Year 2, Month 6, Day 14: Headache.

Feeling dire today, a not-uncommon state of affairs, but one exacerbated by this report on Oxfam’s analysis of the world food system, here written up in the Independent (UK):

Millions more people across the world will be locked into a cycle of hunger and food crisis unless governments tackle a “broken” production system which is being exploited by speculators and will cause a doubling in basic foodstuff prices in the next 20 years, a leading aid agency has warned.

Research by Oxfam has highlighted a combination of factors, ranging from climate change and population growth to subsidies for biofuels and the actions of commodities traders, which will throw development in poor countries into reverse unless radical reform of the global food system is undertaken.

Radical reform? How likely is that to happen, absent 5 billion people with torches and pitchforks?

I need an Advil.

Sent May 31:

The alarms are going off everywhere. Oxfam’s prediction of doubled food prices in a few decades is based on analyses that are almost certainly too conservative. The available data on climate change are changing alarmingly fast; in every case predictions are outstripped by the horrifying realities of positive feedback loops on a planetary scale. If our world food system is falling to pieces now, just imagine what it’ll be like in twenty or thirty years, when wildly irregular weather fluctuations are wreaking continual havoc with agricultural economies all over the planet. It’s not a pretty picture, but it’s one that most of the developed world’s politicians seem determined to ignore. Short-term thinking has brought us to the brink of disaster; now is the time when our species must learn to think in the long term — not just decades, but centuries and millennia. Humanity’s survival hangs in the balance.

Warren Senders

Month 11, Day 6: It’s Always A Good Day When I Discover a Good Word

Business Week runs a short AP squib on a plea from the UN Conference on Food Security, asking that the potentially devastating impact of climate change on agricultural systems be taken into account in developing a meaningful climate treaty.

This letter introduces a new and useful word: veriphobia. It means “fear of truth.” Use it in good health.

The message from the UN Conference on Food Security inadvertently provides an excellent illustration of the extraordinary disconnect between reality and the Republican Party. The actual facts show conclusively that climate change is real, it’s causing huge damage already, and it’s going to have a devastating effect on agriculture all over the world. But the facts are no longer relevant to today’s GOP, which is deeply invested in an irrationally anti-science ideology built entirely on opposition to ideas or policies suggested by its political opponents. Does anyone think it’s likely that Republican politicians (even those from farming states which will bear the brunt of global warming’s effects over the next century) will acknowledge or accommodate the needs of climate-threatened farming nations? To do so (alas for the rest of us) would threaten these veriphobic denialists with a terrifying fate: having to admit error.

Warren Senders