Climate Primer #30: Impacts of Climate Crisis – 13. Food Insecurity

To summarize, climate crisis is the defining issue of the century. Buildup of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) in Earth’s atmosphere is driving global heating, while a convergence of global crises threatens to rupture key planetary boundaries. Although the human activities which drive these converging crises (for simplicity: the climate crisis) are diverse and complex, the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) breaks down the sources of anthropogenic GHG emissions into five high-level sectors. Similarly, the impacts of climate crisis – in their variety and complexity – are almost impossible for an individual to grasp, but so far, this sub-series has covered: global heating, Arctic amplification, heat waves, droughts and floods, disruption of oceanic and atmospheric patterns, cryosphere collapse, declining oceanic dissolved oxygen content, sea level rise, fisheries collapse, coral reef die-offs, deforestation, and water scarcity. In the absence of dramatic global climate action this decade, climate crisis will likely spiral out of control, rupturing key planetary boundaries and endangering the future of organized human life on Earth.

Multiple previous posts have referenced or related to the risk of crop failures, reduction of arable land, and other threats (like the collapse of fisheries globally) to food security, but from a human standpoint, few concerns are more immediate than not having enough to eat, and, under climate crisis, the longstanding – and currently pandemic-exacerbated – global crisis of hunger stands, as AR5 outlines, to get much worse:

Source: AR5 of the IPCC (page 69)

The IPCC take is, admittedly, a little dense. As a plant lover and urban agriculture enthusiast, I think a lot about food, food systems, and what it takes to grow things, so I’m taking the opportunity now to share a number of different food-related resources, including: This Nature Climate Change article from December 2019 entitled “Changing risks of simultaneous global breadbasket failure”; this U.S. Right to Know piece entitled “Cornell Alliance for Science is a PR Campaign for the Agrichemical Industry” (and this related Columbia Journalism Review piece on the undue influence of the Gates Foundation on the media); this new study entitled “Glyphosate-based herbicide residues in manure fertilizers decrease crop yield” on another threat related to the growing (corporate-driven) ubiquity of synthetic toxins in the biosphere (and, on the same tip, a new PNAS opinion piece entitled “Neonicotinoids pose undocumented threats to food webs”); and, finally, to round it out, this piece – entitled “Neoliberalism ‘colonized the palates’ of Mexicans, left high levels of obesity” – from the Mexico Daily News.

In thinking about our current warming trend and what it will mean for, among other things, food security, some bonus material courtesy of Axios and drawn from a recently released DNV GL report:


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