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Pacific Ecologist

Pacific Ecologist 21 Autumn/Winter 2012

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food/fuel/financial/climate crises

  • Why is famine occurring in the 21st century? Somalia – a case study
    Big power politics, the inequitable global economic system and climate change, caused by the way of life in rich countries are the causes of Somalia’s current devastating famine, reports Sanji Gunasekara. Only by addressing these structural problems and by organising a democratic food system where food production is undertaken as a basic essential for all rather than for profits for a few can we eliminate the horror of famine.
  • From free trade and food insecurity to co-operative sustainability
    Continuing financial instability and rising food and energy prices, highlight deep flaws in current economic theory and practice, Dennis Small reports. These ideas continue to wreak havoc. A major concept is free trade which has been promoted as efficient but has actually destroyed food security and caused hunger and misery in many countries. To achieve food security globally we must expose the misleading concepts and disastrous consequences of this destructive ideology.
  • Hearing the cry of Brazil’s people of the land
    When Padre Tiago Thorlby arrived in Brazil, a land of plenty, in 1968, he was shocked by the opulent wealth of the elite land-owning minority and the hunger and exploitaton of the majority of people. Working with landless peasants, sugarcane cutters and homesteaders, he saw how agribusiness with its monocultures and toxic chemicals and huge land accumulation brings death to the land and hunger and exclusion for the people. Industrial ‘biofuel’ production adds to the destruction. For agribusiness, food and energy production is for profits not people. More ancient traditions in many cultures celebrate a belief in sharing and the big banquet, with food being central to the common unity of life.
  • Global land grab threatens millions of African farmers
    The global food, oil and financial crises, plus northern commitments to replace some oil use with biofuels, have triggered a global land rush, reports Liz Alden Wily. Many millions of poor African farmers especially in sub-Saharan Africa, whose livelihoods depend on customary tenure for access to land are at risk as their lands are a main target for investment. Minority African elites are joining with minority international elites in pursuit of land-based wealth, bringing increasing poverty, social dislocation, unrest and disadvantage to the vast majority.

book reviews

  • Staying alive: Women, ecology & survival in India by Vandana Shiva
  • Fleeing Vesuvius: Responding to the effects of economic & environmental collapse Edited by Richard Douthwaite, Gillian Fallon & Living Economies New Zealand preface by Jonathon Boston
  • The transition to a sustainable & just world by Ted Trainer
  • The one straw revolution: An introduction to natural farming by Masanobu Fukuoka

solutions to the food crisis

  • The case for Universal Basic Income in New Zealand & worldwide
    Hunger exists world-wide in rich as well as poorer countries, write MIKE GOLDSMITH and KELLIE MCNEILL. Universal Basic Income is a well established concept that can help solve this basic human rights issue. While hunger is often recognised in poorer countries, it is trivialised and hidden in countries like New Zealand, which is perceived as being a land of plenty with abundant food resources to feed its people.
  • Eco-farming addresses hunger, poverty & climate change
    Agriculture must be redirected to environmentally sound, socially just production methods to address the food and energy crises, hunger, poverty and climate change, reports OLIVIER DE SCHUTTER, Special Rapporteur to the UN on the right to food. Agroecology, which mimics natural processes, has had remarkable successes in the past decade, improving incomes and livelihoods for many millions of the world’s poorest, small-scale farmers and has improved the resilience of food systems. Supporting small-scale farmers to make the transition to agroecology worldwide is vital to avoid more food and climate disasters in the 21st century. This article is abridged from the report ‘Agroecology and the right to food’.
  • Action to ensure bees survive
    Bees are vitally important worldwide to grow the food we need to live, yet their survival is threatened by common industrial agricultural practices, especially use of neonicotinoid systemic insecticides, reports Pat Baskett. The New Zealand National Beekeeper’s Association has called for a moratorium on the use of systemic insecticides while they are properly reassessed and has wide support for its measures to ensure bees survive.
  • A simpler way to feed the world
    A sustainable and just world can only be achieved through a cultural revolution with people in rich countries cutting their huge per capita resource consumption by around 90 percent of current levels and moving to a zero-growth economy, reports TED TRAINER. He outlines how this can easily be done in food and agriculture through locally produced food and agriculture, home and community gardens and with satisfaction in life coming not from consuming but from enjoying arts, crafts, community, and gardening.
  • Making unsustainable land sustainable & productive
    Dirt Doctor JIM O’GORMAN of the School for Environmental Recovery, discusses his pioneering work restoring to health and high productivity the damaged land and soils depleted by common agricultural practices in New Zealand. To address the problems of degraded soils and agriculture’s contribution to global warming emissions, farmers worldwide could learn from nature and sequester carbon naturally into the soil by soil recovery production methods.