The Future Of Food and What the World Can Expect
Worth watching carefully. The future of food and what is unfolding now.
Listen to segment 28:57 – 31:12 if you don’t have time for much else.
This is what the video conveys from Professor Battisti with a few comments of my own:
- We are on track for 930 ppm CO₂ (business as usual).
- The ocean will be 3 times more acidic then it is today.
- Not mentioned in the video (but found elsewhere on this blog) is what this will mean for food from the oceans. 2 billion people depend upon the oceans for their survival. Acidic oceans will lose critical habitat like coral reefs (breeding grounds for fish). By 2050 all food fish are expected to be depleted from the oceans. 90% of the worlds reefs are expected to be dead.
After we stop emitting greenhouse gasses (by some miracle – which I absolutely do not believe will happen under any scenario):
- Warming will still continue for centuries, so we are not going to get out of this.
- Sea level rise will continue for many centuries too, inundating coastlines and coastal aquifers. Better, more up-to-date estimates are 20 feet or more by 2100.
- Some areas will receive 50% less rainfall annually. For reference on what this will mean, the Dust Bowl was only about 7% less annual rainfall. This caused massive levels of migration.
Watch segment 34:50 –
- During the 1998 – 2001 drought (3 years), Iran lost 80% of its livestock, 35% – 75% reduction in wheat and barley. Afghanistan lost 40% of its livestock, Pakistan 50% and Tajikistan 50% of its grain crops.
- By the end of the century, similar water stress on agriculture will be the norm throughout the tropics and subtropics due to climate changes associated with increasing CO₂.
Temperature will have a stupendous impact upon global crop production. The 3-month average temperature increase during the critical growing season will be 3°C – 4°C degrees. This has been measured before, with France and northern Italy experiencing 36% drop in maize (corn), 30% drop in fodder, 25% drop in fruit harvests and 21% drop in wheat yields.
Similar heat temperature stress is expected to be the norm throughout the tropics and subtropics (resulting in massive starvation and immigration). It will even be too hot to live in France.
The odds of exceeding the world’s “highest temperature every recorded” in summer, wherever you are, is 100%. Since this is the growing season for the world’s food production, this means that food yields will drop dramatically globally. For every degree centigrade, yield is reduced by 10% – 17% (already measured in controlled environments under optimum soil and water conditions). We can expect worse in actual real-life conditions.
If you are beyond optimal temperatures for growing crops, this affects fertility, smaller grains, increasing water stress, increase respiration. Grains also produce decreasing levels of protein as temperature increases (poorer nutrition). Higher temperatures also mean higher disease rates in crops (increase bacteria).
Do the math: 3°C – 4°C temperature increases means 30% – 40% decrease in crop yields. And it could be worse (4°C @15% yield loss = 60% crop yield losses).
The world cannot survive these threats – these temperatures expected mean starvation levels on a scale the world has never, ever experienced.
Mid-latitude regions (like the United States, Europe and Ukraine) will see high volatility in crop yields. At just 2°C warming, crop yields drops significantly, and at 4°C, crop yields can even drop to as low as zero (0). Consider this chart and the frequency of losses:
For the United States – By 2050 (if warming is just 2°C) crop losses of 20% will occur every 2 years, 30% every 5 years. At 3°C warming in 2050, 30% losses will occur at least every 3 years.
The bottom line: You cannot do farming like we do today and expect to stay in business. No farmer could withstand these kinds of losses in the United States (or any other similar region) and survive. This means the food production within the United States and the world will take a massive loss in productivity on such a scale that it threatens the survival of mankind.
In addition to heat stress crop losses, the United States, Europe, China is expected to suffer an additional losses of 40% from pests (maize, rice, wheat) which also increase due to temperature. increases.
- In some places, staple crops will have to be abandoned entirely.
- Monsoons will be more intense, but also shorter, resulting in no second crop. India and Indonesia depend on this for their survival now and will suffer dramatically.
- More nutrients will be leached from the soil (more intense rainfall on drier soils) resulting in increasingly poorer yields.
- Climate change will decrease soil organic content and impact soil biodiversity.
- The only option to avoid this increased volatility and decrease in yield is to create wheat varieties that are designed for the optimal temperatures – but this is something that wheat growers and maize growers around the world have been working for 30 years with no progress. They know about this problem.
- Increased carbon dioxide will impact plant physiology. This will cause a net loss for plants for food everywhere (globally). The thinking that carbon dioxide is “good” for plants ignores the net loss this will cause.
Americans will notice that the United States will be among the nations that are food insecure. They are also my target audience for this blog and I have been issuing these warnings about food safety for years and years. Climate change poses a severe threat to human survival and stability, but it is not temperature that will kill us first – it is the loss of the biosphere (habitat) which cannot adapt quickly enough to survive. We starve to death first as we fight over critical resources like food and water and living space. Immigration and refugees will be absolutely massive and totally uncontrollable.
Things may seem ok right now because you can still go down to the supermarket and purchase what you need, but there is a growing and quite unsolvable threat developing world wide. There is a reason why farmland is being gobbled up all over the globe, as countries try to grapple with the unfolding realities of a hotter world.
The big picture view that we draw from this exercise is disturbing. First of all, the emerging new trend we wrote about in 2008 has continued and become worse. While most countries are not currently experiencing the extreme price hikes in basic foodstuffs that triggered riots from Haiti to Egypt back in 2008, prices remain stubbornly high and access to food is a daily struggle for most people.Today, that situation is compounded by the mounting impacts of climate change. Harvest losses due to extreme weather have become so acute in places like the southern Philippines that farmers are in the streets begging for food and getting killed for it. We now have even more evidence that climate change is caused not just by burning coal and oil for transport and energy, but by the industrial food system itself and the corporate quest for profits that drives its expansion. Indeed, climate change and land grabs are inextricably linked.
This doesn’t all suddenly happen in the year 2100 or in 2050 – it began years ago as temperatures began to climb, increasing volatility, yield, drought and rains. It’s what is driving the refugee crisis in Europe as Middle Eastern nations suffer from drought. It’s what caused the massive die-off of livestock in Mongolia. It’s behind the decline in staple food production in Peru and Vietnam. We can already add the names of every country on Earth that has experienced a decline in productivity and yields. This is a situation that will only worsen.
As McPherson says, “It’s not a problem, it’s a predicament. Problems can be solved, predicaments can’t”. I tend to agree with this assessment. The false hope of hopium and its empty promises has so far proven to be exactly that as the world careens towards disaster. We’ve got a massive, global predicament that appears to be intractable and immutable now. Humanity isn’t prepared.
Let me make this clear: I don’t want to spend my last days on Earth hungry. Billions of people will. Most of them are very poor already and there is little they can do about their plight. The world should be stockpiling surplus food right now on a global scale. This will not solve the problem, it will only be to take advantage of the opportunity to do what we can, while we can.
This is a plea for common sense to our global leaders, industry, businesses, families and individuals. Don’t just sit here and wait for hunger to strike at your family. Or in your region, or in your country. This is something that we can do while there is still time. It’s sensible, practical and essential, and it will go a long ways towards ensuring we are not at war with each other for the critical things we need (at least for now and in the near-future).
I’ve shared my thoughts in past blog entries that virtually everything that can be tried, will be tried to stave off our collapse. Ultimately, I agree with this because it’s just not in our nature to give up too easily. Even those that say they accept our inevitable decline and collapse will (and still are) trying. I hope so. We may even get a renewal of our humanity in the process.
7 thoughts on “The Future Of Food and What the World Can Expect”
Have you seen a increase in food orders? Are people stocking up? I don’t want to spend my days hungry either. Perhaps that’s selfish, but everyone is going to be trying to find food anyway.
Uh, no, to answer your question. There seems to be less interest then ever in being prepared for disaster. This appears to be counter-intuitive to me. The world news conveys more and more disasters around the world and even here in the Slaves of Amerika, but fewer and fewer people seem to be taking any interest in their own security, at least in this country.
I don’t know if it is the (s)Election idiocy or the domestic terrorism or what, but it’s been very slow for many, many months now.
I envision a time when there won’t even be an opportunity to stock up on food because it will be all of the following: illegal, heavily regulated and controlled, unaffordable (at any price except to the very rich), “hoarders” will be persecuted and perhaps prosecuted and maybe jailed, and escalating interpersonal risks with neighbors, family and strangers learning about your food stash (who failed to prepare themselves).
I seriously doubt people have thought this through. Countries that have collapsed before experienced all of these things in history and much more. But none of this negates the need in any case, it still needs to be done otherwise you might as well roll over and die. Now is the time to do it when it is safe, easy, affordable, sensible and timely. But this message seems to be falling on deaf ears and I cannot explain why.
I guess it depends on what everyone think ‘imminent’ means. If the particulates stop, we’ve got about 3 weeks before temperatures jump. That in turn, will have immediate impacts on food production. The very next harvest will be lower then before (I don’t know by how much, probably quite a lot). Food prices will immediately jump up. Within six months some food stuffs will be gone – forever. Within a year, industrialized food production will be entirely over, no distribution of food at all. So for this scenario, it’s rather imminent.
But there’s a lot more then this to plan / project / prepare for. Rising temperatures are constant (summer and winter) now, along with the extreme weather they bring (at any time). Hansen pointed out that superstorms will become normal. This is an imminent threat too – already happening and accelerating.
Immigration for some regions / localities is putting pressure upon local resources, all caused by climate change. India may even need to be depopulated, I just read a projection on what this might mean. A giant influx of people (depending on your location) would bring all kinds of issues to the forefront.
There are many more, all imminent. Drought, fire, disease, displacement – all possible right now. But I think cognitive dissonance plays a large role here. It’s hard to ‘sustain preparedness’ even if you are aware of what is happening. Moreover, the worse the news gets the less acceptance there is. We become easily distracted and we seek out more entertainment and normality. We do this to hide from the new normal of increasing disasters which we don’t want to accept.
We are missing a critical window of opportunity, right now. The desire to pretend it’s not true, won’t happen here or to me, or let someone else deal with the problem, or just not right now, is a normal human reaction but only because of propaganda and media disinformation. That is to say, it’s normal for modern humans to act like this because they’ve been insulated all of their lives from the harsh world, the resiliency of our just-in-time-delivery system and the safety net and services provided by agencies and the ‘help’ people have come to expect (and demand). But any honest examination of all of this (media, propaganda, services and the failing resiliency) reveals that we cannot expect much, and eventually, nothing at all.
Everyone should carefully note that this critical window of opportunity applies to more then just individuals, it particularly applies to those institutions and entities that govern us, feed us, clothe us and provide for us (government, industries, businesses and especially the media). They are TOTALLY failing us now and telling us to prepare for what’s already unfolding. And they well know in their deep recesses and closed rooms what the future is going to bring with climate change. They know and they’ve been caught hiding it from us.
Now is the time to prepare for what is unfolding because now is the time when we still can. The world should be in a declared global emergency with a corresponding massive effort to adapt and mitigate and prepare as much as possible. It’s irrelevant whether or not this will work, we are going to try anyway (see this post for details) and better to try right now then delay until later.
But since this isn’t being done, since it’s not even being acknowledged, we should be doing this ourselves. I don’t accept the notion that the people will receive the help and assistance that they need anyway. Those kinds of things can only happen when there is abundance, peace, justice and stability – all things which are going away right now. Anybody that is waiting for their government to save them from climate change is very naive, it’s not going to happen. The efforts that will eventually be expended will ignore the plight of individuals and families (and be too late anyway).
Consider that the status-quo is always the order of business, all around the world. It’s self-protecting too, generating what it can to ensure its own survival. This is counter-productive to dealing with the future we see unfolding. It doesn’t include the survival of people, families or small businesses. The reality is we have something very, very big working against our chances of survival. We are ultimately on our own, and always have been.
The best science can do for us will be to offer the ‘try’. Some attempts to forestall what is happening. I don’t expect this to work (too late, too little, problem too big and complex). Once again, this means we are on our own. Therefore, we need to take full advantage of any and all opportunities to help ourselves to endure what is happening. This is what I mean by a critical window of opportunity now. We know climate change will cause massive levels of extinction, particularly with the food chain. We’re not suddenly going to become underground gardeners with the skills and places to feed ourselves. Global food production is going to take a massive hit and competition for food will be incredible.
One other thing. I think we’ve all lost sight of what this means for the younger generation. Those that either can’t help themselves, don’t know what to do or remain totally unaware of what they’re facing. We are casting them off into an inferno without any protection. We are failing them, words cannot even describe what this means. We are robbing them through our apathy, indifference, and lackadaisical efforts (right now) of even basic things like food, comfort, shelter and community.
It’s pretty clear to me that so far, we’ve only thought about ourselves and provided for nothing for the young and what they’re going to be facing. They will have no place to go, nothing to eat and will die from starvation and dehydration (some from exposure, many from violence). The time to help them isn’t later, it’s now while we still can, while resources are available and still exist, while the opportunity to do so still exists.
This whole thing isn’t just about us and our generation and never was. It’s actually about all generations that have ever existed and will exist, and about the whole of the biosphere and what still remains. We are giving up on all of this because we can’t bring ourselves to make the effort. This is inconceivable. But from where I sit, this is what’s happening.
Global Radiative Forcing (watts per sq. meter) is already at 2.974 for 2015 – http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/aggi/aggi.html
“Catastrophe” doesn’t even begin to describe what this means. But “Extinction” does.
Paul Beckwith: https://soundcloud.com/schnelleralsgedacht/sag-007-melting-arctic-gulf