Food Production and the “New Normal”
BY EVELYN BROWNING GARRISS0
One of the major issues reported by the Browning Newsletter over the past two years is the huge impact of the changed Pacific on global weather and food supplies. Scientific research indicates a huge long-term cycle in the Pacific tipped in 2006 (some claim it changed in 1999), changing phases and changing the distribution of water temperatures throughout northern and tropical regions of the ocean. This, in turn, has changed air temperatures and air pressures, which altered global wind and weather patterns.
I recently gave a speech and power point presentation outlining some of the impact of these weather changes on food and agriculture. This article will show many of the slides. The changes in precipitation patterns created by the negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) have made some agricultural areas more productive and others more drought-prone. The maps will show which areas of the globe will be facing major changes.
When precipitation shifts, so do farm belts. For the period of time that it takes agricultural societies to adapt to the changes, agricultural production suffers and food prices go up. Notably, now that the Pacific is in a cooler (and therefore drier) phase off the coasts of North and South America, the disruptive weather impacts of cool Pacific La Niñas are even greater. The droughts and soaring food prices during the 2007 – 2008, 2010 – 2011 and 2011 – 2012 La Niñas have shown how disruptive these weather changes can be.