The Famine in Our Future

The holidays have traditionally been a time of feasting with family and friends.

The biggest concern most of us have ever had to contend with when we gather for these holiday feasts is that we’ll overeat and put on unwanted pounds.

Those days of happy, carefree indulgence though are numbered…

With the imminent peril climate change is posing to the world’s food supply, we’re likely to see far more famine than feasting in the years to come.

Hotter temperatures… more extreme weather… and the increased threat of pests and diseases are projected to LOWER agricultural yields at least 16 percent by 2050… at the same time the demand for food in a world of 9 billion people will rise 60 percent.

Historically, the Peace Movement hasn’t given all that much attention to issues of ‘Food Security.’

But if ever there was a pressing ‘peace issue’ in the world today, ready access to food is it.

And to appreciate the importance of this point, we need look no further than our own stomachs. Miss just one meal and we all know what happens to our blood sugar: we become hard to live with.

Hungry people, as we’ve known all of our lives, are crabby people… And crabby people aren’t very peaceful.

We’re seeing this unpleasant dynamic being played out on the international level right before our eyes. The tragic civil war in Syria, for instance, was provoked in part by climate change and food insecurity. Between 2006 and 2011, Syria suffered a record drought that drove masses of its farmers off the land. One and a half million people were displaced by this climate catastrophe and sent fleeing to the cities, where they promptly overwhelmed the government’s ill-equipped social safety net. Hunger, oppression, sectarian rivalries and government corruption all fed the unrest that culminated in open civil war.

The refugee crisis we’re witnessing in Europe today is a direct result of this climate change-instigated crisis.

The entire “Arab Spring” of 2011, in fact, had roots in climate change. Rising food prices — stemming from the colossal failure of the 2010 Russian wheat harvest — stoked protests all over the Mideast. Once again, food shortages aggravated existing grievances, sparking insurrections against the ruling governments.

The perils climate change poses for our food supply, however, aren’t confined to distant parts of the earth.

We’re facing them right here at home. Right now.

California — the source for NEARLY HALF of all the fruits and vegetables consumed in the U.S. — is in its fourth year of a record-setting drought. Even when the drought finally breaks, the era of the California Central Valley being America’s produce supplier is over. The state’s reservoirs and groundwater resources are getting depleted and hotter temperatures are reducing snowfall. What moisture they do get is falling as rain… and the mountain snowmelt farmers have relied on for a century for irrigation simply isn’t available anymore.


The average bite of food on our plates continues to travel over 2,000 miles to get there.

Almost one-fifth of the food we now eat is imported from outside the country.

Even in an agricultural powerhouse like Nebraska, 90 percent of the money our citizens annually spend on food leaves the state. Despite our proud heritage as a farm state, we’re not growing food for our tables anymore. We’re producing commodity crops — corn and soybeans (mainly for ethanol and animal feed) and beef for the international market. Nebraskans grab their food off the grocery store shelf the same as everyone else.

Despite being the wealthiest nation in human history, AMERICA IS FOOD INSECURE. We’ve positioned ourselves as far away from our food supply as virtually any other country in the world.

We don’t grow our own food. We have no idea where our food comes from. And we’re not particularly concerned about trying to shorten that food chain to bring it closer to home.

For anyone who likes to eat regularly, though, this is a risky way to operate.

And it has serious implications as a ‘peace issue’.

The chair of the United Kingdom’s “All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development” — Lord Cameron of Dillington — warns that even ‘First World’ nations like Britain and the U.S. are just “NINE MEALS FROM ANARCHY.

Observing what unfolded in New Orleans ten years ago during Hurricane Katrina, the House of Lords’ member concluded that, if the delivery trucks don’t arrive to replenish the shelves, after just three days, we’re looking at “rats, mayhem and maybe even murder.”

Just that quick… when people get hungry and don’t have anything to eat… the social order starts to break down.

What you’re reading here really isn’t news.

Everyone from the Department of Defense to former Nebraska Republican elected officials like 1st District Congressman Doug Bereuter and U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel have sounded warnings that we’re facing food and water shortages due to climate change.

It’s on the record. The information is out there. Hardly anybody in the state though is talking about this issue.

You’d think with agriculture being the lifeblood of the Nebraska economy… with all of us wanting to eat… and food so integrally tied to peace… the security of our food supply would be a hot topic of discussion.

But apart from a news report about a new scientific finding or an occasional pronouncement from a politician, there’s an eerie, unhealthy silence around this subject.

So it falls to us — the oldest statewide Peace & Justice organization in the entire U.S. — to start the discussion about how we’re going to feed ourselves in the trying times ahead.

It’s up to us to broach the topic… Just like we do with justice for Palestine… With the crying need to cut the military budget… With reducing the world’s nuclear weapons stockpiles… And with stopping our endless (and fruitless) military interventions abroad.

Important as food security is (and IT IS important because we’re all going to want our next meal), it can’t be the only issue NFP speaks up about.

The work of peacemaking is an intricate tapestry of interconnected issues. The old union slogan about ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’ is as true as ever. As part of the larger human family — and the even larger ecosystem we share with the rest of creation — we’re all in this together.

What better time of the year then than the holiday season, when hopes for “Peace on Earth” are on everyone’s lips, to be talking about how we’re all connected to one another?

That’s the goal and mission of Nebraskans for Peace in a nutshell — not just during the holidays, but every day of the year.

We carry that standard and that message everywhere we go… trying to build on those connections… trying to build community… trying, in short, to build a more peaceful and just world.

This is our end-of-the-year fundraising appeal.

This is when we specifically turn to our supporters to ask for your financial help to sustain our work for yet another record-setting year.

After 45 years, you know what we’ve done. You know what tall tasks we’ve set for ourselves.

Now we ask for your financial gifts so we can pay our bills and continue these efforts.


And that’s our goal for this year as well. Thirty thousand dollars to give us a nest egg.

Please give as generously as you can. You won’t find a better cause. And you know your money will be well-spent.

And, this year of all years, we wish you the happiest of holiday feasts with family and friends.

Best Wishes for the New Year,

Tim Rinne

State Coordinator, Nebraskans for Peace

P.S. Gift memberships to NFP are also great ways ‘to give the gift of peace’ to family and friends and increase NFP’s numbers. Gift memberships are only $25 each.

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