Friday, August 19, 2011

Hani Yaafouri writes on escalating food prices and food shortages

This commentary lays out the reasons behind the escalating food prices and the shortages in food supply in the developing nations. In its state of security report in 2006, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA), estimated that 854 million people worldwide suffer from hunger and malnutrition including 820 million in developing countries due to shortages in food supply.

The increase in food prices is due to several factors. First, economic growth in some developing nations like China and India is straining our natural resources as demand for food has reached historic levels. Second, the rapid rise in petroleum prices due to constant unrest in the oil rich Middle East (Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria) and the escalating cost of shipping food supply across the globe are putting an unprecedented pressure on food prices due to the increase in transportation costs. Third, continuous increase in temperature due to climate change has impacted fresh water supply which is affecting crop production and supply. Fourth, the unprecedented demand from the biofuels sector is also affecting food prices.

Food shortages and escalating food prices are serious threats facing our world. The main reasons are attributed to unprecedented demand on our natural resources from the developing world, continuous increase in oil prices and the huge demand from the biofuels sector for agricultural lands. In order to mitigate these challenges, we need new agricultural policies and a new sustainable food frame work that increase the participation of developing nations in order to mitigate these challenges.

Hani Yaafouri
Masters of Resources Law Studies program graduate

Editor's note: Mr. Hani Yaafouri, who is originally from Lebanon, graduated from Denver Law's Masters of Resources Law Studies program in 2010.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Denver Law Adjunct Professor Catherine Keske Studies how to Convert Animal and Food Waste to Energy

Denver Law Adjunct Professor Catherine Keske is conducting work to determine how to convert animal and food waste into energy, in an economically feasible way.

One technology is "anaerobic digestion." This involves using microbes to convert the waste into methane. The methane is captured and is either used as biogas (to heat a boiler) or converted into electricity through a generator. The methane capture reduces green house gas emissions and creates energy.

Dr. Keske, a leading resource economist and professor at Colorado State University, says:

"My findings have shown that in the western U.S., scarce water resources yield different agricultural management practices than in the eastern U.S. Less water, as well as relatively low energy prices, make anaerobic digestion less economically feasible than in the eastern U.S. However, some western municipalities and agricultural operations have shown that they can successfully implement anaerobic digestion if they can appropriately offset the costs. Nuisiance lawsuit mitigation is another factor that could make the anaerobic digestion technology economically feasible.

"Right now I am working with early adoptors to identify the elements that have made anaerobic digestion economically feasible for their company. This way, we can replicate their work with other operations."
Dr. Keske has been funded by four different agencies (National Resource Conservation Service, the Colorado Governor's Energy Office, U.S. A.I.D. and Montana State University Extension) to study the issue. She works rather closely with Dr. Sybil Sharvelle, a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Colorado State. Dr. Sharvelle is developing technology, which she calls, "dry digestion technology" that can make anaerobic digestion feasible in arid climates like Colorado. Should dry digestion technology become commercially available, costs associated with water will also be reduced and more operations might be able to adopt anaerobic digestion technology.

Interested readers can download the technical report written for the Colorado Governor's Energy Office by clicking here.

Don Smith, director of Denver Law's Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Program, said, "Dr. Keske newest project demonstrates once again why we are thrilled to have her teach at DU. Her courses -- "Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment: Policy, Markets, and Economic Measurement" and "Public Utilities Regulation" -- are highly respected by our faculty and students. The courses contribute richness and breadth to our outstanding environmental and natural resources program, and we are delighted she is part of our program."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Announces Spring 2012 Scholarship Program: Applications Due October 3

The Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, one of the world's premier professional groups focusing on natural resources issues, has announced its Spring 2012 Scholarship Program.

The purpose of the program is to encourage the study of natural resources law by well qualified law students who have the potential to make significant contributions to scholarship in natural resources law. Scholarship applications are due October 3, 2011.

Full-time Denver Law students who can demonstrate a commitment to study natural resources law or who are undertaking the study of natural resources law are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Recent scholarship awards have ranged from $1,500 to $11,000.

Don Smith, director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program, encouraged Denver Law students to consider applying for the scholarship. "In recent years, Denver Law has been honored to have many of our students win substantial scholarships from the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation. These scholarships benefit students not only in terms of the money received but also in helping students network with many of the world's finest leaders and thinkers in the natural resources sector who are a part of this prestigious organization."

For a flyer about the program, please click here. The application for a scholarship is available by clicking here.