Fewer hungry humans — but still too many

Food aid in Tajikistan    Feed My Starving Children

Food aid in Tajikistan Feed My Starving Children

 

By Nathanael Johnson, Grist

 

Which country has the highest percentage of hungry people? I’ll put the answer at the bottom. (Hint: it’s not located in Africa.)

The United Nations’ annual report on hunger has arrived bearing sobering factoids like this one, along with some remarkably good news: There are now 100 million fewer chronically hungry people than there were 10 years ago.

The improvements vary dramatically. In southeast Asia, 30 percent of people were undernourished in 1992; now it’s down to 10 percent, a stunning accomplishment. But in the Middle East (here labeled western Asia), the percentage of undernourished people has actually gone up. Worldwide, 11 percent of people still go through most of their lives hungry.

 

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The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization says that the Millennium Development Goals on hunger are within reach “if appropriate and immediate efforts are stepped up.”

What form should those efforts take? The UN urges everyone to remember that hunger is a fundamentally political problem:

Lack of food, as we’ve said, is not the problem. The world produces enough food for everyone to be properly nourished and lead a healthy and productive life. Hunger exists because of poverty, natural disasters, earthquakes, floods and droughts. Women are particularly affected. In many countries they do most of the farming, but do not have the same access as men to training, credit or land.

Hunger exists because of conflict and war, which destroy the chance to earn a decent living. It exists because poor people don’t have access to land to grow viable crops or keep livestock, or to steady work that would give them an income to buy food. It exists because people sometimes use natural resources in ways that are not sustainable. It exists because there is not enough investment in the rural sector in many countries to support agricultural development. Hunger exists because financial and economic crises affect the poor most of all by reducing or eliminating the sources of income they depend on to survive.

And finally it exists because there is not yet the political will and commitment to make the changes needed to end hunger, once and for all.

But how do you go about fixing those problems and mustering the political will? The new report suggests:

Hunger reduction requires an integrated approach, which would include: public and private investments to raise agricultural productivity; better access to inputs, land, services, technologies and markets; measures to promote rural development; social protection for the most vulnerable, including strengthening their resilience to conflicts and natural disasters; and specific nutrition programmes, especially to address micronutrient deficiencies in mothers and children under five.

In other words, the technical solutions can help with the political solutions and vice versa. This is a bit of a chicken and egg problem: Which do you do first: stop the war, or help farmers grow more food? If people are hungry, perhaps it’s better to send grain rather than soldiers. But if militants grab and sell the grain, we’re back to square one. The answer to the chicken and egg question seems to be: both.

As for the answer to the question I began with: Haiti is the nation with the highest percentage of hungry citizens. An astonishing 52 percent of people there are undernourished.

No Doubt: Humans Responsible for Climate Change, U.N. Panel Finds

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

The United Nations has analyzed all the data, and in a new report states unequivocally that humans are the primary cause of climate change worldwide.

Compiling four potential scenarios based on varying amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric concentrations, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced its results and released a draft of its five-year report on the state of the global climate.

“It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which conducted the analysis, in a statement announcing the release of its report, Climate Change 2013: the Physical Science Basis. “The evidence for this has grown, thanks to more and better observations, an improved understanding of the climate system response and improved climate models.”

Among the most alarming findings are that the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years, the panel said, with carbon dioxide concentrations up by 40 percent since pre-industrial times—mainly from fossil fuel emissions, as well as from emissions due to changes in net land use. About 30 percent of the carbon dioxide has been absorbed by the oceans, where it contributes to ocean acidification, the panel said.

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“Observations of changes in the climate system are based on multiple lines of independent evidence,” said Qin Dahe, Co-Chair of the panel’s main working group. “Our assessment of the science finds that the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, the global mean sea level has risen and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.”

Out of four potential scenarios, the panel calculated that by the end of the 21st century, global surface temperatures may very well increase by 1.5 degrees Celsius or even 2 degrees Celsius beyond what they were from 1850 to 1900, said Thomas Stocker, the working group’s other co-chair.

“Heat waves are very likely to occur more frequently and last longer,” Stocker said in the statement. “As the Earth warms, we expect to see currently wet regions receiving more rainfall, and dry regions receiving less, although there will be exceptions.”

Changes in the climate system since 1950 “are unprecedented over decades to millennia,” the statement said, emphasizing that “warming in the climate system is unequivocal” and that “each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.”

Not only are these changes taking place, but they are also accelerating, the scientists cautioned.

“As the ocean warms, and glaciers and ice sheets reduce, global mean sea level will continue to rise, but at a faster rate than we have experienced over the past 40 years,” said Co-Chair Qin Dahe.

This is not news to the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island and beyond, of course. Already numerous indigenous communities face the effects of rising sea levels, melting permafrost and other environmental effects.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/09/27/no-doubt-humans-responsible-climate-change-un-panel-finds-151476

Hendrix at 70: New album offers different look

Jimi Hendrix recorded everything. More than 40 years after his death, though, the tape is finally running out.

By Chris Talbott, AP Music Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jimi Hendrix recorded everything. More than 40 years after his death, though, the tape is finally running out.

“People, Hell & Angels,” out Tuesday, will be the last album of Hendrix’s unreleased studio material, according to Eddie Kramer, the engineer who recorded most of Hendrix’s music during his brief but spectacular career. That ends a four-decade run of posthumous releases by an artist whose legacy remains as vital and vibrant now as it was at the time of his death.

“Jimi utilized the studio as a rehearal space,” Kramer said. “That’s kind of an expensive way of doing things, but thank God he did.”

The 12 tracks on “People, Hell & Angels” were recorded in 1968-69 after the Jimi Hendrix Experience disbanded. There’s a changeable roster of backing musicians, including Buddy Miles and Billy Cox, who would briefly become Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies. Stephen Stills, recently of Buffalo Springfield, even popped up on bass on one track.

It was a difficult period for Hendrix as his business and creative endeavors became entangled, and he retreated to the studio to seek inspiration.

“Jimi used that time in the studio to experiment, to jam, to rehearse, and using this jam-rehearsal style of recording enabled him to try different musicians of different stripes and backgrounds, because they offered a musical challenge to him,” Kramer said. “He wanted to hear music expressed with different guys who could lend a different approach to it. And as part of this whole learning curve, what emerged was this band that played at Woodstock in `69, that little concert on the hill there.”

Many of the songs have been heard in different versions or forms before, but the music here is funkier than his best known work – at times sinuous, at times raucous. Horns pop up here and there. He’s a cosmic philosopher riding an earthbound backbeat on “Somewhere.” He’s a groovin’ bluesman enveloped in a bit of that purple haze on “Hear My Train a Comin’.” He challenges a saxophone to a fist fight on “Let Me Move You.” Then he channels James Brown on “Mojo Man” and ends the album as if shutting down an empty cinder-block club on a lonely stretch of dark highway with “Villanova Junction Blues.”

Hendrix died not long after making the last of these recordings. He’d already disbanded the players and was working with the Experience again in 1970 when he died of asphyxia in September 1970 at 27.

The last of the studio albums was timed for the year he would have turned 70. But in the 43 years that have passed since his death, he’s remained a fixture in American popular culture in much the same way Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash have endured. Still a radio staple, his image and music pops up often in commercials. There’s a biopic on the way with Andre Benjamin tackling the lead role. Even his out-there sense of fashion remains relevant.

Driving that image is the continued importance of his music, inspiring entranced young guitarists to attack his work in an endless loop of rediscovery over the decades. Tastes and sounds may change, but Hendrix always remains close at hand.

Maybe it’s because he was so far ahead of his time, we still haven’t caught up.

“He was a psychedelic warrior,” said Luther Dickinson, Grammy-nominated singer-guitar of the North Mississippi Allstars. “He was one of those forces that pushed evolution. He was kicking the doors down. He was forcing the future into our ears.”

For Dickinson and his brother Cody, it was Hendrix’s post-apocalyptic psych-rock epic “1983 … (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)” that blew their minds. But he means different things to different musicians. He played the chitlin circuit in the South before being discovered as a rocker in Europe and his music was also steeped in the blues, R&B and jazz.

“As a songwriter, he had the thing like Billy Gibbons (of ZZ Top) and a few current guys like Dan Auerbach or Jack White,” Dickinson said. “They have the ability to take a near-cliche blues guitar lick and turn it into a pop hook. Hendrix had that. That was one aspect. Also, he wrote some of the most beautiful guitar melodies. His ballads, there’s nothing to compare them to. Obviously he learned a lot from Curtis Mayfield and R&B music, but he took it so much farther.”

It’s that soulful side that first inspired Michael Kiwanuka, a young singer-songwriter who grew up in London thousands of miles away from Dickinson’s home in Hernando, Miss., yet was seized by Hendrix just as forcefully.

He first saw Hendrix in a documentary that was paired back to back with his performance at Woodstock. Kiwanuka was 12 and new to the guitar. He experienced a lot of sensations at once. First, there was the music. He wasn’t drawn to the rip-roaring psychedelia the Dickinsons favored, but the R&B-flavored classics like “Castles Made of Sand” and “The Wind Cries Mary.” The child of Ugandan immigrants also was amazed by Hendrix’s natural hairstyle, which closely resembled his own.

“I’d never seen an African-American, a guy of African descent, playing rock music,” Kiwanuka said. “I was listening to bands like Nirvana and stuff at the time. That’s what got me into rock music – the electric guitar. Every time I saw a modern black musician it was like R&B, so I’d never seen someone play electric guitar in a rock way that was African. That inspired me as well on top of the music. And you think, `Oh, I could do that.'”

“People, Hell & Angels” will likely continue that cycle of discovery. And though it may be the last of studio album, it won’t be the last we hear from Hendrix.

“This is the last studio album, but what’s coming up is the fact that we have tremendous amount of live recorded concerts in the vault,” Kramer said. “A lot of them were filmed, too, so be prepared in the next few years to see some fabulous live performances, one of which I’ve already mixed. We’re waiting for the release date – God knows when – but at some point in the future there’s a ton of great live material.”