Monday, 10 July 2017

Food Security and Climate Change

My July column at International Aquafeed is here.

Food Security and Climate Change

Over the past weeks, there were some rather disappointing developments on climate change and related politics and politicians. US has now opted out of the Paris Agreement. The UK’s PM has failed to react strongly to that decision of the Trump’s administration making a lot of people wondering where UK’s government stands today.

Let’s have a look though why we need to bother about these developments.

One of the most urgent problems that we need to face is the one of food security; i.e. Food Security (FS) stands for the production of nutritious food that is enough to feed all people on Earth.

FS has two dimensions:
1. nutritional value of the produced food and
2. sustainable production of food.

Climate Change (CC) is a huge problem that we face as food Scientists. CC makes the food production more difficult and more expensive. Therefore, CC is a huge obstacle in our attempts to increase FS. Denial of CC is a major political and scientific non-sense! Denial of CC jeopardises FS, in other words it may put human lives at risk. This risk is related to famine, malnutrition or even death. Therefore, in our opinion, denying CC and Paris agreement is simply wrong and unhuman!

On top of these developments, the recent elections in UK have brought some further developments that are related to CC and FS. At the moment (as these lines are being written), it looks like that UK will have a Tories-DUP government with Michael Gove as Environment Minister. Theresa May’s choice of Mr Gove is rather surprising because she sacked him as Education Secretary last year. Past record of Mr Gove is not promising: his voting record reveals he has generally opted against eco-friendly measures, such as reduction in carbon emissions and financial incentives for low carbon emission electricity generation.

On the other hand, DUP’s political views on CC are rather alarming. While climate change scepticism is not official party “policy”, the DUP has previously appointed a denier as environment minister in Northern Ireland, and it counts a number of creationists (i.e. deniers of the evolution theory) among its senior members. Friends of the Earth has expressed concern that the Democratic Unionists will exercise major national influence over the government even though some of the party’s MPs are climate change sceptics. The most vociferous doubter of climate change is the DUP’s East Antrim MP, Sammy Wilson. He has described the theory of manmade climate change as a “con”. 

James Orr, Friends of the Earth’s Northern Ireland director, said: “Their manifesto had hardly a positive word on the environment and nothing at all on climate change. Theresa May must not allow the DUP to further weaken her already inadequate manifesto commitments to maintain environmental protections and preserve nature”.

Both US and UK have a strong role as leading countries in promoting Science that serves the people and respect the environment. Will the current administrations in these countries show such commitment?


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