Rethinking climate change and food security: What is the linkage?

Ibrahim Bahati
Contributing Writer

As the earth grows warmer and warmer, there is a concern if the promise of food sustainability will be kept by world leaders and policy makers. The question of climate change is causing tension among scientists, politicians and policy makers, and is raising questions around whether or not humans are trailing slowly but surely to a tipping point of no return.

In lieu with other experts, James Hansen who is a former Senior Climate Scientist at NASA is reported by The Guardian to state that “2016 temperature is likely to be 1.25C above pre-industrial times, following a warming trend where the world has heated up at a rate of 0.18C per decade over the past 45 years.”

This year, however, seems to have become the new 2016 and the progression is speculated to continue. This is based on the notion that we have “the highest concentration of Carbon Dioxide since the Pliocene era 3 million years ago.”

In effect, local farmers’ ability to predict rains in places such as the sub-Saharan region has been in crisis, which has altered the planting seasons for the past few years as well.

But why is food such a critical aspect of the global discussion on climate change? A healthy body is a healthy mind, and so it starts with food (from when one is still in the womb) before other factors contribute. Without food and water, where would humans be? And can you have food in naturally inhabitable environments?

Locating how food production or the food chain operates is key in understanding how the geopolitics of the world today are shifting. The upsurge of food aid in post World War II economies from the West (mainly the United States) in some African/Asian countries and the replacement of food from the US to oil giant economies in the MENA region depict how food can also be used as a political weapon.

Politicians worry that the scarcity of food might cause another “Arab Spring”. However, this does not depict what happens below the surface of food production until it reaches us in local supermarkets, where a lot of food waste still takes place.

Today, there is a calling for an agricultural “green” revolution which has improved the yields and availability of food in the world. Yet, most modern agricultural technologies still promote the use of pesticides, which not only have an impact on the environment, but also on human beings.

The depletion of soil in rural areas is also quite alarming. Locals have been left without traditional food security means and are now forced to rely on the “junk food” market which is considered to be a full nutrition pack in a single plate. Countries are being forced to import food from well-to-do countries to sustain their population. This has not come without severe health conditions such as undernourishment, diabetes, hypertension, among others, particularly in countries like Brazil.

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