While America is obsessed with the upcoming election, climate change is already disrupting lives around the world.
According to the Oslo-based Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC):
On average, 26 million people are displaced by disasters such as floods and storms every year. That's one person forced to flee every second.
Disasters displace three to ten times more people than conflict and war worldwide.
And that number is expected to climb as the impacts of climate change bring more frequent and severe weather events.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is predicting the world will be grappling with some 200 million environmental migrants by 2050, as people — many of them now living in coastal areas — move within their countries or across borders.
As William Lacy Swing, director general of the International Organisation for Migration, warned:
“It is quite clear that we will have more and more conflicts over shortages of food and water that are going to be exacerbated by climate change.”
But no worries, that won't be an issue in Hawaii. Just ask the folks at Maui's Living Aloha magazine. Tucked in amongst such headlines as “Malama Da Aina” — uh, I gotta tell you folks, there ain't no "da" in Hawaiian — was this observation:
When demand and supply rise for local food, people will hear how lucrative and simple growing food is and a new wave of gardeners and farmers will start popping up to meet the demand.
Oh, yes. It's so lucrative — just ask the many farmers who are forced to hold jobs outside the farm.
And so simple. Especially when it's being done solely by people with hand tools, as depicted in a graphic in the magazine:
But apparently not so simple that the talkers are actually doing it.
A friend who grew up on a farm was visiting recently, and I was bemoaning some weird rot that was destroying my carefully tended pot of banana peppers.
“Just imagine you had a whole field like that, and you owed money it,” she said. “That's what farmers face.”
They also face a helluva lot of flack from people who know nothing about ag.
A reader yesterday sent me a link to an article about how the EPA wants the Department of Health to post a sign at the south side's Waiopili ditch stating the water does not meet recreational standards. The email included the message: The dairy takes a hit.
Of course, the pollution at Waiopilli ditch — it is not a stream —has nothing to do with the proposed Mahaulepu dairy, since it has yet to introduce a single cow. But dairy opponents will use the high enterococcus bacteria count to rally against introducing any other potential source of contamination to the area.
In addition to posting a warning sign, the EPA “strongly advised” the state to take other protective measures, such as “limiting access.”
The state should advise people about polluted water, though it should not limit access to beaches. What bothers me is when these issues are pursued selectively due to anti-ag or anti-development sentiments.
We all know that many Kauai streams — Hanamaulu, Nawiliwili and Wainiha among them — have suffered similar problems for decades now.
But Surfrider, though pushing for sign posting for years, has gone to the mat only on Waiopili. Why? Because it opposes the dairy.
Ironically, billionaire Pierre Omidyar is funding both the Ulupono Initiative, which is creating the dairy as part of its effort to increase the local food supply, and Surfrider, which is trying its damndest to destroy the dairy.
I wonder how that's gonna shake out.
Meanwhile, despite intense opposition to GMO crops — and the Hawaii seed operations that support them — they've been widely adopted by farmers in the U.S. since their commercial introduction in 1996.
According to a new report by the USDA, herbicide-tolerant (HT) traits are found in 94% of America's soybean production; HT and insect-resistant varieties account for 93% of the cotton acreage, and 92% of all corn is GE.
The U.S. accounts for 40% of the 179.7 million hectares of GE crops planted worldwide.
Though activists are quick to dismiss commodity crops, they comprise the foundation of America's food supply. And farmers in the Midwest are already feeling the effects of drought and high temperatures, which reduce yield.
It's easy to indulge in the luxury of squabbling over GMO vs organic when you're well-fed and affluent. But given the painful realities of climate change and a growing population, it's not unrealistic to think we may soon see a time when even spoiled Americans are simply grateful to have food.