Connect with us


Crimea crisis could raise global food prices, triggering social unrest



The crisis in Crimea could cause instability and unrest in the Middle East and North Africa by causing a spike in global food prices, researchers from Anglia Ruskin University have warned.

Experts from the university’s Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) have said that the fallout from Crimea’s vote to join Russia could have much wider implications. 

Ukraine had been expected to become the world’s third largest exporter of grain in 2014, but the recent unrest has caused observers to question whether the country will be able to deliver.

Though Ukraine’s exports have not been discernibly affected so far, global wheat prices have increased by 13% since the beginning of March, as the mere threat of disruption has caused uncertainty.

As the price of wheat commodity futures rises, the researchers warn that vulnerable countries that have seen recent harvests badly hit by severe weather – possibly as an impact of global warming – could be left exposed to price surges. 

“The threat for the coming year is that, should global crop production be impacted by severe weather, as we have seen increasingly in recent years, the impact of the crisis in Ukraine could result in a major supply demand imbalance in global food trade”, said Dr Aled Jones, director of GSI.

“This would trigger major volatility in the price of food. If this happened, already fragile countries could further destabilise.”

Experts have previously suggested that surges in food prices in 2008 and 2011 played a role in instigating the unrest across North Africa and the Middle East that has come to be known as the Arab spring.

These price fluctuations were partly caused by droughts that, experts say, were made more severe by climate change.

In a recent report, the US Defence Department also suggested that climate instability in the future could threaten global security.

It said that rising food costs and competition for water and energy resources could act as “threat multipliers”, increasing poverty, political instability, and social tensions – “conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.

Further reading:

Pentagon warns terrorism could be exacerbated due to climate change

Ban Ki-moon: climate change security threat same as ‘armed group bent on plunder’

Climate change may have contributed to Syrian civil war

Water and food shortages at the root of the Syrian crisis, claims study

Global Sustainability Institute to map effects of global resource shortages


A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon




energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

Continue Reading


IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”



IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

Continue Reading