Doing everything right won’t be enough.
The age of plenty is over.
For decades, humanity has grown far more food every year than it would take to ensure that none of Earth’s multitudes ever went to bed hungry even once. Starvation in the world we grew up in only happened because our sharing skills suck. Manipulating food prices to starve hungry people fattens the offshore bank accounts of billionaires. Many of the well fed would rather watch others die than share. A staggering amount of perfectly good food is simply left to rot and thrown away. If there were global political will to make it happen, no one on Earth need feel hunger pangs. Elon Musk could obliterate global hunger before breakfast all by himself and still enjoy more financial clout than entire poor nations. Kids dying of hunger has, at least since the green revolution, entirely been a matter of choice.
That’s about to change.
A warmer planet is a hungrier one. You can’t grow crops in a blast furnace or a flash flood. Riverbeds dry as bone here, unspeakable deluge there: neither are conducive to growing your dinner. Top experts patiently explained for decades how hotter means hunger, and politics rolled its eyes and flipped the channel. A single heat wave can transform a country from a net wheat exporter feeding the global market to an importer competing for limited resources. A shift in climate patterns can rapidly wipe out 75% of a country’s agriculture, taking 85% of its livestock with it. We’ve already seen these things happen. Climate change has already cut the world’s agricultural productivity by 21%. Places North America used to grow most of its crops don’t so much have ‘drought’ any more. Droughts end. What they have instead is a new desert.
None of this is going away. It’s going to do nothing but get worse. The climate pummelling has barely gotten started.