In mid-April, a humongous explosion rocked the Texas town of West when a fire broke out at an agriculture retail facility storing ammonium nitrate. The blast killed 14 people, injured more than 200, and left a crater 93 feet wide and 10 feet deep. If this and other forms of ammonia are so explosive before being used as fertilizer, what happens when it is used in agriculture? More at National Geographic’s NewsWatch blog, http://on.natgeo.com/10oCQjh.
In April 2013, I produced and placed an opinion piece for Samuel Nguiffo, the Secretary General of the Centre for Environment and Development (CED) in Cameroon. Using his own country as an example, Samuel’s op-ed discussed how the “Land Grab” taking place in Africa was more of a “giveaway” where governments at all levels were providing multinational corporations with their country’s natural resources for very little compensation. Research from Rights and Resources Initiative showed that the communities that live on the land involved in these transactions lost out repeatedly. The opinion piece ran online at http://aje.me/17z1mpk.
In December, I spent a week in Liberia with an Agence France Presse (AFP) reporter exploring two large-scale land acquisitions in which the Liberian government turned over large swaths of land for oil palm and rubber plantations, ignoring the rights of the communities that live on the land. The trip was part of the outreach work I have been doing for Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI).
Underlining the dire problems confronting these communities, four people with whom we visited were arrested shortly after we left.
After the trip, the AFP reporter filed two feature-length stories detailing the difficulties inherent in these transactions (http://bit.ly/YaJ0G4 and http://f24.my/UhCU62). Last week, my photos from the trip were featured in a slide show on AllAfrica.com (j.mp/15CeiZC) that highlighted two new reports from RRI.
The New York City apartment building where I grew up was built in the early 1960s. The building’s heating system still has only one thermostat for more than 150 apartments, and that thermostat is usually set in the mid-70s. If it’s too hot, you must manually adjust each radiator in the apartment (and there’s one for each room). Most people simply open a window or two instead, which is not a very climate-smart solution. More at National Geographic’s NewsWatch blog, http://on.natgeo.com/10sNPuz.
When the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change met for two weeks in Doha, Qatar, at the end of 2012, there were no expectations for a landmark treaty on reducing emissions. There were possibilities for progress, however, on helping farmers in developing countries adapt to the changing climates.
This hope was outlined in an opinion piece I produced for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and placed on Al Jazeera’s online opinion forum.
There was no substantive progress in this or any other area at the Doha meeting, however, and in a second opinion piece I produced for CCAFS, we outlined the need for broader climate adaptation programs in the International Herald Tribune/New York Times.
The 2012 Presidential elections was proceeding as most elections do, with one notable exception: for the first time since 1984, neither candidate mentioned climate change during any of the campaign debates. Then Hurricane Sandy struck, changing the coastline and the policy landscape. More at National Geographic’s NewsWatch blog, http://on.natgeo.com/YVHz1o
In October 2012, I produced a policy brief for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security that examined the fate of nearly two dozen crops and natural resources as climate change takes hold. The analogy we chose, replacing potatoes with bananas was scoffed at by scientists and embraced by journalists as an effective way to describe the challenges at hand (the story was the second most read story on the BBC site for several days). It helped that the release took place while the northeast U.S. was being hammered by Hurricane Sandy! More at http://bit.ly/XfWRbA