XR Hammersmith & Fulham Weekly Meeting
You may have seen headlines saying the price of crisps and chips are expected to rise in the new year as a result. Those living on low incomes will feel the pinch, while supermarkets frantically place contracts overseas to ensure there are no gaps on the shelves.
This is how it starts: falling crop yields, leading to higher prices and then lower availability.
Most of us however will scoff at the prospect of rationing and empty shelves. There hasn’t been a food shortage in the UK since the early 1970s.
But this is the climate and ecological emergency. And all bets are off. As anyone who has tended to a garden or an allotment knows, even a brief spell of hot or cold weather at the wrong time can ruin seedlings and decimate plants and crops. It is precisely what’s happening globally, as our weather gets more and more extreme.
Steve Short, the managing director of Accent Fresh, a Norfolk-based fresh produce supplier, said: “We rely quite heavily on Lincolnshire for our brassica, and we get some from Cambridgeshire, Kent, Evesham [in Worcestershire], and Cornwall.
“We have had to import them from Holland during the shortages. The growers have lost a lot of crop, so the market is very short and the price has gone up.”
On 1 November 2019, Reuters published a story with the headline: “Record 45 Million People in Southern Africa Facing Food Crisis in Next 6 Months”. In a region already accustomed to extremes, a series of unprecedented events – facilitated by climate change – is putting at risk a vast number of people. There are other populations across the world gripped by similar vulnerabilities. Let us not forget the global food system already fails to properly nourish billions of people and leaves upwards of 800 million hungry.
As climate-induced instability spreads across borders and continents, don’t depend on the big four UK supermarket chains to keep you and your loved ones fed.
They have long subscribed to the clockwork or ‘just-in-time’ delivery of food from all over the world.
There are no warehouses, no stockpiles. And no emergency planning for a major disruption to supply.
It’s why a typical supermarket will be 70% empty within three days without deliveries. Disruption of this kind will impact all supermarket chains at once. So it’s not a competitive matter. And hence of no interest to the boards of Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury or Morrisons.
The British Retail Consortium said: “This is yet another example of how retailers are having to manage the effects of climate change, which has created a greater variability in the weather and resulted a slightly poorer harvest in the UK.”
This is a sign of things to come. It’s only going to worse. Should we wait until it is? We’re only one bad season away from empty shelves. We are living in an ever increasing cycle of extreme weather from drought to floods.
So, political parties… what’s your plan for a country that imports half of all its food? How are you going to keep us all safe? We won’t be able to grow all our own food or exempt ourselves from the gathering frequency of unpredictable and extreme weather. So what’s your plan? If it’s not rationing and empty shelves?
We are facing a man-made disaster on a global scale.
Once climate change becomes a defining issue for financial stability, it may already be too late.
I am firmly of the view that the next 18 months will decide our ability to keep climate change to survivable levels
If we can save the banks, we can save the world.
The future of the human race is now at stake.