Climate Change Complications

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Food impacts not just our waistlines but also the environment in many startling ways- such as agriculture’s use of fossil fuels and its overall impact on climate change. In a separate UW course, State-Society Relations in Third World Countries, that has turned out to be surprisingly similar to this one, we’ve learned about petroleum extraction’s devastating effects on building up corrupt governments, destroying indigenous communities, and so on. Much attention in the discussion was brought to ceasing to drive cars as a means of protesting these activities. However, many were unaware that petroleum is a main ingredient in nitrogen-based fertilizers used in conventional farming. Beyond boycotting the car, one would have to boycott nonorganic farming in an effort to cut back on fossil fuel use. There is another movement to replace fossil fuels with biofuels, such as those based on corn. However, as Margulis points out, agrofuels are “strongly linked to food price volatility, food insecurity and land grabbing on a global-scale” (71). It turns out to be a not-so-green alternative after all.

There is also growing movement to eat more local food, because the thinking goes that the more miles a food has traveled, the higher amount of greenhouse gasses are emitted. However, Carolan points out that many other factors can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, such as growing a food in an unfavorable climate. Thus, produce that grows easily and naturally in Kenya is much more difficult to cultivate in Britain; all of the extra energy put into growing such items in Britain for British consumers in fact contributes more to global warming than the shipping of the items from Kenya (Carolan 117). We thus have to see agriculture, fossil fuels, and global warming in the many ways they are linked instead of viewing it as a linear process.


Works Cited:


Carolan, Michael. “Cheap Food, Hunger, and Obesity.” The Real Cost of Cheap Food.

Earthscan, 2011.


Margulis, Matias. “Regulating Food-Based Agrofuels: The Prospects and Challenges of

International Trade Rules.” Canadian Food Studies / La Revue Canadienne des Études Sur l’Alimentation, vol. 2, no. 2, 2015, pp. 97-106.








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