Mangrove Destruction Leaves Myanmar Exposed

mangrove forest young trees 01 Mangrove Destruction Leaves Myanmar Exposed
photo by apes_abroad (copyleft cc)

With all the natural disasters pummeling the planet over the past few years, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Roland Emmerich’s 2004 “The Day After Tomorrow” for a documentary rather than a blockbuster. The May 2nd cyclone in Myanmar proved particularly devastating: 133,000 dead or missing and a staggering 2.4 million homeless.

It’s saddening to learn that the destruction of coastal mangroves around the Irrawaddy River delta over the past few decades, “amplified the flooding and worsened devastation” caused by cyclone Nargis, according to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization. As people moved closer to the coast, “the combination of new settlements and deforestation for fish ponds and farmland set the stage for the disaster”, said Jan Heino, the F.A.O.’s assistant director general for forestry. Since 1975, the mangrove forests of the Irrawaddy Delta have halved while wood harvesting has reduced its density.

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Hunger Crisis May Trigger Social Upheaval

haiti hunger crisis rice field 01 Hunger Crisis May Trigger Social Upheaval

We’ve heard about the riots in Haiti and the suffering in India caused by the price of wheat, rice and maize doubling in the last 12 months, along with soy and corn trading well above average. But why is this happening? And why now? The BBC attributes this to end of the “Goldilocks era for global commodities”, which saw prices stable for some 30 odd years. This, combined with the fact that food buffers are at all time lows, is hitting India and other developing countries very hard.

“33 countries around the world are at risk of social upheaval as a result of acute increases in food and energy prices,” said Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank (via the Chicago Tribune). Rice, lentils and wheat for a family in India can “take as much as 70 percent of a meager monthly salary… with the other 30 percent of the family’s income committed to rent,” which means no vegetables or other necessary food staples. Whereas, in rich developed nations, “people spend an average of 10 to 15 percent of their disposable income on food.” Continue Reading / See Additional Photos

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