Suzy Khimm

So the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has formally requested an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Darfur. To no one’s surprise, the Sudanese government has rejected the charges as baseless, but one criticism that’s also coming from some members of the international community is that the ICC’s actions will jeopardize the fragile humanitarian relief effort and security environment in the country.

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From the Associated Press (via FP): The EPA has decided that the average American life isn't worth as much as it once thought. The agency lowered the statistical value of a life from $7.8 million to $6.9 million--about a $1 million drop from five years ago. The calculation is important because it figures into the agency's cost-benefit analysis of proposed regulations: Consider, for example, a hypothetical regulation that costs $18 billion to enforce but will prevent 2,500 deaths.

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The numbers are in... at least for 2006. According to the Worldwatch Institute, some 2.3 milion people worldwide were employed by the renewable energy industry that year, either directly or by one of their suppliers. The breakdown: wind power employs about 300,000 people, solar energy employs some 794,000 people, and biomass/biofuels account for more than 1 million jobs. The U.S.

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Biofuels may be getting the finger right now, but The New Scientist’s Fred Pearce argues that we should be sticking it to other non-food crops, too, for gobbling up valuable farmland and scarce natural resources. Pearce goes after King Cotton, whose cultivation entails all manner of environmental ills.

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Turns out that Guardian may have been wrong about that secret biofuels report from the World Bank, which it claimed was suppressed for political reasons. World Bank officials told the Wall Street Journal today that the study--which argued that biofuels were responsible for 75% of the rise in food costs--was actually a working paper. As such, it was never made secret and doesn't reflect the official views of the Bank: The report was meant to contribute to a World Bank position paper on rising food prices, which was released at the Bank’s spring meeting in mid-April.

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The Wall Street Journal has a story today about the personal cap-and-trade program being considered in Britain. The basic concept scales down the industrial cap-and-trade model to individuals: give every adult a uniform “carbon allowance” for personal expenditures on gas, air travel, electricity, and so forth, and any remaining credits can be sold to more energy-dependent citizens. A Parliamentary proposal to implement the system across the U.K.

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The Guardian says they have a leaked report from the World Bank that biofuels are responsible for 75% of the recent rise in food prices: Without the increase in biofuels, global wheat and maize stocks would not have declined appreciably and price increases due to other factors would have been moderate,” says the report. The basket of food prices examined in the study rose by 140% between 2002 and this February. The report estimates that higher energy and fertiliser prices accounted for an increase of only 15%, while biofuels have been responsible for a 75% jump over that period.

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We've all heard how skyrocketing food and fuel prices have squeezed the world’s poor. But the fact that commodities prices are high--and that urbanfood-and-fuel riots have sprung up across the globe--isn’t always the best indicator of when people are going hungry, said Robert Paarlbarg, one of the panelists at yesterday’s American Enterprise Institute conference. Most of the world’s poor and hungry are still living in rural areas that are more removed from the aftershocks of rising global prices, according to the Wellesley professor.

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Ethanol, the much-maligned biofuel of the hour, is gaining some traction on the Hill.

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There’s a heated debate at The Economist over this charticle that claims organic farming is bad for the poor. According to the author’s fuzzy logic, organic farming produces fewer crops yields than conventional methods, thus demanding that more farmland be put under cultivation. As the share of farmland devoted to high-premium organic crops increases--the rise is most notable in Europe--global food prices will be pushed up, and the world’s poorest will bear the brunt of the suffering, the argument goes.  There are many reasons why this logic is flawed.

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