The world is at strangest of times; experiencing the harshest of temperatures, the weakest rainfall, the strongest floods, and the fiercest of silent wars. The earth is crying, but just a few can hear her wail at the feet of climate change and food insecurity.
Like never before, our world is getting under extreme threats from environmental hazards of a warmer globe, yet indifference seem to be the order of the day.
According to Yale School of Forestry and Environment Studies, public opinion on human-caused global warming is 48:52.
While 52% believe that global warming is as a result of human activities, 48% believe the phenomenon is not human driven, suggesting humans cannot solve the problem.
Leaders of the free world care so much about public opinions on wars, economies and endless political aspirations that many continually heed the cry of less threatening issues.
The deafening noise of terrorism and economic meltdown are louder than the silent cries of a earth on its way to climatic-destruction. However, the silent cries just got louder, as Pope Francis can hear the earth cry and has decided to echo the cries of the earth.
Prior to the Pope’s involvement, Pew Research Centre, a nonpartisan American think tank, in a survey of 40 countries from March 25 to May 27, 2015 discovered that climate change is more of a threat to the world, than Islamic State (ISIS), Boko Haram, and economic instability.
The outcome of the research corroborated Barrack Obama’s state of the Union stance on the issue in January 2015. Obama said; “No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change”.
HOW BAD IS IT?
Very bad! Climate change is the greatest environmental threat of the 21st century, responsible for rising sea levels, raging storms, searing heat, ferocious fires, severe drought, and punishing floods. It threatens our health, communities, economy, and national security, the US National Resource Defence Council (NRDC) has said.
Scripps Institute of oceanography has said carbon dioxide emission rose to 400 parts per million in 2014 – a first in 800,000 years. Heat waves, a clear indicator of a warmer globe, killed tens of thousands in Russia back in 2007, over 2,000 in India and about 60 people in Egypt since it hit Africa earlier in August, 2015.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has also reported a 30% rise in acidity of the oceans since the 19th century. Endless indicators for years to come!
WHAT EFFECT DOES IT HAVE ON FOOD SECURITY?
As far back as 2001, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) defined food security as “a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.
The question of climate change and food security can therefore be as simple as; how has climate change affected safe, sufficient and nutritious feeding of all people at all times?
As our world gets warmer, food shortage is also proportionally on the rise and this is no coincidence.
At the turn of the year in Ethiopia, the United Nations estimated that 2.9 million people would need food aid by the end of the year 2015. In contrast, the number has grown to 4.5 million people after failed rains – a direct effect of climate change— hit one of Africa’s fastest growing economies.
First hand narratives from northeast Nigeria also show that many Nigerians no longer eat based on nutritional requirement or Food preferences, they eat what is available. All the internally displaced persons in camps in Yola state are underfed. Food security has been severely challenged by climate change and global warming.
The US President says there is a clear connection between, climate change, terrorism and food insecurity.
“Understand, climate change did not cause the conflicts we see around the world. Yet what we also know is that severe drought helped to create the instability in Nigeria that was exploited by the terrorist group Boko Haram. It’s now believed that drought and crop failures and high food prices helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war in the heart of the Middle East,” he said in May.
WHAT HAS THE POPE CALLED THE WORLD TO DO?
In a timely Papal intervention, the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics and the Christian world has called on the world and its leaders to ACT NOW.
In June, the Vatican released its 2015 encyclical – the highest level of teaching document a pope can issue – titled; “Encyclical letter Laudato si’ of the Holy Father Francis on care for our common home”.
Speaking about the ills of climate change, Pope Francis said; “The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.”
The earth which he referred to as a “sister, now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.”
The Pope agrees with climate scientists that climate change is human driven and must be halted.
“We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life,” he said.
The six-chapter document had mentions of food 13 times, emphasizing the direct relationship between food security and climate change, with the need to curb food wastage and avert future shortage.
“Greater scarcity of water will lead to an increase in the cost of food and the various products which depend on its use.”
He called on world leaders “to manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace.”
The Pope’s intervention was not without a word of prayer for the earth and those who possess power.
“Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live. The poor and the earth are crying out.”