The article linked below outlines the impact of human population growth on global marine fisheries. It has been well-established through scientific research that as people become wealthier, they consume more protein. And as Earth’s human population continues to grow, the pressure on fisheries becomes two-fold: not only are there more people fishing (population growth), but those people are becoming wealthier (economic growth) and eating more seafood per person. This article ties in brilliantly to ESS Topic 3 – Human Populations, Resource Use, and Carrying Capacity.
Click here for the full article.
This article from Scientific American outlines a recent idea sweeping across much of East Africa, including several projects and start-up companies here in Tanzania.
The idea is quite simple, actually: Rural families who can’t afford the high costs in setting up a traditional solar electricity system are able to pre-pay for a certain amount of electricity generated by the solar kit. Once they’ve used the electricity paid for, the kit shuts off access until they make another payment – just like the scratch-off cards for mobile phone vouchers we use here in Dar es Salaam – and payments can be made via M-Pesa or similar services. When they have the cash, they buy more electricity, and once they’ve paid for the full kit, it continues to generate electricity for them for free!
Published on the same day was this article from Mary Ellen Harte at the Huffington Post, outlining current and future developments in the field of renewable energy. She focuses specifically on solar energy, with some discussion of wind, wave, and geothermal power as well.
Both of these articles fit nicely within our ESS Topic 3.3.3 – “Outline the factors that affect the choice of energy sources adopted by different societies.”
According to this New York Times article, the UN’s IPCC – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the largest group of scientists investigating global climate patterns – “rising temperatures will have some beneficial effects on crops in some places, but that globally they will make it harder for crops to thrive”. The report is just a draft for now (the final report won’t be released until March 2014), but it indicates that the IPCC has new data indicating that crop production will gradually decrease over the next century. That could be particularly troubling, especially considering that Earth’s human population is expected to reach 9 billion people by mid-century.
This article from ESI, “The Online Power Journal of Africa,” discusses the pros and cons of renewable energy sources across the continent. It’s a nice summary of the points made in ESS Topic 3.3 – Energy Resources. It’s also particularly relevant for us here in Tanzania, considering the seasonal difficulties TanEsCo has meeting demand for its hydroelectricity, not to mention the massive oil and natural gas deposits recently discovered offshore near Kilwa Kisiwani.
For continued reading and/or research into energy issues and developments in East Africa, follow this ESI eNews regional site for East Africa.
Infographic from screen capture, The Gates Notes
Follow the link below to read about Bill Gates’ take on future developments in food production, specifically concerning the global increase in meat consumption over the past couple of decades. Here’s what the illustrious Mr Gates has to say about the issue on his personal blog, The Gates Notes:
Meat consumption worldwide has doubled in the last 20 years, and it is expected to double again by 2050. This is happening in large part because economies are growing and people can afford more meat. That’s all good news. But raising meat takes a great deal of land and water and has a substantial environmental impact. Put simply, there’s no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people. Yet we can’t ask everyone to become vegetarians. We need more options for producing meat without depleting our resources.
Mr Gates’ comments align perfectly with some of the issues that we’ll study in ESS Topic 3.5 – Food Resources. This issue is particularly relevant to us here in Tanzania as well, especially considering that, according to the UN, Dar es Salaam is one of the world’s fastest growing cities.
Click here to read the full article at The Gates Notes.
Image Credit: treehugger.com
Here’s an intriguing article about research into a new method of fertilizing food crops. Nitrogen is one of the key elements required for plant growth, but because it’s not found everywhere on the planet, people use nitrogen fertilizers to boost yields in areas with low nitrogen levels. Unfortunately, the Haber process (the industrial process of producing nitrogen fertilizers) requires large inputs of energy, which then means large outputs of greenhouse gases. Commercial fertilizers are also expensive, especially for low-income and subsistence farmers, and they often leach into rivers and lakes, causing eutrophication.
This potential discovery from the world of biotechnology could change food production in several important ways. First, the plants themselves would be able to ‘fix’ nitrogen directly from the atmosphere, essentially supplying their own fertilizer. Second, small-holder farmers (like most of the farmers in Tanzania) wouldn’t have to buy fertilizer anymore, which means they’d have more money to spend on things such as education and health care for their families. Third, reducing the energy demand for the Haber process would lessen our carbon footprint and our contribution to climate change. And lastly, the problems of eutrophication – lifeless, oxygen-starved lakes and streams – may also diminish.