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Dissonance or Harmony? Two news items on 28 November reveal the seriousness of the environmental crisis and the lack of determination of certain developed countries to act.

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In Canada, preparing to depart for the climate talks in Durban, the Environment Minister, Peter Kent, waffled about Canada’s position.  He said, “What we need now is action, and a mandate to work on an eventual binding convention [on greenhouse gases]” — a mandate to work on an eventual…yep, that sounds like real action.  Meanwhile, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization announced a new report on agriculture, stating that agricultural output will need to increase by 70% to feed the expected 9.2 billion people in 2050, but that 25% of lands are already severely degraded.  Fully 80% of the needed increase will have to come from “sustainable intensification” of use of existing agricultural land.  While the press release makes the stark challenges clear, nowhere does it suggest that a 70% increase in yields achieved primarily through sustainable intensification of use of already seriously degraded lands is a bit of a stretch.  Another opportunity to set out our situation clearly seems to have been lost.