The impacts of climate change on global food production has gotten some high-profile media attention lately. First there was Lester Brown’s Foreign Policy article, “The New Geopolitics of Food.” Then Justin Gillis’ article on the topic made the front page of the Sunday NY Times. The story, in short: floods, droughts, wildfires and other extreme weather is taking a toll on agriculture, leading to food shortages and skyrocketing prices.
Regardless of whether or not any one natural disaster is the result of climate change (a totally natural question that science is hard-pressed to answer), this much is clear: the severe weather of the past eighteen months is precisely what scientists expect to become increasingly common as the planet continues to warm. In other words, food problems are likely to get worse, not better.
Both Brown and Gillis argue that Americans are largely insulated from the growing food crisis by our political and economic systems. And, of course, they’re right. While many analysts say food prices were a key factor in the wave of revolutions that rocked the Middle East this spring, many Americans have no idea there’s a food production problem at all.
But I submit one piece of evidence that our blissful ignorance may not be as secure as we’d like. I took the above photo in a grocery store near my home earlier today. Even for someone who reads and writes about these issues on a daily basis, it was a shock to the system – a minor inconvenience, at worst, but a surprising one.
Have you seen evidence of disrupted food production in your grocery store? Send me a picture.