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When I read that the appalling refugee crisis in Europe could be understood as part of the initial swelling of a tsunami of population shifts compelled by climate change, I realized once again how critical CSA farms may prove to be. For stability, security and basic associative economy, we need many thousands more community supported farms (CSAs) along with the array of other agrarian initiatives that are progressively enhancing community food security.
The Global Refugee Crisis' Roots in Climate Change
One of the core factors leading to the current refugee crisis was the cruel drought that began in the Middle East in 2007-2008, a drought that endures. Crops withered, livestock perished, children went hungry. In droves, farmers and their families fled first to nearby cities, hoping for work but finding instead poverty and squalor. This desperate condition led to the unrest that sparked the Syrian civil war and that is now driving the migration calamity.
The foundation of today’s refugee crisis is climate change and its direct impact farming and food, an apocalyptic reality currently being illuminated in North America the flickering glare of record-setting wildfires. We are just at the beginning of a long stretch of increasing intensity. The waves of climate change are forecast to build in intensity from here on out. That is why we need hundreds of thousands more local farm and food initiatives including community supported farms. They are rooted in common sense.
CSAs can serve as cornerstones as communities gear up to reckon with the hard realities of climate change. It’s here. It’s going to become more intense. Climate change is now having an impact on farms and food not just in the Middle East, Africa and Australia, but also here in North America. Sustainable, agroecological farms such as arise in the context of CSA, can help add stability in dozens of important ways.
The reality of climate change and its direct impact on farms and food is, at last, registering in government. The USDA has commissioned an interagency assessment report entitled “Climate Change, Global Food Security, and the U.S. Food System.” Note this study well. It’s important as an indicator that finally – beyond the rhetoric of politics – serious people are recognizing that we have a serious problem. All of us. It’s time to act.
The USDA published official notice of its report in the Federal Register, along with a request for public comment.
The Urban Food Initiative
Harsh climate realities are registering not only in the US bureaucracy, but also globally. Three international organizations are collaborating to launch the Climate Change Urban Food Initiative.
The United Nations Environment Programme, the Fondation Nicolas Hulot, and the International Urban Food Network have teamed up to highlight the strategic links between sustainable food, sustainable urban development, and the active forces of climate change. Among their first projects, two upcoming webinars featuring international experts discussing keys elements of implementing projects to mitigate climate change and to enhance food security at the local level. The first webinar is “Food, Climate Change, and the City,” set for Wednesday, October 28th 2015. The second is “Toward Climate Resilient Urban Food Systems,” set for Tuesday, November 10, 2015.
The Urban Food Initiative will also contribute to policy discussions for COP21 in Paris, urging swift action towards more sustainable food systems.
National and global initiatives are much needed at this time, and much welcomed. But for community food security there is no substitute for direct citizen involvement in local community initiatives.
If we are going to reckon with the reality of climate change, we are going to have to awaken community intelligence, and do it soon. We’d be wise of our own free will and choice to bring many more farms and the communities of human beings who depend upon them into a mutual alliance in the face of changing conditions.
For the increasing number of people who are letting climate change reality register in their psyche, becoming allied with a CSA farm or other agrarian initiative can prove for many reasons to be intelligent action.
Journalist Steven McFadden is the author of 15 nonfiction books dealing with the land and our lives upon it. His most recent book is Awakening Community Intelligence: CSA Farms as 21st Century Cornerstones. Links to all of his blog posts for MOTHER EARTH NEWS can be found here.
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