This year has seen a great many important climate stories. Obviously, the continued self-destructive failure of the nation and the world to reverse greenhouse gas emission trends always deserve to be the top story in some sense:
- Biggest Jump Ever in Global Warming Pollution in 2010, Chinese CO2 Emissions Now Exceed U.S.’s By 50%
- IEA’s Bombshell Warning: We’re Headed Toward 11°F Global Warming and “Delaying Action Is a False Economy”
The emergence of a genuine grassroots movement following Obama’s fecklessness on the environment is a major U.S. story (see “A Climate Movement Is Born: Ozone Decision Spikes Total Arrests to 1,252 at White House Pipeline Protest“).
And the energy story with the biggest climate implication was clearly Fukushima:
- Japan scraps plan for 14 new nuclear plants
- No nukes, No problem. Germany is proving a rapid transition to renewable energy is possible: “Within four decades, one of the world’s leading economies will be powered almost entirely by wind, solar, biomass, hydro, and geothermal power.”
But the climate story that affects the most people around the world today by far is well described in this post — Oxfam: Extreme Weather Has Helped Push Tens of Millions into “Hunger and Poverty” in “Grim Foretaste” of Warmed World.
Climate Progress had been covering those who have been warning the day would come when humanity’s unsustainable energy and agricultural policies would collide with global warming, who warned that the agricultural system we need to feed the world was built on a relatively stable climate that we are now destroying. Lester Brown has been our Paul Revere on food insecurity (see the 2009 post Scientific American asks “Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?”).
We covered the emergence of this story last year:
- The Coming Food Crisis: Global food security is stretched to the breaking point, and Russia’s fires and Pakistan’s floods are making a bad situation worse; Podesta, Caldwell: “Lasting gains in agricultural productivity will require … action to confront climate change.”
But CP really dug in to this story starting in January, when food prices soared — see Extreme weather events help drive food prices to record highs — and I had lunch with Brown (see Washington Post, Lester Brown explain how extreme weather, climate change drive record food prices).
Brown’s work persuaded me that genuinely destabilizing food insecurity may occur as soon as this decade — assuming 1 billion undernourished people isn’t already a crisis. So I decided to add a new category, “food insecurity,” and began a series of posts on food insecurity and the threat of Dust-Bowlification, which ultimately led the journal Nature to ask me to make the case that this was the gravest threat to humanity posed by climate change. As my piece concluded:
“Feeding some 9 billion people by mid-century in the face of a rapidly worsening climate may well be the greatest challenge the human race has ever faced.”
Of course, it’s not just climate change that is driving food insecurity. We have an “unsustainable surge in demand and not just ‘peak oil’, but ‘peak everything’,” as uber-hedge fund manager Jeremy Grantham, a self-described “die hard contrarian,” put it in a must-read analysis (see “Time to Wake Up: Days of Abundant Resources and Falling Prices Are Over Forever”).
Here’s the key chart: