Compilation: Food / agriculture and the global climate emergency

Note: A lot of important info in the video above, but does not necessarily support the specific ‘solutions’ it poses.

Section 1: Summary: Food/agriculture & the climate emergency
Section 2: Videos: Food/agriculture & the climate emergency
Section 3: Videos: Food production/factory farming
Section 4: Videos: Genetic modification (GMO – Genetically modified organisms)
Section 5: Essential resources: Articles, blogs, websites, reports




(With appreciation for essential contributed research and consultation by Dr. Peter Carter)This is our initial attempt at a food and agriculture compilation, with more to be added over time.  Not all there is to know, just a quick reference for what you NEED to know.

The biggest, most immediate and urgent impact of the climate crisis emergency is the threat it poses to water and food security because it leads to the entire range of undesired consequences like famine, disease proliferation, instability, conflict, failed states (the number of countries at high risk of disentegration has doubled since 2005 from 7 to 15), resource wars, mass migration, mass die-offs.

The 2008 food riots revealed stresses that have already begun.  And recent unrest in Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan is also thought to have been triggered in part by record food prices.

Five primary factors explain the rise and volatility:

  • Population growth/higher demand (the rise of affluence in countries like China and India and the associated jump in meat, milk, egg consumption)


Why care?


We’ve already gone way too far.  Some frames of reference:

The neighborhood of +6C global average temperature increase beyond pre-industrial (1900) levels
is considered unlivable for most life.  A rise of +3C would assure the catastrophic collapse of agriculture worldwide.  In vulnerable climates like Africa, this tip would begin at +1C and occur through the lead up to +2C (billions hungry or starved).

The most sited international assessment, the 2007 IPCC report, defines +2C as the approximate point at which all crop yields in all regions would reach their maximum tolerance and enter dangerous decline (specific limits vary per crop and region, and some do better or worse to that point, depending).  But given how problematic and out of date these projections are, this limit could be reached much sooner.

And at the current level of +0.8C, numerous strains are already apparent, world grain reserves are at historic lows, and some yields like maize in the U.S. and Africa have fallen for years.

On our ‘business as usual’ emissions path, the UK Met Office warns +4C by 2055 is very plausible.  It has been suggested that only 10% of humanity could survive.  And not pleasantly.  And not for too long because +4C leads to +6C (from the inertia of latent heat built up in the climate system — see item 3 below).  Decades sooner there would be drastic compromise to water and food security worldwide.  As mentioned above, in many ways and places, there already is.

3 other key concerns:

1) The unpredictability of positive feedback loops, which most climate models and the all-important 2007 IPCC report do NOT incorporate, will multiply and accelerate impacts.

2) The degree of risk associated with the likelihood of non-linear decline, tipping points beyond which ‘runaway‘ momentum becomes irreversible, and the potential in various climate systems for sudden, abrupt change is NOT calculated.

3) The inertia of latent heat that’s already in the system but has not yet been felt (there’s a 30 to 40-year lag) already assures global average temperature rise to at least +1.4C (from 1900).  Many of the most credible scientists now fear that +2C is no longer avoidable.  And a major scientific update to the 2007 IPCC report, the Scientific Congress on Climate Change Synthesis Report (March, 2009), concluded that an increase of +2C to +2.4C is already locked in (page 18).


Bottom line


RIGHT NOW, our shared atmosphere is on an accelerating course to reach a state of potentially unsurvivable, runaway climate extremes during the lives of today’s children. Only EMERGENCY international action at EMERGENCY speed *may be* proportional enough to confront the scale, scope and urgency of what is already the greatest crime against humanity, most life and most future life EVER. (See: Climate Change Human Impact Report 2009).

Our carbon intensive, fossil fuel-dependent global food production and distribution system is not equitable, resilient or sustainable.  Estimates suggest the contribution of agriculture — especially meat production — to total annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions is at least 18-30%, but may be as high as 51%.  Despite the fact that 30% of all food is never consumed, half the world’s population suffer compromised nutrition.  1 BILLION are on the brink of starvation.

As crops are ravaged by ever more extreme weather and climate disruptions, desertification is in rapid advance, soil erodes from heavier rains, floods, abuse and over use, and water supply grows scarce as more and more irrigation wells and aquifers run dry.

Given the lack of government and corporate action to address the convergent impacts of the climate, energy and population crises despite the clear, present and known dangers they pose RIGHT NOW, we are all witness to the greatest crime against humanity, most life and most future life — EVER.

Below is a great, brief summary of some key concerns.  Options for action and responses can be found in the content of the videos and essential resources that follow.




Section 2: Food/Agriculture and the Climate Emergency

Note: A lot of important info in the video above, but does not necessarily support the specific ‘solutions’ it poses.


Section 3: Food Production/Factory Farming




Section 4: Genetic Modification (GMO – Genetically Modified Organisms)


Full length documentary, The Future of Food, available HERE (1 hour 29 mins)


Section 5: Essential Resources


Articles & Blogs

Lester Brown – Worldwatch Institute, Earth Policy Institute

General – Websites & Bio Info (Alphabetical)

climateye’s most essential EMERGENCY info