What caught my attention – week of 4 November 2019

Below are a few things that I enjoyed reading this week.


1. Food and agriculture

Title: The Investment Case for Alternative Protein
Link: AgFunder


This paper is an investment pitch in part but it provides useful information and data for those interested to read further about the subject.
The global demand for animal products continues to grow quickly as a consequence of population growth and an emerging middle class. However, evidence continues to mount that conventional animal agriculture is reaching its capacity to provide these products in a humane and sustainable way. The world’s population is exiting poverty and we’ve recently reached a tipping point where more than half of it is now considered middle-class or wealthier, with a majority living in urban areas and by 2030 it’s estimated this will increase to two-thirds. Not only does our agriculture system need to contend with population growth and an increase in caloric consumption but, according to Bennett’s Law, as incomes rise, individuals are moving toward more energy-dense diets that include more animal-derived products.

2. On Japan

Title: The Cutting Room Files, part 4: The future of Japan
Japan is … odd. Most countries have a very clear chunk of reasonably good land that serves as home to a specific ethnicity. That group forms a government to serve the needs of those people in that place, and then that government steadily expands its writ over more territory and peoples. The valleys Nile, Thames, Ganges and Argun for the Egyptians, English, Indians and Chechens; Muscovy for the Russians; the Beauce for French, the Zagros Mountains for Persians, the Tibetans on their namesake plateau, and so on. Japan doesn’t really have something like that. The Japanese islands are so steep and arable land so hard to come by that even as late as early 1800s, well over a millennium after after of the emergence of the Japanese ethnicity, the Japanese still lacked a common government. So…what made Japan matter?

3. More food and agriculture

Title: The green keto meat eater


Conscious that I’m wading into the treacherous waters of nutrition but I thought this article, which is more about the practice of regenerative or holistic agriculture, was a good jump off point for anyone interested in the topic (regardless of dietary orientation). If you want to read more about this topic and economics check out this paper on regenerative agriculture from SLM Partners (Australian farmland investor).
Part 1 of this series, below, examines the state of the current war on meat and how a conscious keto eater can find peace and a path forward.
Part 2 explores the link between cows and climate change and how a burgeoning worldwide movement in holistic regenerative agriculture is using cows to help draw carbon out of the atmosphere and store it in the soil.
Part 3 looks at the economics and practicalities for more wide-scale regenerative agriculture and how policies, emerging carbon markets, consumer choice, and other mechanisms can foster agricultural incentives to produce green animal products that are widely available, affordable and helping the planet reverse greenhouse gas emissions.

4. Internet censorship

Title: Countries are increasingly willing to censor speech online
Link: Economist
In the long run, though, perhaps the biggest effect of the new laws will be the further splintering of the internet. The idea of the internet as a single global network that looks the same no matter where you are when you log on, is central to its founding mythology. Yet it looks increasingly outdated. Whether that is good or bad is the subject of debate. “It is entirely legitimate for countries to formulate policies that govern their own media environments,” argues Mr Nielsen. However, “at the moment, people in India who can afford phones can see broadly the same things as people in the West,” says Mr Stamos. “The end of that would be sad.” It is happening regardless. China’s pervasive censorship has long split its internet users off from those elsewhere in the world. Cracks are spreading in the West, too. Some American firms already find it easier to block European users rather than comply with eu privacy laws. “Right to be forgotten” laws compel search engines to remove certain results for European users. Censorship laws will mean another set of walls dividing the global village.

5. Dalai Lama Op-Ed

Title: We need an education of the heart
Link: LA Times
There are no national boundaries for climate protection or the global economy. No religious boundaries, either. The time has come to understand that we are the same human beings on this planet. Whether we want to or not, we must coexist. My wish is that, one day, formal education will pay attention to the education of the heart, teaching love, compassion, justice, forgiveness, mindfulness, tolerance and peace. This education is necessary, from kindergarten to secondary schools and universities. I mean social, emotional and ethical learning. We need a worldwide initiative for educating heart and mind in this modern age.

+1 Book of the week

Author and title: Chris Patten – First Confessions
Link: Amazon


Hong Kong has been very close to my heart for more than 10 years (I studied there, met my wife there, got married there and spent an awful lot of time there) and very much enjoy reading anything about the city. The author is a UK politician but more interestingly was the last governor of HK until the handover in 1997. The story is part memoir, part history book and reflection on the British political scene. Timely read regarding the current events in HK.