Today it’s the Guardian: “More Than Half a Million Could Die As Climate Change Impacts Diet.” Their tag-team partner in hysteria is the formerly prestigious Lancet, now perhaps best-known as the publisher of Andrew Wakefield, the original anti-vaxxer. The paper is more modestly titled “Global and Regional Health Effects of Future Food Production Under Climate Change: A Modelling Study.”
Tag team. Hmm. Does the guy in front here look a little like… nah… couldn’t be!
The research team used the International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT) for “a comparative risk assessment of changes in fruit and vegetable consumption, red meat consumption, and bodyweight for deaths from coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, and an aggregate of other causes. We calculated the change in the number of deaths attributable to climate-related changes in weight and diets for the combination of four emissions pathways (a high emissions pathway, two medium emissions pathways, and a low emissions pathway) and three socioeconomic pathways (sustainable development, middle of the road, and more fragmented development), which each included six scenarios with variable climatic inputs.”
Their models tell them “that by 2050, climate change will lead to per-person reductions of 3·2% (SD 0·4%) in global food availability, 4·0% (0·7%) in fruit and vegetable consumption, and 0·7% (0·1%) in red meat consumption. These changes will be associated with 529 000 climate-related deaths worldwide (95% CI 314 000–736 000).”
That’s in 24 years. The global average temperature, which is supporting near record harvests of healthy food every year at the moment, is likely to rise a worst case 0.32C. That’s going to destroy production of fruit, vegetables and red meat?
Sea levels will rise by about 77 millimeters by 2050 from today’s levels. That’s 3 inches.
On what planet will 3 inches of sea level rise and 0.32C of globally averaged temperature rise play havoc with agriculture?
Maybe we’ll all have to eat tangerines.
The Guardian article says “cutting carbon emissions and improving education and the availability of fruit and vegetables would reduce the number of deaths.”
I’m all in favor of everybody eating more fruits and vegetables. But the Guardian sentence would be exactly as true if it read “improving education and increasing the availability of fruits and vegetables would reduce the number of deaths” without mentioning climate change.
“The research found that severe climate change would cut the fruit and vegetable available to people in 2050 by 4%, the calories available by 3% and the red and processed meat by 0.7%. By far the biggest cause of deaths was the reduction in fruit and vegetables, particularly in rich countries.”
When we discover a potential problem it is incumbent upon us to offer potential solutions.
“Roughly 7 percent of the produce that’s grown in the United States simply gets stranded on fields each year. Some growers plant more crops than there’s demand for, to hedge against disease and weather. Some produce goes unpicked because it doesn’t meet standards for shape and color.
“After crops have been gathered from the fields, farmers tend to cull produce to make sure it meets minimum standards for size, color, and weight. “One large cucumber farmer,” the NRDC report notes, “estimated that fewer than half the vegetables he grows actually leave his farm and that 75 percent of the cucumbers culled before sale are edible.”
“Another issue is that stores often reject shipments — and it’s often difficult for distributors to find a new taker.”
“Grocery stores are another huge source of rubbished food — with the USDA estimating that supermarkets toss out $15 billion worth of unsold fruits and vegetables alone each year.”
“There’s also the issue of “sell by” expiration dates. The report cites one industry estimate that each store throws out, on average, $2,300 worth of food each day because the products have neared their expiration date. Yet most of this food is still edible.”
“American families throw out between 14 and 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy.”
“Americans today waste 50 percent more food than they did in the 1970s, which suggests that there’s a fair bit of room to improve.”
Perhaps we’re not doomed to a fruitless future after all…