Autism Spectrum Disorders

Challenge of Studying the Brain, ASD expained, Newborn Brain Development, Causes of Autism, Scientific Research, Types of Autism, Vaccines, When to See A Doctor, ASD Treatment and more.


The human brain is the most complex organism, even in today’s world of extremely advanced computers. Neurologists and scientists in human development have been studying the brain for hundreds of years, but we can safely put to side the work of physicians before the 1980s, no matter how celebrated, since they lacked access to current day devices that facilitate observation and analysis of this unbelievably intricate organism.

Whatever little we have learned about the brain− the process of its development from the day a child is born, and its progressive growth into adulthood− has clarified a few of the myriad issues of its development under normal conditions.

The yawning gap between the understanding of how genetics and environmental factors affected its development has narrowed somewhat. In a wider perspective, it has been seen that genes inherited from parents definitely shape the development process, governing how our predilections are expressed. At the same time, our experiences, mostly the outcome of how we interact with others, have a major effect on how these very predispositions are expressed.

Recent research has revealed that many abilities considered to be imbued at birth are, in fact, a function of the integration of a series of experiences brought forward with heredity. Both these factors govern the optimal development of that staggering masterpiece of design, the human brain. Why then does the brain malfunction, in certain cases from birth itself? We hear that some people are autistic; what is autism?

Challenge of Studying the Brain

Before we define anything related to the brain, it is essential to understand why the brain has apparently not been studied as exhaustively as other human organs. In order to study any organ, it is often required to distort or destroy a part of it and record what the outcome is, as is done with laboratory born and bred mice and rabbits. This is indirectly possible with every organ a human being has, in that progressive degradation can be monitored over time, as can recoveries post treatment, without damaging the person.

Hearts can be removed and examined while their owners are on a ventilator. A deceased person’s healthy organs can be removed and used to replace defective organs in others, with prior permission. But the brain cannot be fully studied, except in participatory exercises, nor can it be removed, since it governs itself and its innermost recesses cannot be reached, unlike the other organs of the human body.

Invasive techniques, like positioning electrodes in the brain, or disabling a part of this organ to observe and evaluate end effects on behavior may be used with non-human species, but ethical reasons forbid extensive experimentation with humans. But then, human beings are the sole subjects who can provide a rational response to multifarious verbal instructions.

The only recourse left is to use low output non-invasive techniques like electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings or functional neuroimaging on humans vis-á-vis non-humans.


Important topics, like language, cannot be studied at all, other than in humans. It is possible that human and non-human studies complement each other: Individual brain cells can only be studied in non-humans; complex cognitive tasks can only be studied in humans.

Tissue samples for biopsy for suspected brain tumors are a separate issue. Today’s gauntlet for neuroscience is the combination of these two sources of information, which, when put together, yield a comprehensive functional insight of the human brain.

The Make-up of The Human Brain (need correction here)

The brain is the most powerful organ in the body, yet weighs only around 1.5 kg (3.3 lb). Its texture is that of a firm jelly. Its volume is close to 1130 cubic centimetres (cm3) in women and 1260 cm3 in men, though variations can be substantial. Neurological differences in volume between the genders do not correlate with IQ or cognitive performance. The main components of human brain are neurons, glial cells and blood vessels. The neurons number about 86 billion, with an almost equal number of cells called glia.

The brain has 3 main parts:

  • The cerebrum, which, along with its cortex fills up most of the skull. It controls memory, deduction, thought processes, feeling and movement.
  • The cerebellum, which lies beneath the cerebrum, at the rear of the head. It looks after balance and overall coordination.
  • The brain stem, which lies under the cerebrum and ahead of the cerebellum. It joins the brain and the spinal cord and controls life-related functions like breathing, pulse rate, blood pressure and digestion (ibid).   

The human head is rather small, but the size of the brain fitted inside is large. The cerebral cortex, a layer of neural tissue that covers most of the brain, is folded in such a manner that it increases the surface area of the brain fitted in the space available. This folding pattern is common between individuals, with small variations. The cortex is split into four lobes, the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe, and occipital lobe respectively.

The human brain is prone to both damage and disease. It is protected by the skull with its thick bones and cerebrospinal fluid, and segregated from the bloodstream by the blood–brain barrier. The most common type of physical damage is head injuries caused by a blow to the head, a stroke, or poisoning by neurotoxins. A blow to the head causes contusions and concussion.

The most common and least serious type of traumatic brain injury is called a concussion. CDC statistics show as many as 3.8 million sports, recreation and accident-related concussions occur each year in the U.S.

A concussion is most often caused by a sudden direct blow or bump to the head. The brain is cushioned by spinal fluid and encased in the protective shell of the skull. When you sustain a concussion, the impact can jolt your brain. Your brain then doesn’t function normally. If you’ve suffered a concussion, vision may be disturbed, you may lose equilibrium and fall. In short, the brain is confused. If the after effects last longer than one day, it is called Post Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD). Concussions often occur in young children because their heads are disproportionately large compared to the rest of their body. As kids enter adolescence, they experience rapid height and weight gain, factors that make them more prone to accidents than adults. According to the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, 1 million children each year suffer concussions. More than 30,000 incur long-term disabilities as a result of the traumatic brain injury. Source:


The cells that make up the brain survive on the oxygen and nutrients brought to it in the blood pumped from the heart. If this supply is denied to the cells or reduced, they first suffer damage and then die. Such a condition is called a stroke.

A stroke may thus be caused by a blockage in an artery (ischemic stroke) or by a leak in blood vessel or even a burst (hemorrhagic stroke). People often experience a short term interruption of blood coursing through their brain (transient ischemic attack, or TIA).

Ischemic Stroke

Almost 85% of strokes suffered are ischemic strokes. An ischemic strokes takes place when the arteries from your heart to your brain narrow down or get blocked, resulting in a major reduction of blood flow (ischemia). The most common ischemic strokes include:

  • Thrombotic stroke. A thrombus is a blood clot that is formed in one of the many arteries that provide blood to your brain. If this thrombus leads to a stroke−as it certainly will− you would have undergone a thrombotic stroke. The clot is exactly the same as those that cause a myocardial infarction or heart attack and is caused by the same reasons, i.e., fat deposit (plaque) in arteries that narrow it and reduce blood flow (atherosclerosis) or by other specific artery conditions.
  • Embolic stroke. An embolus is a loose blood clot travelling through arteries and when it gets lodged in an artery in the brain, it causes a stroke. The lodging of an embolus is called an embolism and if this happens in an artery in the brain, it is called a pulmonary embolism.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

If a blood vessel in your brain ruptures, leaks or bursts, you will suffer a hemorrhagic stroke. Brain hemorrhages may be caused by one of many conditions that affect your blood vessels, like hypertension (high blood pressure) and aneurysms, weak spots caused by thinning of the walls of a blood vessel. A brain hemorrhage is labeled according to precisely where it occurs in the brain. Bleeding anywhere inside the skull is called an intracranial hemorrhage. Bleeding within the brain itself is known as an intracerebral hemorrhage. Bleeding can also occur between the covering of the brain and the brain tissue itself, called a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

A transient ischemic attack (TIA), or a mini stroke is a short period of time when you exhibit symptoms similar to those in a stroke. The TIA is caused by a short term decrease in blood supply to a part of your brain and could last less than five minutes. A TIA doesn’t leave lasting symptoms because the blockage is temporary. You must seek emergency care even if your symptoms seem to clear up. If you’ve had a TIA, it means there’s likely a partially blocked or narrowed artery leading to your brain, or a clot source in the heart. A TIA should be construed as a serious warning that a major stroke is round the corner.

None of the above cause Autism Spectrum Disorders.

So what is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a serious neurological disorder in a child’s development that restricts or even prevents its ability to communicate and interact with others.

Earlier, five disorders were classified under a blanket category officially termed Pervasive Developmental Disorders, or PDD. These five disorders were:

  • Autism
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • Rett syndrome
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS)

ASD is now defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a single disorder that includes disorders that were previously considered separate — autism, Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. Rett syndrome has been left out. Asperger’s syndrome was to be removed this year from this spectrum or range.

Though overall birth rate is on the decline, the number of children afflicted by autism spectrum disorder is on the rise. This could be due to improved detection technology, facilitating better detection and reporting, or a genuine increase in the disease, or both. 25 years ago, the stated rate was pegged at 2-6 per 1,000. Today, it is 1 in 88. Even though there is no known allopathic cure for autism spectrum disorder, focused early treatment could make a serious positive difference in the day to day lives of many unfortunate children.

Symptoms of Autism

As mentioned earlier, autism spectrum disorder affects how a child perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in crucial areas of development — social interaction, communication and behavior. ASD can manifest itself at any stage of childhood. Some children exhibit symptoms soon after birth. Others could grow normally for the first couple of months, even years of life, but then, out of nowhere, start displaying symptoms such as becoming withdrawn or cantankerous or lose the ability to use already demonstrated language skills.

Each child is different from another, and, with ASD, may show individual behavior patterns at varying levels of severity. The level of severity is decided by others, on the basis of cognitive impairment, reduction of social communications, classic restrictive behavior repetition along with effects of such disabilities. The Mayo Clinic has done a lot of work in this field.

The standard symptoms are (ibid):

A: Social Communication and Interaction

  • Fails to respond to his or her name or appears not to hear you at times
  • Resists cuddling and holding and seems to prefer playing alone — retreats into his or her own world
  • Has poor eye contact and lacks facial expression
  • Doesn’t speak or has delayed speech, or may lose previous ability to say words or sentences
  • Can’t start a conversation or keep one going, or may only start a conversation to make requests or label items
  • Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm — may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech
  • May repeat words or phrases verbatim, but doesn’t understand how to use them
  • Doesn’t appear to understand simple questions or directions
  • Doesn’t express emotions or feelings and appears unaware of others’ feelings
  • Doesn’t point at or bring objects to share interest
  • Inappropriately approaches a social interaction by being passive, aggressive or disruptive

B: Patterns of Behavior

  • Performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning or hand-flapping, or may perform activities that could cause harm, such as head-banging
  • Develops specific routines or rituals and becomes disturbed at the slightest change
  • Moves constantly
  • May be uncooperative or resistant to change
  • Has problems with coordination or has odd movement patterns, such as clumsiness or walking on toes, and has odd, stiff or exaggerated body language
  • May be fascinated by details of an object, such as the spinning wheels of a toy car, but doesn’t understand the "big picture" of the subject
  • May be unusually sensitive to light, sound and touch, and yet oblivious to pain
  • Does not engage in imitative or make-believe play
  • May become fixated on an object or activity with abnormal intensity or focus
  • May have odd food preferences, such as eating only a few foods, or eating only foods with a certain texture

Most children afflicted by ASD are slow learners, with IQ below par. Others with ASD are normal or better than par in the IQ department — they pick up things quickly, but fall foul when it comes to communication and application of what they seem to know in routine life and adapting to social situations.

A minor percentage of children with ASD are savants — they display extraordinary skills in a defined arena, such as abstract math, number crunching or music. There is no fairy tale ending here. Some may grow up and become social, exhibiting rational behavior. Those with the least problems as kids could well lead close to normal lives. But most will, unfortunately, remain aggressive and regressive.

How The Newborn Brain Develops

The basic matter of a brain is a nerve cell, the neuron. Interestingly, when kids are born, they already have almost all the neurons they will require in their life-span, totaling more than 85 billion. Yes, some neurons do develop well after birth, in adulthood; the neurons kids are born with are those they will utilize as they grow, from childhood to adulthood.

While still a fetus, neurons are created and join up into an infantile brain. As neurons move, they begin to respond to chemical signals. This is a unique bottom up process, with migration from the less developed segments of the brain to the more elaborate. The first areas of the brain that must develop in totality are the areas called the brainstem and the midbrain, because these areas govern all bodily functions needed to live, called the autonomic functions. At birth, these portions of the nervous system have to be and, indeed, are well developed because they will be required instantaneously after delivery, whereas the higher zones, like emotions, thought processes, etc., are still at a primitive stage.

Immediately after birth, a new born baby has many new things to do to live, like breathe, eat, sleep, see, hear, smell, make noise, feel sensations, etc. It has to be ready to react at T0, as delivery reaches its final phase. The 85 billion neurons help them do just that. The newborns’ brains are on the go from moment T1, when they are exposed to the atmosphere as they move down, head first in normal deliveries, to the exit of the birth canal. With the passage of time, the brain cells will have much development work at hand.

Most of brain growth and subsequent development starts to take place soon after birth, especially in the higher brain regions involved as just explained. Each region knows and manages the functions that will be assigned to it using a complex progression, mainly using chemical messengers, also known as the vital force (such as neurotransmitters and hormones) to help forward information to other sections of both the brain and the body.

Brain development, manifested as learning, is actually a micro-electric process of grouping neurons, at times a trial and error procedure.

When required, a new neuron will be created; existing neurons will be strengthened by reinforcement, and misplaced neurons will be isolated from the connection highway, to be restored to its correct place at the appropriate moment.

This connection is called a synapse, a structure that allows a neuron to transmit an electrical or chemical message to another cell. Synapses reorganize the floating structure of a brain under formation by creating pathways connecting the required parts of the brain that govern all that we do—from breathing and sleeping to thinking and feeling, all set like a sprinter on his starting blocks at T0 and activated at T1. This is how the brain develops after birth, because at birth, only the critical synapses have been formed, those vital for living outside the comfort of the womb.

The synaptic growth rate after birth is astronomical, to govern bodily functions other than heart rate, breathing, eating, and sleeping. Virtually every occurrence is a new experience for extremely young children, and synapses react thereto by multiplying in response. At its zenith, a healthy kid’s cerebral cortex may generate up to two million synapses per second. By the time a child reaches an age of 3, its brain could well have close to 1012 (1,000 trillion) synapses, way in excess of the amount they might ever need. The brain itself decides which synapses it will need and these synapses are retained and strengthened; many others are gradually weeded out.

This pruning of synapses is a perfectly normal process of child development. In fact, as the children reach the adolescence stage, close to 50 percent of their synapses would have been disposed of, retaining only those they will need to live out their lives. Brain development is a continuous procedure and will carry on throughout their lives. In other words, the brain continues to learn, memorize, and adapt to changed circumstances (ibid).

The brain is self adaptive. It adopts another new and important process in its development, viz, myelination. Myelin is a white fatty tissue encapsulating fully grown brain cells in a sheath, to ensure unambiguous transmission between synapses. This is why young children take time to process information; their brain cells are deficient in the myelin needed for rapid, unambiguous transmission of nerve impulses. Myelination starts in the areas of the brain stem and cortex, which are the main areas for the growth of motor and sensory response, before migrating to the higher-order zones that have developed by now to manage thought processes, memories, and emotions. Moreover, the tempo of growth of myelination is affected by the experiences the child undergoes, continuing into adolescence.

By the time a baby is three years old, its brain would have reached close to 90 percent of the size it will carry through into adulthood. Strangely, the brain is an excellent example of Newton’s laws: The more the stimulation each region of the brain receives, the more the activity incited in that region. It is this stimulation that provides the baseline for education.

Plasticity—The Influence of Environment

Plasticity is, in effect, a researcher’s term for brain elasticity. It describes the ability of the brain to adapt to changed circumstances as a response to continuous stimulation. The degree of plasticity depends on what stage the development process is in and the specific brain system affected. For example, the lower segment of the brain, which we know controls primary yet essential functions like breathing and pulse rate, is more rigid than the higher level of functioning cortex, which regulates thoughts and feelings. Cortex plasticity reduces with age, although plasticity remains, but to a lesser degree. It is this plasticity of the brain that permits us to learn progressively into adulthood and thereafter (ibid).

The continuous adaptation of a brain still developing is the outcome of a combination of genetics and experience. Our brains get us ready to anticipate specific experiences by creating the synapses needed to react to those experiences. For instance, our brains are trained to respond to speech; when infants hear speech, their neural systems responsible to react to speech/language are stimulated to function as organized. The more infants are exposed to speech, the better their language-related synapses become. If such an exposure does not take place, the synapses developed in expectation could be discarded, i.e., "use it or lose it." It is via these intertwined procedures of forming, strengthening and abandoning synapses that our brains readapt to changing environment.

The capability to adapt to changing environment forms part of normal development. For instance, kids growing up in freezing Iceland, on farms, or in large groups quickly learn how to adapt to those environments. That said, all children require stimulation and sustenance to stay healthy. If these are deficient—if a child’s custodians are indifferent or antagonistic—that child’s development of the brain could be damaged. Since the brain becomes accustomed to that environment, it will get used to a negative environment as easily as it would to a positive one. Even so, a slightly underformed brain, which would become normal in a positive environment in time, is at a risk of autism (ibid).

It is believed that there are windows of time for developing certain abilities, i.e., when specific components of the brain are most vulnerable to exacting experiences. Animals artificially blinded in their sensitive period when they develop vision might lose the ability to see, even if the artificial blinding device is removed at a later stage. Such an experiment cannot be carried out on a human being.

Why such an experiment cannot be done on humans needs no explanation. It is infinitely more complicated to assess periods of human sensitivity. But then, if certain synapses are not frequently activated, they may be abandoned, and the associated abilities diminished. For instance, babies have a genetic predilection to bond strongly with their primary caretakers. But if this caregiver is indifferent or hostile, the attachment procedure is impaired and the infant’s ability to shape any meaningful relationships during his or her life could be destroyed.

Even so, the plasticity of the child’s brain often permits them to recover to normal despite missing gainful experiences. Recovery of missed experiences become more difficult in the later stages in life, but hope should never be lost. This is particularly true in the case of young children deprived of specific stimuli, resulting in improper pruning of synapses pertinent to those stimuli and the ensuing deprivation of neuronal pathways. All the same, normal children have the resilience to bounce back from impaired progress past the developmental stage, to learn and regulate each step in concordance with the capability of their brains to build an efficient synaptic network.

The organizing scaffold for kids’ development is based on re-creation of memories. If repetitive experiences fortify a specific neuronal pathway, that pathway first becomes encoded, eventually becoming a memory. For instance, tiny tots quickly learn to put one foot in front of the other to walk, words to convey their sentiments, a smile is usually reciprocated. At a point in time, these evolve from processes to memories using a pathway created to facilitate a smooth and effective transmission of information. Creating memories is essential in adapting to our environment. Our brains try to fathom our world and regulate interactions with our world to enhance productive survival and growth. If the initial environment is offensive or negligent, our brains might generate memories of such negative experiences that could color our impression of our world throughout our existence adversely (ibid).
Babies are known to be born with the ability of implicit memory, meaning that they perceive the prevailing environment and can recall it in subconscious ways. They recognize their mother’s voice from some subconscious memory. Such implicit memories could well have a noteworthy impact on a kid’s attachment relationships later in life. Very young children who have been maltreated or suffered other ordeals may not be able to access memories for their adverse experiences. These implicit memories can have serious deleterious repercussions in the form of flashbacks, nightmares and other unmanageable reactions.

What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorder?

The number of ASD cases diagnosed has been rising at a steady pace over the past decade.

At the turn of the millennium it was 2-6 in 1,000, increasing to 1 in 110 and currently estimated at 1 in 88.

We know that ASD is a mental condition in which children struggle with social interaction and communication, usually coupled with a narrow range of interests and a proclivity for a fixed routine.

One of the leading questions psychiatrists specializing in child psychiatry are regularly asked is, "What causes autism?" Unfortunately, the candid answer is that so far, nobody really knows. The individual asking the question very likely has a reason behind it and he is left dissatisfied. Thus the answer moves into the sphere of generalization, with a blanket reply that it is possibly due to a wide variety of factors, the important causes being ‘genetic’ and ‘environmental’ influences. If the reason is not known, the answer must remain general.

The causes of ASD can be described in two ways:

  • Primary ASD (also known as idiopathic ASD) – where no underlying factors can be identified to explain why ASD has developed.
  • Secondary ASD – where an underlying medical condition or environmental factor thought to increase the risk of ASD is identified.

About 90% of cases of ASD are primary, and about 10% are secondary.

Factors Thought to Increase the Risk of Developing ASD

Factors thought to increase the risk of developing ASD, known as ‘risk factors’, can usually be divided into five main categories (ibid):

  • Genetic factors – certain genetic mutations may make a child more likely to develop ASD.
  • Environmental factors – during pregnancy, a child may be exposed to certain environmental factors that could increase the risk of developing ASD.
  • Psychological factors – people with ASD may think in certain ways that tend to heighten their symptoms.
  • Neurological factors –problems with the development of the brain and nervous system may contribute to the symptoms of ASD. Pruning is inefficient, leading to a block in storage space.
  • Other health conditions.

Note the use of the word ‘may’.

The media is perhaps spreading wrong information, given the current thrust of recent reports that claim to have evidence of yet another "risk factor" to autism. The scope of links found vary from air pollution to maternal antibodies, leaving the father blameless; gluten sensitivity, genetic mutations and a folic acid deficiency have all been touted as probable causes of this disorder. This naturally begs the question: why is it almost impossibly difficult for doctors and scientists to isolate the cause for this serious condition, especially because it seems to be waxing large.

What the general public must know is that there is no "typical" autistic person. ASD encompasses such a wide and sundry group of patients with multiple combinations of exhibited symptoms and an equally wide diversity in functional severity that diagnosis has remained general. This has some doctors now saying, "When you have seen one person with autism, you have seen one person with autism." It also helps to explain why the term spectrum in ASD has become a better method of discussing this woeful condition. This is antithetic to the perspective of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

There is no definitive CAT/PET or brain MRI scans for ASD. It is believed that some innovative technologies are in the research studies/ being developed phase to pinpoint the malaise earlier. That said, diagnosis of ASD in clinical practice is still based on child behavior, along with observations about his psychomotor response and brain processing, i.e., how he thinks, relates, communicates and responds. Child behavior devolves from diverse causes. For the moment, consider a child who can’t walk. There could be any number of reasons why that child can’t walk — some obvious, some more complex to determine. It could be a painful toe, a broken ankle, some infection, a pulled muscle or a predicament with the child’s nervous system. Diagnose that child simply on behavior (the child is unable to walk) and we may end up with a conclusion of "immobility spectrum disorder." Figuring out immobility is far easier than comprehending ASD, a "brain disorder." After all, there are less than 100 bony joints plus muscles in our leg, with the nerves employed by the muscular system hardly as complex as the 100 billion neurons, and trillions of synapses in the brain (ibid).  

So what are we left with? Innumerable variations in brain development, the enduring combination of environmental exposures or genetic disturbances that could lead to ASD, with detrimental concomitant effects on social communication, language and behavior. Autism is best seen as a spectrum, a brood of "autisms." If indeed so, news about yet another link to or cause of ASD should not surprise us. This challenge, in itself, is not unique. We regularly diagnose so many other brain disarrays, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, bipolar disorder and virtually every other mental imbalance on the basis of clinical appraisal — patient history, family observation, the patient himself when communicative, teachers, other dependable sources, as well as comprehensive examination of the patient. To complicate matters, other conditions have been observed to exist alongside ASD, like ADHD, which is thought to be present in a third of children with autism.

Scientific Research

So far, we have believed that ASD is genetically biased. Now, scientists stress the fact that escalating cases of autism can’t be elucidated only by genetic change, as our genes are just not changing as rapidly. Thus far, large-scale genetic research can explain only about 20 percent of ASD cases. We also know that there is more than one gene responsible. Who knows, there could well be several hundred genes interrelating to bring about ASD. Autism genetic research is increasingly relying on experts in computing and statistics to be able to separate and decipher the "signal" to "noise" ratio, to determine what is actually noteworthy in larger genetic research.

Progress has been made in understanding ASD and ADHD. Researchers are developing specialized eye-tracking technologies aimed at diagnosing ASD earlier than ever before (and early detection and intervention are crucial to long-term functioning in youth affected by this condition). By detecting subtle changes in eye gaze, researchers have been able to identify ASD in children as young as 18 months of age. These eye tracking technologies, however, remain experimental and are not currently in routine clinical use. However, the FDA has just approved the Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Assessment Aid (NEBA) system as an aid to making a diagnosis of ADHD. This NEBA system measures different formats of brain waves, thereby enhancing ADHD diagnosis accuracy when conducted alongside clinical appraisal. With luck, similar technologies might be approved for analyzing ASD in the years ahead permitting us to build more specific interventions to cater for the multifarious "autisms." Till such time as the cause for ASD is established, we will perforce have to stay with generalization.

Types of Autism

Two of the five listed types of Autism have been/will be removed from that list of five. These are:

  • Rett Syndrome: Primarily affecting females, Rett syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder. Its symptoms begin after a period of normal development that lasts between 6 and 18 months, after which the child’s mental and social development regresses. Scientists have discovered that a mutation in the sequence of a single gene can cause Rett syndrome. This discovery may also lead to methods of screening for the disorder.
  • Asperger syndrome: Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, is mostly a ‘hidden disability’. This means that you can’t tell that someone has the condition from their outward appearance. People with the condition have difficulties in three main areas. They are:
  • social communication
  • social interaction
  • social imagination

All autistic patients have these three disabilities as well. People with Asperger syndrome have fewer problems with speaking and are often of average, or above average, intelligence. They do not usually have the accompanying learning disabilities associated with autism, but they may have specific learning difficulties. These may include dyslexia and dyspraxia or other conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and epilepsy. With the right support and encouragement, people with Asperger syndrome can lead full and independent lives (ibid).

As of now, there is no ‘cure’ or specialized treatment for Asperger syndrome. Children with Asperger syndrome will grow into adults with Asperger syndrome. However, as general understanding of the debility improves and medical services continue to develop, afflicted people will have excellent opportunities to reach their potential to the full. 

Is ASD Caused by Vaccines?

There are two schools of thought, one believing that the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine was causing stomach disorders in some children and autism in others. The counter to this is that if MMR was the cause of Autism, then the number of victims should have been in the hundreds of millions, not in the 1 in 88 category.

MMR Causes Autism

At the outset, it is worth remembering that it’s worth remembering that the exact same people who own the free world’s drug companies also own America’s news outlets. Finding unbiased information has been and will still be difficult.

In 1996, Dr. Andrew Wakefield of Austin, Texas noticed the link between stomach disorders and autism, and taking his research one step further, the link between stomach disorders, autism and the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine. His research was published in 1998, and the good doctor became the hit man of a world-wide smear campaign by drug corporations, governments and media companies, losing his license to legally practice medicine. He became a best-selling author instead.

But in recent months, courts, governments and vaccine manufacturers have quietly conceded the fact that the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine most likely does cause autism and stomach diseases. Pharmaceutical companies have paid out massive monetary awards, totaling in the millions, to the victims in an attempt to compensate them for damages and to buy their silence. The news that vaccines cause autism has now spread across the US despite a coordinated media black-out.

In December 2012, two landmark decisions were announced that confirmed Dr. Wakefield’s original concern that there was a link between the MMR vaccine, autism and stomach disorders. The news went unreported, but independent outlets like The Liberty Beacon finally published the pathbreaking news. The news was published online, “In a recently published vaccine court ruling, (December 13, 2012) hundreds of thousands of dollars were awarded to Ryan Mojabi, whose parents described how MMR vaccinations caused a “severe and debilitating injury to his brain, diagnosed as Autism Spectrum Disorder (‘ASD’).

The Liberty Beacon described the second court ruling that month, as well as similar previous verdicts, “The government suffered a second major defeat when young Emily Moller from Houston won compensation following vaccine-related brain injury that, once again, involved MMR and resulted in autism. The cases follow similar successful petitions in the Italian and US courts (including Hannah Poling, Bailey Banks, Misty Hyatt, Kienan Freeman, Valentino Bocca, and Julia Grimes) in which the governments conceded or the court ruled that vaccines had caused brain injury. In turn, this injury led to an ASD diagnosis. MMR vaccine was the common denominator in these cases.”

The ant-vaccine groups say that thimerosal, a preservative used in vaccines, is toxic to the central nervous system and responsible for an alarming rise in rates of autism among children in the United States and around the world. Since the world has slowly become aware of the dangers of the MMR vaccine, parents around the globe have refused to get their children vaccinated. Further investigations revealed the callous attitude and antipathy of the manufacturers and governments alike.

The Counter Argument to the MMR Causes of Autism

One of the key pillars of the “vaccines cause autism” argument is that with the increase in the number of childhood vaccines on the schedule over the years, autism prevalence has increased, as well. The immune system doesn’t count the number of shots. It counts what’s in those shots, the molecules known as antigens, which trigger the immune response. And the number of antigens children encounter by way of today’s vaccine schedule is thousands fewer than it once was.

Now that key pillar has been eroded. A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics on 06 March 2013 added up the antigen number in the vaccines administered to 1008 children, 25% with autism, and found no correlation whatsover between autism and increasing antigen number through completion of the vaccine schedule up to age 2. The study was funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These children were born from 1994 to 1999, during a time when a single DTP shot could contain more than 3000 of the molecules that fire up the immune system. Today’s vaccine-related antigen exposure is considerably less. The authors say: “Thus, even though the routine childhood schedule in 2012 contains several more vaccines than the schedule in the late 1990s, the maximum number of antigens to which a child could be exposed by age 2 years was 315 in 2012 …”

From 3000 in a single shot to 315 total today.

Researchers also examined both autistic disorder and autism associated with regression. In neither case did they find a link to increasing vaccine-related antigen exposure through infancy. Their work had some limitations. For example, not all antigens are created equal. Some have more immune triggering areas on them than others. The study did not incorporate the relative intensity of the immune response to each antigen. Yet, the authors note that the 314 antigens infants encounter via vaccines in their first two years of life is a drop in an ocean of antigen exposures: Beginning at birth, an infant is exposed to hundreds of viruses and other antigens, and it has been estimated that an infant theoretically could respond to thousands of vaccines at once.

The major argument is that if the MMR vaccine was indeed the culprit, then there should have been millions of more children/youths afflicted with ASD. "There is no evidence whatsoever linking the development of autism to childhood vaccines," The Guardian of May 20, 2014, reported. A new study involving more than a million children found no evidence of a link between childhood vaccines and autism or autism spectrum disorder. Researchers pooled the results of studies that have assessed the relationship between vaccine administration and the subsequent development of autism spectrum disorder. No significant associations were found between vaccinations and the development of the condition. The researchers included five cohort studies involving 1,256,407 children, and five case-control studies involving 9,920 children.

Many respected medical institutions have scrutinized the evidence from the United States and abroad, and have come to the conclusion that there is no link between autism and exposure to thimerosal. What’s more, the preservative has been removed from most childhood vaccines in the United States and the storage system changed at greater cost to manufacturers.

When to See A Doctor

The symptoms listed earlier should alarm parents. It is essential for a child’s future that it be checked for ASD and preventive treatment started, if only to limit the malaise.
This is a guide to what your child should be doing at 11/2-2 years of age:

  • Shows interest in his / her siblings or peers
  • Brings you items to show you
  • Follows your gaze to locate an object when you point
  • Engages in “pretend play” (e.g. feeding a doll or making a toy dog bark)
  • Uses many spontaneous single words and some-two word phrases

Some of the following may be early indicators of ASD. It has been observed that no single symptom necessarily signals autism – generally, a child would exhibit several indicators from the list below:


  • Has inexplicable tantrums
  • Has unusual interests or attachments
  • Has unusual motor movements such as flapping hands or spinning
  • Has extreme difficulty coping with change


  • Afraid of some everyday sounds
  • Uses peripheral vision to look at objects
  • Fascination with moving objects
  • High tolerance of temperature and pain


  • Not responding to his/her name by 12 months
  • Not pointing or waving by 12 months
  • Loss of words previously used
  • Speech absent at 18 months
  • No spontaneous phrases by 24 months


  • Prefers to play alone
  • Very limited social play (e.g. “Peek-a-boo”)
  • Play is limited to certain toys
  • Plays with objects in unusual ways such as repetitive spinning or lining up

Early diagnosis and intervention are very important for children with ASD. The USA caters for such children under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Children with ASD may be eligible for early intervention services (birth to 3) and an educational program that has been designed appropriate to their individual needs. Apart from pure academics, special education programs for students with ASD (ages 3 to 22) have also been made with its focus on improving communication, social, academic, behavioral, and daily living skills. Idiopathic problems that obstruct learning are left to professionals particularly knowledgeable about ASD to develop and implement a syllabus for both home and school.

The classroom should be so structured that training programs are consistent and logical. It has been noted that students with ASD learn best and without confusion when information is presented audio-visually. Interaction with understanding nondisabled peers is significant, as these students become models of language, social, and behavioral skills. Since consistency and continuity are critical for children with ASD, parents should be part of the overall development plan for their child, so that school activities and experiences are carried into the home and community. It is possible that children undergoing such programs coordinated with specialized adult support services will grow to live, work, and participate fully in their communities.

Tips for Teachers

  • Learn more about ASD (ibid).
  • Check out research on effective instructional interventions and behavior.
  • Ensure directions are given step-by-step, verbally, visually, and by providing any support or prompts, as needed by the student. Be as explicit as possible in your instructions and feedback to the student.
  • Find out what the student’s strengths and interests are and emphasize them. Give positive feedback and lots of opportunities for practice.
  • Build opportunities for the student to have social/collaborative interactions throughout the regular school day.
  • If behavior becomes an issue, call in the experts (including parents) to understand the behavior pattern and develop a unified, positive approach to resolving them.
  • Have consistent routines and schedules.
  • Reward students for each small success.
  • Work alongside the student’s parents to implement the educational plan devised.

Tips for Parents

  • Learn about ASD. The more you learn, the better you can help your child (ibid).
  • Interact with your child in ways most likely to adduce positive response.
  • Know what may trigger a breakdown for your child and minimize them. The earliest years are the toughest, but it does get better!
  • Learn from professionals and other parents how to meet your child’s special needs.
  • Stick to structured, consistent schedules and routines.
  • Behavior, communication, and social skills are areas of concern for a child with ASD. Maintaining a loving and structured approach in caring for your child helps greatly.
  • Learn about assistive technology that can help your child, from simple picture boards to sophisticated communication devices, consistent with age.
  • Work with professionals in early intervention. Include related services, supplementary aids and services and a positive behavioral support plan, if needed.
  • Be patient, and stay optimistic. Your child, like every child, has a whole lifetime to learn and grow. 

ASD Treatment

There is no medication that can cure ASD or treat the core symptoms, though there is medication that can aid some people afflicted with ASD function better. Treatment already exists for inability to focus, hyperactivity, depression, seizures, etc. These can be used as advised by a specialist in ASD. Medications may affect different children differently, which is why it is important to work with a professional who is a specialist in ASD. Watch for negative side effects. At the same time, remember your child has to undergo routine medical checks along with all other kids.

Many types of treatments are available, under the following categories:

  • Behavior and Communication Approaches
  • Dietary Approaches
  • Medication
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Behavior And Communication Approaches to aid children afflicted by ASD are those that provide structure, direction, and organization for the child in addition to family participation. A noteworthy approach for treating people with ASD is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which is widely accepted by specialists and used both in schools and clinics. ABA is a variation of Different Strokes, encouraging positive behavior while disparaging negative behavior to progress a skill set. The child’s development is tracked and plotted.

Dietary Approach

Some dietary approaches have been built up by known therapists, but lack scientific support desired for extensive recommendation. An unproven treatment might help one child, but may not help another. Grandma’s potions will not work here.


As already stated, medication may help control hyperactivity, inability to focus, depression, or seizures. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of antipsychotic drugs (like risperidone and aripripazole in the USA) to treat, at stipulated ages, children with ASD who suffer from violent tantrums, aggression, and even injure themselves.

Complementary and Alternative Treatments

At times, parents and doctors use treatments normally not recommended by a pediatrician to assuage ASD. Such treatments are called complementary / alternative treatments (CAM). They might include chelation (removal of heavy metals from the body), biologicals (e.g., secretin), or body-based systems (like deep pressure). Some might go in for Homeopathy, Acupuncture, etc.

Organizations That may be of Assistance

Achieve Beyond

Association for Science in Autism Treatment

Autism Treatment Center

AUTCOM – The Autism National Committee

Autism Research Institute

Geneva Centre for Autism

Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC)

Autism Consortium

Autism Ontario

Autism Society

Autistica – Funding Pioneering Autism Research

Center for Autism and Related Disorders

The Dan Marino Foundation

Autism Center – University of Washington – Seattle, Tacoma

The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation – A National Autism Organization: Granting a Future to Adolescents and Adults

Families for Early Autism Treatment

Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism

National Fragile X Foundation

Jenny McCarthy’ Autism Organization

The Golden Fund for Autism

Hollyrod Foundation

Illinois Center for Autism

IMHRO (One Mind Institute) – Global Innovation for Brain Health

Lakeside Center for Autism

The Mifne Swiss House

NARPAA | National Association of Residential Providers for Adults with Autism

National Autism Association | Help and Hope for Families Affected by Autism

New England Center for Children

Organization for Autism Research

Rocky Mountain Autism Center – Colorado

South Carolina Autism Society

Talk About Curing Autism (TACA)

The Color of Autism Foundation African American Support

The Help Group

Train 4 Autism


This entry was posted in: Blog.

Lead in Lipstick

Lead in Lipstick Overview: Policy, Toxic Substances in Cosmetics, Tests, Recommendations, Stakeholder Initiatives & More

The raging controversy of lead in cosmetics, particularly lipstick, is a two decades old worldwide multi-stakeholders debate among international bodies, government health regulatory agencies, women, health, and environment advocates, scientists and academics, the media, consumers, and cosmetic manufacturers. The internet and the academe provide convenient platforms for these engagements and the protracted discussion over this issue on the cumulative/long-term effects of lead on the health of consumers/users of lipstick and other cosmetic and personal care products.

Researches conducted by consumer, health, women, and environmental groups, independent refereed journal publishing academics, and government agencies and findings published by these entities and selectively popularized by media agencies and bloggers and independent non-professional reviewers have failed, thus far, to resolve the issue. Urban legend spinners have popularized the issue extensively and fueled the raging debate with sensationalized popular versions of the findings of many researches alongside recommendations to use home-grown lead testing methods.

This discussion focuses on the debate over the presence of lead in cosmetics and personal care products, particularly, lipstick. In this context, existing legislations and policy declarations and articulations of international health agencies and government regulatory bodies and their perceived limitations will be examined within their historical contexts. Independent initiatives of other stakeholders will be analyzed given the disparity of views between advocates for the safe use of cosmetics and government agencies. The most recent scientific researches pertinent to the lead in lipstick issue will be discussed as possible bases of the re-thinking of public policy and the adoption of more effective progressive legislation for the protection of consumer health.

Lead in Lipstick as a Public Issue: An Overview of its Terrain and Contours

Concerns over the presence of  lead in cosmetics, particularly lipsticks trace its origins centuries ago when lead was used as paint for the beautification of the face and people died from this ( The ban of the use of lead  in the manufacture of  paints  because of its toxic properties was instituted  worldwide and in the US in 1978 ( decades ago (  The  internet is the platform of this debate and the aggressive campaign of consumer advocates for stricter legislation towards the elimination of lead and other toxic metals like aluminum, arsenic, mercury, nickel, beryllium, thallium, selenium, cadmium, chromium, and manganese (; in the manufacture of  cosmetics, lipstick, and other personal care products (

This original text from the FDA website on frequently asked questions (fqa) situates with precision and accuracy the debate over the lead in lipstick issue:

What is FDA’s legal authority over cosmetic safety?

FDA regulates cosmetic safety under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). The FD&C Act requires that cosmetics marketed in interstate commerce be safe when used as directed in the labeling or under customary conditions of use. Cosmetics are not subject to pre-market approval by FDA. However, pre-market approval is required for the color additives used in cosmetics (including those in lipsticks), with the exception of coal-tar hair dyes. To learn more, see FDA Authority Over Cosmetics.

Has FDA set limits for lead in cosmetics?

No, FDA has not set limits for lead in cosmetics. FDA has set specifications for lead in color additives used in cosmetics. FDA approval of color additives is based on safety evaluations that consider the color additives’ intended uses and estimated consumer exposure resulting from those uses. FDA-approved color additives are listed in Title 21 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). To learn more about FDA-approved color additives, see Color Additives.

What are FDA’s limits for lead in color additives?

FDA limits lead in color additives to maximum specified levels, typically no more than 20 parts per million (ppm) for color additives approved for use in cosmetics. In addition, the color additives listed under regulations in 21 CFR Parts 74 and 82 are required to be batch-certified by FDA, which includes testing each batch for lead, before they may be used in cosmetics. (

 In the 1990s,  a report derived  from the research of a commercial testing laboratory  confirmed the presence of traces of lead in lipstick  (  Rumors circulated by email in 2003 substantially expanded public awareness and generated strong consumer advocacy  of the lead in lipstick issue in the United States (; The 2007 research which antedates any government initiative on the issue of lead in lipstick  was  conducted by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC), the largest advocacy group  with partners from the women and environmental sectors. The transcript/summary of this study showed that some lipsticks available in retail outlets contained lead (  

The US Food and Drug Administration conducted a scientific study on the lead content of a selection of commercially available lipsticks and confirmed the  presence of the toxic metal ( . The same study was expanded to four hundred samples in 2010 with Frontier Global Service of Seattle performing the analysis for individual samples ( The findings  of both FDA studies were  published with the data on the samples and their individual lead content ( 

FDA Survey Results

Sample # Brand Parent company Lipstick line
Shade #
Lot #a Lead
1 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Color Sensational
Pink Petal
FF205 7.19
2 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Colour Riche
FE259 7.00
3 NARS Shiseido Semi-Matte
Red Lizard
0KAW 4.93
4 Cover Girl Queen
Procter & Gamble Vibrant Hues Color
Ruby Remix
9139 4.92
5 NARS Shiseido Semi-Matte
Funny Face
9DLW 4.89
6 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Colour Riche
Tickled Pink
FF224 4.45
7 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Intensely Moisturizing Lipcolor
FD306 4.41
8 Cover Girl Procter & Gamble Continuous Color
Warm Brick
9098 4.28
9 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Color Sensational
Mauve Me
FF201 4.23
10 Stargazer Stargazer Lipstick
103 c
180808 4.12
11 Stargazer Stargazer Lipstick
103 c
180808 4.06
12 Revlon Revlon Matte
Fabulous Fig
08262 3.32
13 Sonia Kashuk Target Corporation Luxury Lip Color
14 Avon Avon Beyond Color
Mad For Mauve
AR01 3.08
15 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Endless
Mauve Amour
FD339 2.87
16 Revlon Revlon ColorStay
Ripened Red
09040 2.84
17 Burt’s Bees Clorox Company Lip Shimmer
1130801 2.81
18 Revlon Revlon Super Lustrous Pearl
Luminous Pink
09097 2.81
19 Sonia Kashuk Target Corporation Luxury Lip Color
20 Revlon Revlon Super Lustrous Pearl
Satin Plum
08351 2.77
21 Cover Girl Procter & Gamble Continuous Color
Iced Plum
5353 2.74
22 Stargazer Stargazer Lipstick
180808 2.71
23 Fashion Fair Johnson Publishing Company Forever Matte
Forever Gold
H2 2.68
24 Avon Avon Beyond Color
Uptown Pink Rose
KL9 2.59
25 Cover Girl Procter & Gamble Continuous Color
Smokey Rose
8261 2.56
26 Cover Girl Procter & Gamble Incredifull Lipcolor
Ripe Raspberry
8226S1 2.52
27 Revlon Revlon Renewist
08043 2.52
28 Revlon Revlon ColorStay Soft & Smooth
Natural Cashmere
09233 2.44
29 Cover Girl Procter & Gamble Continuous Color
Cherry Brandy
5258 2.42
30 Revlon Revlon Renewist
Naturally Revealing
08077 2.40
31 Cover Girl Procter & Gamble Continuous Color
Rosy Wine
5102 2.28
32 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Color Design Metallic
Work It!
18G101 2.28
33 M.A.C Estée Lauder Frost
Metal Maven
AC9 2.28
34 Cover Girl Queen Collection Procter & Gamble Vibrant Hues Color
Cherry Bomb
7290 2.27
35 Stargazer Stargazer Fantasy
Crystal Fuschia
010306 2.27
36 Cover Girl Procter & Gamble Continuous Color
Really Red
5251 2.26
37 Revlon Revlon Renewist
Plum Luck
07339 2.25
38 Burt’s Bees Clorox Company Lip Shimmer
3000901 2.24
39 Revlon Revlon ColorStay Soft & Smooth
Pink Indulgence
09141 2.24
40 Avon Avon Beyond Color
Pink Lemonade
KW9 2.23
41 Cover Girl Queen Collection Procter & Gamble Vibrant Hues Color
Toast Of The Town
7297 2.22
42 Almay Revlon Hydracolor
Pink Pearl
9986-20 2.21
43 Fashion Fair Johnson Publishing Company Finishings
Berry Bourgeois
8900-70 2.18
44 Revlon Revlon Matte
Really Red
09259 2.12
45 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
Sheer Blush
MT10 2.09
46 Jafra Jafra Cosmetics International Ultra Creamy
Pure Blush
9233 2.08
47 M.A.C Estée Lauder Amplified Creme
Show Orchid
AC9 2.08
48 Estée Lauder Prescriptives Estée Lauder Colorscope Shimmer
Apricot Blossom
A97 2.07
49 Cover Girl Procter & Gamble Continuous Color
Rose Cashmere
9104 2.00
50 Cover Girl Procter & Gamble Continuous Color
Bronzed Peach
8345 2.00
51 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Endless
Naked Ambition
FD274 2.00
52 Rimmel London Coty Lasting Finish
Drop Of Sherry
9056 1.98
53 Stargazer Stargazer Lipstick
141207 1.98
54 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
RH11 1.96
55 Avon Avon Beyond Color
KD91 1.95
56 Cover Girl Procter & Gamble Continuous Color
Rose Cashmere
9104 1.94
57 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Color Sensational
Get Nutty
FF293 1.94
58 Cover Girl Queen Collection Procter & Gamble Vibrant Hues Color
7297 1.93
59 Cover Girl Procter & Gamble Continuous Color
Iceblue Pink
9356 1.92
60 Revlon Revlon Moon Drops
Heather Frost
2Y1 1.91
61 Clarins Clarins USA Rouge Appeal
Strawberry Smoothie
HC 1.88
62 Revlon Revlon ColorStay Soft & Smooth
Pecan Pleasure
09296 1.88
63 Rimmel London Coty Lasting Finish
Drop Of Sherry
9056 1.88
64 BeneFit LVMH Perfums & Cosmetics Pearl
Bold & Beautiful
3L1A 1.86
65 Revlon Revlon Super Lustrous Pearl
Apricot Fantasy
09154 1.85
66 NARS Shiseido Shimmer 1021 Venice 9XAD 1.84
67 Revlon Revlon Super Lustrous Pearl
Gentlemen Prefer Pink
09069 1.84
68 Almay Revlon Hydracolor
07005 1.82
69 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
Mocha Freeze
MT13 1.82
70 Revlon Revlon Moon Drops Frost
Amethyst Smoke
09328 1.81
71 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Colour Riche
FF152 1.80
72 Revlon Revlon Renewist
Perfect Pastel
07087 1.80
73 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Pure Color
AA9 1.78
74 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Color Sensational
Madison Mauve
FF340 1.78
75 Cover Girl Procter & Gamble Continuous Color
Fabulous Fuchsia
9264 1.76
76 Elizabeth Arden Elizabeth Arden Color Intrigue Effects
Cocoa Bronze Pearl
8KAK 1.76
77 Revlon Revlon ColorStay Soft & Smooth
Juicy Plum
09257 1.75
78 Revlon Revlon Super Lustrous Pearl
09260 1.75
79 Jafra Jafra Cosmetics International Ultra Creamy
Pure Ruby
9234 1.74
80 Avon Avon Beyond Color
LN9 1.73
81 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Endless
Eternally Mauve
FF016 1.72
82 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Moisture Extreme
Wine On Ice
WD1361 1.71
83 Revlon Revlon Moon Drops Frost
Crystal Cut Coral
07080 1.70
84 Almay Revlon Hydracolor
Plum Pearl
06340 1.69
85 Gabriel Gabriel Cosmetics Color
Copper Glaze
9226 1.69
86 Gabriel Gabriel Cosmetics Color
Copper Glaze
9226 1.69
87 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Colour Riche
Peach Fuzz
FF324 1.69
88 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Endless
Captivating Coral
FE012 1.69
89 NARS Shiseido Sheer
Beautiful Liar
8WGD 1.69
90 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Colour Riche
FF135 1.63
91 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Color Sensational
Nearly There
FF319 1.61
92 Revlon Revlon Super Lustrous Pearl
Champagne On Ice
09309 1.61
93 M.A.C Estée Lauder Frost
AB9 1.57
94 Stargazer Stargazer Glitter
0708 1.57
95 Dior LVMH Perfums & Cosmetics Rouge Dior
VIP Pink
9T03 1.56
96 Revlon Revlon Super Lustrous Pearl
Wine With Everything
10062 1.55
97 Revlon Revlon Moon Drops Frost
Copperglaze Brown
08206 1.54
98 BeneFit LVMH Perfums & Cosmetics Full-Finish
8E2A 1.53
99 Stargazer Stargazer Lipstick
010606 1.53
100 Estée Lauder Prescriptives Estée Lauder Colorscope Sparkle
Bronze Lustre
A79 1.50
101 M.A.C Estée Lauder Glaze
A10 1.49
102 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
Frosted Rose
RR22 1.49
103 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Moisture Extreme
Sugar Plum Ice
WB1591 1.48
104 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Mineral Power
Pink Pearl
FE190 1.47
105 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Color Sensational
Summer Sunset
FF275 1.46
106 Revlon Revlon Super Lustrous Pearl
Wine With Everything
10062 1.46
107 Avon Avon Beyond Color
Peach Daiquiri
KP9 1.45
108 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Endless
Undeniably Mauve
FF023 1.45
109 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Endless
Really Rose
FF243 1.44
110 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Moisture Extreme
Mocha Ice
WD1421 1.41
111 Almay Revlon Hydracolor
681B 1.40
112 Avon Avon Perfect Wear
Forever Pink
SBK01 1.39
113 Mary Kay Mary Kay Tinted Lip Balm
TC26 1.39
114 Colorganics Colorganics Hemp Organics
Purple Haze
e 1.38
115 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Colour Riche
Golden Splendor
FF364 1.38
116 Stargazer Stargazer Lipstick
180808 1.38
117 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder All Day
ADL 39
Frosted Apricot
AA9 1.37
118 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Mineral Power
FE158 1.37
119 Colorganics Colorganics Hemp Organics
Purple Haze
e 1.36
120 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Pure Color
Classic Red
AA9 1.35
121 Almay Revlon Ideal Lipcolor
086724-16 1.34
122 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Color Fever Shine
Natural Glimmer
18F302 1.34
123 M.A.C Estée Lauder Glaze
AC9 1.34
124 Clinique Estée Lauder High Impact
Metallic Sand
B78 1.33
125 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Pure Color
A69 1.32
126 Revlon Revlon Renewist
Full Bodied Wine
08040 1.32
127 Estée Lauder Origins Estée Lauder Flower Fusion
Calla Lily
A39 1.31
128 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Color Fever
Enticing Rose
18E104 1.31
129 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
Paradise Pink
MK31 1.30
130 Revlon Revlon Moon Drops Creme
Persian Melon
08156 1.28
131 Elizabeth Arden Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Plump Perfect 27 Perfect Amethyst 9CA 1.27
132 Almay Revlon Hydracolor
651X 1.26
133 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
MR26 1.26
134 Clinique Estée Lauder High Impact
Nearly Violet
AB8 1.24
135 Clinique Estée Lauder Long Last Soft Matte
Berry Berry
A89 1.24
136 Victoria’s Secret Limited Brands Sparkling
8345ZA 1.23
137 Almay Revlon Hydracolor
651X 1.22
138 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Endless
Crimson Joy
FF203 1.21
139 Chanel Chanel Rouge Hydrabase
Wild Tulip
0121 1.20
140 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Le Rouge Absolu
Beige Cashmere
18F200 1.20
141 Victoria’s Secret Limited Brands Heidi Klum Perfect
Exotic Spice
9223ZA 1.19
142 Clinique Estée Lauder High Impact
Citrus Rose
A89 1.18
143 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Color Design Sheen
Vintage Rose
18G203 1.18
144 Revlon Revlon Super Lustrous Pearl
Coffee Bean
09110 1.18
145 Victoria’s Secret Limited Brands Sheer Gloss Stick
X139 1.18
146 Fashion Fair Johnson Publishing Company Lipstick
Crystal Crimson
B3 1.17
147 Iman Cosmetics Iman Cosmetics Luxury Moisturizing
9541 1.17
148 Clinique Estée Lauder Different
Ice Bloom
B79 1.15
149 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
Pink Shimmer
RH30 1.15
150 Victoria’s Secret Limited Brands Too Faced
Free Love
ABO 1.15
151 Clinique Estée Lauder Long Last Soft Shine C2 Heather Moon A79 1.13
152 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Color Fever
Beige Everyday
18DO02 1.13
153 Almay Revlon Ideal Lipcolor
86724-04 1.12
154 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Color Design Metallic
Poodle Skirt
18F902 1.11
155 Chanel Chanel Aqualumière
9601 1.10
156 Stargazer Stargazer Fantasy
Crystal Pink
010306 1.10
157 Clarins Clarins USA Lip Colour Tint
Wild Berry
F5 1.08
158 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Endless
In The Buff
FF218 1.08
159 M.A.C Estée Lauder Frost
Bronze Shimmer
AB9 1.08
160 Avon Avon Ultra Color Rich
Berry Berry Nice
SKC91 1.07
161 Clinique Estée Lauder High Impact
After Party
AB9 1.07
162 Lancôme L’Oréal USA L‘Absolu Rouge
18G101 1.07
163 Revlon Revlon Moon Drops Creme
Lilac Champagne
08217 1.06
164 Chanel Chanel Aqualumière
1302 1.05
165 Estée Lauder Prescriptives Estée Lauder Colorscope Cream
Currant Affair
AC7 1.04
166 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Colour Riche
Bronze Coin
FF149 1.04
167 Revlon Revlon Beyond Natural
821B 1.04
168 M.A.C Estée Lauder Frost
A10 1.03
169 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Color Sensational
Very Cherry
FF341 1.03
170 Stargazer Stargazer Glitter
1009 1.03
171 BeneFit LVMH Perfums & Cosmetics Silky-Finish
Candy Store
9K1A 1.02
172 Iman Cosmetics Iman Cosmetics Luxury Lipstain
9634 1.02
173 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
Pink Satin
MV11 1.02
174 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Double Wear
DWL 01
Stay Rose
A59 1.01
175 Clinique Estée Lauder Butter Shine
Adore U
AB9 1.00
176 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Le Rouge Absolu
Pink Eclipse
7K016 1.00
177 M.A.C Estée Lauder Frost
A99 1.00
178 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
Dusty Rose
MM20 0.97
179 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Double Wear
DWL 03
Stay Pinkberry
A79 0.96
180 Lancôme L’Oréal USA L‘Absolu Rouge
Amande Sucrée
18G100 0.96
181 Bobbi Brown Estée Lauder Metallic Lip Color
Baby Peach
AA9 0.95
182 Clinique Estée Lauder Different
A10 0.95
183 M.A.C Estée Lauder Lustre
London Life
AB9 0.95
184 NARS Shiseido Sheer
7FLD 0.95
185 Revlon Revlon Super Lustrous Pearl
Fuchsia Fusion
09167 0.95
186 Stargazer Stargazer Glitter
0708 0.95
187 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Signature
SIG L 10
Radiant Rose
A89 0.94
188 Avon Avon Ultra Color Rich
Berry Berry Nice
SKC91 0.93
189 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Moisture Extreme
Plum Sable
WC1871 0.93
190 Rimmel London Coty Lasting Finish
7246 0.93
191 M.A.C Estée Lauder Baroque Boudoir
Baroque Boudoir
A99 0.92
192 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
RF29 0.92
193 Stargazer Stargazer Lipstick
010306 0.92
194 Clinique Estée Lauder Long Last Soft Shine
All Heart
A89 0.91
195 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Color Fever
Rock Icon Fuchsia
7D178 0.91
196 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
Apricot Glaze
RD19 0.91
197 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Color Sensational
Cinnamon Stick
FF303 0.91
198 Elizabeth Arden Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Plump Perfect
Perfect Currant
9AA1 0.90
199 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Moisture Extreme
Plum Sable
WC1871 0.90
200 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Signature
SIG 06
Lush Rose
A88 0.89
201 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Moisture Extreme
Rose Luster
WD2081 0.89
202 Chanel Chanel Aqualumière
1501 0.88
203 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder All Day
ADL 18
Starlit Pink
A10 0.88
204 Clinique Estée Lauder Long Last Soft Shine
Baby Kiss
A89 0.86
205 Elizabeth Arden Elizabeth Arden Color Intrigue Effects
Sugarplum Shimmer
K9JA2 0.86
206 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Colour Riche
FF236 0.86
207 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
Berry Kiss
MV04 0.86
208 Clarins Clarins USA Joli Rouge
RU 0.85
209 Chanel Chanel Rouge Allure
2201 0.84
210 Clinique Estée Lauder Long Last Soft Shine
All Heart
A89 0.84
211 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Signature
SIG 31
Spiced Coral
A89 0.84
212 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Double Wear
DWL 02
Stay Pink
B49 0.83
213 Mary Kay Mary Kay Tinted Lip Balm
TF23 0.83
214 Clinique Estée Lauder Butter Shine
Perfect Plum
AB9 0.82
215 Dior LVMH Perfums & Cosmetics Addict High Shine
Runway Red
9Wo1 0.82
216 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Colour Riche
FF236 0.82
217 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Colour Riche
Sugar Plum
FF245 0.82
218 Clinique Estée Lauder Long Last Soft Shine
Pink Spice
AA9 0.81
219 Stargazer Stargazer Fantasy
Crystal Cinnamon
010306 0.81
220 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Signature
SIG 31
Spiced Coral
A89 0.80
221 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Pure Color Crystal
Crystal Pink
AA9 0.80
222 Iman Cosmetics Iman Cosmetics Luxury Moisturizing
Wild Thing
9BU3 0.80
223 Mary Kay Mary Kay Tinted Lip Balm
TC30 0.80
224 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Color Design Metallic
Copper Desire
18FN11 0.79
225 Bobbi Brown Estée Lauder Metallic Lip Color
AC9 0.78
226 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Signature
SIG 07
Rich Berry
A98 0.78
227 Estée Lauder Origins Estée Lauder Flower Fusion
A59 0.78
228 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Signature
SIG 63
Divine Red
A68 0.77
229 Burt’s Bees Clorox Company Lip Shimmer
3530901 0.76
230 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Intensely Moisturizing Lipcolor
FD033 0.76
231 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Moisture Extreme
Orchid Frost
WC3491 0.76
232 Cover Girl Queen Collection Procter & Gamble Vibrant Hues Shine
Shiny Parfait
8113U2 0.75
233 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Signature
SIG 33
Apricot Sun
A39 0.75
234 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
Black Cherry
RH24 0.75
235 Clinique Estée Lauder Different
A10 0.74
236 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Signature
SIG 15
Woodland Berry
B79 0.74
237 M.A.C Estée Lauder Slimshine
Rock Out
AB7 0.74
238 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme 014373 Pink Melon RF27 0.74
239 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Color Fever Shine
18DD00 0.73
240 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Colour Riche
Blushing Berry
FF306 0.73
241 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
Pink Melon
RF27 0.72
242 Stargazer Stargazer Lipstick
180808 0.72
243 Chanel Chanel Aqualumière
1901 0.70
244 Mary Kay Mary Kay Tinted Lip Balm
TD01 0.70
245 Rimmel London Coty Lasting Finish
Jet Set Red
9295 0.70
246 Lancôme L’Oréal USA L‘Absolu Rouge
Absolute Rouge
18G200 0.69
247 Lancôme L’Oréal USA L‘Absolu Rouge
Absolute Rouge
18G200 0.69
248 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Endless
Extreme Spice
FF222 0.69
249 M.A.C Estée Lauder Satin
Viva Glam II
A20 0.69
250 Elizabeth Arden Elizabeth Arden Exceptional
8PA3 0.68
251 Revlon Revlon Super Lustrous Pearl
Wink For Pink
09162 0.68
252 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Signature
SIG 36
Black Cherry
A99 0.67
253 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Endless
Chocolate Obsession
FF216 0.66
254 Victoria’s Secret Limited Brands Matte Cream
76 0.66
255 Rimmel London Coty Lasting Finish
In Vogue
9279 0.64
256 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
RF19 0.63
257 Revlon Revlon Beyond Natural
951 0.63
258 M.A.C Estée Lauder Glaze
AB9 0.62
259 M.A.C Estée Lauder Slimshine
A69 0.62
260 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
Whipped Berries
RH28 0.61
261 Stargazer Stargazer Fantasy
Crystal Copper
010306 0.61
262 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Pure Color
A78 0.60
263 M.A.C Estée Lauder Cremesheen
On Hold
AC9 0.60
264 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
MR08 0.60
265 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
MK30 0.60
266 Chanel Chanel Rouge Allure
1801 0.59
267 Chanel Chanel Rouge Allure
1801 0.59
268 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Moisture Extreme
Plum Wine
FF050A 0.59
269 Avon Avon Perfect Wear
Enduring Wine
SBB01 0.58
270 Avon Avon Perfect Wear
Forever Fuschia
SKK91 0.58
271 Chanel Chanel Rouge Allure
1401 0.58
272 Clinique Estée Lauder Long Last Soft Shine
Golden Brandy
A99 0.58
273 Clinique Estée Lauder Different
Raspberry Glace
A10 0.57
274 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
Apple Berry
RK21 0.57
275 Avon Avon Ultra Color Rich
Instant Mocha
SLG91 0.56
276 M.A.C Estée Lauder Frost
A10 0.56
277 Avon Avon Ultra Color Rich
SJF91 0.55
278 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Mineral Power
Plum Wine
FE184 0.55
279 Estée Lauder Prescriptives Estée Lauder Lipshine
A69 0.54
280 Chanel Chanel Rouge Allure
2201 0.53
281 M.A.C Estée Lauder Glaze
AC9 0.53
282 Clarins Clarins USA Joli Rouge Perfect
Cedar Red
6N 0.52
283 Clinique Estée Lauder Butter Shine
Fresh Watermelon
AA9 0.52
284 Lancôme L’Oréal USA L’Absolu Rouge
Rose Mythique
18G101 0.52
285 M.A.C Estée Lauder Lustre
Milan Mode
AC8 0.52
286 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Moisture Extreme
Royal Red
FE354A 0.52
287 Lancôme L’Oréal USA L’Absolu Rouge
Rich Cashmere
18G101 0.51
288 Chanel Chanel Rouge Allure
1001 0.50
289 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Pure Color Crystal
Elizabeth Pink
A89 0.50
290 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Pure Color Crystal
Crystal Rose
A79 0.50
291 Avon Avon Perfect Wear
Sunkissed Ginger
SBC91 0.49
292 Cover Girl Queen Collection Procter & Gamble Vibrant Hues Shine
Shiny Port Wine
8170U2 0.49
293 BeneFit LVMH Perfums & Cosmetics Full-Finish
Do Tell
8F1A 0.48
294 Estée Lauder Prescriptives Estée Lauder Lipshine
Raspberry Ice
A49 0.48
295 Avon Avon Ultra Color Rich
SJL91 0.47
296 Iman Cosmetics Iman Cosmetics Luxury Moisturizing
Black Brandy
8AK1 0.47
297 Wet ‘n’ Wild Markwins International Mega Last Lip Color
Think Pink
931201 0.47
298 Clinique Estée Lauder Different
A10 0.46
299 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Pure Color Crystal
Crystal Beige
B48 0.45
300 M.A.C Estée Lauder Lustre
AC9 0.45
301 Revlon Revlon Super Lustrous Creme
09308 0.44
302 Shiseido Shiseido Shimmering
FPKD 0.44
303 Burt’s Bees Clorox Company Lip Shimmer
3070901 0.43
304 Clinique Estée Lauder Butter Shine
A89 0.43
305 Clinique Estée Lauder Long Last Soft Shine
A89 0.43
306 Lancôme L’Oréal USA L’Absolu Rouge
Pink Sapphire
18EO02 0.43
307 M.A.C Estée Lauder Lustre
AB9 0.41
308 M.A.C Estée Lauder Lustre
Laugh A Lot
AB9 0.41
309 Bobbi Brown Estée Lauder Creamy Lip Color
Retro Pink
AC9 0.40
310 Clinique Estée Lauder Butter Shine
Crushed Grape
A99 0.40
311 Cover Girl Queen Collection Procter & Gamble Vibrant Hues Shine
Shiny Wine
8320U2 0.40
312 M.A.C Estée Lauder Satin
A99 0.40
313 Clinique Estée Lauder Butter Shine
Apple Brandy
A89 0.39
314 Estée Lauder Origins Estée Lauder Rain and Shine
Pink Sparkle
A39 0.39
315 M.A.C Estée Lauder Lustre
Utter Fun
A79 0.39
316 M.A.C Estée Lauder Amplified Creme
AC9 0.39
317 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Moisture Extreme
Peach Mocha
WC2261 0.39
318 Shiseido Shiseido Shimmering
NNGS 0.39
319 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Pure Color
A89 0.38
320 Avon Avon Ultra Color Rich
SLI91 0.37
321 M.A.C Estée Lauder Lustre
Utter Fun
A79 0.37
322 M.A.C Estée Lauder Lustre
AA9 0.37
323 Clarins Clarins USA Sun Sheer
Sunset Cinnamon
M1 0.35
324 Victoria’s Secret Limited Brands Perfect
9BZ1 0.35
325 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder All Day
ADL 19
Rich and Rosey
AA9 0.33
326 Shiseido Shiseido Shimmering
NLEL 0.32
327 Stargazer Stargazer Lipstick
17210 0.32
328 Wet ‘n’ Wild Markwins International Mega Last Lip Color
931301 0.32
329 Clinique Estée Lauder High Impact
Extreme Pink
A99 0.31
330 Dior LVMH Perfums & Cosmetics Addict Lipcolor
Scarlet Siren
9X02 0.31
331 M.A.C Estée Lauder Amplified Creme
A20 0.31
332 Avon Avon Ultra Color Rich
Red 2000
SJL91 0.30
333 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Endless
Fired Up
FD268 0.30
334 M.A.C Estée Lauder Satin
AB9 0.30
335 Stargazer Stargazer Lipstick
090808 0.30
336 Clinique Estée Lauder High Impact
Cider Berry
A49 0.29
337 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Le Rouge Absolu
Rhum Riche
18F100 0.29
338 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Endless
Real Raisin
FF232 0.29
339 Mary Kay Mary Kay Creme
RF31 0.29
340 Cover Girl Procter & Gamble Continuous Color
It’s Your Mauve
9346 0.28
341 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Volume Seduction XL
Peachy Flush
WE020 0.28
342 Revlon Revlon Super Lustrous Creme
Chocolate Velvet
09236 0.28
343 Clinique Estée Lauder High Impact
Go Fig
A59 0.27
344 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Color Design
Red Stiletto
18G101 0.27
345 M.A.C Estée Lauder Cremesheen
Creme In Your Coffee
A89 0.27
346 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Color Design Cream
All Done Up
18E218 0.26
347 Clinique Estée Lauder Long Last Soft Matte
Vintage Wine
A99 0.25
348 M.A.C Estée Lauder Slimshine
A49 0.25
349 M.A.C Estée Lauder Lustre
AA9 0.24
350 Clinique Estée Lauder Different
Rose Aglow
A10 0.23
351 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Color Fever Shine
Tempt Me
18DN26 0.23
352 M.A.C Estée Lauder Amplified Creme
AC9 0.23
353 Maybelline L’Oréal USA Volume Seduction XL
Seductively Nude
WF197 0.23
354 NARS Shiseido Satin
Afghan Red
8UDD 0.23
355 Bobbi Brown Estée Lauder Creamy Lip Color
Blue Raspberry
AC9 0.22
356 Clinique Estée Lauder Butter Shine
Cranberry Cream
A89 0.22
357 Wet ‘n’ Wild Markwins International Mega Last Lip Color
Ravin’ Raisin
933001 0.22
358 Avon Avon Ultra Color Rich
Cherry Jubilee
SJT91 0.21
359 Clinique Estée Lauder Different
A Different Grape
AB9 0.20
360 Estée Lauder Origins Estée Lauder Rain and Shine
A10 0.20
361 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Le Rouge Absolu
18ED00 0.20
362 Lancôme L’Oréal USA L‘Absolu Rouge
Berry Noir
18FO00 0.20
363 M.A.C Estée Lauder Satin
AC9 0.20
364 Avon Avon Ultra Color Rich
Poppy Love
SJZ91 0.18
365 Cover Girl Procter & Gamble Continuous Color
Toasted Almond
9230 0.18
366 Clinique Estée Lauder High Impact
Nude Beach
A89 0.17
367 Lancôme L’Oréal USA Color Design Cream
All Done Up
18E218 0.17
368 Elizabeth Arden Elizabeth Arden Exceptional
9AA 0.16
369 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Infallible
FE093B 0.16
370 M.A.C Estée Lauder Lustre
A89 0.15
371 M.A.C Dsquared2 Estée Lauder Lustre
Blood Red
A69 0.15
372 Stargazer Stargazer Lipstick
121008 0.15
373 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Colour Riche
Gilded Pink
FF339 0.14
374 Iman Cosmetics Iman Cosmetics Luxury Lipstain
Strip Tease
8CS1 0.13
375 M.A.C Estée Lauder Lustre
Spice It Up!
A10 0.13
376 Wet ‘n’ Wild Markwins International Mega Last Lip Color
Red Velvet
932301 0.13
377 Avon Avon Ultra Color Rich
Tuscan Russet
SL291 0.12
378 Bobbi Brown Estée Lauder Lip Color
Hot Cocoa
A38 0.12
379 M.A.C Estée Lauder Lustre
Lady Bug
AC9 0.12
380 M.A.C Estée Lauder Matte
Viva Glam I
A20 0.11
381 BeneFit LVMH Perfums & Cosmetics Full-Finish
La La Land
8F1A 0.08
382 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Colour Riche
FD111 0.08
383 M.A.C Estée Lauder Amplified Creme
A20 0.08
384 M.A.C Estée Lauder Matte
A10 0.08
385 Clinique Estée Lauder Different
Guava Stain
AC9 0.07
386 Clinique Estée Lauder Long Last
Sugar Bean
A99 0.07
387 Victoria’s Secret Limited Brands Pout
Pink Champagne
9217ZA 0.07
388 Bobbi Brown Estée Lauder Lip Color
AA9 0.06
389 Bobbi Brown Estée Lauder Lip Color
AA9 0.06
390 Fashion Fair Johnson Publishing Company Lipstick
Magenta Mist
H1 0.06
391 Fashion Fair Johnson Publishing Company Lipstick
Earth Red
H1 0.05
392 Iman Cosmetics Iman Cosmetics Luxury Moisturizing
Iman Red
J2 0.05
393 M.A.C Estée Lauder Matte
Lady Danger
A10 0.05
394 Lori Anne Mood Magic Mood
e 0.05
395 Estée Lauder Estée Lauder Pure Color
Pink Parfait
BA9 0.04
396 M.A.C Estée Lauder Satin
M.A.C Red
A10 0.03
397 Lori Anne Mood Magic Mood
e 0.03
398 Clinique Estée Lauder Almost
Black Honey
A79 <0.026
399 L’Oréal L’Oréal USA Colour Juice
Cherry On Top
FF082 <0.026
400 Wet’n’ Wild Markwins International Mega Mixers Lipbalm
Bahama Mama
927101 <0.026
          Average   1.11


Policy Articulations on Lead in Lipstick Issue

Policy articulation on the issue of  the presence of lead in cosmetics and lipstick in particular is international and national in magnitude and in scope. The United Nations World Health Organization, for instance, maintains a comprehensive stand on the minimal use or total elimination of lead for household and personal care products including toys because of its long-term toxicity which is harmful for both adults and children ( WHO takes pride in the success of the worldwide campaign for the total elimination of lead in paint in the 1970s ( The European Union banned the use of more than a hundred toxic substances and chemicals, both natural and synthetic and United Kingdom strictly enforces this ban and closely supervises the manufacture and sale of cosmetics, perfumery, and related products ( The Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA) helps monitor the safety measures contained in national and EC legislations which ban the use of lead cosmetics and hair coloring ( 

Through  federal and state legislation  channeled for implementation through Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the United States government, in principle, articulates a general policy of toleration for lead and similar toxic substances in cosmetics and personal care products  within limits not hazardous to health ( This is evident in  the findings and conclusions of the FDA in the context of the completed research on the 2009 research on lead in lipstick and its expanded survey in 2010. Both survey results articulated the FDA (and the official government) conclusion that while lead was present in the samples tested, the agency concluded that lead was present in quantities that were not harmful to human health ( The American Cancer Society concurred with these findings and the FDA conclusion (  Similar findings are resonated by EPA in relation to the impact of the presence of these toxic substances in the environment in the context of the provisions of the  1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (;      

These ambiguous policy articulations based on scientifically validated researches based in the United States generated negative criticism nationwide and increased furor among stakeholders who have intensified their campaign for a total ban of toxic substances in cosmetics, particularly lead in lipstick (;; A doze of sensationalism, the  selective reporting of official  FDA findings, conclusion, and articulations, and the popularization of  home-grown  methods like the gold-ring (lead) testing  are mainstream fodder for  expanding public  involvement in the issue through the internet (;; www.edition,cnn,com;  

A Closer View of Lead as a Toxic Substance in Cosmetics and Lipstick in particular

The frenzy of lead in lipstick advocacy and the increasing media alarmist near-hysteria  reportage on the issue are  based on certain areas of consensus regarding the negative long-term  effects of the presence of lead and other substances in varying degrees of toxicity in cosmetics and personal care products. This is harmful for adult users and children who are vulnerable and are exposed to these substances.  Many popular and research-based (of non-validated methodologies) articles nevertheless converge on certain points of consensus regarding the harmful effects of these substances.  

The National Safety Council released an undated  factsheet/fqa on lead poisoning focusing on its prospective victims, its sources of exposure within the context of the household, its health effects, minimizing its hazards, prevention of exposure, and the existing legislations supporting its management, control, and elimination (; The NSC defines lead as “a highly toxic substance” that affects the health of both adults and children with millions of victims, specifically, children under six years of age (www.nsc.or/news; .

Exposure at home is the setting of lead poisoning. Deteriorating house paints, dust surfaces,  painted  ceramic decorations and utensils, bare soil, cosmetics, personal care products, air, drinking water, food etc. are sources of this microscopic substance that accumulates in the blood ( Hence, the biggest culprit and source of lead poisoning is house paint which in its state of deterioration contaminates its surroundings ( . Contamination is extensive particularly for structures built before 1978 when legislation ordering the elimination of lead in the manufacture of  paints was passed (; On the other hand, the utilities within a household might be sources of lead present in batteries, water pipes, cables, and wires (  NSC advises those undertaking renovation at home to control and manage possible air-borne contamination that affects soil, water, food, and household articles including children’s toys (

The health effects of lead poisoning among children are mental deficiency and retardation, slow physical growth, behavioral problems, IQ reduction, kidney problems among others. Adult victims with excessive lead content in their blood develop health problems with  high blood pressure, nerve disorders, muscle pains, fertility, emotional instability among others (;  The National Health Institutes, on the other hand,  includes the following  in its list of symptoms for lead poisoning : abdominal pain, cramps, anemia , irritability, headaches, insomnia, low energy, constipation, etc. ( These health problems might be rooted in workplace conditions and occupational hazards that relate to construction, manufacturing, transportation, mining and manufacturing ( Moreover, a fetus might be affected by the presence of lead in the blood stream of a pregnant woman (

Most importantly, recent scientific research explains that  no level of lead exposure which used to be measured “in micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood” is safe: Traditionally set at 10 micrograms for children, the scale  was lowered to  5 micrograms or less  following the results of a study published in a New England journal which found lead harmful at lower levels (;;www.safecosmetics,org ) .

Given these, National Safety Council  highly recommends that household routine follow certain guidelines to prevent and/or  eliminate  lead contamination and poisoning. The removal of pre-1978 paint and the regular  maintenance of house paint, the conduct of lead testing procedures by professionals or off-the-counter formulas, and the cleaning of the house of all dust are suggested as fundamental steps in eliminating lead sources at home ( Checking lead content of water sources by Environmental Protection Agency experts  is particularly important ( A good healthy diet containing “iron, calcium, and zinc” consisting of  eggs, greens, legumes, dairy products,  lean  red meat  and raisins and the avoidance of fatty food  substantially reduce lead content in the body ( . Thus, a  healthy diet and the maintenance of  cleanliness and hygiene prevent lead exposure.  Reminders regarding the use of painted ceramics, storing wine in glass containers, and covering bare soil are included by NSC in this lead exposure prevention-reduction list (

Federal legislation to eliminate the toxicity of lead is focused on lead paint for structures.  The Lead-Based  Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 also known as Title X (ten) covers the rent or sale of homes built before 1978 in terms of the elimination of  lead and addressed to regulating and enforcing agencies, real estate brokers, and property owners. This landmark legislation ensures lead-free habitation for the citizens through the enforcement of regulations that eliminates lead as a hazard in homes.

Unfortunately, NSC affirms  through non-inclusion that no legislation of this magnitude in the area of cosmetics and personal care products has been passed. Hence, consumers are continuously exposed to lead contained in these items which are part of the routine of their daily lives.

The presence of lead is problematic enough in terms of its effects as a health hazard. However, lead’s presence in cosmetics is always complicated by the presence of other metals. Environmental Defence, a Canada based organization and partner of Campaign for Safe Cosmetics published the results of a research project that included the metal testing of cosmetics (including lipstick) used regularly by six women and available  in  retail outlets ( This metal testing was focused on the quest for  four metals of “most” concern which are banned as intentional ingredients in cosmetics in Canada as health hazards and for their  toxicity: cadmium, arsenic, lead, and mercury. Four others,  beryllium, nickel, selenium, and thallium,  are metals of concern and are banned as intentional ingredients in Canada except nickel( The study affirms the health dangers posed by the accumulation of these metals in the human body over the long-term: the weakening of the cardio-vascular, skeletal, respiratory, immunity and other systems, emotional problems, cancer, renal problems, hair loss among others ( The findings of this research project confirm the presence of heavy metals in cosmetic products in problematic quantities:

Facts Various Makeup Tests

  • Seven of the eight metals of concern were found in 49 different face makeup items.
    On average, products contained two of the four metals of most concern and four of the eight metals of concern.
  • Only one product, Annabelle Mineral Pigment Dust (Solar), was found to not contain a single metal of most concern. All products contained at least two metals of concern.
  • Benefit Benetint Pocket Pal (RedTint) contained the most metals of concern with seven of the eight metals detected.
  • The Benefit Benetint lip gloss also contained the highest level of lead at 110 ppm, over 10 times higher than the 10 ppm limit set out in the Health Canada Draft Guidance on Heavy Metal Impurities in Cosmetics.
  • Five products—one foundation, two mascaras, and two lipsticks/tints/glosses—contained the second-most metals of concern as six of the eight metals were found.
  • None of the heavy metals were listed on the product label. (Environmental Defence, p 3)

The above summary of findings shows that despite the ban of metals in Canada, manufacturers ignore the health dangers posed by these cosmetics and openly distribute these products in the market. The fact that no information is provided by manufacturers to warn the public of the hazardous risk of consuming these products is a clear violation of public policy.




















(ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE testing of 49 different face makeup items from a total of 35 different face makeup products, p.4)

The above table shows the quantitative results of scientific testing for heavy metals in cosmetic products found in retail outlets show the heavy concentration of lead (at 96%) and Cadmium (at 51%), labeled as metals of “most concern” and Nickel (at 100%), Beryllium (at 61%), and Thallium (at 61%), labeled as metals of “concern” in this research study.

This report also affirms scientific findings found in other non-Canadian researches that in the instance of lead in cosmetics, particularly lipstick and related products, no level of exposure is safe which rationalizes the Canadian ban of this metal as an intentional ingredient. Given these, the study propose the following:

Recommendations for The Cosmetics Use

People have the right to know what is in their products and to make their own decisions regarding safety.

Building on ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Environmental Working Group’s prior report (Not So Sexy) on harmful substances in fragrances, ENVIRONMENTALDEFENCE has concluded that stronger federal regulations are needed to give consumers better peace of mind regarding their cosmetics.

These improvements should include:

1) GUIDANCE ON HEAVY METAL IMPURITIES IN COSMETICS. Canada should take cumulative exposure into account and improve the draft guidelines on impurities in cosmetics to better reflect what is technically avoidable, then officially adopt them without delay. These guide lines have been in the draft stage since March 2009.

2) A EUROPEAN-STYLE BAN ON HARMFUL AND RISKY SUBSTANCES. Canada currently has a general ban on harmful substances in cosmetics and a cautious list (“the Hotlist”) of substances it has singled out as concerning. Europe, on the other hand, has 5 annexes to their Cosmetics Regulation, classifying thousands of substances as permitted for certain uses (e.g. preservatives, UV filtration, colouring agents), restricted, or banned outright in cosmetics.

Canada must follow Europe’s lead and expand the Hotlist to include a ban on all substances banned in the European Union and substances known or suspected to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, reproductive toxicants, developmental toxicants, neurotoxicants, and hormone disruptors.

3) COMPLETE AND PRIOR PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF MATERIALS IN THE PRODUCTS. Right now, the government doesn’t even have to know what is in cosmetics and personal care products until after they are on store shelves. Even then, cosmetics companies are not obliged to report on the kinds of “impurities” found in this study. Manufacturers should be required to disclose all substances, intentional ingredients (including fragrance substances) and unintentional ingredients (including impurities), in their products without exception, and this information should be found on labels and be freely available online before products hit the market. The proposed US Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 suggests that all ingredients, including those currently protected by trade secret laws (i.e. fragrance)unless protected as a trade secret by other laws, will have to be labeled on cosmetics. However, contaminants will not have to be labeled if present at levels below technically feasible detection limits (US Congress, 2010). It is recommended that Canada take a similar approach.


In the context of the lead in lipstick issue, this research project report articulated the concern that the presence of  lead in lipstick is more of a  health hazard in contrast to other topically applied cosmetics (ie foundation, blusher, eye-shadows, eye-liners, powders etc.)  because of  the possibility of its ingestion and its multiple application daily (;; Moreover, studies also show that lip gloss contain the highest concentration of lead among lipstick products (; 

US consumer and safe cosmetics advocates in partnership with environmental and women organizations who are strategic stakeholders in the lead in lipstick issue continue to interrogate government official articulations on this concern in many areas.

One well-worn area of debate is the level of toxicity of lead. Indeed, recent scientific studies and articulations from the National Safety Council, the World Health Organization,  the research on Heavy Metal Hazards in Canada , and the publication of the New England journal reject the existence of a  safe toxicity level for lead,  in general, and with special reference to lead content found in cosmetics and lipsticks and related products (;; ). Despite these findings, the FDA, as shown by its website articulations, stands   firm in its conclusion based on the 2009 research and the 2010 expanded survey that the lead content found in lipstick samples should not be a source of health concern for consumers ( A profile of contrasts reveal the finer points of the difference between Canadian and US policies:

However, there is a difference between what is safe and what is technically avoidable. Take lead for instance. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted its own analyses of lead impurities in lipstick that show lead impurities much lower than 10 ppm are feasible. Of the 20 lipsticks tested, the highest amount of lead content was 3.06 ppm and the lowest was a mere 0.09 ppm, while the average was 1.07ppm (US FDA, 2009). Therefore, levels above these should be considered technically avoidable, and Canada’s draft guidelines could and should be lowered to reflect this. According to the above draft Canadian guidelines, manufacturers are only considered able to technically avoid lead levels greater than 10 ppm in cosmetics. Health Canada considers this and the other limits to provide a high level of protection to susceptible subpopulations (e.g., children) (Health Canada, 2009a). But lead levels of 10 ppm or less are not necessarily safe. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (2010), there is no known safe blood lead level; even the current “low” levels of exposure in children areassociated with neurodevelopmental deficits (Bellinger, 2008). The CDC has even gone so far as to recommend that parents avoid using cosmetics on their children that could be contaminated with lead (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009). (Heavy Metal Hazard, 20)

Another source of contention are the limitations in the powers bestowed by legislation on FDA with regards to the regulation of  toxic substances found in cosmetics ( FDA continues to be informed  by an anachronistic law crafted and passed in 1938 which does not include the power to ban toxic substances, to prevent the sale of cosmetics after these have entered the market, and to take measures to ensure the safety of cosmetics before they are sold in the market (

Stakeholders Initiatives in the Manufacture of Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

During the last decade, stakeholder activity and initiatives in the United States and Canada in the context of concerns over lead in lipstick, cosmetics, and other personal care products were frenzied and highly innovative. Converging research findings from the advocacy, manufacturing, academic, and government sectors which affirm the indisputable presence of lead and other health-threatening toxic substances and metals in lipstick, cosmetic, and personal care products have inspired a vigorous movement toward the elimination of this problem.

Thus, safe cosmetic advocates in the United States and Canada seek the  total ban of heavy metals and toxic substances present in cosmetics and personal care products including perfume ( The template for these  safety measures is the European Union which   effectively manages and controls the  circulation of  health-threatening toxic substances:

A EUROPEAN-STYLE BAN ON HARMFUL AND RISKY SUBSTANCES. Canada currently has a general ban on harmful substances in cosmetics and a cautious list (“the Hotlist”) of substances it has singled out as concerning. Europe, on the other hand, has 5 annexes to their Cosmetics Regulation, classifying thousands of substances as permitted for certain uses (e.g. preservatives, UV filtration, colouring agents), restricted, or banned outright in cosmetics.

Canada must follow Europe’s lead and expand the Hotlist to include a ban on all substances banned in the European Union and substances known or suspected to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, reproductive toxicants, developmental toxicants, neurotoxicants, and hormone disruptors.(Heavy Metal Hazards)

At the same time, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is seeking public support for the enactment of  the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of   to supersede the 1938 legislation which continues to inform the exercise of the  regulatory and other functions of the FDA and the EPA (www.edition, Sharima Rasanayagam, Director of the Breast Cancer Fund clarifies that

The law regulating cosmetics passed Congress in 1938 and has never been updated. The FDA possesses no legal authority to make sure products are safe before they are sold. Nor is the agency empowered to pull dangerous products from store shelves. It’s the Wild West for cosmetics companies, which have very few rules restricting chemical ingredients used in everything from shampoos to lotions to lipsticks. As the contamination of lip products with heavy metals makes it clear, allowing the industry to police itself is not the best idea.

We need the FDA to be empowered by Congress and to take action so women won’t face any health risks when they put on makeup. Cosmetics companies should be required to adhere to a standard for best manufacturing processes to limit metal contamination (

This  Safe Cosmetics legislation proposed in  2010 in the House of Representatives and re-introduced in 2011 seeks the passage of a law  to effectively implement the following:

  • restrict or phase out chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and developmental harm;
  • create a health-based safety standard for cosmetics that includes protections for children, the elderly, workers and other vulnerable populations;
  • close labeling loopholes by requiring full ingredient disclosure on product labels and company websites, including the constituent ingredients of fragrance and salon products;
  • require data-sharing to avoid duplicative testing and encourage alternatives to animal testing; and
  • provide the FDA Office of Cosmetics and Colors the resources it needs to ensure effective oversight of the cosmetics industry, including recall authority for cosmetics (Market Shift Report, 2011, 13).

Harmful Chemicals in Personal Care Products

  • The average American woman uses 12 personal care products a day, resulting in exposure to more than 120 chemicals, many of which are likely linked to cancer, birth defects, asthma, allergies and other health problems. Many of these chemicals end up in our bodies, our breast milk and our children; contaminate drinking water and wildlife; and build up in the food chain.
  • More than 1 in 5 of all personal care products contain chemicals linked to cancer.11
  • As documented in the Campaign report No More Toxic Tub: Getting Contaminants Out of Children’s Bath & Personal Care Products, products often contain hidden carcinogens that are not listed on labels, such as formaldehyde and 1,4 dioxane that are found in children’s bath products.
  • Chemicals with the potential to disrupt hormones are found in a large majority of personal care products. A study of teenage girls found an average of 13 hormone-disrupting cosmetics chemicals – including parabens, phthalates, triclosan and synthetic fragrance musks – in their urine.
  • Dangerous heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and cadmium have been found in a wide variety of cosmetics products, including lip gloss.
    • Campaign product tests documented in the report Not So Sexy: The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance revealed the widespread use of synthetic musks in perfume, cologne and body sprays. Some of the same musks identified in fragrances (Galaxolide and Tonalide) have also been found in the cord blood of newborn babies, as well as in blood, breast milk and body fat. These musks may interfere with normal hormonal functioning (Market Shift Report, 2011, 5).

The unique character of Compact lies in the cooperation and involvement  of numerous  manufacturers who share the concern for  the elimination of toxic substances in cosmetics and personal care products matched only by  the zeal of the consuming public and advocates. Manufacturers’ activities in the context of Compact include extensive research and the quest for appropriate  natural products  and organic substitutes for existing ingredients “of concern” to maintain and enhance  product quality and ensure public health safety at the lowest possible cost (Market Shift, 2011). This is contrasted to the mainstream idea among advocates that the cosmetics and personal care manufacturing industry cannot be trusted to monitor itself based on the resistance of this sector to positively and innovatively respond to public health concerns, particularly lead in lipstick  and their indifference to this call given the reassuring conclusion  of the FDA 2009 and 2010 research findings that the presence of lead in lipstick is no cause for public alarm ( ; Another important aspect of manufacturer’s involvement in Compact is transparency and accountability. Full disclosure of ingredients and their quantities, accurate labeling of perfumes, cosmetics, and personal care products, and the inclusion of warnings regarding risks lie at the core of manufacturers’ commitment to Compact.

Compact as a major initiative is a public information and education campaign towards an informed use of cosmetics and personal care products requiring consumer vigilance and monitoring and the use of vital information sources like the Environmental Working Group’s  Skin Deep database which is the largest resource containing safety  guidelines for cosmetic use (Market Shift Report,  2011).

Compact follows a rigid  process to ensure the safety of the users of cosmetic and personal care products:

The Process of Determining Compact Compliance

As part of the Compact, companies were required to enter ingredient information for all their products currently available for sale into EWG’s Skin Deep database. The database provided a mechanism to publicly reflect progress in meeting this pledge. Companies were able to view their status and compliance with each of the provisions by logging into the database. When companies logged into their password-protected “manufacturer’s pages” on Skin Deep, they were able to see each of the six provisions for compliance, along with details about any gaps they needed to address to meet the provisions.

Because the Campaign and many of the Compact signing companies shared the same vision of expanding the market for safer, healthier personal care products, the Campaign worked closely with these companies to identify areas for improvement.

Staff members at EWG verified the information submitted to Skin Deep, and Campaign staff provided Compact signers with technical support and guidance on their efforts to meet the benchmarks for complying with the Compact. Additionally, the companies that entered their data dedicated a great deal of staff time to participating in the process, giving the Campaign feedback on how to improve the process so that it better matched the realities of their businesses and sharing their insight on what was possible in developing safer alternatives for the marketplace.

Tracking the safety of cosmetics products was a complex task. Every product in the Skin Deep database contains anywhere from a few to a few dozen ingredients. Some of the contents are hidden, either through the trademark-protected category of fragrance or as contaminants. In addition, companies were continuously reformulating products or introducing new products to the market, which required them to be constantly updating their ingredient submissions to Skin Deep.

Companies that met Compact requirements maintained up-to-date product listings in EWG’s Skin Deep database. EWG maintained up-to-date information on chemical hazards, ingredient safety assessments, and the regulatory status of ingredients in other countries, to allow for a complete review of Compact signer products against the criteria laid out in the Compact (Market Shift Report 2011, 11).

Compact for Safe Cosmetics Compliance Requirements

Compliance Requirement


Compliance Measured

Comply with the EU
Cosmetics Directive.

Companies were required to comply with the requirements of the EU Cosmetics Directive upon signing the Compact.

Companies indicated they met this requirement upon signing. Products entered into Skin Deep were flagged if they contained ingredients with use restrictions in the EU.

Disclose all ingredients. 

Companies were required to disclose all ingredients, including constituent ingredients of fragrance and other proprietary formulations.

The Skin Deep database flagged the use of proprietary ingredients. Companies were
required to disclose the constituents of their proprietary ingredients in order to reach compliance. In some cases, suppliers of proprietary ingredients would not allow
manufacturers to disclose constituents of proprietary ingredients. In order to achieve
compliance, these companies were required to submit a non-disclosure letter from the supplier.

Publish and regularly update product information in EWG’s Skin Deep database.

Companies were required to enter product details for all the cosmetics and personal care products they sold into EWG’s Skin Deep database and to update their product listings annually.

In Skin Deep, companies were required to indicate the number of products they manufactured and the date of their last review. If the number of products indicated matched the number entered, and companies had both logged in and certified the date of their
last product update, then companies were considered compliant.

Comply with ingredient prohibitions and restrictions under the Compact for Safe Cosmetics and substitute ingredients of concern with safer alternatives.

Companies were required to comply with restrictions and prohibitions outlined by the Campaign. These restrictions were a compilation of international restrictions for ingredients used cosmetics and personal care products.

Companies using ingredients deemed as prohibited were required to reformulate any products using those ingredients. Companies with restricted ingredients were required to either provide documentation proving that
their product met the specific restriction or reformulate their products so that they would
comply with the restrictions.

Substantiate the safety of all products and ingredients with publicly available data.

Companies were required to provide data that indicated the safety of their products and/or ingredients. This data could include any materials the company used to substantiate the safety of their products prior to putting them on the market. Examples include
results of ingredient and/or product testing and Material Safety Data Sheets.

After a one-year trial period, this compliance requirement was discontinued.

Participate in the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Companies were required to participate in the Campaign.

Activities that fulfilled this provision included logging into Skin Deep and participating in Campaign meetings. 21 Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

(Market Shift Report, 2011, Appendix D, 20)

Compact, thus, proved that what was,  in fact,  safe (toxic-free cosmetics) was profitable as well. Apart from the discovery, development, and use of alternative  natural products as ingredients in cosmetics and personal care,  other benefits were derived from involvement in Compact:

Lessons from the Compact for Safe Cosmetics

  • Hundreds of leading companies are already making safe, effective products without using hazardous chemicals that are commonly found in personal care products.
  • Hundreds of leading companies are already disclosing all ingredients, including those that make up “fragrance,” showing that it is not necessary for these ingredients to be kept secret from the public.
  • More than one thousand companies were eager to work with the Campaign to raise the bar for safer personal care products. Business-nonprofit organization partnerships such as this are an excellent model for driving markets to safe, sustainable products and practices.
  • Making healthier products is good for business. Companies do not have to choose between having a strong business and using safer chemicals (Market Shift Report 2011,9).

This news article on cosmetics use featured a significant feedback on the impact of Compact as a progressive and landmark initiative in terms of eradicating health threat through the elimination of the use of toxic substances in cosmetics and personal care products:

Natural Replacement of Controversial Ingredients is Widespread

On October 31, 2011, an online news source about the cosmetics industry, posted an article documenting “that raw material and ingredient suppliers have jumped on the consumer driven natural bandwagon. There is now a multitude of natural replacements for the most popular and most common ingredients. Suppliers are generating new ways for using natural ingredients which increase functionality of ingredients in a multitude of applications…With all the natural ingredients being made available for formulation, the next wave of consumer driven natural products will have spectacular ingredients at a marketable price, a coup d’état for all consumers.“ A  coup d’état indeed. Thanks to all of the Champion, Innovator and other Compact-signer companies that have led the way to meet the consumer demand for safe products and helped push the industry toward safer production (Market Shift Report 2011,10)

Re-thinking of Public Policy in the Lead in Lipstick Issue

The shifts  in the contours of the lead in lipstick issue in the United States, thus far after nearly two decades of struggle,  have been the mainly the result of relentless consumer advocacy. The significant elimination of the threats of lead poisoning is attributed to the shrinking of  market for notorious  toxic-bearing cosmetics and personal care products through the success of Compact and  its progeny, the Safe Cosmetics Business Network.  322 champions (companies which are  celebrated for full compliance to Compact) and 111 innovators (companies who have yet to achieve full compliance to Compact) (Market Shift, 2011, 14-16) appreciate the benefits of positive branding, dynamic  public support,  and  the enhanced profitability of business enterprises which are vanguards of public health and safety.

Another  strategic  arena of stakeholders’  participation that could lead towards the significant  re-thinking of public policy is the  expanding wealth of academic scientific research on the issue. Parallel to advocacy,  academic research projects published in refereed journals address public concerns on the lead in lipstick and  related issues. N. Lourith and  M. Kanlayavattanakul published  an article, “Natural surfactants used in cosmetics: glycolipids”  on natural surfactants with biodegradability, low toxicity, and ecological acceptability  vis-à-vis the use ofmchemical surfactants to function as detergents in cosmetics. These natural surfactants can be derived from  glycolipids, which are microorganisms with the same efficacy and efficiency as their chemical counterparts  (International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2009).

Another article  on  Self-preserving  cosmetics  published A. Varvaresou, S. Papageorgiou, E. Tsirivas, E. Protopapa, H. Kintziou, V. Kefala and C. Demetzos focuses and advocates the use of preservative-free cosmetics applying  the principles of “hurdle technology” through the use of “multifunctional antimicrobial ingredients and plant-derived essential oils and extracts” as natural preservatives (IJCS June 2009).
“Simultaneous determination of heavy metals in cosmetic products” authored by S.-M. Lee, H.-J. Jeong and I. S. Chang discuss a more effective, accurate, and faster method of detecting the presence of heavy metals in cosmetics  evaluated by ion chromatography. These heavy metals are considered as impurities that cause skin allergy when absorbed by the skin (IJCS October 2008).

Scientific research can significantly inform and positively influence the initiatives to eliminate the presence of toxic substances and metals in cosmetics not unlike the efforts exerted by multi-million in-house researches conducted by multi-national cosmetic companies  (ie L’Oreal, Revlon, Nivea, etc) for product development and increase profitability for stockholders ( At best, the issue has brought together into closer collaboration scientists, corporate business, advocates, and consumer and other stakeholders.

What seems to be conspicuously absent in this debate of lead in lipstick  and other cosmetics and personal care products of nearly two decades is the  government sector and its legislative and implementing agencies. Policy articulations from the World Health Organization and the stringent policies adopted by the European Union  have not succeeded in inspiring US agencies and legislators to take pro-active positions in relation to the lead in lipstick and other related issues. 

The chronology found in Market Shift (2011) on consumer advocacy shows that this movement started in 2000 with the focus on toxic substances, particularly phthalates present in nail polish  and expanded into a research advocacy project which included cosmetics, shampoos, deodorants, hair gels in 2002. The  2004  European Union ban of 1,100 toxic chemicals present in cosmetics and personal care products is a landmark accomplishment of the decade vis-à-vis the 11 chemicals banned by the United States. 2004 is an advocacy coalition building and networking year with the start of Compact, partnerships with the Environmental Working Group, the Breast Cancer Fund, the founding of the largest data-base on cosmetics, Skin Deep, and the successful  campaign among corporations for greater involvement in the elimination of toxic substances in cosmetics. During this year, major international cosmetic companies expanded the European Union ban of toxic chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products to the United States.

A significant piece of state legislation, the 2005 California Safe Cosmetics Act, was passed through the efforts of  consumer,  health, women, and environmental advocates. The same group successfully secured the removal of toxic substances in nail polish from corporate giants, OPI, Sally Hansen, and Orly in 2006. The campaign for the elimination of lead in lipstick commenced with the findings of the 2007 research conducted by  Campaign for Safe Cosmetics  that lead is present in 2/3 of 33 samples. Leading mass-retailers also joined Compact in 2007 in the campaign for the use of natural, organic, and non-toxic substances in the manufacture of cosmetics. 2008 is a landmark year in the expansion of Compact with the involvement of more  retail stores, pharmaceutical firms, and other corporate  signatories who seriously pursued the goal of total compliance.

  • 2009 was  a significant year celebrating the formal involvement of FDA in the issue to match the intensified campaign by advocates  for greater and more  state involvement the previous year. Moreover, a Senate bill for safe cosmetics was filed by Sen. Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY). FDA in 2009 responded with a preliminary research study which confirmed the presence of lead in lipstick using an assortment of retail outlet samples.
  • 2010 was a dynamic year for CSC with the introduction  of  a proposed bill for Safe Cosmetics in the House of Representatives. FDA, this year, also expanded  its 2009 survey to include 400 lipstick samples which further confirmed the widespread presence of lead in lipstick. The state of California based on the provisions of the Safe Cosmetics Act banned the  Brazilian Blowout for the presence of toxic substances in this hair straightening product.
  • 2011 marked  the close of Campaign for Safe Cosmetics project with a record accomplishment of 322 companies with  full compliance (champions) and 111 companies progressing towards compliance (innovators). Another project, Safe Cosmetics Business Network opened to pursue similar goals for the total elimination of toxic substances and metals from cosmetics and personal care products.
    Thus, prospective government infrastructures and initiatives  might replicate  this dynamic advocacy template initiated by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics towards the effective elimination of toxic substances in cosmetics and personal care and related products.


Primary Documents

Environmental Defence.  (2011). Heavy Metal Hazard.    
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. (2011). Market Shift.
National Safety Council. (n.d.). Lead Poisoning

Journal Sources

Lee, S.M.,  Jeong, H.J.  and Chang, I.S.  Simultaneous determination of heavy metals in cosmetic    products . International Journal of  Cosmetic. Science.  September/October 2008.
Lourith and M. Kanlayavattanakul.  Natural surfactants used in cosmetics: glycolipids.  International Journal of  Cosmetic Science August 2009 .
Varvaresou ,  A.  Papageorgiou,  Self-preserving cosmetics.  International Journal of Cosmetic Science.   June 2009.

Other Sources

This entry was posted in: Blog.

How to Keep Food Safe During an Emergency Caused by Nature

How to Keep Food Safe During an Emergency Caused by Nature

REPORT SUMMARY: Survival Without Food And Water, Likely Disaster In Your Area, Hurricane Strikes Since 1950, Measures Against Hurricanes, Assembling An Emergency Food Supply, The Aftermath Of The Disaster, Prepare Food Without Power & More.

An emergency caused by nature may be defined as a set of circumstances created by nature that poses a serious and immediate threat to your life, well being, possessions or environment. Almost all such emergencies call for urgent intervention and assistance to prevent the situation getting out of hand. Regrettably, there will be situations when mitigation is not possible; all that can be offered in such a situation will be palliative care to forestall the ill effects that ensue as the aftermath.

In the USA, common emergencies caused by nature are violent hurricanes that leave a trail of death and destruction behind them, tornados which have similar consequences but are much smaller in scale when compared to hurricanes, and the unpredictable earthquakes in California caused by the San Andreas Fault.

A flood, fire, national disaster, prolonged heat wave, tsunami, volcano or the loss of power from high winds, snow, or ice can put the safety of your food in jeopardy. Knowing how to establish if the food available is safe to eat and how to keep that food safe for the longest possible period will help reduce the potential loss of food while reducing the risk of disease carried by the food you’re likely to eat.

This article will help you make the right decisions for keeping your family safe during an emergency.

How Long Can You Survive Without Food and Water

The length of time a human can survive without food and water is totally dependent on the conditions obtaining and therefore, is a function of one or a combination of more than one factor. The most important is your will to survive. Going without water or food are two different stories, so they can be examined separately.

Caloric Intake Facts

The average man is 1.75 m (5’9”) tall, weighs 65 kg (156 lbs) and eats 2,400-2600 Kcal (calories) per day. You require about 1,600 residual calories distributed around your body as carbohydrates, fats and proteins when asleep before you wake up next morning to retain your figure. So, when you eat, you are adding to your residual calories, which is fine because your body needs 1,600 base calories for your internal systems to function. You need to shed those 2,400-2,600 calories you ate to stay trim. If you’ve gained 4-500 calories extra after a sumptuous meal, these are very easily shed so you can become trim again. One friendly jog for five minutes will knock off 50 cal. Or, walk up stairs for 10 minutes a day for five days. One full day without food will take 1,500 calories off you. It is a good habit to fast for one day a fortnight and give your digestive system a rest.

A calorie is a calorie, whether it comes from fat or carbohydrate. Any calories eaten in excess can lead to weight gain. You can lose weight by eating fewer calories and by increasing your physical activity. Your brain will adapt to the changed system and reduce your base calorie count to, say, 1,400. An impoverished man has a base value programmed from his early days at, say, 750 calories. His working, eating and drinking revolves around this figure of 750 calories.

Reducing the amount of total fat and saturated fat that you eat is one way to limit your overall calorie intake. In fact, 1 gram of fat equals 9 calories, whereas 1 gram of protein or carbohydrate equals less than half the number of calories (4 calories each). By reducing total fat intake, you help reduce your calorie intake.

Survival Without Food (with water)

Humans have far more stamina than they know and can manage a long period of hunger, provided they are well hydrated. The self-evident factors are your physical fitness, total body weight and type of body mass and the prevailing weather. The answer to this question cannot be derived easily since no two persons are alike. For that matter, prevailing conditions may not be the same either. The factors at play are many in number.

  • Among the factors that determine how long you can go without food, will power, mental health and determination play a definite part. A number of people have gone on hunger strikes for political and religious reasons for a month! There are many cases of people getting lost in the wilderness and given up for dead by rescue teams suddenly reappearing, having survived for a long time without food. Perhaps the best documented example is that of the crash of the Uruguayan Air Force aircraft in the Andes on 13 Oct. 1972 when a passenger aircraft with 45 souls on board crashed and 16 survivors were rescued on 23 Dec. 1972, seventy two days after the accident. The 16 were pushed so hard to survive that they ultimately ate the flesh of their dead co-passengers, friends and colleagues.
  • There is a consensus of opinion that healthy human beings can manage without food for 50-60 days so long as water is available. Exceptions exist and people have survived longer, whereas people have died of starvation in much less time. A healthy body and good physical condition generally helps you to survive longer, as does that extra adipose tissue or body fat. We all know that food eaten is converted into energy required to live. This energy is stored as fat, proteins and carbohydrates. The carbohydrates are used up first when more food is not coming in. The fat goes next, which explains why people with more of it can survive longer. Next go the proteins. This is when the threat factor sets in. If your body is consuming proteins, it is becoming a ‘cannibal’ in that it is eating your core structure, the nucleus of your body.
  • Your metabolism is also involved. Metabolism is the process of converting food ingested into energy. If you can slow down your metabolism, you’ll consume the food you ate at a matching slow rate and be able to go longer without replacing the food energy. If you do not eat food, your metabolism (brain) senses that intake was low and outgo must be adjusted, unless there is a requirement to produce a high performance, much like amateur boxers who need to shed half a kilo just before weigh-in time. The brain is supracomplex and will adjust your metabolism to slow it down – pitching in for survival.
  • Climate is yet another major factor. Both cold and hot weather are detrimental if you lack food to eat, in their own unique ways. Hot weather dehydrates you, cold weather requires more energy to be burned so that your body temperature stays normal at 37° C (98.6° F). In fact, you won’t have the time to starve to death before the solitary reaper claims you as victim. If you’re stranded in mild temperatures, you’ll survive a couple of hours extra without food.

The basic symptoms you will see if you start a starvation diet for an extended period of time are:

  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Irritability and poor decision making
  • Deficiency in immunity

Advanced starvation has serious repercussions. It will force your organs to shut down one after another. People experiencing severe starvation fall prey to the following:

  • Hallucinations
  • Convulsions and muscle spasms
  • Irregular heartbeat

Survival Without Water

You can survive 2-5 days without water, depending on your build, your location and how much you sweat, urinate, or shed as tears. At any given time, a human is 70 percent water. Your blood is mainly water; your brain is 75 percent water, your muscles are also almost 75 percent water and all joints use water as lubricants. Every single system in your body functions on water. If the body were to lose water and you had the option, just lie down and stop any exertion of any kind, till some person finds you and gives you water to rehydrate.

As a spectator at highly physical matches like hockey, football and tennis, you must have players rehydrating regularly. Even in what is considered a slow game, cricket players start to cramp on a warm day. The standard solution is a 250 cc bottle of water with a spoonful of glucose and salt added.

Survival With Food, but no Water

Returning to the situation when you have food but no water− that food is dangerous. The moment you take a bite, the brain will release fluids (water) to digest it, starting with saliva, gastric fluids (even though they are acids) as well as fluids in the intestines, kidneys, liver, you name it. There have been miracles, no doubt, but that’s what they were, miracles. A 97 year old woman survived 8 days without drinking or eating anything under the rubble of her home after an earthquake occurred in Iran in January 2004. Nearly all newborn babies, later became known as Miracle Babies, were found and rescued after being 7 days under the wreckage of Hospital Juarez in Mexico City earthquake in 1985.

Foods with High Water Content

In addition to the water we drink, approximately a fifth of our fluid intake is acquired through food and vegetables. Many fruits and vegetables contain as much as 90 percent or more water, making them the ideal choice for a meal or even a snack to keep your water intake high. Fruits like coconuts are over 97 percent water; fruits like watermelons, grapefruit, cantaloupes, peaches, other melons, grapes, strawberries, cranberries, orange and raspberries all have 90 percent water or more, though their energy content, except for coconuts, is somewhat low.

The list of vegetables with high water content has cucumber and lettuce, consisting of 96 percent water. Zucchini, radish and celery are comprised of 95 percent water. Ninety-four percent of a tomato’s weight is water, and green cabbage is 93 percent water. Vegetables that contain 92 percent water include cauliflower, eggplant, red cabbage and spinach. Broccoli is 91 percent water by weight.

In a study carried out by the University of Aberdeen Medical School in 2009, it was reported that after completing an intense workout, eating a watermelon or cucumber rehydrated your body twice as effectually as a glass of water. This is because such types of high water content fruits and vegetables replace the natural sugars, vitamins, amino acids and mineral salts lost in the workout and is far more effective than plain water or a sports drinks. Sports drinks combine the hydrating and energy replacing components of most of the fruits and vegetables listed above as high in water content and also have artificial colors and flavors which are, by and large, harmless. The difference lies in the fact that their combination is arbitrary, or generic, designed for the average person. But then, you are you-a discrete human with specific requirements as dictated by the constitution of your body and brain. The consumption of high water content foods is highly advantageous in that they provide a feeling of fullness while transferring minimal calories to your physique.

Preparing for the Likely Disaster in Your Area

You now know how long you can survive:

  • Without food but with water
  • With food but without water
  • Without anything

You are now in a situation where you have a solution. So what is the question? That one question is: Can you and your family survive in an emergency? There are follow up queries too. We know what an emergency means, but are you living in an area prone to emergencies? What is the average American’s chance of facing an emergency? Are reactions to all emergencies the same?

Napa Valley gets struck by the largest earthquake in 25 years. Hurricanes churn through the Atlantic. Floods claim four lives as they sweep through parts of the Northeast. Every region in America faces its own dangers, but when you account for all kinds of natural disasters–from earthquakes to winter storms to tornados–what place is safest of them all? The honor goes to Sweet Grass County, Montana, according to an analysis of more than a half century of weather patterns and destructive natural events across the USA. Sweet Grass is home to 3,000 people who are fortunate enough to live far from wildfires to the west and twister country to the east, not to mention 900 miles from any trouble caused by the sea. Ocean County, New Jersey, is the country’s most dangerous county, when it comes to frequency of natural disasters. Jersey Shore communities in Ocean County are vulnerable to tidal surges and storms like Sandy. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration USA

Figure 2: Safe/Unsafe Counties in the USA

Use the map above to see where your county ranks.  This link will take you to a page on Time Magazine, and you can check out how safe you are on their interactive map.

The Disaster Index

Researchers at Time Magazine have calculated what they call the disaster index. All records were taken from the database maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on earthquakes and tornados from 1950 and 42 other disaster since 1996. Based on their findings, they have listed the Counties listed in Chart 2 as the 15 Most Dangerous Counties in the USA.







Ocean County





Orange County





Cape May County





Monmouth County





Los Angeles County





Clinton County





Burlington County





San Diego County





Franklin County





Riverside County





San Bernardino County





Atlantic County





Chittenden County





Grand Isle County





Camden County




Chart 2: The 15 Most Dangerous Counties in the USA
Source: Time Magazine

Using the same criteria, the following Counties are the safest in the USA







Sweet Grass County





Washington County





Wheatland County





Sherman County





Emporia city





Fergus County





Luna County





Liberty County





Grant County





Malheur County





Potter County





Hill County





Silver Bow County





Canyon County





Golden Valley County




Chart 3: The 15 Safest Counties in the USA
Source: Time Magazine

What is striking is that the safest counties have virtually no population to speak of. Evidently, there is some unwelcome factor prevalent in these counties that people are avoiding living in them en masse.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Events measured by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USA, research include earthquake, hurricane (typhoon), cold wind chill, astronomical low tide, coastal flood, avalanche, dense fog, drought, dust devil, dust storm, excessive heat, extreme cold/wind chill, flash flood, flood, freezing fog, funnel cloud, hail, heat, heavy rain, heavy snow, high surf, high wind, ice storm, lakeshore flood, landslide, lightning, rip current, sleet, storm surge/tide, strong wind, thunderstorm wind, tornado, tropical depression, tropical storm, tsunami, waterspout, wildfire, winter storm and winter weather (ibid).

Figure 3: Hurricane Strikes since 1950
Source: NOAA

Hurricane Strikes Since 1950

Since 1851, 290 North Atlantic hurricanes have produced hurricane-strength winds in 19 states on the Atlantic coast. Some may have remained offshore, yet producing hurricane- strength winds on land; some may have weakened to a tropical storm before landfall yet produced hurricane conditions on land while still a hurricane and some of them made landfall in an adjacent state but produced hurricane conditions over multiple states.

All categories of disasters listed are not equally dangerous. The most disastrous have been hurricanes, as three to four of different scales may strike in one year; some years have been hurricane free in that they have died out just before encountering land or reduced to a large storm. Hurricanes have claimed over three thousand five hundred lives in the U.S. since 1996 while wildfires have taken 130 lives during the same period. Many counties have seen hundreds of incidents over the years, specifically hurricane prone New Jersey and quake-prone California.

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina has been the most destructive Atlantic tropical cyclone this millennium. It is also the most damage causing natural disaster in the history of the United States. Katrina has the dubious distinction of being the 7th deadliest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, and 2005 has seen three of the six most intense Atlantic hurricanes recorded (along with #1 Wilma and #4 Rita). 1,833 people are known to have died in the hurricane and the inevitable other disasters that follow, like floods, power outage, disconnection from the world at large and non-availability of fresh food or water other than what was supplied by rescue officials. The damage to property was projected at $108 billion (2005 USD).

If a hurricane is going to hit your house, there is nothing you can do. Prudence demands that you take safety measures in advance and pray that the intensity of the hurricane is low. As a resident of New Jersey (Chart 2), you should have an action plan ready and your entire family aware of what can happen and how they can help you in weathering the storm. Historically, the maximum property damage occurs in coastal areas, like beachfront towns. Nine out of ten can expect severe floods.

Measures Against Hurricanes

If you intend to safeguard yourself and your family from a hurricane, plan for four stages. These are the precautionary stage, the prelude, the storm and the after effects.

1. Precautionary Stage

  • There will be more than adequate warning before a hurricane strikes. That said, there is no guarantee that a hurricane will stick to its predicted path after hitting land. This can work both ways, for and against you. If you are in the path, the hurricane may pass you by, but considering its size, you may still be hit by its peripheral clouds, which will have very strong winds but less than expected rain. Buy emergency supplies now, well before it happens. The power outage may last days. Avoid the crowd by getting in early at the mart. Let’s also assume your house is 40 miles from the coastline (two hours travel time for the hurricane).
  • Consider moving to a relative’s house in say, Chicago or further west. Make sure you leave in time. Hurricanes move fairly slowly, about 25-30 mph or 40-48 kmh at that latitude, but the wind speed under its swirling cloud mass can touch 120+ mph, or 190 kph+. It is these winds and lashing rain that cause physical damage, but floods are caused by both the rain and poor drainage systems, as proved in New Orleans after a post-mortem of Katrina.
  • If you decide to stay, as generally happens, then shore up your basement. You will have to endure the strong winds when safely ensconced in your basement. After the worst is over, you will have to face the ordeal of waiting till life recovers to normal. If floods are to follow, they will convert your basement into a swimming pool. If you do not have a second floor, things could be touch and go in your house. Be prepared to evacuate in the worst case scenario. If you live in an apartment, there is no need to move anything; all you have to do is ‘batten down those hatches’ and stock up whatever is relevant from the list below.
  • You will require these items in your basement:
    • Hurricane lamps.
    • A set of torches and spare batteries.
    • Attach iridescent stickers on flashlights for easy location in little or no light.
    • Candles, four to five dozen and candle stick holders. Be careful not to start a fire.
    • Matches and disposable lighters.
    • A charging system.
    • An inverter with two high power batteries, 48 V each. You will also need an adapter to plug the inverter into any electrical power socket. Charge the batteries fully and ensurethey have enough distilled water.
    • Electrical cables, preferably two rolls of 50 ft each, colored red and green.
    • Battery-powered space heater.
    • Extension cords, long enough to reach your neighbor’s house.
    • Rubber gloves and gum boots for all.
    • Hand tools such as hammer, screwdriver, nails and wood saw.
    • Firewood and charcoal.
    • A gas camping stove or hibachi grill.
    • Extra blankets.
    • Paper plates, cups and plastic utensils.
    • First-aid kit and manual.
    • Fire Extinguisher.
    • Whistle.
    • Spare toiletry bag, with enough soap, shampoo, toothbrushes for all, toothpaste, basic medicines like aspirin and vitamins.
    • Sanitation and hygiene items (moist towelettes and toilet paper).
    • Prescription medicines for any affected person/persons, eye glasses, contact lens solutions, and hearing aid batteries.
    • Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils, including a can opener.
    • Photocopies of credit and identification cards.
    • Cash and coins with everybody.
    • Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers.
    • Clothing to keep your family warm, underwear and socks. Wear double layers in cold climates, and keep your head covered to retain loss of heat.
    • Space heaters that automatically shut off if they are moved or fall over.
    • Extra blankets, sleeping bags or newspapers to put on your bed/makeshift bed at night.
    • Knowledge that refrigerators and freezers are at their coldest settings in the house.
    • Extension to your phone line.
    • Mini-gas cylinder with attached lamp.
    • List of emergency phone nos. in huge print.
    • Mosquito repellent.
    • Fuel for your hurricane lamps.
    • Battery operated radios and clocks.
    • Knowledge that food is stored on shelves safely out of the way of flood waters.
    • Confirmation that an order for dry ice and ice blocks has been placed.
    • An 18 cubic foot standalone freezer. There should be 50 lbs (23 kg) of dry ice in this gadget when power goes. Use only this freezer. It will be the first device to be rendered ineffective, within 44-52 hours, but it would have done its job.
    • Coolers available and easily accessible. Styrofoam coolers work great.
    • Freezer bags filled with ice to make ice packs/ freezer-pack inserts.
    • Stocked ready-to-eat foods.
    • Shelf-stable items that are not canned. Look for juice boxes, stock and broth in boxes, dried fruits and snack items, and others that can be stored without refrigeration.
    • Some engaging, non-electronic games like cards and Scrabble, etc.
    • Bags to carry the equipment in, with inventory cards.

2. The Prelude

  • This is the phase when you get to know that the hurricane is close to the coast. In fact, high cirrus clouds (crow’s nest or mare’s tail) would have started appearing at least 60-90 hours earlier, with menacing clouds appearing about 2-2½ days later. A drizzle will set in, gradually becoming light, then heavy rain with very strong winds. Recheck the outside of your house to see that there is nothing that can fly off and hurt others just before the drizzle sets in.
    • Satellite dishes should be dismantled and brought in.
    • Recheck windows that might flap open in strong winds are nailed down.
    • Bring all flower pots into your garage.
    • Triple check your garage for safety, as they are weak structures, particularly their roofs. Cover glass surfaces of your car with Styrofoam. Cover the car securely with canvas.
    • Collect your order for dry ice and ice blocks as the drizzle starts. The exact timing is a function of how far your home is from the coastline and the market.
    • Freeze refrigerated items such as milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately — this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
    • Group food together in the freezer – this helps the food stay cold longer. A fully packed freezer keeps food safe longer than a lightly loaded one. Think ‘safety in numbers’!
    • Check that water repellent tarps, life jackets, inflatable raft if you have one, and kid’s swimming pools are inside the house.
    • Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer on the first floor. An appliance thermometer indicates the temperature in the container. In case of a power outage, it helps determine the safety of the food. The freezer should be as close to -18°C (0°F) as possible, while the fridge should be at or below 4°C (39°F).
    • Keep another appliance thermometer in your standalone freezer in the basement. Put all your perishable eatables and leftovers in this freezer. The temperature should be as close to -18°C (0°F) as possible.
    • Fill Ziplock bags, empty soda bottles, and other plastic containers with water and freeze. Use these to keep items in the freezer, refrigerator, and coolers cold.
    • Fill freezer bags with ice to make ice packs/buy freezer-pack inserts. This is mainly for the standalone freezer you’re going to eat from in the first two days and then for the refrigerator and its freezer compartment.

Note: Bacteria cannot survive temperatures below 4.°4 C (40° F). When the temperature rises above 40° F, it will take about two hours for all ice flakes to drop off. This is an indicator that conditions have changed in favor of bacteria, which thrive in such conditions and multiply very rapidly. There is only one thing you may do now: Throw away all food items that have crossed the two hour limit.

3. The Storm

  • Watch the storm from within the safety of your home. Look up to see if loose objects are flying around. Watch the windspeed pick up and batter your walls, windows and doors. Learn from the experience. As the intensity increases, head for your basement. It is only a matter of time before you have a power outage, if it hasn’t already gone.
    • There is nothing you can do but wait. Monitor progress on a smartphone.
    • Listen to a broadcast to find out if tidal waves have surged inland. Heed all warnings.
    • The rain will not let up for at least two days, while wind strength will keep varying.
    • Several agencies would have initiated precautionary action about five days before the storm intensified into a hurricane, like The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Police Department, the United States Coast Guard, National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service.
    • In due course, the hurricane will either move away or die out.
    • Pray that the accumulated water outside drains quickly.
    • NEVER taste food to check if it is safe-never!

These three phases are the most manageable phases. All your supplies will hold, nothing will run out of stock in these couple of days, unless you have mismanaged the situation. The problems start now, in the recovery phase, particularly if there is flooding. The after effects of what was a controlled situation are what cause great mental trauma. We will look at the aftermath later.

Assembling an Emergency Food Supply

Your emergency supplies should consist of food, water and other supplies for at least five days. Your entire family should know where it is, what it contains, how it is to be utilized and who will look after it. All food will be in the fridge or freezer. Surplus cans must be stored on the highest shelves, keeping them safe from flood water. In case of a power outage, nobody should open any cooling equipment, except for the person in charge.

Water: Store at least one gallon of water per person per day for five days. An average person drinks one-half gallon of water every day, though this will reduce if there is a temperature drop. Remember:

  • Individual needs vary, depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate.
  • Children, nursing mothers, and ill people need more water.
  • Temperatures above 95°F (35°C), though unlikely, will increase the amount of water by 50%.
  • A medical emergency might require additional water.
  • It is recommended you purchase commercially bottled water in the precautionary stage.
  • If you are using council supplied tap water, stock it in large bottles. Use two-liter plastic soft drink bottles. Clean the bottles thoroughly with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap. Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water and swishing vigorously. After sanitizing the bottle, rinse out the sanitizing solution thoroughly with clean water.
  • Filling water containers: Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. If the tap water has been commercially treated from a water utility with chlorine, you need not add anything else to the water. If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water. Tightly close the container using the original cap (ibid).
  • Many fruits and vegetables will hold their quality at room temperature, so buy them. Apples, tomatoes, grapes, heads of lettuce, squash, onions, potatoes, celery, peppers, and other produce will store well as long as they are stored in a cool and dark place.
  • Canned foods: canned beans, olive oil, tuna, chicken, small bottles of mayonnaise and salad dressing, canned meats and seafood, evaporated milk, soups, oil, canned juices, fruit, mustard and ketchup, brown bread, vegetables, dried foods, dried soup mixes, pastas, vegetables, meat, powdered milk, bouillon cubes and granules, spices, dried sauce mixes, pesto mixes, fruit, mushrooms and instant pudding mixes.

Food: Keep the following in mind when stocking your food supplies in the precautionary phase:

  • Avoid foods that will make you thirsty. Choose salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals, and canned foods with high liquid content.
  • Stock canned foods, dry mixes, and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water, or special preparation. You may already have many of these on hand. Do include a manual can opener.
  • Keep a handy stock of plain milk chocolates.
  • Include special dietary needs (ibid).
  • Multivitamins.
  • Nuts and trail mixes, preferably in vacuum-packed containers which keep them fresh.

Canned Foods

“Canned foods maintain mineral content for entire shelf life. Vitamins A & C will decrease rapidly after fruits and vegetables are picked and cooked. Vitamins are lost during heating processes; however, once canned, vitamin A & C loss slows to 5- 20% per year. Other vitamins remain close to fresh food levels.”

Several factors limit the shelf-life of canned foods:

  • Cans or metal lids on glass jars can rust. When rust is deep enough, tiny holes open in the can or lid that may let spoilage agents in. Shipping accidents that dent or crush cans cause problems.
  • Can corrosion. Food reacts chemically with the metal container, especially high-acid food like canned tomatoes and fruit juices. Over several years, this causes taste and texture changes. It eventually lowers the nutritional value of the food.
  • Temperatures over 38° C (100° F) are harmful to canned foods. The risk of spoilage jumps sharply as storage temperatures rise. At prolonged storage temperatures above 24° C (75° F), nutrient loss in canned foods increases. Light can cause color changes and nutrient losses in foods canned in glass jars.

To store canned food wisely:

  • Store in a cool, clean, dry place where temperature is below 85 degrees (between 50-70 degrees is good) but not freezing temperatures.
  • Rotate foods so the oldest is used first. Try not to keep canned foods more than one year.
  • Use canned meats and seafood within 12 months.
  • Use low-acid canned foods within 8-12 months.
  • Use high-acid foods within 12 to 18 months. Foods stored longer will be safe to eat if the cans show no signs of spoilage or damage but may deteriorate in color, flavor and nutritive value.
  • Canned fruit juices can be stored up to 3 years.

Never use foods from containers with spoilage warning signs like loose or bulging lids on jars; bulging, leaking or badly dented cans (especially along the top, side and bottom seams); or foods with a foul odor (ibid).

The Aftermath of the Disaster

Power Outages

As soon as you lose power, unplug the freezer and refrigerator, as well as other appliances, to protect them from electricity surges when power returns. The inverter will give you 72 hours or more backup for one TV + 3 bulbs + 3 fans. Use your TV sparingly; recharge smartphones freely. Wrap the refrigerator/freezer in blankets, making sure they don’t touch the compressor, to create extra insulation. The same holds good for the standalone freezer.

If you have followed these directions to a T, there is very little chance of you running out of food. In any case, rescue teams will be making the rounds as soon as it is safe to do so. Items in the freezer can potentially stay frozen for 2 to 4 days, depending on the size of the freezer, how full it is, and how well insulated it is. These steps have been listed already. A full freezer that had been operating at 0°F will keep foods frozen for about 48 hours if the doors remain closed.

The blocks of dry ice are most useful in extended power outages. Use a twelve pound block of dry ice in the freezer and it will keep the contents frozen for one extra day, since you are not going to even touch it till the standalone freezer has done its job. Do wear gloves or use tongs when handling dry ice. The ideal method of using dry ice, apart from wearing gloves, is listed below:

  • Put heavy cardboard on top of packages of frozen food in each compartment of your freezer and put the dry ice on top of the cardboard.
  • If possible, place meat and poultry on a tray or seal them in a tough plastic bag so that their juices do not leak onto other foods if they ever begin to thaw.
  • Ensure you have a few days’ stock of foods that do not require cooking or cooling.
  • The safest way to determine a food’s safety is to use a kitchen thermometer. If a food’s temperature registers at 4.4°C (40°F) or below, it is safe. If not, destroy or discard it.
  • Feed infants and young children with care.
    • Breastfed infants should continue breastfeeding. For formula-fed infants, use ready-to-feed formula if possible. If using ready-to-feed formula is not possible, it is best to use bottled water to prepare powdered or concentrated formula. If bottled water is not available, use boiled water. Use treated water to prepare formula only if you do not have bottled or boiled water. You should have one week’s quantum of formula.
    • If you prepare formula with boiled water, let the formula cool sufficiently before giving it to an infant. Use your kitchen utensils over a regulated flame/fire to boil water.
    • Clean feeding bottles and nipples with bottled, boiled, or treated water before each use.
    • Wash your hands before preparing formula and before feeding an infant. You can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer for washing your hands if the water supply is limited.
    • Ensure you have enough wipes/diapers (and plastic bags for disposal) in the house.
    • Recheck that you can cater to every need of the toddler for one full week, including light blankets, laundry detergent and medication, if any.

When Floodwater Enters Your House

  1. Keep Stored Water Safe: Once you realize that your house will get flooded, take all the items in the basement to the second floor and keep them under tarpaulins. If you do not have a second floor, keep all items as high as you can, covered with waterproofing material like tarpaulins, plastic or rubber sheets, etc. Thereafter:
    • Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters if it is available.
    • If you don’t have bottled water, you should boil water to make it safe. Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present.
    • If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloth or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for boiling.
    • Boil the water for one minute, let it cool, and store it in clean containers with covers.
    • If you can’t boil water, you can disinfect it using household bleach. Bleach will kill some, but not all, types of disease-causing organisms that may be in the water.
    • If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloth or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for disinfection.
    • Add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach per each gallon of water. Stir it well and let it stand for at least 30 minutes before you use it.
    • Store disinfected water in clean containers with covers.
    • If you have a well that has been flooded, the water should be tested and disinfected after flood waters recede. If you suspect that your well may be contaminated, contact your local or state health department or agriculture extension agent for specific advice.
    • If flood waters reach food stored on shelves and in cabinets, many food items that came in contact with flood water are unsafe. A guide of what to keep and what to discard follows:
      • Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water – this includes raw fruits and vegetables, cartons of milk or eggs.
      • Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water.
      • Food containers that are not waterproof include those packaged in plastic wrap or cardboard, or those with screw‐caps, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped caps. Flood waters can enter any of these containers and contaminate the food inside. Also, discard cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes and home canned foods if they have come in contact with flood water, because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized.
      • Check canned foods and discard any food in damaged cans. Can damage is shown by swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting, or rushing/denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel‐type can opener. Do not taste any food to check if it is still edible.
    • Salvaging canned items: Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all‐metal cans and retort pouches (for example, flexible, shelf‐stable juice or seafood pouches) can be saved if you do the following:
      • Remove the labels, if they are the removable kind, since they can harbor dirt and bacteria.
      • Thoroughly wash the cans or retort pouches with soap and water, using hot water if it is available.
      • Brush or wipe away any dirt or silt.
      • Rinse the cans or retort pouches with water that is safe for drinking, if available, since dirt or residual soap will reduce the effectiveness of chlorine sanitation.
      • Then, sanitize them by immersion in one of the two following ways:
        • Place in water and allow the water to come to a boil and continue boiling for 2 minutes, or
        • Place in a freshly made solution consisting of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water (or the cleanest, clearest water available) for 15 minutes.
      • Air‐dry cans or retort pouches for a minimum of 1 hour before opening or storing.
      • If the labels were removable, then re‐label your cans or retort pouches, including the expiry date (if available), with a marker.
      • Food in reconditioned cans or retort pouches should be used as soon as possible, thereafter.
      • Any concentrated baby formula in reconditioned, all‐metal containers must be diluted with clean, drinking water (ibid).

How to Prepare Food Without Power

If some disaster causes a power outage, you could use the gas camping stove or hibachi grill, or cook over an open fire. It may or may not be practical or possible to do so every meal, or for an extended period of time. So what are your options for uncooked meals without a working freezer or refrigerator?

You’ll be making a meal from stored food. Canned fruits and vegetables are not a problem. So the issue becomes staple foods: grains, potatoes, etc. There are several food options: instant oatmeal, quick barley, instant mashed potatoes, ramen, tabouli and couscous.

Use only clean safe drinking water. Preparation of stored food without cooking can contain bacteria. This food must be eaten immediately after preparation, to preclude bacterial growth which makes the food unsafe to eat. Instant oatmeal with non-fat dry milk, prepared without heat, though not as good as when it is cooked, is one of the better options for preparing food when you don’t have power to cook. It’s a great breakfast option.

Barley is a good staple food, which is high in protein and carbs. Quick barley will store well long-term if kept cool, sealed, and dry. This is definitively a good food for storage. Instant mashed potatoes take up room temperature bottled water quickly and well. The taste seems unaffected by the lack of cooking. You probably like your mashed potatoes hot, but that is situational. Try opening a small bottle of mayonnaise sauce and finish it. Instant mashed potato, ketchup and mayonnaise is a decent meal.

Making couscous at room temperature bottled water, takes 15 minutes or more. If the couscous turns out crunchy, add more water and let it sit for another 10 minutes. Taste-wise, couscous prepared in this manner is almost indistinguishable from cooked couscous, except that it is not hot. Add oil and vinegar, with some spices and salt to taste. Couscous is made with wheat, just like regular pasta, and it is just as nutritious. Tabouli and ramen are two more options.

Prepare ‘heat only’ foods like canned soup, stew, chili or ‘just add water’ foods like instant soup or oatmeal on a canned heat stove, prepare raw foods or canned foods that do not need heating, or prepare easy to cook meals on a one burner butane stove.

The one burner butane stove has many advantages. It will accommodate larger size cookware than the canned heat stove and normal kitchen cookware can be used. The butane stove can be used indoors with good ventilation. The gas flame is easier to regulate than canned heat and is hotter. These advantages allow the preparation of recipes rather than just heating up of canned foods thus giving more variety to menus while the power is out. A list of recipes for meals that can be prepared in 20 minutes or less (to conserve fuel) is at Pantry Cooking: Unlocking Your Pantry’s Potential.

Keeping Food Safe During an Ice Storm

Even a thin coating of ice can result in a travel nightmare, while heavier amounts will severely damage trees and power lines. Strong winds can add extra force to already weighed down tree branches and power lines, increasing the likelihood of significant damage.

Ice Storm Facts

  • Ice can increase the weight of branches more than 25 times.
  • A 0.5 inch accretion on electrical lines can add 500 pounds of extra weight between successive pylons.
  • In 2009, a heavy ice storm between northern Arkansas and the Ohio Valley shut down power to 1.3 million homes.
  • An ice storm between northern New York and northern New England in 1998 damaged trees by the millions. Ice accretion was as much as 7.5 cm (3”) thick!

These ice accumulations are caused by freezing rain. Freezing rain is the consequence of snow dropping through an above-freezing level warm layer in the atmosphere, wherein snowflakes melt into rain. These raindrops transit through a thin layer of air below freezing temperature at the surface of the earth, freezing immediately when it makes contact with land, trees, cars, etc.


  • Avoid driving on icy roads for your safety and the safety of emergency personnel.
  • Make sure you have several ways to communicate with others, like landline phones, cell phones, texting, etc.
  • Children should be stopped from playing around ice-covered trees for fear of injury.
  • Never use portable generators, camp stoves and grills inside your home or garage to forestall carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Use flashlights during power outages instead of candles to prevent the risk of fire. Attach a luminous strip of fluorescent paper to your torches.

Refrigerator Foods

When to Save and When to Throw It Out


Held above 40 ºF for over 2 hours



Raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, or seafood; soy meat substitutes


Thawing meat or poultry


Meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken, or egg salad


Gravy, stuffing, broth


Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef


Pizza – with any topping


Canned hams labeled “Keep Refrigerated”


Canned meats and fish, opened




Soft Cheeses: blue/bleu, Roquefort, Brie, Camembert, cottage, cream, Edam, Monterey Jack, ricotta, mozzarella, Muenster, Neufchatel, queso blanco, queso fresco


Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, Provolone, Romano


Processed Cheeses


Shredded Cheeses


Low-fat Cheeses


Grated Parmesan, Romano, or combination (in can or jar)




Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk


Butter, margarine


Baby formula, opened




Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products


Custards and puddings






Fresh fruits, cut


Fruit juices, opened


Canned fruits, opened


Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates




Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish

Discard if above 50 °F for over 8 hrs.

Peanut butter


Jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, catsup, olives, pickles


Worcestershire, soy, barbecue sauces, Hoisin sauce


Fish sauces (oyster sauce)


Opened vinegar-based dressings


Opened creamy-based dressings


Spaghetti sauce, opened jar




Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads, tortillas


Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookie dough


Cooked pasta, rice, potatoes


Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette


Fresh pasta




Breakfast foods –waffles, pancakes, bagels






Pies – custard






Fresh mushrooms, herbs, spices


Greens, pre-cut, pre-washed, packaged


Vegetables, raw


Vegetables, cooked; tofu


Vegetable juice, opened


Baked potatoes


Commercial garlic in oil


Potato Salad


Chart 4 Source: Keeping_Food_Safe_During_an_Emergency.pdf

Frozen Food

When to Save and When to Throw It Out







Beef, veal, lamb, pork, and ground meat



Poultry and ground poultry



Variety meats (liver, kidney, heart, chitterlings)



Casseroles, stews, soups



Fish, shellfish, breaded seafood products

Refreeze. However, there will be some texture and flavor     loss.






Refreeze. May lose some texture.


Eggs (out of shell) and egg products



Ice cream, frozen yogurt



Cheese (soft and semi-soft)

Refreeze. May lose some texture.


Hard cheeses



Shredded cheeses



Casseroles containing milk, cream, eggs, soft cheeses











Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops.

Home or commercially packaged

Refreeze. Will change texture and flavor

Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops.






Discard after held above 40° F for 6 hours.

Home or commercially packaged or blanched

Refreeze. May suffer texture and flavor loss

Discard after held above 40° F for 6 hours.




Breads, rolls, muffins, cakes (without custard fillings)



Cakes, pies, pastries with custard or cheese filling



Pie crusts, commercial and
homemade bread dough

Refreeze. Some quality loss can occur

Refreeze. Quality loss is considerable.




Casseroles – pasta, rice based



Flour, cornmeal, nuts



Breakfast items –waffles, pancakes, bagles



Frozen meal, entree, specialty items (pizza, sausage and biscuit, meat pie,convenience foods)




How to Get Rid of Bad Smells in Your Fridge

While it is not necessary that a natural disaster will lead to your fridge and freezer picking up a noxious odor, the fact remains that a long power outage where you cannot get back to your fridge freely or floodwaters will go a long way in generating that rotten egg / decaying meat smell. Unfortunately, your fridge is made of various plastics, compounds, rubberized linings and metal. It is the plastic elements and the rubberized section that retain the odor. The metallic portion can be scrubbed clean, but you cannot touch any electrical system for fear of damaging it.

More often than not, people do manage to get rid of the odor in a couple of days. There are always some tricky ones that will trouble you. It is a lengthy DIY process and perhaps the best option is given here. If the fridge is done in, then remove the door and dump the two separate portions of the dead fridge widely apart. This is a statutory law in the state of Michigan.


This entry was posted in: Blog.

Economic Effects of Climate Change

Economic Effects of Climate Change

REPORT SUMMARY: Climate Change Background (causes, consensus), Impacts of Climate Change on Growth & Development, Estimated Costs in Developing Countries, Effects on Global Food Supply (agriculture, production), Diseases, Climate Change Policy, Technological Innovation, Carbon Tax, Low Carbon Economy

What is climate change?

Climatologists commonly refer to climate as the mean or average weather in a given place or region.

This description is usually stated in statistical forms showing variations such as averages and extremes. Climate comprises of humidity, patterns of temperature, wind, seasons, and rain or snow.  A recent science-based report shows that the quantity of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other forms of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere continues to rise to such levels that the Earth get warmed resulting in a broad range of environmental effects such as melting ice and snow, rising sea levels, drought and wild fires, extreme storms, rainfall and floods.


More resources:

Causes of Climate Change

The earth’s climate is naturally variable on all time scales. However, its long-term state and average temperature are regulated by the balance between incoming and outgoing energy, which determines the Earth’s energy balance.

Any factor that causes a sustained change to the amount of incoming energy or the amount of outgoing energy can lead to climate change.

As these factors are external to the climate system, they are referred to as ‘climate forcers’, invoking the idea that they force or push the climate towards a new long-term state – either warmer or cooler depending on the cause of change.

Different factors operate on different time scales, and not all of those factors that have been responsible for changes in earth’s climate in the distant past are relevant to contemporary climate change.

Factors that cause climate change can be divided into two categories ­- those related to natural processes and those related to human activity. In addition to natural causes of climate change, changes internal to the climate system, such as variations in ocean currents or atmospheric circulation, can also influence the climate for short periods of time. This natural internal climate variability is superimposed on the long-term forced climate change.

Natural Causes

The Earth’s climate can be affected by natural factors that are external to the climate system, such as changes in volcanic activity, solar output, and the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Of these, the two factors relevant on timescales of contemporary climate change are changes in volcanic activity and changes in solar radiation. In terms of the Earth’s energy balance, these factors primarily influence the amount of incoming energy. Volcanic eruptions are episodic and have relatively short-term effects on climate. Changes in solar irradiance have contributed to climate trends over the past century but since the Industrial Revolution, the effect of additions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere has been about ten times that of changes in the Sun’s output.

Human Causes

Climate change can also be caused by human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and the conversion of land for forestry and agriculture. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, these human influences on the climate system have increased substantially. In addition to other environmental impacts, these activities change the land surface and emit various substances to the atmosphere. These in turn can influence both the amount of incoming energy and the amount of outgoing energy and can have both warming and cooling effects on the climate.  The dominant product of fossil fuel combustion is carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. The overall effect of human activities since the Industrial Revolution has been a warming effect, driven primarily by emissions of carbon dioxide and enhanced by emissions of other greenhouse gases.

The build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has led to an enhancement of the natural greenhouse effect.  It is this human-induced enhancement of the greenhouse effect that is of concern because ongoing emissions of greenhouse gases have the potential to warm the planet to levels that have never been experienced in the history of human civilization. Such climate change could have far-reaching and/or unpredictable environmental, social, and economic consequences.


Short-lived and long-lived climate forcers

Carbon dioxide is the main cause of human-induced climate change. It has been emitted in vast quantities from the burning of fossil fuels and it is a very long-lived gas, which means it continues to affect the climate system during its long residence time in the atmosphere. However, fossil fuel combustion, industrial processes, agriculture, and forestry-related activities emit other substances that also act as climate forcers. Some, such as nitrous oxide, are long-lived greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and so contribute to long-term climate change.

Other substances have shorter atmospheric lifetimes because they are removed fairly quickly from the atmosphere. Therefore, their effect on the climate system is similarly short-lived. Together, these short-lived climate forcers are responsible for a significant amount of current climate forcing from anthropogenic substances.

Some short-lived climate forcers have a climate warming effect (‘positive climate forcers’) while others have a cooling effect (‘negative climate forcers’).

If atmospheric levels of short-lived climate forcers are continually replenished by ongoing emissions, these continue to exert a climate forcing. However, reducing emissions will quickly lead to reduced atmospheric levels of such substances. A number of short-lived climate forcers have climate warming effects and together are the most important contributors to the human enhancement of the greenhouse effect after carbon dioxide.

This includes methane and tropospheric ozone – both greenhouse gases – and black carbon, a small solid particle formed from the incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels (coal, oil and wood for example).

Other short-lived climate forcers have climate cooling effects, most notably sulphate aerosols. Fossil fuel combustion emits sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere (in addition to carbon dioxide) which then combines with water vapour to form tiny droplets (aerosols) which reflect sunlight.

Sulphate aerosols remain in the atmosphere for only a few days (washing out in what is referred to as acid rain), and so do not have the same long-term effect as greenhouse gases. The cooling from sulphate aerosols in the atmosphere has, however, offset some of the warming from other substances. That is, the warming we have experienced to date would have been even larger had it not been for elevated levels of sulphate aerosols in the atmosphere.

The Effects of Sea Level Rise and Climate Change

Strong evidence from scientific research obtained from core samples, tide gauge readings and satellite measurements show that global mean sea levels have been rising since the mid-19th century.

Available records indicate that during the 20th century, the global mean sea levels (GMSL) rose by about 15-20 centimeters which roughly equals 1.5 to 2.0 millimetre per year and the rate at which the GMSL increased towards the end of the 20th century was greater than at the early years of the century. The rate of increase of the GMSL in the first ten years of the 21st century has been found to be around 3.1 mm per year which is much higher than the average rate recorded for the 20th century.

Future projections estimate the GMSL to rise by around 1 meter by 2100 but if the rate at which Greenland ice sheet melt increases, sea level might rise by roughly 2 meters by 2100.

The three major processes leading to a rise in sea levels are:

  • Thermal expansion: Water expands normally as its temperature rises just like air and other fluids. Ocean temperature increases as climate change increases leading to sea level rise because of the expansion of its water through the application of heat (thermal expansion). Evidence suggests that thermal expansion could have contributed almost 2.5cm of sea level rise from mid-20th century. Projections by the IPCC in its Fourth Assessment suggests that sea levels will rise by about 17-28 cm (with an uncertainty rate of 50% plus or minus) over the 21st century.
  • Melting of glaciers and ice caps: Climate scientists say that melting of glaciers and ice caps are less likely contributors to sea level rise. The Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC estimated that the melting of mountain glaciers and ice caps in the second half of the 20th century increased sea level by around 2.5cm and projected that melting of ice and ice caps will lead about 10-12cm (plus or minus of one third) increase in sea level in the 21st century.
  • Loss of ice mass from the Greenland and West Antarctic sheets: The West Antarctic sheet retains an equivalent of 5 meters of sea level while the ice on Greenland holds around 7 meters of sea level. If all the ice on Greenland and the West Antarctic were to melt away completely in a process that could last for many centuries, both will contribute about 12 meters of sea level rise. The West Antarctic ice sheet is highly vulnerable because it is rooted below sea level. Though the East Antarctic ice sheet holds around 55 meters of sea level but it is less vulnerable to loss of its ice.

The potential impacts of these three processes include more rapid coastal erosion, rising water tables, changes in tidal prism, slat water intrusion into aquifers and surface waters, increased storm damage to coastal infrastructure, and changes in shoreline including the possibility that protective natural barriers will be lost totally. 

Ocean chemistry will definitely change when ocean level rises due to climate change. Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could make water bodies to become more acidic and warmer sea water will have more carbon dioxide dissolved in it resulting in less oxygen. Sea level rise will cause harm to marine ecosystems, it will alter ocean’s biodiversity, and also affect the tiny plankton which produces much of the oxygen in the atmosphere.

More information on sea levels and climate change

The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change

There is an overwhelming level of scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. Over 95% of actively publishing climate scientists agree that the earth is warming and that human activity is the cause. In spite of this agreement, only about 50% the general public think that scientists have reached a consensus on human-caused climate change. Two sources of the discrepancy are the unbalanced portrayal of the situation in the media, and the Manufactured Doubt Industry. – source:

    Climate Change and the Media

    According to a poll done by (WPO) after the 2010 election, 45% of voting Americans think that most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring. WPO goes on further to estimate that this percentage has actually increased over the past ten years. A recent Pew study found that an overwhelming majority of Americans like science, have a positive regard for scientists, and think that science "contributes a lot to society’s well-being." So if there’s obvious consensus among scientists, why is that information not making it to the public?

    Never Rarely Once a week 2-3 times a week Almost every day
    Fox News 30 37 45 36 60
    CNN 51 40 39 25 25
    MSNBC 49 34 35 35 20
    Network TV news broadcasts 59 37 41 36 35
    Public Broadcasting (NPR or PBS) 49 41 36 21 13
    Newspapers & news magazines (in print or online) 48 43 41 24 40


    Table 1. Of people who responded that they agree with the statement "most scientists believe that global warming is not occurring," 60% watch Fox News almost every day. (Source)

    The Economics of Climate Change

    In their characteristic manner, economists generally weigh costs and damages. Therefore, economics of climate change focuses on identifying the economic implications of climate change and, hence, offer relevant, normative, and realistic policies for bringing the menace under control.

    Though the economics of climate change relates to other aspects of environmental economics but because of a number of factors such as the nature and extent of uncertainties involved with it, its distinctive and global nature, its international scope, its long term scale, and the possibilities of distributing policy benefits unevenly, it is often given a unique focus.

    Projections by Goulder and Pizer (2005) suggests that spending on energy infrastructure could exceed $16 trillion by 2030 leading to a rise in carbon emission by 60%. Therefore, the importance of looking at the economics of climate change now in order to develop the right choices for mitigating climate change cannot be overemphasized.

    In a working paper titled ‘Climate Change and Economic Growth’ and produced by the Commission on Growth and Development led by Nobel Laureate Mike Spence, the author, Robert Mendelsohn, remarked: ‘whereas the grim descriptions of the long term effects of climate change have led many to believe that the consequences of climate change will threaten long term economic growth but contrary to this impression, the impacts of climate change on the global economy will likely be very small over the next five decades and severe impacts by the end of the century is quite unlikely.’

    While this statement may sound quite puzzling, it does make a lot of sense to economists and to clarify further, the author says: ‘the greatest danger that climate change poses to the global economy in the long term arises from potentially excessive near-term mitigation efforts’ meaning that there is the need to keep up with the current global economic growth while allowing the greening of the economic growth strategy.

    The priority of many of the economists concerned with climate change advocate developing the ‘right economic choices’ for mitigating the potential impacts of the global phenomenon but this position is at variance with the views of scientists and environmentalists who advocate that more extreme mitigation policies be applied in the near term.

    The Impacts of Climate Change on Economic Growth and Development

    One of the main drivers of climate change is economic growth.

    As the demand for energy and goods that uses fossil fuels intensively increases, the economy expands and the quantity of greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere will also increase.

    However, economic growth may bring about a change in technological know-how leading to the inventions of more products that are energy efficient and, hence, slow down the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    Some impacts of climate change are directly linked to market transactions and invariably affect gross domestic product (GDP) while some are non-market impacts because the effects could only be noticed on human health and ecosystems and not on market transactions.

    Climate change impacts that are market impacts could be measured as economic cost but it is difficult to calculate non-market impacts on an economic scale.

    The uncertainties in scientific measurement about how climate change will unfold makes estimating the economic impacts of climate change rather difficult. Nevertheless, economists have attempted making economic analysis of the potential impacts climate change would have on growth and development of a state and the global economy.

    • Smith et al., (2001) warns that climate change would further widen economic inequities between individuals and nations. Smith also says that a slight increase in global mean temperature of about 2oC over the 1990 levels could lead to net negative market sector and net positive market sector in many developing and developed nations respectively.
    • Pearce et al., (1996) suggests that based on available economic research, only a limited sector of the market economy such as agriculture, tourism, energy, coastal resources, forestry, and water is susceptible to climate change but in contrast, Stern (2006) claims that the entire global economy and the well-being of people across the globe may be at risk.
    • Mendelsohn (2009) reasoned that even if the impact of climate change turns out to be severe, it is doubtful if climate change can hurt the global economy that much since the sectors listed above make up around 5 percent of the global economy and it is expected that the share of each sector will shrink over time. The thinking is that most sectors of the global economy are not sensitive to climate change. However, Mendelsohn holds the view that on a comparison basis, the economies of some nations would be more susceptible to climate change when compared with the global average. Those countries that might be hit harder are countries that have a larger share of their economies in agriculture and forestry. In general, Mendelsohn says developing countries are more vulnerable. This is probably because many developing countries appear to be in the low geographical latitudes where the impacts of climate change on the market economy sectors earlier mentioned will be the most severe. Already, the major economic sectors of some countries in Africa have been noted to be vulnerable to observed changes in climate conditions meaning that future climate change could impact these countries further more. However, Smith et al., (2001: p. 940-941) predicted that a number of the developing nations would have the wherewithal to efficiently cope with the challenges of climate change.

    Though the uncertainties over climate sensitivities may pose difficulties in calculating the real economic impacts that climate change could have on growth and development yet analysts consider these uncertainties as the only important factor needed to determine the costs of carbon in the atmosphere, and, hence, climate sensitivity is important as an economic measure of climate change impacts.

    Low-income countries will remain on the frontline of human-induced climate change over the next century, experiencing gradual sea-level rises, stronger cyclones, warmer days and nights, more unpredictable rains, and larger and longer heatwaves, according to the most thorough assessment of the issue yet.

    East Africa can expect to experience increased short rains, while west Africa should expect heavier monsoons. Burma, Bangladesh and India can expect stronger cyclones; elsewhere in southern Asia, heavier summer rains are anticipated. Indonesia may receive less rainfall between July and October, but the coastal regions around the south China Sea and Gulf of Thailand can expect increased rainfall extremes when cyclones hit land.

    Estimates of the incremental costs of adaptation in developing countries ($bn per annum)

    Study 2010-2015 2010-2020 2030 2010-2050 Method
    World Development Report (2010) 30-100 Compiled several estimates of adaptation costs (including others in this list) with scenarios of 450ppm, 2005 US$
    World Bank EACC (2010) 70-100 Average annual adaptation costs from 2010 to 2050 in the agriculture, forestry, fisheries, infrastructure, water resource management, and coastal zone sectors, including impacts on health, ecosystem services, and the effects of extreme-weather events. In 2005 US$.
    Project Catayst (2009) 13-38 Estimates only public funding needs in vulnerable countries using costs from NAPAs, increased funding of public goods and disaster support. Assumes 450 stabilization, $1.25 to €1 exchange rate
    UNFCCC (2007) 27-67 Including: agriculture, forestry and fisheries, water supply, human health, coastal zones, infrastructure, and ecosystems. Excluded: mining and manufacturing, energy, retailing, tourism and ecosystems. In 2005 US$ between 450 and 550ppm
    Oxfam (2007) >50 Based on World Bank (2006), plus extrapolation of costs from NAPAs and NGO projects
    UNDP HDR (2007) 86-109 Builds on World Bank (2006), plus cost of adapting Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and strengthening disaster response
    World Bank (2006) 9-41 Costs of climate proofing ODA, foreign and domestic investment
    Stern Review (2006) 4-37 Aiming for 450ppm stabilisation


    Additional Resources on The Economics of Climate Change:

    Economics of climate change

    The Impacts of climate change on growth and development

    How climate change will affect people around the world

    Implications of climate change on development

    Costs of climate change in developing countries

    Projecting the Growth of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    It is the standard practice of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use future emissions projections of non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases as a basis for determining how cost-effective short-term mitigation alternatives and future policy can impact greenhouse gas emissions.

    This is because though carbon dioxide (CO2) are the main constituents of greenhouse gas emissions, there are other non-CO2 gases like nitrous oxide, methane, and fluorinated greenhouse gases that are major contributors to climate change. When considered on a per-ton basis, these non-CO2 greenhouse gases contribute more to climate change impacts than CO2 and some of these gases have significant effects on a short-term basis than carbon dioxide.

    There are series of reports published by EPA that projects the growth of greenhouse gas emissions. EPA usually provide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reports by gas and by sector.

    The sectors commonly reported include

    • transportation
    • energy
    • industrial processes
    • agriculture
    • land use
    • land-use change
    • waste
    • forestry


    The common gases in most reports are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), nitrous oxide (N2O), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

    The quantities of future GHG levels are highly uncertain but there are a wide range of data illustrating emission projections that have been generated quantitatively. A number of emissions projections combined anthropogenic emissions as a single figure which is termed carbon dioxide equivalent (CDE). The CDE describes the quantity of global warming that could be caused by a given type of GHG by using the concentration of carbon dioxide as the reference.

    Using the baseline scenarios of emissions projection, it is projected that by 2030, there will be an increase of 25% and 90% in greenhouse emissions relative to the 2000 level.  It was also projected that for carbon dioxide only, two-thirds to three-quarters of the increase would be recorded in developing nations of the world.  But the same report also projected that the average per capita carbon dioxide emissions in developing nations would remain significantly lower than those in the developed world.

    The projections of carbon dioxide equivalents for 2100 varied from a reduction of about 40% to an increase in GHG emissions of 250% above the levels recorded for 2000.
    Source: SRES Final Data (version1.1, July 2000)

    A research report says that the estimated total atmospheric concentration of long-lived greenhouse gas emissions was about 455 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide equivalent .  When deduction is made for the effects of deforestation and other land-use changes and aerosol, then the physical effect which is also referred to as radiative forcing reduces the carbon dioxide equivalent to between 311 and 435 ppm. The estimate recorded for 2011 carbon dioxide equivalent concentrations is 473 ppm.

    Six of the IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) SRES emissions scenarios, that is the base line scenarios, have been used to project the possible future changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations equivalent. For example, the emissions projections for 2100 has been fixed between 540 to 970 parts per million (ppm).

    More resources:

    Global Food Supply and Climate Change

    Though crops, livestock and fisheries depend on specific weather conditions, it is difficult to understand the overall effect that climate change could have on food supply.

    In some instances, slight warming and high concentration of carbon dioxide may help some crops to grow faster yet agricultural yields may reduce with severe warming and floods and drought can cause further damage to agriculture and, hence, reduce food supply.

    The potential effects that climate change could have on world food supply and security have been documented , and some of the risks posed by concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere include negative effects on grain, fruit crops, vegetable, livestock and fisheries among others.

    • Vietnam is one of the hot spots where climate change through potential global sea level rise threatens rice production.
    • The Yakima River which is in the south central and eastern Washington state annually produces mostly perennial crops valued around $1 billion but many of the crop growers around this basin have been facing water shortages. In fact, reduced water allocation from the Yakima Basin that occurred in 2001 led to economic losses worth between $140 million and $195 million.

    Some of the practical effects of climate change on agriculture and food supply include reduction in yields, the need to deploy irrigation more than before, decreased arability; he possibility that insect and pests may reproduce more when the atmosphere becomes warmer, delay in planting and harvesting, and untold risks to fisheries.

    It’s not economic development that matters in this case, it’s the location on the surface of the Earth. Without better crop varieties or other agricultural technology improvements, irrigated wheat yields, for example, will fall at least 20 percent by 2050 as a result of global warming, and south Asia as well as parts of sub-Saharan Africa will face the worst effects.

    Potential Effects of Climage Change on Agriculture and Food Production

    The potential effects that climate change could have on agriculture and food production are many. For example, the rate of production of food crops, livestock, and dairy yields, may decline when temperature rises or due to drought-related stress. Several parts of the world that have been depending on natural and regular supply of water from rainfall each year during planting seasons may now require artificial supply of water through irrigation leading to higher costs for the farmers and possibly communal conflict when access to water becomes a battle for the fittest.

    In another scenario, climate change may make warmer conditions to shift to higher latitudes, where the soil lack adequate nutrients that could support crop production, making farmers to contend for lower-latitude areas that are less productive. Also, if the seasonal rainfall patterns continues to be irregular due to climate change, that could lead to more severe precipitation events such as flooding resulting in delay in planting and harvesting agricultural crops.

    The IBSNAT crop models were used to estimate how climate change and increasing levels of carbon dioxide may alter yields of world crops at 112 sites in 18 countries. (Figure 9.1). The crop models used were CERES-Wheat (Ritchie and Otter, 1985; Godwin et al., 1989), CERES-Maize (Jones and Kiniry, 1986; Ritchie et al., 1989), CERES-Rice (Godwin et al., 1993) and SOYGRO (Jones et al., 1989).

    The IBSNAT models are comprised of parameterizations of important physiological processes responsible for plant growth and development, evapotranspiration, and partitioning of photosynthate to produce economic yield. The simplified functions enable prediction of growth of crops as influenced by the major factors that affect yields, i.e., genetics, climate (daily solar radiation, maximum and minimum temperatures, and precipitation), soils, and management practices. The models include a soil moisture balance submodel so that they can be used to predict both rainfed and irrigated crop yields. The cereal models simulate the effects of nitrogen fertilizer on crop growth, and these were studied in several countries in the context of climatic change. For the most part, however, the results of this study assume optimum nutrient levels.

    The IBSNAT models were selected for use in this study because they have been validated over a wide range of environments (e.g., Otter-Nacke et al., 1986) and are not specific to any particular location or soil type. The validation of the crop models over different environments also improves their ability to estimate effects of changes in climate. Furthermore, because management practices, such as the choice of varieties, planting date, fertilizer application and irrigation, may be varied in the models, they permit experiments that simulate adaptation by farmers to climate change.

    Insect and Pests

    The problem that insect and pests constitute may be higher when the atmosphere becomes warmer on a prolonged term because they are known to survive or even reproduce more rapidly each year if the warm weather conditions persist.

    Crop growers in Canada and the NE Washington know that this is already happening because pine bark beetles are multiplying rapidly and are causing devastation to large tracts of forests .

    Migration of insect and pests from one region to another is possible when climate changes leading to changes in humidity and temperatures.

    Commercial fisheries may also be affected when different type of fishes shift from one region to the other in response to changes in weather conditions and temperature.

    Really, the threats of global food supply won’t affect countries and regions of the world equally. If a country loses its arable land due to climate change, the resources or favorable weather to pursue cost-effective alternatives and maintain its food security may be lacking. Though we hope that advancement in technology would bring succour to humanity in the worst case scenarios of climate change but since some countries are more susceptible to unfavorable international trade agreements than others, food distribution may be disrupted in some parts of the world.

    Additional resources:

    Climate Change and Diseases

    The health effects of climate change is one of the most important nonmarket impacts of climate change.

    Stress induced by a rise in heat level may increase heat strokes, dehydration, and deaths resulting from changes in weather . Allergies and respiratory health may also be triggered by climate change .

    Vector borne diseases (VBD) often thrive more rapidly due to the effects of climate change. Life-cycles of pathogens can be affected by changes in climate. For example, drought and hot summer temperatures have been found to rapidly increase the number of West Nile virus incidents. California could be at risk of a break out of exotic vectors like those responsible for yellow fever and dengue fever if raining season gets unduly prolonged.  

    In addition, VBDs may cross geographical boundaries and extend beyond current ranges making more people to be at risk of contracting VBD. Extreme events occasioned by severe changes in climate could threaten lives and where people fail to adapt, untold suffering may occur.

    The deadly dozen that may increse due to climate change:

    • Bird flu: H5N1 infections are becoming the rule rather then the exception in farmed poultry worldwide, and even wild birds are showing signs of infection more often. It has forced the culling of millions of ducks, chickens and geese globally—and has killed more than 240 people—resulting in at least $100 billion in economic losses.
    • Babesiosis: This malarialike disease carried by ticks is endemic in the tropics, but has cropped up everywhere from Italy to Long Island, N.Y. It is rare in humans at present and seldom deadly (treatable with antibiotics) but may become more problematic as the globe warms, providing more welcoming environments.
    • Cholera: This bacterium thrives in warmer waters and causes diarrhea so severe that it can kill within a week. Without improved sanitation, rising global temperatures will increase deadly outbreaks.
    • Ebola: This virus is lethal to humans and other primates, and has no cure. In addition, it is unclear where the disease, which causes fever, vomiting and internal or external bleeding, comes from—though scientists suspect fruit bats. What is clear is that outbreaks tend to follow unusual downpours or droughts in central Africa—a likely result of climate change.
    • Parasites: Many spread easily between humans, livestock and wildlife. Higher average temperatures and more rainfall will help many parasites, such as the tiny worms known as Baylisascaris procyonis that are spread by raccoons, to thrive in the wild before finding a host.
    • Lyme disease: This bacterium-caused disease will spread as climate changes extend the ranges of the ticks that carry it.
    • Plague: Changes in temperature and rainfall will affect rodent populations globally as well as the infected fleas they carry.
    • "Red tides": Poisonous algal blooms in coastal waters may increase as a result of warming temperatures or changes in littoral sea life.
    • Rift Valley fever: A newly emergent virus, carried by mosquitoes that causes fever and weakness, has spread quickly through Africa and the Middle East, killing people, along with camels, cattle, goats and sheep.
    • Tuberculosis: Both the human and livestock varieties of TB are likely to increase, particularly the latter as droughts bring livestock and wildlife into closer proximity at watering holes.
    • Yellow fever: Mosquitoes spread this disease, which causes fever and jaundicelike symptoms, between wildlife and humans, and will likely spread into new areas as the climate changes.

    More resources:

    Climate Change Policy

    Evolving a climate change policy that works can take many forms that includes individual action, political action government action and actions of watchdogs like the environmental protection agency (EPA).

    The EPA is saddled with many responsibilities that include:

    • collecting and publishing emissions data
    • developing regulatory framework geared towards promoting a clean energy economy
    • gathering and evaluating policy options
    • forming international partnership towards advancing minimizing carbon footprint
    • advancing the science

    This agency also helps communities prepare for climate change and how adapt to it.

    In 1988 the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) set up theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an expert body that would assess scientific information on climate change. As a reaction to the concerns raised in the IPCC’s First Assessment Report the UN General Assembly established the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted in May 1992 and entered into force in 1994. The convention included the commitment to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by 2000.

    Agreed in 1997, the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol is a first step towards achieving more substantial global emission reductions. It sets binding emission targets for developed countries that have ratified it, such as the EU Member States, and limits the emission increases of the remaining countries for the first commitment period from 2008 to 2012. The 15 pre-2004 EU Member States (the EU-15) have a joint emission reduction target of 8 % below 1990 levels. Through the internal EU "burden-sharing agreement", some EU Member States are permitted increases in emissions, while others must decrease them. Most Member States that joined the EU after 1 May 2004 have targets of -6 % to -8 % from their base years (mostly 1990).

    Individual Action on Climate Change

    The individual action involves making various choices that limit and/or reduce the potential impacts posed by climate change on our environment. For example, choosing a diet low on carbon will minimize carbon footprint on the long run.

    A research report gave an estimate of the carbon footprint from the U.S. food system to be about 20 percent of the aggregate of the greenhouse emissions from the entire nation.  This estimate might be very conservative since it was based on the direct sources in the U.S. without considering food imported into the U.S. Industrial meat, industrially produced food and dairy among others constitute high carbon diet. The carbon footprint for food is not only measured based on waste of food but also on the entire chain involving production, processing, packaging, transport, and the actual stages involved with the preparation of food.

    Vegan Choices: A report by the United Nations Environment Programme advocated a shift from high carbon food choices to vegan diet where less fossil fuel would be required to complete the chain from production to the point where the consumer prepares the food and, hence, less carbon dioxide will be released to the atmosphere.

    Political Actions on Climate Change

    There are many ways political action could be deployed to save the Earth from carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.

    • Direct lobbying
    • Protests
    • Letters to representatives
    • laws on greenhouse gas emissions limits
    • Tax incentives
    • Regulations that specify market-based approaches and grant economic incentives for controlling emissions of pollutants
    • Government policies

    The U.S. and the Challenge of Climate Change Policy

    Recently President Barack Obama endorsed a long-term measure meant to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases considerably by 2050 to 80% below the levels recorded in 1990.

    The American Clean Energy and Security Act which target 2050 and advocate for 83% reduction below 2005 levels was recently passed by the U.S. House but the bill has not yet received the consent of the U.S. Senate.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues its regulatory duties on environmental issues with a new regulatory framework on minimizing carbon footprint launched in 2011.

    In addition, several billion dollars are being proposed by the Obama administration towards developing green energy technologies to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

    More Resources:

    Climate Change Technological Innovation

    Experts have claimed that embracing technological innovation can reduce the cost of minimizing the impacts of climate change. Egg heads in Silicon Valley are working round the clock to discover cheap and reliable clean energy that would reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

    Concerted efforts are being made to design technological systems that would make one of the commonest green energy options – solar, wind or nuclear – energy relatively cheap and reliable.

    Some of the technological innovations:

    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development suggests

    Provision of long-term policy signals that are sustainable to enable potential innovators and adopters of climate mitigating technologies gain the confidence to embark on the investments.

    Placing a price on greenhouse gas emissions through tradable permits or taxes to provide incentives to complete the stages of the innovative idea.

    Provision of a mix of relevant policy measures to strengthen innovators to face all barriers to the development and diffusion of all climate change limiting technologies.

    Innovation in the energy sector

    The way in which some of these basic principles of innovation play out in practice varies radically between different sectors. Information technology and pharmaceuticals, for example, are both characterized by high degrees of innovation, with rapid technological change financed by private investment amounting typically to 10-20% of sector turnover (Neuhoff, 2005). However this offers a dramatic contrast with power generation, for example, where the same fundamental technology has dominated for almost a century and private sector RD&D has fallen sharply with privatisation of energy industries to the point where it is under 0.4% of turnover (Margolis and Kammen,1999).

    There may be several reasons for this low inherent innovation-intensity. Processing large amounts of energy may inherently involve big capital investment and long timescales, which naturally increases risk and deters private finance; each stage in the innovation chain can take a decade, and diffusion is equally slow. Perhaps more fundamentally however, the R&Dintensive sectors (like IT and pharmaceuticals) are ones in which competition is essentially all around product differentiation (a better computer / mobile phone; a better drug) whereas innovation in power generation is basically about efficiency and price in delivering the same product (electrons). This is a far weaker driver. And compared to a new product that captures public imagination and commands a large market combined with a high price premium, price-based competition has dramatically less scope for offsetting big risks against the prospect of huge rewards.

    More Resources on climate change and technological innovation:

    Creating a Global Price for Carbon

    Carbon pricing which is also known as cap-and –trade is the climate change mitigating measure most preferred by business leaders and economists .

    This strategy of curbing greenhouse emissions is hinged on the idea that those who emit carbon dioxide and pollute the atmosphere should be made to pay a price for their actions. Carbon pricing is either a direct carbon tax or an allowance paid for permits to emit carbon. Where a permit is granted, it is tradable privately and emissions are limited to the cap (the total number of permits granted), hence, carbon pricing is also cap-and-trade system of minimizing carbon emissions.

    A few international businesses like Walmart, Google and Shell have started introducing the use of internal carbon pricing into their investment planning as an incentive and a tool for strategic planning that could give them competitive edge in the long-term. Though internal carbon pricing being practiced now by a few global companies won’t significantly lead to a reduction in global emissions yet it is a good decision that would create significant impact if embraced on scale.

    Monetary Value of Carbon Emissions

    A recent World Bank report shows that 39 national and 23 sub-national jurisdictions have implemented or about to implement carbon pricing strategies that includes carbon taxes and emissions trading systems. In addition, the global emissions trading schemes have been estimated to be worth around $30 billion with the second largest carbon pricing market now sited in China with about 1,115 million tons of CO2 emissions.

    The World Bank reported the total value of the global carbon market to be $176 billion in 2011 which illustrates a rapid growth rate from $11 billion reported for 2005 . Countries, companies and sub-national jurisdictions around the world are being encouraged by the World Bank to be a part of the growing movement that supports carbon pricing.

    More resources on pricing carbon

    Transitioning to a Low Carbon Economy

    There are great opportunities and enormous challenges ahead as the world strives to transition to a low-carbon economy. In the first instance, the emerging eco-friendly technological innovations will present an opportunity for commercialization which can further catalyze global economic growth while also carving out a niche market.

    On the other hand, it will require a significant capital investment to transition from the present state where the global economy is largely dependent on carbon energy supply. The challenge is even greater when we consider the extent of the transition we will have to undergo from our present state.

    To give you an order of magnitude of the capital required, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates we need $10.5 trillion in incremental investment globally in low-carbon energy technologies and energy efficiency by 2030. This estimate is across all sectors, including power, transport, residential and commercial building equipment, and industrial sectors, in order to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius, the threshold that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified as necessary for “avoiding catastrophic climate change.”

    The literature after the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report explored in much more depth the role of technological change in economic modelling and how policies might induce and accelerate such change. The models suggest that international coordination could lead to faster technological change and more benefits. In particular, the Innovation Modelling Comparison Project (IMCP)1 co-ordinated modelling teams in a study of the achievement of 450 ppm CO2-only stabilisation, which (under special assumptions about the abatement of the non-CO2 GHGs) can be converted to 550 ppm CO2-e. The key feature of the study is that it compared scenarios with and without induced technological change (ITC).


    There are three central aspects of the problem:

    Urgency – the critical constraint on avoiding a 2ºC degree warming will be the time taken to develop and deploy the industries of the low-carbon economy.

    The Catch 22 of low-carbon industrial development – many zero and low emission commodities are currently low volume and therefore high cost. They will naturally increase in volume and decrease in cost – even to the point of being cheaper than fossil fuels (as has already occurred with solar hot water, biomass and wind power in several countries). But the issue of urgency means that this process has to be short-circuited so that high volumes are developed and deployed even at high cost.

    Developing countries are where the climate challenge will be won or lost, but the deployment of high cost, low-carbon solutions represents a real opportunity cost compared to short term poverty eradication, and a competitive disadvantage to third party funders.

    Addtional resources, papers and discussion on transition to low carbon economy:


    Committee on Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the last 2,000 years, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and the Climate, and Division on Earth and Life Studies (2006). Surface temperature reconstructions for the last 2,000 years, National Academies Press, Washington DC.

    Kaufman, D.S., Schneider, D.P., McKay, N.P., Ammann, C.M., Bradley, R.S., Briffa, K.R., Miller, G.H., Otto-Bliesner, B.L., Overpeck, J.T., Vinther, B.M., and Arctic Lakes 2k Project Members (2009). Recent warning reverses long-term Arctic cooling, Science 325, 1236-1239.

    Mann, M.E., Zhang, Z.H., Hughes, M.K., Bradley, R.S., Miller, S.K., Rutherford, S., and Ni, F. B. (2008) Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 105, 13252-13257.

    The 2007 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to the United Nations.

    Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.

    William Collins, Robert Colman, James Haywood, Martin R. Manning and Philip Mote (2008): The Physical Science behind Climate Change.

    National Geographic: Sea Level Rise.

    Climate Institute: Oceans and Sea Level Rise.

    Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP): Climate Change and Impacts of Sea Level Rise.

    Carl Zimmer (2010): A Looming Oxygen Crisis and its Impact on World’s Oceans.

    Graeme C. Hays, Anthony J. Richadson, and Carol Robinson (2005): Climate Change and Marine Plankton.  Trends in Ecology and Evolution Vol. 20 No. 6 June 2005.

    Lawrence H. Goulder and William A. Pizer (2006): The Economics of Climate Change. National Bureau of Economic Research.

    Robert Mendelsohn (2009): Climate Change and Economic Growth. A working paper produced by the Commission on Growth and Development.

    Sathaye, J. et al. (2007). "Sustainable Development and Mitigation" in B. Metz et al. Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, N.Y., U.S.A.

    Smith, J. B., et al. (2001). "Vulnerability to Climate Change and Reasons for Concern: A Synthesis. In: Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (J.J. McCarthy et al. Eds.)". Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, N.Y

    Pearce, D., W. Cline, A. Achanta, S. Fankhauser, R. Pachauri, R. Tol, and P. Vellinga. 1996. “The Social Cost of Climate Change: Greenhouse Damage and the Benefits of Control.” In Climate Change 1995: Economic and Social
    Dimensions of Climate Change. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press

    Stern, N. 2006. The Stern Review Report: The Economics of Climate Change. London:
    HM Treasury.

    Robert Mendelsohn (2009): Climate Change and Economic Growth. A working paper produced by the Commission on Growth and Development.

    Boko, M., et al. (2007). M. L. Parry et al. Eds., ed. "Africa. In: Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change". Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, N.Y. pp. 433–467.

    Hope, C. (14 January 2005), "Economic Affairs – Minutes of Evidence (HL 12-II), 18 January 2005"Memorandum by Dr Chris Hope, Judge Institute of Management, University of Cambridge (low-resolution html). High-resolution PDF version: pp.24-27. In: HOL 2005. Referred to by: Yohe, G. W., et al., Ch 20: Perspectives on Climate 

    Fisher, B. S., et al., ‘Issues related to mitigation in the long-term context’ Sec 3.1 Emissions scenarios

    Rogner, H.-H., et al., "1. Introduction", Total GHG emissions

    Munasinghe, M., et al., Applicability of Techniques of Cost-Benefit Analysis to Climate Change

    Banuri, T., et al., Equity and Social Considerations", 3.3.3 Patterns of greenhouse gas emissions.

     USGCRP (2009). Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States Karl, T.R., J.M. Melillo, and T.C. Peterson (eds.). United States Global Change Research Program. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, USA.

    Gunther Fischer, Klaus Frohberg, Martin L. Parry, Cynthia Rosenzweig: The Potential effects of climate change on world food production and security. Natural Resources Management and Environmental Department

    Canada’s Action on Climate Change

    Rosenzweig, C., M.L.Parry, G. Fischer, and K.Frohberg, 1993. Climate Change and World Food Supply. University of Oxford.

    Agriculture Breakout Session:

    Joseph H. Casol, Jennifer E. Kay, Amy K. Snover, Robert A. Norheim, Lara C. Whitely Binder (2005): Climate Impacts on Washington’s Hydropower, Water Supply, Forests, Fish, and Agriculture.

    CCSP (2008). Analyses of the effects of global change on human health and welfare and human system. A Report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research. Gamble, J.L. (ed.), K.L. Ebi, F.G. Sussman, T.J. Wilbanks, (Authors). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, USA.

    USGCRP (2009). Global climate impacts in the United States. Karl, T.R., J.M. Melillo, and T.C. Peterson (eds.). United States Global Change Research Program. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, USA.

    NRC (2010). Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change. National Research Council. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, USA.

    California Department of Health. Vector-Borne Diseases and Climate Change.

    P.R. Woodhouse. Why Do More People Die in Winter?

    Stacie Stukin, ‘’The Low Carbon Diet’’, Time Magazine, Oct.30, 2006.,8599,1552237,00.html

    Felicity Carus. UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet. The Guardian, 2 June 2010.

    Brunnermeier, S.B. and M.A. Cohen (2003), ‘’Determinants of environmental innovation in US manufacturing industries’’ Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Vol. 45. pp. 278-293. 

    Robert Kunzig in Meridian Mississippi National Geographic: Clean Coal Test: Power Plants Prepare to Capture Carbon.

    Andy Jones et al., (2013) The Impact of abrupt suspension of solar radiation management (terminal effect) in experiment G2 of the Geoengineering model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP).

    Lenny Bernstein (2013). Sicentists studying solar radiation management as a way to cool planet. Washington Post.

    Promoting Technological Innovation to Address Climate Change. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

    Why Business Leaders Support a Price on Carbon. World Bank Feature Story August 11, 2014.

    State and Trends of the Carbon Market 2012; World Bank


    This entry was posted in: Blog.

    World Food Day

    World Food Day

    IN THE REPORT: Inequalities of Food Distribution, FAO (purpose, history, progress), Global Undernourishment, Climate Change and Food, Future Food Systems, World Food Day 2014

    Land Mass vs The Population Density

    • The total land area of all continents is 148,429,630 square kilometers (57,308,738 sq mi), or 29.1% of Earth’s surface (510,067,450 km2 or 196,937,240 sq mi).
    • The inhabitable portion of Earth is only 43 percent of its land mass, 63,824,740 sq km (24,642,584 sq mi).
    • The total population of all seven continents is an estimated 7.12 billion as of mid-2014 and global population density works out to 111.55 per km2.

    In other words, each person on earth has as much as 8,965 sq m to live in, discounting the use of land for any purpose. That seems a lot, but is hardly the case in real life as explained later.

    Ancient Greek sailors predate the Roman and it fell to their lot to name the land masses they came across. They named such land masses on either side of the waterways of the Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea as Asia and Africa. The Aegean Sea was the center of their world; anything to the east was Asia, to the north and west Europe, and to the south, Africa.

    Population Density

    The popular seven-continent view is best suited to show how population density is to be considered when relating food availability to the number of people to feed.

    The first factor to consider is their relative population density. Asia is the most densely populated continent, housing a large number of people who do not get two square meals a day. Europe, with very high population density, has no such problems. The deduction is simple: better education and knowledge of optimal crop growing and livestock rearing techniques make for a better output, leading to self sufficiency in food.

    Most of Black Africa is in dire straits. North America has surplus food and is the largest exporter of foodgrain. It is also the largest donor of such foodgrain as well as processed food, like powdered milk, to various countries affected by famine, whether sporadic, regular or otherwise. South America is comprised of too many countries to be as magnanimous as its northern neighbor.

    Population Density Chart

    A chart of population density as of today is given below, as Chart 1, followed by charts on Continental data as Charts 2 and 3.

    ASIA 4,264,252,000 60.00% 44,579,000 98.4
    AFRICA 1,072,234,000 15.00% 30,065,000 35.67
    NORTH AMERICA 562,056,000 8.00% 24,256,000 23.3
    SOUTH AMERICA 402,555,000 6.00% 17,819,000 23.2
    ANTARCTICA 5,000 0.00% 13,209,000 0
    EUROPE 778,199,000 11.00% 9,938,000 76.44
    AUSTRALIA 30,127,000 0.40% 7,687,000 3.2
    TOTAL 7,119,428,000 100% 148,429,000 48.18

    Chart 1: Population Percentage and Density

    Chart 2: Continents as a Percentage of Land Mass

    Chart 3: Comparison of Intra-continental Area (by Tens of Millions of Sq Km) and Population (Billions of People)

    Child Mortality Rate

    Eons back, there was sufficient food for everybody. As population grew, so did food production, since the numbers and quantities required remained very low. Child mortality was high since there were no medical facilities to speak of. Longevity was also low, and many people died in their prime in epidemics of untreatable diseases like malaria, smallpox, bubonic plague, tuberculosis and others. Famines and droughts, though prevalent, were a rarity. Women were married at puberty and gave birth at 13-14 years; people were considered old at 40 and 55-60 years was a ripe old age to die at.

    Matters, as they stand today, are becoming alarmingly grave in a perverse but necessary perspective. Consider child mortality. Child mortality is the death of a child below five years of age and is often called Under-5 mortality. Close to 50 percent of child deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Chart 4.  Child Mortality in Millions

    Improved medical care and technology is reducing child mortality. The same improved medical care and technology is permitting aging people to live longer, so that the number of mouths to feed is increasing. There are two ways of looking at this. The first is joyful, happily so. And the second?

    Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

    History of the FAO

    Each successful birth and each successful life extended translates into the snipping off of lebensraum, living space. The global average works out to 234,200 additional lives per day. Whether these people are rural or urban is of little consequence, since they require both food and shelter. Where can this food and land come from? More food requires more arable land. Going vertical is only a part-time solution to reduce loss of land to housing, and will create immense infrastructural complexities to solve in the cities that go vertical. Paris, London, Delhi, most metros and several US cities already have severe parking problems. People will need more water for drinking, washing and bathing and more piped gas for cooking. In the final analysis, the extra land required will come from farm land, one way or the other. This means that the arable land required to grow foodstuff will keep reducing day by day. The world would be better off if it could revert to the population numbers prevailing in 1900 AD, insofar as the food situation is concerned, without being as acerbic as Eric R. Pianka, “For everyone presently on this planet to enjoy the lifestyle of an average American, we would need about ten planet Earths. We have only one. For everyone to live like an American, Earth can only support about one-tenth as many people. To increase the average quality of life, the number of people on Earth must be reduced.” Fortunately, most US citizens have a balanced and rational opinion. The point here is that the American way of life is considered the global standard, to be emulated in toto.

    This matter of hunger did not go unnoticed. Most of Africa and South Asia was found to be undernourished, after acquiring and assessing relevant statistics in 1935, when the ‘marriage of health and agriculture’ was first promulgated at the League of Nations. Just before being dragged into WW II, the US did forge a general plan to look into global hunger and attempt to assuage it. However, it was only after WW II ended that the US could relook at its past venture. Late in 1945, the United Nations set up a committee to look into the global food situation and what the pressing needs were. The driving force behind this movement came from the USA and Canada. The date was 16 October and the committee The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The venue was Quebec City, Quebec, Canada; the number of participating countries: 42. This is an important date to remember.

    The General Rules of the Organization stated that the seat of the Organization would be situated at the same place as the headquarters of the United Nations Organization. Pending a decision regarding the headquarters of the UN, the headquarters of the Organization was to be in Washington.

    The United Nations was founded eight days after FAO, in New York. It then became clear to the FAO hierarchy that the huge metropolitan centre would not suit an organization that dealt with or would be dealing with food, fisheries, agriculture and forestry. A different site therefore had to be found, and the General Rule changed. It took four years, till the FAO Conference in end 1949, for a final decision to be made. Nobody wanted to leave the Big Apple, but the HQ reluctantly moved to Rome by 1951. Interestingly, even the Gods did not like the idea of the move, since one of its ships, carrying 15 percent of FAO equipment, was all but wrecked in a storm over the Atlantic.

    The Purpose of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

    The FAO is the designated agency of the United Nations tasked with leading international efforts to battle hunger at its source and overcome it so that every human being sees fructification of his right to live. The FAO’s long term aim is to achieving food security for all– to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. Their three main goals were:

    • Eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition
    • Elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all
    • Sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

    Decentralization of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

    Early in the 1990s, the FAO embarked on its most highly goal oriented study: To check whether there was any barrier to both vertical and lateral communications, the fundamental objective being to bridge and close gaps and take FAO as close as possible to its members. This called for the widest-ranging reorganization since its founding. The allied problem to be solved was that reorganization was not possible without a decentralized structure, a management system with increased delegation of authority, and an environment that encouraged creativity and initiative. While decentralization has its pros, in this specific case, FAO found that it was overspending in certain areas, at times duplicating effort and cost. After verifying that lack of proper integration was indeed costing them €35 million per year in 1994, FAO decentralized its departments and offices.

    1 Agriculture and Consumer Protection Corporate Communications and External Relations
    2 Corporate Services, Human Resources and Finance Evaluation
    3 Economic and Social Development Inspector-General
    4 Fisheries and Aquaculture Knowledge Exchange
    5 Forestry Research and Extension
    6 Natural Resources Management and Environment Strategy Planning, Resource Management and Support
    7 Technical Cooperation Decentralisation

    Chart 5: The Departments and Offices of FAO

    Further Decentralization

    • Regional Offices: Regional Offices were created for Africa, in Accra, Ghana; for Asia and the Pacific, in Bangkok, Thailand; for Europe and Central Asia, in Budapest, Hungary; for Latin America and the     Caribbean, in Santiago, Chile and for the Near East, in Cairo, Egypt (moved to Rome in 1956 due Suez War).
    • Sub-regional Offices: Sub-regional Office were created for Central Africa in Libreville, Gabon; for Central America in Panama City, Panama; for Central and Eastern Europe in Budapest, Hungary; for Central Asia in Ankara, Turkey; for Eastern Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; for North Africa in Tunis, Tunisia, for Southern Africa and East Africa in Harare, Zimbabwe; for the Caribbean in Bridgetown, Barbados; for the Pacific Islands in Apia, Samoa and for Western Africa in Accra, Ghana.
    • Liaison Offices: Liaison Offices were created for North America, in Washington, D.C.; with Japan, in Yokohama; with the European Union and Belgium, in Brussels; with the United Nations, in Geneva and with the United Nations, in New York (ibid).

    Their strategic objectives were relooked at and expanded as listed below:

    Expanded Objectives of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

    • Help Eliminate Hunger, Food Insecurity and Malnutrition.

    FAO realized that there was sufficient global capacity to grow enough foodstuffs to feed everyone adequately; yet, despite the progress made since 1994, 842 million people still suffer from chronic hunger.

    Global Undernourishment Problem

    • One person in nine goes hungry.
    • Among children, about 162 million children below the age of five years are malnourished.

    Micronutrient deficiencies, or eating food with no nutritive values affect over two billion people worldwide, hindering human and socio-economic development and causal to the vicious cycle of malnutrition and underdevelopment. At the other end of the scale, around 500 million people are obese. The loss to mankind is huge, when malnutrition hampers productivity, health, well-being, the ability to learn, all seen as  reduced fulfillment of human potential.

    Number and Percentage of Undernourished Persons

    1990-1992 1015 19% 5432   Billion
    2000-2002 957 15% 6380   Billion
    2005-2007 907 14% 6479   Billion
    2008-2010 878 13% 6754   Billion
    2011-2013 842 12% 7016   Billion

    Chart 6


    The South-South Cooperation (SSC) Program

    During the past decade, over 600 Chinese experts and technicians have been deployed in Nigeria to share their agricultural skills with local farmers. The South-South Cooperation (SSC) program, which has been fully funded by the Government of Nigeria and facilitated by the FAO, has benefited over one million people. The introduction of a wide range of technologies, from fish cage culture to drip irrigation, intensive poultry production to apiculture, has increased productivity and rural incomes. It is also helping the Government achieve the objectives of its Agricultural Transformation Agenda, which seeks to increase production, reduce food imports and provide millions of new jobs for young people. Nigeria has allocated significant resources from its annual budget amounting to US$ 42 million in support of the first five-year phase (2003–2007) of the SSC project implementation. During this first phase a total of 496 Chinese experts and technicians were deployed to 36 states in Nigeria. Based on the achievements recorded in the first phase, the Federal Government of Nigeria approved the continuation of the program and launched the second phase of five years in 2009 at a cost of US$ 19.6 million. The second phase has the same objective of assisting Nigeria develop its agricultural sector through the introduction of simple and low-cost Chinese agricultural technologies to farmers. Information provided by the states suggested that over one million people have been trained on the use of various technologies introduced by the SSC program.

    Making Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries More Productive and Sustainable

    Global population is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050. The highest rates of growth are expected to occur in areas that depend heavily on their crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries, yet cannot reduce the prevailing rates of food insecurity. Improved agricultural output is the best method of cutting down poverty while acquiring food security. Innovation is needed in this sector to increase productivity, preserve natural resources using inputs effectively. Such an approach will need collective participation of small holders, women, locals and marginalized groups. The odds may seem stacked against the small or family farmer, but it is a battle that, when guided properly, can be won.

    Natural resources, such as oceans, land mass and water are a constant entity, and the more forward looking will quickly harness their latent potential. Labor presently available for production will reduce as lifestyle changes take place in rural areas. Continuous changes in practices will foster new or mutated pests and diseases. Climate change will degrade natural resources and impact the agriculture sector. Since these are a source of concern to FAO, its vision looks across this entire sector to focus on:

    • increasing efficiency, achieving higher productivity at a reduced volume of input.
    • managing ecological as well as economic risks linked to production systems in the agricultural sector, including vermin, illnesses and climate change;
    • identifying how ecosystem services work as well as their inputs to environmental conservation and enhancing them.
    • facilitating access to new technologies.
    • Reduce rural poverty

    The rural poor are day-to-day provenders, family farmers, landless agricultural hands and include fisherfolk, nomads who raise livestock on natural pastures and forest-dependent people with no or limited access to productive means. Hunger and food insecurity are known expressions of rural poverty and the majority of the world’s destitute live in rural areas. Reducing rural poverty becomes central to FAO’s mission. FAO has been instrumental in lifting many rural areas out of poverty over the past decades. In 1990, 54% of people living in rural areas in developing countries survived on less than $1.25 a day. By 2010, this number was brought down to 35%. Even today, rural poverty is endemic in South Asia and Africa. Getting more humans out of rural poverty is essential to retain the dignity of mankind; it is a vital ingredient of sustainable food security.

    Enabling Inclusive and Efficient Agricultural and Food Systems

    A side effect of globalization has been the inclusion of Agriculture in a high-tech Supply Chain Management (SCM) system. Apart from convoluting the push-pull balance of demand by Less Developed Countries, the SCM is threatening to isolate small players from the chain by elevating the threshold to levels beyond their economic capability. The roots of hunger lie in inequalities in access to resources. Right now, many farmers in poor countries—the people who grow the food the world relies on—don’t have the power to access the resources they need to thrive. As agriculture becomes more techno and capital intensive, undereducated players are seeing their dim hopes receding even further. Against this setting, FAO is trying to intercede on behalf of the smaller players to help them address the new challenges they have to face across the value chain.

    Increasing Resilience of Livelihoods from Disasters

    Natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, pests and disease outbreaks, droughts, etc., have occurred since Noah’s days, but climate change seems to be increasing their frequency and power. So far, humanitarian agencies were required to focus primarily on disaster relief. A new paradigm is needed that emphasizes reducing risks to enhance resilience to shocks. This approach, requiring bottom to top action from local to global levels through their country, intends to make sure that humanity can forecast, cope with and bounce back from all setbacks efficiently and sustainably. And we can do without unwanted additions like wars!
    The World Food Day Since Inception

    In a concept of capsule plans on a yearly basis, it was decided in the 1945 to move towards removal of rural poverty in small steps, with a meeting every year where progress would be highlighted, areas of failure identified and remedial measures instituted while setting up the targets for the following year. In 1979, it was decided to bring global problems to the forefront and make the public at large aware of happenings on the food front. One issue to be highlighted was that a war in any part of the world would be detrimental to the global cause. Regrettably, countries flush with money from oil production and sale took little heed of the noble cause, secure in the knowledge that could buy their food, cost irrespective.

    It was also decided that the 16th of October of every year starting 1981 would be known as The World Food Day of that year.

    Year FAO Global Theme and Materials U.S. Teleconference Theme
    2014 Family Farming : “Feeding the world, caring for the earth”
    2013 Sustainable food systems for food security and nutrition
    2012 Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world
    2011 Food prices – from crisis to stability
    2010 United against hunger
    2009 Achieving food security in times of crisis
    2008 World Food Security: challenges of climate change & bioenergy Choices for a Warm and Hungry Planet
    2007 The right to food Climate: Changes, Challenges and Consequences
    2006 Investing in agriculture for food security Power of the People: Bottom-up Solutions to Hunger
    2005 Agriculture and intercultural dialogue Reflections on Fighting Hunger: Roads not Taken; Goals not Met; The Journey Ahead
    2004 Biodiversity for food security Politics of Hunger: What’s at Stake?
    2003 Working together for an International Alliance to End Hunger Collaboration or Calamity: Africa in Peril
    2002 Water: Source of Food Security Hungry Farmers:  A National Security Issue for all
    2001 Fight Hunger to Reduce Poverty World Food System: Serving Some or Serving All
    2000 A Millennium Free from Hunger Poverty and Hunger: The Tragic Link
    1999 Youth Against Hunger Tomorrow’s Farmers: An Uncertain Future
    1998 Women Feed the World Food for All: Right or Goal
    1997 Investing in Food Security World Food Summit: Promises and Prospects
    1996 Fighting Hunger and Malnutrition People Power: Harvest of Hope
    1995 Food for All Fighting Hunger: Looking Back. Looking Ahead
    1994 Water for Life Sharing Water: Farms, Cities and Ecosystems
    1993 Harvesting Nature’s Diversity Seeds of Conflict: Biodiversity and Food Security
    1992 Food and Nutrition Nutrition: Linking Food. Health and Development
    1991 Trees for life The Hunger Puzzle
    1990 Food for the future Food for the Future: Science. Policy and Ethics
    1989 Food and the environment Food,  Environment and Development
    1988 Rural youth Global Food Security: Focus on Africa
    1987 Small farmers Right to Food: From Awareness to Action
    1986 Fishermen and fishing communities Hunger Amidst Plenty
    1985 Rural Poverty Food & Poverty: Perspectives. Policies. Prospects.
    1984 Women in Agriculture 1984 – World Food Conference – Ten Years Later
    1983 Food Security
    1982 Food Comes First
    1981 Food Comes First

    Chart 7  Sources: & /

    Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) : 1945-1979

    WW II had destroyed agricultural production across billions of acres. Factories related thereto were destroyed or switched to make armament. Existing channels in the global distribution of agriculture-related products were either obliterated or disrupted. FAO was struggling in extremely difficult times, along with the reconstruction of nations as existential, per se. Seen dispassionately, nothing seemed to be happening on the FAO front, other than lip service. It was only after the Vietnam War had run its course that the US could increase focus on internal issues.

    The principal drivers behind FAO have remained the USA and Canada, with other advanced nations chipping in. The USA was busy fighting wars on other countries’ territories for various reasons or organizing their reconstruction. A major chunk of its finances was lost there, with internal repercussions and reduced aid to countries it had pledged assistance to. A timeline 1945-1979 is listed below:

    • 1945 – 55. US forces present in China, Japan, Philippines, Austria.
    • 1945–49 – Occupation of part of Germany, countering the USSR threat.
    • 1945–49 – Post-World War II occupation of South Korea; North Korean insurgency in Republic of Korea. 1947 sees India and Pakistan becoming independent.
    • 1950–53 – Korean War.
    • 1950–55 – Formosa (Taiwan).
    • 1955–64 – Vietnam.
    • 1959–75 – Vietnam War. This war is now seen as unnecessary and extremely expensive in terms of finance and human lives. 20 years were spent in a lost cause, since South Vietnam has ceased

    to exist. Ironically, USA assisted in the Vietnamization, or bonding, of the two separate halves.

    • 1962–75 – Laos.
    • 1970 – Cambodian Campaign.

    Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): 1981-2013

    American intervention in the affairs of other nations reduced to external support, though some wars were either forced or prolonged. Technology cut down action periods from years to weeks! Some operations conducted are listed below:

    • 1987–88 – Persian Gulf.
    • 1990 – Saudi Arabia: Operation Desert Shield.
    • 1991 – Iraq and Kuwait: Operation Desert Storm.
    • 1992–96 – Bosnia and Herzegovina: Operation Provide Promise.
    • 1992–2003 – Iraq: Iraqi no-fly zones.
    • 1995 – Bosnia: Operation Deliberate Force.
    • 1996 – Kuwait: Operation Desert Strike.
    • 2001 – War in Afghanistan.
    • 2010–11 – War in Iraq: Operation New Dawn.

    Comparison with Chart 6

    1990-1992                    1015 19% 5432   Billion
    2000-2002 957 15% 6380
    2005-2007 907 14% 6479
    2008-2010 878 13% 6754
    2011-2013 842 12% 7016

    Chart 8 (Repeat of Chart 6)

    This comparison shows that reduction of poverty stricken individuals is directly proportional to the downsizing of American forces deployed in battle conditions. This is not to say that the US is the sole country providing aid under the FAO plan, but to reinforce the concept that it is the principal driving force behind reducing poverty and poverty-related problems. Statistics do not lie.

    Another point that needs reiteration is population density. If you were to stand up and say that one percent (1%) of the population of Asia had AIDS, it would imply that a number 1.4 times the population of the entire continent of Australia was affected. More people travel at any given time on the rail network in India than the population of Denmark. Bangladesh, with a population density of 2,595.74 per sq mile tops the list of reasonably sized countries, followed by South Korea at 1,273.50, Japan at 873.42 and India at 851.04. The USA is at 79.55, ranked 142 out of 192 countries.

    The FAO and UN’s Post-2015 Development Agenda

    The UN’s Millenium Development Goals (MDG) agenda is the overall framework within which the High Level Panel on the UN’s 15-year Development Agenda falls. The aim of this panel is to chart a 15-year program with defined targets for the period. The 2000-2015 report has been released, and the achievements listed. It runs as follows:

    Remarkable Achievements Since 2000

    After the MDGs were adopted, dozens of developing-country planning ministries, hundreds of international agencies and thousands of civil society organizations (CSOs) rallied behind them. Together, they have contributed to remarkable achievements; half a billion fewer people in extreme poverty; about three million children’s lives saved each year. Four out of five children now get vaccinated for a range of diseases. Maternal mortality gets the focused attention it deserves. Deaths from malaria have fallen by one-quarter. Contracting HIV is no longer an automatic death sentence. In 2011, 590 million children in developing countries – a record number – attended primary school. This unprecedented progress was driven by a combination of economic growth, government policies, civil society engagement and the global commitment to the MDGs.

    Given this success, it would be a mistake to start a new development agenda from scratch. There is much unfinished business from the MDGs. Some countries achieved a great deal, but others, especially low-income, conflict affected countries, achieved much less. In our discussions, we became aware of a gap between reality on the ground and the statistical targets that are tracked. We realized that the next development agenda must build on the real experiences, stories, ideas and solutions of people at the grassroots, and that we, as a Panel, must do our best to understand the world through their eyes and reflect on the issues that would make a difference to their lives.

    As may be expected, the bottom line of both the FAO and the UN’s Post-2015 Development Agenda are the same; just the wording is separate. As the Executive Report puts it:

    1. Leave no one behind.

    We must finish the job. After 2015 we should end extreme poverty, in all its forms. We should ensure that no person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status – is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities.

    1. Put sustainable development at the core.

    Only by mobilizing social, economic and environmental action together can we eradicate poverty irreversibly and meet the aspirations of eight billion people in 2030.

    1. Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth.

    A quantum leap forward is required in economic opportunities and a profound economic transformation to end extreme poverty and improve livelihoods.

    1. Forge a new global partnership.

    We must build a new partnership underpinning mutual respect and mutual benefit involving governments and others: people living in poverty, those with disabilities and traditionally marginalized groups.

    As far as the FAO is concerned, the word poverty is symbolic of both hunger and malnutrition. That is why World Food Day 2014 is so important. It should reflect progress on the lines of those put forward by global leaders as summarized above.

    Relation Between FAO and the World Health Organization

    The relation between FAO and the World Health Organization: The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) is an international expert scientific committee that is administered jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). It has been meeting since 1956, initially to evaluate the safety of food additives and gradually increasing its ambit.

    JECFA has since checked 2,500 + food additives, around 40 contaminants and toxicants that are natural, besides remnants of close to 90 veterinary drugs. A set of guidelines and principles have been created to assess existing toxic agents, update them in consonance with technical advancement in toxicology as well as relevant sciences, and validate them. Importers subject food items coming from outside the state and react according to the test results. The recent ban on import of mangoes from India by the EU is a case in point.

    Their area of work thus is focused on assessment of risks, if any and the safety appraisal of all additives to food, whether intentionally added or not. They also check out processing aids and flavoring agents, natural toxins and the risk involved in working with such additives. A comprehensive list of items checked for safety and quality is listed on their website. The Codex Alimentarius is the lexicon listing the food standards and guidelines and the certified codes of practice considered by the WTO as the benchmark for compiling regulations at the national level for food safety.

    FAO assists its member countries encouraging them to develop and expand their capacities so that food safety as well as quality become key in guarding the health/well-being of locals while advising them how to go about accessing their domestic and regional markets before going global. Capacity Development then becomes the process wherein stakeholders can improve their utility from farm to table. They then become responsible in providing a guarantee with respect to the same two vital factors, viz, the safety and the quality of food destined for internal consumption or for export. The main issues they lay stress on are:

    • Needs assessment
    • Policy advice
    • Food regulations
    • Food inspection
    • Risk analysis
    • Good hygiene practices and Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP)
    • Effective participation in Codex
    • Voluntary standards & schemes
    • Public education and communication

    All agencies related to food also participate in the World Food Day Celebrations, including the World Food Program and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.


    The USA is the global leader in corn production and export. Corn comprises 80 percent of the country’s grain harvest. On the international front, the U.S. corn crop is more than the sum of China’s grain harvests (rice and wheat). Corn now tops global grain production way ahead of wheat while almost twice that of rice. It can thus be called the world’s No 1 foodgrain.

    Spring 2012 saw U.S. farmers planting close to 96 million acres in corn, a record breaking figure over 75 years. The warm early days of spring got them off to a dream start, with exuberant analysts predicting a record harvest. Corn is a demanding grain−mild heat and plenty of water. Shortage of one or both has serious results. 2012 turned into a farmer’s nightmare: soaring heat leading to dehydration. From a record crop, it dropped to a normal crop. In June, deflated analysts called it a flop crop. As expected, costs soared to record highs.

    This case study clearly shows how climate change can affect food security. What is of great interest is the fact that the entire world hoped that the tide would turn, since a good grain harvest in the U.S. translates into a good carryover in grain stocks. This, in turn, regulates grain prices across the world. 2013 costs were predicted to be higher than average, an accurate forecast of gloomy news.

    Then comes the cascade. High grain costs force exporting countries to maintain a buffer stock through Govt control. Importing countries enter a tailspin and middlemen make a killing. The biggest stockist of grain is China, a fact revealed only in August 2014. A partial solution lies in innovation: better biological strains, induced hardiness to resist dehydration, optimal utilization of water and then the magic words-Population Control. The panacea to all global problems!

    Unnecessary Impediments: The 2014 Crimean Crisis

    All good intentions are negated by loss of international goodwill. The recent annexation of Crimea by Russia followed by the war in Donbass is a case in point. The ban on Russian imports by a number of countries led by the USA, the EU and Canada and the reciprocal total ban by Russia of imports from the European Union, United States, Norway, Canada and Australia is a retrograde step for the FAO. Its annual achievements are slender and such moves could set FAO back several years.

    Fortunately, the countries involved do not fall in the category of countries requiring assistance to reduce rural poverty. Both sub-Sahara Africa and Asia should not be affected significantly, but internal ramifications, particularly financial, may still affect donor countries’ contributions this year and the next. The Food Day 2014 report might show a relatively small change since the imbroglio started in February but international sanctions were emplaced only in August.

    United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda: Where FAO Stands

    The core of the 2015-2030 agenda, with MDG and targets in mind, revolves around the following categories:

    • The Poverty Apex: It is possible to end extreme poverty and start the extension of prosperity to most people globally. The requirement would be unrelenting equitable economic growth coupled with access to credit and opportunities to move into entrepreneurship for the poor.
    • Human Needs and Capacities: Push to overcome unmet challenges of the past in areas like education, health, emancipation of womankind, specifically where linked to poverty and its obliteration.
    • The Resource Triad: Strengthen the defined resource triad (water and sanitation, energy and climate, and agriculture and food) to further concretize the props of sustainable development.
    • Enabling Environment: Look only at good governance that respects human rights, aims at peace and sustainability, and enables contemporary and green physical infrastructure.
    • Introducing the Corporate world and businessmen to MDGs.

    A concentrated assault on poverty should be made to restore human dignity, because poverty is the main obstacle to progress. The aim should not be crossing the definition of wage poverty as $1.25 per day. Note the location of food and agriculture.

    Note that poverty eradication has reached no. 3 spot in global opinion.

    Cybernated Farm Systems: An Interesting Concept

    Sustainability is no longer enough. That may shock you, but seen objectively, sustainability is only the beginning.  SUS + or Sustainability Plus has supplanted the concept calling for a move to overtake sustainability, thereby adding an extra dimension. That may sound heretic in an era where ‘sustainability’ is the programmed end result. On the other hand, we have depredated the globe to such an extent that we must remedy the damage done to the planet; sustainability can only be the beginning.  To go a step further, self sustenance is a homonym for a state of limbo, neither here nor there.

    Cybernated Farm Systems (CFS) is pushing the concept of SUS+ while explaining that we need to move out of limbo and give something back to the planet.  A good example would be the standard car. “It is sustainable to develop a vehicle that does not pollute, but it would be SUS+ if, by design, that vehicle also created potable water as a byproduct of its very operation,” say the staff at CFS, which is looking to go SUS+ in providing food.

    In the educated 21st century, why should anyone go hungry? Why can’t the shocking wastage of food at the current rate be eliminated? Why are gallons of fresh water used in catering for archaic agricultural practices? Yet we claim to be an advanced country in agricultural infotech capabilities. We have Smart Phones, Smart this, Smart that and more- where are our Smart Greenhouses?

    The gap between ‘advanced production’ of food and its distribution as clean, nourishing food to all people on the planet can be removed. CFS has devised a self-sustaining aquaponic system that will provide the hungry fruit, fish and half a dozen vegetables without using land. That makes them green at the start itself, ecologically conscious and vigorous in performance, and, as claimed, SUS+.  All that is required at the outset are enough fish to sustain a fish farm and enough fish food, plus a freshwater tank and interlink the two. Add solar panels, wind power generators and capacitors to store power and the system becomes self sustaining. It uses less than 10 percent the water a normal farm would use.

    Looking ahead, self-reliant partners like governments and organizations like Oxfam will be required to help create a Second Agricultural Revolution. The revolutionary point here is that there is no plan to feed people commercially, or recover land lost to antiquated 17th century agricultural systems which wasted fresh water and ravaged their topsoil. People will need to learn the simplest of methods of producing food, so that they rapidly acquire their needs for immediate survival.

    This advanced concept of food production should abolish any barrier between production and food distribution globally. Since their facilities are self sustaining, they can be emplaced in those parts of the world which has no infrastructure, thereby feeding the desperately hungry immediately. Location is no big deal; they can be snugly fitted into apartment complexes or areas under housing development, etc. In effect, they can be located on demand. The more arid the desert, the more the space available.

    When we see disturbing images of totally skeletal infants, with equally gaunt mothers, it triggers intense emotions within us. Nothing has changed in decades upon decades. A sense of guilt is not enough. Poverty was, is and will remain the major issue insofar as the development of humanity is concerned which is why this issue has stayed with us for centuries. The Internet is a global borderless communication network for free flow of information, and its utilization is growing exponentially. If that be so, why have we not yet been able to cater for the basic needs of one another? Why is nearly half the world without sufficient resources to survive? Can we rectify this ongoing atrocity? Of course we can.

    Today, poverty is not just unnecessary, it is an unacceptable reality in a fatalistic society that assumes it is just a way of life and that’s that. A lot of money has been donated but to no avail in the broader perspective. If we look at it from a different angle, we find it’s not the money that people need but access to food and resources directly through local means. This should be the thrust area, to give people access to resources by technological advancements and create an abundance of food and basic necessities we need to survive.

    People can bypass governments, have global connectivity, the power and tools to come together and share world changing ideas with millions and shape reality. Just one of CFS’ buildings can produce enough food to feed up to 600 people with half a dozen different types of fruits and vegetables each, giving a thrust to local food production to sustain the people and the community in need.

    World Food Day 2013
    In India, six percent of its people are being fed with grain produced by pumping groundwater. For China, 12 percent face the same problem. Water depletion looms large over harvests in China, India and the United States, the big three that together produce 50 percent of the world’s grain. Will water shortages affect harvests in the big three? Yes, it will. When? That’s the 64 million dollar question.   

    Case Study: What Happens When the Wells Go Dry

    Man can survive without food for up to 10 days, but not more than 48 hours without drinking water. There can be no substitute for water. Even food production depends on adequate water. The average human consumption of water is three liters a day, but that meal on your plate took 1,500 liters of water.

    Foodgrain is the prime supplier of our calories, supplemented by non-vegetarian intake. Vegans have a tough time getting their calories. Today, more than half the global grain harvest is grown on irrigated land. Irrigation thus plays a focal role in the growth of grain. Statistically, global irrigated land increased from 100 million hectares (250 million acres) in 1951 to 285 hectares (700 million acres) in 2000, a threefold rise. But the rise between 2010 and 2000 is less than 10 percent! The lesson behind this assumption by Lester R. Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute and prolific writer on food related topics is, unfortunately, less than watertight. Drip irrigation is the preserve of the affluent and less than 10 percent of land irrigated in the Indian subcontinent is by the efficient drip method. The remainder is watered by the inefficient gravity feed system. Over 25 percent of water meant for irrigation is lost between the fount and the field and another 15 percent lost in routing the incoming water. If assistance is provided to countries like Sri Lanka and Pakistan, Brown’s figures will change dramatically. As it stands, India has just about started drip irrigation. The problem here is that the source of water in India is the aquifer/borewell.

    Irrigation water comes either from rivers or aquifers. Historically, irrigation water came from lakes behind dams across rivers. This water led to a network of gravity-fed canals, until the 1960s when building dams became anathema for a variety of reasons, mainly the consequent loss of poor farmers’ agricultural land. Farmers then turned to sinking wells into underground water resources.

    These water resources expanded global food production; the demand for food will keep climbing, as will the water pumped. Some day, extraction will exceed recharge from precipitation, water tables will fall, wells will go dry and the pumped water-based food bubble will burst.

    Some 18 countries are overpumping their aquifers, including China, India, the United States, Pakistan, Iran and Mexico. The most dramatic case is Saudi Arabia, water-poor if oil-rich. The 1973 Arab oil fracas saw the Saudis trying to gain self-sufficiency in wheat by developing irrigated agriculture based on underground water. They announced failure in 2008; wheat planting would cease in 2016. All 15 million tonnes of wheat, corn, barley and rice, required by its people would be imported. Syria, Iraq and Yemen will follow soon. Iran and Pakistan are next.

    Among the big three, USA, China and India, only 20 percent of the harvest in the US is from irrigated land. Most of the crop is rain-fed. Still, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 400,000 acres of farmland dried up statewide between 2000 and 2005. Falling water levels are already hurting China, almost as large as the United States, the global leader. India has difficult days ahead, since 27 million+ irrigation wells have been drilled by farmers to extract underground water. Grain harvest in India’s has been on the upslope, but for the wrong reason, i.e., over-pumping. 175 million Indians eat grain produced with over-pumped water.

    In the United States, farmers are over-pumping in states such as Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas. These states have not only raised wheat yields but shifted from wheat to corn, a higher-yield crop. Kansas’ production of corn now exceeds that of wheat.

    Irrigation based agriculture draws water from Ogallala aquifer, which is a huge underground reservoir. Unfortunately, this aquifer is fossil-based, and cannot be recharged. Once drained, back you go to dry land farming or giving up farming. Over-pumping, whether in the Middle East or the U.S., leads to aquifer depletion and shrinking grain harvests. For some countries this has become a stark reality.

    The world has quietly transitioned into a situation where water, not land, has emerged as the principal constraint on expanding food supplies. There is enough land to produce food if water were available. Harvests are shrinking in some countries because of aquifer depletion, in others because of soil erosion. Among the more vivid examples of soil erosion are Mongolia and Lesotho.

    Water constraints, exacerbated by soil erosion; the loss of cropland to nonfarm uses; a stagnation of yields in large producing areas, and climate change are increasingly making world food production more difficult. Are we likely to see a cessation of growth in world grain growth? No, say scientists.

    While reviewing the progress of the FAO since inception, they agreed that the time frame was not exactly ideal seventy years ago. The FAO had been setting small targets since inception in 1945, as listed earlier in Chart 7 on page 9. The ultimate aim was to eradicate hunger by the only method possible, viz., growing enough food to feed every human being on the planet. 1945 was a different era; it is difficult to imagine what life was like then. More than 85 percent of people of that era have died and the remainder is dispersed all across the globe. The number of countries in 1945 which were recognized internationally was 72, which has risen to 192 today.

    To most, the FAO was just another organization that met every year to enjoy an all expenses paid holiday, since no outcome was seen. While this may be a cynical diatribe, the fact remains that neither the UN nor the FAO progressed significantly. Besides, the world was in a state of turmoil, with large scale wars disrupting global progress. It was a period of the one step forward and two backward syndrome. But time is a great healer and both the UN and the FAO seemed to stabilize in the late 70’s.

    Toward the end of the past millennium, the UN and its various bodies had gained acceptance and enough clout to wield a punitive stick. For instance, the World Trade Organization (WTO) which supervised and liberalized international trade since 1 January 1995, having replaced the 1948 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), was successfully drawing the Multi Fiber Agreement regulating world trade in textiles and garments from 1974 through 2004 to a successful close in their new avatar as the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC), with new policies allowing less developed countries (LDC) greater opportunities in the global market for apparel through a series of negotiated agreements.

    The FAO was given due recognition and respect and created a charter to be followed in letter and spirit, with palpable emphasis starting in the new millennium. The yearly aims were no longer a bagatelle-a concerted effort was to be made to ensure that they were met. This time, there was to be the one step forward and no retrogression. It wasn’t as though the aim was achieved 100 percent, but at least a whole-hearted attempt would have been made. The theme for 2013 was Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition.

    Feeding 7.12 billion mouths is a serious problem. Yet, many scientists think that loss of biodiversity is a far more serious problem. They suggest that these two issues should not be considered separately and remonstrate that they are closely connected and, if their synergies can be leveraged, both aims can be met with greater success. That is why farmers should care about conservation and conservationists should care about agriculture. Recently, leaders from these two sectors have put a new concept into motion, called Bridging Agriculture and Conservation (ibid). Their aim is to prove how optimal utilization of ecological systems will foster resilience in agricultural systems while simultaneously improving the conservation of biodiversity. They issued an interesting statement, “We believe that achieving the dual goals of food security and biodiversity conservation will require more science, not less (ibid).” The unspoken implications are increased depth in knowledge and enhanced technology. By putting science into farming at every level, the income for thousands of smaller farmers could well increase multifold. They have already demonstrated a 100 percent rise in productivity, promising much higher financial returns.

    World Food Day 2014

    842 million people will starve today, or, at best, manage a couple of scraps of food. Global population is close to 7.1 billion, of whom 6.3 billion will get the 1,800 odd calories required for   sustenance. Try and imagine one scenario, no matter how unrealistic: These 6.3 billion skip one meal on Global Food Day. If the ingredients that constitute that one meal can be collected and distributed to the starving, the 842 million will get enough to cook eight full meals, or ten meals if utilized sparingly. The point here is not so much the redistribution of one meal skipped, but the fact that every time you eat three meals a day per month, the global poor are missing out the ONE meal they can subsist on every day for one full month. USA figures in the list of hungry countries!

    Hunger in the USA

    Surprisingly, one in six Americans does not have enough food to eat. The South Bronx has the highest rate of food insecurity in the country, 37 percent, compared with 16.6 for New York City as a whole. One in eight Iowans often goes hungry, with children the most vulnerable to food insecurity. Congressional cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) last fall of five billion dollars have reduced benefits from $205 to $172 a month and this $1.10 cut per day is hurting. Food pantries and soup kitchens have gone up to 50,000 from a few hundred in 1980.

    The 2013 benefits totaled $75 billion, but most households got lower payments. Recipients usually manage to hold their monthly allotment for three weeks, then willy nilly turn to food pantries. Who qualifies for SNAP? Households with gross incomes no more than 130 percent of the poverty rate. For a family of four that means $31,005 a year. Gross incomes in Alaska and Hawaii are higher than in the U.S. (ibid). The country that wastes the maximum cooked food is, you guessed right, the USA. 30% of all food in the USA, worth US$48.3 billion, is dumped each year. It is also estimated that about half the water used to produce this food also goes waste, since agriculture is the largest human use of water. It is ironic that the world’s richest country cannot feed 90 million people, yet wastes the maximum food!

    World Food Day: 2014: Family Farming

    Family farming is inextricably linked to national and global food security. Both in developing and developed countries, family farming is the predominant form of agriculture in the food production sector. Family farming includes all family-based agricultural activities, and it is linked to several areas of rural development.

    The theme for 2014 World Food Day is Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth”. This theme has specifically been chosen in order to bring the profile of small family farming into the limelight as also the lot of farmers with a small farm holding. The idea is to focus global attention on the prominent role family farming can play in eliminating hunger as well as poverty, bolstering food security along with nutrition, enhancing livelihoods, regulating and controlling natural resources, safeguarding the environment while attaining sustainable development, specifically in non-mainstream rural areas. This theme is a repeat of 1987(Chart 7).

    The UN General Assembly designated 2014 as the “International Year of Family Farming,” sending a positive indication that the global community takes cognizance of the major contribution that family farmers make to universal food security.

    Of the 570 million farms across the globe, 500 million+ may be called family farms. Most of these global farms are relatively minute, with 475 million+ farms smaller than 2 hectares in area. Put together, they occupy a vast area, but, as it turns out, they form a small percentage of our world’s farmland.

    Farmland distribution thus seems unequal at world level, but is improving in low, lower – middle – income countries and in the odd regional group. Unfortunately, census data on farmland distribution is inadequate, but it is essential to create a representative image of the number of farms, the number of family farms, farm size as well as global farmland distribution.

    Now that the entire background of factors affecting availability of food for the poor have been seen, it will become easier to envisage what can be expected of World Food Day 2014, rather, what we can contribute to making this momentous day a success.

    Some points to be kept in mind are:

    • There is a global misconception that people go hungry because the quantity of foodgrain available cannot support them. Actually, there is enough food available right now to feed the entire global population of 7.12 billion for almost 40 days, with huge amounts being added every day. Sadly, laws extant today make it well nigh impossible for the poor to reach this food over the shoulders of the middleman.
    • In India, the foodgrain that rots every year due lack of storage space can feed its entire population for a fortnight with three meals a day. This is unacceptable.
    • You have no control over what Vladimir Putin intends to do on 16 October. For that matter, you may not be able to persuade even your neighbors to cooperate.
    • Will the SFIS keep quiet that week/day? You cannot predict the movement of radicals.
    • Very few countries will actually contribute meaningful sums, particularly the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China. This is ironic, since the last two countries named have almost a third of our global population living on their soil, and known to have vast numbers below the poverty line of US$1.25. It is not likely that any of these four will ask for aid either. That said, most countries provide students in Govt schools up to the age of nine one free meal.
    • A random analysis of contributions in this millennium shows lots of words and actions that did not translate into the need of the hour, foodgrain or hard cash.

    What Can you Do?

    So what can you do? When you look at the problem optimistically, there are many things you can do, both individually and as a group. First of all, go to the website for the US and Canada. Read through it. When you reach the Act page, you’ll see 12 options. Read through them and do what is attainable by you. All steps are listed. The options are:

    1. Host a World Food Day meal.                                  7.  Spread the word through social media.
    2. Organize a food packaging event.                             8.  Activate your campus.
    3. Walk to end hunger                                                   9.  Engage your local schools.
    4. Arrange a food and fund drive.                                10.  Inspire your faith community to take action.
    5. Grow a garden.                                                        11.  Join your local hunger coalition.
    6. Live on $1.25 a day.                                                 12.  Volunteer your time.

    There are many more links on the website and you can follow the lead and do your bit. Would you call this doing your bit? Responding to suggestions made by some unknown bloke who set up the webpage? The suggestions may well be helpful but they haven’t come from you-you are doing what someone else is telling you to do. Be original. Or stay conventional-the choice is yours.

    The Presbyterian Mission is organizing a Food Week of Action (12-19 Oct.), the International Day for Rural Women (Oct. 15), the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (Oct. 17) and World Food Day on the 16th. Their focus Sunday to Sunday is on Resiliency:

    • Resilient livelihoods, communities and relationships
    • Resilient farming production and food chains
    • Resiliency promoted through policy

    They also have a set of Actions and Activity Ideas. You will be able to download their printable flyer. Print 200 copies and ask for the newspaper delivery boy’s help in distribution. The idea of making a video and uploading it is appealing, so if you have any film-oriented ideas, jump right in. The activities are duplicated on the flyer, for easy reading. The generous prizes are incentive enough! You could then read the para on Faith in Action! It is self-explanatory. If you are an Oxfam type, go to


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