I received yesterday a powerpoint about food security and climate change from Dr. Julie Cliff, a friend of mine who has worked in tropical medicine in Mozambique for the last 30 years. Her powerpoint had a dramatic image of cassava plants grown in laboratory conditions at different atmospheric concentrations of CO2 (shown below). Cassava is a staple crop whose tubers are consumed across southern and central Africa. The plants grown at higher concentrations of CO2 produced tubers with less than half of the useful food of the plants grown at lower CO2 concentration.
Yesterday I also met an economist who showed me some modelling that predicted the effect a $50 per tonne carbon price would have on the cost of employment across a range of sectors, such as manufacturing, banking and insurance, etc. Typically the cost was around $2,000 per employee – or in other words the modelling was predicting that business expenses would increase by $2,000 per employee if we had a carbon price of $50 a tonne.
These two viewpoints clearly show the apparent climate change challenge – one which shows that the response to climate change could be expensive, the other that not acting could have dire consequences for food security in southern and central Africa. This is the classic argument that I referred to in my first blog post – the climate change challenge is framed in a way that we lose economically if we act to limit greenhouse gas emissions now – but if we don’t act we will lose in the future.
So what is my climate positive take on this? More in my next posting – and comments welcome.