The Link Between Climate Change and Food

The Link Between Climate Change and Food

June 21, 2011 Roots of Change

This year’s severe weather conditions posed serious setbacks and challenges for farmers and our environment. Erratic weather conditions and flash floods greatly affected both the environment and farmer livelihoods. Farms were lost to flooding, topsoil was washed away and heavy losses were incurred. Fewer crops were produced, which decreased production yields. This limited food supply in turn affects the price of food, which affects everyone including distributors, retailers and eventually you, the consumers. We may not always connect the dots but our food system and environment are directly linked. We hope to help you better understand how a changing climate is affecting farmers and our ecosystem.

In a PBS article titled, "Farm Runoff in Mississippi River Floodwater Fuels Dead Zone in Gulf", Jenny Marder highlights the damaging effects of pollution from flash floods on marine life and our oceans. Farm runoff pollutes our waters, affects our food system and impacts farmers. Dead Zones are a growing concern but the challenging situation many farmers face also needs to be addressed. In Marder’s article, Mark David, a professor of bio-geochemistry from the University of Illinois, states:

    Little incentive[s exist] for farmers to reduce their nitrate output. There's a fundamental problem in the whole system if we really want to reduce nitrate and phosphorous loss from the system.

Conservation programs are one way farmers and ranchers can better protect our wildlife habitat and natural resources. Unfortunately, the future of these programs is in jeopardy of being cut. Further investment is needed to find sustainable solutions to reduce nitrate outputs, preserve farmland, and support farmers. 

Roots of Change believes it is essential to continue supporting programs and policies that help farmers be environmental stewards and economically viable. The Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico will keep growing and it’s only going to get worse unless we educate ourselves, take action and find alternatives.

We encourage you to learn more by checking out some of these helpful links.

Learn about conservation minded farmers making a difference – Visit Nitrogen News, Farm level solutions.

Find out how policy can create a healthy and diverse food system – Learn more about the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and their efforts. 

Learn what scientists have to say about global warming and its effects on our food system – Read "A Warming Planet Struggles to Feed Itself"