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This is a big year for Vietnamese rice and coffee exports. Vietnam became the biggest coffee exporter, and it may also become the top rice supplier to the world. The country has long been second in rice exports. But this year Vietnam is expected to pass Thailand by about half a million tons.

For the long term, Vietnam is increasing the quality of its rice and looking to expand in the Chinese market. Vietnam became the top coffee exporter this year because of bad weather in Brazil. But some say Vietnamese agricultural policies may not help the country stay on top for long. Le Ngoc Bau is director of Vietnam’s Western Highlands Agro-Forestry Scientific and Technical Institute.

LE NGOC BAU (TRANSLATED): "Firstly, Vietnam’s government has no policy to expand the area for coffee. In August of twenty-twelve, the minister of agriculture made the decision to approve the master plan to develop the coffee industry to the year twenty-twenty, and our vision up to the year twenty-thirty. For this master plan to the year twenty-twenty, the total area of coffee in Vietnam will be reduced to five hundred thousand hectares."

Almost all of the beans are robusta. These have a strong taste and are often used to make espresso and instant coffee. They are higher in caffeine and considered lower in quality than top varieties.

But the chairman of Trung Nguyen, Vietnam’s largest coffee company, wants to improve the image of his country's beans. Dang Le Nguyen Vu says they just need to be marketed better.

DANG LE NGUYEN (TRANSLATED): "We have the quantity and quality of robusta, which is the number one in the world. But we are lacking one thing -- that is the packing industry, display industry and storytelling industry, to make the world understand exactly what the world needs. Vietnam should be a great nation, not only in quantity."

Ma Chuong has been farming coffee beans for more than thirty years. Ma Chuong says a drip irrigation system financed by the company saves water and labor.

MA CHUONG (TRANSLATED): "In the first year before we had this system our productivity was only eight hundred kilograms per hectare. But in the second year after installing this system, productivity went up to fourteen hundred kilograms per hectare. Last year, from our notes from start to end of harvest, productivity was two thousand forty kilograms."

People in Vietnam do not drink a lot of coffee. The French started growing coffee beans in the former colony and influenced the local style of preparation.

John Owens is an American teaching English. He says he has come to enjoy the strong flavor of the local drip brew in Buon Ma Thuot, in Vietnam's coffee-growing heartland.

JOHN OWENS: "I had never heard about it until I came here. I do not think they market it, or they brand it. I think they put it with other coffee."

Trung Nguyen is trying to change that by marketing new coffee products and working with farmers to improve quality and efficiency in production.

I’m Christopher Cruise.



Increasingly, climate change is becoming a threat to the economic well-being of the global community. During his recent trip to India, Secretary of State John Kerry warned that it is already causing violent disruptions all over the world:

“It is disrupting commerce, development, and economic growth. It’s costing farmers crops. It’s costing insurance companies unbelievable payouts. It’s raising the cost of doing business, and believe me, if it continues down the current trend-line (xu hướng tuyến), we will see climate refugees fighting each other for water and seeking food and new opportunity."

EARTH SONG (Michael Jackson)

What about sunrise
What about rain
What about all the things that you said
We were to gain
What about killing fields
Is there a time
What about all the things
That you said were yours and mine
Did you ever stop to notice
All the blood we've shed (đổ máu) before
Did you ever stop to notice
This crying Earth, these weeping shores
Aah, ooh

At first glance, investing in clean energy seems like an expensive proposition (vấn đề cần giải quyết), but that is because we rarely count the real cost of using fossil fuels. Few factor in the price associated with thousands of children with lung diseases, of adults dying of cancer caused by impure air; nor do we take into account the cost of coastal communities destroyed by increasingly violent storms, while elsewhere, unrelenting (dai dẳng) droughts kill cattle, desiccate (làm khô héo) crops and destroy the agriculture of entire regions.

AIR POLLUTION (National Geographic)

Air pollution consists of chemicals or particles in the atmosphere that pose serious health and environmental threats, but what causes air pollution and what does it mean for our planet?

Some air pollution comes from natural sources like volcanic eruptions wildfires or allergens (chất gây dị ứng; dị ứng nguyên), but most air pollution results from human activities such as energy use and agriculture.

There are different types of human-made air pollution. When we burn fossil fuels to produce energy, they release greenhouse gases into the air. These emissions such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide (N₂O), and fluorinated gases trapped heat from the Sun in Earth's atmosphere leading to a rise in global temperatures.

This creates a cycle where air pollution contributes to climate change, and climate change creates higher temperatures; in turn, higher temperatures intensify some types of air pollution.

For example, climate change increases smog because it forms in the presence of high heat and increased levels of ultraviolet radiation. More frequent extreme weather, such as flooding, contributes to damp conditions and therefore to arise and mold.


“Hi everyone! This is President Barack Obama.”

“NASA's Aura Satellite has been tracking global pollution trends for the past decade and its initial findings have shown us a lot about the state of our atmosphere. The satellite detects gases like nitrogen dioxide (NO2), the common pollutant from cars and power plants.”

“The data shows us that the United States and Europe have some of the highest emission levels in the world. But it also shows us that over the last 25 years, nitrogen dioxide levels have dropped by up to 50% in both regions, thanks in large part to new rules that protect our air.

“At the same time, in China, India, and the Middle East, this pollution has grown dramatically. So imagery like this can help us see what actions are working, and where we need to focus additional international efforts, and it proves, that we all need to work together to protect the one planet we've got.”

AIR POLLUTION (National Geographic)

In addition to adverse environmental effects, toxic air pollution can cause serious health problems such as cancer, reproductive complications, and birth defects. While air pollution has many consequences for our planet, there are solutions. We can limit toxic smog and greenhouse gases by decreasing the use of fossil fuels such as in transportation, manufacturing, and electricity generation.

Reducing air pollution not only contributes to a cleaner environment and better human health but can also slow the rate of global warming.

No one country can tackle this alone, because this is a global problem. Nor can the major pollution emitting countries solve the problem, because today, more than half of all greenhouse gas emissions are generated by developing countries, said Secretary Kerry.

But it is possible to make a virtue out of necessity. By moving toward a clean energy base, we can create jobs, save lives, reduce damage caused by climate change, and make a profit at the same time, said Secretary Kerry. We have the technology, and we know how to do it. What we need now is political leadership that is prepared to make this choice.

JOHN KERRY (Secretary of State)

“Environmental challenges like climate change, overfishing, the acidification of our oceans, air pollution – none of these challenges respect international borders. They injure us all, however. They affect people everywhere. None of us are disconnected from these impacts, and certainly the environment writ large (lộ rõ) is not only not immune, it is at great, great risk today.”

“These challenges also have a profound effect on every human being’s health, and over the long term, they can jeopardize the future for generations to come. Kids today, particularly who suffer from asthma and from the remarkable impact of air pollution, are the first subjects. The greatest cause of children in the United States being hospitalized in the course of the summer is environmentally-induced asthma, and it costs us billions of dollars.”

“So the agreement is aimed at helping people to live healthier lives in countries around the world. It’s aimed at saving millions, certainly, if not billions of dollars in healthcare costs down the road (in the future). And it’s aimed at improving coordination between the United States and international partners on environmental challenges – coordination that is absolutely going to be essential if we’re going to meet the challenge of the threats that we face today.”

“The choices of climate change offer an unprecedented number of plusses, and frankly, almost no downside. If we make the choices that are staring us in the face, the fact is that a solution to climate change is already here. It’s called sustainable energy policy,” said Secretary Kerry.

“Together, we can create an environment where all of our companies play leading roles in bringing cutting-edge technologies, equipment, capital, and know-how not just to India but to countless countries that need this growth and development now.”

Composed & Edited by Lê Quốc An
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