By Sancha Emmanuel-Joseph, Student at the Faculty of Food and Agriculture pursuing a degree in General Agriculture
It is well known that you cannot survive for long periods without food or water? Food is one of the most important things in this world. The human race is largely dependent on the planet earth for its survival. Earth supplies us with the necessary food, water, shelter and clothing. Sadly, this unfailing dependence on earth is slowly coming to an end. This place we all call home is struggling to remain alive and is rapidly changing. Changing and variable climate are threatening to impact the way we live and most importantly the way we produce our food!
Climate change is referred to as any significant change in the climate, lasting for an extended period of time. In other words, climate change includes major changes in temperature, rainfall, or wind patterns among other effects that occur over several decades or longer. As a result of these , many negatives follow including changing temperatures, water levels rise, and organisms lose their habitat or eventually die since soil is destroyed. These processes adversely impact the earth’s ability to continue providing food to its inhabitants.
Climate change, is an enormous issue that threatens our fragile food supply. It is a critical affair that has been in the spotlight for many years now. It threatens every citizen of the planet that is seven billion and counting. Climate change has the ability to create a never ending precipice of poverty and death. It has the ability to kidnap our Agriculture. Climate change is like driving with both hands over your face. Eventually it will lead to the total destruction of all life.
The question is posed, how does this climate change affect us all? The answer lies in the amount of food we have available to eat. Agriculture is of uttermost importance for human survival. Simply put, the way in which we produce food is called Agriculture.
At the Faculty of Food and Agriculture, my eyes and mind have been opened to this global event. The Faculty is preparing me to be ready to assist St Lucia to meet this grave challenge to food security that will face us.
Climate change causes extreme weather conditions e.g. strong winds, heat waves, heavy rains which all cause the polar ice caps to melt. As a result of this, the sea level will rise which will cause severe flooding. Thus, taking away the amount of land which was once used to produce food. The quality and the quantity of the land would be degraded. Simply put no fertile land, no food.
Also with the rise in sea levels, the land becomes saline hence making it unfit or unfertile for crop production. Another point to note is that there is a change in rain patterns. As a consequence this change leads to severe drought thus causing the formation of desserts in once bushy areas. Simply put no water, no crops, no livestock no food. Eventually there will be no life because water is essential for life.
Additionally, there will be an increase in pests and diseases on farms. With an increase in pest and diseases on farms, it means that this will affect both the crops and the animals which would have been available for us to use as food.
In the same fashion, since there would be an increase in heat, our farm animals would die from heat stress and thus the stewed chicken, roast pork, baked beef, lamb chops or curried goat meats that we all love would decrease and eventually would be no more. Also these animals that are left on the farms would not get quality feed to eat, as the forage and feeds would not be available for farmers to feed them. Since they would have all been destroyed through the strong winds or floods.
Furthermore, climate change can cause severe changes in the sea surface temperature. This would result in a decrease in the fish stock which also means that less fish would be available for us to use as food. In addition to that, the coral reefs which serve as a breeding habitat for many fishes would be destroyed, thus reducing the overall fish population at sea.
Another point to note is that our forest which serves as a major source of food, and a habitat for wildlife will be destroyed as a result of this crook, we call climate change. Our forest is home to many plant varieties that are used as traditional medicines. Think about it. As a result of this big phenomena, how we know life to be, will be completely destroyed.
Moreover, the soil is as important a habitat as earth is to us. It is the home for many micro organisms. These micro organisms will become vulnerable as they too are at risk of losing where they call home. The good soil organisms that provide structure and stability will be destroyed as well. For this reason climate change is the thief that comes to take away all what we know too well. It’s here to destroy our way of life, our culture, our food.
Equally important on the issue, is that agriculture does not only feed the world. It clothes the world as well. Climate change can also destroy the trees and plants e.g. cotton and the silk worm that are used to make clothes. Trees that are used for lumber to build houses can also be destroyed as well. Additionally the micro flora and fauna, our beautiful biodiversity can all become extinct as a result of this thief we call climate change.
In as much as climate change is an important matter affecting us all, we too have our part to play in helping to reduce its effects on the environment that we live in. Human activities have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
The majority of greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels, that is coal, oil, natural gas to produce energy, which is then used by industries, vehicles etc. Deforestation which is the cutting down of trees and not replanting new ones also has an effect; resultantly the land remains bare and thus increases its ability to become eroded after a rainfall event.
Important to remember that you too can help. You should be very mindful of your activities. Next time you think of driving to the nearby store, you should ride a bike, or walk instead. Your goal here is to make the most efficient use of your vehicle as possible. Before you litter indiscriminately, think before you act.
You want to reduce the impacts of this climate change on your food supply. Remember food is life. Seven billion people are affected as a result of your activities. Act wisely.
Don’t you think it’s time that you pay more attention to things you do before we are left to struggle to make our daily bread?
For more information on the various programmes of the Faculty of Food and Agriculture visit the faculty website at http://sta.uwi.edu/ffa or email: [email protected]