“Right,” Holden said. “No coffee. This is a terrible, terrible planet.” ― James S.A. Corey, Cibola Burn
These are lines out of a science-fiction novel, but you would be surprised to know that it could become reality one day if we don’t act to change climate change today. Climate change could seriously affect the foods we rely on, and many of these changes are already being felt in some parts of the world. Consider this:
- Agriculture, and consequently food supply, is highly vulnerable to changes in climate variability, seasonal shifts, and rainfall patterns caused by climate change.
- Experts predict that changes in temperature, rainfall and seasonal trends will impact production of staples and crops like corn, beans, cocoa, and even coffee, which require certain conditions for cultivation.
- In addition to affecting the livelihoods of billions of food producers around the world, production will drop when the demand for food supply will be at its highest, due to the rise in global population, which is estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050.
- This is, however, just one side of the coin. Flip it and you realise how the food sector itself is affecting climate change. From food production to supply, and distribution to consumption, our food habits are impacting our climate everyday. Don’t believe us? Here is some ‘food for thought’.
- On top of habitat loss due to clearing, unsustainable agricultural practices are seeing 12 million hectares of land lost each year to desertification.
- With agricultural land becoming degraded, producers keep on moving to more productive land. According to WWF, the land used and abandoned in the last 50 years may be equal to the total amount of land used today.
- Agricultural practices are responsible for around 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
- In addition, the conversion of forests to agricultural land – particularly in tropical Asia – accounts for a roughly similar percentage of greenhouse gas emissions as agriculture itself.
Clearly, if we want to keep drinking coffee, we are going to have to wake up and smell it too!
So what can we do? There are policy and technology reforms required on the food production and supply side, and experts like our ‘big brother’ WWF are working to address them. As a consumer, you too can use #YourPower to make a difference. One of the key themes for Earth Hour 2015 will be sustainable food practices. Teams in countries like Australia, UK, Finland, and Sweden will lead initiatives to drive awareness on climate-friendly food and practices. From what to eat to how to source and dispose of it (or not!), there is a lot we can achieve by exercising the power of the crowd. Stay tuned to know more and take action. The movement starts with you!
WWF website, The Guardian article dated 29 Oct 2014