January 19th, 2021

Climate change could trigger food shortages

By Mabell, Dave on January 17, 2020.

Longtime United Nations worker Trevor Page outlines global challenges of hunger, climate change and migration during this weeks session of the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs, Thursday at the Legion. Herald photo by Dave Mabell

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald


Climate change has become one of the biggest problems the world has ever encountered.

With deepening droughts, wildfires and severe flooding, it would seem difficult to ignore.

Some species of life could become extinct, the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs heard Thursday – if the global temperature increases by 4 C.

Worse, featured speaker Trevor Page said, that level of change could result in food shortages around the world. And with the sea rising, transportation systems could fail.

“A lot of American ports will be in serious trouble,” he warned – yet some U.S. politicians deny climate change is a reality.

Page, retired in Lethbridge after many years of service as a United Nations officer, said it’s crucial that the world’s leaders agree on plans to reduce emissions which are fuelling the temperature rise.

His comments came as leaders of the UN’s world food program issued a warning that 45 million people across southern Africa are facing food scarcity in the wake of repeated drought followed by flooding in much of the area’s most productive croplands.

“This hunger crisis is on a scale we’ve not seen before and the evidence shows it’s going to get worse,” the UN food program’s on-the-scene director said Thursday in Johannesburg.

Page, who helped with food programs in many African nations over the years, cited food scarcity as one of the main causes of widespread migration – now a divisive issue in many parts of the world.

“People don’t just sit there and die, they try to move.”

For many, moving to another part of their country looks like a solution – and there are now an estimated 71 million men, women and children who areconsidered “displaced” in their own nation. Page said many are now in holding camps, where they have few of the rights provided to economic migrants outside their home country.

Five years ago, Page said, representatives of more than 160 nations sat down to create a plan of action to slow global warming in an attempt to avert disaster. Canada signed onto the agreement, he noted, while the U.S. and Australia – large coal producers – refused.

What actions have been taken since then?

“We seem paralyzed, wanting to put things off,” Page said.

But some Canadians are speaking out and demanding action, he pointed out. More must be prepared to talk to their elected officials, in Alberta and across the nation, about the need for all levels of government to take action in response.

In Lethbridge, a number of groups are doing that.

“If we work together, we can do it,” Page believes.

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