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|Articles - January 2014|
|Monday, December 09, 2013|
Page 2 of 5
China and climate change
Amanda Oborne is having trouble sleeping at night. The director of food and farm programs at Ecotrust traces the source of her insomnia to two pending global cataclysms. The first is the roughly 3 billion middle-class Chinese consumers expected to come online in the next 15 years. “We have no concept of how much is going to change when the giant sucking sound coming out of Asia kicks into full gear,” Oborne says.
Ten years ago, China’s building boom led to massive fuel shortages worldwide; next it will be wine, meat and all the other middle-class amenities Americans take for granted. Oborne points to two major developments already reshaping global food production: This past fall, a Chinese company bought Smithfield, the biggest pork producer in the U.S., and legislation now allows companies to ship live chickens from the U.S. to China for processing and then back again. “That’s the first step in a domino effect that will lead Tyson to source chicken from China," Oborne warns. "And we should be really nervous about that because of food-safety issues.”
Climate change is the other global disturbance contributing to Oborne’s “ambient stress levels”: “I joke all the time that Portland is going to be the next San Francisco because our weather is going to be such bliss as climate change takes effect,” she says. Oborne cites a recent University of Hawaii study identifying the date select cities will become uninhabitable because they will be too hot. Doomsday for Los Angeles is 2048; Houston, 2050.
“But the reality is that climate change is not just a matter of an influx of population from California,” Oborne says. “As people get hungry or run out of water, political unrest and violence will escalate.”
From the perspective of many Oregon food processors, skyrocketing Asian demand — and, perhaps, a more propitious growing season — is a positive, Oborne acknowledges. “If you ask Nancy’s Yogurt, Stahlbush Farms — those are great producers whose markets are going to explode.” But 85% of Oregon agriculture is already exported. To protect Oregonians against a “category 5 hurricane, global trade or political meltdown,” Ecotrust aims to carve out a locally owned and "high-functioning” processing and distribution infrastructure, Oborne says. That effort moves beyond farmers markets to encompass "a regional food system strong enough to be resilient regardless of what’s coming down the pike.”
“And what’s coming down the pike is enormous.”
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
Tom Cox interviews Steve Balzac, author of "Organizational Psychology for Managers."
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
BY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER
Demand for organic food continues to soar: Last year, sales of organic food rose to $32.3 billion — up 10% from 2012. In Oregon, organic produce wholesaler Organically Grown Co. has been championing organic growing methods for four decades.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
Tom Cox interviews Dr. Mark Goulston, author of Just Listen, Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.
Monday, August 25, 2014
BY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER
Ferguson Wellman’s investment views on the economy and capital markets.
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship is taking a leave of absence from the company. As the story continues to unfold, here’s our perspective on a few of the key players.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
BY MARY SPILDE | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Faced with the aftermath of the “great recession,” increasing concern about the environment and dwindling family wage jobs, we have some very important choices to make about our future.
Monday, July 07, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
Named after the 2010 experiment by Thomas Ryan, "Robin Sages" are fake social media profiles designed to encourage linking and divulging valuable information.
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