How religion motivates people to give and serve

David King, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Saturday, August 19 is World Humanitarian Day – a time to remember the tremendous humanitarian need around the world.

The stark reality is that the world is facing the greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945: Mass starvations are threatening millions of people in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, while an unmatched refugee crisis continues in Syria.

World Humanitarian Day is also a time to remember the sacrifice of those who risk their lives to serve. What often gets ignored, however, is the role that faith plays in people’s desire to give and serve. This is where I focus my research.

Philanthropy and religion

Let’s first look at available data to understand how much giving is tied to one’s faith.

According to Giving USA, the leading annual report of philanthropy in America, religious contributions (narrowly defined as giving to houses of worship, denominations, missionary societies and religious media) made up 32 percent of all giving in America in 2016.

Another study found that 73 percent of all American giving went to a house of worship or a religiously identified organization.

Many of these organizations make up the world’s largest NGOs. For example, three of the top 10 biggest charities by total revenue last year (Catholic Charities, Salvation Army and National Christian Foundation) are explicitly religious. Religious agencies make up 13 of the top 50 charities in the U.S.

It is true that factors such as wealth, income, education and marital status are all predictors of giving. But religious belief and practice are one of the best predictors.

Overall, religious Americans volunteer more, give more, and give more often not only to religious but secular causes as well. Among Americans who give to any cause, 55 percent claim religious values as an important motivator for giving.

What religions tell us

These values of giving are deeply rooted in the texts, traditions and practices of many faiths. Take, for example, the messages within the three Abrahamic faiths.

In Judaism, the Hebrew Scriptures refer to “tzedakah,” literally meaning justice. Tzedakah is considered a commandment and a moral obligation that all Jews should follow. The commitment to justice places a priority on their giving to help the poor. Beyond giving just time and money, rabbis even spoke of “gemilut chasadim,” literally meaning loving-kindness, or focusing on right relationship with one another as the prerogative of religious giving.

Even more broadly, an ancient Jewish phrase, “tikkun olam,” meaning to repair or heal the world, has been adopted by many religious and secular causes. Barack Obama, when he was president, would often refer to the phrase. So did past President Bill Clinton and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. President George W. Bush hinted at a vision of tikkun olam in his second inaugural address.

Similarly, the Christian tradition has considered giving a key religious practice. Many Christians still look to the Hebrew Bible and the tithe (giving one-tenth of an individual’s income) as God’s commandment.

In the New Testament, Jesus spoke of giving not only a tithe but challenged followers to give far beyond it. For instance, in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all his possessions. Pursuing those values, a long monastic tradition has seen men and women taking vows of poverty to give themselves to the work of their faith. Today, while the tithe might not be practiced by a majority of Christians, most understand the practice of giving as a central part of their faith.

For Muslims, giving is one of the five pillars of Islam. “Zakat” (meaning to grow in purity) is an annual payment of 2.5 percent of one’s assets, considered by many as the minimum obligation of their religious giving. A majority of Muslims worldwide make their annual zakat payments as a central faith practice.

Above and beyond the required zakat, many Muslims make additional gifts (referred to broadly as “sadaqa”). Interestingly, the word shares the same root as the Jewish “tzedakah,” meaning justice. Muslim giving also focuses primarily on the poor.

Of course, charitable giving is not just for the rich. For those with no money to give, the Prophet Muhammad considered even the simple act of smiling to be charity, a gift to another.

Building a community

An aid worker in Addis Ababa. Bread for the World, CC BY-NC-ND


Religious traditions are clear that the value of giving does not simply rest with those receiving the gift. Givers themselves benefit. As sociologist Christian Smith makes clear, there is a paradox to generosity – in giving we receive and in grasping we lose.

At the same time, the goal of religious giving is not just about what it brings to individuals. Rather, it is more a focus on human interaction and a vision of community.

Perhaps most famously, the 12th-century Rabbi Maimonides outlined eight levels of giving – the lowest being giving grudgingly and the highest to sustain, but also to empower a person to no longer need charity.

Maimonides made clear it is not so much the amount of giving but how one gives that is important in establishing a relationship between the giver and the recipient. Giving should avoid humiliation, superiority and dependence.

With the majority of global citizens belonging to a religious tradition, it should be no surprise that religion often becomes the greatest asset in humanitarian work. Whether fighting AIDS, malaria or poverty, the development community has realized that the success of local programs so often turns on the support of the local faith community. The engagement of the local imam or priest is essential.

Just a few years ago, the humanitarian industry was convinced of the truth of this view when they found that a majority of the health care workers left on the ground in the midst of the Ebola crises were missionaries. Faith was the chief motivator for those both funding and serving in some of the most difficult parts of the world.

The positive side to faith

It is true that too often, faith also appears to serve as the motivation for exclusion, bigotry and hate: Brutal terrorism by the Islamic State, attacks on religious minorities in Myanmar, the defacing of mosques, synagogues and churches across the United States and even the recent clashes in Charlottesville, illustrate how religions can also be used to promote violence.

When it comes to humanitarian aid, there are certainly criticisms of religious aid agencies whose work does not follow minimum humanitarian standards – for example, the prohibition against discriminating or proselytizing before giving aid.

But returning to the centrality of religious giving, evil in the name of religion does not have the last word.

A priest and a nun work together to send aid supplies. Direct Relief, CC BY-NC-ND


Take the case of the United Nations staffer Michael Sharp, who gave his life working for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo this past March. Sharp had worked earlier with the Mennonite Central Committee, a humanitarian organization set up for alternative military service by the Mennonites, a historic peace church. Sharp’s faith guided his call to peacemaking.

There are many such examples around the world where people of faith were moved to shared solidarity. It was their faith work that inspired Jordanian Muslim youth to protect local Coptic Christians at this year’s Easter services after repeated attacks on the Christian minority by Islamic terrorists. It was the same with Muslims in the Philippines this past June who hid fellow Christians in their homes to protect them from Islamic State fighters.

The ConversationIn working through the mandate of our various religious traditions towards the healing of the world, we often come to understand that we have more in common than we had initially realized. And perhaps, we might want to remember this, as we commemorate World Humanitarian Day.

David King, Assistant Professor of Philanthropic Studies, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Reintroducing cultural heritage to Indonesian diaspora in New York City

An interview with AKAR Foundation, with psychological insight on cultural roots and identity by Denny Putra.

Raising children in this internet and digital information era is no easy task no matter where we live; external influences (good and bad) already exist within homes through gadgets and cable TV. So it is a great importance for parent(s) to equip their children with values, knowledge, experiences and perspectives. With these “tools” they will inherit the “wilderness” of this world and lead their lives into the future. By comprehending the wilderness, hopefully the future will be all about exciting opportunities to the children.

The term “wilderness”, according to Sacred Bridge Foundation, is anything we encounter as soon after our birth, and it exists in several domains from physical, psychological, geographical, social to cultural. A physical comfort or discomfort in hospital and/or home is one example of wilderness that an infant immediately experiences at birth, while the geographical area expands from home, neighborhood, school, public space, recreational venue, work place to countries. The level of care at home given by parent(s) is the psychological part of wilderness that a child faces; negligence, too much attention, child abuse, and good parenting are among the examples that may describe the range of wilderness in this domain. The social layer also stretches as the child grows up, from immediate family members, relatives, neighbors, school friends, communities to colleagues at work. The cultural part involves roots and identity that cover family history, race, ethnicity, faith or religion, migration and naturalization, profession, and so on.

The following interview focuses on the cultural part of wilderness among the Indonesian diaspora in the US, particularly a few individuals who live and/or were born in New York City. The interview involves Andhini Febrina and Bhima Aryateja, the two founders of AKAR (meaning roots in Indonesian), and three of its immediate supporters, Garry Poluan, Annissa Hamaki, and Arya Handoko.

AKAR is a not-for-profit organization that aims is to reintroduce Indonesian cultural heritage to Indonesian children who were born in the US by using Indonesian language as the main vehicle. In doing so, AKAR naturally must deal with variety of challenges; finding and securing an ideal venue for conducting the program, minor parental support, and a handful of volunteers are some of the difficulties that the organization have to resolve.

In addition to the interview, we feature a brief but appealing view by Denny Putra, a senior teaching faculty at the Department of Psychology, Universitas Kristen Jakarta (Christian University at Jakarta). His writing is about cultural identity with regards to wilderness that we mentioned earlier.

About AKAR

Listen to the World: How did AKAR start?

Akar: We first thought about the program around July 2014 when PERMIAS (Indonesian Students Association in USA) held Indonesian Independence Day games in New York City. The participants of the games were Indonesian children born and raised in the USA. Quite many of them weren’t able to speak Indonesian. Moreover, they had no clue about the history and culture either. This condition sparked Andhini Febrina and Bhima Aryateja to do something about it by establishing AKAR as the first step. The three of us then immediately pledged our support. Our objective is to encourage and assist the children to rediscover Indonesian culture through the teaching of Indonesian language.

source: AKAR Doc.

Do all AKAR’s committee members come from Jakarta?

Most of them do, but some volunteers come from different cities in Java.

What are the backgrounds of the committee members?

All of us are students studying different majors, such as economics, communication, education, journalistic, arts, etc.

What is your concern regarding the program’s condition today?

What’s quite apprehensive now is the lack of volunteers. Although the parents and students’ enthusiasm rises, the number of volunteering teachers is decreasing.

Is there any assistance from the government and Indonesian embassy?

In 2015, we received financial assistance from the Indonesian Embassy in Washington DC while the General Consulate in New York City provided us with a venue to run our program and event.

How many children have participated in this program?

To this day, there are approximately 50 students in total that have joined the tutoring program, including those who no longer participate due to clashing schedule.

Is there any memorable experience during the program?

Thank God the program has been running well. The most rewarding moment is every time we see the students try their best to communicate with the tutors in Indonesian.

Do you have any plan to expand the program to the other states?

We have disseminated the information about our program and the learning materials to members of PERMIAS, Persatuan Mahasiswa Indonesia di Amerika Serikat (Indonesian Student Association in the United States), across the states, in case they are interested in having this program in their state. Up to this day, none has started anything yet.

Mosque as the Center of Learning

Why did you choose mosque as a place where Akar’s first sessions were held? What is the purpose?

We chose it because there were many Indonesian children taking Islamic studies in the mosque. The purpose was to gather prospective participants efficiently.

Do you have any plan to hold the sessions in other mosques or other communities?

At first, we had an intention to start the program in other places, including church, but the idea brought controversies among some members of the mosque management board at the time.

Just a few months ago, we tried again in Indonesian church community. It was still a trial session and there were only a few students. It was difficult to arrange the schedule since the number of teachers we have is quite limited.

Do you accept non-Moslem students?

Yes. AKAR welcomes all Indonesians in New York although the mosque management board asks us to prioritize the Moslem student; when there’s still room left we will accommodate children of any faith.

Language as logic

What approach do you use to make the children understand the logic of Indonesian language?

We use visual aids to introduce objects and terms in most sessions.

Do the children show curiosity about Indonesia?

Some children show more interest and enthusiasm than the others.

How do they see the logic in the language? Does it make things harder or easier for them?

At first, the children were confused in adapting to the logic of Indonesian language. However, as it is practiced during the class and at home listening to their parents talking in Indonesian, the confusion gradually disappears—it only occurs when new topics are introduced.

Cultural Heritage and Identity

How do the children see their identity?

We see the majority of the children (ranging from 7 to 11 years old) haven’t identified themselves as Indonesians. As we’ve mentioned above, compared to other children from various descents, the Indonesian children here haven’t really used their mother language (Indonesian) that much when it comes to daily conversation with their parents and fellow Indonesian friends. From our observation, we think the children feel themselves more as American than Indonesian.

Do they have the confidence to be Indonesian in New York?

So far, we see that they’re neutral. There is no extreme pride or shame in being Indonesian that affects their living in New York.

How does the New York environment shape them?

We see New York as a melting pot—the heterogeneous society consists of different races, religions, nations, and backgrounds; it shapes them to be more tolerant children who respect differences, compared to the majority of children their age living in Indonesia. On the other hand, however, they don’t really show their pride in being Indonesian.

Do the children see Indonesia – as a multicultural country – as potential or strength?

They haven’t been able to see it yet.

What are the obstacles for Indonesians living in New York?

There’s a bit of bad habit in discriminating race and religion, and that limits their ability to see that diversity is what makes the culture rich. Other than that, there’s the lack of pride in being Indonesian that holds back the parents in teaching their children their should-be-native language.

Indonesian vs. English

How do you see the “English is cool, Indonesian is not” phenomena among the young Indonesian?

This problem doesn’t just appear all of a sudden. It’s something progressing for decades, caused by technology and Westernization. Therefore, it is very crucial to make the children proud and interested in our own culture and our own language.

What values do you teach to the children to make them appreciate Indonesian language?

We tell them that it will add their skills and will make communication easier for them when they’re in Indonesia.

How do you attract the children in learning Indonesian language?

We use local games and Indonesian children music for children aged 5 to 9 years old, and exercises combined with games for children aged 10 to 14 years old.

Being color in the US

How does AKAR view the emerging issues on Islamophobia, anti immigrant, terrorism, and white supremacy?

We are very concerned, but we feel grateful living in New York because it’s one of the most multicultural and tolerant cities. The government is also actively involved in assisting the immigrants.

How do the Indonesian children feel?

We have faith that they’re confident and they feel secure.

Do the immigrant communities interact to each other?

Yes, they do.

Does the Indonesian multicultural value have a role in the way the children think?

The majority of children (aged 7 to 11 years old) still haven’t been able to see Indonesian diverse culture as something that matters in their life.


Advanced technology today has made things easier for us in terms of communication, access to information, and education. However, if not controlled, it can bring bad impacts to human civilization.

What is the role of (information) technology in AKAR’s activities?

It is not that significant actually; we teach language, we mostly talk and write in classes without any gadget. We occasionally use video whenever we feel it’s more appropriate for the topics to be discussed.

Which one is more efficient to teach children: gadget or books?

We prefer books since each child’s access to gadget is different, while every child can always grab a book, read, and write.

How do you implement your program?

Our program consists of 10 meetings followed by 2 days of evaluation test and 1 day full of traditional games, songs, and dances from all over Indonesia.

source: AKAR Doc.

Participating children and their parents

Besides AKAR, we also did a short interview with two children and their parents. Rangga Faber was accompanied by his father Chandra Faber, and Suzan Koch was with her mother Citra Bakti.

For Rangga and Suzan, learning Indonesian language is a load of fun, and both not only want to be able to speak Indonesian, but also to read and write. They also feel that they need to have an adequate fluency in the language so that they can communicate with other Indonesians in the city, and with their relatives back home. Visiting their home country also seems to be something they look forward to. So far, learning Indonesian language is considerably easy to them. For Rangga, one of his favorite words is “bermain” (play in English) since he loves to play with friends; for Suzan, her favorite word is “terima kasih” (thank you in English) because it is easy to say, it sounds good, and it’s meaningful. Another important matter that they shared with us was the fact that they simply love the tutors for being very kind and patient.

As parents, Chandra and Citra are grateful to AKAR for teaching their children Indonesian language and occasionally sharing subjects that are part of Indonesian cultural heritage. To them, able to speak, read, and write in Indonesian is a must. They don’t want their children to forget or neglect their cultural roots.

They hope that through learning the language, their children will also learn about Indonesian values, customs, and traditions; they feel that their children need to be equipped with these subjects since they grow up and live in a free society.

Their future hope for AKAR includes program continuity, more tutoring hours, and government support for the program.

Journey Into Self

by Denny Putra

Identity crisis may not occur mainly during adolescence but adolescents are often found to experience greater anxiety than other age groups, due to their progressing hormonal changes and widening social encounters, in their journey of discovering, developing, and at some point affirming both of their self and social identity.

Developmental psychology recognizes four statuses (identity confusion, foreclosure, moratorium, and achievement) on how adolescents exploring and evaluating their stands over many life domains including embracing cultural identity. Their current behaviors may serve as observable indicators that reflect on where they are on this identity development. Some are careless and make very little commitment to understand their “roots” while others made premature commitment to his roots without even trying to explore further due to their given family heritage.

One of the four statuses (identity moratorium) seems to serve as possibly the closest term to the main principle of what Sacred Bridge describe as wilderness, that is an interesting and exciting active exploration period that leads to self growth albeit potential risk involved. A moment of walking down the path by encountering variety of stimulus, possibilities and opportunities that supposedly help build one’s courage and spirit along the way to learn, evaluate and decide on how one lives one’s live. Understanding adolescents’ journey in this wilderness to embrace their roots requires efforts to listen to their inner struggle on how they perceived and being perceived by their social environment on who they are supposed to be and how they are supposed to act.

source: AKAR Doc.

The tug of war between equally strong force of wanting to be unique (ideal) against wanting to belong (real) acts as subconscious driving force of adolescents’ attitude toward wilderness. A stimulus such as learning one’s native language can swing back and forth from being viewed by adolescents as an opportunity at one end to the threat to themselves at the other end due to their inner conflict of unique vs “belongingness”. Achieving balance or harmony of this inner conflict should be the aim of those who wants to help these youth to embrace and proud of their cultural roots. How do we reintroduce them to their unique cultural identity and at the same time provide a gradual feeling of acceptance and pride of their collective identity.

Denny Putra is a senior lecturer at the Department of Psychology of Universitas Kristen Jakarta (Christian University at Jakarta), and Psychology Specialist at Sacred Bridge Foundation. Denny Putra obtained his Master Degree in Psychology from Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Obituary – Gauri Lankesh

Recently, on September 6, 2017, we read an obituary of Gauri Lankesh (55 year old), a female Indian journalist senior, writer and activist (secularist-nationalist). Lankesh was assassinated inside her residence in Bengaluru city (India). Police found three bullet wounds on her body and yet the murderers remain unknown. Nevertheless, it is presumed that Gauri Lankesh’s murder was due to the criticism that she bravely countered political interest of “far-right wing” Hindu nationalists. Before the death of Gauri Lankesh, there were a few leftish academics and journalists who have also been murdered. However, people who mourns the loss of her existence held protest rally in some regions in India. India seems to be having a restless point to maintain democracy in its sovereignty. And yet, fascist practices still exist in some communities.

Nowadays we keep seeing  the politics of religion practiced in many parts of the world; the killings of moslems by Ma Ba Tha (a paranoid Buddhist movement in Myanmar) and Front Pembela Islam or FPI (agitating Islamist group) that despises the Christian Governor of Jakarta are examples of such practice.

Regarding the brave act initiated by Gauri Lankesh, she will be remembered by women, the press, and the world. Her criticism is a prominent message to voice out the freedom of press. Without any criticism on this world, everything would be very subjective. LttW stands by Sacred Bridge Foundation’s principal, whereas a single perception is dangerous for humankind.

Human, Land, and Technology

For all we know, nature doesn’t need us to stay alive. We need nature to survive. Unfortunately, the Earth today has turned into a problematic place for us to live. Global warming, Rainfall’s drought, more frequent heat waves, climate change, diminishing rivers, and low-quality soil are among of many issues we face today.

Those issues later triggered food crops failure. Food production and distribution disruption lead to inflation, which would potentially cause riot in societies. Majority of these issues are due to human’s fault: exploitation of natural resources, industrial wastewater, over-population, also unbalances between needs, wants, and demands. When we talk about crops, we talk about economy, especially macroeconomics.

Economy is a study of human behavior that focuses on mutual exchange to fulfill human’s necessities – and, food is one of them.

My colleague told me that – whom I agree with, from macroeconomics perspective, quantity and quality of food are based on three aspects: lands and its fertility level, the development of technology, and of course, the growth of human population.

Lands relate to the size of agrarian areas. Fertility relates to the quality of the soil. Development of technologies relates to our understanding on agricultural issues so that we can find an answer and then make it work. Human population means how many mouths that must be fed. These three aspects are interdependent.

For example, there’s a country that has enough size of area to produces 2000 food crops. The problem is, this area isn’t fertile enough; it could only produce 1500 crops – let’s say one crops per person, while there are 2000 people need to be fed; and yet, no technologies have been invented to counter this problem. With a simple calculation, we can figure out that there are 500 people who cannot eat. The result will be the same if the country eventually has the technology to fertilize the area while the growth of population is skyrocketing until it reaches – let’s say 5000 people. If that happened, then the country’s technological advancement must be capable of not only to fertilize the area, but also to produce more food; or they can “bulldoze” a forest to open an agricultural land, which means they would commit deforestation.

If these three aspects wouldn’t support one another; it will bring chaos to a nation. Imagine if this issue takes place on a global scale. If we don’t think and act wisely, I’m pretty sure we’ll go back to cannibalism.

Read the article below about food crops failure and let your imagination run wild.


What if several of the world’s biggest food crops failed at the same time?

Anthony Janetos, Boston University

Less than one-quarter of Earth’s total cropland produces nearly three-quarters of the staple crops that feed the world’s population – especially corn, wheat and rice, the most important cereal crops. These areas are our planet’s major breadbaskets.

Historically, when a crop failed in one of these breadbaskets, only nearby areas had to contend with shortages and rising prices. Now, however, major crops are traded on global markets, which means that production failures can have far-reaching impacts. Moreover, climate change is expected to generate heat waves and drought that could cause crop losses in most of the world’s breadbaskets. Indeed, failures could occur simultaneously in several of these key regions.

Top 10 grain-producing countries (5-year average, 2012/2013 – 2016/2017), based on 5-year USDA PS&D data. Brian Barker, University of Maryland, Author provided


Pardee Center postdoctoral scholar John Patrick Connors and I are using mathematical models to study the potential environmental and economic impacts of failures in multiple breadbaskets around the world. It is already clear from our preliminary work that this is a real, near-term threat.

The good news is that not all of these regions respond in the same way to shocks in other places in the world. Some could bring new land into production quickly, easing stresses caused by crop failures elsewhere. But in order to make global food systems more robust, we need to know more about the most damaging consequences of multiple breadbasket failures.

A vulnerable system

In the past several decades, many of the world’s major breadbaskets have experienced shocks – events that caused large, rapid drops in food production. For example, regional droughts and heat waves in the Ukraine and Russia in 2007 and then again in 2009 damaged wheat crops and caused global wheat prices to spike by substantial amounts in both years. In 2012 heat and drought in the United States slashed national corn, soybean and other crop yields by up to 27 percent. And yields of important food crops are low and stagnating in many countries due to factors including plant diseases, poor soil quality, poor management practices and damage from air pollution.

At the same time, many experts assert that world food production may have to double by 2050 to feed a growing population and satisfy rising demand for meat, poultry and dairy products in developing countries. Global agricultural production has risen over the past 50 years, largely fueled by improvements in plant breeding and more intensive use of inputs, such as mechanized equipment, fertilizers and pesticides. This trend has eased pressure to bring new land into production. But it has limits, especially in the developing world, where the need to produce more food has been a main driver of deforestation in recent decades.

High food prices and stagnant wages trigger riots in Egypt in 2008.


It is clear that rising demand, growing international trade in agricultural products, and the potential for weather-, climate- and soil-related shocks are making the world food production system less resilient. Global agricultural trade can mean that price spikes in one region, if they are severe enough, can be felt broadly in other regions. Minor shocks, on the other hand, could be lessened by trade and by using grain reserves.

There is increasing evidence that in very poor countries, food price increases and shortages can lead to civil unrest and worsen other social and political stresses. And more wealthy countries are not immune, given the concentration of world food production and the global nature of trade. For example, the Russian/Ukrainian heat wave referenced above led to spikes in food prices, not just in the price of wheat. However, more wealthy countries also typically have more ability to buffer price shocks by either using grain reserves or increasing trade.

Modeling potential shocks

How can we understand this risk and its potential consequences for both rich and poor nations? Programs already exist to provide early warning of potential famines in the world’s poorest countries, many of which already depend heavily on food aid. There also are programs in wealthier nations that monitor food prices and provide early warnings of price spikes.

But these programs focus mainly on regional risks, and often are not located in major food production areas. Very little work has been done to analyze risks of simultaneous shocks in several of the world’s breadbaskets.

We want to understand the impacts that shock events could have if they occur in the real world so that we can identify possible contingency plans for the largest-impact events. In order to do that, we have used an integrated assessment model, the Global Change Assessment Model, which was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy and is freely available to users around the world. Integrated assessment models have been designed specifically to simulate the interactions among Earth’s energy, economic and land use systems.

We have developed scenarios in which small shocks (10 percent crop loss) and large shocks (50 percent crop loss), averaged over five years, are applied to corn, wheat or rice in their major production regions, and then to all the combinations of one, two or all three crops in one, two or the top three production regions.

Flooding in October 2009 caused heavy damage to rice farms in Indonesia. NR-PH001 World Bank/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND


Unsurprisingly, our results to date suggest that large shocks have larger effects than smaller shocks, as measured in subsequent changes in land use, the total amount of land dedicated to agriculture and food prices. But more interestingly, not all breadbasket regions respond to shocks in the same way.

Some of these areas are quite unresponsive to shocks occurring elsewhere in the world. For example, the total amount of land in agricultural production in South Asia changes relatively little due to shocks elsewhere in the world, largely because most of the arable land is already in use.

But other regions are extremely responsive. Notably, Brazil has the ability to bring a lot of new land into production if large shocks occur elsewhere, because it still has a significant amount of potentially arable land that is not currently being farmed. However, this land currently is mostly forest, so clearing it for agriculture would add significantly to atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, and thus to global climate change.

Mapping risks

The Pardee Center has published a research agenda that discusses what we still need to know about these risks. Key questions include understanding the full distribution of risks, whether increased international trade can ameliorate risk and where the most responsive and the most sensitive regions are.

The ConversationUltimately, understanding and preparing for multiple breadbasket failures will require input from climate scientists, agronomists, ecologists, remote sensing experts, economists, political scientists and decision-makers. Mounting such an effort will be challenging, but the costs of failing to do it could be devastating.

Anthony Janetos, Director, Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future and Professor of Earth and Environment, Boston University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Obituary, One of The Pioneers of Sound Sampling in Rock Music, Holger Czukay

[Jakarta, LTTW] September 5, 2017, Co-founder and bassist of German Rock band Can, Holger Czukay passed away at the age of 79 and left us an abundance of legacies. He died eight months after the death of Jaki Liebeziet, one of the founding members and drummer of Can.

Holger Czukay was one of the great musicians in pop music culture; a musician who had explored the characteristics of sound, especially in timbre. He had taken New Music course under 20th century classical composer Karlheinz Stockhausen at Darmstadt; then worked briefly as a music teacher. His first exposure towards Rock music started when a student played him The Beatles’ 1967 song “I Am the Walrus”, which led his interest to The Velvet Underground, The Rolling Stone, and Frank Zappa, among others.

Can – Vitamin C (Music provided by Vox de Cultura)

According to critic Jason Ankeny, whom I agree with, Holger Czukay successfully bridged the gap between pop and the Avant-Garde, pioneering the use of sampling and exploring the significance of world music on Western Culture”. He helped Can blend a diverse range of music genres such as Jazz, Avant-Garde, Minimalist, Electronic, Psychedelic, and Funk – and would later influence a generation of artists of New Wave, Techno, Trance, and many more. He also experimented with shortwave radios, recorded various sounds and snippets, and incorporated them into his compositions, a term he called “Radio Painting”. In 2015, Czukay released his most recent solo album, “Eleven Years Innerspace”.

As a music enthusiast, the death of a figure like Czukay becomes a great loss in pop music scene, especially considering there’s little (or no) breakthroughs in today’s pop music. Less and less pop musicians have enough references and knowledge of classical music (one of the fundamentals in pop music) and dare to explore new possibilities. With this in mind, it’s important for musicians to understand the basic of music, expand horizon of knowledge, and make mistakes!

Rest in Peace, Holger Czukay (and Jaki Liebeziet). Thank you for what you’ve inherited to us. Hopefully, your passion for music will continue to inspire the following generations.

Holger Czukay – Ode To Perfume / London Live 2009 (Music provided by Vox de Cultura)