Environmental crisis - what is the big deal?

Hey guys,
Today I would like to discuss the environmental crisis and its potential impact. The main focus is on water and food scarcity. I picked this topic because I believe it ties in nicely with anti-racism and it shows you how the environmental crisis affects black, Indigenous and people of colour the most. For this article, I used one of my essays which I wrote for my sustainability module, which I took this semester. During this module, we had to write a brief essay each week on a topic which we discussed that week. Those topics were for, example, principles of sustainability, the circular economy or ethical consumer. I will definitely address all these topics in the future too and use my essays for it because they have a good number of reference, they are short and easily understood but now let's talk about the environmental crisis and its impact on people's lives. 
Planet earth on fire to represent environmental crisis

Introduction

I think we are all aware of the current environmental situation and how human actions harm the environment. Climate crisis has been a focal point of many discussions. Still, I feel like they often forget to mention what the potential impacts of climate change are apart from increased temperate, or they just say the whole ecosystem will collapse. So, what are some other potential impacts of climate change? One of the significant effects of climate change are increased poverty, water shortage and scarcity of food. However, some scholars argue that climate change is not the only cause of these issues the rapidly growing population which is meant to grow by another 3 billion people by mid 21st century and the constant improvement of living standards in Western countries play a significant role in the environmental scarcity (Fung, Loper and New, 2011; Martin and Schouten, 2014). 

Hanjra and Qureshi (2010) argue that in today’s developed world, there should be enough available resources to end extreme poverty and hunger. However,  water is essential in food production* and as Fedoroff et al. (2010) found out the water shortage is already critical in some countries. Over 80% of all water is used by the agriculture sector, which makes this sector the largest user of water in the world (Hamby, Ragab and Scarascia-Mugnozza, 2003). Furthermore, the increasing demand for water in non-agriculture industries and urban areas has put the irrigation water demand under a bigger pressure, and it makes the goal of ending extreme poverty and hunger very challenging. 

The problem

The scarcity of water is not the only challenge that the world food supply chain is currently facing. Due to the continued increase of green gas emissions, the temperature is rising, and so is the frequency and severity of weather events such as floods or drought (Schmidguber and Tubiello, 2007). These climate changes bring a high risk of land and erosion damage which then result in instability of food supplies which then impacts the food security in many countries. Furthermore, the rising temperatures can cause droughts in semiarid areas such as South Asain where they can cause a drastic drop in livestock and crop yields numbers (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2001), which means that the poorest countries which are already affected by extreme poverty and hunger are also exposed to the highest degree of food instability (Schmidguber and Tubiello 2007). The poorest countries in the world are, for example, Uganda, DR Congo, Yemen or Ethiopia. If you paid even slight attention in your geographical classes, you would know that these countries are occupied by BIPOC. Can you see the link here? 

Predominantly white countries or to be more specific companies led by white men (sometimes women) are the ones, which have enough resources to end extreme poverty, hunger and stop climate change yet they are the ones who are adding fuel to the fire. It is BIPOC who suffer the most and have to live with the consequence of it. Not to mention one of the "greatest" business strategies of the century where companies have started shifting the blame for the environmental crisis on consumers. Did you know that the companies which damage our planet the most are also the companies which blame consumers for the environmental crisis and they claim we are the ones who need to make a change and save the planet? In the US, it was the beverage industry which funded some of the anti-plastic campaigns, so they keep producing and making money without any adjustment, and they can let their consumers do the job and be to blame.

Look at Coca-Cola, for example, which released a statement that they will not stop producing plastic bottles because that's not what their consumers want. If Coca-Cola really cared about our planet they would just stop selling them instead of blaming consumers. Sadly, they only care about money and they don't want you to see who is actually responsible for all the pollution. Of course, there is the demand = supply equation but again, if the world is crumbling right in front of your eyes would you not try to stop it if you have the power to do so?  Of course, we as consumers play our own role in the crisis, but it is the big companies which really need to step up their game and help us to stop the environmental crisis. if we Anyway, back to the topic - It is not just the semiarid areas which will suffer from extreme weather. Fedoroff et al. (2010) predict that summer temperature will rise every year, and by 2090, most of the world will experience hotter summer than the hottest summer now on record. This temperature rise will then harm yields of essential food crops and feed, resulting in food instability all across the globe.

Some of the solutions which are being discussed in public and private sectors which should help to prevent food instability are, for example, developing more ecologically sound farming practices or improving the molecular breeding which would enable the crops to adapt to increasing temperatures and lack of water (Behnassi, Pollmann, and Gupta 2019). However, I strongly believe that unless the whole system changes (bye capitalism) those solutions will be the only temporary before the collapse of the whole ecosystems and there will be no way of going back. 

This is all I got for today so I hope you enjoyed reading and it opened your eyes a bit! If you have anything to add or you believe something in this article is incorrect, please let me know, and I will make changes to it. You can also find the list of my references at the bottom of this article. 

Kat xo  



References:
Behnassi, M., Pollmann, O. & Gupta, H. (2019). Climate Change, Food Security and Natural Resource Management 1st ed. 2019.

Falkenmark, M., (2007). Shift in thinking to address the 21st-century hunger gap: moving the focus from blue to green water management. Water Resources Management 21 (1), pp. 3–18.
Fedoroff, N.V., Battisti, D.S., Beachy, R.N., Cooper, P.J.M., Fischhoff, D.A., Hodges, C.N., Knauf, V.C., Lobell, D., Mazur, B.J., Molden, D., Reynolds, M.P., Ronald, P.C., Rosegrant, M.W., Sanchez, P.A., Vonshak, A., Zhu, J.-K. (2010). Radically rethinking agriculture for the 21st century. Science, 327 (5967), pp. 833–834.
Fung, F., Lopez, A. and New, M. (2011). Water availability in +2 °C and +4 °C worlds. Philos. Trans. Roy. Soc. A 369 (1934), pp. 99–116.
Hamdy, A., Ragab, R. and Scarascia‐Mugnozza, E. (2003). Coping with water scarcity: water saving and increasing water productivity. Irrigation and Drainage, 52(1), pp.3–20.

Hanjra, M.A. & Qureshi, M.E. (2010). Global water crisis and future food security in an era of climate change. Food Policy, 35(5), pp.365–377.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2001). Climate change 2001: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability: summary for policymakers and technical summary of the Working Group ii report., CUP.

Lidon, F. (2018). Climate change and food security. Emirates Journal of Food and Agriculture, 30(6), p.428.
Martin, D. and Schouten, J. (2014) Sustainable marketing / Diane Martin, John Schouten. Pearson new international edition. Harlow, Essex: Pearson.
Schmidhuber, J. and Tubiello, F. N., 2007. Global food security under climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(50), pp.19703–19708.

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