Speaking of halves, that is how much the US beekeeping industry lost to an invasive mite earlier this year. Bees provide a vital $15 billion USD service, in pollinating 100 species of agricultural crops in the US. Less bees may lead to less fruit. Over the pond, in the UK, a study fund that food miles (travel from food source to retailer) rose 15% in the past decade. So much so that food transport costs eclipsed GDP contributions by the entire agricultural sector. And that's just the tip of the melting iceberg, so if you crave well researched and written background on the state of the world, consider a subscription to ::World•Watch
Now and then, we mention that the ever superb WorldWatch has a brilliant article on something of pertinence. But it's hard to know where to start with the current issue. Our favourite was the fascinating article on religion and consumption. It explores how in their early days many religious persuasions adhered to a notion of "no poverty, no affluence" and how this strong sense of adequate sufficiency has been eroded over time, replaced by a rampant consumptive drive. But the article describes several positive case studies on ways this could be turned around. The whole issue is packed with other eye opening stuff. How about 15% of 6-11 year old Americans being overweight, up from 4% in the 60's (Bring back billy carts, I say). Not only is it people who have got fat, but also cities. US sewage now includes 3 billion lbs (1.4 billion kg) of restaurant grease. Which in turn has all sorts of consequences, "Sewer rats love sewer fat; high protein builds their sex drive". On another tack, Inuit out on the hunt for their fat are getting into trouble, due to global warming, which is resulting in unpredictable pack ice and weather conditions. Reading the weather, once a dependable age-old human barometer, has become so dangerous that these masterful outdoorsmen are now ...... resorting to pouring over satellite images and carrying small boats on their sleds to avoid strandings from rapidly changing ice floes. Yet down south, on the Chilean/Agentinean border, there is talk of actually moving glaciers to build gold mines. (Try this for a stat: 1 ounce of gold = 79 tons of mine wastes) While we are on statistics, did you know that US military spending represents 47% of the world total? That's right, nearly as much as every other country combined.