Undue Optimism

We learn from Caroline Spelman, care of Fiona Harvey, that Climate Change could be good for British farming :-

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4e2c238e-c276-11df-956e-00144feab49a.html

“Climate change could benefit UK farmers : By Fiona Harvey and George Parker : Published: September 17 2010 : Climate change and global food shortages could bring unexpected benefits for British farmers in the next two decades, ultimately relieving taxpayers of the burden of subsidising them, Caroline Spelman, environment secretary, has claimed. Ms Spelman said the UK was unlikely to suffer the severe water shortages that scientists predict will afflict other parts of the world, and that British farmers should be able to exploit greater demand for their produce…”

Note that the argument is not that Climate Change will create better conditions for growing food in the UK.

Instead, the logic is that because we live in North Western Europe, which will see less Climate Change than other parts of the world, our agricultural produce won’t be affected as badly as, say, Asia, so, suddenly British food production will have stronger commercial value as export.

That’s rather perverse, isn’t it ? Profiting at others’ expense never looked so…existential, so morally challenged.

I think that what will happen is that British food production will be increased in order to give it away, in the form of international disaster aid.

The Common Agricultural Policy could become the Crisis Agricultural Subsidy.

In a never-ending rolling disaster, the ethics of meeting basic human needs will surely take precedence over business competition.

Hungry for Change

People often talk about the weather in relation to Climate Change, but neglect to talk about the possible obvious and inevitable side-effects – hunger and starvation.

Frontline Club will screen the film “The Hunger Season” on 1st October 2010, and follow it with a panel discussion hosted by BOND and Oxfam UK :-

http://frontlineclub.com/events/2010/10/liberation-season-screening—the-hunger-season.html?utm_source=Frontline&utm_campaign=074ce4510f-Announcing+October+events&utm_medium=email

“Across the world a massive food crisis is unfolding. 
Climate change, increasing consumption in China and India, the dash for Biofuels are causing hitherto unimagined food shortages and rocketing prices. This has already provoked unrest and violence from the Middle East to South America and there is no end in sight in the coming months. The people who are going to be most sorely affected are those already living on the razors edge of poverty, those dependent on food aid for their very survival. As commodity prices have risen by 50%, the UN Agencies have barely half the budget they need to meet the needs of 73 million hungry people they are currently feeding…”

Biofuel targets may not be the only factor behind food price rises :-

http://www.wdm.org.uk/food-speculation/great-hunger-lottery

“In The Great Hunger Lottery, the World Development Movement has compiled extensive evidence establishing the role of food commodity derivatives in destabilising and driving up food prices around the world. This in turn, has led to food prices becoming unaffordable for low-income families around the world, particularly in developing countries highly reliant on food imports. Nowhere was this more clearly seen than during the astonishing surge in staple food prices over the course of 2007-2008, when millions went hungry and food riots swept major cities around the world. The great hunger lottery shows how this alarming episode was fueled by the behaviour of financial speculators, and describes the terrible immediate impacts on vulnerable families around the world, as well as the long term damage to the fight against global poverty…”

Continue reading Hungry for Change