Monday, October 01, 2007

Global Warming and a looming food crisis

I never hear the progressive left speak of global warming as an issue of social justice. It is generally posed as an ecological issue and almost always with alarmist overtones. A new series of papers from the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization treats it as an issue of Social Justice. The study, Climate-Change Challenge for the Poor, comes in two part. In Part I, Chandrashekhar Dasgupta makes the case that "All nations have a responsibility to strive for lifestyles that are sustainable." In Part II, Mira Kamdar warns us of the consequences of non-action.
Increased consumption by rich and newly rich nations combined with effects of climate change set the stage for a global food crisis. Decreased supplies of world dietary staples like wheat, corn and rice have already increased prices significantly this year, and a few nervous governments brace for possible social unrest by hungry citizens.
While these two papers focus on the poor of developing countries, we also need to start thinking about the poor in our own country. Given that the policies of the current and about to be extended political dynasties, Bush and Clinton, have been destroying the middle class in America and creating a growing underclass in in it's place, there is an opening here for truly Green politics.

There is nothing sustainable when we start trying to base future hopes for "freedom from imported oil" on corn based ethanol production. We have already seen some of the consequences of such folly, as the combination of drought and ethanol production in Minnesota have made water a scare commodity in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. We have seen how it drives up the cost of dairy products. We have seen that it has distorted the markets for natural gas as that is the source for the nitrogen fertilizers required to grow such massive quantities of corn. We have seen how the heavy use of such fertilizers in the corn belt have helped create a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico and destroyed the mangrove wetlands that once gave New Orleans protection from hurricane storm surges.

Battling Global Warming is about a lot more than changing the light bulbs in your home or driving a hybrid. It demands political leadership of a new kind. That leadership will only come from the Green Party and it needs to begin now.

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