The Food System Series — Part 1: Corporate Capture
READ PART 2: RELOCALIZATION
Still in the afterglow of the holidays and just as 2022 is picking up steam, stark reminders of the year that’s behind us have come crashing back in. Especially on issues of healthcare and the environment.
For example on healthcare– though many infected with Omicron have had little or no symptoms, there are now more Americans hospitalized “with COVID-19” than at any other point in the pandemic. According to recent reports, “Hospitals are at their breaking point,” but the actual root cause may surprise you. More on that in Part 2 of this series…
On the environment– the emerging outlook is nothing short of devastating. There were three global summits at the end of last year on the three existential threats that we’re facing today:
The UN Biodiversity Conference on the mass extinction of species now underway;
The UN COP26 Climate Conference on the unfolding #ClimateEmergency; and
The UN Food Systems Summit on escalating food insecurity due to the crises above.
Trusted experts have declared all three summits abject failures due to a single persistent culprit: “corporate capture”. That’s when corporate elites buy government influence to ensure “business-as-usual” outcomes for their corporate constituents. SEE: here, here, here and here…
In fact, experts say that for decades, corporate capture has kept all three crises tracking on worst-case scenarios. For example, Climate Change is tracking with the worst-case global warming scenario due to a multitude of factors including continual increases in perpetually unregulated GHG emissions.
Even though in 2015, nations pledged to each other to aggressively reduce GHGs, global emissions are still rising and at record rates. The US government is among the most deceptive and worst offenders, including the Biden Administration. Just days after he vowed to “lead by example” at the Climate Summit last NOV, Biden approved a record number of oil and gas drilling permits, locking in even more fossil fuel emissions for decades to come.
Like Biden, every other POTUS this century has significantly under-delivered on climate change including Bush and Obama, and of course Trump. It exposes the establishment narrative of “netzero emissions by 2050 to keep global warming under 1.5C” as just a deceptive campaign to keep “kicking the can down the road…”
In fact at this stage, “..keeping global warming under 1.5C” is a practical impossibility. Indeed, given what is known about continued emissions, [climate] feedbacks*, and the predictability of human behavior, trusted scientists estimate that global warming is now on track to surpass 1.5C by 2030, 2C by ~2040, 3C by ~2060, and +4C by 2100.
As the renowned climate scientist Hans Schellnhuber has said, “the difference between a 2C world and a 4C world is [the collapse of] human civilization.” That is the track that we’re on. As of this writing, the eight hottest years on record have all occurred in the past eight years…
The raw data is clear– corporate capture of the mainstream discourse on climate change (hereafter referred to as “mainstream science”) has grossly misinformed its urgency, and has us [woefully] unprepared…
*At the North Pole, sea ice is melting twice as fastas mainstream science previously predicted. The rapid loss of sea ice is causing the Arctic ocean to warm decades faster than predicted. It’s causing Arctic Permafrost to thaw much faster (and 70 years sooner!) than predicted. And it’s all driving record methane emissions much higher and sooner than predicted.
At the South Pole, Antarctic temperatures have risen twice as fast as mainstream science originally predicted. And the high temperatures are pushing Antarctica’s massive ice shelves toward collapse far faster than scientists predicted.
The record melt of the ice sheets, ice shelves, and glaciers at both poles means that sea levels are rising faster and higher than mainstream science previously predicted. Of course, sea level rise will affect all coastal regions eventually, but [developing countries] will suffer more, and sooner than most.
And not just sea level rise. [Developing countries] are already suffering longer, more frequent heat waves. And the increasing heat waves have more than doubled the frequency of extreme “humid heat” events (lethal, beyond human tolerance) in Africa, the Middle East, and Central and South America– and decades sooner than mainstream science originally predicted.
The longer, more frequent heat waves are also increasing agricultural drought (crop yield failure) by up to 200% across Africa, the Middle East, and Central and South America, as well as the U.S., Europe, Southeast Asia, and Australia. And with no end in sight: agricultural drought is expected to continue to increase in frequency and intensity, last longer, and spread wider globally for the foreseeable future.
With increasing global heat waves already compounding agricultural drought, researchers are now estimating that crop yield failures will be up to 4.5 times higher by 2030. That’s within THIS DECADE. And the researchers add that crop yield failures will continue to increase up to 25 TIMES HIGHER by 2050.
Of course, by 2050, global agriculture will need to produce 50% more food to meet rising global demand. But crop yields are on track to decline by 30% to 70% over that time frame. In the 2030s-2040s, croplands are on track to be so impacted by drought, that the probability of simultaneous breadbasket failures will be around 50%…
Those are devastating impacts that indicate the global food system is at imminent risk. And those projections don’t even include other major drivers of crop failure such as the acute degradation of global topsoil nor the mass extinction of species now underway…
Topsoil is being depleted at rates 10 to 100 times faster than the earth can replenish it. We need fertile topsoil to grow 95% of our food, but US farmlands are now on track to lose over 8 times more topsoil by the 2030s than was lost during the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s. It’s considered the worst agricultural disaster in US history.
And the biodiversity crisis that’s now underway is the worst ecological disaster in human history. It’s a mass extinction event that’s driven primarily by industrial agriculture and mainly animal agriculture. Since 1970, humans have destroyed over two thirds of all wildlife on Earth. And now climate change is further escalating the crisis. When wildlife populations collapse, ecosystems and food systems collapse…
It seems undeniable that climate change, soil degradation, and the mass extinction of species are all converging in a perfect storm to disrupt the global food system. Indeed, a catastrophic collapse of the food system seems imminent. Yet no one in government, corporate media, nor mainstream science is sounding any serious alarm.
Of course, their grossly underestimated predictions that we surveyed above, reveals that the corporate capture of these institutions has rendered them unfit to navigate these crises. That much is certain. So how then should we proceed?
It’s a daunting question that we’ll tackle in Part 2 of this series. Here’s a preview: we are faced with immediate dual priorities: (1) to navigate whether/to what extent we can mitigate these crises, and at the same time (2) navigate how we can best prepare ourselves and our communities in advance of a possible food system collapse.
The very good news is that there are many trustworthy and competent folks already at work on these incredibly challenging issues. In PART 2 of this series, we’ll explore their efforts and visions for how we can move forward together, wisely and equitably, to do the least harm and most good for ourselves, each other, and the Earth.
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