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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Global Crisis to Strike by 2030 says UK Scientist

Global crisis 'to strike by 2030'

By Christine McGourty
BBC Science Correspondent

(Opposite top right)--
Water shortages are predicted
across large parts of Africa,
Europe and Asia

Growing world population will cause a "perfect storm" of food, energy and water shortages by 2030, the UK government chief scientist is warning.

By 2030 the demand for resources will create a crisis with dire consequences, Prof John Beddington predicts.

Demand for food and energy will jump 50% by 2030 and for fresh water by 30%, as the population tops 8.3 billion, he is due to tell a conference in London.

Climate change will exacerbate matters in unpredictable ways, he will add.


"It's a perfect storm," Prof Beddington will tell the Sustainable Development UK 09 conference.

"There's not going to be a complete collapse, but things will start getting really worrying if we don't tackle these problems."

We need more disease-resistant and pest-resistant plants and better practices, better harvesting procedures,” asserted
Professor Beddington.

Prof Beddington says the looming crisis will match the current one in the banking sector.

"My main concern is what will happen internationally, there will be food and water shortages," he predicts.

"We're relatively fortunate in the UK; there may not be shortages here, but we can expect prices of food and energy to rise."

The United Nations Environment Programme predicts widespread water shortages across Africa, Europe and Asia by 2025.

The amount of fresh water available per head of the population is expected to decline sharply in that time.

The issue of food and energy security rose high on the political agenda last year during a spike in oil and commodity prices.


Prof Beddington says the concern now - when prices have dropped once again - is that the issues will slip down the domestic and international agenda again.

"We can't afford to be complacent. Just because the high prices have dropped doesn't mean we can relax," he says.

Improving agricultural productivity globally is one way to tackle the problem, he adds.

At present, 30-40% of all crops are lost due to pest and disease before they are harvested.

Professor Beddington says: "We have to address that. We need more disease-resistant and pest-resistant plants and better practices, better harvesting procedures.

"Genetically-modified food could also be part of the solution. We need plants that are resistant to drought and salinity - a mixture of genetic modification and conventional plant breeding.

Better water storage and cleaner energy supplies are also essential, he says.

Prof Beddington is chairing a subgroup of a new Cabinet Office task force set up to tackle food security.

But he says the problem cannot be tackled in isolation.

He wants policy-makers in the European Commission to receive the same high level of scientific advice as the new US president, Barak Obama.

One solution would be to create a new post of chief science adviser to the European Commission, he suggests.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Clash of the Titans--Coulter, Maher spar at Radio City

(Reuters )– Television personalities Ann Coulter and Bill Maher debate during the "Speaker Series: The Minds …"

Mr Ken plunked down $64.50 to attend the first of Radio City's "Speaker Series" between TV personalities Bill Maher (Real Time with Bill Maher-HBO) & Ann Coulter (author of the bestseller "Guilty") on Monday, March 9.

Mr. Maher also wrote and starred in the controversial 2008 documentary movie "Religulous", giving his take on the sad state of religion in the world today--which MrKen highly recommends!

What a treat to listen to the erudite Maher deconstruct right wing nut case Coulter's mostly nonsensical rantings with his hilarious and cutting humor!

It was occasionally chilling, however, to realize that there is a significant segment of the population out there who also do not believe in evolution, think that ghosts are real, and imagine that a personal deity watches over them--only choosing to have misfortune visited upon others (who no doubt deserve it--and are all 'lefties').

Oh yes, and some of these same know-nothings still insist that President Obama is a Muslim (as I overheard a nincompoop couple feverishly whispering next to me).

Maher is an outspoken liberal with libertarian leanings and a former stand up comic. His long running show "Politically Incorrect" was called the Best Talk Show on Television by TV Guide, and nominated for nine Emmy Awards.

Coulter is an acerbic and rabid right wing writer & lecturer who Meghan McCain, the daughter of the would be president, blogged was "offensive, radical, insulting and confusing, all at the same time". Coulter famously does not believe in evolution and labels science a form of faith!

Here are some excerpts of the debate from Yahoo News, curtesy of

NEW YORK — Bill Maher couldn’t have asked for a better act to follow.

Maher took the stage at the Radio City Music Hall Monday after Ann Coulter – with whom he’d spend the rest of the night debating – had held forth for 15 minutes on the sins of liberals.

The applause for Maher was huge – exactly as one might expect in not-exactly-blood-red midtown Manhattan. “If we were having this debate in Springfield, Mo., it would be different,” Maher said.

But even in mostly hostile territory, Coulter was no shrinking violet. When moderate
Mark Halperin brought up Meghan McCain’s swipes of Coulter on The Daily Beast from earlier in the day — the daughter of the would-be president called her “offensive, radical, insulting, and confusing all at the same time" — Coulter said it didn’t bother her.

And Coulter dealt with the occasional boos while debating with Maher over stem cell research, Iraq and of course, the
44th president – all while delivering her own blows on everyone from Timothy Geithner to Nancy Reagan. ...

“Who put two wars on a credit card?” Maher asked. “There is this debt because George Bush spent money like a pimp with a week to live.”

Maher got applause for any shots at Bush, as when he mentioned Obama’s quoting of Voltaire — “no George W. Bush, that’s not a Harry Potter character.”

He used the term “bimbo” to describe Bush, Quayle and
Sarah Palin.

And Maher attacked those who consider themselves “real Americans,” by claiming that “if it wasn’t for the two coasts, this country would have been sold off to China thirty years ago.”

To read the rest of the story, please follow this link:

And to read more about "Religulous", go here--

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