A Voice Crying in the Wilderness

GLF 2017 Blog Competition
Maryanne Kabura Gathemia

Every day we are surrounded by competing voices for our attention. Companies try to get our attention using all sorts of gimmicks to convince us to buy that new product, telling us that it will bring us happiness, make us smarter, faster and basically better. But there are other voices also trying to get our attention, voices that are telling us that we are on the brink of destroying our beautiful planet through our reckless actions. But is anyone out there listening? Do we even care or will the lone voices keep crying out in the wilderness only to be drowned out by the louder more exciting voices. This blog post is about food and livelihoods of literally millions around the world which continue to be threatened by our careless actions and to highlight how dire the situation is as well as the consequences if we don’t do anything to change the situation on the ground.

A Tsunami is set to sweep through a whole city. The hero rushes to save the heroine before they are both destroyed and just in the nick of time he manages to pull it off, earning her undying affection right before the Tsunami destroys everything. Sound familiar? Probably, because that is a scene right out of a recent movie ‘San Andreas ‘.

We’ve all heard it before. The earth’s core temperature is rising at alarming levels and carbon emissions are dangerously high. But to be perfectly honest when the scientists and experts start to talk about it using scientific terms most of us switch channels to catch an episode of ‘The Kardashians’ and forget about anything serious thinking, that all that doesn’t concern us anyway and the government needs to figure things out.

After all we reason, if things are as bad as they say why isn’t the government doing more about it and what more can I do anyway? We consider that because we recycle and drive fuel efficient cars that we have done our bit for the planet. This is often the thinking of ordinary people who feel that climate experts are crying wolf. But now we are all starting to experience the effects of our actions. Whether its floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, heat waves and dropping food production, people are starting to wake up and realize that things are not ok.

And here is the bad news it’s not about to get any better, actually it’s going to get worse, much worse. We often fail to realize that food security goes hand in hand with weather conditions and what has been experienced lately has led to failed crops and threatened livelihoods. This is because farmers can no longer depend on their hard work to feed their families as food production has fallen and global food prices continue to free fall meaning that a farmer may be able produce a crop but by the time it gets to the market the prices offered are barely enough for him to recoup the expenses.

Farmers are not the only ones affected as global food prices have sky rocketed in the past few years. Families around the world are now spending a larger portion of their family income on food and many families unable to afford a balanced diet instead eat fast food which although is cheaper, is unhealthy and this leads to all sorts of health complications further straining the healthcare system and family livelihoods.

Many governments have tried to cushion farmers through subsidies but due to globalization, this is no longer tenable. Also government subsidies are usually for specific crops meaning that not all farmers are eligible. In many parts of the world, farmers have stopped growing certain crops due to inability to pay the bills while in other areas, small holder farms have turned into residential areas further worsening the situation by reducing the available land for growing food. Many families who have been farmers for generations are now losing their farms due to debt as banks auction their farms and are left trying to gather the pieces of their lives. Whether you talk to a farmer in rural USA or one in Europe or in Central America, the problem is the same. And families across the world are facing the same problems as they find themselves unable to put food on the table.

We have all experienced the effects of global warming and now it’s no longer a problem we can brush off. From melting Ice caps in the Arctic, to flash floods in Europe or the US, mud slides in South America and Africa, we are all in it together. The small choices we make on a daily basis including what we eat, do, drink, wear all have a consequence on the planet. Unless we make some drastic changes to our lifestyles and hold our governments responsible to ensure that friendly policies are put in place our children may very well bear the brunt of our poor choices.

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