The weakest monsoon in years and a worsening drought in India is fuelling concerns about a surge in global food prices. The June to September monsoon is critical in India as it brings 70% plus of all rainfall – but this year much of the country is facing drought conditions – with over 30 million farmers affected in a country where two thirds of the population are still reliant on farming. North America, Russia and Australia are also facing drought conditions caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, and corn prices have surged by 50% over the last six weeks, and soya prices by 20%. The price of rice, pulses, tea, cotton, cooking oils and sugar will also be affected according to economists at HDFC, India’s second largest bank. 48 states in the USA have had the hottest July since records began in 1895 according to the National Climatic Data Center. The average temperature was 25.3C (77.6F). Meanwhile in the Philippines, Weary rice farmers  struggled amid their worst floods in decades on Friday, as the death toll from torrential rains rose to 60 and 80% of capital Manilla remained under water. The UK has had the wettest three months fro April to June since records began. So no climate change there then eh. Lord Lawson and the rest of the deniers?

The Olympic Games could have significantly reduced on greenhouse gas emissions if all venues at the event used natural refrigerants over climate affecting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Whilst the Aquatics Centre led the way in environmentally friendly cooling systems other venues including the Olympic Stadium and Media Centres all rely on HFC-based equipment. In more Olympics news,  2012 Olympic sponsor Coca-Cola has released details on its initiative to engage thousands of sports fans around the country in the importance of recycling during the Olympic Flame’s 70-day torch relay. Spectators recycled 30,000 bottles into a specialised hybrid “Recycle Beat” van while a dedicated recycling team worked to inspire locals to make personal recycling pledges. reports that the companies behind a controversial wind farm planned off the Aberdeenshire coast have submitted proposals to increase the size of the turbines  much to the annoyance of Donald Trump whose newly opened golf course at Menie, Trump International Golf Links, overlooks the site.  The partners behind the 11-turbine European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) confirmed that they had signed working agreements with six potential suppliers and that proposals have been submitted to adjust the maximum height of the turbines by up to 3.5m and to increase the radius of the turbine blades by up to 11m.

New satellite measurements from Cryo-Sat2 show that the rate of ice loss in the summer Arctic is 50% higher than predicted as global warming’s impact increases – meaning there might be no summer ice within a decade.  “Preliminary analysis of our data indicates that the rate of loss of sea ice volume in summer in the Arctic may be far larger than we had previously suspected” said Dr Seymour Laxon, of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at University College London (UCL), where CryoSat-2 data is being analysed, with Professor Chris Rapley of UCL saying “With the temperature gradient between the Arctic and equator dropping, as is happening now, it is also possible that the jet stream in the upper atmosphere could become more unstable. That could mean increasing volatility in weather in lower latitudes, similar to that experienced this year.”  More at

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions from 2009 by more than 11%, making significant progress towards the governments green operations and procurement targets. The University of the West of England (UWE) has fitted solar systems to campus roofs as part of its plan to halve carbon emissions by 2021 and generate about 74,000 kilowatt (kW) hours of clean electricity every year. And a sustainable, modular building has been constructed to accommodate eco-friendly waste processing equipment at Westwood, Network Rail’s training centre near Coventry.

The USA has finally begun to assist Vietnam to clean areas of the Asian country contaminated by Agent Orange. Agent Orange was used as a defoliant in the Vietnam war to remove jungle foliage cover that protected communist insurgents. It is claimed that the health of millions of Vietnamese suffered from the toxins – in particular 150,000 children’s whose pregnant mothers were exposed. The clean up will concentrate on bases were Agent Orange was stored. A legal case brought by those who feel their health was damaged by the chemical against the USA was dismissed in 2007.

Defra says that a reduction in household waste and an increase in recycling in has led to a decline in waste to landfill England of 11% in 2011. More waste was recycled, composted or reused in 2011 (10.8m tonnes) than was landfilled (10.1m tonnes) and half the amount of waste was sent to landfill last year compared with ten years ago. Also 4.6m tonnes was used as feedstock for energy from waste plants in 2011 which was 18% of all waste compared with 15% the previous year and 14% the year before that.

New water-saving irrigation strategies being developed will help improve the efficiency of water and fertiliser use in the soft fruit industry. East Malling Research is developing new irrigation techniques that are being carried out on commercial trial sites to grow strawberries and raspberries using less water.

10 billion is a new theatre show by Professor Stephen Emmott – described as  a brutal but careful dissection of the likely impact of humanity’s swelling numbers on our planet and Emmmott’s one man show on environmental woes, a co-operation between Emmott and director Katie Mitchell,  has just completed a majestic three week run at the Royal Court with people queuing for returns. The Guardian says “Without the clamorous voices of climate change deniers who constantly question the minutiae of scientists’ research or cherry-pick data, Emmott has shown that it is possible to make a straightforward, telling demonstration of the dreadful problems we face. We need a lot more sober, pithy work like this”. More at

By |2016-11-01T15:05:06+00:00August 12th, 2012|AGF Blog|