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WORLD WATCH

Volume 22, Number 6



Vision for a Sustainable World November/December 2009

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WORLD WATCH
Volume 22, Number 6

Vision for a Sustainable World November/December 2009

Are Livestock Emissions


Killing the Climate?
PLUS
 The Struggle for
the Amazon Basin
LIFE-CYCLE STUDIES

Beer
Overview
Enkidu, a man raised by wild animals in the classic Sumerian poem Epic of Gilgamesh, knew nothing of beer until a
prostitute guided him to a shepherd’s camp. Upon finishing seven full cups, “his soul became free and cheerful, his
heart rejoiced, his face glowed…. He became human.” Beer was so popular throughout ancient Mesopotamia that
some historians argue it inspired the earliest farmers to domesticate grain.
Rich in carbohydrates, protein, and, of course, alcohol, beer became a dietary staple for many cultures through-
out history. In Elizabethan England, mothers safeguarded their adolescents from foul water by serving them “beer
stew”—stale bread mixed with beer and spices.
Beer is the third most popular drink in the world, after water and tea. Per-capita annual consumption is highest
in the Czech Republic, at 157 liters per person, followed by Ireland (131) and Germany (116). World beer consumption
has risen almost every year for the past two decades. The world average in 2005 was 23 liters per person.
© Ermin Gutenberger
Closing the Loop
Some breweries, such as Coors in the
United States and Fourex in Australia,
have begun to reduce their water footprint
through wastewater recycling methods,
such as steam recapture. In 2007, Fourex
reduced its water consumption to 2.2
liters for each liter of beer. Other innova- Sprig of hops.
tive practices include capturing the brew-
ery’s carbon dioxide emissions, reusing Production
the gas during the carbonation process, Conventional beer is made with malted
and using more efficient heating and grains (often barley or wheat), hops,
cooling systems to save energy. U.S. yeast, and water. The hops act as
breweries, large and small, often sell left- preservatives and add to some beers’
over grain, still highly nutritious, to farm- characteristic bitter flavor. Yeast is
ers and food companies as agricultural added after the grains are cooked from a
feed and processed food additives. few days to several months. The yeast
Beers brewed and bottled in one country combines with the mashed grains’ sugary
and shipped to another for consumption are compounds to form alcohol. The brew is
costly both to consumers and to the environ- then fermented again, filtered, and cooled.
ment. “Imported” beers brewed locally under One liter of beer traditionally requires
license according to a parent company’s recipe, between four and six liters of water and four
and other locally and regionally brewed beers, or five kilograms of grain. Energy
eliminate the need for long-distance transpor- consumption—mostly from refrigeration and
tation. Truly concerned connoisseurs can use transportation—is also significant. But the
their own regional or organic ingredients with greatest environmental impact is created by
home beermaking kits and reusable containers. beer containers, overwhelmingly single-serving
Choosing beer on tap and in kegs reduces the glass bottles or aluminum cans. One ton of
solid waste and energy use from bottles and cans. glass embodies as much energy as is contained
And while recycling can keep beer bottles out of in 135 liters of oil and creates 845 kilograms of
landfills, returning bottles to the manufacturers mining waste.
for refilling and reuse is more efficient by 75 per-
omski
cent. In the United States, Michigan, California, Griszka Niewiad

and New York place a surcharge on each bottle’s


price, which the states refund to those who
deposit bottles at collection points. In Denmark
and Estonia, container deposit laws have led to
a 98-percent return rate for glass bottles. In
many Latin American countries, the high price
of glass has encouraged high recycling rates
and the social norm of leaving all glass bot-
tles at the bar. brew kettles.
—Jane Zhou and Ben Gonin Cla ssic copper
© Roman Shyshak
WORLD WATCH Volume 22, Number 6

Vision for a Sustainable World November/December 2009

FEATURES D E PA R T M E N T S
10 LIVESTOCK AND CLIMATE 2 Editorial
Copenhagen: the Road to Success
CHANGE
Animals raised for food might be a far bigger factor 3 From Readers
in warming the planet than generally thought. Local-food fight, building natural economies,
BY ROBERT GOODLAND AND JEFF ANHANG dissing Pittsburgh.

6 Eye on Earth
22 VISION QUEST: WHO WILL Chinese cities becoming more environmentally
CONTROL THE FUTURE OF transparent; World Bank to measure project carbon
THE AMAZON? footprints; India approves higher solar energy
target; population planning funds decline; wind
A policy tool for stemming deforestation could
energy could power China; Asian water supply
jeopardize forest dwellers’ claims to their lands.
faces crisis; study finds agroforestry to be extensive;
BY DAVID DUDENHOEFER per-capita carbon emissions standard endorsed.

9 Updates
20 Talking Pictures
Plastic Toys Not Required

30 Worldwatch First Person


Ben Block: Seeking a Low-Carbon Future

31 Vital Signs
Growth in Protected Areas Continues

32 Matters of Scale
Blogging Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

COMING UP...
 Hydropower’s False Promise
 Climate Change and Security
 Recarbonizing the Earth
 Urban Agriculture Potential

José Cruz/Agência Brasil

Ghana’s Oil
 Geoengineering the Climate

Front cover photograph: Dairy cows on a farm in Stein, Germany.


© 2008 Reuters/Michaela Rehle
Indigenous Amazonian leaders demonstrate in Brasilia during the
Acampamento Terra Livre 2009, an annual gathering in the Brazilian
capital to lobby officials and raise awareness of indigenous issues. WORLD WATCH is printed on an alkaline, recycled paper
made from 100% post-consumer fiber certified by the
Forest Stewardship Council, processed chlorine-free,
Contents copyright 2009 Worldwatch Institute. All rights reserved. and manufactured using biogas energy.
EDITORIAL

World•Watch®
Editor Thomas Prugh
Senior Editor Lisa Mastny
Art Director Lyle Rosbotham
Copenhagen: the Road to Success Staff Writer Ben Block
Director of Publications and Marketing
Christopher Flavin Patricia S. Shyne
Communications Associate Julia Tier
Research Department
Erik Assadourian
Amanda Chiu
Robert Engelman
Christopher Flavin

W
ith the Copenhagen Climate Conference now approaching, there are plenty of Gary Gardner
reasons to be discouraged about the prospect of humanity’s surmounting its Brian Halweil
greatest challenge. Yingling Liu
Alice McKeown
While scientists report accelerated Arctic melting and warn that we are already per- Danielle Nierenberg
ilously close to overshooting the maximum safe level of greenhouse gases in the atmos- Michael Renner
phere, climate negotiations are proceeding at a glacial pace. U.S. discussions with China Janet L. Sawin
Molly Theobald
and India have not yet moved beyond bland generalities, and even across the Atlantic,
Senior Fellows
most of the deep sores opened with Europe during the Bush era have not yet been Zoë Chafe Sandra Postel
closed. Meanwhile, the odds of the U.S. Congress approving climate change legislation Mia MacDonald Payal Sampat
this fall are growing long. Eric Martinot Molly O’Meara Sheehan
But this is not the time for despair—much less to give up on tackling the greatest Worldwatch Institute
Board of Directors
threat of our generation. Around the globe, new policies are beginning to reverse the
Tom Crain, Chairman
surge in greenhouse gas emissions that marked the early years of this century. Robert Charles Friese, Vice-Chairman
Data for the first few months of the year suggest that in the United States, carbon Geeta B. Aiyer, Treasurer
dioxide emissions in 2009 will be 8 percent lower than they were in 2005, marking the Nancy Hitz, Secretary
Ray Anderson Satu Hassi
sharpest decline in decades (and making it quite possible that 2005 marked the all-time L.Russell Bennett,Esq. Jerre Hitz
peak). Other industrial countries are seeing similar declines. Marcel Brenninkmeijer Jeffrey Lipton
While this shift reflects the severe recession now under way, it is not the only factor. The Cathy Crain Akio Morishima
James Dehlsen Sam Myers,MD, MPH
era of higher energy prices that began in 2004 is discouraging profligate energy use, while Christopher Flavin Ajit Nazre
new policies to promote renewable energy, mandate fuel economy, and retrofit buildings Ed Groark Izaak van Melle
have begun to have an impact—one that will grow in the years ahead. Meanwhile, a new Wren Wirth
wave of super-efficient buildings and vehicles is coming into the global marketplace. World Watch and Worldwatch Institute
trademarks are registered in the U.S. Patent
Construction of coal-fired power plants has recently slowed in the United States and and Trademark Office.
even in China, with much of the difference being made up by natural gas, wind, solar,
Opinions expressed in World Watch are those
and bio-energy plants, which for the first time ever are being added at significant of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the
scale—dwarfing new coal capacity in Europe and North America. positions of the Worldwatch Institute.

China and India have recently announced ambitious new efforts to expand the use World Watch (ISSN 0896-0615) is published six
times a year by the Worldwatch Institute, 1776
of solar power, and are well on the way to becoming world leaders in this burgeoning Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036.
new industry. In Africa, Kenya has also announced a groundbreaking plan for the devel- Copyright 2008, Worldwatch Institute. One-year
opment of renewable energy. subscriptions within the U.S., Canada, and Mex-
ico are $33 for individuals, $50 for institutions,
These developments should give government officials the courage to enact tougher and $25 for students. For all other countries: $51
emission targets. The goals recently endorsed by the European Parliament and the U.S. for individuals, $63 for institutions, and $40
for students.
House of Representatives do not look as robust as they would have just a year ago. In fact,
they are not only too weak to protect the climate, they are barely ahead of the “business- Address changes, orders, and correspondence should
be sent toWorldWatch, P.O. Box 879, Oxon Hill, MD
as-usual” path the world economy is now on. Even in fast-growing developing countries, 20750-0910. Canada Post Agreement Number
policies that advance energy efficiency could slow the growth in energy demand (and 40023881. Canadian returns should be
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emissions) without economic sacrifice, according to a 2008 McKinsey study. Advertisers, please send queries to ads@world
A strong new Copenhagen climate agreement will build on the positive momentum watch.org.
now under way—and accelerate the transition to low-carbon economies around the
globe. Failure, on the other hand, would be a monumental setback.
Worldwatch Institute website:
www.worldwatch.org
Christopher Flavin is President of the Worldwatch Institute.

2 World Watch | November/December 2009 www.worldwatch.org


F ROM READERS

Local Food Debate the best way to know about the food you
Sarah DeWeerdt makes some important are buying. She is also correct that local
and often-overlooked points in the cover food is not inherently more environ-
story of your May/June 2009 issue, “Is mentally friendly than conventional
Local Food Better?” It is increasingly food. But perhaps the question should
clear that many factors besides travel dis- not be, is local food better, but is the
tance affect the environmental impact of food I am eating better? The only way to
our food choices. Farming methods and answer that is to know where your food
Curtis Palmer

inputs, climate suitability, scale, process- comes from, and the easiest way to know
ing, packaging, and mode of transport is to eat locally.
all matter. Carla A. Wise
Chickens hit the road.
However, DeWeerdt glosses over the Corvallis, Oregon, U.S.A.
critical hole in this debate about whether But the greenhouse gas emissions figures
local food is a better environmental used in their LCA come from industrial Sarah DeWeerdt responds: Carla Wise
choice. As she correctly points out, all agriculture. Locally sourced foods are not suggests that in evaluating the environmen-
other things being equal, it is better to part of this industrial-food chain. Pro- tal benefits of local food, “perhaps the ques-
purchase something grown locally than duction methods, processing, and packag- tion should not be, is local food better, but is
the same thing grown far away. But all ing, as well as food miles, are different, the food I am eating better?” The question
other things are not equal. I have yet to so greenhouse gas emissions will differ that I think we need to ask is, “How can we
see a life-cycle analysis (LCA) comparing as well. The farms where I buy local food build a better, more sustainable food sys-
the same foods that one might eat (an are organic, diversified, low-input farms. tem?” And to do this, it’s clear that pursuing
apple, a head of lettuce, a pound of How much greenhouse gases they pro- localism as an end in itself isn’t sufficient.
ground beef) from local and industrial duce was not assessed in this study. That’s precisely because, as Wise em-
sources. Without such comparisons, the Although I have not seen the LCA of the phasizes, “all other things are not equal.”
true environmental costs of our industrial U.K. food system by Tara Garnett, I’m She notes that the food she purchases
food system, and the true environmental guessing it has this same flaw. locally differs from conventionally sourced
benefits of rebuilding local food systems, The important lessons from the food in “production methods, processing,
cannot be accurately measured. Weber and Matthews study are not about and packaging, as well as food miles.”
The problem with the Weber and local food, and were unfortunately over- Her approach is a perfect illustration of
Matthews study that DeWeerdt discusses shadowed by their efforts to question the my argument that the benefits of local food
is that it is based on the assumption benefits of local food. They are, first, that are not entirely, or perhaps even mainly,
that the only difference between locally industrial agriculture is a major contribu- intrinsic to their local-ness.
sourced and conventionally sourced food tor to climate change, and addressing this Wise focuses much of her critique on
is the distance it travels. This is clearly a will be necessary to prevent a major cli- the paper by Weber and Matthews that I
flawed assumption, as the authors of the mate crisis. Second, a very large propor- discussed in my article, and correctly points
study concede. I think DeWeerdt failed to tion of agriculture’s contribution to out that this study did not compare food
see that this renders the paper’s conclu- climate change stems from industrial from small, organic, diversified local farms
sions unsupported. meat and dairy operations. with conventionally sourced food. But this
Weber and Matthews conclude that DeWeerdt is right that direct relation- hardly negates the study’s finding that final
dietary choices (vegetarianism vs. meat ships with farmers are at the heart of the transport—food miles—is a relatively small
eating) are extremely important to food’s local foods movement. Being able to ask a part of the emissions picture in the food sys-
carbon footprint, but food miles are not. farmer about her/his farming practices is tem as a whole. After all, as Wise herself

www.worldwatch.org November/December 2009 | World Watch 3


FROM READERS
R EADERS

acknowledges, fewer food miles are only a Economies in Nature


part of what makes the food that she pur- There are always big gaps in human About World •Watch
chases better. designs for things nature makes appear World Watch is a bimonthly, nonprofit
As I pointed out in my article, the local easy, but are not. The “economic democ- magazine, written by Worldwatch Institute
analysts and guest authors, that tracks key
food system is currently a great place to find racy” idea proposed by David Schweickart
indicators of the Earth’s well-being. We mon-
food from close by that is organic, mini- [“A New Capitalism—or a New World?”, itor and evaluate changes in climate, forest
mally processed, seasonal, and field-grown September/October] is interesting for the cover, population, food production, water
on small, diversified farms. All of these ideals expressed, but retains one of the resources, biological diversity, and other key
trends, and identify and analyze the most
characteristics contribute to the environ- central flaws of capitalism that has to be effective strategies for achieving a sustainable
mental benefits of such food, but it’s impor- dealt with for human economies to ever society—including those that come from
tant to remember that not all local food is become part of nature. Schweickart is in the advances of science and technology, the
rethinking of traditional economics, and the
organic, not all local farms are small and very good company, as the same flaw neglected wisdom of now-vanishing indige-
diversified, and so on. We shouldn’t use dis- mars nearly all the popular alternate eco- nous peoples. We are beholden only to our
tance as a stand-in for sustainability, and nomic models. readers, from whom we welcome comments.
World Watch is also published in Japan-
collapse the various elements of sustainable What’s missing is a correction for how ese and Spanish, and selections from World
production methods, processing, and trans- private, institutional, and government Watch are incorporated into the online
port under the term “local.” money management is used to drive an French-language magazine, L’Etat de la
Planete (www.delaplanete.org/).
If we do, we risk ending up with a lot endless, growing search for new ways to
of “local food” that differs merely in food use up the Earth. I think they all did in Correspondence and Inquiries
miles, and doesn’t have much environmen- fact consider it, but apparently didn’t see Address editorial comments to the Editor
tal benefit over conventional food—“indus- the natural way to solve it. It’s the central (tprugh@worldwatch.org), and all other cor-
respondence to the Director of Publications
trial local,” if you will. I can already see this problem of capitalism: the conflict between and Marketing (pshyne@worldwatch.org).
happening at a chain supermarket in my stability and the rules that let owners of General correspondence can be sent to
area, which labels some items as “North- money continually multiply their money, worldwatch@worldwatch.org.
west Products.” Some of these products are even in a non-growing economy. If people Reprints and Excerpts
highly processed and in many ways indis- agree there’s a need to limit the growth For permission to excerpt and reprint
tinguishable from other outputs of the of wealth, can you still have unlimited World Watch articles fill out our on-
line reprint form at www.worldwatch.org/
industrial food system—they’re marketed growth of ownership and money? pubs/copyright.
as local, but they’re a far cry from the kind There’s an elegant certainty that
of food that Wise is talking about. points to a true solution. It was first dis- Financial Support
Worldwatch Institute is a nonprofit, tax-
Instead, if we focus attention on each covered by J.M. Keynes, studied further exempt 501(c)(3) research organization that
individual element of food system sustain- by Kenneth Boulding, and then used by welcomes private donations and bequests.
ability, then we stand a better chance of me to point to the riddle of how natural- Support for the Institute is provided by the
Heinrich Boell Foundation, the Casten Fam-
maintaining the integrity of alternatives to system economies take good care of them-
ily Foundation, the Compton Foundation,
the industrial food system, and of creating selves. Perhaps those who read Chapter 16 Inc., the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,
a more sustainable food system as a whole. in Keynes’ General Theory or Boulding’s the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the
True, a more sustainable food system last chapter in A Reconstruction of Eco- Good Energies Foundation, Steven C.
Leuthold Family Foundation, the Marianists
would probably be less centralized—more nomics, or my papers, were embarrassed of the USA Sharing Fund, the Netherlands
local—than our current one. But also con- to not understand the issue or hesitant to Environment Ministry, the Norwegian Royal
sidering better methods of production, confront the intriguing moral quandaries Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Renewable
Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership,
processing, and transport would help us it raises. The financial problem of eco- the Shared Earth Foundation, The Shenan-
overcome some of the limitations posed by nomic climax comes down to a simple doah Foundation, Stonyfield Farm, the
climate and the built environment, and choice: either a) investment stops growing TAUPO Fund, the United Nations Popula-
tion Fund, the United Nations Environment
make better food more accessible to more because conditions get so bad that returns
Programme, the Wallace Genetic Founda-
people. In other words, we need to ask not on investments don’t materialize, or b) tion, Inc., the Wallace Global Fund, the
just “is the food I am eating better?” but healthy returns earned by investments are Johanette Wallerstein Institute, the Winslow
also “why is it better, how much better, recycled as spending, instead of being used Foundation, and the World Wildlife Fund –
Europe. The Institute also receives financial
and how can these lessons be applied to to accumulate until (a) occurs. support from the many individual donors
the broader food system?” Natural-system economies have parts who share our commitment to a more sus-
that exchange complementary goods and tainable society.
Correction: In “Local Food: The Eco- services, creating their own organization
nomics,” we misidentified the Crossroads as they develop by growth. They some-
To renew online visit
Resource Center as the Crossroads times switch off their systematic growth www.worldwatch.org/ww/.
Research Center. mechanisms and stabilize at their peak of

4 World Watch | November/December 2009 www.worldwatch.org


Dissing Pittsburgh
While I applaud your informative article
on renewable energy in the September/
October issue [“A Bridge to the Renew-
able Energy Future”), I was very frus-
trated to see the smoky steel mill picture
from Pittsburgh, which didn’t indicate the
vintage of the picture. The picture had
to be at least 25 years old, since that steel
mill closed in the early 1980s. The perpet-
uation of the stereotype of Pittsburgh as a
smoky city does a great disservice to this
transformed region. Pittsburgh has come
a long way in cleaning up from its indus-
trial past and has become a leader in the
development and implementation of green
technology. I hope that you will make an
Peak of vitality, or peak of exhaustion? effort to learn and report about the reg-
ion’s transformation, made all that much
vitality instead of taking it to some peak finish their designs before exhausting easier now with the media attention asso-
of exhaustion. We could study that to themselves, and that way climax their ciated with the upcoming G-20 summit.
help understand our problem with the own investment cycle and become part Reed McManigle
same issue. of nature at the peak of their vitality. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Our own bodies are collectively run There are some simple ways to define
market organizations of cells, exchanging the requirements for imitating that. We Art Director Lyle Rosbotham responds:
complementary services through the don’t yet appear to have the language for Apologies to Pittsburgh. That photo was in
blood stream and nerve system networks. even discussing how natural systems take fact taken around 1970, and had I known
A freshwater pond ecology links various care of themselves, though. We represent that at press time I would certainly have
populations of organisms that create their them as being controlled by rules rather acknowledged it, or, more likely, replaced
own niches and exchange complementary than learning as they go. Maybe the idea it with a more contemporary image.
services. Businesses also form around that covers it is that no matter
groups of individuals exchanging comple- how good our plans, we always
mentary services to create an organization rely on nature filling in the
that works as a whole and respects its own gaps, and need to allow her
limits too. to do that. Natural-system
Scientists often say “there are no sys- economies that take care of
tems, just pressures” and dismiss the idea. themselves are internally
That view could come from representing opportunistic, and so create
natural-system economies with equations local rules that alter global
of pressure rules, and so hiding what ones, trusting in their curiosity
makes them different. Their parts tend and not in control. You could
to be clearly self-animating, for example, even say that’s the whole prob-
and actively doing environmental learn- lem: that people have spent so Downtown Pittsburgh on September 6, 2009.
ing. As their parts learn from each other much time trying to figure out how to
in groups, local rules develop inside the control nature we just haven’t looked at
groups. That is hidden from view by rep- how the uncontrolled parts of nature suc- TALK TO US!
resenting them as following fixed rules, cessfully take care of themselves. Please include your home town, country,
as if they were centrally controlled. Now we urgently need to know, and and phone number (not for publication).
Tracing how natural-system econo- seem to have a lot of learning to do. That’s Letters may be edited for clarity or brevity.
mies work is challenging, but you can see one task ahead, anyway, if we want to find Send them to: tprugh@ worldwatch.org
— or —
the principles at work. They start growing how to make economies that can become Editor, World Watch
by “auto-catalytic” self-investment, using part of nature. 1776 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
their own products to build up their Philip F. Henshaw Washington, D.C. 20036, U.S.A.
process. If they’re going to mature, they New York, New York, U.S.A.

www.worldwatch.org November/December 2009 | World Watch 5


EYE ON EARTH

by Ben Block
(unless otherwise credited)

China Slowly Improving requests with 113 cities


Environmental Transparency in September 2008.
Under a new public disclosure law, cities The PITI rated the
across China are slowly becoming more cities on a 100-point
forthright with environmental informa- scale based on their

woggle
tion, according to a study by U.S. and compliance with the
Chinese environmental groups. The requests, responses to Not so transparent: Shanghai smog in 2005, from the Oriental Pearl Tower.
“Measures on Open Environmental Infor- citizen petitions, and
mation” ruling, which took effect last public records of environmental violations. lishes environmental violations in the
year, requires municipalities to disclose Of the surveyed cities, only four ranked local government-owned media.
which companies violated pollution regu- higher than 60, and neither of China’s two Even so, three out of four cities
lations and caused large pollution inci- largest cities, Beijing and Shanghai, ranked surveyed did not fulfill the disclosure
dents, and how much contamination well overall. However, Shanghai came in requests. Some cities said disclosure
these polluters released. first in disclosure of environmental viola- would reveal corporate secrets or com-
To measure the law’s success, the Bei- tions due to its daily monitoring and promise economic growth, the study said.
jing-based Institute of Public & Environ- supervision system, and Beijing ranked Cities with poorer air quality were less
mental Affairs and the U.S. Natural first in disclosure of environmental com- likely to disclose pollution information,
Resources Defense Council launched plaints. Among smaller cities, Weihai was whereas cities that were more developed
China’s first Pollution Information Trans- the first in China to publish pollution lev- economically generally performed better
parency Index (PITI), filing information els on its Web site, and Changzhou pub- on the PITI.

World Bank Initiates Carbon Footprint Analysis billion in 96 fossil fuel-related projects
The World Bank, in collaboration with The assessments are expected to bring across the developing world.
the world’s leading multilateral develop- greater transparency to lender investment The World Bank already analyzes
ment banks, is creating a common method portfolios and to encourage developing- the greenhouse gases associated with its
for estimating the greenhouse gas emissions country clients to follow low-carbon Carbon Finance Unit investments, which
associated with development projects. development paths, analysts said in July. include projects in the areas of renewable
The Bank’s decision to measure proj- energy and energy efficiency. And the
ect-level emissions comes after decades of International Finance Corporation, the
pressure from nongovernmental groups World Bank Group’s private sector arm,
to shift multilateral lending away from began developing an emissions account-
carbon-intensive projects such as coal- ing system in 1997.
fired power plants and toward renewable Some Bank officials and their devel-
energy and energy efficiency. According to oping-country clients worry, however,
former Environmental Defense Fund sen- that certain projects may be dispropor-
ior counsel Bruce Rich, the World Bank tionately affected by a greenhouse gas
Aschwin Prein

Group, Asian Development Bank, and accounting system. An investment such


European Investment Bank are among the as a highway, for instance, will unavoid-
top five public international financiers of ably lead to emissions through the clear-
Carbon- and labor-intensive: Transfering coal to a coal-fired power since 1994. Their collec- ing of land and encouragement of greater
barge on the Yangtze River, China. tive investments total more than US$23.3 vehicle use.

6 World Watch | November/December 2009 www.worldwatch.org


India Announces Groundbreaking Solar Plan ciation, said the Solar Mission’s success
With a new solar mega-project, India power-generation capacity is 150 GW, so will depend on changes to domestic energy
aims to expand its solar power generation the so-called Solar Mission is notable for laws and to “the appropriate institutional
capacity from the current 3 megawatts to its scale and ambition. It is one of the structures to facilitate implementation at
a reported 20 gigawatts (GW) by 2020 largest national renewable energy plans to the state level.” Such changes would allow
and 200 GW by 2050. The project, which date and promises to establish India as a the solar industry to thrive in India as it
was approved “in principle” in August, global solar leader. has in Germany and Japan—countries
will form the centerpiece of India’s efforts Several international studies have with far fewer solar resources, he said.
to address climate change and will cost an pointed to the potential benefits of solar Among other elements, the plan will
estimated US$20 billion to implement. energy for India, including lower long- rely on a portfolio of policy measures to
Global installed solar generation term energy costs, greater energy security, support local industry and innovation
capacity is only 16.5 GW and India’s total rapid scalability, and industry and job through the establishment of dedicated
creation, in addition solar and technology parks. The goal is to
to multiple environ- make solar “very cost competitive with
mental benefits. respect to other fossil fuel-based power”
But the studies by 2020, according to an early plan draft.
observed that It is not yet clear whether domestic
India had not funds could finance a significant share
Joerg Boethling/Peter Arnold, Inc.

yet demonstrated of the plan’s budget or whether India


the political com- will seek full funding from international
mitment needed sources. “We have kept several options
to jumpstart its open—budgetary support, taxes on fossil
solar industry. fuels, and international funding, or a
V. Subramanian, combination thereof,” said Shyam Saran,
CEO of the Indian India’s special envoy on climate change.
Solar panels get a cleaning at the Brahma Kumaris Ashram, India. Wind Energy Asso- —Anna da Costa

Family Planning Aid Drops in Priority agency. In May, an Institute of Medicine


Funding for population and reproductive billion to $14.1 billion during this period. committee recommended that an addi-
healthcare programs as a share of global The trend is attributed to shifting pri- tional $3.4 billion be allocated to children
health aid declined from 30 percent in orities in the United States, the world’s and women’s health, nutrition, and family
1994 to 12 percent last year, according to a largest donor. Between 2001 and 2008, planning and reproductive health, “all of
World Bank analysis. The Bank attributes U.S. State Department spending for glo- which have been severely under-resourced
the decline to greater attention to other bal health increased nearly 350 percent, during the past decade.”
global healthcare crises, particularly with much of the
HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. funding going
“Even before [the economic] crisis to HIV/AIDS,
began, family planning and reproductive tuberculosis, and
health had fallen off the radar,” said Joy malaria, not popu-
Phumaphi, the Bank’s vice president for lation programs.
human development. “We’ve lost pre- The situation
cious time in helping women get access may be changing.
to these vital health services, and help- Following seven
ing countries get on a faster track to years of the Bush
reducing poverty.” administration
Although donor governments and aid denying financial
agencies are allocating less of their budg- support to the
Melesse Desalgn/USAID

ets to family planning, overall assistance United Nations


for population and reproductive health Population Fund,
increased from US$901 million in 1995 to U.S. President
$1.9 billion in 2007, the World Bank said. Barack Obama
But this increase was small compared to in March allotted
the jump in overall health aid from $2.9 $50 million to the Mothers wait in line for family planning services at a clinic in rural Ethiopia.

www.worldwatch.org November/December 2009 | World Watch 7


EYE ON EARTH

Wind Energy Could Power All of China, Study Finds power. The switch would cut emissions by
Wind energy could supply all of China’s from Harvard and Tsinghua Universities. 30 percent and require an investment of
2030 electricity demand if the country Their analysis, published in the journal some $900 billion.
overhauls its grids and raises the subsidy Science in September, said that achieving Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Gansu, and
for wind energy, according to researchers this goal would require increasing Tibet provinces hold large potential for
wind contract prices wind energy. But high-voltage transmis-
from the current sion lines are needed to connect these
US$0.059 per kilo- sparsely populated regions in the north
watthour to $0.076 and west with consumers in China’s
per kilowatthour. more-developed east. Meanwhile, a lack
Coal still supplies of grid capacity has limited wind energy’s
most of China’s electric- ability to reach customers, according to
ity. Rather than increase the Global Wind Energy Council.
Rob Thomson/www.14degrees.org

carbon dioxide emis- China currently ranks fourth world-


sions by 3.5 gigatons wide in installed wind generation capac-
each year through ity. In 2007, the country surpassed its
2030, as current poli- wind energy target of 5 GW for 2010.
cies would allow, the In 2008, wind energy supplied 12.2 GW,
study determined that or 0.4 percent of domestic electricity.
During Rob Thomson’s epic 12,000-kilometer solo, unsupported skate- wind energy could Officials announced in May that more
board trip across North America, Europe, and China, he visited the replace 640 gigawatts than 100 GW of wind energy capacity
Dabancheng Wind Farm in Xinjiang, China. (GW) of coal-fired will be installed nationwide by 2020.

Asia Urgently Needs to Improve Water Efficiency, Report Says change adaptation could potentially be
Asian countries urgently need to boost during the next 50 years to feed an addi- tapped to improve irrigation methods.
farmland productivity and improve irri- tional 1.5 billion people. The study did not factor in the effects
gation efficiency or the continent may not Meeting the increased demand for of climate change, even though irrigation
have enough water to support its growing food in 2050 would require South Asia to demands in arid and semi-arid parts of
populations, a recent study found. irrigate 30 percent more harvested land— Asia are expected to rise as temperatures
Dwindling groundwater supplies are a move that would increase regional water increase. Noting the absence of climate
already threatening drinking water and demand by 57 percent unless water effi- modeling in their projections, the report
crop production across Asia. Meanwhile, ciency improves. In East Asia, farmers authors said, “The study’s pessimistic
undeveloped arable land is in short sup- would need to increase irrigated farmland assumptions may prove overly optimistic.”
ply. As a result, Asian countries will have by 47 percent, at
to import more food or improve irriga- the cost of a 70-
tion methods, the United Nations Food percent increase
and Agriculture Organization and Inter- in water use, the
national Water Management Institute study said.
(IWMI) concluded in an August report. Solutions
“Relying on trade to meet a large include public-
part of this demand will impose a huge private part-
and politically untenable burden on the nerships that
economies of many developing coun- improve irriga-
tries,” said Colin Chartres, director gen- tion infrastruc-
eral of IWMI. “The best bet for Asia lies ture, the use of
Kaukab Jhumra Smith/USAID

in revitalizing its vast irrigation systems, groundwater


which account for 70 percent of the aquifers for stor-
world’s total irrigated land.” ing water, and
About 5 billion people are projected more efficient
to live in Asia by 2050. With the demand use of rainwater
for meat products on the rise, experts on farmland. Villagers and farmers work together to clear this 3.5-kilometer-long irrigation
estimate that the region must double its International canal in the village of Sir Ajmaira, in Pakistan’s northern Battagram District.
supplies of food and animal feed crops funds for climate Once cleared, it will irrigate 150 hectares of wheat, rice, and vegetables.

8 World Watch | November/December 2009 www.worldwatch.org


U P D AT E S

Agroforestry Practiced on See “Less Stuff, or More Blood,”


Nearly Half World’s Farms September/October 2009

While farmers have long placed trees Wasted Chance In September, experts
among their crops to enhance soil health, with the U.K. Food Ethics Council con-
raise marketable fruits or nuts, and protect cluded that eliminating the millions of tons
row crops from damaging winds, more of food thrown away annually in the United
States and U.K. could lift more than a
farmers practice agroforestry than was
billion people out of hunger worldwide.
previously appreciated, new data suggest.
Wasting food reduces the overall supply

USDA NRCS
According to a study from the and pushes up food prices in developing
Nairobi-based World Agroforestry countries, the study said.
Centre, nearly half of the world’s farm-
Multiple rows of trees and shrubs create a ripar- See “Portraits of Climate Change:
lands have at least 10 percent tree cover,
ian buffer along Bear Creek on a farm in Iowa. The Rocky Mountains,” July/August 2009, p. 8
spanning more than 10 million square
kilometers in total. Large areas of agro- The report comes as many Dry Future Colorado River reservoirs may
forestry exist in South America, sub- researchers and farmers are lobbying dry up by mid-century as the U.S. West
warms, according to an August study in
Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia. climate change negotiators to include
Water Resources Research. The reservoirs
Previous efforts to quantify the agroforestry as a tool to offset green-
have dropped from 95 percent of capacity
extent of agroforestry struggled to dif- house gas emissions under a new succes- in 2000 to 59 percent today. The probability
ferentiate between trees and crops in sor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol. of severe shortage is as high as one in two
mixed stands. The recent study was In addition to absorbing carbon dioxide unless current water-management prac-
unique, its authors said, because it used from the atmosphere, some trees also tices change, the researchers found.
advanced satellite imagery to identify capture nitrogen, reducing the need for
See “Life-Cycle Studies: Golf,”
populated regions with arable land. The energy-intensive fertilizers. Some ana- January/February 2008
authors assumed that existing tree cover lysts argue, however, that agroforestry is
Above Par? U.S. golf courses are
in these areas represented a viable agro- not the most cost-effective method of
increasingly being consulted on their
forestry system. lowering emissions.
water-saving strategies as they plant
native grasses, irrigate with graywater, and
audit sprinkler patterns. Still, the average
German Scientists Endorse a Global Climate Bank U.S. course consumes some 189 million
German government advisers have pro- The most important measurement liters of water a year—equivalent to the
posed a new approach to pay for global of a climate agreement’s success, the yearly usage of 1,400 people.
reductions in greenhouse gas emissions: German Advisory Council on Global
See “ChevronTexaco on Trial,” January/February
a global climate bank. Under the proposal, Change said, is whether global emissions 2004, p. 10, and “Vision Quest: Who Will Control
the bank would regulate each country’s can be limited to 750 billion tons of car- the Future of the Amazon?, this issue, p. 22
allowable emissions quota and a global bon dioxide total by 2050, the maximum Crude Awakening The new film
emissions trading system. Countries that allowable if warming is not to exceed 2 “Crude,” which opened in September,
exceed their “carbon budgets,” based on degrees C. The goal could be achieved by documents the progress of the 16-year-old
2010 populations, would be required to limiting industrialized countries’ average class-action lawsuit against ChevronTex-
buy excess allowances from the world’s annual per-capita emissions to 2.7 tons aco on behalf of 30,000 rainforest dwellers
least-developed countries via the bank. of carbon dioxide over the period, with fighting oil extraction in Ecuador.
annual per-capita emissions declining to See “Crimes of (A) Global Nature,”
Top Seven CO2 Emitting Countries 1 ton of carbon dioxide by 2050, assum- September/October 2002, p. 12
in 2006 ing that the 95 least-developed nations Fishy Business An estimated one-fifth of
avoided substantial emissions increases all fish landed in Asian and African waters
Total C02 C02 Emissions
Country Emissions Per Capita during the next 40 years. is caught illegally, according to the Pew
The most energy-intensive nations Environment Group. The lack of global
(million metric tons) (tons)
China 6,018 4.58 would need to purchase emission cooperation and local enforcement is
United States 5,903 19.78 allowances to remain within their car- undermining efforts to track the illicit ves-
Russia 1,704 12.00 bon budgets. Currently, the average U.S. sels, resulting in depleted fish stocks, the
India 1,293 1.16 citizen emits about 20 tons of carbon study said.
Japan 1,247 9.78
Germany 858 10.40 dioxide annually and the average Chi-
Canada 614 18.81 nese releases 4 tons. Most countries in Visit www.worldwatch.org/ww/
to access these and other archived
Source: EIA. sub-Saharan Africa emit less than 1 ton
editions of World Watch.
per person per year.

www.worldwatch.org November/December 2009 | World Watch 9


Livestock and Climate Change
© Lyle Rosbotham

What if the key actors in climate change are…


Duncan Rawlinson

cows, pigs, and chickens?


Philip MacKenzie

10 World Watch | November/December 2009 www.worldwatch.org


by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang undercounted or overlooked; of that subtotal, 3,000 million
tons are misallocated and 22,048 million tons are entirely
Whenever the causes of climate change are discussed, fossil uncounted. When uncounted tons are added to the global
inventory of atmospheric GHGs, that inventory rises from
fuels top the list. Oil, natural gas, and especially coal are indeed
major sources of human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide 41,755 million tons to 63,803 million tons. FAO’s 7,516 mil-
(CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs). But we believe that lion tons of CO2e attributable to livestock then decline from
the life cycle and supply chain of domesticated animals raised 18 percent of worldwide GHGs to 11.8 percent. Let’s look at
for food have been vastly underestimated as a source of GHGs, each category of uncounted or misallocated GHGs:
and in fact account for at least half of all human-caused Breathing. The FAO excludes livestock respiration from
GHGs. If this argument is right, it implies that replacing live- its estimate, per the following argument:
stock products with better alternatives would be the best strat- Respiration by livestock is not a net source of CO2 ….
egy for reversing climate change. In fact, this approach would Emissions from livestock respiration are part of a rap-
have far more rapid effects on GHG emissions and their idly cycling biological system, where the plant matter
atmospheric concentrations—and thus on the rate the cli- consumed was itself created through the conversion of
mate is warming—than actions to replace fossil fuels with atmospheric CO2 into organic compounds. Since the
renewable energy. emitted and absorbed quantities are considered to be
Livestock are already well-known to contribute to GHG equivalent, livestock respiration is not considered to be
emissions. Livestock’s Long Shadow, the widely-cited 2006 a net source under the Kyoto Protocol. Indeed, since
report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organi- part of the carbon consumed is stored in the live tis-
zation (FAO), estimates that 7,516 million metric tons per sue of the growing animal, a growing global herd could
year of CO2 equivalents (CO2e), or 18 percent of annual even be considered a carbon sink. The standing stock
worldwide GHG emissions, are attributable to cattle, buffalo, livestock biomass increased significantly over the last
sheep, goats, camels, horses, pigs, and poultry. That amount decades…. This continuing growth…could be con-
would easily qualify livestock for a hard look indeed in the sidered as a carbon sequestration process (roughly esti-
search for ways to address climate change. But our analysis mated at 1 or 2 million tons carbon per year).
shows that livestock and their byproducts actually account But this is a flawed way to look at the matter. Examining
for at least 32,564 million tons of CO2e per year, or 51 percent the sequestration claim first: Sequestration properly refers to
of annual worldwide GHG emissions. extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere and its burial in a vault
This is a strong claim that requires strong evidence, so or a stable compound from which it cannot escape over a
we will thoroughly review the direct and indirect sources of long period of time. Even if one considers the standing mass
GHG emissions from livestock. Some of these are obvious of livestock as a carbon sink, by the FAO’s own estimate the
but underestimated, some are simply overlooked, and some amount of carbon stored in livestock is trivial compared to the
are emissions sources that are already
counted but have been assigned to the
Uncounted, Overlooked, and Misallocated
wrong sectors. Data on livestock vary from
Livestock-related GHG Emissions
place to place and are affected by unavoid-
able imprecision; where it was impossible to
avoid imprecision in estimating any sum of Annual GHG Percentage of
GHGs, we strove to minimize the sum so emissions (CO2e) worldwide total
our overall estimate could be understood million tons
as conservative. FAO estimate 7,516 11.8
The Big Picture Uncounted in current GHG inventories:
The table to the right summarizes the cat- 1. Overlooked respiration by livestock 8,769 13.7
egories of livestock-based emissions and 2. Overlooked land use ≥2,672 ≥4.2
our estimates of their size. We begin with the 3. Undercounted methane 5,047 7.9
FAO’s 7,516 million tons of CO2e per year 4. Other four categories (see text) ≥5,560 ≥8.7
attributable to livestock, an amount estab- Subtotal ≥22,048 ≥34.5
lished by adding up GHG emissions Misallocated in current GHG inventories:
involved in clearing land to graze livestock
5. Three categories (see text) ≥3,000 ≥4.7
and grow feed, keeping livestock alive, and
processing and transporting the end prod- Total GHGs attributable to
ucts. We show that 25,048 million tons of livestock products ≥32,564 ≥51.0
CO2e attributable to livestock have been

www.worldwatch.org November/December 2009 | World Watch 11


Beatrice Murch
Cows respire on a cold morning at a cattle market in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
amount stored in forest cleared to create space for growing feed
and grazing livestock. people do not drive, then it is equally legitimate to count live-
More to the point, livestock (like automobiles) are a stock respiration. Little or no livestock product is consumed by
human invention and convenience, not part of pre-human hundreds of millions of humans, and no livestock respiration
times, and a molecule of CO2 exhaled by livestock is no (unlike human respiration) is needed for human survival. By
more natural than one from an auto tailpipe. Moreover, keeping GHGs attributable to livestock respiration off GHG
while over time an equilibrium of CO2 may exist between the balance sheets, it is predictable that they will not be managed
amount respired by animals and the amount photosynthe- and their amount will increase—as in fact is happening.
sized by plants, that equilibrium has never been static. Today, Carbon dioxide from livestock respiration accounts for 21
tens of billions more livestock are exhaling CO2 than in pre- percent of anthropogenic GHGs worldwide, according to a
industrial days, while Earth’s photosynthetic capacity (its 2005 estimate by British physicist Alan Calverd. He did not
capacity to keep carbon out of the atmosphere by absorbing provide the weight of this CO2, but it works out to about
it in plant mass) has declined sharply as forest has been 8,769 million tons. Calverd’s estimate is the only original esti-
cleared. (Meanwhile, of course, we add more carbon to the mate of its type, but because it involves only one variable (the
air by burning fossil fuels, further overwhelming the carbon- total mass of all livestock, as all but cold-blooded farmed fish
absorption system.) exhale roughly the same amount of CO2 per kilogram), all cal-
The FAO asserts that livestock respiration is not listed as a culations of CO2 from the respiration of a given weight of
recognized source of GHGs under the Kyoto Protocol, although livestock would be about the same.
in fact the Protocol does list CO2 with no exception, and “other” Calverd’s estimate did not account for the fact that CO2
is included as a catchall category. For clarity, it should be listed from livestock respiration is excluded from global GHG inven-
separately in whatever protocol replaces Kyoto. tories. It also did not account for the GHGs newly attributed
It is tempting to exclude one or another anthropogenic to livestock in our analysis. After adding all relevant GHGs to
source of emissions from carbon accounting—according to global GHG inventories, the percentage of GHGs attributable
one’s own interests—on the grounds that it is offset by pho- to livestock respiration drops from 21 percent to 13.7 percent.
tosynthesis. But if it is legitimate to count as GHG sources Land. As there is now a global shortage of grassland, prac-
fossil-fuel-driven automobiles, which hundreds of millions of tically the only way more livestock and feed can be produced

12 World Watch | November/December 2009 www.worldwatch.org


Or suppose that land used for
grazing livestock and growing feed
were used instead for growing
crops to be converted more
directly to food for humans and to
biofuels. Those fuels could replace
one-half of the coal used world-
wide, which is responsible for
about 3,340 million tons of CO2e
emissions every year. That ton-
nage represents 8 percent of
GHGs in worldwide GHG inven-
tories that omit the additional
GHGs assessed by this article, or
USDA/NRCS, Jeff Vanuga

5.6 percent of GHGs worldwide


when the GHGs assessed in this
article are included. If biomass
feedstocks are chosen and
processed carefully, then biofuels
A Kansas feedlot operation with waste management lagoon in the foreground. can yield 80 percent less GHGs
per unit of energy than coal. Therefore, the extra emissions
is by destroying natural forest. Growth in markets for livestock resulting from using land for livestock and feed can be esti-
products is greatest in developing countries, where rainforest mated to be 2,672 million tons of CO2e, or 4.2 percent of
normally stores at least 200 tons of carbon per hectare. Where annual GHG emissions worldwide.
forest is replaced by moderately degraded grassland, the ton- Considering these two plausible scenarios, at least 4.2 per-
nage of carbon stored per hectare is reduced to 8. cent of worldwide GHGs should be counted as emissions
On average, each hectare of grazing land supports no attributable to GHG reductions foregone by using land to
more than one head of cattle, whose carbon content is a frac- graze livestock and grow feed.
tion of a ton. In comparison, over 200 tons of carbon per Methane. According to the FAO, 37 percent of human-
hectare may be released within a short time after forest and induced methane comes from livestock. Although methane
other vegetation are cut, burned, or chewed. From the soil warms the atmosphere much more strongly than does CO2,
beneath, another 200 tons per hectare may be released, with its half-life in the atmosphere is only about 8 years, versus at
yet more GHGs from livestock respiration and excretions. least 100 years for CO2. As a result, a significant reduction in
Thus, livestock of all types provide minuscule carbon “pig- livestock raised worldwide would reduce GHGs relatively
gybanks” to replace huge carbon stores in soils and forests. But quickly compared with measures involving renewable energy
if the production of livestock or crops is ended, then forest will and energy efficiency.
often regenerate. The main focus in efforts to mitigate GHGs The capacity of greenhouse gases to trap heat in the atmos-
has been on reducing emissions, while—despite its ability to phere is described in terms of their global warming potential
mitigate GHGs quickly and cheaply—vast amounts of poten- (GWP), which compares their warming potency to that of
tial carbon absorption by trees has been foregone. CO2 (with a GWP set at 1). The new widely accepted figure
The FAO counts emissions attributable to changes in land for the GWP of methane is 25 using a 100-year timeframe—
use due to the introduction of livestock, but only the relatively but it is 72 using a 20-year timeframe, which is more appro-
small amount of GHGs from changes each year. Strangely, it priate because of both the large effect that methane reductions
does not count the much larger amount of annual GHG reduc- can have within 20 years and the serious climate disruption
tions from photosynthesis that are foregone by using 26 per- expected within 20 years if no significant reduction of GHGs
cent of land worldwide for grazing livestock and 33 percent of is achieved. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
arable land for growing feed, rather than allowing it to regen- supports using a 20-year timeframe for methane.
erate forest. By itself, leaving a significant amount of tropical The FAO estimates that livestock accounted for 103 mil-
land used for grazing livestock and growing feed to regenerate lion tons of methane emissions in 2004 through enteric fer-
as forest could potentially mitigate as much as half (or even mentation and manure management, equivalent to 2,369
more) of all anthropogenic GHGs. A key reason why this is not million tons of CO2e. This is 3.7 percent of worldwide GHGs
happening is that reclaiming land used for grazing livestock and using, as FAO does, the outdated GWP of 23. Using a GWP
growing feed is not yet a priority; on the contrary, feed pro- of 72, livestock methane is responsible for 7,416 million
duction and grazing have been fast expanding into forest. tons of CO2e or 11.6 percent of worldwide GHGs. So using

www.worldwatch.org November/December 2009 | World Watch 13


the appropriate timeframe of 20
years instead of 100 years for
methane raises the total amount
of GHGs attributable to livestock
products by 5,047 million tons of
CO2e or 7.9 percentage points.
(Further work is needed to recal-
ibrate methane emissions other
than those attributable to live-
stock products using a 20-year
timeframe.)
Other sources. Four additional
categories of GHGs adding up to
at least 5,560 million tons of CO2e
(8.7 percent of GHGs emissions)
have been overlooked or under-

USDA/NRCS, Bob Nichols


counted by the FAO and
uncounted in the existing inven-
tory of worldwide GHGs:
First, Livestock’s Long Shadow
cites 2002 FAO statistics as the key
source for its 18-percent estimate. Adding more to the carbon footprint: large fans keep pigs cool in North Carolina.
From 2002 to 2009, the tonnage of livestock products world-
wide increased by 12 percent, which must yield a propor- sions that have been counted under sectors other than live-
tional increase in GHG emissions. Through extrapolation stock. These emissions add up to at least 3,000 million tons of
from the FAO’s estimate as well as our own, we calculate that CO2e, or 4.7 percent of GHG emissions worldwide.
the increase in livestock products worldwide from 2002 to First, the FAO states that “livestock-related deforestation
2009 accounts for about 2,560 million tons of CO2e, or 4.0 per- as reported from, for example, Argentina is excluded” from its
cent of GHG emissions. GHG accounting. Second, the FAO omits farmed fish from its
Second, the FAO and others have documented frequent definition of livestock and so fails to count GHGs from their
undercounting in official statistics of both pastoral and indus- life cycle and supply chain. It also omits GHG emissions from
trial livestock. Livestock’s Long Shadow not only uses no cor- portions of the construction and operation of marine and
rection factor for such undercounting, but in some sections land-based industries dedicated to handling marine organisms
actually uses lower numbers than appear in FAO statistics destined to feed livestock (up to half the annual catch of
and elsewhere. For example, Livestock’s Long Shadow reports marine organisms).
that 33.0 million tons of poultry were produced worldwide in Lastly, the FAO leaves uncounted the substantially higher
2002, while FAO’s Food Outlook of April 2003 reports that amount of GHGs attributable to each of the following aspects
72.9 million tons of poultry were produced worldwide in of livestock products versus alternatives to livestock products:
2002. The report also states that 21.7 billion head of livestock • Fluorocarbons (needed for cooling livestock products much
were raised worldwide in 2002, while many nongovernmen- more than alternatives), which have a global warming poten-
tal organizations report that about 50 billion head of live- tial up to several thousand times higher than that of CO2.
stock were raised each year in the early 2000s. If the true • Cooking, which typically entails higher temperatures and
number is closer to 50 billion than to 21.7 billion, then the per- longer periods for meat than alternatives, and in developing
centage of GHGs worldwide attributable to undercounting in countries entails large amounts of charcoal (which reduces
official livestock statistics would likely be over 10 percent. carbon absorption by consuming trees) and kerosene, each
Third, the FAO uses citations for various aspects of GHGs of which emits high levels of GHGs.
attributable to livestock dating back to such years as 1964, 1982, • Disposal of inevitably large amounts of liquid waste from live-
1993, 1999, and 2001. Emissions today would be much higher. stock, and waste livestock products in the form of bone, fat,
Fourth, the FAO cites Minnesota as a rich source of data. and spoiled products, all of which emit high amounts of
But if these data are generalized to the world then they under- GHGs when disposed in landfills, incinerators, and waterways.
state true values, as operations in Minnesota are more efficient • Production, distribution, and disposal of byproducts, such
than operations in most developing countries where the live- as leather, feathers, skin, and fur, and their packaging.
stock sector is growing fastest. • Production, distribution, and disposal of packaging used
Finally, we believe that FAO has overlooked some emis- for livestock products, which for sanitary reasons is much

14 World Watch | November/December 2009 www.worldwatch.org


Photo courtesy Farm Sanctuary

Scene on the factory floor: pigs in production.


est has been built up around the idea of slowing climate
more extensive than for alternatives to livestock products. change through renewable energy and energy efficiency. How-
• Carbon-intensive medical treatment of millions of cases ever, after many years of international climate talks and prac-
worldwide of zoonotic illnesses (such as swine flu) and tical efforts, only relatively modest amounts of renewable
chronic degenerative illnesses (such as coronary heart disease, energy and energy efficiency have been developed (along with
cancers, diabetes, and hypertension leading to strokes) linked more nuclear- and fossil-energy infrastructure). GHG emis-
to the consumption of livestock products. Full accounting of sions have increased since the Kyoto Protocol was signed in
GHGs attributable to livestock products would cover portions 1992 and climate change has accelerated. However desirable,
of the construction and operation of pharmaceutical and even major progress in displacing nonrenewable energy would
medical industries used to treat these illnesses. not obviate substantial action to reduce the huge amounts of
livestock-related GHGs emissions.
Mitigation Action to replace livestock products not only can achieve
A key risk factor for climate change is the growth of the human quick reductions in atmospheric GHGs, but can also reverse
population, projected to be roughly 35 percent between 2006 the ongoing world food and water crises. Were the recom-
and 2050. In the same period, the FAO projects that the num- mendations described below followed, at least a 25-percent
ber of livestock worldwide will double, so livestock-related reduction in livestock products worldwide could be achieved
GHG emissions would also approximately double (or rise between now and 2017, the end of the commitment period to
slightly less if all the FAO’s recommendations were fully imple- be discussed at the United Nations’ climate conference in
mented), while it is widely expected that GHGs from other Copenhagen in December 2009. This would yield at mini-
industries will drop. This would make the amount of live- mum a 12.5-percent reduction in global anthropogenic GHGs
stock-related emissions even more unacceptable than today’s emissions, which by itself would be almost as much reduction
perilous levels. It also means that an effective strategy must as is generally expected to be negotiated in Copenhagen.
involve replacing livestock products with better alternatives, Because of the urgency of slowing climate change, we
rather than substituting one meat product with another that believe that recommending change directly to industry will be
has a somewhat lower carbon footprint. more effective than recommending policy changes to gov-
A substantial body of theory, beliefs, and even vested inter- ernments, which may or may not eventually lead to change in

www.worldwatch.org November/December 2009 | World Watch 15


Lyle Rosbotham

Non-meat meat. Alternative ingredients include textured soy protein, soy lecithin,
industry. This is true even though industry and investors nor- brown rice, ground sunflower seeds, mycoprotein, and wheat gluten.
mally thrive when they are responsive to customers and share-
holders in the short term, while climate seems to pose renovations at the damaged stores. Such risks will be aggravated
longterm risks. by extreme climate events in the future, which are expected to
Livestock-related GHGs could be managed by govern- occur with increasing frequency and intensity worldwide.
ments through the imposition of carbon taxes (despite oppo- A second incentive stems from the likelihood, once the cur-
sition from the livestock industry), in which case leaders in the rent economic crisis is resolved, that demand for oil will rise
food industry and investors would search for opportunities that to levels impossible to meet because of a terminal decline in
such carbon taxes would help create. In fact, they might seek production (the “peak oil” phenomenon). Petroleum’s price
to benefit from such opportunities even in the absence of car- will spike so high as to bring about the collapse of many parts
bon taxes because livestock-related GHG emissions are a grave of today’s economy. Livestock products would take an extra
risk to the food industry itself. Disruptive climate events are hit because every gram of biofuel from crops that can possi-
forecast to threaten developed markets increasingly, and to bly be produced to replace conventional fuel likely will be
result in even more harm to emerging markets, where the food produced—and thereby diverted from livestock—in efforts to
industry is otherwise forecast to achieve its greatest growth. stave off disaster. It has been predicted from within both the
livestock and financial sectors that peak oil could bring about
Opportunity the collapse of the livestock sector within a few years. To be
An individual food company has at least three incentives to ahead of the competition in that scenario is another reason for
respond to the risks and opportunities applicable to the food leaders in the food industry to begin replacing livestock prod-
industry at large. The first incentive is that individual food ucts with better alternatives immediately.
companies already suffer from disruptive climate events, so a A third incentive is that a food company can produce
company’s self-interest might well be served by acting to slow and market alternatives to livestock products that taste sim-
climate change. In affected areas, disruptive climate events can ilar, but are easier to cook, less expensive, and healthier, and
be expected to degrade not only the food industry’s markets, so are better than livestock products. These alternatives are
but also its infrastructure and its ability to operate. For exam- analogs to livestock products such as soy- and seitan (wheat
ple, all these risks played out in the New Orleans area in 2005 gluten) beef, chicken, and pork; and soy- and rice milk,
following Hurricane Katrina, when Whole Foods Market, Inc. cheese, and ice cream.
reported US$16.5 million in losses that year due to the closure Sales in the United States alone of soy analogs totaled $1.9
of its damaged stores in the New Orleans area, loss of sales, and billion in 2007, up from $1.7 billion in 2005, according to the

16 World Watch | November/December 2009 www.worldwatch.org


Soyfoods Association of North America. In comparison, sales ization are several years off and it will be awhile before it is
in the United States of meat products (including poultry) known whether in vitro meat might compete with analogs in
topped $100 billion in 2007. This 1.9 to 100 ratio suggests cost and taste as well as health and environmental impacts.
much room for growth in sales of meat and dairy analogs.
Meat and dairy analogs are already sold throughout the devel-
Marketing
oping world, and as in the United States sales have increased To achieve the growth discussed above will require a signifi-
in recent years. So efforts to increase sales of these products cant investment in marketing, especially since meat and dairy
in developing countries do not have to wait for similar efforts analogs will be new to many consumers. A successful campaign
to succeed in the developed world first. Worldwide, the mar- would avoid negative themes and stress positive ones. For
ket for meat and dairy analogs is potentially almost as big as instance, recommending that meat not be eaten one day per
the market for livestock products. week suggests deprivation. Instead, the campaign should pitch
Large organic-food companies might the theme of eating all week long a line of food products that
find these opportunities especially appeal- is tasty, easy to prepare, and includes a “superfood,” such as soy,
ing. Such companies could establish sub- that will enrich their lives. When people hear appealing mes-
sidiaries to sell meat and dairy analogs, sages about food, they are listening particularly for words
possibly exclusive of meat or dairy prod- that evoke comfort, familiarity, happiness, ease, speed, low
ucts. They could significantly scale up pro- price, and popularity. Consequently, several other themes
duction and sales of analogs within a few should be tapped to build an effective marketing campaign:
years at a reasonable capital cost and with By replacing livestock products with analogs, consumers
an attractive return on investment. And can take a single powerful action collectively to mitigate most
because meat and dairy analogs are pro- GHGs worldwide. Labeling analogs with certified claims of the
duced without the GHG-intensive amount of GHGs averted can give them a significant edge.
processes used in raising livestock—such Analogs are less expensive, less wasteful, easier to cook, and
as animals’ CO2 and methane emissions, healthier than livestock products.
and usage of land for growing feed and grazing livestock—the Meat and dairy analogs can be positioned as clearly supe-
analogs clearly generate a small fraction of the GHGs attrib- rior to livestock products, thus appealing to the same con-
utable to livestock products. So additional revenues might be sumer urges that drive purchases of other analog products,
captured from the sale of carbon credits for the reduction in such as Rolex knockoffs.
GHG emissions achieved by analogs versus livestock products. In developing countries, where per-capita meat and dairy
Analogs are most indistinguishable from meat and dairy consumption is lower than in developed countries, consumers
products when they are chopped, breaded, sauced, spiced, or often see meat and dairy products as part of a better diet and
otherwise processed, so among the least risky strategies might a better life, and have not yet been informed about their adverse
be for a company subsidiary to build a chain of fast-food out- impacts. Yet meat and dairy analogs can yield even better out-
lets featuring soy burgers, soy chicken products, sandwiches comes, particularly if they are marketed with such intent.
made with various meat analog products, and/or soy ice As shown by the track record of green businesses, the
cream. If the chain’s growth were rapid, then other food com- most appropriate target of the campaign would be environ-
panies would be tempted to copy from the first mover. mentalists, on the basis that eating meat and dairy analogs is
If production of meat and dairy analogs is significantly the best way to combat climate change. They can be expected
increased, then their costs will decline—a key advantage for to spread such messages to other people, and may press for
at least as long as the present economic recession in many analogs to be served at meetings they attend and for the GHGs
countries persists. Cost reductions will follow from economies thereby avoided to be well publicized.
of scale and increased competition among analog producers, Probably most susceptible to messages about new foods
as well as because the primary feedstock for biodiesel is soy oil. and fast foods are children, who are prone to act on adver-
Meeting the significantly higher forecast demand for biodiesel tising, having less-ingrained habits than adults, and often
will yield surpluses of soy meal, which is not only a byprod- seek to catch the wave of a new trend. Parents often join in
uct of soy oil but a raw material for many meat and dairy eating a fast food meal or other food product that their chil-
analogs. Surpluses in stocks of soy meal may drive down its dren insist be bought for them. At the same time, children are
price significantly. being increasingly educated on climate change in school, and
For consumers who do not like meat and dairy analogs, are searching for activities that allow them to experiment
protein-rich legumes and grains are readily available alter- with what they have learned. Yet they are major targets when
natives. Another option might be artificial meat cultivated in it comes to marketing livestock products, despite the griev-
laboratories from cells originating from livestock, sometimes ously high climate risk of those products. To correct this,
called “in vitro” meat. Some experiments have been done and consideration should be given to changing applicable stan-
patents registered, but production and possible commercial- dards for marketing to children. In any event, marketing

www.worldwatch.org November/December 2009 | World Watch 17


Courtesy WhiteWave
Non-dairy dairy: an array of soy milk options.
meat and dairy analogs to children should be a priority.
In addition, food companies can market meat and dairy that promise to help slow climate change. It may also find
analogs through strategic alliances with other companies. They concessional financing through development finance insti-
can engage with schools, governments, and nongovernmental tutions and “climate funds.” But it may need to raise aware-
organizations. Environmentalists with relevant skills can be ness among investors unfamiliar with meat and dairy analogs.
called upon to conduct ongoing, comprehensive tracking of Investors can be shown that it is in their self-interest to
GHGs attributable to livestock products and analogs. Politicians avoid new investments in the production of meat and dairy
and celebrities can be enlisted to make public pitches for con- products and to seek investments in analogs instead. Com-
sumers to choose alternatives to livestock products. pared with power and transportation projects, analog proj-
We recommend that when grocers plan displays and set ects can be implemented quickly, with relatively low levels
slotting fees (for favorable shelf placement), they consider of incremental investment, larger amounts of GHGs miti-
the benefits of displaying analogs side by side with meat and gated for the same amount of investment, and faster returns
dairy products. This would expose analogs to many con- on investment.
sumers who may not otherwise be exposed to them, and Investments in minimizing and mitigating GHGs most
thereby facilitate an increase in their sales. It would permit the often focus on renewable energy in the transportation and
achievement of good sales results that normally occur when power sectors. However, renewable-energy infrastructure has
consumers are shown multiple forms of a product on the both long and complex product-development cycles and cap-
same shelf. Where analogs cost less than meat products, dis- ital-intensive requirements. Converting vehicle fleets and
playing one beside the other may have an enhanced benefit for power plants is forecast to cost trillions of dollars, and to
grocers. That is, if consumers find in a side-by-side compar- require political will and consensus that do not appear close
ison that analogs are cheaper than livestock products, then at hand. Even if money and politics were up to the task, such
side-by-side placement may help grocers keep up their over- solutions are expected to take more than a decade to imple-
all sales volumes in an economic downturn. ment fully, by which time the tipping point may long since
have been passed for irreversible climate disruption.
Sources of Investment Most commercial banks, some export-credit agencies, and
A company with a sound plan for increasing sales of meat or even some equity funds have adopted the Equator Principles,
dairy analogs is likely to find sufficient commercial financing by which they commit to complying with a set of rigorous
available from investors seeking investment opportunities environmental and social performance standards for invest-

18 World Watch | November/December 2009 www.worldwatch.org


mobile communications, mobile banking,
microfinance, and off-grid electricity has cre-
ated a multitude of new opportunities for
poor rural communities.
For many years, advocacy of alternatives
to livestock products has been based on argu-
ments about nutrition and health, compas-
sion for animals, and environmental issues
other than carbon intensity. These arguments
have mostly been ignored and the consump-
tion of livestock products worldwide has
increased, leading some to believe that such
advocacy may never succeed. Even urging
governments to mandate reductions in live-
stock production on grounds of climate
change may prove ineffective because of the
food industry’s own large lobbying capacity.
But if the business case for meat and dairy
analogs is clear, then those who normally
would lobby governments can appeal directly
to leaders in the food industry, who may wel-
come them as champions. The business risks
Scott Robinson

of analog projects would be similar to those


in most other food manufacturing projects,
but the risks would be mitigated by the fact
The mighty analog: soybeans await harvest on a Maryland farm. that much of the necessary infrastructure
(such as for growing and processing grains) already exists.
ment projects in developing countries. If those standards were The key change would be a significant reduction in live-
to frown upon investments in large-scale livestock projects, stock products. Industry-led or supply-led growth has been
then a company with a meat or dairy analog project would be successful in other industries, such as the computer and
well positioned to attract investments. mobile-phone industries, which suggests that it can be suc-
cessful with meat and dairy analogs. Generally, the food indus-
Benefit Package try worldwide has a very sophisticated marketing capacity,
Meat and dairy analog projects will not only slow climate making high growth from marketing new food products prac-
change but also help ease the global food crisis, as it takes a tically a norm —even before one considers the extra lift that
much smaller quantity of crops to produce any given number might be achieved from interest in slowing climate change.
of calories in the form of an analog than a livestock product. The risks of business as usual outweigh the risks of change.
Analogs would also alleviate the global water crisis, as the The case for change is no longer only a public policy or an eth-
huge amounts of water necessary for livestock production ical case, but is now also a business case. We believe it is the
would be freed up. Health and nutritional outcomes among best available business case among all industries to reverse
consumers would be better than from livestock products. climate change quickly.
Analog projects would be more labor intensive than livestock
projects, so would create both more jobs and more skilled Robert Goodland retired as lead environmental adviser at
jobs. They would also avert the harmful labor practices found the World Bank Group after serving there for 23 years. In
in the livestock sector (but not in analog production), includ- 2008 he was awarded the first Coolidge Memorial Medal by
ing slave labor in some areas such as the Amazon forest region. the IUCN for outstanding contributions to environmental
Workers producing livestock products can easily be retrained conservation. Jeff Anhang is a research officer and environ-
to produce analogs. mental specialist at the World Bank Group’s International
Of course, some livestock will continue to be raised, espe- Finance Corporation, which provides private-sector financing
cially where they are important in mixed farming systems. and advice in developing countries.
They may also be important where raising livestock is one of
the few ways for poor rural populations to create assets and For more information about issues raised in this story, visit
earn income. However, that is increasingly less common, as the www.worldwatch.org/ww/livestock.
dramatic growth in recent years in the use of computers,

www.worldwatch.org November/December 2009 | World Watch 19


T A L K I N G

PLASTIC TOYS
NOT REQUIRED
Jorgen Schytte/Peter Arnold, Inc.

Peter Arnold, Inc.


Above: A creative gameboard for
playing kalaha (a version of mancala)
in Malawi.
Above right: High on homemade
stilts in Sri Lanka.
Right: Gettin’ rolling in Bangladesh.

© 2006 Rezaul Haque, courtesy Photoshare

20 World Watch | November/December 2009 www.worldwatch.org


P I C T U R E S
© 2006 Javahar, courtesy Photoshare

Above: A torn soccer net


makes a game in India.
Left: Sailor in training,
Madagascar.
Edgar Cleijne/Peter Arnold, Inc.

www.worldwatch.org November/December 2009 | World Watch 21


VISION QUEST:
Who Will Control the Future of the Amazon?
A complex and high-stakes struggle over the
Amazon forests and their resources heats up.
by David Dudenhoefer

A
t dawn last June 5, some 650 police and soldiers began remained unresolved. Peru’s 333,000 Amazonian Indians con-
clearing a two-week-old blockade set by roughly 3,000 tinue to struggle for recognition of communal lands and their
Awajun and Wampis Indians on the main east-west high- right to prior consent as the government facilitates the
way in northern Peru, at a spot called the Devil’s Curve, exploitation of oil, gas, minerals, and hardwoods in their
in Bagua Province. The blockade was part of an Ama- region, which accounts for 61 percent of the national territory
zonian indigenous mobilization coordinated by the Peru- and hosts 13 percent of Peru’s population.
vian Rainforest Inter-Ethnic Development Association In a televised interview following the Bagua clash, Peru-
(AIDESEP, for its name in Spanish) to demand the repeal of vian President Alan Garcia said, “These people are not first
nine legislative decrees that threatened Indian land rights and class citizens, if 400,000 [sic] natives can say to 28 million
natural resources. The context of the protest, however, was a Peruvians ‘you can’t come here.’ That is a very grave error,
30-year struggle by native communities to gain title to their and anyone who thinks that way wants to take us on an irra-
ancestral lands and an unprecedented increase in oil explo- tional and primitive retreat into the past.”
ration in Peru’s Amazon region in recent years. Among the injured in Bagua was Santiago Manuin, a 52-
The police were equipped with assault rifles, armored year-old Awajun leader who won the Spanish government’s
vehicles, and helicopters. The protesters had only wooden Reina Sofia Prize for his environmental activism. Police shot
spears, but when the police started shooting, some protesters Manuin repeatedly and left him for dead, but he was later res-
wrested rifles from them and returned the fire. By the time the cued by ambulance attendants. After two operations and
teargas cleared, at least 11 protesters and 13 police officers days in intensive care, Manuin spoke to a journalist from the
were dead (some investigators claim that more Indians died, Peruvian magazine Somos. “Look at history, how indigenous
but police removed their bodies from the scene) and nearly 200 people have been treated, the deforestation, the contami-
protesters were injured. The tragedy continued at an oil nated rivers,” he said. “Is that development? We don’t want
pipeline pumping station to the north of Bagua, where a that kind of development, and Peru shouldn’t want that kind
group of Awajun Indians responded to radio reports of the of development.”
violence by taking 36 police officers hostage. The next morn- Though the scale of the confrontation was exceptional, the
ing, as government troops launched a rescue operation, the violence in Bagua was hardly unique. According to Jecinaldo
Awajun killed 10 hostages in an act of revenge. Barbosa, a Satere-Mawe Indian who heads the Coordinator of
The brutality of the government crackdown and the Indian Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB
response resulted in condemnation around the world. Inter- for its name in Portuguese), 34 Indian leaders were killed in
national pressure and continued protests led the Peruvian Brazil in 2008 alone. Various Indian activists were murdered
congress to repeal two of the nine offending decrees two weeks in the Bolivian Amazon last year, and in Colombia, armed
later, upon which AIDESEP ended the mobilization. But most groups have killed hundreds of Indians during the past decade.
of the issues that led approximately 20,000 indigenous pro- Indigenous leaders from across the Amazon Basin say
testers to blockade roads and rivers, occupy airstrips and oil Bagua reflects their own struggle. One of them is Diego Esco-
company boats, and shut down Peru’s northern pipeline bar, a Piratapuyo Indian from Colombia who oversees envi-

22 World Watch | November/December 2009 www.worldwatch.org


David Dudenhoefer
Above: Awajun and Wampis Indians at a highway blockade in Bagua
ronmental policy for the Coordinator of Indigenous Organ- Province one week before Peruvian police stormed the area.
izations of the Amazon Basin (COICA): “The message we get Below: The violence of the police crackdown and native response in Bagua
from Peru is that we need to fight for our natural resources, left nearly 200 injured and 24 dead.
we need to fight for our territories, we need to fight for our
culture. If we aren’t united and prepared, they’ll do what they
want with us.”

E Pluribus…?
Indigenous territories account for 25–30 percent of the Ama-
zon Basin, and many of the national parks and protected areas
that cover 25 percent of that region overlap native lands. Var-
ious studies have shown that native peoples do a better job of
conserving forests than their non-native compatriots. A recent
satellite-image study led by Woods Hole forest ecologist Daniel
Thomas Quirynen/www.catapa.be

Nepstad, for example, showed that the creation of indigenous


territories in the Amazon Basin often prevented deforesta-
tion completely, despite severe deforestation along their
boundaries. A comparable study led by Manuel Ruiz-Pérez of
the Autonomous University of Madrid in 2005 found that
indigenous territories in the Brazilian state of Acre suffered less
deforestation than a nearby national park. “We don’t want to
cut down the forest,” said Celin Cushi, an Ashanika Indian the entire world, the usurpation or degradation of native
from the central Peruvian Amazon, “because the forest is our lands is as much an environmental issue as it is a social and
pharmacy; the forest is our market; the forest is our hard- political issue.
ware store. For us, the forest is a perfect factory made by God.” It might thus seem odd that during the 10 weeks of
This utilitarian approach to wilderness has sometimes protests in Peru, as Catholic bishops, unions, farmer organi-
put conservationists at odds with Indians. Government agen- zations, and other groups issued statements supporting
cies have forced Indians to move out of national parks, or AIDESEP, the major conservation groups were conspicuously
have restricted the activities of native communities in pro- silent. This may be due to their reluctance to anger President
tected areas. Indians clearly have an impact on natural Garcia, who claimed the protests were part of a left-wing con-
resources, such as by overharvesting fish, game, and certain for- spiracy, or it may be a reflection of the historic neglect of
est plants, yet on a regional level they are defending Amazon indigenous people by conservationists (see, for example, “A
forests from an array of threats. Because they protect vast Challenge to Conservationists,” World Watch, Novem-
expanses of wilderness that provide environmental services for ber/December 2004).

www.worldwatch.org November/December 2009 | World Watch 23


Though they are outnumbered—with about 1.6 million sequent colonization brought slavery and Old World diseases,
people, Indians represent a mere 5 percent of the Amazon which decimated native communities. It is estimated that Brazil
Basin’s population—and monetarily poor, the region’s native was home to between 2 and 6 million people and more than
peoples are better prepared to defend their natural and cul- 1,000 ethnic groups in Orellana’s day. Today, that country has
tural heritage than ever before. Over the past 45 years, Ama- fewer than 600,000 Amazonian Indians in 170 ethnic groups.
zonian indigenous peoples have created more than 300 local In the second half of the twentieth century, national gov-
organizations, which are represented by regional and national ernments facilitated non-Indian colonization of the Amazon
umbrella groups that lobby state and national governments, Basin that left its native inhabitants minorities in the lands of
cooperate with NGOs and international agencies, and coor- their ancestors. In the 1960s and 1970s, the region’s Indians
dinate protests when all else fails. began forming political organizations with the help of anthro-
With the help of non-native allies, those organizations pologists, priests, and other outsiders. The national umbrella
have obtained computers, video equipment, Internet access, groups AIDESEP and the Confederation of Indigenous
and other empowering technology while their leaders have Nations of the Ecuadorian Amazon (COFENIAE) were
gained knowledge and skills to help them take on multi-bil- founded in 1980, followed by the Confederation of Indigenous
Peoples of Bolivia (CIDOB) and the National Indigenous
Organization of Colombia (ONIC) in 1982. In 1984, these
groups founded the Coordinator of Indigenous Organiza-
tions of the Amazon Basin (COICA), which works with
national organizations in the nine Amazonian countries. Over
the years, some of those organizations have suffered crises of
leadership, and their communication with communities
remains limited, but on the whole they play an important
role in defending indigenous interests on national and inter-
national levels.
Years of lobbying and protests have led to the inclusion of
native rights in a number of national constitutions and inter-
national agreements. Brazil’s 1998 constitution and Colom-
bia’s 1991 constitution broke ground in their recognition of
David Dudenhoefer

indigenous rights (although Peru’s 1993 constitution limited


some previous guarantees). Venezuela, where the previous
constitution failed to even mention Indians, approved a con-
Organizers and dancers at the Confederation of Indigenous Nations of the stitution in 1999 with a chapter dedicated to native rights. In
Ecuadorian Amazon (COFENIAE) inauguration ceremony last June. Ecuador and Bolivia, where more than one-third and one-half
of the populations respectively are indigenous, constitutions
lion-dollar industries, short-sighted government initiatives, drafted in recent years redefine those countries as “pluri-
and the non-indigenous people who covet their land and national states.”
resources. Several decades of organizing and mobilizing have The International Labour Organization’s Convention 169,
resulted in significant, though not total, legal recognition of adopted in 1989, mandates that indigenous people be con-
indigenous territories and rights. Even the violence in Peru and sulted about initiatives that could impact them. The United
Brazil is a reflection of those organizations’ success, since it has Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,
resulted from the fact that indigenous people are standing which the UN General Assembly adopted in 2007, requires
their ground and defending their land. “On a political level, their free, prior, and informed consent (an important improve-
there has been enormous progress,” noted Richard Smith, an ment over “consultation”). Native organizations have pushed
anthropologist who has worked with Amazonian indigenous their governments to comply with those agreements, though
organizations for more than 40 years. “These are incredibly with mixed results.
autonomous people, but when they are confronted by a com- The Colombian and Brazilian governments have taken
mon enemy, they have a capacity to come together.” steps to facilitate consultation, such as the creation of mesas
The current level of cooperation and political organization de dialogo—committees of government and native repre-
is remarkable considering how remote most communities are, sentatives—that meet periodically. Colombia’s high court
the region’s vastness, and historic divisions. Recent decades declared a 1997 forestry law unconstitutional based on Con-
have seen an indigenous renaissance after the four centuries of vention 169 because indigenous organizations weren’t con-
decline that followed the first European incursion into the sulted about it. The Peruvian congress’s constitutional
region in 1542, when Francisco de Orellana and a few dozen commission similarly declared a 2008 forestry law—one of
conquistadores floated the length of the Amazon River. Sub- the nine legislative decrees that AIDESEP opposed—uncon-

24 World Watch | November/December 2009 www.worldwatch.org


Caribbean
Sea Caracas
A T L A N T I C

V E N E Z U E L A O C E A N

Georgetown
Paramaribo
GUYANA Amazonia
Bogota Cayenne
SURINAME FRENCH Indigenous
C O L O M B I A GUIANA Territories
Map adapted from one courtesy of Red Amazónica de Información Socioambiental Georreferenciada (RAISG)

0 500 miles

Quito 0 500 km

on
ECUADOR Amaz

Amazon

B R A Z I L
P E R U

Lima

La Paz Brasilia
B O L I V I A
P A C I F I C
O C E A N Sucre
PARAGUAY

Officially recognized indigenous territories in Amazonia, with the exception of


stitutional two weeks before the Bagua clash, yet the major- Venezuela, where most native lands have yet to be titled.
ity parties resisted repealing the law until President Garcia
asked them to, two weeks after Bagua. results in a sense of desperation among indigenous people.”
Nevertheless, 1,235 indigenous communities in the Peru-
Grounds of Contention vian Amazon have gotten communal land titled over the past
President Garcia virtually ignored the AIDESEP mobiliza- three decades, while 277 communities are still awaiting title.
tion during its first month. Not until the protest entered its The result is a patchwork of native lands totaling 105,643
fifth week did he declare a state of emergency in the Amazon square kilometers that are surrounded by national forests,
region and mention the protest at a public event, when he much of which has been leased to logging companies. Includ-
reminded the audience that “the Amazonian lands belong to ing five large reserves created for un-contacted peoples, indige-
the entire nation, not to a small group that lives there.” nous territories cover 17 percent of the Peruvian Amazon,
Under Peruvian law, the Amazon forests and subsoil belong while Indians represent 9 percent of that region’s population.
to the state. Indigenous communities there have gained title to But compared to indigenous communities in neighboring
ancestral lands under a “native communities law” passed in nations, Peru’s Amazonian Indians are land-poor. In the 1980s
1974. Richard Smith heads a Peruvian NGO, the Instituto del and 1990s, Ecuador created indigenous territories that cover
Bien Comun, which helps indigenous communities gain legal about 65 percent of its Amazon region. Bolivia has turned
recognition of their lands. He explained that the bureaucratic almost 26 percent of its Amazon region into indigenous ter-
obstacles to getting native lands titled in Peru are daunting, cit- ritories, most of which were created by the administration of
ing cases of communities that worked for more than a decade Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first native (Aymara) president.
to get a title. “The state has never wanted to title the lands of Venezuela has been slow to legalize proposed native lands
indigenous communities,” Smith said. “The stalling tactics, that would cover one-third of the national territory. Colom-
the loss of paperwork, the inexplicable stopping of processes bia has divided 51 percent of its Amazon lowlands into 186

www.worldwatch.org November/December 2009 | World Watch 25


Marcello Casal Jr./Agência Brasil

Native leaders packed Brazil’s Senate for a meeting with various senators
during COIAB’s annual Terra Livre gathering in Brasilia. and lives. Last September, mobs sacked the offices of Bolivia’s
Amazonian Indian groups and various NGOs in Santa Cruz
indigenous territories that are home to approximately 120,000 in response to government policies to create native territories,
people—who constitute less than 3 percent of the national among other issues. A subsequent attack on a march of natives
population but control 21 percent of the national territory. and campesinos left 20 dead and more than 100 injured. In
Brazil has declared almost 22 percent of its Amazon region 2008 alone, 53 Brazilian Indians were murdered as a result of
native territory—more than one million square kilometers for land and resource conflicts. Illegal logging and mining and an
approximately 600,000 people, or almost 13 percent of the advancing agricultural frontier threaten dozens of Brazil’s
national territory for 0.3 percent of the population. indigenous territories, and booms in biofuels and grain and
Together, the Amazonian indigenous territories of Bolivia, beef exports have intensified that pressure in recent years.
Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru cover almost 1.7 mil- Alberto Ricardo, director of the Instituto Socioambiental,
lion square kilometers, about the size of Iran but home to cited the Guaja, a tribe of just 300 hunter-gatherers, as one of
just 1.6 million people. It is hardly surprising that ranchers, Brazil’s most threatened peoples; their territory in Maranhão
farmers, and politicians across the Amazon region claim that state has been invaded by ranchers and loggers. Ranchers and
Indians have too much land. But as Colombian ethnologist farmers are also encroaching on the lands of the Enawene-
Martin von Hildebrand, director of Fundación Gaia Ama- Nawe, a tribe with just 500 members in Mato Grosso state,
zonas, noted,“They say that indigenous people have too much while the Juruena River, which they depend on for fish, is slated
land, but those communities are actually doing the country a for hydroelectric projects. And the Yanomami—whose territory
favor by protecting all that forest.” in northern Brazil was overrun by gold miners in the 1980s,
In fact, however, many native communities are having a when disease killed 15 percent of their population—are suffering
hard time protecting their forests, which are threatened by log- a malaria epidemic due to a recent surge in illegal mining.
gers, ranchers, farmers, and extractive industries. The major- Jecinaldo Barbosa said that COIAB demands that the
ity of South Americans would seem to support native land Brazilian government intervene in such cases, but the institu-
tenancy, as a 2000 survey of Brazilians by the Instituto tion responsible for indigenous affairs, FUNAI, lacks the capac-
Socioambiental indicates: 68 percent of respondents said that ity to deal with most threats and local officials often resist
indigenous people either had adequate territories or deserved federal intervention. He explained that hundreds of indigenous
more land, whereas 22 percent said they had too much. Nev- leaders travel to Brasilia, the Brazilian capital, each year for
ertheless, violent minorities continue to threaten native lands several days of demonstrations and lobbying that has raised

26 World Watch | November/December 2009 www.worldwatch.org


awareness and resulted in several meetings with President Luiz built access roads that non-Indians used to colonize the area in
Inácio Lula da Silva, popularly known as Lula. the 1970s and 1980s. As a result, the Cofan, Siona, and Secoya
Barbosa cited Raposa Serra do Sol, an indigenous terri- peoples lost most of their land and were reduced to populations
tory in northern Brazil, as an example of progress. Indigenous of less than 1,000 each; the Tetete tribe simply disappeared.
leaders in that region, which is home for about 20,000 Indians According to Ecuador’s Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia, Tex-
from various tribes, struggled for more than a decade to get legal aco poured 70 billion liters of formation waters into Amazon
recognition of their ancestral lands while miners, loggers, farm- tributaries and left 916 pits of oil sludge scattered across the
ers, and ranchers invaded them. In 2005, Lula signed a law cre- region, whereas pipeline ruptures spilled an estimated 64 mil-
ating a vast indigenous territory, but it provoked violent reprisals
against native communities there. It wasn’t until July of this year
that the government evicted the last non-indigenous squat-
ters from the territory, after almost 20 Indians had been killed
and scores injured during a decade of conflict.

Subsoil Challenges
While the advancing agricultural frontier threatens indigenous
forests throughout the Amazon Basin, its western region holds
major oil, gas, and mineral reserves. A 2008 study published
in the online journal PLoS ONE identified 180 oil and gas
blocks in western Amazonia, most of which are under explo-
ration. And while clandestine mining has long been a prob-
lem, larger mining companies are now openly active there.
David Dudenhoefer

Colombia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy has received a


surge in requests for mining concessions in the Amazon region
this year. Last year Ecuador’s constitutional assembly identi-
fied 12 mining concessions in Amazonian Kichwa territory and
Ashanika Indians seized oil company boats and shut down the airstrip in
22 concessions in Shuar territory. Two controversial gold min- Atalaya, Peru, last May as part of the national indigenous mobilization.
ing concessions have been awarded by the governments of
Ecuador and Peru in the Cordillera del Condor, along their lion liters of oil. Texaco sold its Ecuador operations to the state
common border, which holds the headwaters of rivers that oil company Petroecuador in 1992, but Chevron, which now
Awajun and Shuar communities depend on. owns Texaco, faces a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit for damages
Peru, a net importer of oil, has prioritized oil and gas caused there between 1964 and 1990 (see “ChevronTexaco on
exploitation in recent years. In 2004, there were eight oil and Trial,” January/February 2004 World Watch).
gas concessions covering less than 15 percent of the Peruvian In 2007, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa launched an
Amazon. By mid-2009, 81 concessions covered 72 percent of innovative effort to find an economic alternative to exploit-
that region and overlapped 95 percent of its indigenous ter- ing a massive oil reserve (the ITT block) beneath the Yasuni
ritories. Though few indigenous leaders completely oppose oil Biosphere Reserve and Yanomami Indian territory through
exploitation there, they demand that their people be con- international donations, or carbon markets, which would
sulted, compensated, and protected from contamination. compensate Ecuador for leaving the oil in the ground. Yet
Richard Smith noted that many companies that have won Correa has since awarded concessions in other parts of the
concessions in Peru are relatively small, may lack the resources Ecuadorian Amazon. Now approximately 65 percent of that
or motivation to employ the technology needed to limit their region is covered by oil concessions, some of which overlap
environmental impacts, and have not been forced to do so by Kichwa, Shuar, and Achuar territories.
the Peruvian government. A case in point is Block 1AB in “There are plenty of reasons to say no to oil exploitation
northeast Peru, where Occidental Petroleum and later Plus- here,” said Shuar leader Domingo Ankuash, though he admit-
petrol dumped contaminated formation waters (waters found ted that it could be difficult to keep the industry out of Shuar
naturally in oil and gas deposit formations) into the Corrientes territory, in southeast Ecuador. “If we do say yes, it will be
River for years despite complaints by the area’s Achuar, Kichwa, because we reach an agreement on a way of exploiting oil
and Urarina Indians. It wasn’t until native protesters shut that benefits the indigenous people here, not because it has
down that oil field for two weeks in October 2006 that Plus- been imposed on us from above.”
petrol officials agreed to re-inject formation waters and build
potable water systems for nearby communities. Global Stakes
The Amazon region most affected by the oil industry is International law requires governments to consult native peo-
northeast Ecuador, where Texaco drilled hundreds of wells and ples about initiatives that might affect them, but most remain

www.worldwatch.org November/December 2009 | World Watch 27


adopted by the United Nations Framework Con-
vention on Climate Change in Copenhagen this
December, could help Amazonian Indians protect
their forests and adapt their traditional natural
resource use to sustain growing populations. Yet
REDD is fraught with uncertainty for indigenous
peoples (see sidebar, opposite). Some organizations
oppose REDD schemes for fear that they could result
in the government or investors taking control of
indigenous lands, or because the organizations have
been excluded from REDD negotiations. The recog-
nition of all native territories and respect for native
peoples’ right to free, prior, and informed consent
should be essential prerequisites for REDD initiatives
in the Amazon Basin.
However, even if indigenous communities secure
payment through REDD schemes, Martin von
Hildebrand of Fundación Gaia Amazonas warns
that such funds could be detrimental unless admin-
istered with cultural sensitivity and close monitor-
ing. REDD systems designed for non-Indians could
create divisions in indigenous communities, which
© 2003 Caryl Feldacker, courtesy Photoshare

are based on reciprocity and equality. An example of


that danger is the impact of Venezuela’s “missions”—
government programs that provide scholarships
and other payments as catalysts for social improve-
ment—on indigenous communities, where they
have corrupted traditional hierarchies. REDD funds
might best be invested in helping indigenous com-
munities improve their capacities to protect their
territories or develop community enterprises—
In the middle of the Brazilian Amazon, three days from the nearest town by boat, young handicraft production, sustainable logging, forest
boys play while a man returns home from an afternoon of fishing. product harvesting, ecotourism, etc.—that could
fund development and conservation in the future.
reluctant to do so. Given that negligence and the growing Considering that they have title or ancestral claims to
pressure on Amazonian land and resources, the region’s Indi- more than a quarter of the Amazon Basin, it is in the world’s
ans need international support. Numerous organizations, best interest to help Amazonian native peoples to defend and
foundations, and government agencies provide them with manage their forests. They have proven themselves to be bet-
vital assistance, and groups such as Amazon Watch, Cultural ter stewards of the region’s natural resources than their non-
Survival, and Survival International publicize major threats native compatriots, and their historic and spiritual connections
they face, yet most indigenous communities confront those to their territories make them unparalleled advocates for their
threats with little or no outside help. Unfortunately, the gov- protection. While government officials and conservationists
ernment agencies and conservation groups that should be are busy with reports and logic frames, Indians are often
helping native peoples to defend their land often ignore their defending their forests against imminent threats, sometimes
plight, or exclude them from major projects that could help with their lives. Ultimately, the outcome of their struggle will
them. Indigenous organizations have also lost important sup- affect the entire world, which is why they deserve the soli-
port over the years due to poor leadership, administrative darity and support of concerned citizens everywhere.
deficiencies, and infighting. After each internal crisis, however,
new leaders have rebuilt those organizations, and despite the David Dudenhoefer is a freelance journalist based in Peru
errors of individuals, the indigenous movement has played a who has covered indigenous issues sporadically for two decades.
vital role in helping native communities to conserve more
than 1.5 million square kilometers of tropical forest. For more information about issues raised in this story, visit
Funding for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and www.worldwatch.org/ww/indigenous.
Forest Degradation (REDD), a new program likely to be

28 World Watch | November/December 2009 www.worldwatch.org


Seeing REDD
A useful climate-change policy tool, From a government perspective it may make more sense to fur-
or a license to deny forest dwellers’ rights? ther centralize forests and make decisions about who gets what
from the national capital. If REDD dollars accumulate nationally
by Zachary Wells and Kelly Moore Brands under existing tenure regimes, locals will have to depend on the
benevolence of their governments to keep their forest homes
Deforestation causes about 20 percent of global greenhouse and to realize any profit from leaving the trees standing. The
gas emissions, but tackling the problem has proved as difficult responsibility to ensure that the rights of traditional forest
as reducing fossil fuel-based emissions. The most promising dwellers are respected then falls to the donor countries and
current approach is a proposal called Reducing Emissions from organizations that are behind REDD. The best way to do this
Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), which will be a would be by making REDD participation conditional on a thor-
centerpiece of the December 2009 international meetings on ough examination of existing tenure legislation and a rewriting
climate change in Copenhagen. REDD is meant to help poor of unjust laws. Yet such a polarizing stance could leave the
countries reduce deforestation by enabling aid organizations, Copenhagen negotiations in a stalemate.
NGOs, corporations, and governments to buy carbon credits
generated from activities that keep forests standing. The buyers
could then apply the credits toward their own quotas or trade
them in carbon markets.
REDD is a critical policy tool because slowing deforestation
can simultaneously help to put the brakes on catastrophic cli-
mate change, slow species loss by protecting habitat, and pro-
mote sustainable development. And while the technical
challenges are immense, some experts believe that REDD may
© 2005 Todd Shapera, courtesy Photoshare

be the one coalition-building facet of a hotly debated post-


Kyoto climate agreement.
But some key affected parties have serious doubts. Forests
provide homes and livelihoods for millions of the world’s poor-
est people. Many traditional forest dwellers and indigenous
groups do not own the forests they live in and have voiced sub-
stantial opposition to REDD. In 2008, indigenous leaders railed
against their own representative body, the United Nations Per-
manent Forum on Indigenous Issues, for what they saw as a The Tulepan Indians of Pico Bonito National Park, Honduras, have a forest man-
failure to represent them in the climate change debate. The agement plan that allows them to sustainably harvest timber inside the park.
Indigenous People’s Global Summit on Climate Change last
April produced a declaration that REDD must “secure the recog- The second-best option might be to work for traditional
nition and implementation of the human rights of Indigenous rights bilaterally, as donors partner with REDD governments.
Peoples, including security of land tenure, ownership, recog- Norway, for instance, has made a US$12 million commitment
nition of land title according to traditional ways, uses, and cus- to Tanzania’s REDD activities, and could hinge its support on
tomary laws, and the multiple benefits of forests for climate, specific land tenure goals while assisting Tanzania in carrying
ecosystems, and Peoples before taking any action.” them out. This is also a way to guarantee the best return on an
According to the Washington, D.C.-based Rights and important investment, because many developing country gov-
Resources Initiative, 80 percent of forests in the world’s 30 ernments will never be able to control what happens in their
most forested countries are state-owned. While most of the remote forests without local support. Making partnerships con-
developing world’s forests are owned by governments, the ditional on activities like comprehensive mapping of forest own-
people living in far-flung forests and dense jungles are the ership, forest uses, and even the locations of forest dwelling
de facto managers because governments, especially in Africa, groups can help lay the groundwork for drafting empowering
cannot control what happens in their vast hinterlands. Legally, land legislation. Real, legal tenure may be the cornerstone of for-
these forest dwellers are squatters. est conservation and what dictates if REDD will function or fail.
Yet forest ownership is going largely unnoticed by REDD’s
principal negotiators. If REDD makes forests more valuable, Zachary Wells and Kelly Moore Brands are practicing conserva-
some locals will benefit from having strong partners in conser- tionists and Masters graduates of the Monterey Institute of
vation groups and dedicated governments, but a great many International Studies program in international environmental
others may be overrun in the scramble to secure REDD benefits. policy.

www.worldwatch.org November/December 2009 | World Watch 29


WORLDWATCH FIRST P E R S O N

Seeking a Low-Carbon Future


Ben Block

A
s I traveled through the German and Danish countryside
this past August, driving past forest corridors and har-
vested fields, the landscape seemed not to have changed
for centuries. The exception, of course, was the wind farms. I
spotted the spinning white towers with nearly every glance from
my window. On several occasions, a single farm had installed
more wind turbines than my entire home state of Maryland.
Along with six other U.S. journalists, I was participating in a
tour of the countries’ low-carbon advances. The trip provided a
glimpse of how a renewable energy future may look. My ideal

an
Søren Gisselm
vision would line hilltops and seashores with windmills, power
homes with sunlight, and heat farmhouses with energy from
cow manure. I realize the vision is a bit rosy, even for Germany own a car, which I
and Denmark. Although renewable energies such as wind, solar, bought used, for the sole reason of visiting my
and biogas are spreading, these technologies are too frequently otherwise-inaccessible family. I try to purchase organically raised
beyond financial reach. vegetables, rather than the more energy-intensive produce of
Regardless, we need to reach further. In the nearly two years mainstream agriculture, and I support local farmers markets.
since I began reporting on sustainability issues for World Watch, Yet such personal actions will never be enough. A world
the world has lived through an energy crisis, a food crisis, and that’s only 2°C warmer will be impossible even with the most
a financial crisis. Clearly, our business-as-usual strategies are optimistic projections of lowering the industrialized world’s
failing to provide security and sustenance for all. Meanwhile, emissions. Developing nations need to decarbonize, too. We
climate change, quite possibly the most daunting of today’s must not forget, however, that one-fourth of the developing
challenges, is threatening to dismantle our way of life. We are world still lives in extreme poverty. An Indian child deserves a
currently on a development path that would heat the world’s lightbulb to read by at night. A Chinese food vendor deserves
atmosphere by 5°C or more. Immediate emissions reductions a refrigerator.
are necessary if we are to limit global warming to 2°C, the stated In December I will return to Denmark as a witness to one
goal of the industrialized world’s leaders. Even so, “two degrees of the largest international negotiations in the history of
Centigrade will mean several small island states will go under. humankind. The goal could hardly be more challenging: Our
We will lose large coastal cities. It’s by no means harmless,” I was leaders must prevent a climate catastrophe by raising at least
told by Stefan Rahmstorf, an oceanographer with the Potsdam US$475 billion annually by 2030 for mitigation and adaptation
Institute for Climate Impact Research. activities in the developing world, according to World Bank esti-
My life of comfort has surely been part of the problem. mates. While the global financial crisis may have ended by the
When I built outdoor forts as a child, I scrounged up all our time negotiators meet, economic hardship will worry most gov-
extension cords and carried the TV to my back yard. Society’s ernments more than anything else.
three-meal norm did not quite fit with my gluttonous mind: the Rather than be frozen in despair, I remain optimistic.
occasional buffet meal was a calling to consume five-plateful Businesses are only beginning to dig deep within their produc-
servings, if not more. My recent European travels contribute to tion strategies and supply chains to uproot inefficiencies. An
climate change, as well. Each flight over the Atlantic pumped unprecedented wave of innovative technologies is waiting to be
nearly a ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. released. My low-carbon vision is a possibility if we take decisive
I have made an effort to curb my excesses. The food item with action that stimulates an alternative economic course. We must
the largest carbon footprint, beef, is no longer a part of my diet. find the courage to change, the compassion to give, and the
When I relocated to Washington, D.C., I made an intentional anger to refuse anything short of transformational. A difficult
effort to live where I could walk or bike wherever I need to go. I do journey confronts us, but we already have the wind at our backs.

30 World Watch | November/December 2009 www.worldwatch.org


V I TA L S I G N S
tected areas. Signatories to the international Convention on Bio-
Growth in Protected logical Diversity have agreed that protecting at least 10 percent
of each of the world’s 825 terrestrial ecoregions is an effective
Areas Continues way to conserve biodiversity. Similarly, conservation is a part of
the Millennium Development Goals, the set of social, economic,
Margarita Yatsevich and environmental targets that governments worldwide are
striving to achieve by 2015. Goal Seven, which focuses on revers-

T
he areas of the world that are officially protected grew by ing the loss of environmental resources, lists the growth in pro-
some 26 percent between 1997 and 2007. In total, land- tected area coverage as an indicator of progress.
based and sea-based protected areas occupy 21.8 million Biodiversity protection has economic benefits. For example,
square kilometers, or 4.27 percent of Earth’s surface. Globally, one study found that marine protected areas helped alleviate
12.4 percent of terrestrial land and territorial waters (that is, water poverty in several ways: fishing improved as a spillover from
up to 12 nautical miles from shore) are devoted to protection. no-fishing zones; more jobs were created, especially in tourism;
Protected areas include nature reserves, wilderness areas, local governance improved; and people gained health benefits
national parks and monuments, habitat management areas, pro- from their increased protein intake from fish and from their
tected landscapes and seascapes, and so on. They are managed higher incomes.
for a broad range of purposes, including recreation,
use of natural resources, and conservation. Between
1872 and 2007, governments around the world des- Nationally Designated Protected Areas Worldwide, 1872–2007
ignated nearly 114,000 terrestrial and marine sites. 20 80
Source: UNEP

Protected Areas (thousands)


At present Germany boasts the highest number of
Area Protected (million km2 )

protected areas (14,388), followed by Russia (11,181) 16


Protected Areas 60
and Estonia (9,617). In total protected area, the Area Protected
United States tops the list at over 3.2 million square 12
kilometers; Brazil is second with over 2.5 million 40
square kilometers and Russia third with 1.6 million 8
square kilometers. 20
More than 30 percent of the world’s protected 4
areas are found in mountains, which are a valuable
source of high-quality fresh water. Mountain ecosys- 0 0
1870 1890 1910 1930 1950 1970 1990 2010
tems are marked by high levels of biodiversity and
Year of Establishment
endemism (when a species is found only in a partic-
ular place) due to the isolation of mountains from
one another and the lowlands. Mountain peoples are critical to Innovative public-private partnerships are helping to protect
planning efforts for protected areas because of their experience ecosystems while providing recreation and employment oppor-
in sustainable coexistence with nature. tunities. A 2008 Goldman Environmental Prize winner, Ignace
Marine environments are much less protected than their Schops of Belgium, led the establishment of that nation’s first
terrestrial counterparts: Only 0.7 percent (about 2 million and only national park by raising more than US$90 million
square kilometers) of the world’s oceans are included in pro- from public and private sources. The Hoge Kempen National
tected areas. Over the last century, the annual rate of increase in Park opened in early 2006 and covers 60 square kilometers. Since
protection of marine environments has been approximately 3–5 its opening, 400,000 people have visited the park and 400 new
percent. At this rate, the Convention on Biological Diversity’s jobs have been created in the local community. The Interna-
target for 2012—that 10 percent of all marine and coastal eco- tional Union for the Conservation of Nature plans to use
regions should be conserved—will not be met until 2069. Schops’s model for creating and funding a national park as an
And simply creating protected areas is not enough to con- example for its other member countries around the world.
serve biodiversity. According to a 2006 study by WWF Interna-
tional, success requires strong law enforcement, control of access, Vital Signs are adapted from Vital Signs Online, which contain
resource management, monitoring and evaluation, maintenance additional data and more in-depth analyses.
of equipment, budget management, and annual work plans. Visit www.worldwatch.org/vsonline to view and read
the complete list of available trends.
International initiatives sometimes spur the creation of pro-

www.worldwatch.org November/December 2009 | World Watch 31


MATT E R S O F S C A L E

Blogging Lies,
Damned Lies,
and Statistics

stock.com
www.cartoon
Approximate number of blogs in the world, per Blogcount, June 2003 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.9 million
Approximate number of blogs in the world, per Perseus, October 2003 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.1 million
Approximate number of blogs in the world, per Technorati, June 2005 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.7 million
Estimated number of blogs in the United States, 2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 million
Approximate number of blogs in the world, per writer Lee Siegel, 2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 million
Approximate number of blogs ever started in the world, per Universal McCann, March 2008 . . 184 million


Estimated share of blogs abandoned within one month of being started, percent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 – 80


Share of blogs created by people under the age of 30, percent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92


Share of U.S. bloggers who are employed fulltime, percent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
Share of European bloggers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Share of Asian bloggers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45


Share of U.S. blogs with advertising . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
Share of European blogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Share of Asian blogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60

Median annual revenue, U.S. blogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $200


European blogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $200
Asian blogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $120


Rank of “blogger” among the most frequently used words in the blogosphere . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Of “blog” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Of “stupid” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Of “me” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Of “myself” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

SOURCES: Blog numbers compiled by Caslon Analytics, except U.S. total (Worldwatch estimate
based on data from Pew Internet and American Life Project) and Siegel (from Against the
Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob, Ch. 9). Abandoned blogs: Caslon Analyt- To view other archived Matters of Scale
ics. Under 30: Perseus Development Corporation. Employed, advertising, and revenues: Techno- visit www.worldwatch.org/ww/.
rati. Word ranks: Caslon Analytics.

32 World Watch | November/December 2009 www.worldwatch.org


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Satellite image by GeoEye, captured 23 August, 2009

The Earth Moved…


and continues to move, at the Marcona Mine near San Juan de Marcona in southeast
Peru. Miners there recently ended a strike against the Chinese owners of the open-pit
iron ore mine in return for increased wages of US$19.40 a day. Canadian, Korean, and
Peruvian interests are now developing nearby copper and gold deposits as well. www.worldwatch.org