Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Food Supply Fears Spark China Land Grab

With the impacts of climate change threatening food supply as population grows, China is buying land on other continents to grow more crops.

A farmer in China spreads pesticide on her crops. (Image Credit: IFPRI via Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
China is protecting itself against future food supply problems caused by climate change by buying or leasing large tracts of land in Africa and South America, a leading UK climate scientist says.

Professor Peter Wadhams, an expert on the disappearing Arctic ice, says that while countries in North America and Europe are ignoring the threat that changing weather patterns are causing to the world food supply, China is taking “self-protective action”.

He says that changes in the jet stream caused by the melting of the ice in the Arctic are threatening the most productive agricultural areas on the planet.

“The impact of extreme, often violent weather on crops in a world where the population continues to increase rapidly can only be disastrous,” he warns.

“Sooner or later, there will be an unbridgeable gulf between global food needs and our capacity to grow food in an unstable climate.  Inevitably, starvation will reduce the world’s population.”

Protect food supply
Professor Wadhams, former head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge, says China has already realized this is a threat to its future stability and has been taking over large areas of land in other countries to grow crops to protect its food supply.

The drawback, he says, is that the Chinese are introducing industrial agricultural practices that damage the soil, the water supply, and the rivers.

“But China is positioning itself for the struggle to come − the struggle to find enough to eat,” he says.  “By controlling land in other countries, they will control those countries’ food supply.”
Professor Wadhams has concluded that there is now so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that dangerous warming is inevitable unless more drastic action is taken.  He says reducing emissions will help, along with planting forests, but it will never be enough.

“What is needed is something that has not been invented yet − a large-scale method of passing air through a machine and taking out the carbon dioxide,” he says. 

“In the long run, only by taking carbon out of the air can we hope to get the concentrations down enough to save us from dangerous climate change.

Read more at Food Supply Fears Spark China Land Grab

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