Monday, 6 September 2010

People, Food, Land and Power

The connections between people, food, land and power form the basis of good green philosophy. Climate change is having disasterous effects around the globe, with a phenomenally high number of extreme weather events, none of which in isolation could be blamed on climate change but taken as a whole and in the knowledge that 2010 is the hottest year ever so far, the blame for these events can be laid firmly at the door of climate change. Johann Hari's excellent expose of denialist thinking last month spells this out more clearly than I could possibly do.

Food is one area where climate change will hit. Common Dreams has a useful take on Mozambique and its food riots, from the perspetive of global commodity markets and their impact on hunger for the poorest people:

    But to see how climate change will play out in the 21st century, you needn't look to the Met Office. Look, instead, to the deaths and burning tyres in Mozambique's "food riots" to see what happens when extreme natural phenomena interact with our unjust economic systems. The immediate causes of the protests in Mozambique's capital, Maputo, and Chimoio about 500 miles north, are a 30% price increase for bread, compounding a recent double-digit increase for water and energy. When nearly three-quarters of the household budget is spent on food, that's a hike few Mozambicans can afford. Deeper reasons for Mozambique's price hike can be found a continent away. Wheat prices have soared on global markets over the summer in large part because Russia, the world's third largest exporter, has suffered catastrophic fires in its main production areas.
Understanding the relationship between people and their environment is essential in green thinking, but we need to look beyond the immediate environment and consider the wider impacts of politics and economics. Global markets are driving the price of food beyond the reach of the poor while the rich get fatter.

1 comment:

Vaibhav said...

Valid point made by Johann Hari. I think that various governing authorities across the globe should plan for the long term and devise a strategy which will ensure that all sorts of issues from food prices to water crisis and pollution to climate change are sorted out properly.

I think it is high time we started taking nature and our planet earth seriously and do our bit about environment, sustainability, climate change, biodiversity, clean energy, green living and so on. One great place to start would be http://www.elpis.com. Elpis is an online community focused on responsible living and sustainable growth. You can measure, reduce and offset your carbon footprint; set up petitions, volunteering and fundraising projects for your favorite causes; help create action plans for sustainable communities; buy a range of eco friendly products and services; and network with other people who share a common interest in a low carbon, responsible lifestyle.