Not Just A Theory

Not just theoretical. We are actually ALL going to endure a climate famine over the following years.

Maybe stock up a little on long-lasting stuff like rice and pasta and salt and sugar and flour. You may yet find yourself very glad of it as prices for groceries start to soar past anything we’ve ever seen or imagined. Got a windowsill? Put a few plant pots and grow herbs and quick-growing things like rocket and spinach. Buy seeds and store some of them while you’re at it.

I wish I was kidding but these are the sentiments I’m feeling after reading this article. For now – and only for now – we face the prospect of transport causing shortages. I hear you say BFD so the trucks will roll next week, but it really IS a big deal, because that produce that couldn’t be shipped this week will be rotting by next week and while there may well be trucks there by then, they’ll have nothing to carry. It’ll take months to re-grow those crops, sometimes a full year.

And if the weather’s ‘weird’ following whatever weather event caused the transport outage, the next crop may well never actually grow so – not just ‘wait a few months and we’ll have spinach again’ but ‘we don’t know if we can ever grow spinach here again with this weather.’ If you think I’m kidding – I’m not. Twenty years ago I realised that for the first time in my life, I could get two crops out of my tomato bushes because spring type weather was occurring earlier in the year.

The downside was that I lost tomato plants to extreme heat in the middle. And now, here, halfway across Australia and in a supposedly cooler climate, I’ve had plants bearing tomatoes in late winter / early spring. . . This IS a real shift of climate.

Get ready for far less produce in the foreseeable future.

So – as the article strives to reassure us – we here may have plenty of food growing but it’s naive to think that it’ll stay in Australia. I need only remind you that when USA had crop failures and they were willing to pay more than us for our produce, we bought bananas at $12/kg and higher, IF we could get them. We also grow rice but lately a lot less of that is staying in the country. Because . . . Because . . .

Well okay – never mind my bloody tomatoes, that’s just a personal testimonial. But with a third of the world depending on rice for their main nutrition, the places that have been growing rice for centuries are seeing failed crops year after year. Again, this is NOT just a temporary inconvenience. It’s not going to magically get better and rice production will re-start any day now. These regions are now on their way to becoming too hot for a good crop.

And this is NOT just a case of ‘well move to a cooler belt’ because 1) there’s already agriculture in the next climate belt and 2) it takes time – and MONEY – to convert an area to rice paddies and no-one whose crops have failed a few seasons in a row has the money now to do that and 3) that’s if the new belt has the necessary water supply and infrastructure to support a rice paddy.

Australia is somewhere in the 45th – 55th level as far as world wide rice production goes, but at present we’re rising in rank because other countries’ outputs are decreasing. We export(ed) around 70% of our rice in the past but the percentage that we export has risen to 80% and a bit more. Funny thing, the world experiences a shortage and Aussie consumers get screwed. . .

This summer here in the south of Victoria the summer went very very softly after a fairly gentle winter, and the landscape was green for months earlier and stayed green for months longer than normal. This is one of those outlier events and may mean here will become even more of a foodbasket region than it already is. But it could equally well be a swing along an overall trend to what the Northern Hemisphere’s experiencing. We won’t really know these days – ever – if the next year is the beginning of the end or a bumper year.

The world won’t really know, not for a long time measurable in decades and centuries. That’s how far down the slippery slope we are.

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