There are 7.5 billion people in the world today. By 2050, it is projected to increase by two billion.1 One important issue being discussed all over the world is food security. Ironically, we have more food today than at any time in history. In fact, the Oxford Committee on Famine Relief (OXFAM) stated that we are currently producing 17% more food, than we did just 30 years ago.2 However, the quality of our food is also decreasing. And man-made climate change is causing it.
Scientists have found increased levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere that has brought about a “junk food effect” in food. A 2002 study noted, that rising CO2 levels and human nutrition are intimately connected through a shift in the quality of plants all over the world. This is because, the excessive amount of CO2 we put into our atmosphere is affecting our soil, crops and ultimately, what we eat. Modern agriculture was initially responsible for “feeding the world”, however, there is evidence, that this very system has created the problem we are facing today. Fortunately, there is a solution! By going back to traditional agricultural practices and combining it with science, we can make quality food that is less harmful to the environment.
Organic farming is steadily on the rise in the United States and other countries, and has been proven to have lower greenhouse gas emissions.
In is important to understand that climate change directly affects food security and food nutrition. This impacts the poorest people, especially women and children. Farmers, fisher folk and forest dwellers are facing increasing difficulty in producing and gathering food, because of erratic rains and other changing weather patterns.
Climate Change & Nutrition
“The Great Nutrient Collapse”, published by Politico, is an article about a research of Irakli Loladz, PhD, on the “junk food effect” (2004). He discovered the relationship between greenhouse gas emissions and plant biology. This research, which is the result of 15 years of gathering data, concluded that elevated greenhouse gas emissions resulted in lower mineral content. Moreover, the effects noted, were systemic—elevated carbon emissions in the atmosphere affected herbaceous and woody plants, crops, and wild plants, photosynthetic and edible tissues, including wheat, rice, and barley grains.4
What You Can Do
Climate change seems to be such a big thing that solving it seems daunting and impossible. However, today, countries, businesses, food producers and pundits have decided to work together to come up and implement solutions.
Individuals can make a difference too. Each person who is aware of the problem and takes steps to address it can create a ripple effect that touches other people. These people in return will influence more people, and so on.
Here are 5 things you can do to make a difference:
- Being informed
The best weapon to combat man-made climate change is information. The more knowledgeable you are, the better your choices will be.
Climate literacy is so crucial in the fight, because there are actual institutions and individuals who spread misinformation and employ misdirection, when it comes to climate change. For example, “clean coal” is a myth that the coal industry has been promoting. The problem is that, there is no such thing. Coal is dirty no matter how efficient the power plant is.
Being informed helps us in making the right decisions, that are not just based on party affiliation or plain ignorance. Voting does matter, so make sure you know where exactly your local and national politician stands, when it comes to climate change.
You may not be a policymaker, but collectively, we have the power to choose who gets to represent us.
Do not fall for fake news. Only trust verifiable sources and when in doubt, dig deeper. You can learn more about the different myths and how to counter them by visiting Reality Drop, an initiative of The Climate Reality Project.
Here are some key terms used by climate change policymakers and activists:
Mitigation refers to an action that will reduce or prevent greenhouse gas emissions, like planting trees. It can also include developing and deploying new technologies, using renewable energies like wind and solar, or making older equipment more energy efficient.
Adaptation means responding to the effects of climate change, such as building seawalls to prepare for rising sea levels around vulnerable cities.
Renewable energy is sourced from naturally replenished resources (sunlight, wind, water, and geothermal heat). It has been projected that by 2040, renewable energy will equal non-renewables in providing energy to the world. Since renewables do not produce carbon emissions, a shift away from fossil fuels will put us on the road to a safe, sustainable planet for future generations.
Click here to learn more terms.
- Going green at home
- Switch to LED bulbs, when you need to replace old ones.
- Use efficient heating and cooling systems. Use a programmable thermostat, change air filters when needed and replace old equipment with energy efficient products.
- Seal your homes properly if you live in colder climates. Proper insulation uses less energy to heat your home.
- Learn to compost food and yard waste
- Minimize water waste
- Use renewables such as solar panels
- Eat less or eliminate meat from your diet. Animal agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. A plant-based diet is not only healthy, it is also better for the environment. That is why so many personalities involved in the climate movement have turned vegan or vegetarian. These include three Academy Award winners: former US vice president Al Gore, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and director James Cameron.
- Making changes at the office
- Schedule computers and other electronics to power down at the end of the day or when they are not used for long periods.
- Reuse paper and other products
- Opt for video conferencing instead of flying to cut carbon emissions and cut costs
- Walking more, driving less
- Use public transportation instead of driving
- Bike or walk to work whenever possible
- Carpool with coworkers and neighbors
- Check tire pressure regularly. Properly inflated tires make cars run efficiently.
- Getting involved
Help to spread the word about climate change by talking to your friends, family and colleagues about it. Together we can make a difference! There are countless organizations involved in the climate movement. Share your time and skills to these commendable groups. Moreover, vote for those, who can help mitigate and possibly reverse climate change by the decisions they will make. The choices you make, are important to us all.