Global Food Security & Warming-Driven Drought — Biggest Climate News of the Year?


As Dr Joe Romm notes, there are a number of huge climate stories this year. However, he thinks the biggest was the increasing food insecurity related to global warming. I’ve written about this several times, mostly on Eat Drink Better, I think, but also several times here on Planetsave. It’s an important topic, and shows how naive we’ve been with regards to climate change. As one or two good climate change commenters implied recently, too many people think climate change is just about polar bears and lands far away. Not so. Anyway, here’s Dr Joe’s intro to the biggest global-warming-related events of the year (note: the food insecurity part also shows how ridiculous the claims that climate action would hurt the poor are — something the poor have never bought and no one with any understanding of the effects of global warming has bought):

Food prices, with and without climate change. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

This year has seen a great many important climate stories.  Obviously, the continued self-destructive failure of the nation and the world to reverse greenhouse gas emission trends always deserve to be the top story in some sense:

The emergence of a genuine grassroots movement following Obama’s fecklessness on the environment is a major U.S. story (see “A Climate Movement Is Born: Ozone Decision Spikes Total Arrests to 1,252 at White House Pipeline Protest“).

And the energy story with the biggest climate implication was clearly Fukushima:

But the climate story that affects the most people around the world today by far is well described in this post — Oxfam: Extreme Weather Has Helped Push Tens of Millions into “Hunger and Poverty” in “Grim Foretaste” of Warmed World.

Climate Progress had been covering those who have been warning the day would come when humanity’s  unsustainable energy and agricultural policies would collide with global warming, who warned that the agricultural system we need to feed the world was built on a relatively stable climate that we are now destroying.  Lester Brown has been our Paul Revere on food insecurity (see the 2009 post Scientific American asks “Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?”).

We covered the emergence of this story last year:

But CP really dug in to this story starting in January, when food prices soared — see Extreme weather events help drive food prices to record highs — and I had lunch with Brown (see Washington Post, Lester Brown explain how extreme weather, climate change drive record food prices).

Brown’s work persuaded me that genuinely destabilizing food insecurity may occur as soon as this decade — assuming 1 billion undernourished people isn’t already a crisis.  So I decided to add a new category, “food insecurity,” and began a series of posts on food insecurity and the threat of Dust-Bowlification, which ultimately led the journal Nature to ask me to make the case that this was the gravest threat to humanity posed by climate change.  As my piece concluded:

“Feeding some 9 billion people by mid-century in the face of a rapidly worsening climate may well be the greatest challenge the human race has ever faced.”

More on Climate Progress.

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