Debate: Food – Who Pays the Price? (TVE, BBC World, IFAD)

Food – Who Pays the Price? (October 2008) raises important questions about who produces the food we eat and how. Urbanization, climate change, changing diets in emerging economies and the impact of supermarkets are putting new pressures on the land and changing the face of farming. Meanwhile small farmers around the world are leaving the land in increasing numbers.

Planetary boundaries (Johan Rockstrom)

In 2009, a group of 28 internationally renowned scientists identified and quantified a set of nine planetary boundaries within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for generations to come. Crossing these boundaries could generate abrupt or irreversible environmental changes. Nothing really new in this video (see for example, 1972 Limits to Growth study validated (CSIRO)), but it provides a clear and visual summary.

Development in Bad Waters (AMRF)

A 60-minutes video documentary of an action research programme on drinking water and public health in Bangladesh, in collaboration with the Arsenic Mitigation and Research Foundation (see also an earlier documentary The Largest Mass Poisoning in History (AMRF) and a shorter 8-minutes version Arsenic Mitigation and Social Mobilisation in Bangladesh (AMRF))

Business profitability without economic growth? (Jeremy Grantham)

Investment strategist Jeremy Grantham speaks with Richard Burrett after delivering the keynote speech at the April 2012 University of Cambridge Program for Sustainability Leadership. According to Grantham there is no economic theory which contains the idea of a finite world. Here is one: Sustainability and the scale of the economy (Herman Daly). He also briefly discusses thermodynamics. For more details, see here: Second law of thermodynamics (Through the wormhole).

Infinite growth in a finite world: risk or certainty? (John Thackara)

2012 PopTech talk by social critic John Thackara, where he argues that the current human paradigm of endless growth is obviously unsustainable, so we should consider the brilliance of the Brazilian Jequitiba tree, which soaks up four tons of water a day. “I am a proper tree hugger, as well as a lichen hugger.”

Is water still running? (Ned Breslin)

Tired of seeing broken hand pumps and taps litter Africa, Asia, and Latin America, Breslin sees these as signs of the critical need to assess water projects for their real impact. Sustainability is not about the quantity of water pumps installed. He proposes devices that will be able to send information to investors that a water supply has broken down.

However, this does not change the system of dependency on external assistance. Another strategy, would be to implement the supporting local organisation structures or institutions at the community level that will ‘own’ the technology, and control its operation and maintenance. This is an argument for ‘water sovereignty’ (see our argument in The Largest Mass Poisoning in History (AMRF), and see a similar argument for ‘food sovereignty’ in India in A new future for small farmers (Paul Enkelaar, Jan Paul Smit and Manuel Reichert)).

The Largest Mass Poisoning in History (AMRF)

In Bangladesh, millions of rural poor are currently drinking water that is contaminated with high levels of arsenic. Although the problem was described as the worst mass poisoning in history, little has been achieved to resolve it. Among the few projects that are being implemented, even fewer have managed to reach the poor and to implement water supplies and health support systems that last. The Arsenic Mitigation and Research Foundation sees the challenge as one of implementation and governance. It has worked for over 10 years to suggest viable long-term strategies and discourage damaging development programs and policies.