Climate Change: America’s Hunger
America has grown rapidly as a nation, using our vast amount of resources we have always had food on tables, but in recent times, drastic climate change, can change all of that. In an article written by Fred Elbel, he states, By the year 2020, if the current population trends continue, the U.S. will add enough population to create another “New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Francisco, Indianapolis, San Jose, Memphis, Washington D.C., Jacksonville, Milwaukee, Boston, Columbus, New Orleans, Cleveland, Denver, Seattle, and El Paso — plus the next 75 largest cities in the U.S”(Elbel 1). America’s hunger will increase tremendously and farmers will have to produce much more. The nation’s agriculture industry brings in a total of $750 Billion to the U.S. economy and supplies the world with 25% of grains (EPA 1–2).
What does this have to do with our environment? Agriculture is very dependent on the Climate. If it’s too cold, nothing will grow, if it’s too warm plants will wilt away. Climate change is making it difficult to find better times to start planting. In an article by Jerry Hatfield, who is a lead Author for the U.S. department of agriculture, he states, “Climate change has the potential to both positively and negatively affect the location, timing, and productivity of crop, livestock, and fishery systems at local, national, and global scales” (Hatfield 2). Carbon dioxide that we let out in the atmosphere can affect all our food. The more CO2 the more our climate is going to change. This has already been witnessed through devastating disasters such as drought, changes in weather patterns, etc.. Climate change will affect the crop yields significantly if nothing is done to address this.
CO2 levels will decide for the enviroment what plants will grow and what plants will die off due to the heat. There is also another thing to worry about though, in a warmer, more dense precipitation “weeds, pests, and fungi will thrive” (EPA 6) this can and will kill crop yields by the hundreds. Thus, leading to a food shortage that can affect the whole human race. It does not stop there, however, cows/Industries produce methane which is 100 times better at keeping heat trapped in the earth’s atmosphere (Nyman 13).
Not only is it animals and the fields we have to look out for but it’s the use of synthetic fertilizers that can affect much of clean drinking water and destroy top soil. If the fertilizer bleeds off into a river or stream then the ecosystem will be badly destroyed. With long term use of fertilizer in soil it kills micro bacteria that is a natural breakdown process that turns waste into nutrients. Farmers need this natural nutrients in the soil in order to produce the best crops.
Family farms versus the big corporate farms, what is the difference? Based on climate change, family owned farms are more likely to have a small carbon footprint compared to corporate farms. According to an article written by Jennifer Fahy “Family farmers have an intimate relationship with the weather, and they know firsthand that it has become increasingly more variable… corporate-controlled, industrial agriculture — is responsible for at least 40% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions”(Fahy 1–2). The ways that family owned farms have helped the environment is the increase of “resilience” of soil which is basically three things crop rotation, no-till farming, and cover crops (Fahy 5). Family farms take food local and not all over the United states which as well cuts down on fossil fuels.
The United states, and the world aren’t going to see change in the environment unless our demand for food goes down. It’s basically a big circle, the climate won’t change until farmers start to change their ways.