We can debate whether climate change is real or caused by humans. Most people have moved beyond debate and see it as fact, but feel free to continue to debate if you want. One thing that we cannot and should not debate is that weather events are affecting real people today.
This is true of acute and short-term events, like the recent flooding in the Carolinas. There are also chronic and ongoing effects of weather events and changing weather patterns around the world. A recent Smithsonian article reports on efforts of big chocolate companies to collaborate in order to save chocolate, which is widely seen as at risk in areas that are increasingly hot. While the article recognizes the benefit of such collaboration to big chocolate brands and consumers of chocolate, what was left unacknowledged is that it is the small-scale farmers whose crop is at risk who are most likely to suffer the most as their wages, already at poverty levels in better times, begin to dwindle.
Coffee farmers are suffering also. Harriet Lamb, CEO of Fairtrade International, reports farmers in Guatemala have seen their harvests drop by 40% due to weather changes.
Farmers of some of the world’s most popular commodities are in trouble, which has led Fairtrade International to launch a new climate initiative. Brands who work with small-scale farmers, like Equal Exchange, are also taking action.
Farmworkers, too, are feeling the effects of rising temperatures. Heat stroke is the leading cause of death among farmworkers. Last year (2014) was a record-breaking year in terms of heat, and 2015 is already on track to break a new record. This may explain the rising death toll for US farmworkers.
Yesterday people across the country, in hundreds of events, called for action to address this climate crisis. Among them were food and agricultural activists, including farmworker groups. It is time to stop talking about what is causing weather patterns to change and how they may change in the future, and start taking action on behalf of people like farmers and farmworkers who are feeling the financial and health effects of extreme and changing weather today.
Even if you missed yesterday’s Day of Action, you can still get involved. Visit our campaign for climate, food, and farm justice to learn more and take action.