by Tom Bosschaert

May 13, 2014

Tom Bosschaert

Fresh produce supply is threatened by climate change, the World´s largest nature reserve is established, and the NSA website was hacked. Read all about it in this Wormfood.

Global News: Fresh food at risk from climate change

  • 95% of fresh products sold by Asda, a UK supermarket, is already at risk from climate change, according to a study by the supermarket giant. The report, which will be published in June, is the first attempt by a food retailer to put hard figures against the impacts global warming will have on the food it buys from across the world.

    This infographic gives an overview on our global food consumption.

  • The World Health Organization released two reports, one warning for antibiotic resistance, the other for the rise of polio. Doctors and patients are urged to utilize maximum restraint in the use of antibiotics for fear that such drugs will soon be useless, and the spread of Polio infections poses such an enormous risk to global health that a "coordinated international response is essential”.

Energy & Environment: Largest nature preserve established

  • A new nature preserve in New Caledonia will be the largest on Earth. The marine park, which is three times the size of Germany, contains more than 1.1 million acres of coral reefs, 25 species of marine mammals, 48 shark species, 19 species of nesting birds and five species of sea turtles. The park's ecosystems also generate up to 3,000 tons of fish every year, providing an important food source for New Caledonia's quarter of a million human inhabitants.

  • In 2012 global fossil fuel subsidies totalled $544bn (£323bn; 392bn euros), while those for renewables amounted to $101bn, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) puts the total for hydrocarbons nearer $2 trillion. IMF chief Christine Lagarde: "Energy subsidies are enormous in scale, and they help the people who need them least. Taking action on this issue alone would be good for the budget, good for the economy, and good for the planet."

  • Nearly 60% of China’s underground water is polluted, state media have reported.

  • The water–energy nexus is becoming one of the great challenges of our generation. Coal mines depend on water to extract, wash, and process coal, while coal-burning power plants need water to create steam and for cooling. Coal production will increase in the coming years while worldwide water supplies decrease.

Business & Economy: Strike at platinum mine

  • The world's third-largest platinum producer, Lonmin, has seen its earnings plunge because of a month-long strike at its mines in South Africa. Its workers are demanding higher pay.

  • China has released weaker-than-expected manufacturing data, reinforcing concerns the world's second-largest economy is losing steam.

Science, Tech & Design: "Brain" hardware system generated

  • Stanford scientists have generated a hardware system based on the human brain that is capable of simulating, in real-time, a million neurons with billions of synaptic connections using only a similar amount of power to what is required to run a tablet computer.

  • Researchers have discovered that a group of proteins found in the coral reef may be capable of blocking HIV.

  • Ants show that emergency exits can work better when they’re obstructed. Physicist Ernesto Altshuler at the University of Havana, Cuba, studied how ants escape in emergency situations. “If you have an exit in the middle of the wall, you can imagine coming from the left side, the right side, and straight,” Shiwakoti says. These different streams of ants, or people, have to merge at the exit and take turns to pass. Columns help structure the flow.

Urban Environment: Equal opportunities for Iranian women

  • Iran’s president Rouhani has said that equal opportunities, social rights, and equal responsibilities should be considered for women. “According to Islamic criteria, we believe that neither men are the first gender, nor women are the second gender. We believe men and women not as confronting each other, but that women cooperate along with men in the same side, and both deserve human dignity and honor,” asserted Rouhani.

  • Why is it so easy to believe our food is toxic?

Unexpected and Intriguing: Chinese tourists need to behave

  • Chinese tourists are urged to change improper behaviors. "Chinese travelers abroad are seen as loud, rude, self-centered and lacking in self-discipline," said Li Zhongguang, of the China Tourism Academy.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law banning all swearing in films, television broadcasts, theatres and the media.

  • A computer expert from eastern Germany claims to have hacked the homepage of the US National Security Agency (NSA), leaving a message on the site for American security experts.

This bi-weekly digest is assembled from items sent to us by Except members. Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail Read past Wormfood global news reports here.

May 13, 2014