Newsflash: Climate change and hunger connected!July 20th, 2009 by Elizabeth Ulion
On July 10 G8 leaders allotted $20 billion for farm aid in developing countries to combat hunger. The same week they came to a soft agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions but left out any financial, regulatory and technological plan to make it happen.
The International Panel on Climate Change predicted in a 2007 report:
“If temperatures rise more than 2.5 degrees C, the report forsees major changes in ecosystem structure and function, species’ ecological interactions, and species’ geographic ranges, with “predominantly negative consequences” for biodiversity, and water and food supply.”
While they found that crop productivity may slightly increase in certain areas if temperatures rise 1 to 3 degrees C, productivity will decrease beyond that. In other areas like tropical regions crop productivity is expected to decrease even with small temperature increases. Paired with drought, the spread of pests and extreme weather events the future of agriculture in places where its expansion is needed most looks perilous.
So while $20 billion dollars for the education of farmers in sustainable agriculture techniques is an amazing investment it won’t do much good on soil cracked from drought and crops decimated by invasive insects.
Maybe what the U.S. could bring to the table in these discussions is a bit of our environmental history. One of the most influential naturalists, John Muir, said,“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”
Hunger, health, poverty, agriculture, biodiversity, economics, climate change – none of these are in a world apart. Let’s stop acting like they are.
Elizabeth Ulion is a graduate student at Northwestern University. She found reading up on global climate change politics incredibly depressing.
Photo courtesy of IRRI Images/Flickr