Climate Change: New Foods?

Published on 7th November 2006

According to a report prepared by Sir Nicholas Stern, a world leading economist and former World Bank Chief Economist, climate change will have an impact on the world economy similar to that associated with the great wars. The report goes further to warn of declining crop yields especially in Africa that could trigger massive hunger.

On average scientists say that surface temperature of earth has increased more than 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1900 and the rate of warming has been nearly three times the century-long average since 1970. Most experts studying this attribute it to human activities.

Climate experts say that without big curbs in greenhouse gas emissions, the 21st century could see temperatures rise leading to shift in weather patterns, melting glaciers in the mountains, warming temperatures in drought-prone areas, rising sea-levels and diseases. Human life and animal loss could result from erratic weather patterns.

To prevent all this, environmentalists and rich countries are against fossil fuel power plants in poor countries. The opponents, on the other hand, claim that Africans shall go back to using candles, hand fans, solar and wind energy among others; yet, most populations living in the rural areas still lack electricity and can therefore not operate gadgets such as fans, computers, television, and electric cookers among others. The few who have solar energy in their homes, have it simply because that is what they can afford. They would definitely go for electricity if they had means to.

Activists, journalists, bureaucrats, politicians and scientists attending the climate summit in Kenya this week have big scores to settle.Wait a minute! Wouldn't warm climate  produce gain in the Northern latitudes by fostering longer growing seasons? Warmer night time temperatures would mitigate longer growing seasons hence agricultural productivity. It is also known that carbon dioxide helps plants to photosynthesize. Isn't the increase of the gas in the atmosphere good news to trees and other plant growth? 

Global warming is discussed in a manner suggesting that it will bring life and activities to an end. Is that so? Other than Agriculture, we have other sectors such as banking, insurance, medical services, retailing and education  that contribute significantly to the growth of the economy in spite of  climate changes.

Global warming is certainly good news for those who fly and sail. How? Warm climate will lead to less disruption from fog, mist and storm among others; hence, easier transportation without delays of goods due to cancellations and delays of flights. 

Is  it by coincidence that farming first developed in the Middle East after the end of the ice age?  Is it by coincidence that life expectancy of people during the warm periods of Neolithic, Bronze and High Middle Ages of the 13th Century England was high  while it reduced with the advent of cooler weather in the late 13th and 14th Century? Is the modern civilization set for a new mode of agriculture?

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