Category Archives: china

Map of Countries Sized by Population & a Changing Global Economy Dominated by Asia

This map was tweeted by @incrediblemaps and shows us the size of countries relative to their populations, which as we know has big implications for food security and the commodity trade markets.

On a related note, one of the news items that really got my attention last week was the WSJ sideline interview of Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard, during his speaking engagement at the Credit Suisse Asian investment conference in Hong Kong.

From the WSJ’s blog:

…he can foresee a tri-polar world in which China and India are the major economic powers, counterbalanced by a bloc of the United States, Europe and Japan, whose populations together will total about one billion people.

“We’ve said the U.S. is a superpower, an economic superpower. But these are giants, they’re bigger than a superpower,” he said. “What would that world be like, both economically and politically? I think that’s really hard to understand. How much would the Western bloc be willing to cooperate politically to be a counterbalance to China and India?”

Mr. Bullard offered few specifics of what such a world would look like, but did acknowledge that it might require some adjustment on the part of ordinary Americans like those he serves in the heartland.

This future is a challenge to imagine, but has implications for the competition for oil and energy, number one, I think, and all of the other commodities, with ever-bigger demands on the Earth’s natural resources. It has jobs implications; global communications will continue to improve and evolve; technological advancements and innovations will be coming more and more from Asia; and, global politics and alliances will change, as Bullard states. Finally, it has big implications for food and agriculture. My personal view is that there will be very surprising innovations in both of these sectors.

In another weekend article, the NYT’s travel section contained this interesting paragraph:

Ernst & Young estimates that by 2030, nearly one billion people in China could enter into the middle class and have a disposable income that allows them to travel domestically and abroad. Ten years ago their government singled out tourism as a key pillar of economic growth, and as a result, they have invested well ahead of the curve in high-speed trains, hotel complexes and airports to absorb growth within the middle class. In fact, right now they are busy building 69 airports around the country, so that in the future no person in the country will be more than a 90-minute drive from an airport.

There are a few “somethings that are gonna haftagive” when we consider these rapidly changing global dynamics.

If you have any visions of where this puts people in Bullard’s heartland, in, say the year 2035, please let us know your ideas in the comments. What does the future look like for your children under this scenario? What will their standard of living look like? What will transportation and supply chains look like in the U.S. and in Asia? Where will the job opportunities be? Will there be enough jobs? What will global cooperation look like by then?

THE ECONOMIST: Northern China’s Water Problems

The subject of water scarcity and pollution in China, as related to its huge population and rapid industrialization, is an important one.

China is using up water at an unsustainable rate, and polluting it badly, as well. According to THE ECONOMIST, the World Bank estimates that China’s water problems are impacting its GDP growth by an estimated 2.3 percent (mostly health-related), and water scarcity is also threatening energy growth, which further threatens its GDP growth.

This ECONOMIST interview suggests the country of China needs fewer dams and more water pricing. It needs to stop building huge cities in the desert areas of the North, and it needs to encourage water conservation. Furthermore, if it wishes to invest in huge water engineering projects, it should direct some of that money and energy into water treatment and sewer projects, which it has not done very well to date.

Four-fifths of China’s water is in the south, notably the Yangzi river basin. Half the people and two-thirds of the farmland are in the north, including the Yellow River basin. Beijing has the sort of water scarcity usually associated with Saudi Arabia: just 100 cubic metres per person a year. The water table under the capital has dropped by 300 metres (nearly 1,000 feet) since the 1970s.

SOURCE: All dried up

3 Picks: Sustainable Cities, Floating Farmers Market, Freshii


Food Gardens, Channels, Vertical Farms – Shanghai Sustainable Masterplan

Below, are today’s three chosen agricultural-related news picks.

1) Cities are on the front lines of climate change: By Stephen Leahy. “With the backing of their residents, many cities and towns around the world are becoming cleaner, greener and better places to live by banning cars, improving mass transit, reducing energy use and growing their own food while adding public and green spaces. “Getting cities right solves many problems,” Register said. Cities are truly ground zero for action on climate change, protection of ecosystems, biodiversity, energy use, food production and more because that’s where most people live today, he said. Cities consume about 75 percent of the world’s energy and resources. They are directly or indirectly responsible for 75 percent of global carbon emissions…”

2) Floating farmers market to revive historic trade route: By Amy Langfield. “A trade route used by the Mohawks, missionaries, fur traders and colonists will take a step toward revival this weekend as the Vermont Sail Freight Project embarks on a 330-mile journey downriver, stopping at historic river towns along the Hudson. They’ll pick up cargo from 30 farmers and sell it at pop-up markets on its way to New York…”

3) Freshii saves energy, water, and chemicals: By Dan Rowe. “Freshii is unique in that they use no dishwashers, hoods, ranges or ovens, reducing the footprint left by their restaurants. To eliminate the need for dishwashers, they have opted for 100 percent biodegradable food-safe mixing bags to create their salads and custom rice/noodle bowls, which in total—including the production and transportation of the bags to Freshii restaurants—use less than five times the electricity of even the most energy efficient dishwashers…”

This news post was written and compiled by K. McDonald.

About the Photo: Part of the Sustainable Urban Masterplan for Shanghai, this image shows the channels with pedestrian and slow traffic lanes on the right, and urban food gardens on the left. The channel transports water from vertical farm to vertical farm, cooling the city and being filtered through various plants and organisms along the way. Two vertical farm buildings sit in the background, these farms supply sustainable energy, fresh water and food to 50.000 people in a range of one kilometer around their center. The open lower floors of the tower in the middle serves as a community garden, where residents can grow their own spices and specialty crops.