Buried in an article ostensibly about US farmers responding to the increased variability of weather due to climate change, there is an indigestible factoid that seems almost like a non-sequitor:
Christine Stebbins, In the world’s breadbasket, climate change feeds some worry
Some scientists and agronomists are becoming increasingly concerned about the real effects they see now on growing conditions in the Midwest, the vast black-soiled region long the core region of the U.S. agricultural miracle.
We don’t have a long-term reserve. We have a global food supply of about 2 or 3 weeks.
They also say that not only skeptical farmers but also government authorities are trying to quietly adapt, from equipment to planting to research.
“We don’t have a long-term reserve. We have a global food supply of about 2 or 3 weeks,” said Eugene Takle, Professor of Agricultural Meteorology and Director of the Climate Science Program at Iowa State University.
“We’ve become insensitive to climate — with air conditioning, irrigation and better practices,” he said. “Well, I think we need to rethink that. Just how vulnerable are we?”
Takle and others say the future is now.
“It’s not the long-term climate trends,” Takle says, “It’s the variability. It’s the extreme events that have brought the vulnerability of agriculture to climate into the forefront. We think about, and wring our hands for awhile.”
Jerry Hatfield, Laboratory Director at the National Soil Tilth Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, has worked with other scientists in research for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He says climate change is occurring right now, as is adaptation to it, in the U.S. farm belt.
“We don’t have to think about 2030 or 2050, in the recent memories we’ve had a lot more variability in our weather,” Hatfield said. “This increasing variability of weather, which is associated with our changing climate scenarios, is going to continue to increase the variability in production.
“That’s what concerns a lot of us,” Hatfield said.
If the food system is based on increasingly variable weather, shouldn’t we be building up a larger food supply? Just in case?