre–internet, price anchoring, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, Richard Thaler, security theater, Ted Kaczynski, the built environment, The Chicago School, the High Line, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs

. / 166 “Sam Peltzman’s observation that only 39 of the 1,3000 species list have ever been removed”: See Sam Peltzman, “Regulation and the Natural Progress of Opulence,” American Enterprise Institute monograph, May 23, 2005. 166 “BE GREEN: Drive”: “via John Tierney’s blog”: John Tierney, “How Virtuous Is Ed Begley Jr.?,” The New York Times (TierneyLab), February 25, 2008. / 167 “Goodall is no right-wing nut”: See Chris Goodall, How to Live a Low-Carbon Life (Earthscan, 2007). 168 “DO WE REALLY NEED A FEW BILLION LOCAVORES?”: “As we have written before”: See Dubner and Levitt, “Laid-Back Labor,” The New York Times Magazine, May 6, 2007. / 171 “consider the ‘food miles’ argument and a recent article”: See Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews, “Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States,” Environmental Science & Technology 42, no. 10 (April 2008). 172 “GOING GREEN TO INCREASE PROFITS”: “As Mary MacPherson Lane writes in an A.P. article”: See Mary MacPherson Lane, “Brothel Cuts Rates for ‘Green’ Customers,” Associated Press, October 17, 2009. 175 “HOW ABOUT THEM (WRAPPED) APPLES”: “Similar numbers have been found for potatoes and grapes”: See “Food Packaging and Climate Change,”, October 29, 2007. / 177 “One study estimates that U.S. consumers throw out about half the food they buy”: See J.

With a site-built home, you need to invest in all the tools, material, labor, and transportation costs to make it happen, and the myriad inefficiencies of having dozens of workmen’s pickup trucks retrace the same route hundreds of times all for the sake of erecting one family’s home—whereas factory-built homes create the opportunity for huge efficiencies by bundling labor, materials, transportation, etc. 4. But growing your own food has to be good for the environment, right? Well, keeping in mind the transportation inefficiencies mentioned above, consider the “food miles” argument and a recent article in Environmental Science and Technology by Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews of Carnegie Mellon: We find that although food is transported long distances in general (1640 km delivery and 6760 km life-cycle supply chain on average) the GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions associated with food are dominated by the production phase, contributing 83% of the average U.S. household’s 8.1 t CO2e/yr footprint for food consumption.


pages: 282 words: 82,107

An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage


agricultural Revolution, amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics, Bartolomé de las Casas, British Empire, carbon footprint, Columbian Exchange, Corn Laws, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Eratosthenes, financial innovation, food miles, Haber-Bosch Process, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Louis Pasteur, Mikhail Gorbachev, special economic zone, spice trade, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, women in the workforce

They decry the transportation of food that has, in some cases, traveled thousands of miles from farm to plate; some local-food fundamentalists even try to avoid non local foods altogether. Pliny thought buying imported food was simply a waste of money, but modern-day local-food advocates (or “locavores”) generally make their case on environmental grounds: Shipping all that food around causes carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to climate change. This has given rise to the concept of “food miles”—the notion that the distance food is transported gives a reasonable measure of its environmental damage caused, and that one should therefore eat local food to minimize one’s impact. It sounds plausible enough, but the reality is rather more complex. For one thing, local products can sometimes have a greater environmental impact than those produced in other countries, simply because some countries are better suited than others for production of particular foods.

In particular, an exclusive focus on local foods would harm the prospects of farmers in developing countries who grow high-value crops for export to foreign markets. To argue that they should concentrate on growing staple foods for themselves, rather than more valuable crops for wealthy foreigners, is tantamount to denying them the opportunity of economic development. There is undoubtedly some scope for “relocalization” of the food supply, and if nothing else, the food-miles debate is making consumers and companies pay more attention to food’s environmental impact. But localism can be taken too far. Equating local food with virtuous food, today as in Roman times, is far too simplistic. The rich history of the spice trade reminds us that for centuries, people have appreciated exotic flavors from the other side of the world, and that meeting their needs brought into being a thriving network of commercial and cultural exchange.


pages: 407 words: 121,458

Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff by Fred Pearce


additive manufacturing, air freight, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, British Empire, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, demographic transition, Fall of the Berlin Wall, food miles, ghettoisation, Isaac Newton, Kibera, megacity, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, peak oil, profit motive, race to the bottom, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, the built environment, urban planning, urban sprawl, women in the workforce

Organic eating, incidentally, is worse here. As much as three-quarters of our organic food is imported, twice the proportion for ordinary food. Britain is a great place for growing onions, for instance. But not enough British farmers want to grow organic onions. So, more than half of those on sale in British supermarkets are grown abroad. Campaigners for organic food used to argue that energy used up in the extra food miles is generally offset by the low-energy cultivation. Energy savings from growing fruit and vegetables without pesticides and artificial fertilizer are typically around 15 per cent. But one study found that, for vegetables, an extra 400 kilometres in a truck wiped out the difference. And, if the vegetables were being flown, then just 6 extra kilometres in the air neutralized the gains. It is perhaps not surprising that, at the time of writing, the Soil Association is considering stripping its prized organic label from air-freighted food.

‘The business is not sustainable. Just look at the air miles.’ Well, OK. This is a serious issue. If British customers decide they don’t want to buy the green beans with the label saying they flew to the supermarket, then Homegrown’s business is doomed. On the face of it, the statistics don’t look good. Emissions from air-freighting beans are 200 times greater than if they had come by ship. But the food-miles issue isn’t that straightforward. In summer there are green beans available grown outdoors in Britain, and eating them is the low-energy option. But the energy needed to air-freight vegetables from Kenya to Britain in winter, when British demand is highest, is actually only about 15 per cent more than the energy needed to heat a greenhouse to grow those vegetables here. But I think the real ethical issue is different.

Shroff 131–2 extremism, humanity 5 fairtrade 371 brands 32 chocolate 98 coffee 34 community projects 32 cotton 128–30, 134–5 jewellery 245–7 Fairtrade Foundation 32, 103–4 famines, inefficient dealing with 340 farming see also urban farming energy intensive production 102–3 livestock 211 Nigeria 335–6 water usage 341 favelas Brasilia 347 Rio 114–16, 349 women’s power in 114–16 female emancipation Bangladesh 144–5 population growth 369–70 fertility rates Africa 366 Bangladesh 364 China 364 Europe 366–7 global decline 369 Iran 364 Muslim states 366 fertilizer, from sewage 255 fishing depletion of natural stocks 49, 50, 51, 53 fresh-fish auctions 49 Mauritania 50–2, 53–4 poaching 51–2 preference for line 54 Senegal 52–3, 54 ‘sustainable’ 53 trawlers vs pirogues 52 world-wide 49–50 flour stoneground wholemeal 42–4 wheat for 43–4 Fonebak 277 food see also plant foods cooking 103 imports 100–2 ‘food patriotism’, David Cameron 45, 103, 359 food production, and population growth 340 Forest Stewardship Council approved paper 312 tropical hardwoods 175 Forest Trends 170, 175 forests as carbon offsets 309 maintenance 308–9 Foundation for Adolescent Development 154 Fox, Richard, Homegrown 111 Foxconn, mobile phones 271–2 Friends of the Earth 101, 350 Frison, Emile 84 fruit pickers, immigrant 46–7 fuels, greenest 355–7 Gala, coffee roasting 33–4 Gandhi, Mahatma 360 Gap 141, 142 garlic 89 garment workshops Dhaka 138–44 H&M 140 gas domestic use 242 power stations 227 Siberia 223–5 storage projects 227 gas power, public transport 345 Gazprom 222–4 UK takeovers by 224 gemstones, finance for corrupt regimes 208–9 genetic modification bananas 88–9 cotton 125, 132–3 genetic resources, plant foods 89–92 ginger, China 58 Girardet, Herbert 239–40 Gladstone aluminium smelting 193–7 ecology 192–3 power station 193, 196–7 glass, recycling 255–6 global footprints comparative 317–18 world-wide 317 global warming CO2 emissions 354–5 threat of 354–5 globalization coffee trading 31 consumption 7–10 gold certificates of origin 247 ethically sourced 245–7 extraction process 18 in history 20–1 hoarding 21–2, 134 origins 15 power of 21–2 prices 19, 21 smuggling 21 South Africa 14–22, 205 gold mining access shafts 14–15 Fanakalo language 17 quartz containing 22 recruitment for 17–18 safety 16–17 smuggling 17 Gold Standard 21 Goodall, Chris, How to Live a Low-Carbon Life 244 Gottmann, Jean 351 gourmet chocolate 99 grain growing, water for 211 green beans food miles issue 111–12 Homegrown 104–6, 108–11 hygiene 107 Machakos 104–13 Marks & Spencer 105, 107, 109 smallholdings 104–6, 109 traceability 107, 112–13 Green Gold 246 greenhouse gases see CO2 emissions; nitrogen oxides Grimsby, fresh-fish auctions 49 Grosvenor, paper reprocessing 257–60 Gujarat Agrocel 129–31 organic cotton 129–32 water supplies 130–1 H&M 140, 142 hafnium 208 Hall, Peter 347, 349 Hall and Woodhouse brewery 37–9 Hammond, Geoff 317 Hanson, Jim 355 Harris, Frances 336 Haupt, Melville 19 heat-island effect 348 Heathrow airport CO2 emissions 235–7 fuel supplies 236 land use efficiency 237–8 noise issues 238 HelpAge International 72 herbs in beers 39 conservation 56 oregano 55–6 sage 57–8 thyme 56 Hewitt, Geoff 119–21 Hewlett-Packard 160, 163, 165 Hickey, Dan 120 Hindu philanthropy 133–4 ‘hobbits’ (Homo floresiensis) 325, 328, 331 extinction 332 Homegrown, green beans 104–6, 108–11 hominids see Homo erectus; Homo floresiensis; Homo sapiens; Neanderthals Homo erectus 325, 327, 331 extinction 332 Homo floresiensis (‘hobbits’) 325, 328, 331 extinction 332 Homo sapiens African evolution 328–9 artistic evolution 330–1 common characteristics 5–6 conspicuous consumption 333 cultural evolution 329–30 ecological footprint 333 future of 372 geographical spread 331–2 ice age survival 332–3 social evolution 330 survival skills 332 urbanization 344 virtual extinction 325, 328–9 volcanic winters 325, 328–30, 331 household waste see also sewage collections 251 food growing on 341 landfill sites 261 Thames barge transport 252–3 transfer stations 251–2 How to Live a Low-Carbon Life, Chris Goodall 244 human rights see also child labour Mauritania 184–5 Uzbekistan 147, 151–2 humanity, extremism 5 Humphries, Rick 193–4, 197–8 Hurn airport 237–8 hydroponics 342 IBM 163, 165 ice ages, Homo sapiens’ survival 332–3 immigrant fruit pickers conditions 46–7 pay 47 imports air miles 101 carbon footprints 101–2 plant foods 100–2 incinerators electricity generation from 261 pollution from 260–1 India Bihar 289 cardamom 58 child labour 124 computer recycling 288–92 cotton 124–5, 129–31, 133–5 Delhi 287–92 gold hoarding 134 Hindu philanthropy 133–4 Maral Overseas 133–4, 133–5, 135–7 Toxics Link 290–1 water shortages 130–1, 133 indium, uses 207 Indonesia palm oil 76–7 rainforest clearances 172–3 innovative enterprises, Tanzania 278–9 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 354–5 International Crisis Group 151 International Institute for Environment and Development 103, 339 International Institute for Tropical Agriculture 95, 335 Iqbal Ahmed see also king prawns business empire 61–2, 68–70 Iran, family sizes 364 iron see also steel extraction 205 Italy, rocket 56, 90 Ivory Coast, cocoa 97 JCPenney 141 jewellery, fairtrade 245–7 Joynson-Hicks, Paul, Phones for Africa 277–8 just-in-time assembly 166 retailing 106 Kazakhstan apples 90–1 chromium 205 Keen, David 209–10 Kenya coffee 27–34 Computers for Schools 297–300 desertification reversals 108, 338–9 farm outputs 338–9 German presence in 34–5 green beans 104–13 Khosa, Veronica, AIDS clinics 73–4 Khulna, king prawn industry 63–4, 67–8 Kilimanjaro coffee 27–30 Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union (KNCU) 30–3 king prawns certification scheme needed 69 fry hatcheries 65–6 introduction to UK 62 landowner threats 64–5 middlemen 66–8 organic farming 64 processing plants 67 Seamark 62, 68 sustainability 69–70 Kinyua, Patrick 106–7 Kirkham, Ruth 40 Klor, Babubhai 131 KNCU (Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union) 30–3 Kombe, Jackson 29–30 Kyoto Protocol air travel 236–7 Australia 198 carbon offsets 304, 311 Ministry of Defence 242 Lagavulin, Islay single malt Scotch 44–5 Lamb, Harriet 103–4 land, multiple functions for 316 landfill sites heavy metals 287 household waste 261 Lea Valley 349 Leach, Matthew 260 Letterewe, Scotland 321–2 Lighthouse bakery 42 line-fishing 54 Lister, John 43–4 livestock farming 211 Lloyd Wright, Frank, Broadacre City 346–7 local food 36–7, 45 Logitech 160–1 London congestion charge 345 greenhouse gases 242 household waste 251–3, 261 Lea Valley 349 materials recycling 255–6 MI6 headquarters 241 public services 241–2 sewage 23–4, 254, 261–3 Wandsworth Prison 241 water ring-main 241 London Wildlife Trust 350 Ma, Cheng Liang 352–3 McDonald’s 79, 102–3 Machakos desertification reversals 338–9 green beans from 104–13 Macharia, John 108–9 Madagascar, vanilla 58–9 Mahesh, Priti 290–1 Makinga, Norman 297–9 Malaysia, palm oil 76–7 malnutrition 340 Mandela, Nelson 320 Mandoli, computer recycling 288–91 Manila abortions 154 contraception 153–5 Foundation for Adolescent Development 154 prostitution 153, 155 manures, changes to natural 335–6 Marakele wildlife park 320 Maral Overseas, cotton 133–4, 135–7 margarine from palm oil 76 from whale oil 75 marine national parks, Banc d’Arguin 50–2 Marks & Spencer Blue Horizon jeans 145 cotton 122, 132, 142, 145 fairtrade coffee 32 fairtrade cotton 128, 134–5 green bean imports 105, 107, 109 materials ‘rucksacks’ 204–5 Mauritania debt slavery 186 fishing 50–4 racial structure 185–6 slavery 184–5 meat production 340 mega-cities 344 absorption of urban centres 351–3 eco-projects 345 environmental footprint 344–5 recycling mantra, necessity for 346 wildlife in 349–50 Melbourne, eco-projects 345 Melgar, Junice 154–5 metals see also aluminium; gold antimony 205 bismuth 207 chromium 205 copper 203, 204 global corporations 203 hafnium 208 indium 207 iron/steel 205 materials ‘rucksacks’ 204–5 mining footprint 203–4 mobile phones 273–5 palladium 207 platinum 205, 207 recycling 210, 256, 288, 290–1, 295 rising demands 206 ruthenium 207–8 tantalum 273–6 terbium 208 tin 205, 276–7 waste ores 204–5 world demand for 202–3 zinc 205 Mgase, Jacob Rumisha 28–9 middlemen traders cocoa 96–7 king prawns 66–8 Milonge, Boniface 264 Milonge, Geoffrey market sales 266–7 mitumba imports 264–5 Urafiki market 267–8 Milton Keynes 347 Ministry of Defence, Kyoto Protocol 242 mitumba Dar es Salaam 264–7 Dubai 266 mobile phones assembly 271–2 Foxconn 271–2 Nokia 271, 272 Phones for Africa 277–8 reuse 277–8 toxic chemicals in 272–5 world-wide usage 270–1 money laundering, International Crisis Group 151 Morocco, phosphates 206 Morris, Tim 37–9 Mortimore, Michael 338 Moshi coffee auctions 31–2 curing plant 33 motherboards 161–4 motor cars catalytic converters 207 and urban design 346–7 Motorola 276 Murray, Craig 147–8 Musili, Tom, Computers for Schools Kenya 297–300 Muslim states, fertility rates 366 Musyoki, Jacob 104–6, 113 National Grid 226–7 natural resources, consumption rates 314–15 Neanderthals 325, 328 extinction 332 and Homo sapiens 329 Nellie, Flower-stall Girl 153, 155, 371 Nestlé cocoa 96 fairtrade coffee 32 New Guinea, tropical hardwoods 170, 171 Nicholson-Lord, David 348 Niemeijer, David 337, 339 Niger, reversing desertification 337 Nigeria, crop/livestock integration 335–6 Nine Dragons, paper recycling 284–5 nitrogen oxides, ozone production 307 NKD 143 Nokia, mobile phones 271, 272, 276 Novelis, aluminium recycling 199–200 Noyabr’sk, oilfields 221–2 nuclear power stations 227, 355–6 waste from 356 nuclear-fusion research reactors, Culham 226 offices, ecological footprints 315 oil Alaska 215–20 Siberia 220–2 Orbost, carbon offsets 305–6 oregano 55–6 organic farming bananas 87 coffee 30 crop/livestock integration 336 king prawns 64 Nigeria 335–6 organic food, air freighted 102 overconsumption 360 Padulosi, Stefano 56, 90–2 Pakistan, cotton 124 palladium, source 207 palm oil 75–8 and biofuels 77 rainforest clearances for 76–7 paper burning 260 Chinese recycling 280–2, 284–5 Forest Stewardship Council approved 312 manufacture 260 recycling 257–60 sustainable sources 312 Papua New Guinea, rainforest clearances 169, 173–5 pathogen risks, urban farming 343 Paul Reinhart 123 peanuts 89–90 Pendolinos 233 people smuggling, to Canary Islands 55 personal footprints 4–5, 242–4, 318 city metabolism 240 pesticides banana diseases 87 cotton 124–5, 130 natural 87, 130 Pethick, John 262 Philippines see Manila Phones for Africa, Tanzania 278 phosphates fertilizers 205–6 Morocco 206 phthalates, mobile phones 273 pineapples 89 pistachios 91 plankton, carbon offsets 310 plant foods see also foods by name air-miles issues 111–12 ancient varieties 89–90 benefits of local 45 carbon footprint 101–2 energy intensive production 102–3 extinctions 84 genetic resources 89–92 mutations 85–6 seasonality 100, 105 UK imports 100–2, 111–12 wild 55–60, 89–90 plastic bottles (PET), recycling 256–7, 282–3 platinum South Africa 205 uses for 207 Plexus, cotton 123 plywood Chinese originated 175–6 from illegal logging 169, 174–5 poaching, fisheries 51–2 pollution imprint of 333 incinerators 260–1 Siberia 221–2 pomegranates, Turkmenistan 91–2 population growth average family size 361, 362 family-planning policies 364–5 female attitudes 365–6 female emancipation 369–70 fertility rates 366–7 and food production 340 limiting 360–1 longevity 362–3 mortality rates 366, 367 potential diminution 363–4 stabilization 368–9 twentieth century 361–2 power stations China 358 coal-fired 228–31, 356 natural gas 227 nuclear 227, 355–6 tidal 355 wave 355 wind 355 Poynton, Scott 175, 176 prawns see king prawns prostitution, Manila 153, 155 Prudhoe Bay 214–20 public services, environmental footprint 241–2 public transport, gas powered 345 publishing, carbon footprint 313 Qiaotou 179 rainforest clearances Borneo 172 consequences 77–8 illegal logging 170–1 Indonesia 172–3 logging concessions 173–4 for palm oil 76–7 Papua New Guinea 170, 173–5 slash-and-burn agriculture 95 for soya beans 78 ‘sustainability’ audits 174 tropical hardwoods 169–70, 175 recycling 10 see also reuse aluminium 199–201, 256, 285–6 centres 255 computers 288–91 domestic 251 economics 210 electronic waste 294–5 ethos 282–4 glass 255–6 metals 210, 256, 288, 290–1, 295 paper 257–60 plastic bottles 256–7 steel 210, 256 textiles 264–9 Rees, William 315 Register, Roger 347 Rehfish, Mark 262 Renner, Michael 209 retailing just-in-time 106 traceability 107 reuse computers 297–300 mobile phones 277–8 Rhine, damaged ecology 321 Rimbunan Hijau, logging concessions 173–4 Rio de Janiero favelas 114–16, 349 Rosinha 114 Rio Tinto, metal mining 203 Rio Tinto Aluminium environmental claims 198 Gladstone 192–4 Tasmania 197 rivers, wildlife in clean 262–3 Rivoli, Pietra 269 Roberts, Tony 299–300 rocket, Italian 56, 90 Rosinha, Women’s Association of 114–16 Roszak, Theodore 368 Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation 80–1 rubbish see household waste Russia coal exports 229–30 gas 224–5 oil 220–2 Siberia 220–1 ruthenium 207–8 S & A Produce, strawberry pickers 46–8 sage, Albanian 57–8 Sahara, efforts to reverse spread 334 Sainsbury’s 47 Salam, M.


pages: 400 words: 129,320

The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter by Peter Singer, Jim Mason


agricultural Revolution, air freight, clean water, collective bargaining, dumpster diving, food miles, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Isaac Newton, means of production, rent control, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Review

CUTTING YOUR OWN ENERGY USE To say that buying local food will reduce energy usage and hence carbon dioxide emissions is, at best, an oversimplification. The real story is much more complicated. People who do their shopping on foot, by bike, or by using public transport do best-but in developed societies today, the number who do that is decreasing. The British Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs study reported that the number of "food miles" traveled in urban areas in Britain has risen 27 percent since 1992, but this is largely because more people are using cars to do their weekly shopping, rather than walking to small local groceries. For many Americans, however, there simply is no choice-there are no local groceries in walking distance. Driving twenty miles in a big SUV to pick up eggs from a local farmer and then heading off in a different direction to get fresh local produce would almost certainly be less energy-efficient than buying everything at a single supermarket, even if the food has traveled further to get there.

Sustainable Farming (Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec), vol. 7, no. 4. Fall 1997. 29 For the number of BTUs it takes to move freight by road, see U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Saving Energy in U.S. Transportation, OTA-ETI-S89 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, July 1994), p. 44, Ota_I /DATA/1994/9432. PDF. 30 Alison Smith, et al, The Validity of Food Miles as an Indicator of Sustainable Development, ED50254, Issue 7, July 2005, p.67; A. Carlsson , Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Life-Cycle of Carrots and Tomatoes: methods, data and results from a study of the types and amounts of carrots and tomatoes consumed in Sweden, IMES/EESS Report no. 24, Department of Environmental and Energy Systems Studies, Lund University, Sweden, March 1997; cited in Tara Garnett, Wise Moves, Transport 2000, pp. 76, 82-4. 31 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Aviation and the Global Atmosphere, Cambridge University Press, 1999; J.

Pretty and A. Ball, "Agricultural Influences on Carbon Emissions and Sequestration: A Review of Evidence and the Emerging Trading Options," Centre for Environment and Society Occasional Paper 2001-03, University of Essex, 2001. 33 Andy Jones, Eating Oil, Sustain & Elm Farm Research Centre, London, 2001, Case Study 2. 34 Alison Smith, et al, The Validity of Food Miles as an Indicator of Sustainable Development, ED50254, Issue 7, July 200S, p. 74. 35 Email from Carlo Petrini to Brian Halweil, cited in Brian Halweil, Eat Here, p. 161. CHAPTER 11 1 Diana Friedman, "The Del Cabo project; a Mexican collective exports organic produce to the U.S.A.," Whole Earth Review, Spring 1989. ai_7422469; Don Lotter, "The Del Cabo Cooperative of Southern Baja keeps 300 farm families busy growing organic crops for export," New Farm, July 20, 2004, international/pan-am _don/j uly04/. 2 United Nations Human Development Report, 2005, p. 24. global/2005/pdf/HDR05_chapter_1.pdf 3 United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2000 (Oxford University Press, New York, 2000), p. 30; Human Development Report 2001 (Oxford University Press, New York, 2001), pp. 9-12, p. 22; and World Bank, World Development Report 2000/2001, Overview, p. 3,, for the other figures.


pages: 258 words: 83,303

Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization by Jeff Rubin


air freight, banking crisis, big-box store, BRICs, carbon footprint, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, energy security, food miles, hydrogen economy, illegal immigration, immigration reform, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Just-in-time delivery, market clearing, megacity, North Sea oil, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, profit maximization, reserve currency, South Sea Bubble, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization

p. 218: For a discussion of the demise of the British apple, see George Monbiot’s “Fallen Fruit” ( An interesting thumbnail of the distance traveled by items in a British supermarket appears in the Guardian (“Miles and Miles and Miles”: p. 219 The transportation figures for Australia come from “Food Miles in Australia” ( Food_Miles_in_Australia_March08.pdf). p. 220: The account of grow-ops sprouting in abandoned suburbs comes from a February 7, 2009, story by Damien Cave in the New York Times (“In Florida, Despair and Foreclosures,” p. 223: The issue of energy dependency of agriculture has been explored in great depth in many books and articles.


pages: 829 words: 229,566

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein


1960s counterculture, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bilateral investment treaty, British Empire, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, crony capitalism, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, energy security, energy transition, equal pay for equal work, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, financial deregulation, food miles, Food sovereignty, global supply chain, hydraulic fracturing, ice-free Arctic, immigration reform, income per capita, Internet Archive, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, market fundamentalism, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, new economy, Nixon shock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open borders, patent troll, planetary scale, post-oil, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rana Plaza, Ronald Reagan, smart grid, special economic zone, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, wages for housework, walkable city, Washington Consensus, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

The examples he cited were the austerity policies being pushed at the time by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as the trade negotiations that would soon result in the creation of the WTO.29 Another early warning was sounded by Steven Shrybman, who observed a decade and a half ago that the global export of industrial agriculture had already dealt a devastating blow to any possible progress on emissions. In a paper published in 2000, Shrybman argued that “the globalization of agricultural systems over recent decades is likely to have been one of the most important causes of overall increases in greenhouse gas emissions.”30 This had far less to do with current debates about the “food miles” associated with imported versus local produce than with the way in which the trade system, by granting companies like Monsanto and Cargill their regulatory wish list—from unfettered market access to aggressive patent protection to the maintenance of their rich subsidies—has helped to entrench and expand the energy-intensive, higher-emissions model of industrial agriculture around the world. This, in turn, is a major explanation for why the global food system now accounts for between 19 and 29 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions.

While visiting Red Hook, Brooklyn, one of the hardest hit neighborhoods, I stopped by the Red Hook Community Farm—an amazing place that teaches kids from nearby housing projects how to grow healthy food, provides composting for a huge number of residents, hosts a weekly farmer’s market, and runs a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, getting all kinds of produce to people who need it. Not only was the farm improving the lives of people in the neighborhood, it was also doing everything right from a climate perspective—reducing food miles; staying away from petroleum inputs; sequestering carbon in the soil; reducing landfill by composting. But when the storm came, none of that mattered. The entire fall harvest was lost. And the urban farmers I met there—still in shock from seeing so much collective work gone to waste—were preoccupied with the fear that the water that had inundated the fields had been so toxic that they would need to bring in new soil.

., 106–7 Environmental Action, 213 Environmental Coalition for NAFTA, 84 Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), 84, 191, 198, 201, 233n, 235–36, 257 carbon trading supported by, 218, 226–29 fracking supported by, 215–17, 235n, 355–56 pro-business makeover of, 207–10, 233 environmental impact assessments, 203 environmentalism: acceptable risk and, 335 astronaut’s-eye view adopted by, 286–87, 296 command and control, 204 grassroots, 305–10; see also Big Green; Blockadia Keystone pipeline and revival of, 303 top-down, failures of, 295 “environmentalism of the poor,” 202 environmental justice, 92, 155 see also climate debt environmental movement, 157, 197 cap-and-trade and, 229 golden age of environmental law in, 201–4 green consumerism and, 211–13 insider strategy of, 203–4 NAFTA supported by, 83–85 political timidity in, 184–85, 186–87 privileged origins of, 183, 201, 211–12 pro-business ideology in, 207–11, 213 radicalism in, 183–86, 201–3, 206–7 in Reagan era and following, 203–11 schisms in, 206–7 singlemindedness of, 153 see also Big Green Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 48, 118, 227, 328 Northern Cheyenne and, 390, 393 Environmental Rights Action (Nigeria), 309 Environment Canada, 325, 326–37 ethane, 328 eucalyptus, 239 eugenics, taboo against, 278 Europe: emissions from, 40, 411 program cuts in, 110 “squares movement” in, 464 wealth in, 114 European Community, environmental law in, 202 European Parliament, 91n, 114 European Transport Workers Federation, 127 European Union, 218 airline taxes considered by, 249 Emissions Trading System (ETS) of, 219, 225, 226 fuel quality standards of, 71, 248–49 renewable energy in, 138 U.S. oil and gas exports restriction and, 71 WTO challenges brought against, 65, 70 WTO challenges brought by, 68–69 executive pay, 111, 112 extinctions, 14 extractive industries, 79, 121, 133, 141, 181, 213 alienation of onetime friends by, 313 Big Green and, 191–201 billionaires’ investments in, 235–37 climate change deniers funded by, 44–45, 149 depletion of conventional reserves in, 310 divestment movement and, 206, 353–58, 365, 401, 402–3 donations to environmental groups by, 196–97, 215–16 early victories against, 348–53 ecologically and socially responsible, 447 as economic disrupters, 316, 386 economic and political power of, 149, 151, 377–80, 384–87, 400, 403, 461 emissions regulations blocked by, 200 extreme projects of, 295, 303, 304, 310, 311, 315–34, 446 free trade agreements and, 358–60 geoengineering and, 281–84 government collusion with, 297–99, 303, 306–7, 308, 360, 361–66, 378–80 grassroots opposition to, 305–10; see also Blockadia; climate movement growth as measure of, 129–30 high risk in, 324–25, 331 Indigenous land rights and, see Indigenous peoples, land rights of infrastructures of, 315–24 lawsuits against, 112, 309, 368, 371–72, 378–80, 384, 386 lax regulation of, 129, 330–31, 333 lobbying by, 149–50 local ecology ignored by, 295 nationalization of, 130, 454 new technologies developed by, 145–46, 253, 310 polluter pays principle and, 110–19, 202–3 profit-seeking imperative of, 111, 126, 129, 148, 253, 330–31 progress blocked by, 110–11, 149 publicly owned, 130 public mistrust of, 330, 332, 333, 334 reserve-replacement ratio of, 146–47 sacrifice zones in, 172–73, 310–15 self-preservation instinct of, 149, 253 shareholders of, 111, 112, 128, 129, 146–47, 148 spills and accidents in, 330–34; see also specific accidents Steyer’s walking away from, 235 subsidies for, 70, 115, 118, 127, 418 tobacco companies compared to, 355 transient culture of, 343–44 water requirements of, 346 see also fossil fuels; specific industries and operations extractivism, 161–87, 442, 443, 459, 460–61 colonialism and, 169–70 defined, 169 postcolonial, 179–82 progressive, 181–82 sustainability and, 447 Exxon, 145, 147 ExxonMobil, 44–45, 111, 113, 150, 192, 196, 234, 236, 238, 282, 283, 314 Exxon Valdez oil spill, 337–39, 426 Eyre, Nick, 90 factories: green credits for, 219 retrofitting of, 122–23 fact resistance, 37 fairness: austerity and, 117–19 individual vs. corporate, 116–18 see also climate debt famine, 270, 272, 273, 274 Fanon, Frantz, 459 Farallon Capital Management, 234–35 Farley, Joshua, 173 farming, farmers, see agriculture Farrell, John, 99–100 FedEx, 51, 208, 210 feedback loops, 14 feed-in tariffs, 67, 131, 133 Feely, Richard, 434 feminist movement, 177, 453–54 Fenberg, Steve, 98–99 Ferguson, Brian, 349 Ferris, Deeohn, 314 fertility cycle, of ecosystems, 438–39, 446–48 fertility industry, 421–22 Feygina, Irina, 57 Figueres, Christiana, 200–201 financial crisis of 2008, 5–6, 9, 39, 44, 80, 88, 110, 120–26, 151, 158, 223, 392 financial markets, instability of, 19 financial transaction tax, 114 Finkenthal, Daniel, 207 firefighting, 72, 108, 109 First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, 205 First Nations: in anti-pipeline campaigns, 340, 345, 365–66 government dismissal of pollution claims by, 326 water supplies of, 384 see also Indigenous peoples; specific peoples fisheries collapses, 14 Flannery, Tim, 176 flaring, of natural gas, 219, 305–6 Fleming, James, 263, 270 floods, 14, 72 austerity budgets and, 106–7 business opportunities in, 9 Florida, 330 Flounder Pounder, 425, 427 Foley, Jonathan, 58 Foner, Eric, 456 Food & Water Watch, 197, 356 food, 10 declining stocks of, 13 prices of, 9, 239n sovereignty, 135–36 see also agriculture; famine food chains, aquatic, 259 food miles, 78 Ford, 67 Ford Foundation, 198 Forest Ethics, 248 forests carbon sequestering by, 304 clear-cutting of, 296, 304, 310 privatization of, 8 Forster, E. M., 335 Fort Chipewyan, Canada, 327 Fort McKay First Nation, 386 Fort McMurray, Canada, 325–26, 343 Fort St. James, Canada, 380 Fortune, 229 Fort Worth, Tex., 329 fossil fuel economy, 23, 45–46, 121, 173, 456 fossil fuel emissions, see greenhouse gas emissions fossil fuel era, 266, 311 fossil fuels, 2, 16, 20–21, 90 capitalism and, 176 depletion of, 233 extracted from nature preserves, 192–96 extractivism and, 170 in fertilizers, 134 global economy’s dependence on, 39 and liberation from nature, 173–75 phasing out of, 7, 69, 137–38 regulation of, 71 search for new reserves of, 129–30, 142, 145 for transition to 100% renewables, 214–15 viability of renewable energy vs., 349, 398, 399, 400–401 see also extractive industries Fox, Josh, 217 Fox, Nick, 245 Fox News, 35, 227 fracking (hydraulic fracturing), 2, 57, 71, 94, 129, 142–43, 144, 147, 213–17, 235n, 237–38, 239, 249, 287, 310, 312–13, 357n, 446, 451 bans and moratoria on, 348 Big Green’s failure to critique, 199–201 earthquakes and, 329 Environmental Defense Fund policy on, 355–56 as exempt from EPA regulations, 328 high risk in, 324 infant health and, 428 local ordinances against, 361, 365 methane emissions from, 143–44, 214, 217, 304 in New York State, 316–17, 361 proposed Europe-wide ban on, 353 public opposition to, see anti-fracking movements regulations permitting, 145 water required by, 346 water supply contamination from, 328–29, 332, 344, 346 France, 218, 457 anti-fracking movement in, 303–4, 317–18, 335, 348 EDF spying case in, 362 fracking ban in, 318, 348 heat wave of 2003 in, 47 public transit in, 109 Frankenstein (Shelley), 278 Frankfurt, Germany, 97 Fraser River, 345 free-market ideology, 24, 60, 63, 64–95, 121, 173, 284, 291, 465 capacity to respond and, 72–73 carbon reduction and, 21 climate change increased by, 55–56, 412 climate change’s disruption to, 40–44 disasters and, 107 energy subsidies and, 70 Heartland Institute and, 34 and the imagination of the elites, 154, 186 impact of inequality and corruption on, 465 and inability to say no to corporations, 119, 124–25, 141–52 re-municipalization and, 99 Freese, Barbara, 171 free trade agreements, 7, 39, 81 climate movement vs., 64–95, 460 long-distance shipping and, 40, 210 and multiplication of emissions, 80–83 responsibility vs., 48 as threat to democracy, 358–60 free trade zones, in Asia, 19 French Revolution, 177 Frente de Defensa de la Amazonía (Amazon Defense Front), 291 Friedman, David, 237 Friedman, Milton, 44, 62 Friends of the Earth, 84, 197, 201, 213, 356 Friends of the Earth U.K., 250 Friends of Nature (China), 351 Frosch, Robert A., 282 fuel prices, 112 fuel quality standards, 71 Fukushima nuclear disaster, 136, 268 G20 summits, 115 gardening, 93 gas companies, see extractive industries Gasland, 217, 304 Gass, Heather, 38 Gates, Bill, 135, 235, 236–37, 252, 254, 263, 264, 268–69, 276–77, 280, 281, 289 Gates Foundation, 236 Gauger, Ralf, 100 Gearon, Jihan, 398–99 Gemmill, Faith, 375–76 General Electric, 226 General Motors, 67, 196, 210, 221, 282 Geneva, 6 gentrification, 156 Geoclique, 263, 264, 268–69 geoengineering, 57–58, 154, 236, 255, 256–90, 447 as bridging tool, 257, 281 complexity of biosphere ignored by, 267–68, 290, 422 dangers of, 266–67, 279–80 ethics of, 277 extractive industries and, 281–84 moral hazard and, 261 negative public view of, 290 Royal Society conference on, 256–61, 263–67, 280–81, 284–85, 451 as shock doctrine, 276–78 see also Pinatubo Option; Solar Radiation Management “Geoengineering: The Horrifying Idea Whose Time Has Come” (forum), 263 geologists, economic, 46 Geophysical Research Letters, 329 George, Russ, 268 Georgia Institute of Technology, 432 Georgia Strait, 374 geothermal energy, 127 Geraghty, Jim, 52 German National Center for Aerospace, Energy and Transport Research (DLR), 138 Germany, 75, 132, 133, 162, 218, 225 energy privatization reversal in, 96–98, 127–28 feed-in tariffs in, 131, 133 growth of dirty coal use in, 136–39, 144, 224 nuclear energy phased out in, 97, 136–38 renewable energy in, 97–98, 130–31, 136–39, 224, 237, 398, 451 travel habits and wealth in, 113 Gerze, Turkey, 349 Gillette, Wyo., 343, 344, 395, 396 Gilman, Nils, 189 Gindin, Sam, 122–23 Gingrich, Newt, 35 glacier melt, 14, 15, 175 global feed-in tariff, 413–14 Global Frackdown, 304 globalization, 22, 64 corporate, 19 dawning of, 18–19 of markets, 39, 85, 171, 412 successes of, 19 Global North, 49, 314 see also developed world; postindustrialized nations Global Risks report, World Economic Forum, 112 Global South, 53, 77, 181, 309, 314, 412 Blockadia movements in, 412 environmentalism in, 202 see also developing world global warming, see climate change Globe and Mail, 325, 333 God’s Last Offer (Ayres), 280 God Species, The (Lynas), 279 gold, mining of, 296 Goldenberg, Suzanne, 312 Golden, KC, 304, 320 Goldman Sachs, 51, 208n, 352 goods, lasting vs. disposable, 85, 90 Gore, Al, 41, 67, 85, 150, 155, 211, 212, 218, 230, 233, 241, 242, 244, 385 government intervention, 42, 43, 178, 201–3 necessity for, 54–55 government regulation: corruption in, 333–34 laxity of, 330–31, 333 governments, collusion between extractive industries and, 297–99, 303, 306–7, 308, 360, 361–66, 378–80 Grandin, Greg, 455 Grantham, Jeremy, 233 Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co., 233 Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, 233n Great Barrier Reef, 147–48, 301 Great Depression, 89, 115, 454 Great Transition, 89, 115 Greece, 466 austerity programs in, 9, 108, 131–32, 154 economic problems of, 297 government repression of anti-mining movement in, 297–98, 303 oil and gas exploration in, 22, 181–82 Skouries forest mining project in, 293–94, 296–98, 303, 314, 342, 347, 445 WTO challenges brought against, 65 Green for All, 92 Green Alliance, U.K., 90 green consumerism, 211–13 “green deserts,” 180 green energy entrepreneurs, free market and, 69–70 Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 66–69 green energy programs, trade law challenges to, 64–65, 68–69 green fascism, 54 Greenhouse Development Rights framework, 417–18 greenhouse effect, 74, 213 greenhouse gas emissions, 6, 64–65, 90, 198, 219, 259 computer models of, 270 cost of, 112 countries’ responsibility for internal, 79 cumulative effect of, 21, 40, 56, 175, 409–10, 416 decreased work hours as offset to, 94 deregulation and, 210 distorted global picture of, 79, 411–12 fracking and, 129, 143–44, 214, 217, 304 free trade and, 80–83 global gas boom and, 143–44 globalized agriculture and, 77–78 increase in, 20, 452 low wages and high, 81–82 reduction of, see emission reduction from shipping, 76, 79 standards for, 25 WTO regulations and, 71 see also carbon emissions Greenland: extraction industry in, 385 melting ice sheet in, 12, 148, 385 green NGOs, geoengineering and, 264, 280 Green Party (New Brunswick), 374 Greenpeace, 84, 156, 197, 199, 201, 205, 233n, 264, 356 anti-drilling protests of, 300 EDF spying on, 362 Greenpeace U.K., 376 green technology, 85, 87, 89–90 for developing world, 76, 85 investment in, 89, 156, 400–407, 451 green towns, 406–7 Greenwich, University of, 101 Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 92 Grunwald, Michael, 124 Guarani, 221 Guardian, 149, 312, 346, 363–64, 383 Guay, Justin, 352 Gulf Restoration Network, 425 Gupta, Sanjay, 430 Guujaaw, 368–69, 383 Haida Gwaii, 369 Haida Nation, land claims of, 368–69 Haimen, China, 350 Hair, Jay, 84, 191 Haiti, 457 Haiyan, Typhoon, 107, 175, 406 Halkidiki, Greece, 294, 342, 445 Halliburton, 330 Halliburton Loophole, 328 Hällström, Niclas, 413–14 Halstead Property, 51 Hamburg, Germany, 96–97 Hamilton, Clive, 89, 175, 264 Hansen, James, 22, 41, 73, 140 Hansen, Wiebke, 97 Harper administration (Canada), 302–3, 362 environmental protections weakened by, 381–82 “war on science” of, 326–28 Harter, John, 313 Harvard Medical School, 105 Harvard University, 81, 354–55 Hauper, Debbi, 373 Have You Ever Seen a Moose?


pages: 395 words: 114,583

Corduroy Mansions: A Novel by Alexander McCall Smith


A Pattern Language, affirmative action, Alistair Cooke, banking crisis, carbon footprint, food miles

And if she came to work for him, then he could get rid of Jenny and Barbara at one stroke, neatly inserting this new girl into the roles occupied by both of them. It would be a perfect solution—not only more convenient and entertaining, but cheaper too. “I think perhaps we should ask them where they get their scallops from,” Barbara said. Oedipus waved a hand in the air. “The fishmonger, I expect.” He looked at her. “You’re not turning into one of these people who bang on about food miles, are you?” Barbara frowned. “I don’t bang on about anything, Oedipus. But there is some point to the food miles argument. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that the fresh beans in our local supermarket should come from East Africa?” “Not really,” he said. “Farmers there have to sell their produce. And if we didn’t buy it, then we’d be taking the food out of their mouths rather than putting it into ours. If you see what I mean.” “I’m all for free trade,” said Barbara.


pages: 269 words: 61,106

The Thrifty Cookbook: 476 Ways to Eat Well With Leftovers by Kate Colquhoun


food miles

We chuck out three times more than the total waste from supermarkets, which is not to say that the food industry and the public sector don’t have much to do – the food chain is still generating 11 million tonnes of waste – but it does put much of the responsibility for change back on our own doorstep. We live in a world where half of us are killing ourselves with excess calories while the other half starve, in a society that spends more on dieting than on food aid and where health and safety legislation means that it is criminal to donate perfectly viable food that’s reached its use-by date to the homeless. And though we might get into a lather about food miles or the ethics of battery chickens, the amount of food we send to landfill each year is the skeleton in the cupboard. It’s only alarming when the bin bag breaks, disgorging its slimy contents all over the floor; the rest of the time we don’t notice. There is, of course, a significant environmental cost to all this. In landfill sites, rotting food, airless in its black bags, creates methane – a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide – and a poisonous black sludge that seeps into our watercourses.


St Pancras Station by Simon Bradley


Corn Laws, Fellow of the Royal Society, food miles, Frank Gehry, means of production, railway mania

A later Victorian writer on railways, John Pendleton, observed that they had at least not yet climbed ‘to the key of the arch’. Some may find much of this depressingly familiar. The decline of agricultural diversity in favour of intensive specialisation; the divorce of production from consumption; the spread of factory-made foods, trumpeted by intrusive advertising: all have a contemporary ring. The concept of ‘food miles’ is more recent, as are the associated anxieties about carbon dioxide emissions and climate change. The nineteenth century knew nothing of the last, but the growing dissociation of production from consumption was something that almost everyone in Victorian Britain would have noted and understood. A short coda to this story can bring us back on to railway territory via the institution of the farmers’ market, where consumers buy direct from producers.


pages: 281 words: 79,958

Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives by Michael Specter


agricultural Revolution, Anne Wojcicki, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Drosophila, food miles, invention of gunpowder, out of africa, personalized medicine, placebo effect, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, Simon Singh, Skype, stem cell, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Upton Sinclair, X Prize

Nevertheless the government rejected as “poison” tons of genetically engineered grain offered by the World Food Program.) Does organic food carry a lower environmental footprint than food grown with the use of synthetic pesticides? The answer to that is complicated but it certainly isn’t yes. Locally grown food has environmental benefits that are easy to understand. Agricultural researchers at Iowa State University have reported that the food miles—the distance a product travels from farm to plate—attached to items that one buys in a grocery store are twenty-seven times higher than those for goods bought from local sources. American produce, every cauliflower or radish, travels an average of nearly fifteen hundred miles before it ends up at our dinner table. That doesn’t make for fresh, tasty food and it certainly doesn’t ease carbon emissions.


Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi


East Village, food miles, haute cuisine

This ability to have fun, to really enjoy food, to engage with it lightheartedly and wholeheartedly, is the key for us. After centuries of being told how bad their cuisine was, the British have started taking pride in their food in recent years, joining the European set of confident, passionate and knowledgeable devourers. Then, suddenly, they were made to feel guilty for having fun. All of a sudden it is all about diets, health, provenance, morals and food miles. Forget the food itself. How boring, and what a mistake! This shift of focus sets us back two decades, to a time when food in the UK was just foodstuff, when it was practical instead of sensual, and so we risk once more losing our genuine pleasure in food. People will not care much about the origins of their food and how it’s been grown and produced unless they first love it and are immersed in it.


pages: 240 words: 65,363

Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner


Albert Einstein, Anton Chekhov, autonomous vehicles, Barry Marshall: ulcers, call centre, Cass Sunstein, colonial rule, Edward Glaeser, food miles, Gary Taubes, income inequality, Internet Archive, Isaac Newton, medical residency, microbiome, prediction markets, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Scramble for Africa, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Tony Hsieh, transatlantic slave trade, éminence grise

Levitt, “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Child Safety Seats and Seat Belts in Protecting Children From Injury,” Economic Inquiry 48, no. 3 (July 2010); Stephen J. Dubner and Levitt, “The Seat-Belt Solution,” The New York Times Magazine, July 10, 2005; Levitt and Dubner, SuperFreakonomics (William Morrow, 2009). / 11 The local-food movement can actually hurt the environment: See Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews, “Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States,” Environmental Science & Technology 42, no. 10 (April 2008); and Stephen J. Dubner, “You Eat What You Are, Part 2,” Freakonomics Radio, June 7, 2012. 11 OUR DISASTROUS MEETING WITH DAVID CAMERON: Thanks to Rohan Silva for the invitation to this and subsequent meetings (though never again with Mr. Cameron himself!) and to David Halpern and his Behavioral Insights Team. / 14 “The closest thing the English have to a religion”: See Nigel Lawson, The View from No. 11: Memoirs of a Tory Radical (Bantam Press, 1992) / 14 U.K. health-care costs: See Adam Jurd, “Expenditure on Healthcare in the UK, 1997–2010,” Office for National Statistics, May 2, 2012 / 14 David Cameron biographical details: We are especially indebted to Francis Elliott and James Hanning’s Cameron: Practically a Conservative (Fourth Estate, 2012), originally published as Cameron: The Rise of the New Conservative, a thorough if somewhat tabloidy biography. / 16 A massive share of the costs go to the final months: for an interesting discussion of end-of-life medical care, see Ezekiel J.


pages: 311 words: 17,232

Living in a Material World: The Commodity Connection by Kevin Morrison


barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, clean water, commodity trading advisor, diversified portfolio, Doha Development Round, Elon Musk, energy security, European colonialism, flex fuel, food miles, Hernando de Soto, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, hydrogen economy, Long Term Capital Management, new economy, North Sea oil, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, out of africa, peak oil, price mechanism, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transaction costs, uranium enrichment, young professional

The use of agriculture as a solution for energy security is not sustainable because the demand for food is ever increasing given the growing world population and rising affluence in developing countries, at a time when global water supplies are under stress due to changing climate conditions. 118 | LIVING IN A MATERIAL WORLD Farming is an industry that has long been neglected by government, and market conditions have not been in its favour for most of the 1980s and 1990s, so it’s no surprise that farmers want more competition for their produce. But the pro-corn ethanol policy has knock-on environmental consequences which need to be monitored closely and addressed. International trade, self-sufficiency, food miles and animal welfare are issues that form part of government food policy (though they’re beyond the ambit of this book) but also significantly affect the supply and demand of grains, oilseeds and livestock. The prevalence of government subsidies for agriculture is another issue that ultimately impacts food prices and demand. They are unlikely to be removed despite the best efforts to move to a free-trade environment.


pages: 313 words: 92,907

Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are Thekeys to Sustainability by David Owen


A Pattern Language, active transport: walking or cycling, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, delayed gratification, distributed generation, drive until you qualify, East Village, food miles, garden city movement, hydrogen economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, linear programming, McMansion, Murano, Venice glass, Negawatt, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, placebo effect, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas L Friedman, unemployed young men, urban planning, urban sprawl, walkable city

Pollan’s books constitute a passionate, persuasive argument for a radical transformation of American agriculture and for the elimination of the ill-considered government subsidies that have helped to turn many of the most common American foodstuffs into nutritional simulacra, but nothing could be less sustainable than a world whose 6 billion (and counting) residents had to rely totally, or even mainly, on locally produced anything. Shipping foodstuffs and other goods long distances—from areas of abundance to areas of need—will become more important, not less, as the world’s energy and emissions difficulties deepen. In 2008, Michael Specter addressed the issue of “food miles” in a New Yorker article on carbon footprints; in it he quoted, among other authorities, Adrian Williams, a British agricultural researcher, who told Specter, “The idea that a product travels a certain distance and is therefore worse than one you raised nearby—well, it’s just idiotic. It doesn’t take into consideration the land use, the type of transportation, the weather, or even the season. . . .


pages: 364 words: 102,528

An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies by Tyler Cowen


agricultural Revolution, big-box store, business climate, carbon footprint, cognitive bias, cross-subsidies, East Village,, food miles, guest worker program, haute cuisine, illegal immigration, informal economy, iterative process, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, price discrimination, refrigerator car, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Upton Sinclair, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce

Where else does this idea of affiliation lead us astray? Locavores—those who eat local foods, either mostly or exclusively—are also pursuing a feel-good attitude rather than effectiveness. In a lot of cases you shouldn’t worry much about where your food comes from. The shipping of food is only a small part of its total energy cost, no more than 14 percent by one U.S. government estimate. According to Rich Pirog, who developed food-miles analysis, transportation is only 11 percent of the total energy cost of food. Ocean transport is especially cheap in terms of its energy consumption because floating things are just easier to move. The most comprehensive study comes out of Carnegie Mellon University and was done by Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews, and it was published in 2008. The results are clear: The environmental impact of food comes from its production, not its transportation.


pages: 342 words: 86,256

Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck


A Pattern Language, active transport: walking or cycling, car-free, carbon footprint, congestion charging, David Brooks, edge city, Edward Glaeser, Enrique Peñalosa, food miles, Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Bilbao, if you build it, they will come, intermodal, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Urbanism, peak oil, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Florida, skinny streets, smart cities, Stewart Brand, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, transit-oriented development, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, young professional, Zipcar

.… As consumer surveys in downtown Philadelphia and Detroit in 2006 have shown, this seems to be particularly true for the well-educated, who seem to have a predilection for living in walkable urban places.16 This growing demand for pedestrian-friendly places is reflected in the runaway success of Walk Score, the website that calculates neighborhood walkability.● It was started on a lark in 2007 by Matt Lerner, Mike Mathieu, and Jesse Kocher, three partners in a software company with the incongruously automotive name of Front Seat. “I had heard a story on NPR about food miles in England—labeling food with how far it had to travel to get to you,” Lerner told me recently, “and I thought, why not instead measure house miles: how many miles from your house you had to go for daily errands.” Addresses are ranked in five categories, with a score of 50 needed to cross the threshold from car dependent to somewhat walkable. Seventy points earns a very walkable ranking, and anything above 90 qualifies as a walker’s paradise.


pages: 302 words: 83,116

SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner


agricultural Revolution, airport security, Andrei Shleifer, Atul Gawande, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, call centre, clean water, cognitive bias, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, disintermediation, endowment effect, experimental economics, food miles, indoor plumbing, John Nash: game theory, Joseph Schumpeter, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, market design, microcredit, Milgram experiment, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, presumed consent, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, South China Sea, Stephen Hawking, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, urban planning, women in the workforce, young professional

Ruminants produce more greenhouse gas than transportation sector: see “Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 2006; and Shigeki Kobayashi, “Transport and Its Infrastructure,” chapter 5 from IPCC Third Assessment Report, September 25, 2007. WELL-MEANING LOCAVORES: See Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews, “Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States,” Environmental Science and Technology 42, no. 10 (April 2008); see also James McWilliams, “On Locavorism,” Freakonomics blog, The New York Times, August 26, 2008; and McWilliams’s forthcoming book, Just Food (Little, Brown, 2009). EAT MORE KANGAROO: See “Eco-friendly Kangaroo Farts Could Help Global Warming: Scientists,” Agence France-Press, December 5, 2007.


Great Britain by David Else, Fionn Davenport


active transport: walking or cycling, Albert Einstein, Beeching cuts, British Empire, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, Columbine, congestion charging, credit crunch, David Attenborough, Etonian, food miles, glass ceiling, global village, haute cuisine, illegal immigration, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, land reform, Livingstone, I presume, Mahatma Gandhi, new economy, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, place-making, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, Stephen Hawking, the market place, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Winter of Discontent

Same goes for organic avocados from Thailand, or organic peas from Kenya (where, incidentally, local people watch their crops and cattle die as large-scale market gardens dam rivers and take all the water). Meanwhile, it seems impossible to buy British apples in supermarkets during the autumn cropping season, although you can always choose between 10 different varieties flown in from New Zealand, Chile or South Africa. But despite ‘food miles’ and other dilemmas, British food continues to change for the better, due partly to outside influence. For decades most towns have boasted Chinese and Indian restaurants, so chow mein or vindaloo is no longer considered exotic, while curry is the most popular takeaway food in Britain, outstripping even fish and chips. As well as the food in ‘Indian’ restaurants (in many cases actually Pakistani- or Bangladeshi-owned and staffed), dishes from Japan, Korea, Thailand and other countries east of Suez have become readily available too.

The fine wood-panelled interior is lit by soft globe lanterns, the menu is a happy marriage of British and French country dishes, and the views across the water are dreamy. Bordeaux Quay ( 0117-943 1200; Canons Way; brasserie mains £10, restaurant mains £17-21; lunch & dinner) Funky, friendly, Bordeaux Quay neatly fulfils all your food needs in one: it’s a restaurant, brasserie, bar, deli, bakery and cookery school. Its efforts to shrink the food-miles map have produced a menu bursting with organic, seasonal, regionally sourced ingredients, and proves ‘sustainable’ can equal ‘delectable’. Settle down at a sanded wooden table in the cool, calm interior and tuck into the squash and rocket linguini or the roast sea bass with beurre rouge (a butter and red-wine sauce). Great, green, guilt-free food. Return to beginning of chapter DRINKING The fortnightly listings magazine Venue (, £1.50) contains the latest info on what’s hot and what’s not.

The menu is packed with pizzas, pan-fried sea trout and Salcombe ice cream; its pioneering eco-policy includes using heat from the kitchen to warm the water. Riverford Field Kitchen ( 01803-762074;; Wash Barn, near Buckfastleigh; 2 courses adult/child £14/7; lunch, plus some Fri & Sat dinner) For a taste of ecofriendly Totnes head for this futuristic farm bistro. Vegetables are plucked to order from the fields in front of you to ensure minimal food miles, the meats are organic and locally sourced, and the dining area is a huge, hip hangar-like canteen. The food treatments are imaginative, too – try the marinated grilled Moroccan lamb and cumin and saffron veg. Planning laws require you to book and take a tour of the fields. The farm is three miles west of Totnes. GETTING THERE & AWAY Bus X64 runs to Exeter (one hour, six daily Monday to Saturday, two on Sunday).


pages: 384 words: 122,874

Swindled: the dark history of food fraud, from poisoned candy to counterfeit coffee by Bee Wilson


air freight, Corn Laws, food miles, James Watt: steam engine, Louis Pasteur, new economy, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair

Now that the big food companies have got in on the organic act—wanting a slice of the more than twelve-billion-dollar market—they have pushed to dilute the standards, lobbying to include some synthetic chemicals under the permitted definition of organic. Rising demand for organic food in Britain means that more and more if it is air-freighted in from abroad, lengthening the chain between consumer and producer and giving the lie to the ideal of organic food as wholesome and environmentally sound. Given these “food miles,” many food campaigners now believe it is better to buy local food—even if not technically “organic”—than it is to buy “organic” vegetables from halfway across the world. Closer to home, certain products—notably organic farmed salmon—have, in the view of many old-school organic farmers, made a mockery of what the organic standard was supposed to stand for. Meanwhile, some food sold as organic or “free range” has been found to be entirely bogus.


pages: 468 words: 150,206

Food Revolution, The: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World by John Robbins, Dean Ornish M. D.


Albert Einstein, carbon footprint, clean water, complexity theory, double helix, Exxon Valdez, food miles, laissez-faire capitalism, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, profit motive, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Rosa Parks, telemarketer

Ezra Klein, "The Meat of the Problem," The Washington Post, July 29, 2009. See also Mike Tidwell, "The Low-Carbon Diet," Audubon magazine, Jan 2009. xxiii. Nathan Fiala, "How Meat Contributes to Global Warming: Producing beef for the table has a suprising environmental cost: it releases prodigious amounts of heat-trapping gases," Scientific American, Feb 4, 2009. See also Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews, "Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food choices in the United States," Environmental Science & Technology, April 16, 2008. And Bryan Walsh, "Meat: Making Global Warming Worse," Time magazine, Sept 10, 2008. And Jim Motavelli, "The Meat of the Matter: Animals Raised for Food are Warming the Planet Faster than Cars," E Magazine, July/Aug 2008. And Julliette Jowit, "UN Says Eat Less Meat to Curb Global Warming," The Observer, Sept 7, 2008.


pages: 326 words: 48,727

Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth by Mark Hertsgaard


Berlin Wall, business continuity plan, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, defense in depth,, Fall of the Berlin Wall, food miles, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, peak oil, Port of Oakland, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, South China Sea, the built environment, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, transit-oriented development, University of East Anglia, urban planning

Midwest, the North China Plain, the Punjab of India—are fast approaching exhaustion. Finally, the huge amounts of fossil fuel used to produce fertilizer, run farm equipment, and transport food to market are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution. Coal-fired power plants and gas-guzzling vehicles get more criticism, but factory farms, restaurants, supermarkets, and food miles—the distance a given food item travels between farm and fork—are bigger global warming culprits. The agricultural sector, including forestry, is responsible for roughly 31 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than any human activity except for the constructing, heating, and cooling of buildings. Meat production alone may account for as much as 18 percent of total global emissions, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, in part because livestock emit large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas roughly twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide.


pages: 728 words: 182,850

Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter


3D printing, A Pattern Language, carbon footprint, centre right, Community Supported Agriculture, crowdsourcing, double helix,, European colonialism, fear of failure, food miles, hacker house, haute cuisine, helicopter parent, Internet Archive, iterative process, Parkinson's law, placebo effect, random walk, slashdot, stochastic process, the scientific method

It’s environmentally expensive to produce: the cow has to eat, and if fed corn (instead of grass), the corn has to be grown, harvested, and processed. All this results in a higher carbon footprint per pound of slaughtered meat than that of smaller animals like chickens. Then there’s the fuel expended in transportation, along with the environmental impact of the packaging. By some estimates, producing a pound of red meat creates, on average, four times the greenhouse-gas emissions as a pound of poultry or fish. See Weber and Matthews’ "Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States" ( Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum between local-shopping vegan and delighting in a ginormous bacon-wrapped slab of corn-fed beef, limiting consumption in general is the best method for helping the environment. Choose foods that have lower impact on the environment, and be mindful of wasted food.


pages: 1,351 words: 385,579

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker


1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, availability heuristic, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, Broken windows theory, California gold rush, Cass Sunstein, citation needed, clean water, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Columbine, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, crack epidemic, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, demographic transition, desegregation, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Glaeser,, European colonialism, experimental subject, facts on the ground, failed state, first-past-the-post, Flynn Effect, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, fudge factor, full employment, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, global village, Henri Poincaré, impulse control, income inequality, informal economy, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, lake wobegon effect, libertarian paternalism, loss aversion, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, means of production, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Singer: altruism, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Republic of Letters, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, security theater, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, statistical model, stem cell, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, Turing machine, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, V2 rocket, Walter Mischel, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

Fish and Wildlife Service, in the decade between 1996 and 2006, while the number of hunters, days of hunting, and dollars spent on hunting declined by about 10 to 15 percent, the number of wildlife watchers, days of wildlife watching, and dollars spent on wildlife watching increased by 10 to 20 percent.279 People still like to commune with animals; they would just rather look at them than shoot them. It remains to be seen whether the decline will be reversed by the locavore craze, in which young urban professionals have taken up hunting to reduce their food miles and harvest their ownfree-range, grass-fed, sustainable, humanely slaughtered meat.280 It’s hard to imagine that fishing could ever be considered a humane sport, but anglers are doing their best. Some of them take catch-and-release a step further and release the catch before it even breaks the surface, because expofurther and release the catch before it even breaks the surface, because exposure to the air is stressful to a fish.


England by David Else


active transport: walking or cycling, Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, colonial rule, Columbine, congestion charging, David Attenborough, David Brooks, Etonian, food miles, glass ceiling, haute cuisine, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Mahatma Gandhi, new economy, New Urbanism, out of africa, place-making, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, Stephen Hawking, the market place, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, unbiased observer, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Winter of Discontent

The fine wood-panelled interior is lit by soft globe lanterns, the menu is a happy marriage of British and French country dishes, and the views across the water are dreamy. Bordeaux Quay ( 0117-943 1200; Canons Way; brasserie mains £10, restaurant mains £17-21; lunch & dinner) Funky, friendly, Bordeaux Quay neatly fulfils all your food needs in one: it’s a restaurant, brasserie, bar, deli, bakery and cookery school. Its efforts to shrink the food-miles map have produced a menu bursting with organic, seasonal, regionally sourced ingredients, and proves ‘sustainable’ can equal ‘delectable’. Settle down at a sanded wooden table in the cool, calm interior and tuck into the squash and rocket linguini or the roast sea bass with beurre rouge (a butter and red-wine sauce). Great, green, guilt-free food. Return to beginning of chapter DRINKING The fortnightly listings magazine Venue (, £1.50) contains the latest info on what’s hot and what’s not.