7. Five Rs
By linking worldwide data on solid waste, population density, and economic status, Jenna R. Jambeck and co-authors writing in the Journal Science estimated that 275 million metric tons of plastic waste were generated worldwide in 192 coastal countries in 2010, with 4.8 to 12.7 million tons entering the ocean (Science 13 February 2015: Vol. 347 no. 6223 pp. 768-771) The authors noted that world plastic production increased by 620% in the last 40 years, and without waste management infrastructure improvements, the cumulative quantity of plastic waste available to enter the ocean from land is predicted to increase by an order of ten by 2025.
A trash-covered creek in Manila, Philippines. Francis R. Malasig/U.S. EPA. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2009/jun/05/waste-world-environment-day.
Regulations and Incentives: Why Some Countries Expand Cotton Production and Others Don’t
Prior to 2002/03, India and Africa produced about the same amount of cotton. Today, India produces four times more than Africa. What happened and why?
The Agricultural Act of 2014, the U.S. “farm bill,” will provide substantially less support to the cotton sector of the United States than has been provided under previous farm bills. Given that the government of the United States is mandating the use of biofuels in the US fuel supply, prices for corn and soybeans will probably remain higher on average than they were in the past. Accordingly, U.S. cotton production is likely to trend downward toward 3 million tons of lint per year over the next five years as harvested area in regions where cotton competes with corn and soybeans moves toward the biofuel crops. The increases in prices of corn and soybeans will also affect planting decisions in other major cotton producing countries. Accordingly, the supply of cotton from competing exporting countries, especially the United States, is likely to be reduced in the future.
Dear Mr. Young,
Regarding your vow to Protect Earth via advocacy of organic cotton,
Based on the latest information from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), world cotton production accounted for 2.6% of world arable land in 2011, the latest data available. Your assertion that cotton accounts for almost 5% of earth’s arable land is in error by a factor of two, and this is actually one of the more benign and least inaccurate messages about cotton on your web site. Continue reading
Cotton and the Aral Sea
Between about 1929 and his death in 1953, most historians now estimate that Stalin had been directly responsible for the deaths of somewhere around 20 million people. Most estimates are that between a third and half the dead perished in famines in the early 1930s. (Adam Hochschild, The Unquiet Ghost, 2003) Those famines are not blamed on the wheat industry. Continue reading
Chemical Use in Cotton, Perspective Needed
The Associated Press reported on March 28, 2014:
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Fire officials say an explosion involving a tank of nitric acid has injured nine workers at a Rolls-Royce plant near the Indianapolis International Airport.
This is one of many news stories that appear daily around the world regarding accidents involving chemicals. Chemicals used in industries are toxic. Workers are exposed. Injury, and even death, happens.
Cotton is often demonized because of injuries and deaths that occur from unsafe chemical handling practices, and advocates of organic cotton or recycled polyester argue that their products should be used instead. Such assertions lack perspective on the context of an industry that employees about 250 million people.
The accident in Indianapolis occurred at an aircraft engine factory. No one argues that because of industrial accidents in the manufacturing of aircraft engines we should all start using organic transportation by riding horses and ships again. And, nobody demonizes airplanes because workers involved in their production are injured in chemical spills.
Forecasts of world cotton supply, use, stocks and prices are no better today than they were 30 years ago, despite huge advances in information technology, communications and travel. Why hasn’t improved access to information translated into better insight?
Cotton and cotton textile industries are central to the economic growth of both developed and developing countries and contribute to sustainable and socially responsible development. Cotton is grown in more than 100 countries on about 33 million hectares, or about 2.5% of the world’s arable land, making it one of the most significant crops in terms of land use after food grains and soybeans.