The Agricultural Fulcrum: Better Food, Better Climate
This past year treated us to a climate change preview in spades: crazy heat waves, prolonged drought, and epic storms like Sandy. To help us stabilize the climate, before we reach the point of no return, we must tap the immense potential of our food system.
Since becoming an agrarian society, we’ve known that growing food successfully depends on climate stability. Not enough water, crops wither and die. Too much, they rot. Beyond this, we know that crops have specific climatic requirements. Wheat, for instance, grows best in a dry, mild climate. Stone fruits like cherries need a minimum number of “chill hours” in order to blossom and later fruit. Intense heat disrupts pollination and can even shut down photosynthesis. These are basic parameters. If we continue to disregard them, food will become more scarce over time and we will go hungry. Indeed, as the National Climate Assessment, the government’s 1,146-page report released earlier this week states: “The rising incidence of weather extremes will have increasingly negative impacts on crop and livestock productivity because critical thresholds are already being exceeded.”
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