CLIMATE CRISIS - Global warming is taking a big bite out of the planet.
Unprecedented severe droughts dry up major commercial waterways and extreme conditions have either diminished or partially decimated many crops in the US, Europe, China, Australia, the Indian subcontinent and throughout regions of Africa.
This article explores the impact of “multiple breadbasket failures” as defined by UN research. As well as a discussion of angry radicals that stop private jets, thus challenging in direct fashion a source at the pinnacle of climate issues, discussed in the final 7 paragraphs.
But first: (1) What will stop global warming? (2) Will global warming get worse even as countries go to net zero by 2050, which will continue adding CO2 every year for the next 27 years? (3) Therefore, does net zero by 2050 imply loss of commercial waterways like the Danube and loss of major water reservoirs like Lake Mead, both of which nearly failed in 2022? (4) Is net zero by 2050 a ruse?
The UN-sponsored Conference of the Parties COP annual get-togethers have punted on any kind of serious diminishment of fossil fuel emissions, as the fossil fuel industry itself is cranking up big time by planning to spend well over $1T to develop more oil and gas, which, in turn, ultimately brings on severe droughts that destroys crops and bleeds commercial waterways of navigability as reservoirs hit dead pool status.
It’s an endless circuitous spectacle of insanity in pursuit of elusive infinite economic growth bumping up against planetary limitations, as we currently use 1.5 more biocapacity than the planet can regenerate (Global Footprint Network).
It’s also a guaranteed losing proposition, but who really cares is the problem. If it were otherwise, meaning if world leaders really cared, then there’d be all kinds of worldwide coordinated Marshall Plans funding renewables, climate restoration, refreezing the Arctic, etc. but that’s not the case, not even close.
More than 80% of the world’s population lives in countries that are currently running ecological deficits, using more resources than the ecosystems can regenerate. Meanwhile, global warming is hammering that deficit hard and harder via soaring drought conditions around the world.
According to the World Economic Forum’s coverage of drought conditions, a new UN study claims drought frequency and duration has increased by nearly a third since 2000. A 33% increase on a biomass as large as the planet in only 20+ years is almost impossible to phantom. How is it even possible in such a short timeframe? (Source: Droughts are Getting Worse Around the World, World Economic Forum, August 2022)
The Drought in Numbers 2022 Report concludes: “Sustainable and efficient agricultural management techniques are needed to grow more food on less land and with less water, and humans must change their relationships with food, fodder and fibre – moving toward plant-based diets and stemming the consumption of animals,” Ibid.
Stop Eating Animals helps resolve many ecosystem issues.
UN researchers refer to global warming’s damage to major growing regions as “Multiple Breadbasket Failures.” They know, as we all know, unless global warming lessens soon, meaning real soon, multiple breadbasket failures will get worse. “A study of global hotspots of heat stress due to climate change showed areas of Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia and North America (40–60 degrees N.), which include the major grain producing areas of the world, as being particularly vulnerable.” (Source: Anthony Janetos, et al, The Risks of Multiple Breadbasket Failures in the 21st Century: A Science Research Agenda, Boston University, March 2017)
The risks are well defined: Only 23% of total cropland in the world accounts for most of total global cereal production of three major crops, i.e., maize (70%) wheat (69%) and rice (85%) according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, Statistics Division. The Rub: Those producing areas are the most exposed or most “particularly vulnerable.”
The impact of devastating drought and food vulnerability is nowhere more prevalent than the Horn of Africa where tens of millions of people are up against the wall with 9,000,000 animals already dead, a result of 60 months of terrifying brutal drought. It is an example of global warming-enhanced drought conditions gone bonkers, at its worse. According to Dr. Deepmala Mahia of CARE International, 50,000,000 people are “one step away from starvation.” (Source: Hunger Crisis in Horn of Africa Grows as Drought Persists, Voice of America News, VOA, September 23, 2022)
Imagine being one of fifty million one step away from starvation. This represents a gruesome global warming-enhancement story that unfortunately the world choses to ignore as thousands of furrowed brows of global leaders and high-ranking bureaucrats and climate scientists gather annually at UN-sponsored COPs to discuss how bad climate change was in previous years… but do nothing meaningful enough to resolve it.
Meanwhile, global warming has turned ferocious and mean-spirited like never before. The trend is ominously right around the proverbial corner until and unless a massive worldwide coordinated campaign stops fossil fuel dead in its tracks. It’s impossible to sugar coat the devastating impact of fossil fuel emissions.
Scientists are now discussing a new Era of Climate Change-Driven Simultaneous Food Supply Failures: The UN World Food Programme has warned that climate change is now the driving force behind global hunger. For example, extreme temperatures starting in March of 2022, and lasting for weeks, badly damaged India’s rice crop, which is 40% of the world rice trade. Vegetable yields in parts of India were down by 50%. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s floods reduced the rice harvest by 30%. Pakistan is the world’s fourth largest exporter of grain.
Gernot Laganda, Director of Climate at the United Nations World Food Programme: “Climate change is an important driver in the current increase in global hunger. Right now, 345 million people are facing acute food insecurity – which is an increase from 135 million since 2019.” (Source: Scientists Warn of Breadbasket Failure Because of Climate Change, Deccan Herald, Sept. 5, 2022)
In only three years’ time the number of people facing “acute food insecurity” has ballooned by 200,000,000, up 150%. At 345 million it’s the size of the United States. It’s little wonder that mass migrations have become brazen constant features of the Northern Hemisphere. People turn desperate, move to new territory, encounter pushback by sadistic white supremacists, especially in the former colonial empires of Europe and America and all hell breaks loose in local communities that heretofore were stable and quiet, peaceful no longer.
Acute food insecurity has not hit the US, yet. Americans generally ignore the issue, but as a precursor to a tough challenging future, global warming hit US crops hard: (1) corn at its lowest yield in 10 years (2) hard red wheat the smallest since 1963 (3) Texas cotton farmers walked away from 70% of their crop because of paltry harvest (4) California’s rice harvest down 50%. The problem is more widespread that it appears on the surface, as drought has hit 40% of the US for the past 100+ weeks, according to USDA’s Brad Rippey: “Precisely where that 40 percent shifted over time, meaning different swaths of the country’s agricultural land have been affected at different times, spreading pain and difficult choices geographically and by crop.” (Source: The Summer Drought’s Hefty Toll on American Crops, The Washington Post, Sept. 5, 2022)
It is only too obvious that climate change madness must be reigned-in, or the future will turn very dark. As things stand, according to a McKinsey study, 2023 could witness a grain deficit of 60 million tons. (Source: The Grain Shortage Caused by Global Food Crisis Could Correspond to the Annual Nutritional Intake of up to 250 Million People: McKinsey, Helsinki Times, August 25, 2022)
According to McKinsey, the pandemic of 2020 increased the price of grain, and “since then, drought-induced harvests have increased prices even more. With the ongoing war in Ukraine, there is a risk of a food crisis, which may become the most serious so far in the 21st century,” Ibid.
According to the International Panel on Climate Change, IPCC: “Future projections in global yield trends of both maize and wheat indicate a significant decline; these declines can be attributed to the negative impacts of climate change arising from increasing greenhouse gas emissions.” (Source: The World’s Food Supply is Made Insecure by Climate Change, United Nations – Academic Impact)
Declining crop yields effectively reverse the impact of the storied Green Revolution, aka: The Third Agricultural Revolution of some 50-70 years ago which saw dramatic increases in crop yields and production. Whereas a couple of generations later we’re going backwards, but the global population of 3 billion in 1960 has exploded to 8 billion today. Astonishingly, we’ve added 5 billion people during one lifetime! Whew! Meanwhile, global warming’s impact of less crop yield in the face of nearly triple population numbers has grave implications.
The IPCC effectively researches and informs world leaders of the risks of climate change, as UN Secretary-General Guterres exclaims: “We are losing the fight of our lives.” In fact, they do a decent job of exposing risks. So, where’s the disconnect and failure to do something about the well-known death trap of fossil fuel emissions?
The origin of the death trap is the economic system of neoliberal capitalism that focuses on profits and growth above all other considerations, oblivious to the health of crucial life-supporting ecosystems and certainly unruffled about global warming. Notably, and obvious for all to see, it generates a tiny flock of fabulously rich people that have nearly gained control over much of the world order. Therefore, maybe the answer to the current upside/down climate system is to upend the upside/down socio-economic system that in fact perpetuates fossil fuels at any costs towards an elusive infinity of growth. After all, that tiny flock basically controls the media, as well as holding major influence over the direction of UN-sponsored COPs. Thus, they have a certain level of control over the ultimate direction of fossil fuel usage or renewable energy sources as a replacement. Therefore, the ultimate question for the future direction of the planet’s climate system, and by extension, its food supply is whether neoliberal capitalism is so impregnable as to be immovable. If its iron-fisted grip over the socio-economic system cannot be broken, then the climate system is destined to break apart worse and ever worse and even worse under neoliberalism’s relentlessness push for elusive infinite growth. Significantly, it’s getting to be very expensive.
What can be done beyond than tens of thousands of people meeting at world forums like the UN-sponsored COPs for climate change and biodiversity but without appreciable results? Meanwhile, the tiny flock of super wealthy are convinced “the market will bail us out.” After all, this is all they know. Ergo, in its infinite wisdom, the unfettered forces of neoliberal capitalism will solve the problem of global warming via human ingenuity. But unfettered neoliberal capitalism is what got us into this mess in the first place, and frankly it seems to like it.
Moreover, they proclaim, grinning from ear to ear, we’ve got all-powerful clean fusion, which sparked for the first time ever only recently, creating more energy output than energy input for a mere fraction of a second. Yeah, maybe, but that’s likely off in the future by a few decades. Stop grinning!
There is something else at work, something that goes well beyond 40,000 well-intentioned climate delegates at COP27 and all the other COP flops of the past 30 years, and its chutzpah is just starting to show enough influence over the masses to incite profound change in the direction of the infamous world order.
Recently “700 self-described climate rebels breached the chain-link fence surrounding Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, the world’s third-busiest hub for international passenger traffic, on November 5.” (Source: Christopher Ketcham & Charles Komanoff, The Shutdown of “Luxury Emissions” Should Be at the Center of Climate Revolt, The Intercept, December 13, 2022)
As it happened, bolt cutters pried open metal fences and ladders propped up against the 9-foot fence, as 700 rebels poured onto the tarmac to surround and effectively ground private jets for 6.5 hours, until police laboriously peeled the throng away.
As reported from the scene, “The superrich have got used to polluting as they please with a total disregard for people and planet, and private jets are the pinnacle of these luxury emissions that we simply cannot afford,’ Jonathan Leggett, one of the activists, told us,” Ibid.
“For reasons both symbolic and practical, the climate movement must strike not just at pipelines and mines, but also at obscene wealth,” Ibid.
“At the nexus of consumption and wealth sits luxury carbon. Which is why the Schiphol action was so strategic… The justification is unarguable. Large personal fortunes feed carbon consumption and make a mockery of programs to curb it. As well, the surplus wealth of the superrich is probably the lone source of capital that can finance the worldwide uptake of greener energy and also pay for adaptation where it’s most critical,” Ibid.
“A few days after the Schiphol revolt, climate activists under the banner of Scientists Rebellion disrupted operations at private airports in four U.S. states and a dozen other countries,” Ibid.
The world is stirring towards outright demands for radical change for the betterment of everybody. Stay tuned.
(Robert Hunziker, MA, economic history DePaul University, awarded membership in Pi Gamma Mu International Academic Honor Society in Social Sciences is a freelance writer and environmental journalist who has over 200 published articles appearing in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide.)