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From the Pretty Damned Funny dept at 23/6
When we think of Easter, we think of hidden eggs, baby chick-shaped candy, and enormous human-sized rabbits breaking into our homes to leave gift baskets. However, there’s a lot more to this two thousand year-old religious holiday than pastel sweaters and toxic Easter egg dye. Why is this particular Sunday so important that millions of pseudo-Christians have chosen it as one of only two days each year they attend church services? Well, because it’s the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Yup, rose from the dead. And no, he wasn’t a zombie. Though that would have been awesome. So, In honor of Jesus’ amazing, literally death-defying feat, 23/6 takes a look back at all the other long-dead things that have miraculously managed to come back to life in the twelve months since last Easter in The Year in Resurrections.
So why do I care? Because…
The population in either the Yangtze or Gangetic river basin is larger than that of any country other than China or India. And the ongoing shrinkage of underground water supplies and the prospective shrinkage of river water supplies are occurring against a startling demographic backdrop: by 2050 India is projected to add 490 million people and China 80 million.
In a world where grain prices have recently climbed to record highs, with no relief in sight, any disruption of the wheat or rice harvests due to water shortages in these two leading grain producers will greatly affect not only people living there but consumers everywhere. In both of these countries, food prices will likely rise and grain consumption per person can be expected to fall. In India, where just over 40 percent of all children under five years of age are underweight and undernourished, hunger will intensify and child mortality will likely climb.
For China, a country already struggling to contain food price inflation, there may well be spreading social unrest as food supplies tighten. Food security in China is a highly sensitive issue. Anyone in China who is 50 years of age or older is a survivor of the Great Famine of 1959–61, when, according to official figures, 30 million Chinese starved to death. This is also why Beijing has worked so hard in recent decades to try and maintain grain self-sufficiency.
As food shortages unfold, China will try to hold down domestic food prices by using its massive dollar holdings to import grain, most of it from the United States, the world’s leading grain exporter. Even now, China, which a decade or so ago was essentially self-sufficient in soybeans, is importing 70 percent of its supply, helping drive world soybean prices to an all-time high. As irrigation water supplies shrink, Chinese consumers will be competing with Americans for the U.S. grain harvest. India, too, may try to import large quantities of grain, although it may lack the economic resources to do so, especially if grain prices keep climbing. Many Indians will be forced to tighten their belts further, including those who have no notches left.
It would not be the American way to suggest that you save it or pay down some debt, but if you are going to spend it, do it wisely. If you are going to do the right thing and blow it, do it right. Here are some of our suggestions.
1. Buy local: It is your patriotic duty to squeeze the most stimulus out of your dollar, and you do that by not shipping it overseas. Michael Shuman, in the Small-Mart Revolution explains how much better it is to spend your money in your local economy. In one study comparing two bookstores in Austin, Texas, economists found that $13 out of every $100 spent at Borders stayed in town, compared with $45 out of every $100 spent at the local bookshop.
2. Invest it in efficiency: Look at our series of posts on greening your house for winter—start with a programmable thermostat and keep going down the list until the money is gone. Trust us, you will get it all back within a year or two anyways in energy savings.
3. Buy a bike: Not a cheap one that will fall apart in weeks, but one that you can really have fun riding year round, so you can start using it instead of your car. That investment will pay for itself in weeks. Nervous? Don’t miss our posts on how to commute to work by bike and how to ride your bike all winter.
4. Buy some good books: Yes, we know that the library is the greenest way to read, but authors have to eat too, and we only suggest keepers. Start with selections from our series on how to build a green library.