Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns

Aug 08, 2019 · 753 comments
novoad (USA)
Thanks to b fagan for a link to the actual report. See graph D, with the following comments "D. Agricultural production Land use change and rapid land use intensification have supported the increasing production of food, feed and fibre. Since 1961, the total production of food (cereal crops) has increased by 240% because of land area expansion and increasing yields. Fibre production (cotton) increased by 162%" Now that is a solid reason for optimism, isn't it?
Rebecca HK (Vancouver Wa)
Somebody please explain to me, in this day of vast, undeniable climate change, how anyone has the motivation to procreate, when we know what devastation we are leaving to future generations. I welcome replies; I am flummoxed.
Briano (Connecticut)
Please allow me to introduce to the conversation the notion that the Democrats can get something right. Here is what the Dems need to do: Let everyone in the country know that Mother Earth cannot tolerate four more years of Trump. We have this one planet, and no other, and we must begin to make the necessary moves to save it and save ourselves. Trump doesn't care about it all. Democrats need to go all in (what ever that means) and frame the situation as do or die. I would also recommend reading Kevin Baker's "We Can Do It Again: Politics, Power and the New Green Deal" in May, '19 Harpers. There is no more time to waste with impending climate disaster just there.
Frish (usa)
Everything needs immediate attention. Oh. If we were rational, we'd be planning on not having any more children, and being as comfortable and happy as possible as we check out.
Bette Andresen (New Mexico)
So many excellent suggestions. So much is possible. It is not too late. But where is the political will? Where are the visionaries in places of power? Thank you NYT for continuing to bring up the catastrophic future we face if we don't act. We need action and to get that we need people pushing for it!
malencid (oregon)
At least eight of the latest models produced by leading research centers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and France are showing climate sensitivity of 5°C or warmer. When these results were first released at a climate modelling workshop in March this year, a flurry of panicked emails from my IPCC colleagues flooded my inbox. What if the models are right? Has the Earth already crossed some kind of tipping point? Are we experiencing abrupt climate change right now? Is it game over? The model runs aren’t all available yet, but when many of the most advanced models in the world are independently reproducing the same disturbing results, it’s hard not to worry. And yet we have the UN and IPCC saying that we can limit the warming to 1.5 degees C. This is hope running amuck.
novoad (USA)
@malencid "Are we experiencing abrupt climate change right now? Is it game over?" The unadjusted British official HADCRUT data shows nothing special about global temperatures whatsoever. We had a small decline in global temps in the last two decades, just as emissions rose fast Satellites show the same small decline after 1998 Are your panicked IPCC colleagues following the measured temps, or are they only looking at models? At our university, the computation center has no windows. Do they live in a place like that, with only modeling computers for company?
Francesca Jaques (Florida)
What interested me about this article was the approach it takes in warning the population about the reality of climate change. What interests me the most, is how incredibly fast this is happening. Our planet's wellbeing is declining, and at a substantial level. And to add to that, our population is seeming completely unresponsive to our degrading planet.
b fagan (chicago)
Here's another article discussing the same UN report: Title offers a bit of hope (provided the effort is put in). Note too that the report itself is available in the link in paragraph 4 of this NY Times article.
Bummero (lax)
As usual a completely fake report and story. To begin with the so called report contained no data, merely Ecofreak propaganda opinion Second there is no report merely some unsourced statements Third no critical evaluation of the so called sources was given Last this is just another echo chamber at the United Nations trying to justify their untaxed salaries. Don't believe me? Go to their website and try to find any data or anything that could be called a report. I dare you.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@Bummero A casual reading of the science and news would enlighten you to the fact that the rapid climate changes underway are already problematic for farmers and we’re still in the beginning stages of what’s to come.
b fagan (chicago)
@Bummero - OK. Here's the link to the summary (it was right in this article) Here's where you can download all the pre-press chapters: Here's the list of all the subject experts who serve as coordinating authors, lead authors and review editors. They're all volunteering their time for this, like all the authors and editors for all the prior UN IPCC reports. They take time out from their own research to assemble a cohesive review of all the research other experts in their field have been doing. And again, they volunteer their time to go through the couple of years of work to put one of these together. This particular report required review of over 5,000 different recent published science papers. Thousands of peer-reviewed science papers. If it's like all the other IPCC reports, you can actually read all the reviewer comments and the responses to those comments, too. It's amazingly comprehensive - for people who try to comprehend. No other fields of research get such an in depth review every few years - but this is a really world-changing issue. Did I mention the report is researched, written, edited, reviewed by experts who serve as unpaid volunteers?
plusaf (Raleigh, NC)
@b fagan Most climate models are modeled after each other, so Of Course they'll agree! A lot of data show that numbers for forecasts and models have been cherry-picked or changed to prove the views of the cherry-pickers. Problem is this: the entire alleged discussion has devolved into a religious confrontation between Believers and Skeptics, and the Believers reject any and ALL data, reports or studies that contradict their views. That's a prime indicator for me that it's basically two Cu;ts, each saying "My stuff is RIGHT and Your stuff is The Devil's Own Spawn." Same as Left versus Right, Liberals versus Democrats, atheists versus Theists and on and on and on. But hey, this IS the NYT, and nearly all readers and commenters are of the One Camp and KNOW that the Other Camp REALLY IS The Devil's Own Spawn... contrary information be damned!
Wes (Landenberg)
We don’t deserve this planet, and it appears we’re going to get what’s coming to us. Hard to accept feeble trump as representing the top economic/earth-consuming political entity on a n the planet, but as I said, we’re getting what we deserve. Yeah, but Democrats have cars and use light bulbs!
sam finn (california)
Instead of micromanagement by government, impose a high -- very high -- emissions tax -- high enough to be punitive -- with no exceptions -- none -- -- all sources -- agriculture, manufacturing, power production, transportation, home heating -- and no credits or deductions or offsets -- and no tiers or thresholds or caps -- --- and no complicated "trading" -- just a straight tax, per ton emitted, with different rates for different emissions, higher rates per ton for emissions contributing more per ton to global warming -- e.g. $x per ton CO2 and $y per ton CH4, etc.
joyce (santa fe)
Human overpopulation is driving all this change and misery. If we do not act to reduce the human population, the earths limits will shrug us off the globe in short order. The earth is a closed system, it has to be in balance to function properly. Once out of balance all kinds of malfunctions happen. The earth is far, far older than its human population and the earths system of checks and balances works well to sustain life. When something is out of balance the earths systems tend to right the balance one way or another. The earth will control the human population, but it is far better if we try to do this ourselves. There is also the question of how far and how fast the degradation of earths ability to sustain life because of human interference will occur. Eventually the imbalance will be corrected and life will slowly regain its ability to function as designed over eons of time by the process of evolution. Evolution is a marvelous participant in establishing proper balance between the living and their resources. Life on earth is miraculous in its complexity, resourcefulness, capability and function. Humans will not end life on earth, but they may well alter it significantly. In the end, humans may be a short lived race,but the earth's life will move on regardless, according to the resources still remaining.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@joyce We cannot ethically reduce the human population sufficiently in the time we have left. One billion people currently burn no fossil fuels. In the US we produce 16 tons of CO2 per capita per year. Bangladesh produces less than half a ton per capita per year. Yet a third of that country is going under the waves over the next one to three hundred years, largely due to the emissions of those well off enough to afford a computer to post here with.
Frish (usa)
@Erik Frederiksen the only non-coercive means to quickly reduce population. Just Say No. Non-violent, affects NO ONE alive today and helps the remaining life on earth.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
Despite what the misinformers would have people believe, science works. Your smart phone is built from sand, oil and rocks. Sand for glass and chips, oil for the plastic and the right shiny rocks for copper, gold and rare earth minerals. It has Einstein in it, without special and general relativity the nice lady who tells you where to go will get you lost. It has quantum physics built into it. Science and some engineering, technology, marketing and design. And still you have people pulling out their smart phones and sending out tweets and posting on internet threads that scientists don't know what they are talking about. Try giving a bunch of congressmen some sand, oil and rocks and ask them to make a smart phone and monkeys would type Shakespeare before you got the phone.
novoad (USA)
@Erik Frederiksen "science works." Finally we agree on something. Indeed. I work on Quantum Field Theory, time, space, matter. A new theory based on symmetry, uniting relativity with matter... I teach it, and I always show the students the 1 minute take of Feynman on modern science. The ONLY thing which matters in modern science is measured data, and whether your model agrees with measured data. Else, your model is wrong, junk, no matter how beautiful the model, no matter how famous you are. I don't discuss climate, but sometimes I show them the sea levels in NYC, and they are shocked...
novoad (USA)
@Erik Frederiksen My point is, always go for data. Never go for what someone said. General relativity is revered because it is confirmed by measurements, all the time. Even Einstein said so, that his theory was a mere speculation till Eddington confirmed it with data. Hundreds of people, myself included, work on finding what CAUSES the space time curvature, and I have high hopes on a new crystallographic structure of 4d space times which I found. But now, bye and back to the computations for the night... the fall semester starts soon. PS I spent some time decades ago in the Bay Area. I was a Miller postdoc fellow at Berkeley. It's a grant you cannot apply for, it gives you three years of complete freedom with no duties, and faculty privileges.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@novoad Regarding data, the current acceleration of ice sheet and glacier mass loss is 44Gt/yr2. Do the math. 78cm by 2100, throw in 20-30 for thermal expansion and that’s a meter we’re already on pace for. Not long ago a meter was worst case scenario for BAU.
Carol C. (Upstate NY)
None of this will change until we're all out in the streets and on the doorsteps of our legislators demanding it. Don't let comments and tweets substitute for action. No group or hub in your town? Organize one. I didn't know how either until I tried it. People showed up!
Casual Observer (Los Angeles)
Trump is keeping us from addressing migrations that will not be easy to stop, even with fences and lots more CBP officers. Starving people have nothing to lose, and no reason to stop attempting to cross borders. We must try to help remedy the problems in Central America. The methane from cattle can be greatly reduced by feeding them seaweed, but the felling of the forests is a disaster. The trees are the perfect carbon sink, but felling them creates much green house gases. Reducing the meat in the dietary for overfed nations is a good idea. Global warming is going to cost us a lot of what we depend upon for our modern way of life, and the opposition to dealing with it by Americans and conservatives is self destructive.
Bob (NY)
Get your protein from soybeans. Better for the land, too.
Tom (South California)
I have driven by feed lots in Imperial Valley, California. Acres of cattle and the stench from the waste was unbearable. Water from the Colorado river is used to grow alfalfa hay to feed the animals. The river no longer reaches the gulf of California. What isn't used for agriculture goes to cities of southern California.
Shantanew (Minneapolis)
Odd juxtaposition to see this article next to the article about the former vegans who have traded in their plants for baby back ribs, an article that only fleetingly looks at climate change.
MeToo (Rancho Tahoe)
How many Doomsday scenarios predicted by experts in the field is it going to take to wake us up? The answer is, an infinite number. Humanity is hell bent on destroying ourselves. I happen to believe that this exact scenario has played itself out over and over again in the Universe writ large. Civilizations come and they go. We are but another doomed species who are too smart for our own good. Things won't get fixed and we will reap the whirlwind. None of our problems on a species wide scale will ever be fixed because we are incapable of letting go of our greed and war like tendencies. Enjoy what's left of the world you recognize. It won't last long.
Frish (usa)
@MeToo Humans have never managed resources, we can only exploit them. No human trajectory is ecologically sustainable, and, it's part of our human nature. We've been "ecto-ecological" since tools, fire and language...
AJ (Florence, NJ)
I've never heard so much negativity. You people need to get a grip on yourselves. You've all lived exceptionally good lives by comparison with people even 100 years ago. Now you're whining because the party's over? Come on. Everybody's gotta die sometime.
Stop eating meat of all types, including fish, right now. That would be very helpful. Within the next 20 years, eating meat will be viewed as the consumption of tobacco is today. Unhealthy for you, those around you and for the planet.
Casual Observer (Los Angeles)
@GLO Not necessary nor beneficial to stop entirely. The idea that our bodies can survive on plant foods alone is simply not realistic. Even in vegetarian countries, they rely upon animal products like dairy and eggs, fish and fowl. We need the energy provided by these products as well as nutrients. Our bodies do not break down plant cells as efficiently as bovines and the chemistry of plants often makes nutrients which they contain hard for our bodies to absorb.
Raz (Montana)
@GLO Meat eating is the most comprehensive source of proteins, which are necessary for life! How is it unhealthy, eaten in sensible amounts? The worst polluting animals?...humans.
Cameron H (San Francisco)
@GLO really, the animal proteins that expanded the size of the human brain and are, according just about any anthropologist, the reason we are not still swinging through the jungle today as well as our main food source for 2 million years are killing us? Doesn't even begin to pass the sniff test. The fact is per capita meat consumption has been declining for decades yet chronic disease and diabetes keep climbing. The epidemiological studies that demonized meat have been proven to be conflicted and ignorant if not downright deceitful about the conflicting data in their reports. Just google problems with epidemiological studies and you'll see how ridiculous it is to base any health policy off them. Curious what you base your opinion off of?
James Mascianda (San Bruno, Ca)
Gotta love consistency! Remember when the Bush EPA tried to say that smog was good for us because it lowered skin cancer rates? Took the Supreme Court to get the EPA to straighten out back then. Current administration and rigged supreme court isn’t going to save anyone, except their own.
novoad (USA)
"Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns" "threatens" and "warns" show that what they talk about happens in a model, not in the real world. If you are interested in what actually happens, as extremely few of the readers of this kind of article are, do not take anyone's word on it. Instead, simply make a search for "crop yield trends" and you will get solid measured data, put out and used by those who work with or invest in food, data which is entirely opposite to the gloomy UN report. Crop yields are growing for many decades much faster than population. Population growth has slowed to 1% per year. Population is expected to stop growing by 2100. Grain crop yields are growing at about 2% per year now. Twice faster than population growth. Crop yields have tripled in the last 60 years. From 60 bpa to 180. This happened even for Ethiopia, which used to be known for apocalyptic famines, but are now known as powerhouses of grain crop production. So we can look forward to a prosperous future for humanity, from the food point of view. As to the UN report, tomorrow rain could stop forever, or rain might never stop. You never know...
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@novoad Models have been pretty accurate. Meanwhile the real world is responding in many areas faster than the models have indicated. We've already seen conflicts and migration linked to drought with the little bit of warming to date in places like Africa. A few of years ago the Guardian reported that farmers around the Bay of Bengal were driven by drought to fish the Bay and now fisheries there are collapsing and the migration from a population of hundreds of millions is beginning. When climatic zones and rains cross borders now there will be people with guns on the other side who may not like those being forced to move. India and perhaps one more country are now building walls to contain the population of Bangladesh which resides on the sinking Ganges River Delta. And half a billion people live on sinking river deltas while the protective deltas are eroding, sea level rise is accelerating, and maximum storm strength may be increasing.
novoad (USA)
@Erik Frederiksen The Obama administration threatened to cut funding for any federal agency, like the Pentagon or the Navy, which didn't have a climate change plan. Then they used those mandated plans as proof that climate change, rather than the administration, was a real threat to those agencies. The Pentagon and the Navy are not currently listing climate change as a threat.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@novoad We’ve been seeing numerous impacts catching many scientists by surprise with how soon they are occurring. In 2014 two independent teams of scientists reported that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is likely irreversibly retreating. 3.3 meters of sea level rise equivalent of ice there is being destabilized by a warming ocean and energy is going into the net melting of ice all over the planet. The paleoclimate record indicates that increasing global temperature by just 1.5-2 °C above preindustrial temperature commits the system to an eventual 6-9 meters of sea level rise, a large fraction of which could arrive within the next 100 years. Corals may not survive this century of warming and acidifying oceans, and droughts and floods linked to global warming—and conflict linked to those droughts—have already caused four countries to face famine. Because of the decades to millennial long lag between a climate forcing and our feeling the full effect, due to the thermal inertia of the ocean and response time of the ice sheets, the effects we are feeling now are largely just the beginning of the result of emissions from the 20th century. And emissions have been increasing steadily for decades. We are also seeing numerous amplifying feedbacks: loss of albedo (heat reflectivity) from ice melt, permafrost melt, methane release and massive wildfires; the Earth is starting to wrest any possible further human control of the climate away.
Pat Boice (Idaho Falls, ID)
i have understood that the migration from Central America to the US is mainly because of crime, gangs and corruption in their countries, rather than food shortages.
L (Connecticut)
Pat Boice, I saw a segment on The PBS Newshour explaining that some coffee farmers in Central American countries were planning of coming to the U.S. because their crops were failing due to climate change. Climate change is already affecting farmers everywhere.
L (Connecticut)
That should be "planning on coming".
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@Pat Boice "I can't grow food anymore". Words of one man fleeing Guatemala for the US, the country refusing him entry and whose emissions substantially caused his problem.
Bob (NY)
Consumerists are the problem. Such as those who oppose tariffs on China so that we can buy more.
L (Connecticut)
Climate change is yet another reason to use the recent catchphrase, "Do something!" It seems that the members of the current Republican party's only priority is to remain in office to collect bribes from lobbyists. They're as incompetent as their standard bearer, Donald Trump.
treabeton (new hartford, ny)
"We speak blithely of conservation, the environmental movement, forgetting the basis of everything is harmony. It means many things, but foremost is the realization that this old earth is our home, the only one we will ever have in spite of progress in exploring space. I often think the greatest achievement of our space effort is the picture of our beautiful blue-green planet whirling in space surrounded by an atmosphere that makes it habitable for man. More than anything coming out of these dramatic adventures, this view of the earth is the most important. For the first time man saw it with cosmic perception: this was the world he must cherish and preserve." Sigurd F. Olson "Refections form the North Country" 1976
Jus' Me, NYT (Round Rock, TX)
Cattle and other ruminants are the only way of getting food from land that can't grow crops. Our continents used to support millions of large ruminants. No citation, but a study of a huge grassfed cattle and processing operation showed that the next carbon effect was a SEQUESTRATION! The researchers were so amazed that they had another group look at it and they deemed it good. It goes beyond the belches. The manure returns carbon to the soil. So much for all that deadly methane. Cattle are part of the solution. No, I don't own a cow, or am I in the business. Just well read. Agreed: We should not use croplands to grow grain for animals that aren't adapted to them. Let the cows graze on their original grasslands in the Midwest. Felony compounded when valuable water is used for irrigation.
Marie B. (Baldwin NY)
Multiple suggestions for solutions to looming food scarcity and environmental degradation, but never a single word about the root cause - overpopulation. If we do not curb the exponential growth of the world population, we are wasting our time chasing solutions to the problems it is causing.
life is good (earth)
One eazy step most people could take is to lead a vegan lifestyle. It's healthier, better for the planet and better for the animals It's really a no brainer.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@life is good Personal choices to lower one's own carbon footprint, while laudable, are insufficient. From the Nobel Laureate Yale economist William Nordhaus: ”A target of 2½ °C is technically feasible but would require extreme virtually universal global policy measures." Without those policy measures we'll be taking the planet beyond human experience and adaptive capacity.
Trish (OR)
Similar to Shel Silverstein’s Giving Tree, the earth will soon have nothing left to give but its wrath, with nary a stump to sit on and ponder our desolation.
AJ (Florence, NJ)
We might need that wall after all if a huge tide of suffering humanity decides to swell across the border in search of food. Fat chance of enforcing a 2000-3000 mile perimeter, though, as the Chinese know. Maybe a scorch-earth policy to create a nonsurvival zone between the Rio Grande and, say mid-Texas. Horrific to the imagination, yes, but I see every apocalyptic Hollywood scenario playing out under the description from this report. Decent citizens buying weapons, dogs and cats living together... we're talking total pandemonium.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@AJ "Armed Lifeboats" refers to where the US closes borders, controls population movements and increases foreign intervention as hunger and disease turn to conflict in the Global South. It's being discussed in military and intelligence circles.
ga (NY)
Are we woke yet? I knew this stuff as a school girl, 55 years ago! Are we woke yet!
thostageo (boston)
@ga me too - remember ZPG ?
Vin (Nyc)
If you think the immigration debate is bad now, wait until tens of millions of people have to leave their homelands when they literally become uninhabitable.
Eduardo B (Los Angeles)
The current version of the Republican party needs to be burned to the ground and recreated as a political party that actually wants to participate in solving problems and promoting democracy and functional governance. When the current party loses enough elections and the incompetent-in-chief and climate change denier is no longer president, there is a chance we can save our planet. Not until then will we do what needs to be done. Eclectic Pragmatism — Eclectic Pragmatist —
b fagan (chicago)
@Eduardo B - unfortunately, they are so filled with fossil that burning the party to the ground would release too much additional greenhouse gas. Maybe if we sequestered them in one of the mines in Mitch's home state of Kentucky. He could lead the procession in.
Geo Hotz (Boston)
Every solution in the world to solve the problem of climate change and food storage except the most important which is never addressed over population No wonder the days of the human race are numbered!!!
b fagan (chicago)
@Geo Hotz - in other words: Let's not take actions it is in our power to take. Let's deflect and point to something that people in America can't have a meaningful effect on!!! Hey, all of the population shouters, who are out in droves today. The size of the global population is already well known, well understood, being worked on, and can't be meaningfully changed on a rapid timescale is not doing anything to make the future safer or heathier for anyone. Nations with the highest birthrates also don't consume nearly as much as people in, say, Boston or Chicago or Springfields USA. So with your statement about population, please also include one suggestion that can realistically be implemented here, in our own country today, to increase the stability of the world's future food supply. Getting the anti-contraception groups out of US policymaking, ideas about that. New ways to help farmers reduce runoff of soil and the expensive fertilizers - double points because that also helps the seafood producers since water is cleaner. Anything that isn't a pointless harping on something like birthrates in other people's countries, which we can't directly affect at scale.
Cali Sol (Brunswick, Maine)
Maine's agriculture has blossomed and expanded enormously. Much greater crop diversity, longer growing seasons, larger crops to the point of increasing exports. To be sure there are variations, but overall Maine agriculture is thriving; and then there is Aquaculture, with 400 bottom permits to grow mussels, oysters, flounder and salmon pending.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@Cali Sol So far the changes we've made, although rapid, are small compared to natural variability (coming out of the last glaciation global temperatures rose 5 degrees C and sea level rose 130 meters). But we could make changes as big as any natural changes and a lot faster, too fast for ecosystems to catch up. And there's this: "Since 1963, Greg Mataronas’s family has been making a living catching lobster off of Little Compton, R.I. But as water temperatures have risen rapidly along the coast, there are fewer lobster to be found, prompting a shift to other species, like whelk. The state’s lobster haul peaked at over 8 million pounds in 1999. It hasn’t exceeded 3 million since 2005."
novoad (USA)
@Erik Frederiksen Rhode Island is a minor lobster producer, but the 30 times bigger lobster production in Maine in 2018 was close to the all time high... "America's lobster industry is based mostly in Maine, and its haul of the crustaceans has been high all decade. The state's catch peaked at an all-time high of 132.6 million in 2016 before falling to 111.9 million — still a historically high number — in 2017. The haul rebounded to nearly 120 million pounds (54 million kilograms) last year, and the price lobstermen received for their catch was also strong, as the fishery nearly topped half a billion dollars in value at the docks for the third time in history. The shellfish are easily available for many U.S. consumers, especially in the Northeast, and retail prices have been steady."
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@novoad This is well before we've felt the full effects of a temperature rise of 1 degree C, due to lags in the system. And we'll be lucky to keep temperature rise below 3 degrees C due to the momentum in Earth's energy system and climate and our procrastination. Maine's lobster fishery is toast, to be replaced by a jellyfish fishery like the cod.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
1968 The glaciologist John Mercer warns that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) could be a problem for sea level rise within 50 years due to "industrial pollution of the atmosphere". 2014 (four years early) two independent teams of scientists report that the WAIS is likely already retreating irreversibly 2016 a numerical ice sheet model indicated that sea level rise over the next 100 years could be several meters. One of the scientists, Rob DeConto, who wrote that paper said they used very conservative calculations "because the numbers were going to be big". And the most respected glaciologist in the US, Richard Alley, has noted that the WAIS may start its collapse by mid century and dump its 3.3 meters of sea level rise equivalent of marine-based ice into the ocean in decadal times or less once the collapse at Thwaites Glacier begins. What does this have to do with food supply? Many productive agricultural regions will be spoiled by saltwater infiltration.
novoad (USA)
@Erik Frederiksen Sea levels are measured by NOAA near you, in Alameda, CA. Here is the official data. Sea levels grow by 0.8 mm/year since 1940, when they were first measured there, with no sign of acceleration whatsoever. There were hundreds of articles about fairly apocalyptic sea rise scenarios for the last few decades now. Do you have any idea why sea levels still don't show anything unusual? Seas in Oakland rose a grand total of 3 inches in the last 80 years, NOAA shows. The city is still above the sea.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@novoad "Alameda" Counterintuitively sea level rise is not uniform globally for many reasons such as land subsidence and lift, ocean currents and winds and even the strong gravitational field of the massive ice sheets. The gravity from the ice sheet pulls the ocean towards it, as it loses mass the ocean relaxes away, so for example the loss of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet would cause global mean sea level rise of around 3.3m, but over 4m in the North which has a more populated coast. Parts of the N Atlantic have seen falling sea levels while parts of the W Pacific have seen 5 times the global average for the last decade which would be a distinct problem were that to continue for those areas. It’s been observed at Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland that marine terminating ice cliffs over 100m in height collapse. The Thwaites Glacier in the WAIS can expose ice cliffs higher than El Capitan (1000m) to warming oceans and entrain the collapse of the entire ice sheet. When a calving front opens up at Thwaites Glacier the ocean can follow that front all the way to the Trans Antarctic Mountains, dumping most of the ice sheet in the ocean in multi-decadal time scales or less according to the renowned glaciologist Richard Alley.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
You read about people like those who run hedge funds buying up retreats in places like New Zealand to flee so as society breaks down. Problem is the whole globe is changing, and the changes will be dramatic. No place will be safe.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
My youngest step-daughter is now 23 and she has always spoken of wanting children of her own. I would not attempt to dissuade her, but it breaks my heart to think of her children's future should she decide to have some.
novoad (USA)
@Erik Frederiksen Make sure they choose a house in Oakland, CA, where you live, located at least 1/4 ft above the current sea level, plus a bit extra for tides and waves. The kids will be safe then for a century from now. NOAA measured the sea rise in Oakland at 1/4 ft/century.
RjW (Chicago)
The headline might better have read, “ Forests and Land Use Found to be Critical for Climate A new UNIPCC special report on land use points to forests and agricultural as bigger drivers than previously thought. Suggesting it’s a food crisis will encourage people to assume that new technology will save them. A risky assumption.
CK (Christchurch NZ)
I do markets every now and then & I've noticed in the last year there are more aware people, especially young people, buying recycled clothing because of their awareness of impact of industrial factories on the environment. It's great for me! I'm an oldie & it's like back to the future in the 1960's when we used paper bags in supermarkets & there was no imported synthetic clothing & your parents and relations used to make all your clothes and knitted you cards and jerseys out of real wool. It's much of the same for me as what people NOW call sustainable living and being frugal is what I've been doing all my life. The problem is because of industrialisation and open borders it is the age of disposable everything. Once you only had a couple of dresses and you wore your shoes until you grew out of them as a kid, or they fell apart. Now everything is mass produced & cheap we don't even keep stuff for a year before throwing it out and that's because the quality isn't there as you can't pick fluff balls off nylon type clothing you just get big snags in the jerseys, cardis, or whatever clothing. Wool is a natural fibre and regulates a persons body temperature and lasts for generations and you can pick fluff balls off it and it looks like new. That creates a dilemma though as modern society economies livelihoods are affected by a down turn in sales and that affects peoples incomes as buying and selling stuff is the cog that keeps nations economies rolling over and paying the bills.
CK (Christchurch NZ)
Steve Jobs had a plant based diet ad igored his specialist doctors advice to eat more diary and animal fats to help in his fight against cancer and he died. Why should the western world have to eat plant based diets and die of cancer because they don't eat a 'balanced' diet while the overpopulated nations do nothing and care nothing about their destruction of the environment. For those people saying animals fat well, all the overpopulated nations in the world need to pay a fart tax as there are more humans farting in those nations than animals and cows. Also it is more important than ever to protect your borders from the drifters around the world who are economic refugees and just increase the number of farts in your nation by causing infrastructure and overpopulation problems. It gets to the stage where nations have to say no to refugees and migrants to protect it's own infrastructure and legal citizens. You're just transferring overpopulation pollution and more farts into nations that want population and immigration controls to protect their own citizens and infrastructure. Rome wasn't built in a day. It took hard manual labour and government planning and laws.
(not That) Dolly (Nashville)
It seems you have found a causal relationship between Steve Jobs’ cancer and his raw, vegan diet. I’m curious, where was your research published and what type of peer review was it subject to?
CK (Christchurch NZ)
@(not That) Dolly I recently watched a documentary on NZ TV in a series called, AUTOPSY: The last hours of Steve Jobs (season six episode 10) Autopsies don't lie. It was a one hour documentary.
RjW (Chicago)
Overlooked in the article is the importance of carbon pricing. Market incentives for farmers, foresters and emitters are clearly the only serious way we have to control climate affecting behaviors. New research seems to indicate that forests have a more profound cooling effect than previously thought.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
Recently from David Griggs, former head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientific assessment unit: “I think we are heading to a future with considerably greater warming than 2 degrees centigrade, and when the world doesn’t do something about it it brings a whole range of emotions into play, depression is clearly something. You get days you are down, because what you know, and what you can see coming, is not good."
Jean (Los Angeles)
Family planning and reproductive health assistance is also tied into the issue of our planet’s ability to feed its inhabitants. Especially the countries most at risk for food shortages due to climate change. More babies mean more mouths to feed. Republicans administrations, in general, and the current administration, in particular, refuse to fund sex ed., contraception, and health care through any international agency that discusses abortion as an option, let alone perform one. As a result, many poor, uneducated women in third-world countries cannot learn how to avoid unwanted pregnancies, or have access to birth control. The following article elaborates on these issues. Why are we still allowing abortion to dictate our national and international policy? The Foundation Fathers wanted separation of church and state. You can’t pick and choose what part of our Constitution to support. It’s all valid. Fact: Many more people will die due to restrictions surrounding abortion, than will die due to abortion. One can kill through neglect. Why can’t some Republicans and Christians see this? Republicans have made this an issue and most Christians dutifully vote for them, rather than examining the big picture of what is best for the largest number of people, and what is the most compassionate and caring course of action. Tunnel vision at its best.
Mari (Left Coast)
Yes, the Republicans are notorious for de-funding sex education programs. And the Republican president de-funded the UN programs we are supporting in Third World Countries. Nuts!
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Jean: The US Supreme Court is packed with people chosen to nullify "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" on legislation that is patent idolatry.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
The same physics we are messing with makes the surface of Venus hot enough to melt lead and Mars cold enough to freeze out CO2. And those are our sister planets. What could go wrong?
Erik (Westchester)
Many posters comment on the fact that the UN report does not mention the population explosion. And why no mention? Because there is no money in reducing population growth. However, there is a lot of money when fleecing the US for tens of billions or hundreds of billions of dollars to "assist" 3rd world countries with climate change. And who do you think will be in control of that "assistance?"
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@Erik Would you rather we assist developing countries to use renewable energy or let them follow our path and use 19th century technology which is heating the planet dangerously fast? We are currently burning fossil fuels one million times faster than nature replenishes them and we are already beginning to regret this atmospheric experiment with our only planet.
Stephen Filippone (Somerville)
The demonization of meat as the solution to agricultural problems highlights the ignorance of progressive people. Some ecosystems require herd animals for their long term health .
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
Given the numerous comments below by climate contrarians a review of the basic science is in order. 1824 Fourier says the surface of the Earth is warmer than it should be, it must be doing something like a greenhouse. 1859 Tyndall says, hmmm, CO2 is doing it. 1896 Arrhenius says hey if we burn fossil fuels we're raising CO2, we're going to warm the Earth and this is how much and he was pretty close. 1940s the modern quantum version with the US Air Force right after WWII. They weren't doing global warming, they wanted sensors on heat-seeking missiles to shoot down Soviet bombers before they incinerated their cities. The CO2 absorbs infrared whether its coming from the engine of an enemy bomber or the Sun warmed Earth. The idea scientists don't know what they are talking about is completely absurd.
gratis (Colorado)
Dem moderates know the best thing is to lie down and let corporations do what they want. Confronting industries is just too radical and will lead us all into being Venezuela. Vote for either doing nothing, or vote for the GOP. Do not vote for radicals who want to so something meaningful. it is never too late to give up.
EK (California)
This article was only at the top of the page for a few hours before being shunted to the very bottom. That is not how we should treat climate news of dire importance.
Sherry (Washington)
@EK Meh. It's just a report about the end of the world as we know it.
thostageo (boston)
@Sherry and I feel fine...
RjW (Chicago)
The headline might better have been, “ Forests and land use found to be critical for climate “ Subhead: A new UNIPCC special report on land use points to forests and agricultural as bigger drivers than previously thought. Suggesting it’s a food crisis will encourage people to reckon technology will figure out better food production techniques, and that would probably be true.
Nicole (Falls Church)
The poorest populations keep having the most children. That needs to stop.
Eva (New York)
@ Nicole and you need to stop using the most resources on earth!!!
Schedule 1 Remedy (Tex-Mex)
We can’t solve exponential population growth unless we stop exploiting the resources of others for cheap food, drugs and labor. We can do this by checking capitalism with Democratic socialist labor protections. That way we can utilize the sustainable ancient agricultural and spiritual methods from Central America and the Amazon from where most of our crops and clean air originate. America Before, Graham Hancock 1493, Charles Mann
Tony Francis (Vancouver Island Canada)
The present aurguments around climate change pro and con are mostly time wasters. Nature has already started to make those same aurguments even more redundant. Soon the wave upon wave of climate refugees seeking refuge will become a Tsunami. They will come from inside and outside the country. Social inequality will soon be a matter of life or death. How will any government square that round moral hole.
Matthew (New Jersey)
The tragedy of the commons writ on an incomprehensible scale on a globe with no more frontiers to exploit, currently on low simmer. Buckle up. Especially you young'uns.
Sadly the average American farmer is more concerned about things like transgender bathrooms and building the wall. They were also warned in advance about the coming dustbowls of 1930-36. Didn't listen to that either. Kept on with disastrous practices which ended up blowing millions of their farms away. Why should they be responsible, they think? If they vote for silly policies that cost them money out of bigotry, their chosen party will surely give them govt handouts to cover it and keep them sweet, paid for with the taxes of urban liberals. It's already happening with trade. It always happens. For now.
CK (Christchurch NZ)
How many of these vegans pollute the stormwater drainage when they go to the loo and all the drugs they take are flushed down the loo. That's another form of pollution. Vegans are hypocrites and cause pollution as well. The simple fact is that people cause pollution because of supply and demand. The world isn't meant to have a high population because to sustain the population you need cows etc. Cows are biodegradiable and not so the drugs humans take or nuclear waste. OK so you can plant more trees but that is pointless as every summer there are huge forest fires in Australia and California and other parts of the world that get out of control. The more people in the world the more chance there is of forests catching fire because of human error or whatever. Everyone breats around the bush and doesn't look at over population in black majority nations. If you can't feed them don't breed them.
Lynn0 (Western Mass)
Half the world population needs to die right now. Or we start eating Beyond Meat one a week.
Cameron H (San Francisco)
@Lynn0 Beyond meat is made from pea protein which were just banned from dog food for causing heart disease in golden retrievers. Beyond meat and Impossible foods are selling what amounts to highly processed, vegan junk food. Its not good for you and its not good for the earth...the largest polluters are crop-based agriculture, not cattle that roam grassland for the vast majority of their lives. Granted, runoff from industrial pork and chicken and poorly managed feedlots for cows (which have largely been cleaned up by the way - at least the cows feedlots have) are an issue but the EPA is cracking down on them. Nitrogen based fertilizer runoff that kill soils structures and pollutes our streams - not so much. Animal proteins have been consumed by humans for millions of years and are the reason we find ourselves in our unique Alpha position in the food chain today. Losing the most concentrated nutritional substance on earth because of vegan falsehoods would be a tragedy for human health. Sure, induystrial ag can and should do better but don't fall for the charlatanism of BB and Impossible Burger.
Eva (New York)
@LynnO or we just eat meat once a week and! everything from that animal. Not just the steak part
NewsReaper (Colorado)
Nothing will change, I see a constant stream of human stupidity every second of every remaining day. Humanities propensity for selective-ignorance has overwhelmed reality. How does it feel to be part of this grand ignorance fellow humans? We don't deserve this planet so I am glad to see Mother Nature take the planet away from us.
Mari (Left Coast)
Mark Ryan (Long Island)
The problem in the United States is that that we Americans are self-centered, self-absorbed, materialists who largely believe in climate change but do little or nothing about it. Too many of us buy oversized vehicles, buy or rent new homes on former forest or swampland, while our suburbs spread into forest or agricultural lands, and again believe in climate change, but do nothing to prevent it happening. Even Democratic leaders talk more about economics, health care, and other matters, but leave little space for solving the climate changes that are happening to us now. Americans are of a mixed mind. We believe in climate change, but we don't really believe it. And the deniers are people of middle age or older, the very people who will suffer the least.
Ellen (San Diego)
Thank you for the continued, excellent coverage on the impact of climate change. I hope the paper will begin to invite experts who are examining another model for the future that doesn’t include economic growth as its centerpiece. This model seems to lead to nowhere but extinction for the human race.
Paul (NC)
If everyone dried their clothes on a line or rack, total US energy use would be reduced about 6%. It’s a bigger reduction for my household, though. Works wonderfully. Try it.
Eva (New York)
@Paul and would finally unplug from all the gadgets- electronically reload everyday - only! for pleasure- we could probably save a ton too... Cook instead of delivery, use a ceramic cup instead of paper / plastic ( paper needs resources too so does! recycling) we would almost be in heaven...
Mari (Left Coast)
Another much simpler solution is to reject all plastic grocery bags! Start there. And then stop using Ziplock bags, etc.!
Lisa (New Haven)
If much of climate change is caused by human activity, then wouldn't an important step be stabilizing the number of humans? From what I understand, the world's population is due to increase by two billion people in the next 30 years. I'm not saying this is the only answer, but it seems population growth should be also be a factor when resources such as land, food and water are finite.
Joe Barnett (Sacramento)
If a private company like Uber can run cars all over manhatten and provide quick service, why can't public transportation be modified and updated to get electric small vans or cars to get people from one place to another?
John Locke (United States)
This article (and many before it over the years) make very clear that people need to consume less meat. Instead of waiting for government to do magic, show that you care and decrease or eliminate your meat consumption.
Cameron H (San Francisco)
@John Locke actually, ruminants are part of the solution. Adding more nitrogen based plant ag that ruins soils structures and depletes their CO2 capturing ability is a recipe for disaster. The idea that animal ag is ruing the planet is Vegan propaganda and, quite frankly, lies. Animals play a critical role in keep y healthy soils through tillage and fertilization. Cows spend the vast majority of their lives doing just that...eating grass...they only finish in feed lots for a few months...they aren't born and raised there.
(not That) Dolly (Nashville)
There’s scant evidence that human beings can come together on the scale necessary to reverse the damage we’ve done to our planet. However, it certainly has been a fun party for those of us lucky enough to be alive in the era of antibiotics! But, life is just a party and parties aren’t meant 2 last ( thank you, Prince).
MelMill (California)
Oh, and all that almond 'milk'? Didn't see any mention of the vast amount of water it takes to grow almonds in California. We need to look at the entire vegetarian/vegan picture from a sourcing and impact pov and choose food products that are local and sustainable. I'm excited that the environmental cost of getting an avocado to London (to pick a random city) is actually beginning to be calculated. It's simply not enough to declare yourself a vegan or vegetarian and not consider the carbon cost of transporting your food to your table.
Eva (New York)
@Melmill I so much agree with you!! Thank you!
Schedule 1 Remedy (Tex-Mex)
Glad NYT mentioned the drought in Honduras; reading comments about overpopulation people need to understand how US corporate exploitation has undermined traditional ways of life... the sustainable slash and char methods of reforestation with useful fruit and nut trees, the traditional variety garden using ash to fertilize and compost, or the natural rain water collection used in ancient construction methods... all these traditional ways of life for indigenous peoples have been under attack by the demand for cheap US labor, drugs and food. Yes, droughts are devastating, but if we were better neighbors and paid attention to how our indigenous traditions survived these events instead of purchasing industrialized products that plow over ancient cities of wisdom perhaps the entire planet would be better prepared for climate change? Oh, but then we would have to pay our labor better and protect their families. That’s socialist. Capitalists unchecked by socialism couldn’t dream of doing THAT!
voltairesmistress (San Francisco)
I think that around the world, particularly in wealthy Western countries, we are suffering through a period of reaction — mostly refusing to accept greater trade, automation, globalization, immigration, and, yes, the climate crisis. I look around me and see all our problems as created by humans, but also eminently solvable by humans. Out societies’ first reaction, however, is to throw up walls and refuse migrants/refugees; to resist reforming education of the young and mid-career workers; to resist change and vote for politicians who promise illusions of being able to stay the same. A defensive crouch is surely a very human, initial reaction. I don’t know what exactly will change this posture into an embrace of necessary changes that will protect all of us humans and our civilization on this awe-inspiring, blue/green planet.
Jack Lee (Santa Fe NM)
There are already too many people on this planet. I was in India earlier this year. One fifth of the population of Earth are Indian. India grows by the entire population of Australia, every year. When men walked on the Moon fifty years ago, the Earth's human population was 3 billion. At the beginning of the 20th century it was 1 billion. Currently is it over 7 billion, and in 50 years, if we grow at the same rate, it will be 16 billion. The average human being's inability to understand exponential growth will impact this planet to such a degree that what we know now will end very soon. But one thing's for certain: if we carry on with population growth as it is, climate change will be not just the result, but the least of our worries. The cause of all ills today, pretty much, is global over population. And it won't be until our leaders understand that and do something about it that there will be true, lasting change for the better.
Mari (Left Coast)
True. Be sure and write to your Republican president and ask him why he de-funded the United Nations program and U.S. programs that brought sex education and taught how to use birth control to India and other countries, especially in the Third World!
John128 (NYC)
We knew this was coming twenty or thirty years ago. It is not news to us. Trump followers do not read Science articles, and of course it is fair to say that they do not read much of anything, period. But Trump voters will vote for Trump in 2020. And ninety million American voters will once again stay home in 2020; they will not cast a ballot. So it matters little that we few get all het up about this damage to the environment, that was once fixable, but that now under Trump seems inevitably to be trashed. When we don't vote, we lose. In 2020, because we do not vote -- because 90 million of us will not vote -- and because every Trump follower *will* vote, we will lose again, and we will wonder why.
Joe M (United States)
Wow. Just wow. People need to realize what is really at stake if we don't get our acts together and stop pushing away the real problem that is climate change. This has been a problem since the invention of the automobile. Constant burning of fossil fuels and greenhouse gasses is putting a toll on our climate and our ozone layer and we need to put an end to it or our world will be destroyed sooner then you might believe. Such an easy and simple problem to fix but right now this generation is to worried about other things happening that don't even pertain to them then worrying about if life as we know it will even be here in the next ten years. Go outside and help out the Earth by recycling, that is the easiest thing to do. Also, if it's not a long ride, take a bike! A bike helps so much because it doe not burn fossil fuels and does not put dangerous Carbon Dioxide into our atmosphere. These ways, as well as others, are so simple to do and have such a massive effect on our slowly dying Earth! The food we eat is being slowly ripped away from us and already poor countries are being put into inescapable poverty all because people aren't willing to go pick up some trash and stop using a car every minute of every day. This is just sad.
Erik (Westchester)
I believe the UN made similar predictions about 2020 in 1995. Look how that turned out.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@Erik That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
Schedule 1 Remedy (Tex-Mex)
Solutions: 1). Drought resistant strains of hemp... no petrol fertilizers, no pesticides or herbicides... to trap carbon with building materials and cellulose plastics. 2). Plant trees for harvesting fruits and nuts... lots and lots of trees 3). Use the organic waste from removing invasive undergrowth for slash and char composting. 4). Build rainwater collection systems with filtration powered by solar energy. 5). Replace fossil fuels with clean renewable energy such as wind, solar, hydrogen electrolysis and more efficient turbines for electric cars. 6). Vote for real progressive justice Democrats. 7). Plant another tree. Grow a garden.
Gianine Carbone (Austin)
And decrease consumption of meat!!!
Jerry Davenport (New York)
Could it be that we just produce way too many humans who destroy the environment by demanding ever more food and energy resources.
Jamie (Jersey City)
Somewhere Republican party leaders and their greedy corporate paymasters are reading a synopsis of this article and thinking about the best ways to profit from the destruction of our planet.
John Jackson (Roanoke)
When will we learn that none of us will get off of this rock alive? The “I got mine” attitude will eventually do us all in.
al (NJ)
Earth vs a Republican dollar? I vote Earth.
Soo (NYC)
And so it ends.
ann (Seattle)
"Between 2010 and 2015 the number of migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras showing up at the United States’ border with Mexico increased fivefold, coinciding with a dry period that left many with not enough food and was so unusual that scientists suggested it bears the signal of climate change.” This article fails to mention the explosion of population in these countries, despite their being situated in what has been traditionally been known as Central America’s “Dry Corridor”. This dry tropical forest region covers wide swaths of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. It is hard to raise food in its arid climate. The difficulty increases during El Nino years when it becomes even drier than usual. Despite this, tradition and religion encourage people to have as many children as possible. Guatemalan couples commonly have 8 - ten children. In 1955, the population of Guatemala was 3.6 million. Today is is 17.5. Yes, climate change is making the Dry Corridor drier than usual for longer periods, but no environment could support Guatemala’s ever-growing population. The Church should rethink its ban on birth control.
Matt Walsh (Jericho, New York)
I found this article very interesting in the sense that it discussed how one major unsolved issue can lead to many other problems. I enjoy reading about major issues that the world encounters. Also, many of the facts shocked me. Before reading this article, I wasn’t aware of how climate change can lead to the downfall of food supply. I didn’t realize that climate change creates droughts, floods and other disastrous weather issues. According to the article, these disasters “threaten to disrupt, and over time shrink, the global food supply.” Ultimately this may be significantly harmful to the world’s population. Overall this article made me see the need to address the lingering problem of climate change, before it’s too late.
Misplaced Modifier (Former United States of America)
Vote for progressives. Conservatives only care about their personal gain, power, and greed, always at the expensive of what’s ethical and best for human life and the planet. Stop having babies. We are overpopulated. We don’t need constant growth, not in the economy and certainly not in population. End religion, especially Islamism, evangelicalism and Catholicism, those cults that oppress and control women’s reproductive rights and individual freedoms. Stop eating meat. End the industrial factory farms and GMO mono-crops. We waste water raising livestock. We destroy our farming soil and plant diversity and health with pesticides, chemicals, GMOs and single crops used to feed livestock. Educate and provide health care with free birth control and abortions for the masses.
CK (Christchurch NZ)
Well, don't blame the western world, blame the corrupt governments in the nations those billions live in. Focus the blame on the governments in those black majority nations who are only interested in increasing their own wealth at the expense of their own citizens. There are rainy seasons and in those seasons they should be collecting water to water crops in the dry season. Not brain science - it's all to do with responsible governments formulating responsible infrastructure to collect and store water. Lots of those black majority nations just sit around waiting for western world nations they detest to give them free food instead of getting up a sweat and digging drains and wells for water collection. Even a hut with a roof can collect water off a roof into a holding tank but it requires hard manual labour - something most of those nations don't seem to want to do. If they transferred all their energy into manual labour instead of having sex all the time and over populating their nations, then they'd be prosperous nations. They always blame the western world for their own shortcomings as a nation. Not brain science - manual labour and government planning develops infrastructure for water storage and growing food.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@CK: Mechanized farming for the Chinese market threatens to dry up the Nile before it reaches Egypt.
Kathy Wyer (Topanga, CA)
We need to bring back the Zero Population Growth movement. There are too many people in the world as it is, and with climate change, extreme food and water shortages, global pandemics, and the likelihood of more super storms such as Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, and wildfires such as those in Australia, California, Colorado and elsewhere, millions of people will die. We need to see the earth itself as a precious body, sustaining life as it carries us all through space. It's time we protected it as our Top Priority, because without a healthy planet, life itself is doomed.
LIChef (East Coast)
I’m not sure that rich Republicans understand this, but when the hungry in large numbers start hunting for scapegoats and food sources, guess where they’re going first?
JD (North Hollywood, CA)
Food shortage? Bah! Head to Walmart and you'll observe the bursting abundance of both product and patrons.
mr (Newton, ma)
A while ago I had a discussion with a co-worker about what will do us in. I said a food shortage, she argued for the spread of disease. Either way there will be chaos and death not known to humanity ever, but no worry, our orange king and his band of ignorant science deniers are fast at work making sure they will be insulated. Dr. Strangelove with a new twist.
Alexandra Hamilton (NY)
Population endangers world food supply! We need to stop organizations like the Catholic Church and right-to-life Republicans from preventing any kind of rational family planning outreach! Population needs to be openly named as a global problem that impacts climate change and so many other challenges we face. Ignoring population makes finding solutions harder than it needs to be. And I am not talking about abortion or sterilization or other extremes I am simply advocating contraception.
Morgan (Calgary, Alberta, Canada)
While my front yard is a Wild Bee Sanctuary, it could easily shift into serious urban garden. Fill your front yard with garden boxes and you will be good to go. Or a fruit tree orchard. Do it now and give yourself some time to experiment with your ‘garden energy.’ We also find it an insanely good de-stressing experience coming and going to your home.
Robert M. Koretsky (Portland, OR)
Human beings don’t live in harmony with Nature, other human beings, and themselves. There’s a simple cure for that- extinction. Bacteria and viruses will inherit the Earth, those that survive our poisoning of it, that is.
Tiny Tim (Port Jefferson NY)
Homo sapiens, - a misnomer if there ever was one - and their so-called civilizations have spent the last several millennia wasting their resources and lives by fighting each other. Now, after just two centuries of industrial and technological innovation and population explosion, we have so degraded our planet that we are facing an existential threat. There was some hope that by the 21st Century of the C.E., mankind would have learned some lessons from the past and become more enlightened, but we have plainly already wasted the first two decades of this new century. There have been moments during our specie's reign when a few brilliant individuals and inspirational leaders have made transformational changes to our world, but unless they again manifest themselves soon, it appears that we will continue our decline into misery, violence, and chaos. Of course there will continue to be a few individuals and nations who will manage to isolate themselves for awhile by controlling the world's resources and wealth, but eventually they will meet the same fate.
Florence (Albany,NY)
How can the UN produce a study that doesn’t address population growth? We have twice as many humans on this planet then we did 50 years ago. We are adding roughly 82 million additional humans a year. Let’s face it, it’s not sustainable.
b fagan (chicago)
@Florence - How can you talk about population without mentioning the rising cost of movie tickets? Just kidding, but this is a common kind of complaint about more than climate. "Why doesn't study about X talk about Y because they're related?" "Why isn't this summary about a complex thing 9000 pages of detail?" Everything's related, so scope needs to be defined else the studies would never be finished. SO this article is talking about a report prepared by the IPCC - which is the subdivision in the UN that looks at climate and impacts. So the study is about climate and impacts on food. If you want UN studies about population, please look to the UN - Department of Economic and Social Affairs - Population Division.
Alexandra Hamilton (NY)
It is true this paper is just about climate change. However over population both drives that change and makes its impact on human societies immeasurably worse. The silence on this subject by everyone, even the NY Times is deafening. Until we are willing to take on the destructive reproductive ideology of the Catholic Church and possibly agree to separate abortion provision from contraception we will never be able to find solutions. Conceiving fewer children is so much less painful than the population reduction that is coming from wars, disease, famine, drought and all the other dangers of climate change.
Florence (Albany,NY)
@b fagan Thank you for illustrating another problem. When you supply the public with only single pieces of the puzzle, you get piece meal solutions (or hysteria).
Larry Roth (Ravena, NY)
It’s got to be great to be a fundamentalist Christian. Looks like the end times are finally going to get here. Stand by for the rapture.
MaryKayKlassen (Mountain Lake, Minnesota)
@Larry Roth Seriously, you jest?!
Stan (America)
Truly amazing that this article (and apparently the UN report) says not one word about overpopulation, which is the root problem; environmental degradation, shrinking freshwater supplies, and cow farts are merely symptoms of that problem.
Marc (Colorado)
@Stan Ditto Ditto Ditto
Bob (San Francisco)
Not a problem. At the rate he's going, Trump will have destroyed our food supply chain long before climate change does.
Teller (SF)
Climate Change is a brilliant catch-all for leftist causes: borderless nations, mass migration, veganism, population control, globalism and anti-capitalism (except when it concerns the precious AppleGoogleFacebookAmazon). But it's a vague mission. No one knows exactly what it will take to end it or even if one nation can put a dent in it. Yet, regardless, it demands everyone conform to a particular group's way of life without the slightest idea of the efficacy of the effort.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@Teller Here’s a list of 197 “Scientific Organizations That Hold the Position That Climate Change Has Been Caused by Human Action”. Until 2010 the climate deniers could have responded with just one, The American Petroleum Geologists. Since they recanted they have zero.
Teller (SF)
@Erik Frederiksen Who's denying? I said it's a vague mission with no endgame. Plenty of doomsaying, but no real idea of what it will take to actually reverse it. You think 350 million US people can change the climate of a world populated by more than 7 billion? That's why it sounds more like lifestyle than lifesaving.
Alexandra Hamilton (NY)
Problems of increasing refugees, dwindling water supplies, degraded environments may be leftist causes but the death, war and destruction that will be caused by these problems is not going to respect your political views. If the solutions proposed so far have all been proposed by the left, well whose fault is that? The right needs to step up, acknowledge that there is indeed a problem, and then propose some solutions it can back. At this point any and all solutions would be welcome. But if you are not going to try to ameliorate the situation and are just going to ignore the devastation you have no business complaining about the solutions that have been proposed.
(not That) Dolly (Nashville)
But life is just a party (for some of us, anyway), and parties weren't meant 2 last. - Prince
bklynfemme (Brooklyn, NY)
There should be an audible alarm that goes off every time this story is clicked on. I would say that EVERY REPUBLICAN IN CONGRESS should read this article, but I know they won't. They don't care. Until climate change deniers (or politicians for whom it's not a priority) are voted out, nothing will change. And we are dooming younger generations to literal chaos. Stories like this make me think that not having children is a good thing.
Spencer (Kahului, HI)
Jay Inslee is a well qualified candidate leading the conversation on the climate crisis, and yet he may not make it to the third debate. He is the only candidate to make defeating the climate crisis his number one priority. In comparison, Bernie Sanders only touches on it in the last five minutes of his hour long interview with Joe Rogan this week, and his comments were vague. It blows my mind how Jay Inslee doesn't have more support. Free college and free healthcare is great, but it doesn't matter if we don't have food to eat, water to drink, air to breathe, or a planet to live on.
Dan Barthel (Surprise AZ)
The elephant on the planet finally reveals herself. The planet cannot support the current population. We are 5 billion people above sustainable. Climate change, water shortage, and famine are the clues. Wake up folks. We're in dire straits!
Jerry (New York)
Trump gets re-elected, we're doomed!
Alex (New York)
Is it worth having kids still? That’s not a rhetorical question; I honestly don’t know.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@Alex The question isn't is it worth it. The question is, is it ethical to bring a young life into the world given that a person born today will very likely live to experience things no person should have to.
Florence (Albany,NY)
@Alex No, part of the problem is we have too many people.
Alex (New York)
@Erik Frederiksen That's essentially my question, just worded differently.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
We’ve been seeing numerous impacts catching many scientists by surprise with how soon they are occurring. In 2014 two independent teams of scientists reported that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is likely irreversibly retreating. 3.3 meters of sea level rise equivalent of ice there is being destabilized by a warming ocean and energy is going into the net melting of ice all over the planet. The paleoclimate record indicates that increasing global temperature by just 1.5-2 °C above preindustrial temperature commits the system to an eventual 6-9 meters of sea level rise, a large fraction of which could arrive within the next 100 years. Corals may not survive this century of warming and acidifying oceans, and droughts and floods linked to global warming—and conflict linked to those droughts—have already caused four countries to face famine. Because of the decades to millennial long lag between a climate forcing and our feeling the full effect, due to the thermal inertia of the ocean and response time of the ice sheets, the effects we are feeling now are largely just the beginning of the result of emissions from the 20th century. And emissions have been increasing steadily for decades. We are also seeing numerous amplifying feedbacks: loss of albedo (heat reflectivity) from ice melt, permafrost melt, methane release and massive wildfires; the Earth is starting to wrest any possible further human control of the climate away.
nora m (New England)
The soil is depleted and the insects needed for food production are becoming extinct. Yes,this is the way we end.
John (Canada)
"Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money." "Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few." "You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes." "Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis." "...And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself". from: Greta Thunberg's speech at UN Climate Change COP24 Conference
vineyridge (Mississippi)
There are too many people, and too many people is the problem. Climate change wouldn't exist without too many people. We fear and fight death as the ultimate evil, but death is a necessary part of nature balancing resources and population. Humans are destroying the earth and all its residents, human and otherwise, because we refuse to accept limits on human procreation, on death, and on exploitation of our planet. Nothing we can do will stop this inevitable result if the human population continues to grow at its current rate.
Grove (California)
Humans seem to be wired to live like there’s no tomorrow. It’s likely to be a self fulfilling prophecy, unfortunately.
EB (Seattle)
This is the subject that every candidate for every office should be discussing, and every legislator acting on, every day. Instead they waste time on tweets, identity politics, tariffs, video games, Barneys, easter eggs, and whether Trump fits the definition of a racist (he does). Both political parties have failed to recognize and address the true scope of global warming and its impacts on food supply and migration. As this and other reports are shouting loudly, we are out of time for further delay in taking action to lessen the worst impacts. Any "leader" who doesn't begin and end their day thinking about this issue is failing the world.
wildwest (Philadelphia)
This was a very rough read. When you consider the science deniers we currently have in power, the rapid and sweeping changes humanity will have to undergo to dodge this speeding bullet, and the fact that we have almost no time left to solve this crisis, it's pretty difficult to predict a good result. Still, miracles do happen they tell me. Perhaps we really can innovate our way out of this problem but only if we have the will to admit the it actually exists. Half the country thinks this is a hoax. They are being told not to believe in climate change by faux noose and whatever that thing is that currently passes for our government. The first step in solving any problem is acknowledging that it exists. Where is that ostrich emoji when I need it?
SK (Ca)
United States have 4-5% of the world population but consume 25% of the world resources. These numbers explain the US Import and Export deficits against over 100 countries in the world. Simply speaking if you consume more than what you produce, you have to import more. If anyone try to explain to the clueless president, he is doubling down to blame " Climate Change " is a hoax created by China. He withdrew the Paris Climate Accord, appoints incompetent sycophant to EPA, increase CO2 footprint with more oil drilling, coal mining, deregulation and in the process of dismantling USDA by moving the agency to Kansas. It is not an uplifting time to be in, and in particular when you think of your children's future.
Franco51 (Richmond)
Billionaires like T Boone Pickens, and huge banks, are buying up water rights all over the world. This won’t be pretty.
danielle (queens ny)
When the GOP and its like-minded fellow travelers around the world finally admit that climate change is happening, it will be framed in the language of extreme austerity -- not for them and their donor class, of course, but for all the rest of us. Food rations...for us. Water rations...for us. Daily cutoffs of electricity...for us. Complete elimination of our already tattered social safety net...for us. Not for them. They'll be fine. And of course, we'll also be told that we need a strongman dictator to rule over us...for our safety. To defend us against the migrant hordes displaced from the boiling parts of the planet. To put the military on our streets to quell food and water riots. It's too late to solve this problem! they'll tell us. The only thing left to do is try to survive to the next day...and only they are man enough for the job. So the very people who have wasted decades of precious time, lying to all of us and telling us this isn't happening, it's all a hoax, ha-ha look at those Chicken Little liberals, they'll be the ones saying that only they can save us, but only if we turn over all leadership to them and let them do whatever they want. And you know what? Most people will swallow it, because that's what desperation does. Is already doing. Was this their plan all along? Sometimes, I wonder.
wildwest (Philadelphia)
@danielle I find your prediction very frightening because to me it has the ring of probability. It perfectly characterizes the corrupt, underhanded behavior we are currently seeing from our erstwhile oligarchy. If that happens, it will be a time for a real revolution, not the kind characterized by posting on social media and leaving comments about New York Times articles. I pray I won't be around to see it, but I'm afraid my son will be.
dk (oregon)
It's heartbreaking that my two year-old's best chance at inheriting a planet he can live on is to persuade his grandparents not to vote. Not unlike Jesus's cry on the temple mount "Why have you forsaken me".
Joe Miksis (San Francisco)
In Germany, their responsible government is set to enact a 7% tax on meat products. This will reduce meat consumption and assist in slowing global climate change, by slowing the gas flow from animals in the field and their inefficient use plant energy that goes into the production of meat products. The German people believe in science. In the USA, e are led by our "stable genius", who is guided by the Koch brothers and other coal oligarchs/lobbyists. These wise men tell our stable genius that science is a lie, and that climate change is a hoax sponsored by the Chinese. Trump's current EPA Director, the coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, assures us that what his sponsor (Sullivan Coal) says about climate change being a hoax is indeed true, and that is the reason that he is ridding the EPA of scientists. In the Trump administration, scientists are "problematic". I sleep easier at night now, thankful that we are guided by our stable genius and his alchemists. I know they are making the world safe for my grandchildren, by dispensing with science in the USA. Boy, are those German people dumb!
Trump will tweet that this is fake news, a plan from the Democrats to make America weak again....
Richard Winchester (Illinois)
So far I have been disappointed that no Democrat Presidential candidate has announced what he or she is personally doing to cut energy use. I also wonder why Obama didn’t stimulate the economy and jobs by promoting the installation of solar panels on all federal, state, and local government buildings.
Mari (Left Coast)
@Richard Winchester: Obama was blocked at every turn by the Republicans and their leader, Mitch McConnell!
Marcelo Brito (porto alegre brazil)
here in Brazil ,people (200 million of us and counting) celebrate weekends lighting up (with large bags of charcoal) the home churrasqueira and grilling humongous quantities of meat,the sacro saint sunday churrasco. The richest Brazilians are landowners cultivating thousand of acres to feed herds of tens of thousands of animals , or industrial giant processors of meat. Bringing the people of Brazil Uruguay and Argentina to abandon their livelihood and lifestyle is utopia. The new Bolsonaro government is bent on finding ways of stimulating the economy, and one easy shortcut is making previously protected land available for industrial farming. My point is that these reports ,prestigious and credible as they may be ,don't reach the decisionmakers in the countries that could make a difference. I believe that only a unified world resource management entity, politically empowered by all governments concerned, could address this planetary crisis in the making. And as far as I can see,it is not anywhere close to happening. Bummer, and sincere apologies.
Iowa Woman (Des Moines)
Human Sources Fossil fuel emissions (including cement production) accounted for about 91% of total CO2 emissions from human sources in 2014. This portion of emissions originates from coal (42%), oil (33%), gas (19%), cement (6%) and gas flaring (1%). I'm sure the fossil fuel industry loves when everyone talks about eating meat and plastic straws & bags and growing palm oil as the great offenders of climate change. But, look, it is the fossil fuel industry! Aside from buying an electric car if you can actually afford it and have the necessary infrastructure available to use it, the fault of climate change is the fossil fuel industry. So, they need to be held accountable first and foremost. They should never get any sort of pass. We need to stop feeling guilty for our own behavior. They need to stop.
Mari (Left Coast)
Actually, the Chevy Volt and the Tesla 3, both made in the USA! Are affordable. The infrastructure is there if you want it.
Are most folks afraid to address the fact that certain plants grown and consumed are more detrimental to our health and well-being than meat consumption?
JC (The Dog)
@AIG: Cows, pigs and chickens are primarily made of corn.
Tiffany (Utah)
Like what? What plant are you thinking of is harder on the planet than a cow?
Alexandra Hamilton (NY)
Sugar has destroyed the Everglades, is terrible for your health, and the socioeconomics of global sugar production is a nightmare. Almost every commercial crop has its horror stories. Plant based agriculture is a major culprit in deforestation. Crop pesticides are killing off our insects, fertilizers are destroying our water supplies and aquatic life. We do not farm plants in an ecologically sustainable fashion either. It gets back to overpopulation. Even as vegetarians we are still too numerous for the planet to sustain.
DMS (San Diego)
Can we change the me-me-me mindset of America? I've lived a long time and I've seen nothing but a fantastic escalation of self indulgence and materialism. Bigger is better. Greed is good. All that sinister corporate messaging was meant to wipe out the non-consumerism message of young people many decades ago, meant to wipe out the fledgling ecological movement. If you were listening to music in the 60s you heard those songs that delivered messages about how we needed to change the way we treated the earth. That message was labeled "anti-American" and demonized by the right, and clearly it still is today. It would take some real hurting to disentangle ourselves from the greed now. It would take energy prices that actually reflect environmental costs, the loss of obscene profits, and a rethinking of what constitutes a good life. Are we up to it? Can we be warriors for the planet? Or are we going to deflect the battle onto vulnerable groups and nourish fighting and killing over it? I still nurture a little flame of hope. America is still a vibrant collection of the most dynamic and creative people on earth. We just need to remember it and start acting like it again.
Angela (Midwest)
This is not rocket science. Everything that was predicted decades ago has come to pass. It is only going to get worse.
Dorothy (Emerald City)
I only had one child because my dad kept warning that there wouldn’t be enough food for everyone on the planet at the rate of population growth in the 70’s. You’re welcome.
Loren Johnson (Highland Park, CA)
Will there come a day when Fox News is razed to the ground by angry hoards of desperate people? There will be a day of reckoning when people realize that the powerful and wealthy caused this calamity to happen. The RNC and Propaganda outlets like Fox will bear the brunt for being the mouthpiece for mendacious greedy oil interests around the world.
C&M (Sydney, Australia)
Stop having kids and eat far less meat. It’s not rocket science but apparently no one wants to hear hard truths. People are willing to be outraged at a changing world so long as they don’t have to make changes that impact their own life. Personally, I am of the view that there is no species more more deserving of extinction than us humans. We deserve to be laid low for our collective greed, myopia and intentional selfishness. Instead of holding ourselves, our politicians and our corporations to account and seeking global collective change, we’re all too busy mindlessly pursuing money and material wealth whilst continuing to breed like rabbits. We all know better by now; yet we continue destroying our planet anyway. Good riddance.
MaryKayKlassen (Mountain Lake, Minnesota)
The birth control pill came on the market in 1960, and effective condoms have been on the market for over a century. However, the human animal, whose population on earth was only 3.4 billion in 1966, has failed to limit its childbearing to 2 children per female, and males only fathering 2 children as well. So now, the population is 7.9 billion. with all of them wanting a modern life of digital devices. most of which are manufacture in Asia, transported by cargo ships around the world, which uses lots of energy. People all want to fly, and do, as well, which is the largest carbon footprint any of us can leave. The automobile, and pick up truck, which are in totality leave the largest polluter on the planet, all people need food, heat, air conditioning, roads, schools, sewer, and water treatment plants, and indulge in malls, bars, restaurants, etc. and here we are. We would hardly of been talking about most of this if our population had stabilized at 3.4 billion back in 1966. Since the rate of STDs' around the world is very high, it shows that education has failed to stem that, and education has failed on the population front as well.
Henry (Springfield)
@MaryKayKlassen Why do you talk about humans as if you yourself are not one?
MaryKayKlassen (Mountain Lake, Minnesota)
@Henry Yes, I am, but I am not responsible for bringing myself into the world. My 98 year old mother, who is still alive, had 2 children, my sister, and I only each had two children, and our children, together only had 5, so our footprint since 1921. from my mother, is just 11 people added to the population overall. I understand that humans are animals, so, that in itself, doesn't bode well for the long term survival of the human race, and sustainability on this planet, with a healthy environment.
G.S. (Dutchess County)
Maybe I missed it, but where in the article is there a reference to a very important factor in inadequate food supply : lack of population control.
David (Maryland)
@G.S. Very important point! The relatively modest flows of refugees from the Middle East and Central America have resulted in major political turmoil in Europe and the U.S., respectively. Humans are not good at sharing resources beyond their tribe. Historic flows of refugees will be dwarfed by the major dislocation that is coming. We know that Earth will soon be able to support fewer people. Now is the time for a major international effort to reverse human population growth by making contraception available to every woman on Earth who wants it, along with international education programs to encourage family planning, as part of our getting serious about climate change.
kay (new york)
@G.S., maybe if the wealthy who consume more than the all the poorest countries combined were to limit their carbon footprint and right wingers would allow free birthcontrol, we wouldn't have to worry about population control.
Adam (Newton, MA)
@G.S. Population control by any reasonable means is far too slow. With no other changes, you'd need to slaughter 20% of the world's people over the next 10 years to make a difference. Reducing birth rates doesn't cut it. Fortunately, most OECD countries are at sub-replacement birth rates, including China. Even India is approaching the replacement birth rate. Realistically, if you want to reduce birth rates, promote economic development - particularly education of women and girls. Here is a good summary of feasible climate solutions: Or if you prefer:
Aaron (Orange County, CA)
Been hearing this for over 50 years now... Bla Bla Bla..
su (ny)
@Aaron It good for you, anyway you will never deal with the consequences. Kick the can down the road , devil may care.
Mari (Left Coast)
For fifty years?! Nope. Thirty at most! IF you pay attention most of what Environmental Scientists have predicted is happening, including sea level rise in all coastal areas! Go ahead and deny.
Blunt (New York City)
How can anyone still believe we have a President who wants to unify the country when he has done everything humanly possible to ensure the opposite? He is calculating (hopefully erroneously) that people still will not come out and vote in November 2020 and that the number of people who want to vote against him will be minimized by intimidation, registration violations and any other form of crookery. Our job as patriots is to go out and vote him out of the Oval Office as well as his GOP enablers. We them have a chance to heal our nation.
Jared (Seattle)
Hey Republicans, you don't like migrants at our border? That means you should be the strongest proponents of fighting global warming! The Syrian migration and the current surge of migrants at our border are nothing compared to what we are in for in coming decades if climate change is unabated.
Stan (America)
@Jared Yes, and then you'll be begging for that wall, but it'll be too late.
David Law (Los Angeles)
You’re asking for rationality? Good luck with that!
Brian (San Jose)
@Jared if I'm reading what you wrote correctly, you're saying the migration we're experiencing now is due to global warming. If we just solve global warming, the migration will stop. Am I reading you right? So it's only the climate that is making these people migrate?
B.R. (Brookline, MA)
Please list a comparison of the carbon footprint of the rest of the world against the carbon footprint of the average U.S. citizen. As a role model, please also list the estimated carbon footprint of President Trump that includes his shuttling from D.C. to rallies to Mar-A-Lago.
rich (hutchinson isl. fl)
As the population of the earth grows from 7.6 billion to over 9 billion by year 2150 and automation reduces world wide jobs from about 4 billion to 2 billion, climate disruption will further decrease arable land and fresh water, and populations will migrate to survive. The severity of the looming consequences of over population, coupled with the disruption caused by a changing earth climate, will depend on how much of the wealth generated by technology, (robotics), is shared and how well human reproduction is reduced. Six billion out of work humans will not remain docile and immobile while their children starve and die while a walled off one thousandth of one percent own the world. The politics, borders, gated communities and armies of the past will not work in the new world that is fast approaching, nor should it.
Raphael (Hartford)
Two ways to read this news. 1). Fret and fear. This is pre-dominant reaction among those on Main Street and "Fly-over" country, simply trying to eke out a day-to-day existence in this often brutal world. 2). Celebrate. This is the pre-dominant reaction among the Wall Street class, after all, one can now go long on Zoetis and make a lot of money.
Area Citizen (The Republic Of Embarrassment)
A very cogent and frightening assessment of our current and future prospects for people of this planet and very much so for those that choose to bring additional mouths to feed on to this dying orb. We are rapidly approaching the point of no return on emissions of carbon and methane (even more pernicious). Yet our country’s leadership is blind and deaf to our collective plight and the rest of the planet’s countries are powerless to act in their attempt to move up from third- and second-level. Ignorance in this case is kicking the can down the road for someone else to solve. With another term of deniers and like sycophants directing our nation’s affairs seeming more and more likely given the current political situation and the amount of money that flows into the pockets of elected officials on both sides I’m quite afraid we are doomed. If you’re under thirty years of age I strongly urge you to get your affairs in order because it is not the planet we’re killing, it’s us. Our planet has and always will take care of itself. It will heal as it has in times past. It will do so again but without humans. Have a great day!!
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@Area Citizen “Under 30” A 2 hour drive from me last summer the Camp Fire incinerated the town of Paradise Ca. Elderly people died in that fire …
gw (usa)
@Area Citizen - this is the only known living planet in the universe. The norm, as far as we know, are lifeless rocks in space. It could be millions of years before the planet "heals"......if it ever does. The species that evolved here over millions of years are unique and extraordinary. It is inhumane and unethical to write off their suffering and extinction. We owe our lives to the abundant generosity of this living planet, and should act with gratitude, decency, respect and responsibility.
Sara Lopez Esq. (Bronx New York)
And for those who think desalination is a solution, it’s not. It’s slow and the waste product of salt, plastic particles and more is a toxic mess that can’t be put anywhere. Can’t dump it back in the ocean. Fish swimming north to get out of warm water followed by the sharks we hear about will all have no where to go. We are on course to a Dead Sea. We are breathing plastic particles, it’s in all sea salt and yes your organic foods too. Over population and demands and the feeling by anyone who gets into the US to stay even after due process with illegal immigration now morphed into an assumption of rights is hurting us.
Raphael (Hartford)
@Sara Lopez Esq. Smart comment.
Devin Greco (Philadelphia)
Well maybe if truth and journalistic integrity meant more than advertising revenue to media companies public ignorance and political inaction wouldn’t derail climate change solutions because they cost the rich people money.
Eating On Two Wheels (Tucson, AZ)
Let us not forget that nearly one third of the global food supply goes to waste...
su (ny)
@Eating On Two Wheels That is why we are going to loose this fight.
natan (California)
All these recommendations by vegans et al are ridiculous. Stop having offspring that you can't support, no more than 2 kids globally, stop uncontrolled immigration from poor countries because it's only encouraging even more population growth and switch electricity production to nuclear power. Problem solved. And, yes, reduce junk food intake and reduce meat consumption - but that's a relatively minor issue. With current population it would be shocking if we didn't have this crisis.
Cathy Odom (Napa CA)
You had me until you said nuclear power. Don’t you remember Chernobyl? Still toxic there. Fukushima?
JC (The Dog)
@Cathy Odom: Liquid thorium reactor; contemplated in the 60's. . . ". . . the liquid nature of the fuel meant that they could potentially build molten salt reactors that were cheap enough for poor countries to buy; compact enough to deliver on a flatbed truck; green enough to burn our existing stockpiles of nuclear waste instead of generating more — and safe enough to put in cities and factories. That’s because Fukushima-style meltdowns would be physically impossible in a mix that’s molten already. Better still, these reactors would be proliferation resistant, because their hot, liquid contents would be very hard for rogue states or terrorists to hijack for making nuclear weapons."
natan (California)
@Cathy Odom Fukushima was a relatively minor disaster that killed or sickened just a few people, and that's including the potential symptoms in the worst case scenario. Chernobyl has nothing to do with modern nuclear power. But even if we include both incidents, the negative consequences are still dwarfed by those of more traditional energy production. Much prejudice against nuclear power originates from poor understanding of basic nuclear physics and radiation. Folks are afraid of the unknown and prefer being killed by a much greater hazard if it's better understood.
Johnny Stark (The Howling Wilderness)
"Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born.“ "By … [1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions." Ehrlich wrote that in 1969. Since then there are been as many wrong preconditions of imminent climate catastrophes as predictions of the Second Coming.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@Johnny Stark Cherry picking a couple of bad predictions doesn’t negate atmospheric physics. Nice try …
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@Johnny Stark As predicted Earth is warming rapidly, ice is melting and sea level rise is accelerating. Next.
Michaela (United States)
Bottom line: Mother Nature cannot sustain 7 billion+ human energy consumers, ruthless reproducers, and meat gluttons. The remedy is obvious... But Homo sapiens, despite having large brains, are not very bright.
glennmr (Planet Earth)
I am no longer amazed on how little people know about energy. The general assumption is that the gas tanks can be filled forever and --- not affect the climate---is a meme promoted by the GOP/conservative oligarchy in the US. The fact that fossil fuels are finite and need to be replaced over the next 50 years is completely lost to ideology and a lack of the ability to do the math. And people are proud of that ignorance. (By the way, the US is not an energy giant and is not going to be one.) There does not need to be a climate emergency for the world to change from fossil fuels to alternative sources—the running out part is ongoing. The changes are needed because the laws of thermodynamics really don’t care who is in charge of the government. The world should be working on alternative energy without all the histrionics and rhetoric as there is no scientific basis for not doing so.
kay (new york)
What if we had a gov't who just banned gas guzzeling vehicles, made it mandatory to drive electric, provided solar panels and/or wind turbines to those too poor to afford them, made solar panels mandatory on every building and home, banned meat and sold substitutes instead, banned pesticides, gave a quota to each state to provide geo thermal heating to their cities and towns, banned McMansions and mansions, made community farms in every city and town and required community members to volunteer one hour a week of their time to attend to it, made flying only for absolute necessity; like saving a life, capped the amount of money one person could have including leaders and made sure everyone got a livable wage, and invested in research, scientists and inventors to help come up with new ways of reducing CO2. I hear so much about wars for water and food; wouldn't it be smarter to prepare for it now the best that we can so there will be no more wars? Armies can get together and make that happen now. Take over our govt's and make the above happen. The current crop of leaders are incompetent, cowardly and corrupt. They are playing russian roulette with all of our lives.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
The carbon cycle for the last 2 million years was doing 180-280ppm atmospheric CO2 over 10,000 years and we’ve done more change than that in 100 years. The last time CO2 went from 180-280ppm global temperature increased by around 5 degrees C and sea level rose 130 meters. Here’s a graph of the last 400,000 years of global temperature, CO2 and sea level The millennial time scale of natural exchange of CO2 in ocean and atmosphere and sea level change should not be misconstrued as the rate of ice sheet response to our unprecedentedly rapid human forced change. We may expect 3 feet of sea level rise by 2100, and it could be 2 feet, and it could be 4 feet and it could be 15 feet. As with many impacts from climate change things could be a little better than we think, a little worse, or a lot worse. There’s no a lot better.
richard wiesner (oregon)
I feel like I am on a speeding train headed for Deadman's Corner. I try and finally make it to the engine. My every attempt to convince the engineer that our speed is to great and we will soon derail are shrugged off. I show him the maps, the speeds the track will take and the consequences of our impending doom but to no avail. He will not be convinced. Only after the train has left the tracks will he relent. There is no solace in being right. Time for a new engineer.
Maureen (New York)
It is unsustainable population growth that is the root cause of climate change. If there were not 7 billion to feed does anyone seriously believe all that cattle would have been raised? All those sheep and goats? Climate change is a symptom of an underlying problem. We have high birth rates along with people living longer - a lot longer. Human lifespans have doubled in the past 100 years.
Barbyr (Northern Illinois)
I never hear anyone talk about the 300 lb. gorilla in the room - big ag's use of nitrogen fertiliers derived from natural gas. This is a triple whammy - in search of nitrogen, they mine methane. Then they burn petroleum to transport ammonia to the fields where they dump it in such ridiculous amounts the soil microbes belch "unexpectedly high levels of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas with 300 times as much heat-trapping power as carbon dioxide." Such is modern agricultural practice. Billions of gigatons of greenhouse gases, all for feeding earth's vastly bloated and completely unsustainable human population (and their domestic animals).
Alexandra Hamilton (NY)
And those nitrates poison our wells and destroy the aquatic life in our lakes, estuaries and bays.
Republicans will not accept the science on climate change as it interferes with their quest for more profits for biz, more tax cuts for biz and the rich ,and regulations to protect our air and water hurt profits, fossil fuel biz contribute the most to the republican candidates. Trump is the perfect leader for this greedy pack of polluters appointing coal lobbyist to head our EPA and he sets the example for agency heads using his properties to enhance his personal wealth they follow him and they may have a son in law that needs a billion $ loan. Kleptocracy oligarchy no wonder Putin is Trump's hero.
Phyllis Mazik (Stamford, CT)
Women’s health and reproductive choice will help the planet. Reversing the glut of household pets would help too. They also eat food. A hundred years ago, the family dog ate food scraps, not fifty dollar bags of dog food. Food waste was “run through the dog”. That’s the way it was folks.
Zebra (Oregon)
@Phyllis Mazik, that's essentially still what pet food is...waste or byproduct. Don't be fooled by the high prices. A friend of mine briefly worked for a pet food manufacturer. He said no one would buy it, if they knew what goes into it. We have much bigger problems than the world's pets.
Bedroom (Closet)
NYT, please research and publish the number of pro-environmental bills that were shot down by Republican leaders over the past 40 years. The number you will find will attest to their unmitigated, willful destruction of Mother Earth.
PB (northern UT)
What do you think we are supposed to do? Plan? Have constructive policies to take not only our county but the earth into the future? Absolutely not, that's called "socialism." Americans aren't socialists. We are capitalists--free-market capitalists, the greatest country on earth. It's rags to riches; the land of gold and honey; and a sucker born every minute. Ask Fox News. No, No! We don't plan, we don't share, we pull out of international agreements. It's all a big hoax folks--just a bunch of ambitious scientists trying to scare us and make a name for themselves. Vote for us! And you can have all the guns, gas-guzzling oversized vehicles, pesticide-laced foods, and plastic bags and items you want. We don't enter into no international agreements for peace, the protection of the environment, or endorse renewable energy, public transportation, or universal health care for all citizens. And, don't let no nanny-state government--and certainly not the United Nations--tell you what to do. And when the floods, fires, droughts, diseases, come (which they already have), don't expect any government help or handouts. Taxpayer dollars are for the big cooperations, the military, and the wealthy. And when the refugees and asylum seekers come in droves (which is occurring), we will punish them and their children to deter people of color from coming to America. What we need is 4 more years of Donald Trump and the GOP, & there will be no climate change.Trust us!
Figgie (Los Angeles)
Can't wait until Trump and his cohorts call this just another hoax.
tim torkildson (utah)
This story made me hungry, so/I ate a bunch of cookie dough/which made me sick, resentful too/at what reporting news can do/I think right now, instead of rage/I'll only read the sporting page.
Dani Weber (San Mateo Ca)
I wonder if indoor trees can help. Also I think there is a lot more room to add tree in cities than people give credit for because if we get serious about public transportation and adding subways then there is more road available to depave and add trees and bike lanes Urban trees also more directly help mitigate the heat island effect of cities
Lara Karuna (Palm springs)
@Dani Weber we absolutely build urban gardens? Stop building only flat and instead build vertical.
Gloria (Boston MA)
I wish the New York Times would call this what it is. It's climate emergency.
Sherry (Washington)
Thank Fox News which gave most of its airtime to science deniers. Fox News turned a generation of Republicans into a bunch of blooming idiots who refuse to do anything to stop carbon pollution.
Martha Hunter (Midwest)
I’ve got young adults in my life and their mindset on bringing children into this world is so different than mine, from 30 years ago. They are practical- why bring kids into this world and contribute to the population? And how could we possibly afford one anyway? In my state, childcare is $1300/month, average. The American dream has changed for them. For me in middle age, I’ve bought bamboo toothbrushes, shampoo balls, and eat way less meat. It’s to point we all need a list of hard recommendations on what else we should do and get behind it like rations in WWII. We should send peace Corp volunteers into countries to help replenish the soil. I just read the story on trees and if we would replant, we could significantly improve air quality. Then we demand leadership that will enact legislation to help try and turn this around, it not already too late.
David (Seattle, WA)
@Martha Hunter I totally agree with you! We can all make this happen with our choices each and every day. I have had to put hard thought into my habits and had to make changes that, at first, were challenging for me. I am now eating a totally plant-based diet (not that everyone has to do that, but a plant-predominant diet will be essential and a key to lessen the climate disaster); my water use is way down (I see the public utility comparison from the previous year) and now it has become a game of sorts for our family. How can we conserve more? We stopped driving to work and take the buses. I try not too buy anything in plastic now. I keep thinking, what's the alternative? How quickly I got used to all this. It just takes some mental hurdles. We can do this. We must, since our government is doing nothing.
RW (Manhattan)
@Martha Hunter Really? I'm glad to hear that you know people who are deciding not to procreate. The youngsters in my family are popping them out like it's 1953. They also expect the home and cars and all that to go with their brood. And they get it - because Mom & Dad will provide.
Henry (Springfield)
@Martha Hunter I truly feel sorry for your kids. They've given up before they've even started.
Miriam (Europe)
Actually, we knew this would happen. I remember my professors teaching it in my environmental sciences course 30 years ago. Nobody wants it to be true. So almost everyone just puts their fingers in their ears, closes their eyes and screams 'lalala' to themselves. The more obvious and inevitable the dire consequences of climate change become, the harder they scream. Good luck with that...
George (Dallas)
Yes, the climate changes constantly as it has for millennia and there is nothing we can do about it unless we can adjust the sun. It's impossible for humans to alter climate on a global scale if we wanted to. The sun puts out more energy in a microsecond that all humans since the dawn of time. I would say the explosion to 7 billion residents has more to do with being fed than the normal cycle of weather.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@George During the recent run up in global temperature the Sun’s output was declining which shows the Sun’s variations on climate are being overwhelmed by greenhouse gasses largely from burning fossil fuels.
Sarah (San Francisco)
@George I know internet comments can be read as vitriolic or sarcastic and I want to make clear that is not my intent. I really want to know what you believe is responsible for the population explosion we have had within the just the last 100 years? My research indicates that cheaper forms of energy (carbon from coal and later oil/ natural gas) created the conditions that enabled humans to reproduce and support our young so successfully - which makes population growth a symptom rather than a complete explanation. The numbers support this and there have been, for years, fringe collapse theories centered around the idea of “peak oil” because of our global dependence on cheap energy. Legitimately curious to know if you have a different understanding. Thanks!
Marc (Colorado)
Every conversation about environmental issues and most of those about social ones are discussions about the result of imposing more and more humans on the same amount of land, air and water. Population is the issue. Making free family planning universally available is a good direction. Otherwise we're just getting really worried about the seating chart on the Titanic.
james jordan (Falls church, Va)
Thanks to NYTimes for keeping a focus on Climate Change. The UN is the perfect for persuading humanity take the next steps to avoid the projected stresses of climate change. UN member nations must agree to fund an R&D effort to develop technology solutions to climate change. In the last 200 years, human life has undergone an incredible transformation, with capabilities and experiences undreamed of in 1800. Before then, humans lived off the land for food and energy. As we began to harvest massive amounts of energy from fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—the world radically changed. People have moved from an isolated life to a more fully-connected life. Ever-increasing fossil energy production has made phenomenal progress possible. But fossil fuels are a limited resource. It’s not realistic to expect people to use less energy if it means going back to a lower standard of living. We also won’t be able to meet our energy needs using existing alternative energy sources. Therefore, we need a new strategy. Future energy source development include development of very cheap electric power. Space based beamed electric power, cheaply launched with Maglev has potential. Exploitation of the thermal difference in the oceans and land. Exploration of fusion power. Finally, we should explore using very cheap electricity to desalinate water, and make synthetic jet fuel from air and water, and capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
james jordan (Falls church, Va)
@james jordan Correction: "The UN is the perfect organization for persuading humanity take the next steps to avoid the projected stresses of climate change. UN member nations must agree to fund an R&D effort to develop technology solutions to climate change." I could not write all that I wanted to on the U.N. but after studying the possibilities, the technology developed to replace fossil fuels must be an international effort to share the costs by the U.N. formula for sharing AND to avoid the militarization of space etc. Clearly, this competition for a technology could get ugly and become a military threat. That national approach to global warming, simply won't work. It is possible to harness the creativity of all humanity to find solutions that will be inclusive of all humankind. So if it is not the U.N. it must be an international institutions like the U.N., the World Bank, the W.T.O. and the I.M.F.
Jay E. Simkin (Nashua, NH)
China's President Xi Jinping strives to make China a global power. He'll fail. China has about 22% of the World residents, about 10% of its arable land, and about 8% of freshwater resources (much of that poisoned by post-1980 mad-cap growth-at-all-costs policies), Further, most of China's water is in southern regions, while most of the population lives in semi-arid northern regions. The US and Canada between them have 20% of global surface freshwater resources in the five Great Lakes. Russia - in lake Baikal - has another 20%. China's modernization - truly impressive - is limited by its lack of arable land and water. Newly-arrived farm sector diseases - African swine fever and Fall Armywarm - expose the narrowness of China's resource base. There will always be a China. But China has not the resource base to support its leader's ambitions.
Steve Sedlmayr (San Francisco)
And yet people continue to drive their gas-guzzling cars and say things like "Get a car, loser" when they see me ride by with a bunch of cargo or groceries on my e-bike. You can get solar on your house virtually for free through any number of solar leasing companies, but most houses still don't have it. You can buy carbon offsets when you fly, but most people don't. You can stop eating beef - but most people can't even make that trivial dietary change. You can use a cheap induction burner in place of your gas burners whenever possible, but not a lot of people do that. The bill is going to come due all at once, and Mother Nature doesn't take IOU's. Civilization is headed for a brick wall, but rather than putting on the brakes, we're stepping on it. Time to wake up, folks.
Martha Shelley (Portland, OR)
Why are so many readers on board with the urgency of doing something about climate change, yet when it comes to supporting representatives like AOC and her Green New Deal, they line up behind Pelosi and incrementalism?
Trassens (Florida)
It is true that the climate is changing. However, the climate changed also before the industrial era, a lot of times across the history of our planet. No all the factors are for the smoke that the humans generate today.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@Trassens We’ve increased CO2 by 45 percent at a rate never seen in the history.
Sarah (San Francisco)
@Trassens - I am not sure why it matters what the cause of climate change is anymore, right? It is secondary to the question of what we are doing to do to prevent the worst case scenario - mass extinction- and mitigate/ adapt to the changes that are already here or are no longer preventable. I would love for conversations to center around actions we can all agree on to start with.
glennmr (Planet Earth)
@Trassens But the climate changed in the past due to CO2 changes most of the time...but not near as fast as is occurring now. The change over the last 100 years in surface air temps took about 2000 years coming out of the last ice age. So, the planet is heating up close to 20 times faster than natural changes. And of course, there is no natural reason/forcing that can cause heat up the planet as it is over the last 150 years. The earth should still be in the little ice age.
617to416 (Ontario Via Massachusetts)
AOC is right. We need a Green New Deal. No, make that a Global Green New Deal. But she's too radical for American tastes, right? It's not just conservatives who are preventing us from saving the world, it's moderates too.
leftcoast (San Francisco)
There is only one real answer right now but no one will talk about it because it is not advantageous to corporations, and governments by default. We have way too many people on the planet. We look to electric cars, paper straws, recycling, or some pollution cleaning invention in the future, however they only placate us and do very little overall. We have to figure out how many people can be on the planet without causing a negative carbon reaction and get to that population by having less babies. It's that simple. I have very righteous friends in Berkeley that drive the Prius, compost, speak endlessly about global warming, but have two or three babies... they have delivered a bone crushing impact on the environment and seem oblivious. People want what they want, even the most concerned. Our green spokespeople Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Laurie David all have the carbon footprints the size of a small town, but they implore the rest of us to have a smaller footprint. I am a progressive person, but I recognize we can be nutty lot. Read and weep, or choose to get what you want and rationalize it...
Jon (Boston)
Well farmers here won’t have to worry about that as their crops are already rotting in storage due to tariffs.
Tony K (Ocean County, NJ)
Confused, I thought the president said this was all a hoax, so #notahoax? got it
A.L. (NYC)
More damning than any Mueller report for the country in current destructive and malicious public policies and western lifestyles. Front burner stuff for government and all of mankind.
Mary (Rockville MD)
Bob Dylan A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall 1962 somewhat prophetic now...... Oh, where have you been, ....... I've stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin' I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin' I saw a white ladder all covered with water I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children. I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin' Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin' Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter I met a young woman whose body was burning I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow I met one man who was wounded in love I met another man who was wounded with hatred I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin' I'll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest Where the people are many and their hands are all empty Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten Where black is the color, where none is the number And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
For the many here talking about population, I've seen none of you ever present a plan for ethically reducing the population sufficiently in the little time we have left. Because there is none.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Erik Frederiksen: We may yet confront the ethics of cannibalism. China's one child policy is the only known instance of a major nation adopting a population-limiting policy, although many isolated and island-based cultures managed it. China would be melting down now if its population had expanded to 2.4 billion, as projected before the policy was adopted.
Lara Karuna (Palm springs)
@Erik Frederiksen thank you! My thoughts exactly.
glennmr (Planet Earth)
@Steve Bolger For information: India has used govt backed programs to limit population...including sterilization.
Miss Anne Thrope (Utah)
In the "developed world" our population growth is low-to-negative, so we find it to be convenient to point blaming fingers at overpopulation as THE problem. It's A problem, but it pales in comparison to our Over-consumption. 15% of global population (including virtually every American) consumes 80% of global resources. The growing populations in sub-Saharan Africa, India, Bangladesh, etc. live with very light footprints - they have no choice. We, OTOH, have a choice and we choose to pig out (literally) on every form of disposable resource as much and as fast as we can. The US contains 4.2% of global population, yet consumes 25-30% of global resources. Our 330 Million peeps represent a Consumption Equivalent of 1.65 - 1.98 Billion! (China's population is 1.4 Billion, for comparison). If the rest of the world consumed the way we do (and they do want to live just like us), we'd have a global Consumption Population of 38-46 Billion people (Yikes!). Even worse, Americans WASTE half of the food and 2/3 of the energy we produce - we fritter it away, carelessly and mindlessly. Rather than fret about population growth in sub-Saharan Africa and India (which is a growing problem, of course), we'd be well-served to clean up our own acts and slash our own wasteful Over-Consumption.
Greg Ruben (New York)
Explain to me again why this issue was only worth 5 mins in our recent 2.5 hr Democratic debates.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
@Greg Ruben The influence of fossil fuel money in US politics.
Andrew Wohl (Maryland)
@Greg Ruben At least the Democrats debated it. Trump and the Republicans won't even acknowledge its existence.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
The Republican organization is the most dangerous in human history. Outrageous statement? Consider that they are uniquely dedicated to the destruction of organized human life through their denial of climate science. And they may have already succeeded when you consider the tremendous momentum in Earth's energy system and climate.
DO (Kingston, NewYork)
The article does not mention population control. Eight to twelve children per family in some countries does not help. Emptying some of these countries is no solution. We should learn from the animal world. When there is no food they don't procreate. We should start living within our food means.
Broman (Lizard Island)
Why did the global We, including the United Nations, do nothing when the much maligned Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb in 1968? He was a few decades in advance. We have wasted fifty years and two and even three generations during which brakes on the exploding demographics in some countries should have been actioned. For the sake of political correctedness and the sometimes ridiculous notion of “personal freedoms”, we have instead tip-toed around the issue. We in the West (including Australia, NZ, and Japan etc) even have the imprudence of calling ourselves collectively infertile, sending out an unclear message that we somehow need help from the developing world to increase our own populations for the sake of prosperity. How very foolish we are.
WeHadAllBetterPayAttentionNow (Southwest)
At the very time when the people of all the world need to start working together, or else face worldwide warfare over water, food and land, the Putin government in Russia, instead of worrying about the future of its own people, is worried about using racism and nationalism to defeat western democracy.
Marge Keller (Midwest)
If the look of those cattle "grazing" outside Sokoto on brown ground and pebbles is indicative of the unprecedented rates of exploited land and water thereby putting "dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself" then the author of this article chose the perfect picture. Being a farmer's daughter, I know what healthy cattle should look like and those white cattle depicted in that photo are so thin, their bones can be clearly seen. I have no idea what they could be "grazing" on when they are surrounded by dirt. Those poor creatures look as thin and deplorable as the ground is dry and brown. And where the heck do they get water to drink?
b fagan (chicago)
@Marge Keller - Cattle in Africa are mostly varieties that are only distantly related to the breeds found in Europe or here. Europe has bos taurus. Africa and India mostly have bos indicus. "Phenotypically humped cattle or zebu cattle (Bos indicus) constitute the majority of African cattle. They are adapted to local environmental conditions that are generally unsuitable to exotic breeds of European origin (e.g. high temperatures, long period of drought, vector-born disease). Estimates of divergent time for Bos taurus and Bos indicus from a common ancestor are all pre-Neolithic ranging from to ~ 2 millions to ~ 330,000 years ago depending of the genetic markers and the calibration rate of the molecular clock" The man has a stick up and to me it seems clear he's moving them off of the patch of green in the background. So these probably aren't a good example of the real conditions you describe.
Marge Keller (Midwest)
@b fagan Good background to have. Thanks much for sharing this intel. But they still don't look very appealing to me.
b fagan (chicago)
@Marge Keller - I'm sure they look lovable to those who raise them!
Patty (Sammamish wa)
Washington Governor Jay Inslee is bringing national attention to the deadly climate future we’re facing if we don’t get serious and start adjusting our policies . If you love your family you will vote out all the republicans and any democrat not addressing the dire climatic future for our children and their children. No matter how many billions or trillions of dollars you have ... mass migrations will destabilize the world. Republicans really don’t believe in prolife policies if they ignore climate change and leave a uninhabitable world for children. Vote them out so we can start protecting our earth and home for our families.
Justaguy (Nyc)
We can tell all these progressive people are taking this very seriously as they continue to have children and drive their cars.
Bedroom (Closet)
And you have researched your assertions where?
Justaguy (Nyc)
@Bedroom I live in NYC, I just have to look out my window and watch our Mayor drive an SUV motorcade to the gym.
Carol Shattuck (Norwalk, CT)
The new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released today by a United Nations panel is alarming. However, as the CEO of Food Rescue US, we are encouraged by the possible solutions outlined in the IPCC's report, including reducing the amount of food waste, which produces 8-10% of global emissions. With a proven track record of diverting more than 46 million pounds of food waste from landfills since our start in 2011, Food Rescue US is committed to continuing to lead the way in reducing food waste and food insecurity by directly transferring fresh food that would have been discarded from food industry sources to local social service agencies who are feeding hungry people in our country. To learn more, go to
Newsbuoy (Newsbuoy Sector 12)
One feels compelled to submit the link to this story in the NYTimes just a few short years ago: The Unrealized Horrors of Population Explosion
novoad (USA)
Here is the data on population growth. It came down from 2%/year to 1%/year, and is expected to stabilize by 2100. Crop yields grow at about 2%/year, and the growth shows no sign of slowing down. One has good reasons to be optimistic.
Ouzts (South Carolina)
The poet, John Milton, said it best on the eve of the Industrial Revolution: "There stood a Hill not far whose griesly top [ 670 ] Belch'd fire and rowling smoak; the rest entire Shon with a glossie scurff, undoubted sign That in his womb was hid metallic Ore, The work of Sulphur. Thither wing'd with speed A numerous Brigad hasten'd. As when Bands [ 675 ] Of Pioners with Spade and Pickax arm'd Forerun the Royal Camp, to trench a Field, Or cast a Rampart. Mammon led them on, Mammon, the least erected Spirit that fell From heav'n, for ev'n in heav'n his looks and thoughts [ 680 ] Were always downward bent, admiring more The riches of Heav'ns pavement, trod'n Gold, Then aught divine or holy else enjoy'd In vision beatific: by him first Men also, and by his suggestion taught, [ 685 ] Ransack'd the Center, and with impious hands Rifl'd the bowels of thir mother Earth For Treasures better hid. . . ."
B.E. (CA)
It's not a wide-scale, sweeping solution, but it is a practical one: grow your own food. Start small, but learn how to garden and at least grow some of your calories. It's a positive feedback loop: the more you can provide for yourself and family, the less dependent you are on the grocery store, the less carbon you use, the more you want to grow more. Start with easy crops: tomatoes and sweet potatoes in the summer, lettuce, radishes and kale in the winter. Compost your food scraps. Share with neighbors. Start a community garden to build local resilience. Support regenerative and local agriculture that draws down carbon. Plant fruit trees. Urban food production can and must grow.
Bob (Hudson Valley)
Communities around the US should start planning to adapt to at least 4C. That level of warming might not be reached this century but it could be reached within the 40 to 50 years so planning should be started. Some coastal areas have already begun planning for sea level rise of at least 6 feet. Too many things have to go right for there to be any confidence that global warming of at least 4C can be avoided. An informal survey of climate scientists about 10 years ago revealed the most common opinion was global warming would reach 4C. Some predicted reaching only 2C but admitted it was based on wishful thinking.
Citizen (NYC)
How about a “carbon footprint test” so people could evaluate how much they are or are not contributing to this crisis? Diet, car use, flying, recycling, composting, etc. can be scored and evaluated.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
The more of anything there is, the less valuable each unit of it is worth. There are no exceptions to this rule. One can measure how valuable human life is to those who govern the US by their massive promotion and distribution of crowd-killing assault weapons.
r a (Toronto)
Furthermore, in contrast to what many commenters appear to think: "There are often suggestions that going vegan is the most important step people can take to solve the global warming problem. While reducing meat consumption (particularly beef and lamb) reduces greenhouse gas emissions, this claim is an exaggeration."
sam finn (california)
So, the UN one-world-globalist-comfortably-salaried-elites not only are raising the hue and cry of climate change, and blaming the USA for causing it, they are also touting cross-border "migration" as some kind of inevitable consequence. No surprise. The main cause of climate change is rampant overpopulation, and the most rampant overpopulation by far is occurring not in the USA or in Europe, but rather in Africa, Latin America and most of Asia, thanks to their male-dominant patriarchal cultures the inveterate pro-procreation doctrines of Islam, Hinduism and Catholism prevalent there. The USA is not responsible for that and has no duty to alleviate their overcrowding problems, least of all by tolerating massive migrant influxes. Each country needs to make its own internal adjustments for its own overpopulation --including via internal migration -- and by promoting birth control in its own population and rooting out its own patriarchy -- especially machoism -- which, btw, is far, far worse in Africa, Latin America and Asia than in the USA or Europe. The elites at the UN ought to be promoting those actions in Africa, Asia and Latin America, not by hectoring the USA and Europe. Sure, the UN can solicit money from the USA and Europe to provide aid to take those actions -- in Africa, Asia and Latin America, but the money needs to be spent on those actions there, not on hectoring the USA and Europe about adjustments we need to make.
Cal (Maine)
The opposition to effective birth control must end.
karen (bay area)
And meanwhile in USA. We have an obesity crisis with many gorging on food most of their waking hours.
Nancy fleming (Shaker Heights ohio)
First our election is under attack we must make sure our state and local officials are aware and provide paper ballots that can be checked.If the Federal gov, won’t pay call it corrupt and destruction of humanity by Trump and The Republicans. There is no time to waste in attention to climate change.The Drum beat of ignorance And stupidity must be ignored and Incompetent leadership can not be left in office another Day.Any business ,individual, state or local government who accepts the truth our risk of death by starvation brought on by drought, torrential rain and flood and heat must be heard and the best ,already knownActions must be taken We must begin now.The progress we had made up to 3 years ago has been Destroyed by Trump and his ignorance.
John (NYS)
What would happen to the food supply if we stopped using fossil fuel powered tractors an farming machinery. How much has industrialization increased the worlds food production capacity compared to 200 years ago? Years ago there was a famous book, "The Population Bomb" which made many alarmist predictions including mass famines many of which did not come to pass. I know there is climate change. If there wasn't Canada would still be under a glacier. I believe man contributes to it. However, I believe we always have and always will make alarmist pridections in many areas. In the case of food supply, I argue it would be far smaller were it not for the use of fossil fuels. We should also consider that all else remaining equal, plants generally grow faster at high CO2 levels. How can we can we come to a point where we have transparent objective science. John
ss (los gatos)
The United States is--or should be--uniquely positioned to aid in the survival of our species. First, we can export expertise and funding to help people adapt to changes in their environment. What we were doing in Central America for coffee farmers is an example. Second, the essence of our nation is that it is based on the incorporation of people from all over the world (and the near-extermination of the original Americans, but that's another story). A few other nations have evolved out of multi-national empires, but few have arisen as we have from multi-national immigration. That gives us an enormous cultural advantage in accepting climate migration if we fail to invest enough in climate adaption in other countries and lead the way in cutting CO2 emissions. This is a case in which idealism in action is also the only practical action. Note also that our survival depends on reversing nearly all of the Trump/GOP policies.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
Here are a couple of starting points. 1) Eliminate any incentives to using corn to make ethanol to drive cars, that wonderful gift to the eco-warriors. The Democrat solution to "we have to do something" raised world food costs and did not reduce manmade CO2 production by a single molecule. It also took marginal farmland, that taxpayers had been paying farmers to leave fallow, and put it into corn production. Previously, it had been covered with native grasses, that filtered farm runoff of soil and fertilizer into creeks and streams that found its way to rivers and the Great Lakes. Once placed back into production, the land required high fertilizer loads. The dead zones and toxic blooms in the Great Lakes are the direct consequence of promoting ethanol in favor of fossil fuels. [A secondary factor is the municipal untreated and partially treated sewage effluent and septic system contamination. The EPA should be enforcing the law.] 2) Eliminate incentives for biofuels like palm oil. It would be a better strategy to burn the peat for fuel than to drain the wetlands for palm oil production. The UN orders to substitute biofuels for fossil fuels has impoverished indigenous peoples while enriching the ruling elite. 3) Air quality declined in the EU when they substituted wood pellets from the US for coal, substituted nuclear with coal, substituted diesel for gasoline. Following the central UN dictates of Kyoto raised energy costs and sacrificed air quality.
William (Minnesota)
The political will in America is not strong enough to avert the disasters described here. Even voting some Republicans out of office will be insufficient to unify all political factions. Even a declaration such as we should eat less meat is enough to set off a storm of protest from the meat industry and from meat-eaters who don't want to eat less meat. It seems that conditions in the environment and in the population will have to worsen before concerted action can be expected.
Martha (Northfield, MA)
The suggestion of planting as many trees as possible to offset the deforestation that is happening is just not going to save us. We can’t plant trees at the rate they’re being cut down, trees take a long time to grow and fast growing species that they’re usually replaced with (if they’re replaced at all) don’t have the same biological value, and the biodiversity and species loss that occurs when swaths of forests, especially in the Amazon and Indonesian rain forests, are taken down, is immeasurable and irreplaceable. The ecological integrity that took millions of years to evolve is being stamped out by humans at a daily rate. This is an international crisis threatening our own existence and our planet in a very immediate way, yet when you turn on CNN, NBC, etc., you STILL never even hear anything about it.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Martha: Much of the northern taiga forest will go up in flames over the next decade or two. This summer is just a foretaste. After that, massive quantities of methane frozen into the ground under them will out-gas from loss of insulation by the trees.
Nads99 (TN)
Nature will solve all our issues related to climate change - rather harshly. Cows, migrations, rising sea levels, land use, undrinkable water, etc. won't matter after most humans are dead from starvation and dehydration. Once the humans are culled, the earth will settle down. Between now and then, it's going to be very, very ugly. Too bad we are not as smart as we think.
Dee (Los Angeles)
Want a humanitarian and ethical solution to this problem? Read Dan Brown's Inferno. Climate change is a red herring. The real issue is overpopulation. You'll never reverse climate change with so many humans on Earth.
karen (bay area)
@Dee and not a mention of overpopulation in this article. One child UN suggested policy with free contraception and abortion on demand might help.
Julie (Denver, CO)
What will national borders mean when vast areas of the globe become uninhabitable? Mass migration is only the beginning. Wars are next.
Campbell (Ann Arbor)
Once again no mention of overpopulation. The human population must be brought down to stop the ongoing environmental collapse.
ss (los gatos)
@Campbell Agreed. Investment in the education and employment of women in the developing world is the proven way to do this. The nations that can afford it need to step up to the plate.
kay (new york)
@Campbell Hard to do that when we have an anti abortion, anti birthcontrol and anti-women crowd in charge.
msnymph (new jersey)
The human race cannot control its reproduction, that is clearly evident. The only hope for the planet is for Mother Nature to take over to save herself via a pandemic that will wipe out most of the population, leaving the rest of the biosphere to heal itself. Cruel but that is the only solution.
ss (los gatos)
@msnymph Well, SOMETHING will reduce our species to a few scattered remnants SOMEDAY--that's inevitable. But that is no reason for us to fold our arms and wait passively for it to happen. We can evolve culturally faster than physically.
rustymoe (Washington State)
There will be no Trump wall long enough, tall enough or deep enough to hold back or prevent masses seeking food and water, whether it be located at the Southern border, our shorelines or along individual State boundaries. A post script, Donald. Even Trump Tower will fall. Wasn't it your brilliant idea to seek waivers for installation of a fire suppression system...
Justin (Greenville, SC)
In the end, we’re all dead men. I hate that our country is leading the charge into oblivion. It doesn’t matter anymore. The senate will never pass climate change legislation. Americans are too stupid now. We only fear what we can see. New Orleans, Miami, New York, Boston, Charleston, and Houston will be underwater before we respond. And most of our economy leaves from those port cities. So we won’t have resources to fix anything then. The best we can hope for are two catastrophic hurricane seasons and a recession before 2020 to have a chance at fixing the climate. And those that survive will all get Dengue, west Nile, malaria, yellow fever. Fun times. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.
Westcoast Texan (Bogota Colombia)
We're doomed. I have a home on the pacific beach of the Choco jungle in Colombia, South America. The Choco has the world's highest rainfall with 54 feet of rain per year. This year, there was a month long draught. It's the first time in the living memory of the people there, but they don't have ancient records. Even people in their 90's said it has never happened before. There were forest fires in the jungle.
Pierre Du Simitiere (Long Island)
“The report also offered a measure of hope, laying out pathways to addressing the looming food crisis, though they would require a major re-evaluation of land use and agriculture worldwide as well as consumer behavior.” Yep. That’s not going to happen. From a Malthusian standpoint, this report places our looming immigration crisis into sharper focus. This “land of opportunity” may quickly become a fight for survival, and to prevent that our attitudes and policies regarding our open borders may have to change dramatically.
Arthur Tan (Toronto, ON)
Extreme water shortages in the most densely populated areas on earth. Drought and food shortages. Is famine next on the list? There's a deep irony in the fact that, the religious conservatives who deny science in favour of ideology, fervently awaiting the Rapture, are wholly complicit in dragging the four horsemen of the apocalypse from the depths, thus enabling our mass extinction. That aside, what about our children? Should we tell them to stop procreating? What kind of world awaits not just the next generation, but also the one after that? What's the best case scenario--some kind of war that decimates half the world's population so we can start over? It's grim, and only survivalists have any appetite for making plans. I can well understand those who refuse to grow up, who reject societal values, who resist the lure of career or family, because the world we've left for them is too scary to contemplate. We've failed future generations, big-time! We are indeed our own worst enemies.
Cal (Maine)
@Arthur Tan Yes, we should advise our children (if we have any) to adopt, have 1 biological child or remain childfree.
Jim (WI)
Too many people is what threatens the worlds food supply. Even if we stopped producing greenhouse gases totally we will still have the same problem unless the population stops growing. El Salvador is the most densely populated country in this hemisphere. That is why they are migrating here. There is no more room there. And even with so many people leaving the El Salvador the population still increases. The US taking in migrants because their countries are over populated is not sustainable. I find it ridiculous to limit greenhouse gas but more people is just fine.
SS (New York Area)
Why isn't this article properly titled "Population Growth & Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, ..."
ss (los gatos)
@SS Because the verb would not agree with the subjects in number?
Byron (Hoboken)
Gaia, the mythical Mother Earth goddess is sending a message. Too many people. Either we control our species population, or nature will. Politically unpopular, but better than the harsh disciplinarians of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Matt (TX)
Unpopular but relevant opinion: This article and the accompanying comments are apropos at a time that gun control is also a major headline. Some people in the United States see articles such as this and the associated comments as evidence that democrats are basically communists who are a legitimate threat to liberty. For those scratching their heads or rolling their eyes...... it’s because this article is written from the point of view that all people around the globe are equal and it’s better for everyone to die than for one population to “unfairly” succeed while others don’t. This article is divisive and threatening. It’s not saying that America needs to do what it can to protect Americans. It’s saying the opposite. When you combine the hostility toward guns that are useful to hunt or defend oneself against mobs of people with a worldview that prioritizes mobs of refugees along with providing food and water for people abroad..... it’s not difficult to see how or why many voters in the US see democrats as being crazy.
Red State (Red State)
yikes. The President by executive order declared there is no climate change. So what's the big deal? How does the GOP get away with ignoring his stupidity. 1) when did he become accepted as an expert on everything from climate to vaccines to mental health to ...2) what does he care as long as it's his crowd that gets fed.
PWR (Malverne)
I find it incredible that this article could be written and published without one mention of population growth. I suspect that its glaring omission reflects an ideological agenda, which has become the norm for the Times.
kay (new york)
@PWR 10% of the wealthiest contribute 50% of our emissions. Think about that.
Broman (Lizard Island)
It’s a United Nations report. They effectively muzzled themselves on the subject of overpopulation in the 70s and managed to avoid the topic ever since.
Baron95 (Westport, CT)
So, this study predicts that in the higher latitudes of the US, Canada, Europe, Russia, etc agricultural yield/productivity will improve with climate change. Sounds like reason for us to celebrate, not panic. The alarmist headlines are tiresome. There is no indication that the USA will have any problems mitigating any adverse effects of climate change, specially with late 21st century technology and economic might. In fact our agricultural yields are predicted to go up and our food prices will go down and our global competitiveness exporting food will be even better. Positives. Wins. As far as the eye can see.
SL (New York, NY)
@Baron95 Yeah, but what about all the people who will be in climates where agricultural yield and productivity will go down? Those areas are mostly closer to the equator and have a larger amount of the world's population than the higher latitudes. What happens when they try to emigrate to the countries where the yields will increase?
novoad (USA)
@SL "what about all the people who will be in climates where agricultural yield and productivity will go down? Ethiopia, for instance, is an amazing success story. It used to be known for famines, now it is known as a bread basket for its region. It exports wheat and many other grains in better years, and is almost self sufficient in general, storing grain for its drought years. Outsiders invest in its grain production...
ss (los gatos)
@Baron95 Actually, no. Nutritional value of the same volume of crops is expected to fall, as the article states. And then there are the floods and fires, of which we have had the first act already. Collapse of fishing industries would also cut a lot of protein from our diets. So no, there is no Fortress America. There is only Fortress Earth, and we live or die together.
NotOptimistic (Nebraska)
The meat and animal products industries are dirty, in multiple senses of the word. The best thing anyone can do for the planet today is to learn more about the effects of these industries and make the decision to cut out meat and animal products entirely. It's totally ok to start slowly, because it takes our gut bacteria at least 3 weeks to adapt to a change in diet, but its so, so important to make the change.
Grace (Vancouver, Canada)
Difficult to mention this, as it seems utterly counter to our species’ drive to survive, but I wonder how many people over the age of 60 or 70 might support the idea of gradually and voluntarily reducing our world population by addressing not just birth rates, but the situation at BOTH ends of life? It is too easy to tell the young to have fewer children, but what about stepping aside to lessen their burden of population control? Notably peripheral to the mainstream global conversation is this question of gracious, voluntary ending of one’s own life at an earlier age than health care may allow — not for reasons of illness but for the far-sighted goal of sharing the earth in a more generationally-balanced way. Choosing earlier death should be made an option, in all places and for all people who can philosophically tolerate the concept; this combined with genuine, positive incentives for birth control to ensure zero or negative growth could at least create some breathing room for human beings to think about their future on earth, rather than desperately scrambling to stay ahead of our own avalanche.
novoad (USA)
@Grace World population is expected to stabilize by 2100. Now it reduced its growth from 2% to about 1%/year.
Justaguy (Nyc)
@Grace are you really promoting Ättestupa for population control of less than 10% of the total population?
Andrew Wohl (Maryland)
@Grace OK, you go first!
Mia MacDonald / Martin Rowe (Brooklyn, NY)
Comments on subjects such as this usually devolve into the one solution: population control, veganism, an end to monocultures and fossil fuels, lower consumption, waste reduction, policy change, tax reform, a new politics, individual consciousnesses raised, and so on. The reality is we need all of them, in every way, immediately and simultaneously. Those who have more agency, power, and options should do more—which also means throwing up our hands in despair less.
s.khan (Providence, RI)
Obsession with growth and continuously rising standard of living coupled with increasing population is creating the problem which could become a catastrophe in future if strong action is not taken cooperatively.As incomes rise people buy cars, electricity ( generated using fossil fuels), air conditioners as climate becomes hotter. Unfortunately leaders on the right like Jairo Bolsonaro of Brazil, Narender Modi of India, Xi Jin Ping of China and Donald Trump of USA ignore climate change and focus on delivering GDP growth.Bolsonaro is encouraging cutting down trees in Amazon (CO2 sink)to claim land for agriculture and mining to promote economic growth.India has built coal fired power plants causing pollution in the air, use of chemicals to increase agricultural output poisoning the soil and farmers digging deeper to get water for irrigation depleting aquifers.Even the drought, flood,hotter weather is not discouraging these measures. Sadly, UN report's predictions may come true that will inflict misery on poor. What we are seeing on our borders, people from Central America coming in droves, is the future. More of the same as the climate change worsens.
All Around (OR)
What is incomprehensible is the optimism. Humans will be extinct well before the year 2100. The only question is how much sooner than that. Why are scientists not advertising their climate model results (which understate the dynamic)?
Fallopia Tuba (New York City)
@All Around I hear humans have less than 9 years to get it right:
novoad (USA)
@All Around "Why are scientists not advertising their climate model results (which understate the dynamic)?" People in the models will die by 2100, depending on the model. In the actual world, crop yields grow at 2%/year, twice faster than population growth at 1%/year. So in the actual world people will prosper.
Clearwater (Oregon)
Jay Inslee is the only presidential candidate talking and working continually to make people aware of and work to reduce the pending impacts of Climate Change. But I am afraid that since the horrid age of Trump has begun many people think that the only one who can beat Trump is someone with an outsize personality or a cult of personality. That's not how the natural world works. To deal effectively with the natural world one needs thoughtful and serious leaders who are committed to actual change and caring for others - for the physical world as well. I wish Jay Inslee or someone like him had greater broad support or even just more recognition but in the age of Trump, the limelight becomes a blackhole sucking everything into it's trap.
Richard Winchester (Illinois)
As the ice melts and the growing season gets longer in Northern climates, I wonder how much new farm land will open up for crops that suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. I have never read how the added areas for plant growth will aid the climate.
Lev (ca)
stupid humans..sad about the rest of the inhabitants of Earth. Remember ZPG anyone??
Ed (Oklahoma City)
Halting climate change could drastically impact the livelihood of your president and his family members, so science be damned.
arm19 (Paris/ny/cali/sea/miami/baltimore/lv)
When are you finally going to get it? Capitalism and the all out search for profits is the culprit. It pushes farmers to adopt techniques, that are unhealthy for the earth and humans, in order to continually increase their yields and profit. It pushes industries to pollute because it's cheaper. It creates the mind fart that regulations are evil. But it's the american way and it will the death to us all.
David (San Francisco)
The NYTimes’s titling crew needs to up its game. It’s titles are too sugar-coated. For example, “threaten” is what driving does (by definition), whereas driving having downed a couple of beers doesn’t “threaten” or risk—it impairs, damages, screws up. Why not “Climate Change Screws Up Global Food Supply”? I imagine the answer has something to do with the Times’s desire to be cool, calm, and collected. Unfortunately, cool-calm-collected here ends up suggesting that things aren’t that bad, that global climate change may (but needn’t necessarily) screw up the global food supply—act fast, and famine may be avoided. That’s just more of the same Pollyanna evasion and denial we’ve been seeing, and indulging, for decades. Try telling the people of El Paso that institutionalized immigrant-bashing “threatens” public health. Hey Times—get over your commitment to cool-calm-collected, and start telling it like it is, please!
novoad (USA)
@David In the title Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns "threatens" and "warns" means it didn't measurably, actually happen. In fact, the crop yields are growing at a remarkable 2% a year. The crop yields tripled between 1960 and 2018, the period of big industrial emissions, from 60 bushels per acre for corn to 180 bushels per acre. This is not a matter of belief, but of actual measurement.
David (San Francisco)
@novoad Yields up, huh? Welcome and relevant. Thanks. But that’s hardly the whole picture when it comes to feeding people where they live, is it? US Dept of Agriculture projections: food to become more expensive annually, with this year seeing 1%-2% rise overall. (Dairy - 3%-4%; veggies - 2.5%-3%.) Reasons: 1. Oil prices rising. 2 . Climate change. This, too, seems relevant. In California’s Central Valley, where much of the nation’s food has been grown for decades, the water table has been going down at measurable rates for years; and it’s predicted that California’s water supply will become comparable to that of Eritrea and the Sudan due to climate change. But my main point concerns the problem of global climate change and famine. If famine’s to be avoided, people must eat—right where they live.
qisl (Plano, TX)
there's an easy solution for this: the other countries get together and decide that if the US wasn't around, there'd be breathing space for a time, permitting China and India fix their emissions. Sure, global economy would be affected by the loss of American consumers. But Trump's tariff policies are already isolating the US.
su (ny)
One another way to describe things we the humans represents is simply put: On this planet we are on the wrong side. Everything about us is wrong , even the most environmentally conscious human being is simply wrong. That being wrong and comprehending what it means took me 20 years. Let be me more direct. Our existence on this planet is wrong, wrong like cockroaches in the kitchen. I do not know how do you make that is right or tolerable, but we are wrong.
Scott Werden (Maui, HI)
The fundamental problem is that the planet has an unsustainable number of people. Humanity does tremendous damage to the planet with pollution and mismanagement of scarce resources. We need to figure out how to get the population down to sustainable levels and keep it there, but all we want to do is blame the other guy with political squabbling. I am beginning to wonder if we are going to go the way several cultures have in human history and self-extinct. It is like watching a Greek tragedy in which man cannot see his own fatal flaw and dooms himself by his hubris.
ga (NY)
Please visit the entire report. Can download it by searching UNEP August 6. This NYT piece doesn't stress the agricultural aspect as featured in the report. P. 82 and into 83 FOOD ... most significant influence on land use .... both emissions and land use strongly depend on diet ... Animal products, both meat and dairy, in general require more resources and cause higher emissions than plant-based alternatives ..... Agricultural materials, especially, animal products ... Feel free to read it in it's entirety, it is another eye-opener.
Bob Bascelli (Seaford NY)
With our President brushing off climate change as if it was lint on his suit, America stands alone as the world tries to address the issue. This is the planet’s most serious problem and Republicans refuse to address it at any level. As they play follow the leader, the world deteriorates around us. Why are GOP supporters so complacent on this issue? Is it because they believe Trump over almost every respected scientist on earth? Trump knows nothing about science and should be listening to those who do. All the while, America continues its orbit around his fact-less brain. If that doesn’t scare you to the core, I guess climate change won’t either.
TIM JONES (Portland)
If the climate was really warming, wouldn't huge land masses that are now or were covered with snow, now be ready for growing?
Kathy (California)
Yeah, I read the permafrost is melting in Siberia. Should be ready for farming sometime between now and the end of the human race.
Cal (Maine)
@TIM JONES As the permafrost melts, methane gas will be released which will trigger runaway global warming.
Bruce Wilson (BC)
I invite you to northern Canada to inspect the few centimetres of topsoil that has accumulated in these past centuries following ice retreat. We should not assume that we can move conventional agriculture ever northward -unless we bring our own topsoil with us. But we certainly should be promoting concentrated and urban agriculture, which enables year-round production in controlled environments irrespective of external conditions. Paired with some form of renewable energy, this may become a valuable complement to conventional agriculture. And while we are north of the 60th parallel, we should also take a look at the melting permafrost and the quickening destabilisation of vast methane hydrate deposits - potentially a tipping point of unknowable scale and severity. So come on up - it’s warmer than you think...
EDC (Colorado)
No need to worry...conservatives the world over will pay no mind to this.
Lily (Brooklyn)
Population control now. If we would have kept population control at the forefront, as it was in the 1970s, all our environmental crisis would be less severe...from fewer plastic bottles to global warming. Stop aligning with the Catholic Pope and other religious zealots. Population control for the planet needs to be prioritized immediately.
RW (Manhattan)
@Lily It's not just the Catholics. Orthodox Jewish congregations here in the US and people in the middle east also have tons of kids. Some Christian extremists are having lots, too. I would have no problem with compassionate limitations (i.e., not like the Chinese did it) on the number of kids. But that topic is forbidden!
Lily (Brooklyn)
@RW Yes, I added “other religious zealots”. Why is the topic forbidden?? Has political correctness trumped human survival instincts?
Richard Winchester (Illinois)
If Hillary had been elected would there have been no “crisis”. I recall that Obama did nothing to promote jobs during the recession installing solar panels on all government buildings
Deirdre (New Jersey)
Obama had a republican majority house for 6 of his 8 years that refused to meet with him or even discuss his agenda Republican Obstruction is why we are here today Republicans implemented the gag rule which prevents NGOs from supporting birth control.
Richard Winchester (Illinois)
So what prevented the promotion of solar panels? I think Obama had them removed from the White House.
Laney (Vermont)
I believe the only fix is to somehow connect people back to the earth and to one another. We are so far flung into our own worlds, our phones, our "likes," that we cannot see the whole anymore. There's little encouragement to build compassion for humanity as a whole and therefore foster personal reasons to "save" it. There's no global community. People need a reason. It's not close enough - it hasn't impacted people we love. Unfortunately, once the effects of climate change begin to seriously impact those of us in 1st world countries, it will be too late to do anything about it. The effects are already being felt in the US, but it's still somehow not close enough. We can still go to the grocery store, or corner store, or Amazon and buy all the food and drink we desire. No one will believe the enormity of this problem until it's way, way too late. I believe focusing on our connection to self and one another is the place to begin. You have to care about something enough to save it. I think at the heart of things this is an ecopsychology problem. However, I simultaneously don't have much faith and I think we're going to be in a heavily reactive state very soon, as opposed to a proactive state. I think our divisive government is the worst thing to happen to our country and our world, at the worst possible time. We needed to do better - and I do believe it's too late.
RLW (Chicago)
Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere should increase photosynthesis which is the source of all but a minuscule fraction of 1% of food supplies throughout the planet. The negative effects of climate change may be worse but shouldn't this be considered in the overall scheme of food production?
b fagan (chicago)
@RLW - the fertilization effect of CO2 has been included in the research on climate change's impacts on agriculture. Unfortunately, CO2 as plant food is a net benefit only before the follow-on impacts of CO2 as greenhouse gas kick in, which means the honeymoon is over pretty much right now. Crops need to be planted and survive to maturity to be harvested, and a world with heavier rains, bigger heat waves, more drought and increased wobble or Arctic air makes each crop year more of a crapshoot going forward. CO2 fertilization tests conducted over several decades also show that the benefit saturates or even slightly reverses after the first years of enhancement - partly by the fact that CO2 is only one of a set of nutrients that each can limit yields. Increased CO2 also tends to reduce protein yields in some crops, so the result is less nutritious food.
Marshall (Austin)
One person I know has made a huge difference. Read the book Water from Stone. Visit Bamburger Ranch. This model could be replicated by willing individuals with the resources.
Jacquie (Iowa)
Water and corn should not be wasted making ethanol when we can have electric cars. 48% of all corn produced in Iowa is processed for ethanol. Much of the rest goes to products we don't need such as corn sweetener. Top soil is washing into the Gulf due to bad farming practices. Food should be grown with crop rotation and without chemicals to preserve the soil and our health. There will be severe water shortages soon in the US let alone world wide. Now is the time to change what we grow to feed people not animals.
sdavidc9 (Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut)
We are headed for a population crash. There will be increasing areas that are no longer livable, some because they are turning into desert, some because they are underwater during high tides or storms, some because the land has been abused and is no longer fertile, some because they are too hot, and some for a combination of reasons. Many people from no-longer-livable areas will try to get into still-livable areas. Others will stay put and die. Some will be repulsed from still-livable areas and die. Some will overwhelm still-livable areas and make them unlivable. And some still-livable areas will manage to protect themselves from the chaos and dine on steaks as they watch the show. Technically, we can head much of this off. Politically and morally, we cannot; our moral and ethical systems do not give us workable answers and are often part of the problem. Well-intentioned projects like fighting malaria or increasing food production increase population and its pressure on the environment. We would be in much better shape of a few billion of us had never been born, and the only ethical systems we have that can deal with this fact are those that can justify various sorts of genocide. The Pope could support population control (and see a civil war destroy his organization), but he wont.
Syd (Hamptonia)
I've been waiting a long time for the mass media to connect these particular dots. The link between environmental health and food production seems obvious. When the one degrades, the other is sure to follow. The answer needs to be a wholesale global awakening to humans' impact on the biological systems and resources that support civilization, and the commitment to be stewards of our Earth. This will require a fairly major reorganizing of society for people to think more collectively rather than individually. Seems unlikely. But the alternative is sure to be exceedingly grim.
David (Oak Lawn)
Need to change the way we do agriculture. Less meat, more science.
Sue (Cleveland)
@David - just had a ‘Beyond Meat’ burger. Quite tasty.
Cat Anderson (Cambridge, MA)
Unless we marshal collective action on a grand scale, individuals will not be motivated to make the lifestyle changes needed to stave off climate catastrophe – namely, radically reducing our consumption of fossil fuels and meat. If there's one thing all people innately detest, it's being played for a sucker – "why should I curtail my consumption if others aren't?" This is the tragedy of the commons on a planetary scale.
RDW (California)
How does everyone feel about trump and the republicans and fox fake noise, saying "climate change" was invented by the media and China? These people who do not believe in Science need to go! I mean really go! They are not intelligent enough to hold office!
Sue (Cleveland)
I think most commentators are missing the big picture. The cake is baked. It would take hundreds of years to reverse the impact of climate change. We must deal with our new reality. Among other things, prohibit building near beach/ coastal areas which will be wiped out by rising waters and hurricanes. Work on global population control. Sure, work on limiting carbon emissions, just realize it won’t have any impact in any of our lifetimes.
D Collazo (NJ)
For all those who ignore climate change as a real issue, there will be a reckoning, and that reckoning will affect everyone. It won't matter what a person 'believes' because nature doesn't care about what is believed. And there won't be certain groups affected. Everyone will be affected by food shortage, migration, war. So, while it might be fun for a person to get on TV and try to make a career out of ignoring facts, it's not very useful. The only question is HOW do we deal with real climate change that is here now, not if we do.
Barry Schader (Phoenix)
Once you admit that our human population will stop growing, one way or another, you can begin to talk about what level of population would make this world a sustainable paradise -- should we aim for one billion? We don't have to be draconian about it, but we can create incentives for small families. This should include a steep disincentive against having a third child in a family. By adjusting the incentives to achieve, say, 80 births per 100 adults, we could get back to a billion in about 10 generations. Incentives should not be entirely financial -- perhaps they should be tailored to each culture, and should include an element of social 'duty' to humankind. And once each nation achieves the target birth rate, it should join a club of nations among which there is free movement of people. Of course, we will need TIME to achieve this. That may be the hardest problem.
JNO (Calgary Alberta Canada)
A hard truth. There’s too many of us using up what we can as fast we can. Unfortunately perhaps a dystopian solution, like the current generation of children being born, should be the last one globally for 20-25 years until there’s enough of a die off of the current population. Efforts to clean up and rebuild the environment continuing on until we have it under control again.
Nathan (Philadelphia)
Interesting that the solutions, as always, are about producing more and consuming less and never about reducing the number of people on the planet. It's estimated that the US uses 43 trillion (yes, trillion) diapers a year for its babies--and that's just one country, and one specific resource/waste issue.
Al (Kingston, ON)
@Nathan That would be about 350 diapers every day for every man, woman and child in the country. So... no.
Nathan (Philadelphia)
@Al You're right. I based it on a site that said we used 4 trillion a month. This is more accurate I'm guessing: 15 million babies x 10 diapers a day= 150 million diapers X 365 days= 53.4 billion a year. Not much comfort.
Jaque (California)
Mahatma Gandhi: Earth Provides enough to satisfy everyone's need but not everyone's greed.
Ancil (NYC)
What we need is wealth redistribution at a global scale!
randomxyz (Syrinx)
So poor people can eat steak and drive SUVs too?
SridharC (New York)
If we allow gas drilling into Marcellus shale in New York State we will end up with no water too!
Sue (Cleveland)
@SridharC - New York is hypocritical on the issue of drilling. They don’t want to drill, but New York uses natural gas and oil produced in other states.
SridharC (New York)
@Sue Fair point! Everyone has to be in it or we all suffer
Dave Davis (Virginia)
is nature telling us there are too many people and its time to reduce our numbers?
Allison (Texas)
Capitalism is all about "growth." Build more, consume more, have more. It is our own greed that is driving the destruction of our species, pure and simple. We are parasites on the planet; it will eventually shake us off and other parasites will take over.
Enrique Woll Battistini (Lima, Peru.)
What about stopping world population growth and then reducing it? Not a word about this is said here!
Brian (San Jose)
Until I see people advocating for developing nations around the world (looking at you Africa) to chill out on their fertility rates, they'll never be taken seriously. Because you're just scoring political points and conveniently ignoring a huge and growing problem that this earth actually faces - overpopoulation.
su (ny)
Let's describe the picture of Anthropocene crystal clear. We the homo sapiens 8 billion in numbers. Our impact is on this planet has multi-category type effect. But I would like to emphasize the 1st category: individual homo sapiens in the 21st century and impact. My observations for every single human being entered my observational perimeter is simply proving that in individual level at this moment our impact on this planet is detrimental. Be aware, not neutral not constructive or beneficiary. If we score that it means below zero, or negative or even destructive. Now multiply that with 8 billion. That is as of 21st century end of second-decade homo sapiens impact on this planet is detrimental if not destructive.
Jaque (California)
Yes. Climate Change Threatens "Food" Supply. The question is what Food? All the research says we have to drastically reduce animal derived food and water intensive crops like the familiar grains. But there is no problem with growing a variety of Millets in all types of harsh conditions. Best part about Millets is: They are gluten-free, has higher levels of minerals than all other grains
Studioroom (Washington DC Area)
I know this seems trivial but as a gardener I’ve come to understand how our own back yards are totally under appreciated. We can help the plants grow, we can work WITH nature instead of against her and we will be happier doing so! From the report - “soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, ” Soil is a carbon SINK. Also soil comes from compost, which means there are some feasible solutions right under our noses.
Steve Andrews (Kansas)
The Third Agricultural Revolution, also know as the Green Revolution, began in the 1930’s to end world hunger. It depended (and still depends) heavily on fossil fuels, chemicals, and other resources (like water) to function. But the problem is that instead of meeting the needs of the 1-2 billion people in the world when the program began, agricultural profiteers saw the increased production as a justification for increase population, which they correctly perceived as a gold mine. Now, in less than 100 years the population is edging toward 8 billion people to keep the money flowing to agricultural giants. All in all, it is a deadly merry-go-round.
randomxyz (Syrinx)
I really don’t think global population growth was anybody’s profiteering plan...
3Rivers (S.E. Washington)
Climate Change, Global Warming or whatever we want to call such a complex threat is so enormous that it effects our whole planet. It is near impossible for me to grasp the whole of this threat. The August, 2019 issue of National Geographic has excellent articles to help understand this threat. The short article entitled "We Are All Migrants" written by Mosin Hamid stunned me in a very positive way.
Kevin (NY)
Too many people here are talking about ways to limit climate change. IT'S TOO LATE FOR THAT! We need to start having the conversation about how we're going to deal with the massive migration climate change is going to force. Let's talk about immigration policy. Let's talk about free trade for food and agricultural supplies. Let's talk about how we can best use any surplus food production to aid communities already in need.
Jean W. Griffith (Carthage, Missouri)
@Kevin What we need is a world effort like the Manhattan Project to deal with climate change. A moral declaration of war on CO2 emissions. Unfortunately it may already be too late.
Grove (California)
It seems that being responsible does not come naturally to most humans. This will more than likely be one of the main factors in the demise of the human race.
Andrew Wohl (Maryland)
Population growth is not the reason for climate change. The United States has almost zero population growth but is the largest producer of greenhouse gases. In fact a reduced population might actually exacerbate climate change. Smaller populations might be less concerned about their impact on the environment and will be more likely to use sources of energy that create greenhouse gases.
randomxyz (Syrinx)
Actually China passed us several years ago.
Al (Kingston, ON)
@Andrew Wohl It would be hard to imagine a society that is less concerned with its impact on the environment than ours. Also, the US population is growing by over one million people every year, primarily through immigration.
Support Jay Inslee
RLG (Norwood)
Overpopulation is too general a term and is usually aimed at the Third World because Ahmed in Syria has 7 kids but Joe in Boulder only has 2 (so he's ok). It is likely that Joe outnumbers Ahmed by quite a bit. How so? Because each kid born comes with an ecological footprint (Google it) weighting function. Joe's might be 20 "earths" (a unit in the EP vocabulary) while Ahmed's might only be 2 "earths". The Ecological Footprint is a crude measure of an individual's impact on the global ecosystem and its services (often measured in $$). So Joe's kids are likely to use way more energy, water, and high EP cost foods than Ahmed's (who might actually have a healthier diet). By the way all three of those major indicators of Quality of Life (energy, water, food) are interlinked so are likely non-linear and chaotic. Last but not least is the issue of food waste. I spent some years in Asia. What was left over from dinner often served as breakfast (and still does for me). Nothing is wasted; especially in China. While in America, I'm astounded at what people throw out, including grocery stores. When I ran a farm in the 70's, I would go to the grocery store for "waste" to feed my chickens. Often I would split it with them! about 50-50.
@RLG Joe's kids drive a diesel pickup truck with the license plate that says rolling coal.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
It is sort of amazing that no one talks about the principal cause of climate change anymore: the confluence of the quadrupling of the human population in a century or so with the democratization of material expectations. Both factors are important and cannot be separated if we want to have an honest, productive discussion about what to do. The real problem, though, for making concrete progress is that no one wants to give up his or her personal preferred bit of convenience. How many people do you know who drive a Prius, back the Green New Deal, or tell everyone to stop eating meat that would support a 55 mph speed limit as we had under President Carter, something that would save a truly huge amount of gasoline, (not to mention money?) How many "environmentally conscious" people do you know who would give up getting the highly polluting (through production and disposal) latest gadget that enables them to see more quickly everybody's instantaneous response to Trump's latest obnoxious tweet or how their high school sweetheart made dinner?
David Salahi (Laguna Niguel, CA)
@Steve Fankuchen Continued population growth is indeed the root problem driving climate change. Unfortunately, we've waited too long to do anything about it. Now, it's too late to wait for demographic change to change our course. Now, we have to confront climate change more urgently directly.
Richard Winchester (Illinois)
I still await the members of the environmental movement to band together and turn off, not just set the thermostat higher, air conditioning in their homes and offices. Even with increased efficiency, the electric energy that provides a cool inside environment is produced in large part by burning fossil fuels like natural gas and coal. Democrats running for President can lead the way. Or is doing something small like saving energy, something to talk about but do nothing about personally? I wonder if they recycle as I do. Maybe the Times can investigate.
D.Markis (Rural California)
The changes people need to make are so much more than adjustments to consumer behavior. Start gardening right now, however and wherever you can. Cities should prioritize the development of as many community gardens as possible; suburbs should support transformation of lawns into food production. There are simple, reliable, affordable technologies available that have made it much easier to produce food year-round. Know the source of your water supply and work locally to protect it and improve it. Create incentives and rewards for those who walk, bike, carpool and use public transit. Find out who farms in your region and directly support them, or even do like I and many others have done and become a small-scale food producer yourself. Get close to the land and people that support your existence and build relationships and community around them. Slow down, stop consuming, start producing and start sharing.
sheikyerbouti (California)
I have an olallieberry patch in my garden. Been there for about 10 years or so. Every spring it's full of flowers. Used to be, it would be covered in bees of all kinds. Less and less bees are showing up with each passing year. Why ? Who knows. Pesticides ? Parasites ? Climate ? Maybe it's out of 'our' control. Some kind of natural cycle. Kind of doubt it, but again who really knows. Do know one thing though, when they're gone, we're gone with them.
Charley horse (Great Plains)
@sheikyerbouti I have also noticed fewer bees in my garden in the last few years. I tried hand-polllinating my cucumber plants, but it did not work as well as I hoped. You can't fool Mother Nature.
Das Ru (Lower Westside Nonzero)
Moving walls around the street while playing hoops?
American (World)
If Republicans are going to call Democrats the party of open borders, then I guess that makes the Republicans the party of mass migration.
Dr. TLS ✅ (Austin, Texas)
Last paragraph mentions fewer restrictions on trade as one needed solution. Trump must not have read the memo.
Pete Prokopowicz (Oak Park IL)
“The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at unprecedented rates.” Has there ever been a time when that statement wasn’t true? The daily death rate across the world is unprecedented! The number of siblings currently punching each other is unprecedented!
Prof. Jai Prakash Sharma (Jaipur, India.)
Add to the climate change induced crisis the futile trade wars and the picture it presents is a first rate humanitarian crisis with all supply chains disrupted leading to starvation.
M. Stambovsky (Addis Ababa)
On Fox online, not a word about what is arguable the most important story in the world. Incredible!
New World (NYC)
Just waiting for the next highly contagious virus which is immune to antibiotics to cull the planet’s human population. We’re living very densely and human transportation is very fluid so it’s just a matter of time. The sooner the better.
pollyb1 (san francisco)
And why do we sell land in the Mojave desert to the Saudis to grow hay for their horses, thus reducing the water table to irrigate?
JPS (New Haven)
When will you start calling it a climate crisis in your reports?
Kevin (NY)
Prevention is always better than a cure. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do at this point to stop climate change completely. We can only try to limit its overall impact. Farmlands will run dry and regions will need to adapt. We should certainly work to innovate and make the food system more efficient, but we also need to be prepared to help communities and families migrate and reestablish themselves. When they are no longer able to feed their families from the lands they have been living on for generations, those in more amenable climates will need to open their doors and help. We have ALL contributed to global greenhouse gas emissions. We must ALL contribute to the solution.
John Henry (Blacksburg)
While genetically engineered crops are maligned for their current association with other negative business practices, they offer so much potential to alleviate problems outline in this article. GE crops can be made to be more fertilizer efficient, more nutritious, be better for the soil, require less pesticide, and last longer on the way to market. Additionally, GE microorganisms can be used to make imitation meat that tastes better and is more sustainable than current plant based meat products. Unfounded fears have spurred strict regulation, and only the big seed companies have been able to force their products through. A vicious cycle preventing sustainable plants from ever seeing the light of day. FREE the GMO! Let's use technology to improve lives and increase the sustainability and efficiency of agriculture!
Susan Anderson (Boston)
I was just reminded that in 2012, original climate science denier James Inhofe admitted that he believed (please note, *not* "believed in", science is not a belief system but a rigorous effort to observe the way things work objectively!) climate science and global warming, but then he looked at what it cost. So, what does it cost? Ignoring climate change/global warming costs us life and civilization itself. One of the early widespread effects on the world food supply - and an early warning sign, problems with water - is as expensive as it is possible to get. I just saw a graphic that says most highest paid state employees in a large majority of states are in sports. Luxuries before food, every time. We are all accustomed to waste. Noticing and reducing waste is a good way to become more aware of the world around us and the way it is changing. In this order: reduce, reuse, recycle.
Kevin (Richmond VA)
How about the top 1% start paying for the widespread planting of trees and buying available forests- like the forest systems in the Amazon. What better use could they find for their billions than to protect their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. After all, they will be among the people who will inherit the earth.
nick (usa)
great plan. I'd vote for this
amrcitizen16 (NV)
Mass migration should be in bold print. How will we treat them especially if they are from the South and Midwest of our country? Look how we are treating children now we put them in cages. There is enough Earth to go around. The attitude of "all for me and only me" is why people fear there isn't enough to go around. Food will look different in the future. Water is the basic element that will test our innovated minds. But it is our own fear that will hurt billions of people and animals. Climate change problems are a challenge not a doomsday problem. Humans can adapt but without an ounce of humanity, we will not survive.
RSMacKinnon (Hamilton, Ontario)
"The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly." It has long been predicted that anthropogenic climate change will threaten complex civilization in many ways. Disruption to the food supply is one. Water insecurity, heat stroke, disease, flooding, massive storms, power disruptions going on for months are just a few others. Minor individual acts like not throwing away left-overs are positive but cannot push back against this existential threat. Radical systemic change is our only hope.
Mike Padgett (Houston)
Many of the comments here mention the problem of total human population. It is time for our political and media leaders to talk about the number one driver of climate and habitat destruction.....people. The US can do its part by managing its population back down to where it was in in 1950, back to 152 million and by supporting family planning initiatives around the world. Without a decrease in total human population, the outlook for the planet is dire and the the efforts to reduce greenhouse gases are doomed to be selfie-ops only.
b fagan (chicago)
@Mike Padgett - "managing its population back down". Just how do you propose that the United States does that quickly enough to affect the next four or five critical decades? Note that life expectancy is in the 70s and 80s right now, though the opioid crisis has reduced it a bit. The number one driver of climate change's impacts that American can and should be addressing is to end all use of fossil-based fuels and chemical feedstocks. Second up, change US agricultural practices to increase soil and water retention where it belongs, on the land. This will make farms a bit more resilient, and reduce damage to another important food source in our lakes, rivers and off our shores.
Chip (Wheelwell, Indiana)
Really? Not enough food? I think too many humans. I will miss the animals way more than my fellow humans. We are a cancer on this planet.
GUANNA (New England)
Dealing with it threatens oil profits. Oil profits win.
George G (Walla Walla)
I still cannot believe that climate change is political. Belief in the science of climate change is my personal litmus test for whether or not a person is capable of critical thought. Willingness to sacrifice the long term survival of the species for financial gain is a sign that one is not only stupid but also evil.
Fred (Bryn Mawr, PA)
If the world population starved, the planet will have successfully fought off the attacking organisms. People are the enemy of all living things.
DBT (San Francisco Bay Area)
@Fred Agree. We are the most dangerous, most predatory creature on the planet. We manipulate, alter, harm everything we come into contact with, both wittingly and unwittingly. It kills me when we cull wildlife and plant species when we deem they are "overpopulated," while not once considering that we are, by far, the most overpopulated species on the globe. We are "smart" in such a deeply stupid way.
K Hunt (SLC)
Use your $$$ to help force a change. Only visit countries, states or cities that accept man made climate change and are taking steps to lessen the impact. Spend your food dollars on locally grown. Only buy what you need and use it. Don't pressure your kids on having kids of their own. Limit your meat intake. If you must fly don't pack so much stuff. Do you need a three ton truck to drive to your desk job? If you can't use your garage, basement or closets then you know you have too much stuff. Control what you can control.
Mat (NYC)
The UN, which is controlled by certain groups, has been promoting its extended control of the world, the NWO, especially the Western world through massive population shifts using incompatible societies, presumptive legal posturing, arrogant and hostile policies that ultimately are intended to destroy that which they envy and resent, through their Agenda 21. Yes, it sounds like a paranoid continuation of the Kalergi plan. If only it were just some nightmare that we could wake up from.
Allison (Texas)
All of the people complaining about immigration would do well to join an environmental group and start putting pressure on their representatives to do something about climate change, because if they sit on their hands and do nothing but complain about the influx of people coming across U.S. borders, it's only going to get worse as the climate wreaks havoc on everyone around the world. I've watched the environment degrade over my relatively short lifetime. The beach we used to play on as kids is less than half the width of what it used to be forty years ago. That's less than half a century, folks. Those of us who care for our descendents have been fighting the polluters and capitalist "growth" junkies -- who only care about how much money they can grab in the short term, and nothing for the survival of the human species on this planet -- for most of our lives already. We have to reevaluate our priorities as a species. The planet will remain, but humans will be obliterated by the changes our selfishness has wrought, unless we act in concert now.
novoad (USA)
Population growth has slowed to 1% per year. Population is expected to stop growing by 2100. Grain crop yields are growing at about 2% per year now. Twice faster than population growth. Crop yields have tripled in the last 60 years. A lot of this growth is due to the increase in CO2, which is plant food. There is no measured decrease in food nutritional value, as was feared. So we can look forward to a prosperous future for humanity, from the food point of view.
b fagan (chicago)
@novoad - Correct about population. Regarding your comment about nutritional value? Incorrect. "Climate Change Will Reduce Nutrients in Crops" is an August 2018 article you should read, since it mentions the declines in iron, zinc, protein in crops. CO2 is just one component of plant growth. Temperature, rainfall patterns, other nutrients all combine, insects flourish in warmer times, and the steadier weather that marked the Holocene is ending. Agriculture developed during the Holocene, so changes are coming. That's why this Times article notes that simultaneous crop failures in several places is a grave danger. Water needs to be there at the right times in the right quantities. The elevated CO2 did not help when the 2010 drought destroyed Russia's grain crop that year. It did lead to global food price hikes, helping trigger uprisings throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa. Even more CO2 did not help farmers here in the Midwest who were unable to even plant some acreage due to flooding of the sort that will happen more often as that CO2 changes our climate even more. US and Russia are food exporters. What happens globally when we both have the same very bad year? So the fertilizing benefit of more CO2 is not expected to outweigh the negative impacts of the other changes increased greenhouse gases are forcing onto the planets weather systems and oceans.
novoad (USA)
@b fagan That was precisely my point. Nobody has actually MEASURED nutritional reductions in the ACTUAL crops, the yield of which is growing fast. That is why they use words like "projected". Because nobody measured them in the actual real world on the actual crops. The only source for that projection seems to be an article from 2004. If the nutritional value was actually lower, you would have a deluge of papers on that. Same with "threatens" in the title of the article. "Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns" The actual food supply is growing steadily, worldwide. "threatens" and "warns" means it's not actually measurably happening.
b fagan (chicago)
@novoad - so in your world the future isn't risky just because it hasn't happened yet? "Meta‐analysis techniques were used to examine the effect of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide [CO2] on the protein concentrations of major food crops, incorporating 228 experimental observations on barley, rice, wheat, soybean and potato. Each crop had lower protein concentrations when grown at elevated (540–958 μmol mol−1) compared with ambient (315–400  μmol mol−1) CO2. For wheat, barley and rice, the reduction in grain protein concentration was ∼10–15% of the value at ambient CO2. For potato, the reduction in tuber protein concentration was 14%." "Here we report that C3 grains and legumes have lower concentrations of zinc and iron when grown under field conditions at the elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration predicted for the middle of this century." "Concentrations (grams per gram dry weight) of macro (Ca, K, Mg, N, P, S) and micronutrients (Fe, Mn, Zn) were measured in stems, leaves, ears and grains, and the amino acid composition of the grain protein was determined. [...]The CO2 enrichment usually produced a decrease in nutrient concentrations, which was already detectable at the booting stage and was further enhanced until plant maturity."
Chuck French (Portland, Oregon)
This article is typical of the alarmism that surrounds climate change. Although the authors presumably know the facts, they have chosen not to report them or to obscurely hide them between the lines. Here is the truth--according to the UN. Climate change will not, repeat not, decrease global agricultural production or potential. In fact, it will probably increase potential, as areas formerly too cold for effective agriculture in Canada and Russia become arable. So the effect will be to reduce agricultural potential in Africa and certain other equatorial regions and increase it elsewhere. And it might be added, agricultural potential will be increased in areas such as Canada that are far more advanced and politically stable. So the "problem" is not a global agricultural issue but a global distribution issue, which is purely political. Can advanced nations like Canada and Russia be induced to produce more food and distribute it to Third World countries? If so, there is no problem, and in fact the whole effect will probably benefit nations who have historically been very poor farmers. For people on the left who are enamored of more and more world government, this should be a bonanza for their ideology.
Doctor Woo (Orange, NJ)
@Chuck French*** even if what you conclude is correct you are leaving out many other problems. The rise of sea levels, which will be very hard to escape from. The fact that some places have extreme droughts and very high heat for much longer. Wars... Extreme weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes, sunamis, etc, which happen way more often. There is a whole host of problems we are not preparing for. So yes there may be enough food produced in certain countries, But if most of the planet is under water what does it matter.
John Dyer (Troutville)
While we like to blame Republicans for all our ills in this regard, I am not so sure that any leadership or government can overcome Man's basic instincts to procreate, consume, and live life to the fullest (utilizing the most resources possible). Democracy makes this an even more difficult task. Who can successfully push programs that create sacrifice from all for the greater good? They would get voted out of office. I am still waiting for a candidate from either party for any office that has the nerve to state that the planet is finite and we cannot grow forever.
Scott (Puerto Vallarta)
There is a democratic candidate from Washington whose singular platform is the climate crisis.
John Dyer (Troutville)
@Scott From Inslee's website: "Creating a thriving economic climate that spurs job growth in every industry sector is Gov. Inslee’s top priority. " He is another believer that we can have our cake and eat it too- 'green' while continuing to grow the economy (resource consumption).
Systeri (Helsinki)
@John Dyer "Man's basic instincts to procreate, consume, and live life to the fullest (utilizing the most resources possible). " Consumption a basic instinct? I don't think so! Utilizing the most resources possible is a poor substitute to living life to the fullest. I think the tragedy lies just there.
Lynn S. (Inner Space)
Isn't this the plot of "Interstellar"? No, it's not funny.
Scott (Alexandria)
I will be more inclined to listen about climate change when the democratic elite lead by example instead of just telling me what I should. Until then, I am going to enjoy my roast beef sandwich for lunch.
MT (Madison, WI)
This is an example of changing the subject, a tactic deployed to make any discussion impossible. Which Democratic elite are you speaking of, as if we didn’t already know?
Scott (Alexandria)
@MT I speak of those democratic leaders and donors that continue to travel via private planes, vacation on mega yachts, or own multiple residences.
American (Portland, OR)
Yes! And academics who fly all over the world all year long to give talks on the same paper! Why not put it on line?
marjo tesselaar (manchester VT)
Put a waterfilter on yr tap, stop buying bottled water, only 9% of plastic is recycled. Bring yr own shopping bags to the stores. Become a vegetarian, we are well on our way to self destruct.Our children may have no future.
Bob (NY)
Coffee shop chains import their beans from thousands of miles away. Who will forgo their matters?
PPP (kingston ny)
The rich will continue to prosper, eat well and pass that wealth along to their progeny. The rest of us will continue to blame others and attempt to climb the ladder of wealth at all costs. Americans as a whole are myopic and are living day to day only giving lip service to the impending scenario; It's going to take more than reports and academic papers to shake the status quo. Everyone knows what's happening but heads are in the sand and it's business as usual. I'm not overly optimistic.
Jbugko (Pittsburgh, pa)
@PPP I've haven't eaten any beef or chicken or duck or rabbit or turkey or squab or quail or hen or goose or mutton or lamb or goat or pig since 1989. Did it kill me? No. So would it kill a militant eater to give me some slack? Considering their lack of retstraint when it comes to criticizing someone who doesn't eat meat, they sure act like it would. I think it's safe to assume that meat is not "brain" food.
Karen (Seattle)
I won't be on this planet much longer, but the hand writing is on the wall. I want to know if Elizabeth Warren has a "plan" for this crisis. I think she needs to start speaking out about this topic right now.
Grove (California)
Our economic system is structured to reward destructive behavior, behavior that will destroy the world. Polluters make huge profits because they don’t have to be responsible for the damage that they do. Plastic is overtaking the environment, but the has plastics industry has little or no responsibility for this man made disaster. Major changes are necessary, but changes that humans are unlikely to enact until it’s too late. And we may already be there.
G.E. Morris (Bi-Hudson)
Meanwhile..Trump is punishing the scientists from the Dept of Agriculture by forcing them to move from DC to Kansas with 30 days notice. We desperately need these folks expertise and retained knowledge. Trump is dismantling government and sending us back to the Dark Ages. The GOP 2019 is dangerous. I wish this statement was an exaggeration but it is not.
Sophia (chicago)
It's about darn time people starting noticing this! Growing up out West I've always been aware of the fragility of our ecosystems and the speed with which they can crash. People have become complacent. We seem to think food grows at the Walmart. It just springs magically into refrigerated cases and is there at our command. Guess what.
Mitchel Volk, Meterlogist (Brooklyn, NY)
The most effective way to reduce CO2 emissions is never mentioned which would be worldwide birth control. Seven billion people are way too much for the earth to handle. Back in the 1960's people was saying that three billion was too much. This couple with a switch off fossil fuels is the only way to stop global warming. Global warming is an international emergency and we must treat it like that.
NLL (Bloomington, IN)
No worries, the GOP has a plan. We will drink Trump water and eat Trump steaks. And I believe the good man is also bringing out a line of branded AK-47's, so we can all share the trump bounty.
Steve (Seattle)
Regardless of the effects of climate change, the world is overpopulated. We continue here in the US to pave over rich fertile bottomland to make way for more housing developments. We allow fracking that destroys groundwater supplies. But why is it that with all of the various birth control measures available some people narcissitically breed like rabbits. Maybe it is past time to put birth control in the water supply along with the flouride or start taxing those that have more than two children.
Wendy (CT)
Stop thinking that government is going to save us from this crisis that is coming down to annihilate us all. We all have the ability to make changes to our lifestyles that will greatly impact the industries that need to change. Stop eating meat and dairy.... adopt a plant based diet. You can vote with your fork 3 times a day to leave animals off your plate. Stop driving big polluting cars, go electric or ride a bike. We have no time left to leave it to the government to sort out. Go vegan or go extinct.
Eric (New York)
Our (mostly Republican) leaders have their heads in the sand. the Green New Deal is the real deal. Maybe inaction on climate change will lead to cataclysmic change (like in a dystopian movie), and what's left of humanity will start over and do things right.
Max (Chicago)
Everybody wants to live in the moment. Live for the money in front of us. We'll deal with our problems later, right? Changes need to happen now. Damage is irreversible and happening quickly. Maybe visit your local astronomy museum to remind yourself there isn't another habitable planet anywhere in the neighborhood. Never has who you vote for had a more significant impact on the survival of your children and their children... or maybe even your own survival at the rate we are going.
joe (nyc)
It's easy to understand why some may not find this as alarming as it may sound if you take on the view that this is not an existential threat but a case of winners and losers and you feel comfortable that you'll be ok the winners side.
c harris (Candler, NC)
Too many conflicting problems. One solution exacerbates another problem. The Earth is changing perhaps strongly deranged by human activities.
citizenUS....notchina (Maine)
So you want to live in Phoenix, Arizona. Several areas of Montana are already running out of water...but the state is still allowing developers to build houses and condo complexes. Look at Bozeman, environmental disaster in the making. Bozeman is running out of water. Look west to Three Forks...the rersidents are apying a flat fee of $ 400 per month for water and regardless of whether you have a huge trophy home or a 1 bedroom tiny house. The rich keep getting subsidized by the poor and the rich are the one's destroying the environment.
Mike (Montreal)
Humans are literally eating through the biosphere and at the same time are contaminating it. Put both together and you have global warming and a massive extinction in progress, both caused directly by human activity. Is there a sensible solution to both problems?
Daniel (On the Sunny Side of The Wall)
Growth for growths' sake (a business acumen corporations live by) is a cancer on the earth. Over-population is what fuels this cancer by consumption like never seen before. The earth is having seizures in response. Like the movie Soylent Green, I can't keep from thinking this is where we are headed. What a thought for my wife and I who just became new grandparents. Answer: every imaginable resource to reach maximum sustainability must be put to use. The technology is here and has been for years. The only people standing in our way are the plutocrats and their political sycophants.
Jim Steinberg (Fresno, Calif.)
Meantime, Trump and his Republicans do nothing, choosing to remain in blissful denial.
Tao of Jane (Lonely Planet)
I will write this again, and again and again. The three poisons delineated by Buddhist philosophy are: Greed, delusion, and hatred. To me this spells out 'the problem' simply. Then, just add the lack of attention given to each of those poisons by most of humanity at this time. It is these poisons that must be faced and dealt with. Greed: the 1%, continuing to build, build, build, the desire to continue to populate - to have an 'heir', to have more... Hatred: Of migrants, of others, of aversion to change, of blaming others, tribalism -- us vrs them. Delusion: that climate catastrophe (as one writer put it) is not going to change our lives drastically -- that we can manage it simply, that we can fix this quickly with science, that we exist on this planet as one human family not as individual separate entities, but are dependently connected. Address the poisons.
Allison (Sausalito, Calif)
People keep waiting for leadership. Leadership has the power, I guess, to force action. But there are examples of cooperative action being taken without a head to the movement, and it seems that's what's needed. I am no organizer or specialist in what needs to be done, but people need to start talking to each other about these issues without waiting for a decree from on high. If working at, I dunno, a plastics company, seems wrong, then maybe it is high time to get a different job. Etc.
Critical Thinker (NYC)
Let's face it. Serious action on climate change would be immensely unpopular, regardless of how concerned people express themselves to be when polled. The drastic measures that would be necessary would include a severe limit on driving, a sharp limit on children allowed to each family (having fewer children is, by far, the most important decision we all could take to reduce climate change) All of the other suggested changes e.g. conserving electricity, not eating meet as cattle give off methane gas, changing your light bulbs, etc, would not make even a tiny dent in climate change. It is the development and use of technologies which will probably have the greatest effect in reducing carbon emissions, but more importantly, in adapting to climate change. Research into genetically modified plants which can grow in in dry conditions and others which will absorb more carbon dioxide will be important to us now as trains and canals were in dealing with the immensity of the North American continent or research was in eliminating diseases which, at one time, killed off a third of Europe's populations or saved London from Cholera. New materials for batteries which will harness so much more of daytime energy will be developed. Think outside the box!
John Huppenthal (Chandler, AZ)
"Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns" Nope In 2017, Wheat Production set a world all-time record, up 40% from 2005. Just exactly what real scientists predicted, that increasing CO2 levels (CO2 is food for crops) would drive both crop and forestry growth to higher an higher records. The earth is 18% greener just since 1990. When will the Climate Hoax collapse?
glennmr (Planet Earth)
@John Huppenthal The climate hoax will never collapse since it is not a just doesn't stop because of ideology. Long-term term consequences...and not anecdotal data from a few years is the issue. Per capita food production has been decreasing since the 80s. The earth is getting greener in some areas due to melting permafrost from global warming...but, deserts are increasing and water supplies are becoming more limited.
Joshua (New York City)
@John Huppenthal What? 2017 global wheat production is up 23% from 2005. In the US it's down (47.3 million metric tons from 57.1 million metric tons) and in most places with lower industrialization it's level. There are only a few countries that account for the rise. And, "soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report." Do you know what needs soil to grow? Wheat.
Joshua (New York City)
@glennmr dead on.
IanC (Oregon)
I was born in the early 70's and I tend to idealize those times (the hair, the music!). Seriously, though, that was our last best chance to right the ship environmentally. President Carter was punished for trying to talk to the American public like grown-ups and not indulge our avarice. He warned us about oil dependence, environmental degradation, and climate change, but we wanted more stuff, more airplane travel, and bigger homes. I hope that the Democrats running for president take that lesson to heart and try to enlist all of us to make the necessary changes to save the planet. I think we can do it, but it will take all of us to change how we live. Maybe we can all start by flying less and eating less beef. Easy enough? Let's do it!
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
@IanC Ian, glad to see someone remember that things can be done as Carter properly envisioned. The problem is no one wants to give up his or her personal preferred bit of convenience. How many people do you know would support a 55 mph speed limit as we had under Carter, something that would save a huge amount of gasoline, (not to mention money.) It is sort of amazing that no one talks about the principal cause of climate change anymore: the confluence of the quadrupling of the human population in a century or so with the democratization of material expectations. Both factors are important and cannot be separated if we want to have an honest, productive discussion about what to do.
clarity007 (tucson, AZ)
Relax. Until and unless there is consensus that nuclear must be the base load to save the planet the "experts" are signaling there is no crisis. If temperature reversal or capping is essential, within the next 50 years, to save the planet without destroying economic vitality nuclear is the sole choice.
mons (EU)
Generally most people, especially Americans, could stand to lose quite a bit of weight so if these shortages are based on the current overeating of people if they stop overeating there will be no shortage.
Jim (Portland)
I see a lot of comments about population growth. The world's large population is a part of the problem, for sure. But I don't think it is the biggest problem. Population growth has been observed to drop significantly with with development into a post industrial nation. Kids have a higher chance of surviving and they begin to become a economic burden instead of a necessity. The biggest issue is that a higher standard of living is currently associated with a higher carbon footprint. You get to eat more meat, drive cars instead of use public transportation, and so on. A lot of the world looks the the American lifestyle as their goal. If we Americans show that you can have a high standard of living without a large carbon footprint, we might have a chance.
Grove (California)
In general, humans seem to be wired more for instant gratification. The future of the earth is not likely to include the human species.
Clearheaded (Philadelphia)
Earth's future will definitely be free of humans. The choice we're collectively making right now is whether we last another 300 years or 100,000.
Jeff Robbins (Long Beach, New York)
There's no mention in the article of still exponentially growing human population (more than 1% / 70 million per year). Interestingly, many of the comments fasten on this neglect. If this rate of growth continues all proposed means for enabling the ability of humanity to feed itself will end in global catastrophe.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
It is sort of amazing that no one talks about the principal cause of climate change anymore: the confluence of the quadrupling of the human population in a century or so with the democratization of material expectations. Both factors are important and cannot be separated if we want to have an honest, productive discussion about what to do.
R. Koreman (Fordlandia)
Share holders dictate what we will do. Just look at the banana, coffee or even rubber. As long as they are turning a profit it’ll be business as usual and if they are no longer commercially viable then, and only then, will the companies switch. Now our bananas are plantains, our coffee robusta and soon our rubber will be plastic (you can’t land an airplane without pure rubber tires) but farmers and consumers have no say. Free enterprise supply chain economics runs the world not the UN.
kon11 (Bethesda, Maryland)
I despaired as soon as I read the headline, which includes three things this Administration does not care about: the world, climate change and anything to do with those that are poor or hungry. So sad to watch the country I love decline and diminish every hour, every day.
clarity007 (tucson, AZ)
@kon11 Actually the U.S. spends more on the poor and hungry than at any point in its history.
Ann (Denver)
Sounds like the hype that was published in the 1960's & 1970's to me. According to the "experts" back then, we should have run out of water by now. Just because someone is a scientist, it doesn't mean they are free from bias or a hidden agenda. When Nixon declared war on cancer and funded research, suddenly study after study was published proclaiming just about everything was the cause of cancer. A healthy degree of skepticism is appropriate when considering these claims.
JWinder (New Jersey)
A healthy degree of skepticism should also be applied to people that refuse to examine the evidence of something before it overwhelms them.
novoad (USA)
@Ann Hi Ann. You are right to be skeptical. Simply make a search for "crop yield trends" and you will get solid measured data, put out and used by those who work with or invest in food, data which is entirely opposite to the gloomy UN report. Crop yields are growing for many decades much faster than population.
Newsbuoy (Newsbuoy Sector 12)
@Ann totally true that cigarettes causing cancer was a bunch of greedy trial lawyers getting together to take advantage of the War on Cancer and we have all suffered for not have that smooth, relaxing feeling of Parliment.
jack (texas)
I'll tell you what causes the food supply shortage. Endless babies, mostly in countries that cannot support/feed their own citizens.
Cat Anderson (Cambridge, MA)
@jack I'll tell you what causes planetary climate catastrophe leading to food supply shortages. Fossil fuel consumption, mostly in countries whose citizens are too comfortable to want to change.
novoad (USA)
The forecasts are optimistic for Sub-Saharan Africa as well. It is expected that the grain production will experience a 30% growth in the next decade. Previously known basket cases like Ethiopia are now strong producers, exporting grain in the better years. The region is not yet self sufficient, but it is getting there. During 2000-2016, the GDP per capita in Sub Saharan Africa doubled.
Rob (Massachusetts)
One word: Overpopulation.
Anne (Philadelphia)
Maybe the Republicans will finally do something-after all, the only thing they hate more than doing something about climate change is immigration!
Sue Salvesen (Branchville, New Jersey)
Two years ago, my husband and I sold everything and started traveling North America in our fifth wheel. We meet people from all backgrounds. I am astounded by the amount of people who not only deny humans are causing climate change but that there even IS climate change. Even when I explain to them the facts or show them scientific articles, they refuse to believe. Until we are able to educate the masses about climate science, nothing will change. There are way too many science deniers, the occupant in the WH being the prime example. Education has always been the key to a civil and productive society. We are obviously lacking in this area when it comes to climate change.
Paul (California)
8 Billion now, from about 1.2 Billion in 1900. Profitable! And many estimate 10-12 Billion by 2050. Reality. But many people don't want to speak up about the population on a finite Earth. Yes, a few people remember learning about ecology and the limits that the land provides in food production. But few people discuss the overdue need for massive changes in cultures and religions to living in harmony with the Earth. The US and EU problems from immigration are attributed to racism. But a large part of the problem is the population explosion and the inevitable consequences of too many people on the Earth. Family planning should be supported. China's explosive growth stems from its 1 child per family, now two, limitation. But countries and people who look away from the issues of family planning and women's rights, doom their children to the inevitable ecological disaster looming. Lifeboat USA is bobbing low in the water. Not sinking yet, but getting there quickly. Too many people, crowding, too few good jobs, poor and expensive housing, declining public education, ecological abuse of farm land, and a blind eye to the limits of growth and population. Climate change info tells us that the global crisis is on our doorstep, and will be flooding into our social house over the next decades. We are too short term so we think we have time. We don't . By the time young people apply for SS, the disaster will be in the rear view mirror, not ahead.
Clearheaded (Philadelphia)
Climate change is not a one and done event. it will chew apart every component of human civilization over centuries, until there is a large and dying population of "poors" and a small cadre of rich people with all the food and energy they want, plus access to the solar system. Oh well, this is how we wind up with a "Firefly" timeline, where humans are out in a Chinese-controlled galaxy, so it's not all bad.
Emma (CA)
It is beyond my comprehension how international scientific bodies like this continue to pussyfoot around issues of climate change. Sure, they can warn us of impending doom; but, when it comes to stark honesty and actual necessary proposals, they consistently fall short. Saying that food shortages "could lead to an increase" in migration is ridiculous. It can, it will, and it already is. No one gains anything by pretending that these realities aren't facing marginalized populations at this very minute, save those at the top who profit from endangering them. No one gains anything from not being able to strongly advocate for cutting out meat and dairy. No one gains anything from making it seem like this can't be truly dealt with on a consumer level. Those that have the privilege, time, and financial wherewithal to change must do so--immediately. We have to confront that the desire for ceaseless economic expansion in the name of progress and capitalism has to be stopped. Issues of social, economic and political strife are not divorced from scientific issues, and they should never be placed on the back burner in stories or reports like this. They are what tie these issues back to real people, and make it all-the-more apparent that we, as a society, have to act.
Bob (NY)
immigration is good for us
Lauren (Michigan)
This article interested me because it was about climate change in our world. During climate change we have to stand up and help animals in these areas that can not get food because the climate is changing and the crops aren’t growing. Us, a population need to act by not just talking care of farms but not littering, adding earthworms to soil, and reusing bags for groceries. Help make the world a better place.
MikeM (Fort Collins,CO)
There are severe climate change issues facing us, but "food waste" is absolutely not one of them. As an individual, you shouldn't be wasting food, but as a society, how much extra food do we want in our supply chain AT ALL TIMES? The answer to that is the amount of food "waste" we want. I call it "slack" in the food production chain. We do not want to try just-in-time inventorying with the main thing that keeps us alive.
JW (Atlanta, GA)
Hope I can express this clearly. Climate change denial in the US is a serious problem and we should vote out politicians that engage in it. The US should take leadership on climate instead of obstructing progress. We should all make individual changes to minimize our environmental impact. Having said that, this is a truly global problem that existed before Donald Trump. It was a serious mistake for the US to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, but that was largely a paper agreement. Again, US withdrawal makes the problem much worse, but that agreement was far from a panacea. Buying organic food and having a compost pile are all commendable. However, to be blunt, this is largely a first world response in a country where having enough food isn’t a real day to day concern. We should all do what we can locally, but this is a global problem and feeding 10 billion people by 2050 has serious environmental impacts even absent the threat of climate change. Any real solution is almost certainly going to require reducing the global birth rate below replacement level, but that has non-trivial economic implications. We all need to vote Democratic in 2020, but I am concerned by the tendency on the left to turn every issue into a chance to rant against Trump. An unsustainable, environmentally destructive food chain built on growing monoculture grains to feed livestock didn’t start on 2016 and the negative environmental impacts of free trade are largely ignored by centrist Democrats.
Thinker (Western US)
People hear "global warming" and they think oceans are rising and the people in Miami will get wet or there'll be surfing in Denver. In the US there is little recognition of just exactly how fragile the supply chain for food is. We're getting a tiny glimpse this year with loss of crops in the Midwest due to Spring flooding. What is not so obvious is what happens when there are drought conditions for several years so that the rivers dry up or that there is no snowpack in mountains so that there are Spring floods and then no rivers in late summer to sustain crops. We have no reservoirs; and, we've been pumping our aquifers dry. Just imagine what would happen when, like in a brief flooding disaster, grocery shelves go empty, only they stay that way because there is no food. What exactly do we plan to do when that happens? Oh, yeah, there are no plans because global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. We'll just reelect Trump and go back to the 1950's.
skizziks (Ottawa)
It is clear that the word is overpopulated. Nature cannot stay in balance and tolerate such numbers. The coming corrections will be painful, possibly terminal, for humanity. ...
Timothy Shaw (Wisconsin)
What can be done? Read Obama’s Book “The Audacity of Hope”. He discussed climate change many years ago and what can be done, but much of his agenda is blocked by Trump and the Republicans. So change that on 11/3/2020.
htg (Midwest)
I find the comments on overpopulation very interesting, and a little disturbing. The overpopulation argument is, in 2019, largely irrelevant for two reasons. First, the right to mate and procreate is widely held as a fundamental right. Second, we abhor the idea of murder and it's larger cousin, genocide. With regard to mating, I doubt that will change. It's hard to fight such a powerful evolutionary instinct, and nearly impossible to regulate it. But as for forced killings, nature has never held to our current ideals. For every happy story of a wolf pack taking in a bear cub, there are many, many more involving parents killing their weak young and packs forcing the unwanted out of their territory - all in the name of food supply. To think that humans are incapable of the same is to ignore our primal roots. We aren't there yet, thankfully - I for one am not ready to choose who eats and who dies. But its clear the waves of unrest are steadily increasing in their strength. What will we say in 2029? 2059? 2119? Better that we fix the problem now with solutions that don't involve population control. Solve the issues, or the overpopulation debate will only increase in its intensity and power, and then some truly ugly solutions will begin to raise their heads.
Al (Kingston, ON)
@htg "It's hard to fight such a powerful evolutionary instinct, and nearly impossible to regulate it." It's actually very easy to regulate it when people are given access to reliable forms of birth control.
htg (Midwest)
@Al I'm all for birth control, but that's not what I mean by regulation. Availability leads to (in this case largely positive) choices. But the regulation I am talking about is the government saying "you will take the pill or there will be consequences." That basically happened in China with the one baby law. There's no way that could happen in the US due several Constitutional reasons... but here we are, once again raising overpopulation concerns. Maybe to state my point better: It's not that overpopulation is not a concern. It's that western, democratic governments (and by extension, the UN) largely cannot do anything about it due to the authoritarian requirements necessary to impose restrictions. Ergo, its better to focus on things we can control for as long as possible: crop subsidizing (or not), greenhouse gas regulation, etc.
Jo Williams (Keizer)
Get real. There should be any number of strategies to encourage family planning, fewer children; tax rewards/penalties, smaller homes, and... birth control information in every church, mosque, temple, etc.- along with charts on the cost to feed, clothe, educate one child. To say nothing of providing toys, cell phones! Creativity and focus- we need to begin.
Bob (Portland)
Of the 5 previous mass extinctions that have already happened on this planet, we may be the only species to know that one is coming, and what is causing it, and yet we are doing nothing to slow it down. Driving less, eating less (or no) meat, planting trees, recycling, and other things that individuals can do will help, but we need to vote for politicians that actually care about this. I understand that there are alot other issues affecting people, but if we do not take care of this... nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation won't matter as much when we are all starving and being cooked by our sun. This is the most important issue facing all of humanity. Do what you can, but most importantly VOTE.
Claude Wallet (Montreal)
Climate change? What climate change? The United States president and his Republicans unanimous followers say it does not exist. They sure have data and information that we, and the whole crowd of scientists involved, do not possess...
Kate A (DC)
An absolutely necessary step - make birth control readily available to all, and ALL other means of family planning.
Andrew Wohl (Maryland)
...and yet this Administration wants to shutdown Planned Parenthood.
AML (Brookline, MA)
THANK YOU for making this a front page, above-the-fold story! Its importance ranks at least as high as white nationalism, if not higher than any other event in our time. Please keep highlighting the urgency of combating climate change, as you've been doing for some time, with banner headlines across the front page whenever possible.
Mickey Topol (Henderson, NV)
The report was prepared by 100 experts from 52 countries. Considering our current administration, I assume the United States was not a part of this.
John McLaughlin (Bernardsville, NJ)
Our new UN Ambassador sits on the fence about climate change. Shameful.
Dr. B (Berkeley, CA)
Don’t worry trump and the Republicans will tell us it’s a big lie.
MCiro (Boston)
It was so good to see a climate crisis story headlining the New York Times, instead of having to skip over stories about Trump’s latest tweet, or the worthless Mueller report. Yes, it’s bad news, but more people need to realize the costs to life on earth that are happening NOW. This is good reporting. It covers some of the many details that are adding up to catastrophe, from our the usual fossil fuel problems to meat, ethanol, water and peat. Keep up the good work—and keep it “above the fold”.
Useful (Baltimore, MD)
@cherrylog754 'World population at the beginning of the next century'! Some experts already predict that there will be 'nary a living human being on this planet ten years from today. These experts are NOT in the majority, yet it is unlikely humans have 80 more years to plunder, abuse, desecrate, poison this Good Earth! Those who would act have no power, and those who have power don't care. Cry, my Beloved Country!
Rhsmd1 (Central FL)
ruel as this sounds, there is an overpoulation problem. these area's of famine are natures way of decreasing the population. There are only so many resources on earth. is population is not kulled ,then what?
Rod Sheridan (Toronto)
@Rhsmd1 Perhaps we need a 21st century remake of "A Modest Proposal"? In this remake, the most effective solution would be to cull the people causing the most carbon emissions, and consuming the most resources per capita. It's always best to achieve the most result with the least work. I assume that being from Florida you use a lot of energy for air conditioning? Perhaps we should start with a 50% cull of people from the 2 most wasteful countries in North America, after which we could re-evaluate the results and determine if we need another 50% cull. We could simply do it by selecting all people with birthdays on even numbered days for the first cull. (In case you think I'm stacking the deck in my favour, my birthday is on an even numbered day). Jonathan Swift would be so proud of us. Of course, we could also voluntarily change our ways, drastically reduce our consumption of carbon, water, energy, meat etc, however I don't think we're that smart.
Pray for Help (Connect to the Light)
Isn't this where the Kochs tell Trump and the GOP to deny Climate Change AND kill any trade between our major traders and put huge tariffs on food between the other world nations. Not only will this world burn up, the people will starve in the process The Kochs and the republicans in concert with the russians are the greatest security threat not just to this nation but to the entire world.
d schott (texas)
Love the misleading Headline. "Climate Change" the culprit. But as always after the attention grabbing headline, the story says primary cause is mismanagement and over-use of existing capacity, which "combined with climate change" will make those threats even worse. NYT again proves itself to be a propaganda machine, not a fact-based dispenser of news.
Andrew Wohl (Maryland)
Uh, so the entire story should exist in the headline? Then why write the body of the story?
B. Rothman (NYC)
Led by our “See no evil. Speak no evil. Acknowledge no evil. Deny global warming evil” the people dance a lively dance (while they can). Republican legislators have been following Corporate Capitalism’s Pied Pipers into the death cave for a while now. The proud “I Don’t Read or Believe Newspaper” crowd are right behind them and the rest of us — protesting their ignorance — follow behind screaming for them to awaken from their narcissistic trance. Mankind — too selfish to survive.
Citizen-of-the-World (Atlanta)
In Cuba, I read, because they are so embargoed, they have a very proactive way of ensuring that their citizens have food security. Cooperative extension-types go out into the neighborhoods and teach and consult with the people who have space to grow vegetables. Knowledge also gets passed down generation to generation. Families team up to share the work and bounty. This would be a great program for the U.S. from cities, to suburbs, to rural areas. It would be a good way to get out ahead of the problem of food insecurity and also create jobs.
Michael N. Alexander (Lexington, Mass.)
The article mentions destruction of the now well-known Amazon tropical rain forest as a major contributor to climate change. Less well known are major attacks on temperate rain forests such as that in the Pacific Northwest of the US and Canada. That is an issue we and our northern neighbors can ourselves attack – if we have the empowerment and will power.
Oella Saw and Tool (Ellicott City)
On the bright side, Earth with a significant reduction in the human population may regain a sense of balance. Can you imagine how beautiful earth will be. Major changes are in store, I just got out of a lecture from a Univ of Michigan Professor who plotted 800,000 years of co2 levels, on average this figure swings from 180 to 240 parts per million. Now its 415 . This figure is rising, He listed mitigation efforts and efforts to control this rise, but after seeing the science and the what is needed systemically, I can't see it happening on a global scale.
Pete Kantor (Aboard old sailboat in Mexico)
There are way, way too many of us. We can try to solve this ourselves, or we can let circumstances solve the problem. This second solution will be much more painful. We seem to have lots of engineers but a shortage of philosophers. ( I was an engineer)
Timothy Shaw (Wisconsin)
A major tilting point for the world’s survival was the the investment of the internal combustion engine. I think the Amish have (had) a better idea - use horses. But earth now is beyond repair, as is is like the Titanic with a huge gouge in her and WILL sink. We are just realizing that now, and now we must determine how we will handle this catastrophe. Will we perform a Trumpian act and dress up in women’s clothes to save ourselves, or do we treat others with heroic empathy and caring as our ship sinks?
Charley horse (Great Plains)
@Timothy Shaw You are right that the internal combustion engine has caused a lot of trouble. However, I have always thought that horses everywhere rejoiced when this device appeared on the scene, as they and their ancestors had been subject to centuries of exploitation and abuse. Of course, not all horse owners abused their animals, but too many did. The expression "beating a dead horse" didn't come out of nowhere, and plenty of live horses were also beaten. Horses are "cleaner" than the ICE in some ways, but they leave behind plenty of their own pollution. If ownership of horses for transportation and work became widespread again, we would soon have an industry committing abuses similar to those of the current cattle industry. (I am not a PETA fanatic or animal rights activist; I just see no good reason for cruelty and exploitation).
Joe Barnett (Sacramento)
In 2,000 we had Al Gore as a candidate, and people on the far left didn't vote for him because they wanted real change. They gave us Bush who brought us back into the mideast for the longest war we have known. In 2016, the same thing happened when the far left refused Hillary and helped to give us Trump. They were counting on that senseless vote and fueled it with memes and social media posts. Don't be fooled again. We need to support the candidate who can help take back the Senate and give us time with a Democratic government to repair some of this damage. Gore was warning us about the global climate change problem. Hillary warned us about guns. If you don't support the candidates who can accomplish change, change won't occur. Yes, stop eating meat and do use public transport.
Jbugko (Pittsburgh, pa)
@Joe Barnett I was in Tallahassee in 2000. I saw what the Republicans did. Actually, Al Gore won.
Cat Anderson (Cambridge, MA)
To the many people here making the point that overpopulation is the root cause of climate catastrophe: It isn't the *number* of people on the planet that's the problem, per se, it's the *amount of resources* each one consumes that causes the negative consequences. Even reducing the number of people on the planet by a billion or three will not stave off climate catastrophe if the remaining people all insist on a Western high-carbon footprint lifestyle. Here's the truth: making arguments about population control is an easy way for comfortable, regular folks to avoid harder conversations about the ways their lifestyles and choices contribute heavily to our climate woes. And those arguments are a slippery slope, indeed; exactly *whose* reproductive freedoms should be curtailed for the collective good? (I'll give you a hint: definitely not those of the people making Malthusian arguments! Maybe all those faceless hordes living in Africa or Asia instead.) Virtually every inhabited place on earth has either already gone through the demographic transition to low- or below-replacement birthrates, or have at least started it. Population momentum will continue for a while, but human population will soon begin to contract. Barring a worldwide plague, no demographic factors will take place in time to save us from climate catastrophe. Our only play is to quickly and radically change every facet of how we ALL currently live to be in closer harmony with what our planet can support.
Al (Kingston, ON)
@Cat Anderson - Reducing population and reducing consumption are not mutually exclusive, we need to do both to succeed. People are wasting time arguing about "which is the problem". Here's a similar question: 2+4=6. Is the 2 or the 4 more important?
b fagan (chicago)
@Cat Anderson - thanks for pointing this out. The other part of it is that the concept of nations is a real and important thing. We in the US can be -supportive- of other nation's access to birth control, family planning, sanitation, education and all the other good things that are what makes the birth rate drop naturally. But nations can't coerce birth control onto people in other places. Unfortunately, the US is losing it's grip even in this issue. Far right groups are fighting against access to birth control here, and to supporting family planning and access to birth control where our foreign aid can have positive results.
NotOptimistic (Nebraska)
@Cat Anderson I completely agree. People speaking of 'population control' are placing the blame on 'black women and children' instead of taking responsibility for themselves. Population control measures are feminist issues, because any attempt to control women's reproductive choices takes away their bodily autonomy. Furthermore, it is a racial issue, because the language of 'irrepressible fertility' is used against black and brown women in particular. As an aside, when women have complete control over their bodies, they have fewer children. And, if resources wasted on raising animals for food were used to feed people instead, famine would not be an issue. We grow more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet every year. Inequality of resource use and women lacking bodily autonomy are the problems.
donaldo (Oregon)
This morning one I took one of those surveys that show up in the news feed on my phone. It asked "How concerned are you about climate change?" Forty percent of those that responded selected very little or not alt all. I'm not very hopeful that needed societal changes in behaviors and practices will be forthcoming.
Wm. Blake (New England)
“The trade-offs that would keep us below 1.5 degrees, we’re not talking about them. We’re not ready to confront them yet.” Addiction and denial playing out on a global scale. This will not go well for us.
CK (Rye)
If all families simply had 2 or less children every year, everything - Earth air water, would heal a bit every year and in 200 years the planet would be in great shape. But no, people have to breed without thinking then concern themselves with the generated problems. It's the simplest solution, costs nothing to implement, can be started tomorrow, and would work.
Citizen-of-the-World (Atlanta)
@CK This assumes all children consume equally. Ivanka and Don Jr. are going to be a much bigger drain on the world's resources than Cinderella and Cinderfella. So it's not just the population, it's how the population behaves.
Rod Sheridan (Toronto)
@CK In addition to having less than one child per person, we also drastically need to reduce our carbon and resource consumption in the western world.
Ladyinblue (Atlanta)
@CK This assessment is unfair. Many of the world’s populations have no or little access to contraceptives. Women in rural areas of India and Africa and many other parts of the world still die in great numbers from childbirth and would be happy to have the ability to have fewer children. It might save their lives and give them the ability to keep the children they already have fed and in school. This issue is so important to these women that they will walk for miles in terrible conditions with their children to wait in long lines just for the hope of getting Depo-Provera shots, which are often in low supply. Often cultural pressures will mean that women have to hide their use of birth control from their husbands and asking a husband to use a condom is tantamount to saying he’s been unfaithful or has aids. Misogyny, cultural and religious superstitions, denial of facts and statistics, lack of access to family planning — all of these behaviors are connected in our society and contribute to the “big” issues, one of which being climate change. Unfortunately, our current administration and the citizens who support it don’t want to recognize any of this is a problem or is even real. That shouldn’t stop the rest of us from taking action though.
Chris (SW PA)
If the solutions require consumers to change their habits we should just admit defeat. Most of the serfs know from television that their purpose is to consume what they are told to consume. Everyone knows that those who do as they are told are the smart people.
RWeiss (Princeton Junction, NJ)
I was struck by the total absence of one crucial and obvious action in the list of proposals to deal with the dangerous interaction between climate change and food supply. Not a single mention of any measures to stabilize population growth even though the huge increase in the world's population has, of course, tremendously exacerbated the crisis. There are about 7.7 billion people on our planet today. Only 50 years ago there were approximately half that number. The latest expert projection is that it will exceed 9 billion in less than 20 years from now. Obviously there is a correlation between more mouths to feed and the expansion of agriculture. Is the glaring absence of mention of population stabilization measures the result of political pressure from the right--i.e., anti-birth control beliefs? Or the left--concern about espousing "neo-colonialist discourse"? Or both? Our planet deserves better than this kind of censorship.
Hugh Jazz (New York, NY)
I see a lot of comments on here about population control and the lack thereof. Population is a challenge, but make no mistake the primary issue is our reliance on fossil fuels and the fossil fuel industry's political influence and active suppression of the science regarding climate change. As climate change becomes more and more impossible to deny, they will likely to try to confuse the public with divisive arguments about population control aimed at the developing world. Don't trust them. The problem is the political influence of the fossil fuel industry and the politicians' they've bankrolled
Cat Anderson (Cambridge, MA)
@Hugh Jazz I 1000% agree with this important point. If the industrial revolution had been powered by solar and wind energy, we wouldn't be where we are today. Fossil fuels, not simply the number of human beings on the planet, are the real root cause of our climate catastrophe.
Joshua (New York City)
@Hugh Jazz agreed, it's important to realize that there isn't one magic solution. The call for population control only recognizes one symptom of the disease. Populations expand to their carrying capacity, and ours is determined by our exploitation of greenhouse gas emitting energy sources. But the time scales on which population control would have sufficient effect are too long to prevent catastrophic warming. And for that matter, the majority of the world is not contributing nearly as much to emissions as the wealthiest dozen or so countries. Those countries need to give up their growth oriented consumptive lifestyles because they've benefited at the expense of the majority of the rest of the world. The mere fact of overpopulation is a red-herring from the deeper, systemic issue.
Joshua (New York City)
This is an emergency. We can't wait for the same politicians who have been warned about climate change for the last 30 years to finally decide to act to save millions of lives and countless species. We need to make them. We need people in the streets until we can't be ignored. It's not just climate change anymore, it's a climate crisis.
Mark (DC)
I'm being honest when I say I don't know much about farming in the Midwest, but it strikes me that whenever I read a story about how drought, tariffs, flooding, aquifer failure, etc., is affecting agriculture, the farming turns out to be soy beans, corn, or sugar beets - i.e. food for cows and pigs, ethanol production, cheep sugar. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but these guys are not your farmer's market farmers that grow food for our tables. I'd really like to see a breakdown of how farmland is being used across the country. Clearly we can't continue to live on this planet the way we are, and I think this would be a bit of an eye opener. I really love Elizabeth Warren. As progressive as she is, I still wonder how her ideas about growth, capitalism and progress mesh with our clear need to preserve the resources we have on this planet. Thy cynic in me wonders if it isn't the worst thing if Trump's trade war tanks the world's economy. It's certainly better than where we are headed.
Fernando (NY)
When does population control and reduction come into play? When do we make the world give up meat because that is what it will take? Consumerism? Migration (people migrate for a better life i.e. to release more carbon into the atmosphere)? Globalism? These things need to be addressed if we even have a hope.
Joshua (New York City)
@Fernando very true, we have so many hard questions without simple answers. Ultimately we need to change how we live from the foundations up. We have clearly overshot the planet's carrying capacity -- the logistics of feeding close to 8 billion people almost requires the energy density we have thus far only been able to access through fossil fuels. I know many of my friends are talking about not having children, both because they recognize we are overpopulated and because they do not want to subject their descendents to the horrors of societal collapse. Is that the solution? I don't know. But we must have that conversation as a species.
John (Port of Spain)
If solutions require attention, uh, what were we talking about?
Rod Sheridan (Toronto)
@John LOL, thanks John for your comment, you made my day.
Gee (USA)
We- my generation- is going to die if we don't work to stop climate change. Earth doesn't need us. Mother Nature can adapt and change and she will survive. We need her, the air we breathe, the food we eat, the ground under our feet. We can't survive without agriculture. I am too young to vote, too young to drive. My voice is my only weapon. Please act now!
ubique (NY)
“Famine seems to be the last, the most dreadful resource of nature. The power of population is so superior to the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.” -Thomas Malthus (1798) The tragedy of our existence is human nature itself, and apathy is the greatest sin of all.
Sidewalk Sam (New York, NY)
This is the part of the article that really frightens me, because if the thoughtful efforts of individuals who are planting trees etc. isn't even a drop in the bucket, given all the other negative factors, we've had it: “We cannot plant trees to get ourselves out of the problem that we’re in,” Dr. McElwee said. “The trade-offs that would keep us below 1.5 degrees, we’re not talking about them. We’re not ready to confront them yet.”
Joshua (New York City)
@Sidewalk Sam it's horrifying. How many trees are clear cut for timber and pasture in the Amazon for every tree we plant? How much biodiversity can we hope to reclaim with new-growth when it took thousands of years for that lost biodiversity to develop in old-growth rain-forest? We see the conversation even approach the level of change we need to make and everyone recoils -- the Green New Deal doesn't call for enough change on a sufficiently aggressive timeline, but even that was extremely polarizing.
TWShe Said (Je suis la France)
I wince witnessing how much food one Ralph's tosses ---and multiply that by store by states by days. Such a catastrophe when you factor in starving in the United States. Remind me again why run away capitalism is good for humanity.......
Bald Eagle (Los Angeles, CA)
Where is the front-page coverage of the Extinction Rebellion, the the Climate Strike, and other daily actions that are working to bring the machinery of global warming to a halt and refocus on actions that could save us?
Joshua (New York City)
@Bald Eagle it's going to have to get worse before it gets better. It can go one of two ways. Either so many people get in the streets that it's impossible for the machine to continue -- or so many people suffer from the effects of the climate crisis that it's impossible for the machine to continue.
John Doe (Johnstown)
@Bald Eagle, liberal media is too busy covering the boycott of Equinox and Soul Cycle because their CEO is hosting a Trump fundraiser for him in the Hamptons. Let’s not forget what’s important.
Michael (Evanston, IL)
A new United Nations report? We don’t need no stinking UN report – we’re the United States. We don’t recognize “reports”; we are impervious to facts, to science, to reality. We are exceptional. Not in my backyard, not on my watch. We are all about immediate ROI, not long-term. The future is not the present, and the present is not tomorrow. Now is now – the one, the incontestable force of stasis. Tomorrow is just an abstraction – a UN conspiracy, the kind of propaganda the Squad spreads. It may be reality wherever they are from, but not here. Uh-uh – no way. We are a capitalist country, and as such we are able to see (and live with) the hard truths of reality. There are no Dreamers here, just clear-eyed realists. Capitalism is a function of nature, a natural force that is rational, one that, in the end, will raise all boats. That’s what capitalism does. Capitalists can only make profits if they pass on massive environmental, infrastructural, and social costs of their operations to society. That’s only natural. So relax – capitalism is nature (“God’s work”) and nature is not going to destroy itself. That’s not what nature does – it endures. (Cue the music…)
IntrepidMan (Ohio)
This arctice mentions nothing of the ensuing wars that will no doubt unfold as countless billiions battle for the last sliver of healthy land and the last drop of water.
Wm. Blake (New England)
@IntrepidMan "According to a report released this year by the nonprofit organization Global Witness, which looks at the links between conflicts and environmental resources, an average of three people were killed per week defending their land in 2018, with more than half of them killed in Latin America."
Aaron (Phoenix)
Climate change is a symptom; overpopulation is the disease. Stop having children.
GRH (New England)
And apparently, global population 8 billion and lack of family planning in Africa and Centra America has nothing to do with it? Can only echo the comment of demographer John Bongaarts, from the Population Council, in the pages of this paper itself, several years ago. To paraphrase, "The global warming community is staying away from population growth and that's frustrating." Ya think?
Doug Karo (Durham, NH)
I expect it is more accurate to say that people threaten their own food supply and do it deliberately through causing climate change by having and pursuing unbounded upscale living aspirations for greater and greater numbers of people.
Mike (Chicago)
GMOs and birth control. ASAP.
Ted Bolton (South Boston, MA)
Not a single mention that there are over 7 Billion people on earth? What a disgrace.
publius (Boston)
where are the pictures of American monocrop fields and factory farms?
bill (Madison)
Really? Wow, this stuff might be serious, after all.
Maxy (Teslaville)
What is the source of what looks like dark smoke in the lead photo? Could that be part of the problem?
essgordon (NY, NY)
The world is running out of food and water and armed/normalized white supremacy is on the rise. What can possibly go wrong? Unimaginable horror.
Peter (Chicago)
Earth can handle climate change and the trillions of human beings. Its defense is famine, plague, natural selection. The cockroaches and rats are going to outlive us and I am totally fine with it. It’s all God’s plan. We are long overdue for a reckoning.
MMS (Canada)
this talk actually inspired me more than the nonsense the environmental justice warriors are spewing:
Al (Idaho)
Yada, yada, yada. And not one word about over population.
Tournachonadar (Illiana)
And while the hapless billions starve, the NY Times will tout eateries that offer meals for hundreds or thousands of dollars per person. As if.
Timothy Shaw (Wisconsin)
If every human consumed as much as the average American, the world would have to be 7 times larger to hold all the garbage.
Andrew Wohl (Maryland)
I read that it would require the resources of six Earths if everyone wanted to have a standard of living equal to the U.S. So the dream of the entire world living in the comfort of the 1950s US was never achievable.
Aleigh (Los Ángeles)
Tick tock governments
Jhs (Richmond)
The Malthusian dilemma! Populations will, as the energy becomes available and is used for multiple purposes including food production....leads to an expansion of populations to utilize all the available resources. Fossil fuels make available the energy to produce more food stuff and access new areas of development. The human population increases dramatically requiring more energy and its use to keep pace. A cycle develops that becomes so all encompassing that it affects the environment. Climate changes happen in cycles regardless of human influence. But this time it is our growth and development and dependence on fossils fuels for so much of the energy needs, without realistic consideration that has affected our environment and the base of our existence. Population growth would need to be addressed while better means of developing and making practical use of renewable resources ..... the only way to break the cycle. At least temporarily until the renewable energy resources also reach a limitation.
Dr. Scotch (New York)
Scientists tell us that 99% of all species that have arisen on Earth have become extinct — humans should be no exception to this tendency. Mass die offs and extinctions are especially associated with habitat degradation and climate change. The world economy is a capitalist one and capitalism must continually expand and find and exploit new markets as well modernize its means of production — it is not a choice that people can make about this, it is a requirement of the system and will continue to be so until the system implodes. Just as herds of cattle that over graze and run out of food die off because grazing is what they do, so our current system will lead to a mass die off of the human population and a collapse of the capitalist system after the habitat that sustains it is degraded and can no longer allow us to graze (depleted oceans, soils, and fresh water supplies, plus new diseases due to overuse of antibiotics in agriculture — all this driven by the profit motive intrinsic to capitalism). We can watch it and bemoan it but unless capitalism is overthrown we can do nothing about it as the profit motive will frustrate all our attempts.
Marge Keller (Midwest)
There are a million and one things wrong right now with the environment and climate change. There is no one-answer fix to the plethora of problems. But there are small things that every person could do which might help on some level. Plastic water bottles. Instead of buying cases of something that we get for free from home, why not forgo that waste and source of pollution by purchasing a metal or plastic container which can be filled and refilled at home? Plastic grocery bags. Those should have been banned decades ago. Bringing one's own bags (cloth or paper) from home when grocery shopping only helps the environment rather than pollute or damage it. Bicycle or walk instead of driving, when applicable. My husband used to drive the car four blocks to purchase a few items at the local shop and rob. After some mild yet persistent hints, he now either walks or takes his bike for those trips. I know a lot of folks already incorporate those behaviors into their daily routine. But I also think it's worth repeating and suggesting. While articles like this one makes me sad as much as they anger me, I need to feel as if I am doing SOMETHING at my level to help not make things worse than they already are. We are facing a dire and bleak period in our planet's existence. Maybe doing a lot of little things can actually help, one some level, if only emotionally or mentally, for a little while.
Carrie Freeman, PhD (Atlanta)
1. Please make most of your food choices vegan and organic as much as you can, and 2. Elect environmentally-responsible politicians (most not in the republican party at the moment) who will make it easier for us to buy vegan foods and to help farmers to shift to producing organic crops and away from animal agribusiness (that is heavily tax subsidized). We need to subsidize organic produce! How many scientific reports will it take before politicians finally start pushing food and agriculture-based policy changes for environmental, ethical, and public health reasons?
Hoping For Better (Albany, NY)
To combat climate change, perhaps we need to go back to the basics. That is to say, don't use cars at all (electric or other types of fuel), don't use planes, don't use electricity (solar or other power). Don't extend human life beyond what it is supposed to be, and don't try to save every one from every disease. Live in small and self-sufficient communities and stay there. Small local communities without all the medical and technological "advances" appeared to be sustainable for the planet and for humans. So maybe we should live like we were intended to live. Animals do. We are after all animals and should accept our limitations. We cannot conquer nature without paying a high price, our species dying and destroying the planet as we know it.
As much as the republicans and that other bunch in the White House claims to revere the military, I have to wonder why, since the pentagon is factoring climate change into strategic immediate and long range planning, why the defense worshipers think they are exempt. What’s the disconnect? Reality?
Martha (Queens)
People simply do not want to give up eating animals, dairy, eggs, and fish. Even though a plant based diet is the healthiest. A major reason is marketing. Animal agriculture is growing, not shrinking. $$$$$ Some of the leading climate change organizations completely fail to address the fact that one of the major causes for climate change has to do with animal agriculture. It's astounding how this issue is overlooked, unless you consider the marriage between animal ag and government When you talk about water use you have to think about the feeding and hydration of billions of farm animals. (See "Conspiracy") There is no governmental leadership in any country in the entire world which honestly addresses the role animal agriculture has in water usage and climate change. Why? Profits, lobbyists and contributions. Corruption.
Geo (Vancouver)
1) A plant based diet is not healthiest for everyone. 2) Approximately 1/3 of arable land is only suitable for grasses. Herbivores are required to use this land to feed people. The above does not mean that factory farming, as currently practiced, is a solution to feeding the world.
GS (Brooklyn)
@Geo No, we don't need herbivores to feed people. Studies have shown that we currently have more than enough food to feed the whole population if everyone were vegan. Indeed, a Lancaster University study found that "the current production of crops is sufficient to provide enough food for the projected global population of 9.7 billion in 2050," if we were to radically reduce our consumption of animal products.
GS (Brooklyn)
@Martha "(See "Conspiracy")" I think you mean "Cowspiracy" (the movie)
nom de guerre (Kirkwood, MO)
Palm oil is also a factor in the destruction of natural habitat. It's a common ingredient in many foods, personal care and other consumer goods. Please check the ingredient list before purchasing products. If palm oil is listed that product is likely contributing to climate change. Even products labeled "sustainably sourced" can be suspect due to the illegitimacy of some oversight panels. We also must pay attention to chemicals in everyday products as they all end up in the environment directly or indirectly. Don't use anything toxic or not based in nature on your body or in your home. Use natural cleansing agents (vinegar, for example) and remedies.
Albert Edmud (Earth)
The horde of climate experts at the I.P.C.C. have released another Sky is Falling Catastrophe Warning. The horde releases one of these dire warnings every year or so after they jet around the world to meet in exotic destinations like Bali, Cancun or so on. These wanderings have resulted in 50 sessions of various I.P.C.C. investigations...Apparently, the carbon footprint of this perpetual migration of climate change experts doesn't impact greenhouse gases in the environment...Someone should explain to these harbingers of planetary destruction that they are contributing to the problem. Perhaps they could set an example for the rest of the civilized world by conducting all of these meetings over the world wide web...Until they control their own compunctions to spew jet fumes into the atmosphere, their dire warnings seem a little hypocritical.
Andrew Wohl (Maryland)
On the one hand, you claim that dire warnings about climate change are just more “Sky is Falling” alarmism. And yet, on the other, you claim that the emergency is real and climate scientists are contributing to it. Which is it?
Kenneth V Haggard (Newport News, VA)
Do you suppose that when severe food shortages become common place Trump will still eat well? Well, probably, but it might get his attention.
msf (NYC)
I know this is politically incorrect to some. I know we love our freedom. but - we have not used it responsibly - quite the contrary. If we do not voluntarily cut down on meat, cut down on reproduction cut down on our self-indulged consumption change our economy from greed to green we should be forced to by laws on reproduction and food supply and water use. You protest? Then mother nature (aided by nuclear weapon-winging countries) will do it for you.
Jonathan Katz (St. Louis)
There is no evidence that "Climate Change Threatens the World's Food Supply". This is groundless panic-mongering. As the climate warms, temperate zone growing seasons get longer. Rainfall increases (because warmer oceans evaporate more) and drought gets less frequent. These are all beneficial. The "desertification" of the Sahel is something that comes and goes over decades; it is not a long-term trend. No one writes hysterical reports during wet periods when the Sahara retreats. The same applies to our Great Plains, that have occasional decade-long droughts and "dust bowls". A drought in Kansas in 1860 sent climate refugees east. We forget how variable is weather. A picture caption should not propagate a dictatorship's propaganda: "Xinjiang" is actually Chinese illegally-occupied East Turkestan.
Geo (Vancouver)
Farming requires nature to follow patterns that are reasonably predictable and avoids extremes. Anything that disrupts existing climate patterns and seasonal norms threatens our food supply. Climate Change does this. Also, the linear description that you give of increased growing seasons and increased rainfall is, at best, fanciful.
Max Deitenbeck (Shreveport)
@Jonathan Katz Not a long term trend? It took thousands of years of grazing and farming especially by (but not starting with the Romans) to expand that desert to it's current extent. It is still expanding. So, two factors: 1. You yourself call it a "long term trend." That means it would take at least as long to become arable again, time we do not have. 2. The trend to desertification hasn't stopped. I don't understand how anyone can be this illogical.
ELBOWTOE (Redhook, Brooklyn)
Just read the Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace Wells. It’s all in there.
Kevin Greene (Spokane, WA)
@ ELBOWTOE And Dahr Jamail’s “The End of Ice” too. Maybe Jem Bendell’s paper on “Deep Adaptation” if the reader’s up for it. Knowing how far along the path of runaway climate disruption we already are isn’t fun, but it does free me of the burden of hoping it will get better, which grounds me more in the present. Too doomy? Then be sure to ignore what’s been happening in the Arctic this summer. Our pumping of CO2 into the atmosphere may have already tipped CH4 & N2O release feedback loops from thawing permafrost into uncontrollable territory.
jo (co)
The reason we're seeing this report is because it's from the UN. Trump and his administration can't bury it.
jerry lee (rochester ny)
Reality Chceck why not tell people why climate changing? The carbon levels i oceans are rising soon wont be bale to sustain life because burning fossil fuels.
noseitall (Ohio)
China and India, the world's biggest polluters, will never participate in the global warming plans. So no matter how much money you send to politicians, it will never change the climate.
SeaBee (connecticut)
This article leaves out one huge problem - the unrelenting increase in population in some parts of the world. Africa is expected to double its population in the next few decades - up to 2 billion. Climate change is already diminishing their ability to grow food. Literally hundreds of millions will be starving to death. To save their lives the starving will try to go to Europe. And Europe with only 350 million people will not allow itself to be invaded by 350 or 700 (or whatever) million outsiders. There will be a genocide the world has never seen before. To avoid this calamity, advanced countries must help those in Africa (and Central and South America, and wherever) to lower their birth rate. To do this we must foster the educational and economic opportunities for their women which will lower the birth rate. And to accomplish that we must invest huge amounts of money in those countries. But do the advanced countries have the will...or will they allow this genocidal disaster to happen. I'm betting on a genocidal disaster, but please prove me wrong.
Alex (St. Paul)
This isn't an "issue" as the subheading states. This is a problem.
Johnson (CLT)
Buckle up it's going to be a rough ride.
Pesky (NYC)
We are a society of excess. - Big homes - SUVs - Buying lots of junk - Eating lots of junk - Throwing out lots of junk And we are just too lazy to do anything about. - Someone else will take care of it - Not my problem - It's too inconvenient to change - Why bother
Ashleigh (Toronto)
Thank you New York Times for putting this on the front page.
Richard Winchester (Illinois)
In the early 1970’s, US News ran an article stating that the US would run out of water by 1995. My shower worked just fine today. How could the experts be so wrong?
johnlo (Los Angeles)
I find it interesting that a good many of the posts thus far point to over population and advocate women having fewer children. This is already the case in the developed nations. Meanwhile the undeveloped world will continue to have more children and to feed them will clumsily exploit their available lands. Eventually they will migrate into the under-populated developed world. In the end civilization will degrade, but will not perish.
Rudy2 (Falmouth, Maine)
Why doesn't the UN also get its own house in order. Their Food and Agriculture Organization distributes many many tons of seeds, including beans meant for mountain hillside production, without funding or providing training in sustainable techniques to go along with these distributions.
Science Teacher (Illinois)
It seems there are also huge global opportunities as well - putting displaced people to work in producing the technology that can improve farming, food distribution, and distribution of clean water. Aren’t there types of food plants that also soak up CO2 that can feed people instead of planting trees on that same land? Building better irrigation systems? The rich countries will have to help the poorer ones by buying and using less wasteful food products (and other unneeded “stuff”) by buying more sustainable products the (now) poorer countries could produce. I used to be skeptical of, eg, forced laws like “no plastic” straws - now I’m wondering if they aren’t absolutely essential.
natan (California)
People should start investing in quality offspring, not quantity. Otherwise the visious cycle of population growth will bring us to the point of where billions will starve to death. Mass immigration is a consequence and the cause of population explosion because it removes the critical negative feedback to population growth in places that badly need it. No measure will stop this ecological catastrophe and climate change if poor countries don't start controlling the population growth and if rich countries don't start controlling the immigration.
Andrew Wohl (Maryland)
Hmmm, I think that’s called eugenics. Not a good idea.
Joel (Oregon)
The single biggest driver of increased food production is increasing population. Assuming that populations will always increase forever is fallacious. Already we see population growth declining in most developed countries, and even beginning to backslide in others. The problem is our current socioeconomic model is predicated on growth. It assumes there will always be more people paying ever more amounts of money into the welfare state than there will be dependents drawing on its resources. The population decline will set in one way or another. In prosperous capitalist countries it seems to happen of its own accord at a gradual rate. In the rest of the world it will likely come on very abruptly and violently, once resource scarcity starts to set in. Migrations will occur, bigger than anything we've seen, and the resulting chaos will likely lead to an increase in starvation, disease, and violence on a massive scale. One way or another, I don't see overpopulation being a huge burden on the environment for very long. There will be other problems far more immediate and whose consequences will more than likely drastically reduce the human population. I think conservatives aren't blind to this, I think they see it coming. But where liberals see western countries as arks, conservatives see them as bastions. Liberals want to save as many people as possible even at the cost of our way of life, conservatives want to save what we have now, preserve our way of life at all costs.
glennmr (Planet Earth)
Many studies always seem to state there is time to address the problems associated with climate change. Well, maybe there isn't. Decades ago, the carrying capacity of the planet was estimated to be about 3 to 3.5 billion people. Obviously, controlling population to that level was not heeded. Energy use keeps the planet's economy going and food production at current levels. Considering that most of that energy is fossil fuel based, the needed conversions to alternatives will require huge resources with all nations on board. Heavy infrastructures cannot just be magically changed over a period of a decade or two into a sustainable system. Anyone that believes it can has not worked in heavy industry. If we immediately started to revamp all levels of energy production, it would take a minimum of 100 years to make much of the needed change. And that is likely a low estimate. The reality is more likely that we are already decades behind the curve.
Joseph (Los Angeles)
We'll be the first species to self-annihilate.
Science Teacher (Illinois)
@glennmr No one will want to hear this - but we won’t be able to make the conversion without massive switches to electricity - and that will require continued or even increased use of nuclear energy. Renewable power will not be enough. And biofuels are also carbon fuels - ethanol also returns CO2 into the air. The alternative will be covering thousands of square miles with solar panels.
glennmr (Planet Earth)
@Science Teacher Agreed...and.... One of the real issues with renewables is that they are not renewable. The materials requirements are hundreds of times more than conventional power--and require less plentiful, harder to mine metals..etc. Plus, batteries are not very good storage devices as they are also materials intense and short lived. The "green" people are keeping that part a big ol' secret. Energy density and energy return are a big problem with renewables. Nuclear can't ramp up fast enough. It is too late in the US now and will see a long term decline. In a decade or so, people may look back and change their position to favor nukes, but it will be moot.
Phillip Stephen Pino (Portland, Oregon)
(Intended Audience: The wives and daughters of the carbon barons & the carbon-sponsored politicians) I truly fear for the future safety of the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the owners, board members and executives of the oil, natural gas, coal and pipeline companies and their sponsored political “leaders.” As living conditions on our planet become unbearable due to the severe, relentless impacts of Climate Change, generations of devastated citizens around the world will ask: “Who is most directly responsible for this existential catastrophe?” When these citizens look around, they will find many of the culpable carbon barons and carbon-sponsored politicians have already passed on to whatever afterlife awaits them. But the direct descendants of the carbon barons and the carbon-sponsored politicians will still be here. And there will be no escape – not even behind their gated communities – from the wrath of billions of incensed citizens on every continent. For the carbon barons, it all comes down to one essential choice to be made RIGHT NOW: harvest their carbon assets and sacrifice their descendants – or – strand their carbon assets and save their descendants? For the carbon-sponsored politicians, it also comes down to one essential choice to be made RIGHT NOW: continue to dither on Climate Change legislation and sacrifice their descendants – or – pass sweeping and meaningful Climate Change mitigation legislation and save their descendants?
Thomas J Pain (Coos Bay)
Population increase is a much more dire threat to the ability of world's poor to feed themselves than climate change. It's probably become un-PC to point that out.
Clearwater (Oregon)
@Thomas J Pain - education helps reduce or sustain a balanced population. Are you doing what you can to aid in educating peoples that aren't necessarily right down the block? Do you send any amount of money to the Gates Foundation or similar?
htg (Midwest)
Sadly, just more words, more angst, but still no global action - or national action, for that matter. Despite our efforts in the political arena, the best we can get is hot air. The truth? For as much as I educate my kids about climate change, good environmental stewardship, and the importance of political activism, I'm also teaching them to fish, garden, and camp. For the little people of the world, it's time to start brushing off some dust-balled survival skills, because it looks more and more like we're going to be out for ourselves. ... Truly frightening that somewhere along the line, that stopped sounding defeatist and started sounding like a good insurance policy for my family's well-being.
planetwest (CA)
Where does so called climate change enter into this? The waste of resources and abuse of water isn't climate change. Half of all food production is wasted while growing efficiency has improved dramatically because of CO2 in the air. It's been said that pet food in the developed countries could satisfy hunger in the world. Most of the world is better off now that at any time in history. The problem is politics not 'climate change.'
Portia (Massachusetts)
It is impossible to to look at the emergency of climate change in the US and not see that the Republican Party is our single greatest obstacle to taking the actions we must take to survive. We need to make enormous changes, society-wide, and they must be coordinated and planned and funded by committed and very capable people whose goal is to protect us all. We need to claw back the wealth that’s been looted by the .01%, transition to green energy, smarten the grid, electrify transportation, localize agriculture, stop killing the soil and the bees with pesticides, stop over-consuming, stop eating meat, stop recreational flying, and start planting billions of trees and protecting forests. Elect Democrats or Indepents who tell you they will focus on these urgent needs. And make sure your state uses hand-marked paper ballots. The corruption is deep. Actively work in this. Every day. This is how you face your children.
Jessie Henshaw (Uptown Manhattan)
@Portia If you look just a little deeper you'll find the Democrats only make their policies sound nicer, but still promote the global obsession with economic growth, and are in deep denial about our ever more rapid use and disruption of all forms of natural capital that come with it.... To end that would effectively end capitalism, a bigger than usual challenge. We might possibly rise to the occasion when we realize nature will put an end to it her way we we don't find a better one for ourselves. Something called "natural growth" is a distinct free market option.
Chris (Vancouver)
@Portia Sure, the Republicans are awful on land use and the environment. Absolutely. But spend a little time looking at land use policies under the Obama administration and your optimism about Democrats fixing these matters will evaporate. Just look at the industry hacks that Obama had running the BLM and the Nat. Forest Service. Look at the pace of timber sales, mining permits, and drilling permits under Obama: all as bad or worse than W. And don't blame that on the fact that he only had a Democrat congress for 2 years. I would expect minimal improvement under a Democratic administration.
liz (new hampshire)
@Chris this is a "Big G" government problem requiring global solutions and global cooperation, and I think it is fair to assume that any Democrat is going to be far more successful than the current administration who have been an absolute nightmare on every environmental front. I won't presume to know what kind of intelligence the Obama administration had on climate issues, but certainly the news over the past 2 years has been far more urgent that we have a very short time to correct the problems. I do think if Obama was in the WH today he would be tackling these issues directly through continued global efforts, policy guidance, executive order, regulatory moves through executive branch agencies, and all the other tools available to the president. For the sake of our children, we need to get the current administration out of office - it truly feels like our only hope.
Joe From Boston (Massachusetts)
Malthis predicted this in 1798 in his book "An Essay on the Principle of Population." "The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man". Malthus argued that two types of checks hold population within resource limits: positive checks, which raise the death rate; and preventive ones, which lower the birth rate. The positive checks include hunger, disease and war; the preventive checks: birth control, postponement of marriage and celibacy. When we reach our limit with regard to producing food, that will be the limit of human population. If necessary, the number of humans (and animals) will decrease. That might not be a very popular or smooth transition, but if the problems described were to occur (and I believe they will) the number of inhabitants of the earth will diminish. That process will not be pretty.
James Sanders (Costa Rica)
Exactly! Finally, someone who gets it. We have found the problem and it is (too many of) us.
Susan (Seattle, WA)
Overpopulation is a big problem, it's true, but it's not the core problem. More important is the fact that it took the earth a billion or more years to put vast amounts of carbon into storage and we, in two short centuries, are releasing it into the atmosphere. It's geophysics, in reverse, at warp speed. We need fewer people, absolutely. But we need to stop pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere even more. Americans have the highest carbon footprint on the planet. What should a person do? First, calculate your carbon footprint. (Calculators are online). Then, stop flying. Get your friends to stop flying. Stop driving as much. Get your friends to stop driving. Hang up the laundry, eat simply from local food supplies, fight airport expansion, turn down the heat, turn down the air conditioner, sell your second home, get rid of your boat, share an electric car, and don't buy anything you don't absolutely need. It's not that hard if all we do it together.
Laurie Gough (Canada)
Susan, you didn’t specify the most important one that will have the biggest impact: stop eating meat.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Susan: One wonders when we will just march into the sea like starving lemmings.
Miss Manners (Boston, MA, USA)
Once again the NYTimes runs an article that correctly identifies industrial cattle production as a big problem, without mentioning that there is a proven, science-based alternative: regenerative grazing, which sequesters carbon, protects against both flooding and drought, and makes worn-out farmland productive as never before. To feed growing populations we need herds that can restore the planet's grasslands and increase humus and biodiversity. Ruminants for a small planet!
Wm. Blake (New England)
@Miss Manners Careful, just by mentioning the fact that all grazing is not destructive and that many farmers actually love their animals and their way of life it ensures that the vegans are going to jump all over your comment like flies.
JAngeles (Los Angeles)
Climate change is not the problem, it is just the symptom. The problem, and the cause of climate change, food insecurity, horrible living conditions etc etc. which drive mass migration is overpopulation, population growth that is out is sync with a region’s or the planet’s ability to support the demands of all these people. When families in Central America stop having 7 or 8 kids, and the population of Guatemala ends its current 10 year, 12 million person explosion, we can discuss the impact of climate change on the ability for the planet to feed this mass of people it was never designed to support. Until then there’s a far bigger problem to be solved, one which nobody seems to want to address as the root cause.
Michael (Asheville, NC)
I work in land conservation and recently moved from Arizona to North Carolina. It’s been frustrating and illuminating to see that most folks here in the southeast haven’t really started to feel the effects like the rest of the country, and their climate denial, while wrong, is a case of not caring what happens 1000 miles away. It might not be until coastal communities flood and cause migration, crops can’t handle the heat, or southeastern wildfires happen before they accept reality. By then it’ll be far too late.
Bob (Hudson Valley)
After three decades of warnings about climate change from the IPCC where are we? We are still heading for 4C this century while only talking a lot about staying under 1.5C to avoid catastrophic consequences. This tells me that we should prepare for 4C since there is still a lack of evidence that the world can get off this track. Since scientists believed the world would act to limit global warming they never studied what would happen if we went beyond 4C until about 10 years ago when it became apparent that this may indeed happen. In a worst case scenario global warming could reach 5C or 6C this century. When people say climate change is an existential threat they aren't kidding.
kay (new york)
@Bob If we reach 3C, climate feedback loops will begin which will make it impossible to stop the warming.
Karen (StL)
Too many people on the planet. I hate to say this but is also likely a major deadly contagion could occur before the next century. Made more likely by the dismissal of the importance of science and research.
David Miller (NYC)
To the extent humanity can reverse these trends, we need to work on systemic and individual levels. Systemic means in the US, among other things, not voting for the GOP. Individual means we make different choices and commitments and we tell our friends we are doing this: we set new norms. If we can't go vegetarian or vegan, we reduce our meat consumption by half. We buy renewable energy from our energy providers. We fly less. We say no to gas guzzlers. We settle for 5 tee shirts instead of 10. Our individual consumption patterns HAVE to change. And the glory of it all, is that we will soon realize our happiness actually depends on things other than our consumption :-)
Claytronica (MA)
There are multiple, huge, concurrent changes that all humans would have to make in order to save this planet. The changes are cultural, social, religious, and more. Let's just take consumer habits - as mentioned in the report. Scenario: You're at your local grocery store shopping for dinner. The recipe you're trying out calls for mango and fresh lime juice. As you're picking them up, somebody comes up to you and says "I'm sorry, you'll have to put those down, because the caloric value of the jet or diesel fuel required to get those here from 3000 miles away is greater than the caloric value of the food itself." Will you put them down? And then there are many of my, and your, very progressive friends - having their 2nd or 3rd child. Who will tell them that this is unwise? My partner and I had a child - one - 7 years ago. I would have to accept the judgement today that THAT was unwise. As a certain Star Wars character might have said. "Slow to learn, this species is." I have little faith we will evolve in time.
Maxy (Teslaville)
Don’t ruin your joy of having your one child due to others saying that was wrong. Do what you can to help. Feeling guilty doesn’t help anyone, does it?
Vito (Sacramento)
The year is 2069 and my grandchildren and their children are talking about how just 100 years ago the United States landed a man on the moon for the first time in the history of Homo sapiens. Their talking about how science gave us the first computers, smart phones, self driving electric cars and incredible advances in medicine. But they are also talking about a political party which is now obsolete that only believed in science when there was profit in it for a few in the ruling class. Their reading about how that party even elected a President that said climate change was a hoax invented by China. But my grandchildren and great grandchildren will know that the majority of the world’s population believed in the science of climate change, but we failed to throw out those in power in time. I can only hope (except for the demise of the Republican Party) that what I just wrote is not true.
Edie Clarko (Austin, Texas)
“People don’t die where they are. People migrate.” While the current administration obsesses with walls, detentions, and deportations, desperate people keep coming from Central America. In what looks like an early warning signal of climate change, a drought in the Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras has resulted in food shortages, which adding more misery to gang violence and corruption that are driving people to migrate in order to survive. Until we address root causes, people will continue to flee. And the president’s response? Of course. He off aid to programs that were working in Central America to improve conditions so that people no longer need to migrate.
Miriam Osofsky (Hanover NH)
Precisely why there is no room for moderation on climate: we need a Presidential candidate who can beat Trump AND wholeheartedly supports the Green New Deal (GND), which would rapidly decarbonize our agricultural system. And... we need a Senate and House filled with GND supporters. NYT Op-Ed columnists: think about this article the next time you’re about to disparage Progressives like Bernie, or organizations like Sunrise.
Joshua (DC)
Another critical action not mentioned to address climate change is for people to stop having so many kids!
Wabi-Sabi (Montana)
This is another NYT article about climate change without mention of overpopulation being it's source. Show journalistic courage. Say what needs to be said. There are simply too many people.
Jackson (Virginia)
Please - those showing up at our borders is NOT due to climate change.
Wm. Blake (New England)
@Jackson There are numerous sources to show that you are wrong about that. Rural areas of Guatemala and Honduras are seeing the effects of climate change and lack the infrastructure/aid/resources to mitigate it.
Robert Terrell (Texas)
You can't say we have not been warned. I'm a subscriber to YouTube Premium and it's a great service BTW. YouTube premium does track my online movements and it finds interesting things for me 👍 Like the last couple of days it's been finding climate change greenhouse documentaries and news reports from 1984 & 1985!! Uh oh 😟 In the 1984 documentary the scientists warn that the greenhouse gas problem is going to completely change the climates of the United States and Canada!! Yep, I said 1984. And there was another yesterday that was from 1985. and these are not just news reports, 2 minute talking heads on The Today show. I'm talking hour long serious warnings. There were people watching out for us back then... BUT WE DIDN'T PAY ENOUGH ATTENTION! I know my YouTube bots didn't grab every documentary from back then so we cannot say we haven't been warned. We have been warned for over 30 years at least!!! Never mind the naysayers. The science and technology people have brought us our modern world with our cars, televisions, cellphones, microwaves, internet . . . do I need to go on to make this point? If you are one of the naysayers who claim you don't believe "the science" of global warming after hundreds of top scientists tell you that it is a fact and we're in deep trouble - well... you have to give me your car! (and phone 😁)
Carol S. (Philadelphia)
Individual action to address these issues matters. So act! If we all buy only meat from regenerative, organic farmers, reduce meat consumption, reduce driving, flying, air conditioning, etc.... Guess what. What's considered "normal" will change. And then, we'll go from there.
mafm (Philadelphia)
Over half of our crops are sent to cattle and livestock as animal feed. Huge quantities of our freshwater supply are poured into producing an ounce of red meat. Not only that, but concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) contaminate our freshwater through their sewage waste and runoff. It truly is shocking that the UN can publish this warning about the degradation of our planet, and it still be acceptable to eat meat and dairy. Also, a plant-based diet has been proven to be adequately nutritious by all major health organizations. It is potentially better than the standard American diet because it has a lower rate of heart attacks, arthritis, obesity, and cancer. If people insist on eating meat, tax them. Right now in the United States, there are large subsidies for these anti-climate operations, which keep prices artificially low for the amount of resources that went into it. It's time we flip the script and start taxing consumption and production of meat.
White Buffalo (SE PA)
@mafm We also should reverse all pro-natalist subsidies immediately. Each additional person added to the world is a far greater contribution to climate change than eating meat.
Butterfly (NYC)
@mafm Stop subsidies for meat production. Corn too.
Goahead (Phoenix)
@mafm it's been two years I have given up eating meat. I feel better for myself and good that I did a little something positive to our world.
Paul (New Jersey)
The starting point here is quite simple. Everyone MUST vote for Democrats! Not that they will be perfect or even enough, but they will listen and (for the most part) be persuaded by solid logical arguments. The Republicans have shown they are not interested in science or facts or future generations. Then a huge public campaign to make it "cool" to not waist food. I hate to use the word, but yes, shaming people into being more responsible. Campaigns like "Eat meat once a week" would be a start. Just start making these things normal. The world will not change overnight. But significant changes need to start happening yesterday.
kay (new york)
The richest 10% of people produce half of Earth’s climate-harming fossil-fuel emissions, while the poorest half contribute a mere 10%.
Sherry (Washington)
@kay Yes, but notice how many people blame population growth for climate change. It's so twisted to blame those least responsible for the damage, and then to call on those least responsible to control their populations.
Midge (Cherry Hill, NJ)
This is a very misleading, fear mongering, xenophobic, take on climate change. There was a time that the population seemed like it would exceed the food supply and that was during the post war baby boom. The birth rate went down and we did not run out of food. There will be no Malthusian catastrophe, we as a society will adapt. We know for a fact that THE TOP 100 COMPANIES ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR 70+% OF CLIMATE CHANGE. Science and technology has advanced in a way that we will not run out of food. When I see a front page article that says "some authors of the report warned in interviews that food shortages could lead to an increase in cross-border migration." I see a loud (and wrong) xenophobic dogwhistle. Immigrants are not taking your food and have no place in the conversation about climate change. This is irresponsible reporting at best and at worst justifies children in cages. Do better.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Midge: It takes immigrants a generation or two to realize that children are a luxury, not an economic asset, in the US.
r a (Toronto)
Gee, did the Pope write this? Resolute as always in not mentioning overpopulation, which the MSM just loves to not talk about. 8 billion people too many? Never. It's all down to global warming. If everybody would just stop eating beef burgers and using plastic bags we could still save the planet.
Here’s another thing: how about the fact that the whole recycling process has been hit pretty hard lately? Did you know that much of recycling in America used to get packaged up and sent to China before the “trade war”? All those Amazon boxes, scraps of paper, and glass bottles. US single-stream centers would just bundle them up like hay bales and send them to China to be converted into raw materials. Why aren’t we doing that conversion here, in the US, so that we can have the raw materials from our own stuff? Why does China need to be involved at all? That’s an entire industry that the US just doesn’t have (relative to China), and it would save a ton of unnecessary transportation, import/export costs, and if such facilities could be built in the US from the ground up with sustainable/renewable energy usage in mind, put a HUGE DENT IN CHINA’S EMISSIONS! We know China is the largest polluter in the world, and if we depended less on them for things like this we could force China’s carbon footprint down in addition to our own in the States. But no one is talking about this. Not. One. Person. There are more strategies, too: to further reduce reliance on China, local automation to do things at even lower cost than foreign labor becomes very attractive. No space to elaborate, but cost & energy savings stand to be enormous. This also removes people from dangerous jobs (and we get solutions like Andrew Yang’s UBI). Plus there’s also regenerative farming & municipal compost bins.
james alan (thailand)
UN's own data says it's too late
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@james alan: The burning taiga of this summer will be followed by massive emissions of methane from melting tundra in a long anticipated positive feedback effect to rising temperatures.
Robert kennedy (Dallas Texas)
Maybe Malthus was right all along.
RCJCHC (Corvallis OR)
Capitalism leads us all down the road that benefit a few and kills off the many. Is this what we really want?
DecliningSociety (Baltimore)
The end of the world is coming and only voting for democrats can save us!
Moe (Def)
The Amazon Rain Forest is being destroyed in total by the Brazilians , and here in this country our forests are disappearing fast as logging even reaches into residential areas with nothing said. Gorgeous old neighborhood trees are cut down by new property owners because “ they are dirty” and untidy things. Some politicians give lip service to Climate Change, but little more. When will we get serious about the approaching change that none of us can use?
Manuela (Mexico)
OK, what does it take for the world to wake up? I am old. this won't affect me as it will the younger people and their offspring; all I can do is set an example with little steps, like bringing my own bag to the grocery store, compost my garden, add earthworms to the soil, and cut way down on meat consumption. But the next generation appears doomed.
@Manuela Well, I am also old but I do believe that the U.S., under PROPER LEADERSHIP can face the challenge as we did in the Sputnik age! We need the will. With that and resumed world involvement , the next generation will take hold of their responsibility. We sometimes need to have a reality check to make us take is the time!
Little Habes (NYC, NY)
@Manuela Global warming, probably. But other countries need to get their act together. Nobody talks about over-population and its effect on the resources of this planet. These other countries have no regard for their people and resources. That! is the big problem.
Donna (Chester Co., PA)
@Manuela, very well put, you said it for me.
Fredd R (Denver)
The only analogy is that we have become a cancerous species to the earth, consuming our host's resources and spewing out toxins. We codify and glorify continuous growth as a mark of our "success" without regard for the damage it causes. Our economic systems, as they are currently practiced, will consume all resources to depletion or collapse.
Kelly Mcgowan (New York)
Ahem, the science IS settled on this: more CO2, more plant life. This IS the fact. We already have the data and measurements that support the simple premise. There is no need to rely on complex computer models and simulations. The earth is observably greener over the past decades. Food crops production has increased 20-30 pct in most places. We may or may not want to eradicate CO2. However plants do not care if we label it a pollutant. They just go on their way growing faster. One of the indisputable facts is that we will and are getting more food partially from more CO2. To write an article that misses this basic science fact and turns this reality into a scare tactic is purely irresponsible.
Paul (NYC)
@Kelly Mcgowan: The other problematic greenhouse gas is methane from livestock and food waste. Methane is even more potent than CO2 (up to 86x, by some estimates) and it is something we can address immediately by eliminating animals from our diet. We cannot live entirely without transportation and industry but we absolutely can without eating animals. The impact would be monumental if we shift the supply/demand paradigm away from animal products. This is something we can each do as individuals. Let's act now and let the politicians catch up, as they have always had to do historically.
Teresa (Italy)
@Kelly Mcgowan more CO2 makes plants grow faster but with less nutrients. It is also said in the article. Read for example:
Paul Fisher (New Jersey)
@Kelly Mcgowan The science is, indeed, settled. And quite a bit more complex than you seem to be aware. In experiments it is found that even with no other limitations, excessive CO2 ultimately *reduces* plant growth. There is an optimum level control by leaf gas exchange, CO2 fertilization effect, rain acidification, soil chemistry modification and plant community diversity changes due to varying responses to CO2 elevation. Regardless, plant growth does not require just CO2. The deeper issue is plants require nutrients from increasingly exhausted soils, increasingly eroded soils for the nutrients to be in and fresh water that is either increasingly not present, contaminated with toxins, damaged through salt intrusion or too much, flooding fields. Your statement of what seems so "obviously" true is what happens when the uninformed think the small amount they know is all there is *to* know. You are incorrect, the authors of this article are correct.
Red Sox, ‘04, ‘07, ‘13, ‘18 (Boston)
Here's the problem with this doomsday warning: it was issued by the United Nations. Consider that the president of the United States of Acheron has disrespected and marginalized it, referring to it as a drain on the U.S. Treasury and its taxpayers. As long as Republicans are in charge here, there will be no movement on climate change. It is the world's foremost security crisis--here and everywhere else. When cattle starve and die of thirst, there will be no meat. When crops wither and die, there will be no vegetables. When the soil is either degraded by bio toxins or is destroyed by consuming fire, there will be no place to sow the fields. When the fish in the seas turn up on our beaches, white and belly-up, there will be one less access to a food source. And, of course, the degradation of our drinking water will continue apace. The Republicans want to exploit the earth for the profits of a very small percentage of wealthy individuals. For all of their supposed brains, they haven't the gift of either foresight or of generosity. They are not here alone. They can starve to death just like anyone else can. And will. When Donald Trump pulled the United States of America out of the Paris Climate Accord and turned us into the United States of Acheron, Republicans cheered. This is all making America great again. When the last Republican has died from starvation, perhaps someone will be left to turn off the lights. Perhaps a lone Republican will privatize starvation.
Stephen Csiszar (Carthage NC)
@Red Sox, ‘04, ‘07, ‘13, ‘18 I just love this, but ouch !!
Marge Keller (Midwest)
@Red Sox, ‘04, ‘07, ‘13, ‘18 Another brilliant comment, as sad but true as it is. It seems what humans can do at this point in time, at best, is slow down the inevitable. The most powerful woman in the world is Mother Nature and humans have messed with her to the point of no return. One of the most ironic aspects of today's Republicans is that they are so heck bent on destroying the environment merely for THEIR financial gain and yet is was one of their own, a Republican - Richard Nixon - who initiated and signed into law the Environmental Protection Agency act.
Matthew (Nj)
Agree with all. But here’s the problem with your comment: it’s not just Republicans, but rather EVERYONE is dependent on exploitation of the earth and the continued use of fossil fuels. We are all in a death grip of necessity. We all need to eat and be employed. You mess around with that imperative and you will massive upheaval and violence. So it seems we are in a real pickle. Oh, and plus it’s not just the US or “trump”. There’s a whole big world also responsible.
Jim Mc (Savannah)
I read somewhere recently that world population growth is somewhere in the vicinity of 70,000.000 per year. Thats like adding the population of Dallas Tx. every week ! Growth like that is unsustainable in even the medium term. Until and unless that changes there is very little reason for optimism about the future of the planet.
kay (new york)
@Jim Mc Growth Rate Population in the world is currently (2018-2019) growing at a rate of around 1.07% per year (down from 1.09% in 2018, 1.12% in 2017 and 1.14% in 2016). The current average population increase is estimated at 82 million people per year.
Carl M (West Virginia)
@Jim Mc . There's not any reason to worry about the future of the planet. The Earth will be fine until, eventually, it is consumed when the Sun grows in size during its final stages. The Earth has plenty of time to recover after humanity is gone. The real concern that people should talk about is humanity, and the living conditions we will face. Not the Earth.
Sab (Spain)
@Carl M, exactly. Mainstream media have been waking up to the threat at last, but they still skirt around the point and talk about the 'planet' instead of the increasing probability of human extinction or civilization collapse.
Erik Frederiksen (Oakland, CA)
A population of a few million human hunter-gatherers was apparently beyond the carrying capacity of the planet as most places where we showed up the megafauna disappeared. Around 10-12,000 years ago, when large climate oscillations settled down, we developed agriculture which allowed us to double our population many times into the billions. But agriculture faces big challenges if we don’t change our ways soon (1), as do our fisheries, and if they both decline significantly, forcing us back to being largely hunter-gatherers, history tells us that out of every 1,000 people you see maybe one survives. Except this time it won’t be meat on the hoof with mastodons, large flightless birds and picking lobsters off the beach. Going back to trying to hunt and gather during the 6th mass extinction isn’t the best timing so one in a thousand may be wildly optimistic. 1 IPCC Western N America drought 1900-2100
Phil Cafaro (Fort Collins, CO)
Not a single word on overpopulation in this article. Not. One. Word. The reporter finds room to mention a few dozen kinds of efficiency improvements, but nothing about what is really driving the problem: too many people. Birth control, not “greater appreciation of indigenous knowledge “ about agriculture, is the key to solving our food problems. To learn more about the causes and the solutions to overpopulation, visit the website of The Overpopulation Project.
So use protection and don’t have more than two kids? If the anti-abortion/anti-choice side of the argument is seriously going down the overpopulation route, they’re going to hit one heck of a hard brick wall with their arguments.
Barbara Franklin (Morristown NJ)
We either become vegans now, or we'll be eating Soylent Green in the future. BTW, that movie predicted this crisis for the year 2022. And Baby Boomers became the first Soylent Green when the oceans stopped producing plankton.
David Lindsay Jr. (Hamden, CT)
Thank you IPCC and Christopher Flavelle for reporting on their important work. The message is clear, all hands on deck. It appears in this short summary, the human population growth, perhaps the root cause, is still a taboo subjecct and off the table. It is time for the IPCC to address human population growth and call for zero or negative population growth. xxx David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at
Paul (California)
Blaming agriculture for exacerbating climate change is like blaming your stomach for making you hungry. Agriculture is an essential component of human civilization. Human civilization is causing climate change. Ask any farmer in the world right now and they will tell you food is too abundant and thus too cheap. So cheap that hardly anyone can make a living growing it. Yet consumers waste it -- proof of its low value. No one throws away something they value highly. As climate change progresses humanity will eventually have to put a higher value on the basic elements of survival -- food and water. As a civilization, we are still decades from that realignment of what is important to us.
OnABicycleBuiltForTwo (Tucson, AZ)
I'm so glad I never had children. I'd say I feel sorry for my sister's children, but she married a Trump voter.
Vintage Dogma (San Francisco)
We’re all going to die.
Miriam Osofsky (Hanover NH)
No time for pessimism— advocate for the Green New Deal,
Mr. B (Sarasota, FL)
Many have made worthy comments on what one can do as an individual to address climate change, but what is desperately needed is a top down, government directed mandate to replace fossil fuels, using the power of the public purse, taxation and subsidies to achieve that goal. Kinda like the effort it took to put a man on the moon 50 years ago, or win the Second World War. Make the Green New Deal your number one issue for the next election!
Joseph Louis (Montreal)
"They also call for shifts in consumer behavior, noting that at least one-quarter of all food worldwide is wasted".(NYT) People all over the world have no respect for animals. otherwise they wouldn't destroy their habitat with their bad "consumer behavior". The Shark, bison, rhino, elephant, and birds and bees and whales, to name e few, are disappearing at high speed as a I write these words and hundred of thousands of square miles of beautiful mature forests are clear cut daily for financial profits. God gave dominion to men over His creation. Looking after all living creatures on Earth, men were suppose to take care of it, not destroy it for money. However, men destroy and ravage everything for profit. Behaving this way, men will give themselves a terrible lesson they will never forget.
John Doe (Johnstown)
All those swarming that crowded stockyard in Nigeria definitely need to read this article, no doubt giving them real pause for thought about raising those steers to feed their families. I on the other hand need to hit the road with my car in order to get to work on time. We all have to do what we have to do and screw the climate if it doesn’t like it.
Ambassador Hugo Llorens (Marco Island, Florida)
One of the reasons that there is still so much skepticism about climate science is the gross exaggeration about its dangers. Flavelle's article's caption says Climate Change is a direct threat to the world's food supply. However, in reading the article is it evident that it is more related to agricultural practices, over-exploitation of the land, and the growth in population that is the main driver of the problem. Most people are not ignorant and can surmise that a warmer climate will contribute to the growth in plant life, and will really question Flavelle's reporting. More integrity is needed to a sober treatment of the whole question of man's impact on climate. The hysteria will ensure that millions will tune out.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Ambassador Hugo Llorens: Flooding from rising tides hasn't reached Marco Island yet? How high above sea level is your residence?
Most of these steps require a functioning domestic government in places where governance has traditionally been weak and corrupt.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@LR: Nothing facilitates defective government like populations stunted of nutrition and education.
Newsbuoy (Newsbuoy Sector 12)
I feel sorry of those unfortunate souls not in the shadow banking sector but that is the way it goes. My priority is to preserve asset value and as such I'm converting intangible assets (stocks, bonds, etc.) into a beautiful ocean side mansion on the south coast of Long Island. My friends are doing the same on other shores, in the mountains and on the plains. America, from sea to sea with waves of golden grains. You don't want me to cut back on the ornamental corn fields or groves of lavender do you? What will I tell Ben B., when he comes of for tea while soaking in my infinity pool by the sea? You want to take food out of my kids mouths or something? It's un-American. (que the George Carlin "Life is Worth Losing" clip)
Steve (SW Mich)
As I read this article, the phrase "America First" comes to mind. How many who embrace that phrase think about it in terms of.... whatever we can grab, whatever we can control, whatever we need to do to maintain OUR own quality of life is all that matters. Many will not look outside their own orbit of comfort because it doesn't affect them. How many won't make the connection between immigration and climate change? Understanding an issue does take mental effort, and many simply will not expend that effort, or stop short when it runs head on to their own self interests. I guess my point is that until we are directly and significantly impacted personally, we will choose to keep our heads in the sand. By the way, I can see the Trump admin all over this report, calling in their pseudo scientists to refute it, and banning it from Federal department websites.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
Even if there is a breakthrough in electrochemical synthesis of hydrocarbons from atmospheric CO2 and solar electricity, building out its infrastructure will entail sustained production of fossil fuels.
mariamsaunders (Toronto, Canada)
I was brought to tears by this article. One of the commenters said, " I see little hope for the planet." Better said, I see little hope for the human race. WE will not survive, but the planet will regenerate as it has done in the past after similar cataclysmic events - in this case the cataclysmic event is the failed human experiment.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@mariamsaunders: Less and less of what we know is published as books anymore, and all that is stored on the internet will be unreadable after a technological collapse.
mariamsaunders (Toronto, Canada)
@Steve Bolger My point is that perhaps the records of the human race, having proved itself an "unwise" caretaker of this wonderful planet, are better destroyed than preserved.
Mel (NYC)
Support local sustainable farms: The sustainable farmer is building soil. The big ag farmer is depleting it. The sustainable farmer is supporting pollinator ecosystems. The agro farmer is poisoning pollinators and planting mono crops that cannot sustain local pollinators. The rich lofty soil of a sustainable farm can withstand drought or too much rain. Big Ag farm depletes and pollutes water resources because the soil doesn't hold it.
Sarah99 (Richmond)
We need to quit blaming one party or another - this is a GLOBAL problem that in all likelihood is going to change our lives dramatically very soon - much sooner than we all think. We each need to start doing our own share - quit eating meat, don't tear down trees, plant more trees, conserve water, turn off the A/C, conserve energy, quit driving when we can walk or bike. These are mini things but this is going to be a crisis much sooner than we all think.
Sherry (Washington)
@Sarah99 If we don't blame Republicans they will continue to be elected and do nothing. Republicans have shown us over and over and over again, ever since Ronald Reagan ripped down Jimmy Carter's solar panels from the White House, that they are the party of fossil-fuel-or-bust. We need prudent and responsible leadership who listen to scientific warnings, who realize global treaties are required (instead of tearing them up), who will invest in green energy, and who will help lead the world in enacting conservation measures. Republicans will not do this.
kay (new york)
@Sarah99 The republicans deserve all the blame for denying the science and holding us up for decades in taking action. They have cost us millions of lives as they protected fossil fuel corp lies.
Mal Adapted (N. America)
@Sarah99 I agree this is a global problem, that should not be partisan. But the cause of rapid global warming is ultimately economic: the "Tragedy of the Commons". It results from our freedom to ignore the costs of the climate change we're causing when we pay for the energy we buy, and all other goods and services we consume. That makes it easy to pretend there are no such costs, and keep them out of our private budgets. They are instead paid for by other people, in money and tragedy, often far out of proportion to their own contributions to the problem. And while we'll all eventually pay for climate change one way or another, the greatest losses will tend to fall on those with the fewest resources to survive them, for t'was ever thus. Voluntary efforts to reduce one's private carbon footprint may add up to measurable emissions reduction, and shouldn't be disparaged as mere virtue-signalling if they encourage competitive virtue in others. They won't solve the problem on their own, sadly. Too few of us are willing to internalize enough of our costs in our household budgets. The political problem is that only collective intervention in the "free" market for energy, as with a carbon tax, can drive emissions to zero. When fossil fuel prices include their marginal climate-change cost, consumer thrift and the profit motive will build out the carbon-neutral economy within decades. The biggest losers will be fossil-fuel producers and investors. How could it not be politicized?
aries (colorado)
"Preventing global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius is likely to require both the widespread planting of trees as well as “substantial” bioenergy to help reduce the use of fossil fuels, the report finds." I am happy to see you clarified Dr. McElwee's advice on planting trees. Just last week I read at least two scientific articles about the earth having plenty of space to plant 1 trillion trees, an immediate solution to the climate crisis!
Joe Gagen (Albany, ny)
The headline to this story is very misleading, since the story suggests that climate change is exacerbating far more important problems in many of these areas of the world. The fact, however, is that most of these problems do not exist here in the U.S. Unfortunately, we happen to share the planet with billions of others who pay scant attention to water usage, clean air, modern agricultural methods, deforestation, the whole list. Unfortunately again, we can and do certainly aid many of these regions to improve how they use their resources, but in the end they have to help themselves. And this doesn’t even begin to address what’s happening in huge countries like China and India. If the Armageddon predicted in this report should ever come to pass, I would say we’d better be ready to defend our borders.
Ira Cohen (San Francisco)
GOP and Trump et al need to stop worrying about who or what has caused these changes and start finding some ways to deal with them, Though there are some studies that say we haven't hit the tipping point, seems that we probably have and now just have to see how we survive in a different future, For sure, arguing about it and putting off responses which mean billions of dollars worldwide is suicidal. Water will indeed be one of the most precious commodities despite our fixation on oil etc,
Ron Bloodworth (Portland, OR)
A nightmare scenario is unfolding for humanity and the pace of change will only increase. The inability of humanity to control population and live in harmony with each other and the natural world will be our downfall. Mass migration of populations in search of clean water and food will trigger violence on an unprecedented scale and the resulting chaos will lead to even greater violence and destruction. We ain’t seen nothing yet and humanity does not have the political will to make the hard decisions that need to made to prevent the doomsday scenario from happening. As a species, we’ve known about this for at least 50 years and what have we done? I’m 73 and will be dead soon. I pity and grieve for the future of humanity.
Robert Levin (cape Town)
Since 04/2017 I have been traveling the world, by public transportation and bicycle. What common pest have I noticed in urban areas far and wide? Traffic jams. People are not changing their behavior. I returned to Boston last week and in Medford at “rush hour”, alongside me as I cycled next to I-93, there was a parking lot of SOV’s (single occupancy vehicles). This, in one of the most “woke” and enlightened region in the country. What will it take?
Ken Nyt (Chicago)
This is certainly the most discouraging report I’ve read this year, made all the more gloomy by the knowledge that the leaderships of most of the world’s wealthiest nations are in utter downward disarray for the foreseeable future. It would seem that all the technological and scientific capabilities for which we’ve strived to achieve for a century are for naught. Well almost. We’ll be able to live stream our planet bake and starve to death.
Evan (Delaware)
Although the developed world has arguably contributed the most to the current climate crisis, the blame cannot only rest on them. Decades of poor policy, endemic violence/conflict, and greedy kleptocratic regimes across the developing world have left these countries impoverished and unable to cope with the climate crisis where it can best be solved, locally. The climate crisis requires a whole planet solution, and if we persist in the delusion that if Americans and Europeans just drive less and eat less, that these problems will solve themselves, ignores the systemic lack of governance where this problem is showing its worst effects.
Frank Scully (Portland)
Jay Inslee. He takes this all very seriously.
jes999 (Maine)
As usual, policymakers forget women. What about population control as a remedy to the food crisis? What about teaching women to have fewer children? What about teaching birth control methods? Bah, humbug on the patriarchy, the real source of much of human misery.
R.Kenney (Oklahoma)
what areas are going to be affected at the same time?
Kev (Sundiego)
An increasing population, not climate change, is the biggest threat to world food and water supplies. This point is purposely being glossed over in order to promote the Climate Change narrative from the UN. Just like the cause of wild fires in the US is primarily from human encroachment and forest mismanagement. Yes climate change plays a role but it’s tertiary to these more important causes. I’m not saying climate change isn’t real......
Marilyn (USA)
Someone really said here that when he looks into the eyes of his toddler he wonders what kind of a world he will be living in? Really? This news just hit you? Come on! It's not like the alarm bells haven't been ringing for over a decade dude. Sorry, but I'm a wee bit tired of the continuing human expansion as though it's somebody else that has to actually do something about it. As someone said somewhere, it's not about whether or not you are raising good kids or bad kids. It's about having them at all at this point.
Gustav Aschenbach (Venice)
Preparing for climate change is one of the existential threats that Progressives pose. The horror.
David (California)
Two words: population control. Either planned or catastrophic.
Marge Keller (Midwest)
The environment is in great peril these days and there is more than enough blame to go around for EVERYONE, regardless of party affiliation. I think the only group of people who would probably get a pass in my book are the Amish because they continue to live a simplistic life style in which they give back as much, if not more than what they reap from this earth. They truly work ALONGSIDE Mother Nature, not against her. But to be clear, the Times ran an extremely informative article on June 7th, entitled, “83 Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump”. He “has made eliminating federal regulations a priority. His administration, with help from Republicans in Congress, has often targeted environmental rules it sees as burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other big businesses.” That article is truly worthy of a second read, or even a first read if it was missed. So yes, while other past presidents are not blameless for their environmental actions/decisions, the current overwhelming number of environmental rules being rolled back by the current president cannot go unnoticed nor regarded as irrelevant. While Trump did not cause the present situation which is looming over everyone’s heads, he certainly is not helping nor preventing further irrevocable damage from occurring. I'm not looking to continue the blame game, but rather figure out a game plan that would benefit this deplorable dilemma we are facing other than removing Trump from office in 2020.
Sherry (Washington)
@Marge Keller Solving the problem requires understanding that Republicans are the problem. They watch Fox News which gave most of its airtime on climate to science deniers, turning Republicans into science deniers, too. Just think how much better off we would be if we had elected Al Gore in 2000. If we do not understand that electing Republicans has been our downfall, and elect Democrats instead, we are doomed.
Marge Keller (Midwest)
@Sherry I agree that they are the problem NOW and have been. However, they did not invent nor create the current situation. At the very least they serve as roadblocks in preventing further damage or preserving what there presently is. Removing them from office IS paramount. I just think it's equally important to recognize that no one is completely blameless in this overall nightmare. The first key step is making sure Trump does not win in 2020. That's the first hurdle that needs to be addressed and cleared. Meanwhile, Mother Nature is doing her level best to keep from coughing and choking on the continuing polluted air and water that will result in the 83+ EPA rollbacks.
Richard (Princeton, NJ)
I'm very pessimistic now about America uniting to prevent this oncoming disaster. Why? Because this has become a cultural issue in our country, not simply a matter of science and economics. Right-wing politicians have been too successful for too long in dismissing climate change as a hoax (or, at best, unproven); but even worse, they've succeeded in denigrating "green" initiatives as just petty projects that liberals want -- thus, reason enough for their constituents to oppose them. Hence the knee-jerk opposition to renewable energy programs, sustainable agricultural practices, mass transit expansion, etc. All the environmental science in the world won't help unless we actively bridge this cultural divide. We must convince greater numbers of voters that "Conservation is Patriotic" and "Green Goes with the Red, White and Blue."
Dave (Canada)
The migration of people from overpopulated countries is unavoidable. India is one country that is an example of a country that is overpopulated and relies on other countries immigration for population relief. I question if immigration policies are aiding countries of origin as an enabler. Are immigration policies enabling an unsustainable population growth? What is the UN policy on immigration and population growth? Is their view humanitarian or is it otherwise? The stress on food production is a result of human over reproduction, as such, what is the humanitarian advisal from the UN? In Canada we have lots of land and resources. Canada has an immigration policy where we gain quality workers and hard working people from around the world. Canada has immigration policies that welcome people. Many of my friends are new immigrants. Our economy depends on immigration as an integral part of our growth. But back to growth and a population growth question. Are countries that accept immigration enablers for world population over growth? Are immigration policies part of the solution or part of the problem?
Jim (MT)
It has been said that if you are an environmentalist you suffer a lifelong unhealable wound. The cause is over-population and over-consumption. People will not change this until they experience a tragedy. That is because science and knowledge is not nearly enough. We need political will and that is nowhere to be found. While I don't know, I suspect E.O. Wilson is correct. He said that 1/2 the earth needs to be left alone, allowing the ecosystem to remain stable. I also suspect we will only get to this balance through unimaginably gruesome contraction of the human population. It's too bad, but it is probably our fate.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Jim: The Earth is the limit to the scale-independence of Easter Islands.
Terry McKenna (Dover, N.J.)
We have spent so much effort to convince ourselves that oil and gas were more important than almost anything else. We even waste water in dry climates (like the great basin and texas) to pour water into the ground just to get more gas. Now we face a world where it will get hotter and so well watered land that does not need irrigation with be at a premium. But we continue on as we have.
See also