Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive the Co2 Crisis?

By David Ray Griffin | Go to book overview

7
FOOD SHORTAGE

[T]he Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota
to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought….
California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated.
Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels
.”

– James Hansen, New York Times, 9 May 2012

The ocean continues to acidify at an
unprecedented rate in Earth’s history
.”

– Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World, 2013

As we saw in the introductory chapter, Lester Brown in 2009 asked, in all seriousness, “Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?” Scientific American took this question seriously enough to publish Brown’s article. That same year, John Beddington, the UK government’s chief scientist, warned that by 2030 the world will be confronted with a “perfect storm” of food shortages, scarce water, and insufficient energy, saying: “There are dramatic problems out there, particularly with water and food.”1

In 2011, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that climate change, with its rising temperatures and water shortages, is having a devastating effect on food production. “Yet so far,” he said, “our generation – my generation – of leaders, including those here in the United States, have failed to find the vision or courage to tackle it.” The lack of food security for close to a billion people, said Annan, is “an unconscionable moral failing.” A 2012 Oxfam report, “Climate Change vs. Food Security,” noted: “Increased hunger is likely to be one of climate change’s most savage impacts on humanity. … [T]he food security outlook in a future of unchecked climate change is bleak.”2

In his 2012 book Full Planet, Empty Plates, Lester Brown began by saying: “The world is in transition from an era of food abundance to one of scarcity.” The transition of which Brown spoke was remarkable. In the second half of the 20th century, “the dominant issues in [U.S.] agriculture were overproduction, huge grain surpluses, and access to markets by grain. As a result, the number of hungry people in the world was declining. But now, thanks to climate change combined with continued population growth, the

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Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive the Co2 Crisis?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Table of Contents 5
  • Preface 8
  • Part I - Unprecedented Threats 9
  • Introduction 11
  • 1 - Extreme Weather 24
  • 2 - Heat Waves 33
  • 3 - Droughts and Wildfires 40
  • 4 - Storms 54
  • 5 - Sea-Level Rise 68
  • 6 - Fresh Water Shortage 80
  • 7 - Food Shortage 94
  • 8 - Climate Refugees 106
  • 9 - Climate Wars 118
  • 10 - Ecosystem Collapse and Extinction 134
  • Part II - Unprecedented Challenges and Failures 151
  • 11 - Climate Change Denial 153
  • 12 - Media Failure 181
  • 13 - Political Failure 200
  • 14 - Moral Challenge 227
  • 15 - Religious Challenge 244
  • 16 - Economic Challenge 264
  • Part III - What Is to Be Done 301
  • 17 - The Transition to Clean Energy 303
  • 18 - The Abolition of Dirty Energy 362
  • 19 - Mobilization 391
  • 20 - Conclusion 421
  • EndNotes 425
  • Acknowledgments 503
  • Index 504
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