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Climate Change, Agriculture, and the Right to Food

Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food

Food Production Today Takes 20 Times as Much Fossil Fuel as 100 Years ago

michaelpollanA 4 minute interview with Professor Michael Pollan also emphasizes the importance of the method of production for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He points out that 100 years ago it took 1 calorie of fossil fuel to produce two calories of food. Today in the U.S. it takes 10 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of food. Michael Pollan is Director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, author, and critic of the global industrial food complex. Watch Professor Pollan's interview on

Agriculture and Climate: The Critical Connection

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The agricultural sector accounts for a substantial portion of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Direct agriculture worldwide is responsible for 13.5 percent of GHG. In addition, deforestation accounts for another 17.4 percent of GHG, making agricultural activities accountable for almost 31 percent of GHG. This is of course substantial and a reason that agriculture needs to be part of the plan for reducing these emissions.

Jim Kleinschmit, Director of Rural Communities at the Institute for Trade and Agriculture Policy, reports on the multiple ways agriculture impacts and is impacted by climate change. He notes that achieving “climate-friendly” agriculture systems requires a shift in focus, research, and investment away from industrialized input and fossil-fuel dependent agricultural practices toward more resilient low-input systems that increase carbon sequestration in the soil and lessen output of greenhouse gases. Kleinschmit explains that the focus needs to be on the kinds of foods we produce and how we produce them because 50 to 83 percent of emissions are produced before food leaves the farm gate.  Listen to highlights on Jim Kleinschmidt's six minute YouTube on Agriculture and Climate Change.

Global Food Problems about Justice, not scarcity

Anna Lappé, has just released Diet for a Hot Planet, which shows how much our global food system  drives the climate crisis—even more than transportation.  The destructive planet-heating food production and distribution we now experience are consequences of the centralizing control of farmland, processing, and distribution by global mega-corporations.  Providing food for the world's population does not have to be that way.  Agriculture itself can be part of the solution since ecological farming actually binds carbon in the soil.  Such earth-friendly, hunger-ending farming is proving its potential from Ethiopia to Brazil to India to the U.S.  Read Lappe's mother's article at Yes, a nonprofit publication that supports people’s active engagement in building a just and sustainable world.

Food, Inc.

Director/Producer Robert Kenner reveals how highly subsidized commodities of wheat, corn, and soybeans and chicken, pork, and beef are produced by industrialized agriculture that is controlled by a few food conglomerates.  While the system produces cheap food, Kenner shows the hidden costs which are very high.  They include destruction of our environment, poisoning of our water supplies with chemicals and pesticides, and serious health problems, including 73,000 people suffering illness as a result of ecoli bacteria and a surge in obesity and diabetes.  Six years in the making, the 100 minute film is available on DVD and can be viewed online:

Issues of Justice: Inequity and the Right to Food

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There is a huge difference between wealthy nations and poorer ones in their contribution to the global warming crisis facing the Earth and in the impact global warming is currently having on these countries.  Shalini Gupta and Cecilia Martinez of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy point out that government policies created the disparities we see today in development, energy use, and CO2 emissions

In a video recorded talk, Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, advocates rethinking the relationship between the climate change agenda and the human rights agenda, especially the right to food.  "The effect of climate change on the right to food will be massive in the next few years . . . whole regions will find it more difficult to feed themselves as the result of changes in temperature and more extreme weather related events." Listen to his talk on finding ways to make the right to food and climate mitigation mutually complementary.

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In June 2012, Think Again MN launched a history series that examines politics and policy-making in Minnesota during the last century from the immediate post World War II years up through the 1990s. That era witnessed fierce legislative battles at the State Capitol but it was also a time of shared values that cut across partisan lines. 

Read about it here

MN's Leading Election System

MN's Leading Election System

With Secretary of State Steve Simon

 

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Listen to Secretary of State Steve Simon's excellent presentation on MN's outstanding election system emulated by many other states at the Think Again Brooklyns forum January 19, 2016.  Secretary Simon includes ways in which it can be improved, and he explains why it is important to vote.  He concludes with a quote from a tee shirt:  "Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion.  It is an act of surrender."

Get details on how to vote at http://mnvotes.org

Oregon's Automatic Voter Registration

How Oregon Became the Easiest Place to Vote in the US

By Lornet Turnbull
YES! Magazine
October 8, 2016


In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. 

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