Partnerships

Monthly Archives: March 2014

Report on Climate Change Contains Critical Information that Few Will Read

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a comprehensive report filled with critical information.  Sadly, two things will keep this report from being read by many. First, it is massive and very technical which will discourage many. Second, it continues the scientifically valid but practically self-destructive feature of reporting likely impacts over the 21st century. Humans don’t often pay much attention to things that will impact them in twenty or fifty years… they just don’t.

 Yet many of us are feeling the effects now. Right now. No one can deny the extreme weather experienced globally recently. Climate change deniers say, this is normal and that swings in weather are the way it has always been—and they are right—swings in weather from year to year are perfectly normal. Other deniers say that with all of this cold weather “warming” is a joke. Well, once again: ocean warming causes climate changes, those changes are of all kinds: more cold, more heat, more rain, more drought—its about more extremes.

One part of the IPCC report is called, “Summary for Policymakers” but it too is long and technically dense. You can check it out here, and we hope that you will. http://ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/

 Rather than being one that is caught by surprise and at the mercy of emergency response personnel, be one of those that has planned and adapted for the changes that are here and increasing. At the same time, take steps every day to minimize what is coming at us, by moving away from fossil fuel use, make an Energy Shift.

Where Does Your Food Come From?

We’ve turned the clocks forward an hour so that daylight will extend longer into the evening. Coming are the days that motivate some of us to think about planting a vegetable garden.  Others leave the planting and the weeding to others but try to buy as much of their food from local farmers as they can. The vast majority of us get our food from far away places; and even those that like to buy local, turn over the location of where their food comes from every time they eat out. 

We’ve counseled you before on the concept of food-miles and the importance of looking for food choices that do not include a huge energy cost… whether that cost is due to miles traveled or fertilizers and pesticides used (all of which rely heavily on petroleum based products). Now there is another wrinkle to the story. The extended drought in the west has left thousands of acres unplanted in the California fields where most of the food that stocks grocery store shelves and restaurant kitchens comes from.

Climate change is here and it’s about time more of us began to think about adapting to the new conditions.  The long and exceptionally cold and snowy winter put a strain on heating fuels in some places; now we’ll see a strain on food supplies from the lack of crops being harvested in California. This won’t result in empty shelves, we can grow food in many locations, but can we adapt to this change quickly and without causing significant price increases? Probably not.

 What about all of the workers and businesses that are a part of the massive food production that typically occurs in California, are they supposed to just wait until the drought ends or are they supposed to move to other places where there has been plenty of precipitation? Where is that, what locations have the right combination of soil quality, temperature, and precipitation to allow for large scale ramping up of food production? Or will there be a large-scale growth in small food production? All are important questions.

 Take a look at this good illustration of the predicament we are in: http://www.motherjones.com/files/Final-Crop-Map_1.gif