Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Monstrous, Two-Headed Crisis of Climate Change & Sustainability is Devouring the World's Food Before It Is Produced

Source: Der Spiegel.

The Monstrous, Two-Headed Crisis of Climate Change & Sustainability is Devouring the World's Food Before It is Produced

By Richard Power

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is calling for both "short-term emergency measures" and a "significant increase in long-term productivity" in order to come to grips with the planet's "rapidly escalating crisis of food availability."

“The rapidly escalating crisis of food availability around the world has reached emergency proportions,” [UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon] told a joint meeting in New York of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
“We need not only short-term emergency measures to meet urgent critical needs and avert starvation in many regions across the world, but also a significant increase in long-term productivity in food grain production, he said, citing the recent steep rise in prices and World Bank warnings that the crisis could mean “seven lost years” in the fight against global poverty.
“The international community will also need to take urgent and concerted action in order to avert the larger political and security implications of this growing crisis. The UN needs to examine ways to lead a process for the immediate and longer-term responses to this global problem,” he added.
UN News Center, 4-14-08

A recent Der Spiegel story provides insight on this dire situation:

Should we be surprised that despair often turns into violence? The food crisis afflicts the world's poor -- in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East -- like a biblical plague. Prices for staples like rice, corn and wheat, which were relatively stable for years, have skyrocketed by over 180 percent in the last three years. A bottleneck is developing whose consequences are potentially more severe than the global crisis in the financial markets. With nothing left to lose, people on the brink of starvation are more likely to react with boundless fury.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) addressed this global crisis at a joint meeting last weekend. World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned that exploding food prices threaten to cause instability in at least 33 countries, including regional powers like Egypt, Indonesia and Pakistan, where the army has had to be brought in to protect flour transports. The crisis is helping radical Islamic movements gain strength in North Africa. There has been unrest in recent weeks in Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal, the Ivory Coast and Cameroon, where the violence has already claimed about 100 lives.
There are several reasons for the food crisis:
The world population is growing constantly, while the amount of arable land is declining.
Climate change is causing a loss of agricultural land, irreversible in some cases, as a result of droughts, floods, storms and erosion.
Because of changing eating habits, more and more arable land and virgin forests are being turned into pasture for livestock. The yield per acre in calories of land given over to pasture is substantially lower than that of arable land.
The World Bank wants developing countries to introduce market reforms, including the abolition of protective tariffs, a move that often causes massive damage to local agriculture.
Speculators are driving up the prices of raw materials. The resulting high oil price leads to "energy crops" being cultivated instead of grain for food or animal feed.
Millions of people displaced by civil wars need food, and yet they themselves are no longer capable of producing food.
What we are beginning to face is not just an acute bottleneck, but a worldwide, fundamental food crisis. It affects most of all the poor, who spend a disproportionately large share of their income on food and water. The crisis is so dire that it is obliterating any progress made in recent years in fighting disease and starvation

See also Madness of Pursuing Last Drop of Peak Oil, Instead of 21st Century Renewable Energy Model, has Caught Up w/ Us -- the Food Security Fuse has Been Lit and More on How Our Climate & Sustainability Crises Impact Food Security: “Once the oceans are gone, we’re gone. The oceans sustain the planet.”

For the Words of Power Climate Crisis Updates Archive, click here.

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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