Last week The Climate Reality Project, run by former U.S. vice-president Al Gore and his group to get meaningful policy and social action on climate, ran what they called 24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Project.
The focus was some pretty heavy weight presentations on the nasty business we'll be facing if we don't do a 180 on the climate. For one, Dr. Andrew Weaver – climate modeler at the University of Victoria, author of Keeping Our Cool: Canada in a Warming World, lead author on climate projections for the IPCC's (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) 2007 ground-breaking report, newly minted B.C. Green Party candidate and general all-round hero when it comes to climate change – was one of the guests discussing the tar sands and Keystone Pipeline.
But the whole event was fronted on a much lighter note by a funny but disturbing parody of TV weather reporters at an undisclosed point in the future.
The banter went like this (keep in mind the tagline of "dirty" weather and the fact that The Climate Reality Project is U.S.-based so temperatures are in Fahrenheit): "Here in Des Moines we're looking at 117 today, cooling off to 106 tonight. That's f------ hot! Highs of up to 126 on into the weekend. Wow! That's gonna be a real f------ scorcher for your golf game!" I was sniggering and feeling sick to my stomach at the same time.
That "dirty" weather report kept ringing in my head as I went over the latest policy report also released last week by CGIAR, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. This is an international consortium dedicated to reducing rural poverty and increasing food security and human health with 15 research centres around the world. More than 8,000 scientists and staff members work on it.
Last week's report was requested by the UN's Committee on Food Security. And while it summarizes research regarding the future of agriculture in the developing world with a warming climate, no way can or will we stand apart, morally, ethically or practically speaking, for the repercussions to our happy little Pacific Northwest world and our own food production won't conveniently end at any border.
In a nutshell, CGIAR analyzed 22 of the most important agricultural commodities and three critical natural resources in the developing world. The bottom line: The world's agricultural systems face an uphill struggle in feeding a projected nine billion to 10 billion people by 2050. And climate change is a major hurdle.
Production of the most common commodity staples — wheat, maize and rice — will be challenged by new weather patterns, as well as raising livestock and catching fish and harvesting other aquatic products. Changing temperatures, changing rainfall levels and patterns, changing diseases and pests, and the introduction of new species will all play a role.