Tag Archives: overpopulation

Where on Earth will the waste go?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE As the world’s population continues to grow, so too the collective rubbish dump of human waste increases – and according to a recent report, it might not be until sometime next century that it begins to recede. LONDON, 2 November – Human waste production has multiplied tenfold in the last century. Rubbish – plastic bags, pizza boxes, empty beer cans, tinfoil, bubble wrap, old mattresses, rusty machinery, broken bottles, spent batteries, stale sandwiches, wilting salads and abandoned newsprint – is being generated faster than any other environmental pollutants, including greenhouse gases. And the problem will go on getting bigger until some time in the next century. Daniel Hoornweg of the University of Ontario and Chris Kennedy of the University of Toronto in Canada and Perinaz Bhada-Tata of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates argue in Nature that the combination of urban growth and material affluence is creating a throwaway problem that won’t go away. The average person in the US throws away his (or her) own body weight in rubbish every month. The detritus linked to modern living has not only grown tenfold in a century; by 2025 it will double again. Solid waste disposal has become one of any modern city’s biggest costs. Landfill sites near Shanghai, in Rio de Janeiro, and in Mexico City typically receive 10,000 tonnes of waste a day.  The world now has more than 2,000 waste incinerators, some able to burn 5,000 tonnes a day, creating attendant problems of ash and air-polluting fumes. Landfill waste is of course also a notorious source of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – but the authors are primarily concerned with the simple problems posed by the increasing volume of affluent society’s rejected stuff. It’s a city thing, they say. Country dwellers don’t buy so much packaged food, don’t have factories and don’t throw so much food away. City dwellers on average generate twice as much waste; the more affluent urbanites throw away four times as much. The three researchers – an expert in energy systems, a civil engineer and an urban waste consultant – say that in 1900 there were 220 million people in the cities. That was 13% of the planet’s population, and these townsfolk produced 300,000 tonnes of discarded stuff every day. By 2000, there were 2.9 billion people in cities – 49% of the world’s population – creating more than three million tonnes of solid waste per day. By 2025, it will be twice that = enough to fill a line of rubbish trucks 5,000 kilometres long every day.

International idiosyncrasies

Some countries are more profligate than others. Japan’s citizens produce about one third less, per person, than US citizens, even though the gross domestic product per capita is about the same. China’s solid waste generation is expected to go from 520,550 tonnes per day to 1.4 million by 2025. “As a country becomes richer, the composition of its waste changes,” the authors say. “With more money comes more packaging, imports, electronic waste and broken toys and appliances. The wealth of a country can readily be measured, for example, by how many mobile phones it discards.” Hoornweg and Bhada-Tata are the authors of a 2012 World Bank report in which they projected a world dustbin collection of 6 million tonnes a day by 2025. They calculate that under a business-as-usual scenario waste will grow with population and affluence as the century wears on, with increasing growth in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and by 2100 it will exceed 11 million tonnes a day and peak sometime in the next century. But this scenario is not inevitable. “With lower populations, denser, more resource-efficient cities and less consumption (along with higher affluence) the peak could come forward to 2075 and reduce in intensity by more than 25%,” they say. This would save around 2.6 million tonnes per day. – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE As the world’s population continues to grow, so too the collective rubbish dump of human waste increases – and according to a recent report, it might not be until sometime next century that it begins to recede. LONDON, 2 November – Human waste production has multiplied tenfold in the last century. Rubbish – plastic bags, pizza boxes, empty beer cans, tinfoil, bubble wrap, old mattresses, rusty machinery, broken bottles, spent batteries, stale sandwiches, wilting salads and abandoned newsprint – is being generated faster than any other environmental pollutants, including greenhouse gases. And the problem will go on getting bigger until some time in the next century. Daniel Hoornweg of the University of Ontario and Chris Kennedy of the University of Toronto in Canada and Perinaz Bhada-Tata of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates argue in Nature that the combination of urban growth and material affluence is creating a throwaway problem that won’t go away. The average person in the US throws away his (or her) own body weight in rubbish every month. The detritus linked to modern living has not only grown tenfold in a century; by 2025 it will double again. Solid waste disposal has become one of any modern city’s biggest costs. Landfill sites near Shanghai, in Rio de Janeiro, and in Mexico City typically receive 10,000 tonnes of waste a day.  The world now has more than 2,000 waste incinerators, some able to burn 5,000 tonnes a day, creating attendant problems of ash and air-polluting fumes. Landfill waste is of course also a notorious source of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – but the authors are primarily concerned with the simple problems posed by the increasing volume of affluent society’s rejected stuff. It’s a city thing, they say. Country dwellers don’t buy so much packaged food, don’t have factories and don’t throw so much food away. City dwellers on average generate twice as much waste; the more affluent urbanites throw away four times as much. The three researchers – an expert in energy systems, a civil engineer and an urban waste consultant – say that in 1900 there were 220 million people in the cities. That was 13% of the planet’s population, and these townsfolk produced 300,000 tonnes of discarded stuff every day. By 2000, there were 2.9 billion people in cities – 49% of the world’s population – creating more than three million tonnes of solid waste per day. By 2025, it will be twice that = enough to fill a line of rubbish trucks 5,000 kilometres long every day.

International idiosyncrasies

Some countries are more profligate than others. Japan’s citizens produce about one third less, per person, than US citizens, even though the gross domestic product per capita is about the same. China’s solid waste generation is expected to go from 520,550 tonnes per day to 1.4 million by 2025. “As a country becomes richer, the composition of its waste changes,” the authors say. “With more money comes more packaging, imports, electronic waste and broken toys and appliances. The wealth of a country can readily be measured, for example, by how many mobile phones it discards.” Hoornweg and Bhada-Tata are the authors of a 2012 World Bank report in which they projected a world dustbin collection of 6 million tonnes a day by 2025. They calculate that under a business-as-usual scenario waste will grow with population and affluence as the century wears on, with increasing growth in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and by 2100 it will exceed 11 million tonnes a day and peak sometime in the next century. But this scenario is not inevitable. “With lower populations, denser, more resource-efficient cities and less consumption (along with higher affluence) the peak could come forward to 2075 and reduce in intensity by more than 25%,” they say. This would save around 2.6 million tonnes per day. – Climate News Network

Climate threat to Southern Africa's crops

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Southern Africa could be among areas hardest hit by climate change. A rapidly expanding population is likely to add to future problems, says a new study.

LONDON, 11 September – The study, published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and with contributions from scientists in countries across the southern Africa region, uses available data and a variety of models to examine likely agricultural developments, particularly related to crops, in the period to 2050.

Agriculture is the primary source of employment and income for most of the rural population in southern Africa. In Malawi about 40% of gross domestic product (GDP) comes from agriculture.  In Zimbabwe, about 80% of the population depends directly on agriculture.

More than 50% of agricultural land in the area is devoted to cereal crops, with maize accounting for more than 40% of the total harvested area. Millet and sorghum are also important crops, especially in drier areas. Some countries in the region, such as Botswana and Lesotho, already struggle to meet demand for maize and sorghum and have to import large amounts, mainly from South Africa.

The study says climate change, with rising temperatures and increasingly erratic rainfall patterns across much of the region, will likely cause a decline in average maize and sorghum yields. However, some areas, such as southern Mozambique, will see a growth in harvests. Wheat harvests could be particularly vulnerable to rising temperatures.

Extreme weather events – such as droughts, floods and changes in the frequency and intensity of dry spells – already negatively affect agriculture in most parts of Africa, says the study.

“Higher temperatures tend to reduce yields of crops by reducing soil moisture content and the length of the growing season, and in most places they tend to encourage weed and pest proliferation.”

Most farming in the region is carried out by smallholders who depend on rainfall to water their crops. “Greater variations in precipitation patterns increase the likelihood of crop failures and long-run production declines,” says the study.

Across much of southern Africa, increasing numbers of people are migrating from rural to urban areas in search of work. This movement of people could intensify with changes in climate, the study says.

Adaptation is key

Increased adaptation measures such as planting more drought-resistant crops will help mitigate the impact of climate change. Rising incomes across much of the region will help alleviate some of the problems expected.

Governments in many of the countries investigated – Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe – are already undertaking various schemes aimed at helping farmers adapt to climate change.

“Successful agricultural adaptation to climate change is not just about better seeds and practices but building better roads and education systems, which give farmers greater access to markets and the background necessary to make fully informed decisions about new agricultural practices,” says the study.

However, continuing population growth, along with changes in climate, are likely to worsen food insecurity in the region. According to medium range estimates, the overall population of the southern Africa region is expected to increase by about 70% between now and 2050 – from 142 million to more than 240 million people – with Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia all more than doubling their populations. – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Southern Africa could be among areas hardest hit by climate change. A rapidly expanding population is likely to add to future problems, says a new study.

LONDON, 11 September – The study, published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and with contributions from scientists in countries across the southern Africa region, uses available data and a variety of models to examine likely agricultural developments, particularly related to crops, in the period to 2050.

Agriculture is the primary source of employment and income for most of the rural population in southern Africa. In Malawi about 40% of gross domestic product (GDP) comes from agriculture.  In Zimbabwe, about 80% of the population depends directly on agriculture.

More than 50% of agricultural land in the area is devoted to cereal crops, with maize accounting for more than 40% of the total harvested area. Millet and sorghum are also important crops, especially in drier areas. Some countries in the region, such as Botswana and Lesotho, already struggle to meet demand for maize and sorghum and have to import large amounts, mainly from South Africa.

The study says climate change, with rising temperatures and increasingly erratic rainfall patterns across much of the region, will likely cause a decline in average maize and sorghum yields. However, some areas, such as southern Mozambique, will see a growth in harvests. Wheat harvests could be particularly vulnerable to rising temperatures.

Extreme weather events – such as droughts, floods and changes in the frequency and intensity of dry spells – already negatively affect agriculture in most parts of Africa, says the study.

“Higher temperatures tend to reduce yields of crops by reducing soil moisture content and the length of the growing season, and in most places they tend to encourage weed and pest proliferation.”

Most farming in the region is carried out by smallholders who depend on rainfall to water their crops. “Greater variations in precipitation patterns increase the likelihood of crop failures and long-run production declines,” says the study.

Across much of southern Africa, increasing numbers of people are migrating from rural to urban areas in search of work. This movement of people could intensify with changes in climate, the study says.

Adaptation is key

Increased adaptation measures such as planting more drought-resistant crops will help mitigate the impact of climate change. Rising incomes across much of the region will help alleviate some of the problems expected.

Governments in many of the countries investigated – Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe – are already undertaking various schemes aimed at helping farmers adapt to climate change.

“Successful agricultural adaptation to climate change is not just about better seeds and practices but building better roads and education systems, which give farmers greater access to markets and the background necessary to make fully informed decisions about new agricultural practices,” says the study.

However, continuing population growth, along with changes in climate, are likely to worsen food insecurity in the region. According to medium range estimates, the overall population of the southern Africa region is expected to increase by about 70% between now and 2050 – from 142 million to more than 240 million people – with Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia all more than doubling their populations. – Climate News Network

Climate threat to Southern Africa’s crops

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Southern Africa could be among areas hardest hit by climate change. A rapidly expanding population is likely to add to future problems, says a new study. LONDON, 11 September – The study, published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and with contributions from scientists in countries across the southern Africa region, uses available data and a variety of models to examine likely agricultural developments, particularly related to crops, in the period to 2050. Agriculture is the primary source of employment and income for most of the rural population in southern Africa. In Malawi about 40% of gross domestic product (GDP) comes from agriculture.  In Zimbabwe, about 80% of the population depends directly on agriculture. More than 50% of agricultural land in the area is devoted to cereal crops, with maize accounting for more than 40% of the total harvested area. Millet and sorghum are also important crops, especially in drier areas. Some countries in the region, such as Botswana and Lesotho, already struggle to meet demand for maize and sorghum and have to import large amounts, mainly from South Africa. The study says climate change, with rising temperatures and increasingly erratic rainfall patterns across much of the region, will likely cause a decline in average maize and sorghum yields. However, some areas, such as southern Mozambique, will see a growth in harvests. Wheat harvests could be particularly vulnerable to rising temperatures. Extreme weather events – such as droughts, floods and changes in the frequency and intensity of dry spells – already negatively affect agriculture in most parts of Africa, says the study. “Higher temperatures tend to reduce yields of crops by reducing soil moisture content and the length of the growing season, and in most places they tend to encourage weed and pest proliferation.” Most farming in the region is carried out by smallholders who depend on rainfall to water their crops. “Greater variations in precipitation patterns increase the likelihood of crop failures and long-run production declines,” says the study. Across much of southern Africa, increasing numbers of people are migrating from rural to urban areas in search of work. This movement of people could intensify with changes in climate, the study says.

Adaptation is key

Increased adaptation measures such as planting more drought-resistant crops will help mitigate the impact of climate change. Rising incomes across much of the region will help alleviate some of the problems expected. Governments in many of the countries investigated – Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe – are already undertaking various schemes aimed at helping farmers adapt to climate change. “Successful agricultural adaptation to climate change is not just about better seeds and practices but building better roads and education systems, which give farmers greater access to markets and the background necessary to make fully informed decisions about new agricultural practices,” says the study. However, continuing population growth, along with changes in climate, are likely to worsen food insecurity in the region. According to medium range estimates, the overall population of the southern Africa region is expected to increase by about 70% between now and 2050 – from 142 million to more than 240 million people – with Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia all more than doubling their populations. – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Southern Africa could be among areas hardest hit by climate change. A rapidly expanding population is likely to add to future problems, says a new study. LONDON, 11 September – The study, published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and with contributions from scientists in countries across the southern Africa region, uses available data and a variety of models to examine likely agricultural developments, particularly related to crops, in the period to 2050. Agriculture is the primary source of employment and income for most of the rural population in southern Africa. In Malawi about 40% of gross domestic product (GDP) comes from agriculture.  In Zimbabwe, about 80% of the population depends directly on agriculture. More than 50% of agricultural land in the area is devoted to cereal crops, with maize accounting for more than 40% of the total harvested area. Millet and sorghum are also important crops, especially in drier areas. Some countries in the region, such as Botswana and Lesotho, already struggle to meet demand for maize and sorghum and have to import large amounts, mainly from South Africa. The study says climate change, with rising temperatures and increasingly erratic rainfall patterns across much of the region, will likely cause a decline in average maize and sorghum yields. However, some areas, such as southern Mozambique, will see a growth in harvests. Wheat harvests could be particularly vulnerable to rising temperatures. Extreme weather events – such as droughts, floods and changes in the frequency and intensity of dry spells – already negatively affect agriculture in most parts of Africa, says the study. “Higher temperatures tend to reduce yields of crops by reducing soil moisture content and the length of the growing season, and in most places they tend to encourage weed and pest proliferation.” Most farming in the region is carried out by smallholders who depend on rainfall to water their crops. “Greater variations in precipitation patterns increase the likelihood of crop failures and long-run production declines,” says the study. Across much of southern Africa, increasing numbers of people are migrating from rural to urban areas in search of work. This movement of people could intensify with changes in climate, the study says.

Adaptation is key

Increased adaptation measures such as planting more drought-resistant crops will help mitigate the impact of climate change. Rising incomes across much of the region will help alleviate some of the problems expected. Governments in many of the countries investigated – Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe – are already undertaking various schemes aimed at helping farmers adapt to climate change. “Successful agricultural adaptation to climate change is not just about better seeds and practices but building better roads and education systems, which give farmers greater access to markets and the background necessary to make fully informed decisions about new agricultural practices,” says the study. However, continuing population growth, along with changes in climate, are likely to worsen food insecurity in the region. According to medium range estimates, the overall population of the southern Africa region is expected to increase by about 70% between now and 2050 – from 142 million to more than 240 million people – with Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia all more than doubling their populations. – Climate News Network