Look who’s coming for dinner

June 24, 2009

Agriculture (including animal husbandry) contributes 54% of methane, 80% nitrous oxide and almost 100% of the CO2 emissions attributed to land use change. The livestock industry alone has been blamed for 18% of all human green house gas emissions. And now it is payback time. Climate change is going to affect (if not already doing so ) global agricultural productivity and our ability to feed ourselves. Mealtimes are never going to be the same again (cue: evil, villanous laughter). Our family sit-down meals, T.V dinners, lavish feasts, cafeteria mush and desktop lunches that we take for granted are only going to become more dear. Droughts, floods, salinity, heat damage, new/proliferating pests, weeds & disease and  decreased crop growth cycles are going to make life difficult for primary producers and hungry consumers.

As if life wasn’t tough already. The U.N Food and Agriculture Organisation announced that for the first time ever, the world total of hungry people (those getting less than 1800 calories/day) reached the 1 billion mark this year. High food prices (caused by high fuel prices and competition from biofuels and cattle feed) combined with the global recession, created a new hungry class of people who are not the poorest of the poor but who have been pushed into a downward economic spiral. They cope by missing meals, foregoing health care and taking their children out of school. Climate change is only going to make this a triple whammy. Some possibilities over the next 50 years;

1. Vegans rejoice: Meat and dairy will become prohibitively expensive. Rising incomes and intensive production have allowed us to eat more meat, more often. Now this resource hungry and high carbon emitting food source will be highly taxed and reserved for special occasions for those who can still afford it.

2. Clever crop breeding: Domesticated rice cannot produce seeds if the temperature goes over 32 degrees celsius. But some weeds related to rice overcome this problem by fertilizing during night or early morning, when it is much cooler. Crop breeding (including GM) will focus more on creating adaptable food crops instead of herbicide/pest resistant cash/cattle feed crop (like cotton, maize & soya)

3. New World Order: The recent food crisis saw countries like India, Pakistan, Vietnam and Cambodia restricting their rice exports. Island countries and those dependent on food imports will try to strike a more equitable world order in favour of food surplus countries. Developed and developing will give way to ecological debtors and ecological creditor countries.

4. Food Security Real Estate: What do you do if most of your country is desert or if you need to feed more than a billion people? Ecological debtor countries like Saudi Arabia and China are already leasing/buying thousands of acres of land in poorer countries like Sudan, Ukraine and Pakistan. Until the poor countries wise up at least.

5. Private Samaritans : The private sector is waking up to the fact that food & water security can affect their competitiveness and also place them in competition with local people for limited resources. Forget the U.N and USAID, private sector initiatives like building canals and water harvesting will become a more common and accepted option, supplementing scarce government resources.

One Response to “Look who’s coming for dinner”

  1. Io said

    All this is scary, but humans are such, that until it’s too late, nothing will happen. People like to say, “i work better under pressure”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: