Our deteriorating economy pages – Permanent loss of forest resources from climate change

In this installment of Our Economy, Deteriorating, I thought it important to examine the degradation of the USA’s physical wealth, its natural resources. I am not one of those who use the phrase “environmental services” which is taken to mean that nature exists to provide “services” to humankind, and these “services” can be quantized, given a dollar value, and that this dollar value is then used to impress on businessmen and politicians the importance of “save the earth” as policy.

In this ongoing series about the myriad causes for the deterioration, the breakdown, of the USA’s economy, we’re looking at Roubini’s “Deadly Drivers for a Greater Depression of the Decade of the 2020s.” I would rather put the information in this installment to use in convincing people that it is time for us to organize ourselves in such a way as to survive the onslaught of numerous intertwined economic crises. I think it is true, as Art Berman and Nate Hagens state, that the growth paradigm is dead, or rapidly dying. The loss of forest resources — whether it is the board-feet of lumber that won’t be harvested, or the pulp wood that won’t become paper or cardboard or other forest products, or the connection with nature, the peace and serenity which people seek when they head for the forest lands — is a major warning of a shrinking economy, a death-economy, not a growth economy.

What we must organize for is a new economic system sustaining a new kind of society which has as its mission regeneration. A regeneration of entire ecosystems degraded and destroyed by the growth paradigm of the past 500 years of human activity driven by colonial social systems. The preservation and restoration of biodiversity across the planet. Some means of feeding the human population that don’t entail Daniel Quinn’s term, “Totalitarian Agriculture” which dominates and wipes out other species of life so as to feed the people.

So this installment focuses on the loss of natural resource wealth, real wealth not paper wealth, of the U.S. economy. The nation has long prided itself on having a vast store of natural resources embodied in vast tracts of forest lands, much of which has been public lands. This vast store of wealth is diminishing under the effects of irreversible climate change, and is not going to be readily rebuilt.

Nearly two decades after the 2002 Hayman fire in Colorado, this high-severity burn area near Cheesman Lake is still treeless.
Michael Elizabeth Sakas/CPR News

In both the mass media and in the peer-reviewed literature on forests, numerous citations can be found of the permanent damage that has happened and is happening now in the western U.S. forest lands.

As Wildfires Grow More Intense, Iconic Western Forests May Not Come Back

September 13, 2020 7:00 AM ET
Michael Elizabeth Sakas Colo Public Radio

““What we’re seeing is a very large high-severity burn patch, where the vast majority of the trees have died,” says Chambers, with the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute at Colorado State University.

“Some regeneration may be occurring, but certainly not enough to recreate a forest in the near term,” Chambers says. She and her colleagues have found that forests are struggling to grow back some of the state’s most iconic species, like ponderosa pine and Douglas fir.

High-severity fires leave behind massive burn areas with almost nothing alive. And any baby trees simply can’t thrive in the increased heat and drought brought on by climate change.

“Imagine being a ponderosa pine seed trying to grow out here,” Chambers says. “It’s a pretty intense environment.”

Beyond the degradation of our nation’s natural resources, there is the additional alarming feedback loop that permanently-deforested regions will provide for further climate change; the ability of the landscape to sequester, to store, carbon, and keep it out of the atmosphere is being impaired.

Forests become grasslands, and that’s bad for carbon emissions

For areas that can’t regenerate, research has found they may instead convert to grasslands.

Camille Stevens-Rumann, also of Colorado State University, says there can be lots of benefits to having patches of grasslands between forested areas. But it’s a problem “where we’re talking about tens of thousands of acres that have transitioned from forest to grasslands.”

One major concern is that trees sequester carbon. Fewer trees will capture less carbon, which means more warming, and therefore fewer trees, in a cycle that will make it hard to reach carbon neutrality.

Thomas Veblen, of the University of Colorado Boulder, says this poses a problem for tree replanting efforts touted as a way to combat climate change.

“Trees need moisture to survive, and they simply are not going to be surviving in the many, many places where we would like to have them planted and sequestering carbon,” he says.

Stevens-Rumann has studied a large range of burned forests across the West and found some areas no longer able to support the same trees that have been there for one or two centuries.

See: As Wildfires Grow More Intense, Iconic Western Forests May Not Come Back

This study by Rammer et al. discusses the regeneration failure of forests (inability to re-grow as they formerly existed) in the Greater Yellowstone area of the USA. One of our national treasures, shown in this study to lose much of its “treasure” status.

Widespread regeneration failure in forests of Greater Yellowstone under scenarios of future climate and fire

Werner Rammer, Kristin H. Braziunas, Winslow D. Hansen, Zak Ratajczak, Anthony L. Westerling, Monica G. Turner, Rupert Seidl
in Global Change Biology 02 July 2021


We focused on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (2.9 × 106 ha of forest) in the Rocky Mountains of the USA, which has experienced large wildfires in the past and is expected to undergo drastic changes in climate and fire in the future. We simulated four climate scenarios until 2100 at a fine spatial grain (100 m). Both wildfire activity and unstocked forest area increased substantially throughout the 21st century in all simulated scenarios. By 2100, between 28% and 59% of the forested area failed to regenerate, indicating considerable loss of resilience. Areas disproportionally at risk occurred where fires are not constrained by topography and in valleys aligned with predominant winds. High-elevation forest types not adapted to fire (i.e., Picea engelmannii–Abies lasiocarpa as well as non-serotinous Pinus contorta var. latifolia forests) were especially vulnerable to regeneration failure. We conclude that changing climate and fire could exceed the resilience of forests in a substantial portion of Greater Yellowstone, with profound implications for carbon, biodiversity, and recreation.

More work by Camille S. Stevens-Rumann on the matter of forest regeneration appears in the journal Fire Ecology. Her conclusions were similar to those in the Rammer et al. article.


Few or no tree seedlings are establishing on some areas of the 150+ forest fires sampled across western US, suggesting that forests may be replaced by shrublands and grasslands, especially where few seed source trees survived the wildfires. Key information gaps on how species will respond to continued climate change, repeated disturbances, and other site factors following wildfires currently limit our ability to determine future trends in forest regeneration. We provide a decision tree to assist managers in prioritizing post-fire reforestation. We emphasize prioritizing the interior of large burned patches and considering current and future climate in deciding what, when, and where to plant trees. Finally, managing fires and forests for more seed-source tree survival will reduce large, non-forested areas following wildfires where post-fire management may be necessary.

Haffey et al. further examine the phenomenon that because of the extreme drought conditions persisting over lage areas of the U.S. southwest, forests may be transitioning to shrublands/grasslands.

Limits to Ponderosa Pine Regeneration following Large High-Severity Forest Fires in the United States Southwest

Collin Haffey, Thomas D. Sisk, Craig D. Allen, Andrea E. Thode & Ellis Q. Margolis
(Collin Haffey listed as corresponding author)
Fire Ecology 14, 143-163 (2018)


Thus, these large, recent high-severity burn patches, many of which are devoid of any surviving conifer trees post fire (i.e., no on-site seed source for obligate seeders like ponderosa pine), also have been recovering under hot and dry post-fire climate conditions. In response to this combination of historically unprecedented factors, these recent high-severity burn areas may be following post-fire ecological trajectories that move away from persistent forest conditions, transitioning instead toward shrublands or grasslands (i.e., type conversion). Our study examines this hypothesis.

Number of acres burned over the prior 38 years, nationwide

National Interagency Fire Center has a web page which shows the number of acres burned during each of the past 38 years, going back to 1983. You may note that beginning around 1990, the number of acres burned per year has risen alarmingly. The 2020 total of 10.1 million acres is over three times the 1991 acreage. That is, 15,781 square miles of U.S. land underwent wildfires in 2020.

“Wildfires and Acres: Total Wildland Fires and Acres (1983-2020)

Prior to 1983, the federal wildland fire agencies did not track official wildfire data using current reporting processes. As a result, there is no official data prior to 1983 posted on this site.

Our conclusion

It seems clear that this pattern of persistent long and hotter droughts accompanying the post-tipping point climate change which the USA / the planet are experiencing, is bringing the degradation of the natural resource wealth of the USA. Grasslands and shrublands are not going to be bearing forest products for the USA’s “growth economy.” Rather, in decades to come, we will be experiencing a shrinkage economy with respect to physical resources. It is our contention in posting this series of blog posts, that no amount of paper-wealth growth (stock and bond markets, expansion of consumer debt toward infinity, etc.) can compensate for the physical damages and the future limits to growth which climate change impacts on the energy system will bring.

Peer-reviewed literature search: “Climate change wildfires and forest regeneration

(17,000 items in list)

Our economy deteriorating pages—Climate change brings natural gas shortages

Back in April 2020, just as the scope and depth of the Covid-19 pandemic was becoming evident (except in the USA’s White House), Nouriel Roubini wrote his piece “Ten Reasons Why a Greater Depression for the 2020s is Inevitable.” We refer to his ten deadly drivers of this depression scenario in Part I of this series. During the course of this series on signs of economic system breakdown, we will delve into these factors.

(October 7, 2021 updates to this Aug. 25th post at bottom of page).

Part One of this series referenced Roubini’s statement that “you finish with deadly, manmade disasters like pandemics and climate change–they’re not natural disasters, but as we know are manmade.”

During 2020 and 2021 we began to find in the financial media pages, a number of stories which showed the impact of climate-change-related events on the actual supply of natural gas in the global economy. Gas shortages had developed around the world and because of the global nature of energy trade, this impacted even the United States, which has grown the natural gas supply enormously since 2010 owing to the development of fracking for tight oil and natural gas.

This story appeared prophetically in January, 2021, a month prior to the enormous disruption wrought by a “freak winter storm” that struck Texas and brought down the power grids in that state, along with shutting down much refinery activity and even oil and gas drilling sites.

From Oil and Gas Middle East-dot-com, in January 2021

A vicious circle: How climate change increased the need for fossil fuels and their profitability in 2021

by Staff Writer January 24, 2021

As the climate is changing, the Arctic is warming four times faster than global averages, causing the circumpolar Jetstream to weaken and move southwards. Consequently, freezing cold air masses – known as the Polar Vortex – descend to more densely populated areas in the earth’s Northern Hemisphere, where humans have no other immediate choice but to increase fossil fuel consumption to keep warm.

Analyzing global temperatures and related weather phenomena, Rystad Energy believes that the increased frequency of this weather pattern – which has caused a rise in demand for coal, liquefied natural gas (LNG), electricity and even a bit of oil – is here to stay. Recent eye-popping price spikes and their spread between summer and winter will widen, especially for gas, both natural and liquefied.

With European and Asian markets hungry for natural gas and LNG, storage levels are getting depleted. And with the Polar Vortex expected to create another cold snap in February, a perfect demand storm will likely cause a spike in global demand and contribute to a 4% rise in LNG consumption this year, reaching about 377 million tonnes (MT) in 2021 versus 363 MT in 2020.

Europe Faces an Energy Shock After Gas and Power Prices Rocket


Josefine Fokuhl, John Ainger and Isis Almeida

August 5, 2021·5 min read

(Bloomberg) — After lockdowns forced Basel Hamzeh to close his cafe in a trendy Berlin neighborhood for months, the 53-year-old is confronting a fresh crisis: high energy bills.

The cost of natural gas and electricity has surged across Europe, reaching records in some countries, as businesses re-open and workers return to the office. In Germany, wholesale power prices have risen more than 60% this year, leaving the owner of the Frau Honig cafe in Friedrichshain with no option but to raise prices of everything from cappuccinos to cinnamon rolls.

“The higher power prices were a double whammy after our cafe was forced to close for such a long time, doing only takeaway during the pandemic,” he said. “We just had to pass on the costs to customers.”

Energy prices are rising around the world as the global economy emerges from the pandemic, fueling concerns about inflation. In Europe, plans to decarbonize the economy are also playing a part as utilities pay near-record prices to buy the pollution permits they need to keep producing power from fossil fuels.

Add to that shortages of natural gas and the result is super-charged electricity prices, a bill consumers will eventually have to foot. Spain was already forced to cut energy taxes as power prices rose to a record, and the U.K. is expected to allow utilities to increase bills a second time this year, a move that will be announced Friday and affects 15 million people.

Natural Gas Price Prediction – Prices Rise on Strong Power Generation Demand

David Becker
Mon, July 26, 2021, 2:03 PM

Natural gas prices continued to break out to fresh contract highs but finished well off the peak of the day. Prices hit a new contract high at $4.18 per MMbtu easing to close up 1% for the day. Warmer than normal weather is expected to cover most of the United States over the next 6-10 and 8-14 days. According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, there is one tropical storm in the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico that has a 10% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone over the next 48-hours. U.S. consumption of natural gas rose 1% in the latest week.

Technical Analysis

Natural gas prices continued to rally on Monday. The August contract closed at an all-time high for the 6th consecutive trading session. Target resistance is now the 2018 highs at 4.92. Support is seen near 10-day moving average at 3.84. Short-term momentum has turned positive as the fast stochastic generated a crossover buy signal. Prices are overbought. The current reading on the RSI is 79 above the overbought trigger level of 70 which could foreshadow a correction. Medium-term momentum has turned positive as the MACD (moving average convergence divergence) index generated a crossover buy signal. This occurs as the MACD line crosses above the MACD signal line. The MACD histogram also generated a crossover buy signal.

Power Generation Drives Demand

Natural gas consumption in the electric power sector drives total consumption higher. Total U.S. consumption of natural gas rose by 1.5% compared with the previous report week, according to data from the EIA. Natural gas consumed for power generation climbed by 3.3% week over week as much of the West and Northern Plains continued to experience higher-than-normal temperatures.

This article was originally posted on FX Empire

The Era of Cheap Natural Gas Ends as Prices Surge by 1000%

Anna Shiryaevskaya, Stephen Stapczynski and Ann Koh
August 6, 2021

(Bloomberg) — The era of cheap natural gas is over, giving way to an age of far more costly energy that will create ripple effects across the global economy.

Natural gas, used to generate electricity and heat homes, was abundant and cheap during much of the last decade amid a boom in supply from the U.S. to Australia. That came crashing to a halt this year as demand drastically outpaced new supply. European gas rates reached a record this week, while deliveries of the liquefied fuel to Asia are near an all-time high for this time of year.

By 2024, demand is forecast to jump 7% from pre-Covid-19 levels, according to the International Energy Agency. Looking further out, the appetite for liquefied natural gas is expected to grow by 3.4% a year through 2035, outpacing other fossil fuels, according to an analysis by McKinsey & Co.

Surging natural gas prices means it will be costlier to power factories or produce petrochemicals, rattling every corner of the global economy and fueling inflation fears. For consumers, it will bring higher monthly energy and gas utility bills. It will cost more to power a washing machine, take a hot shower and cook dinner.

It’s especially bad news for poorer nations like Pakistan and Bangladesh that reworked entire energy policies on the premise that the fuel’s price would be lower for longer.

European natural gas rates have surged more than 1,000% from a record low in May 2020 due to the pandemic, while Asian LNG rates have jumped about six-fold in the last year. Even prices in the U.S., where the shale revolution has significantly boosted production of the fuel, have rallied to the highest level for this time of year in a decade.

Updates – October 7 2021

Goldman Warns of Blackout Risk for European Industry This Winter

Elena Mazneva and Javier Blas
Wed, September 15, 2021, 9:47 AM
Bloomberg News

Europe’s soaring energy markets are exposing the risk of power blackouts this winter, especially if freezing weather worsens the region’s already exceptionally low natural gas inventories, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

While higher gas prices can trigger supply and demand adjustments to offset the tight market, these are largely already priced in, Goldman analysts including Samantha Dart said in a note. As a result, a colder-than-average winter would mean Europe needing to compete with Asia for supplies of liquefied natural gas, driving prices even higher.

And there’s a “non-negligible risk” that LNG directed to Europe won’t be enough to prevent a depletion of gas inventories by the end of winter, especially if weather is cold in both Europe and Asia, the analysts said.

“Under such an outcome, the only balancing mechanism would be a significant further rally in European gas and power prices reflective of the need to destroy demand, with curtailed power demand in the industrial sector through blackouts,” they said.

This scenario from the bank adds to mounting concerns about an energy crisis in Europe, just as economies recover from the pandemic.

Gas-Starved Europe Can’t Look West as U.S. Faces Its Own Crunch

Joe Carroll and Gerson Freitas Jr
September 28, 2021· Bloomberg News

For a multitude of reasons, U.S. shale is in no position to bail out Europe. Indeed, supplies are so tight that Americans are staring down their own supply squeeze — and the accompanying sky-high utility bills.U.S. stockpiles haven’t been replenished as much as usual in recent months after summer heatwaves sent energy demand soaring and the post-pandemic industrial recovery diverted fuel to power plants and factories. Meanwhile, many major shale drillers have been funneling cash to shareholders and focusing on climate goals rather than boosting production.
The result: There’s very little supply cushion in the U.S., and whatever is available for export as liquefied natural gas is going to be fought over — not just by desperate European importers, but also by buyers in Asia, who face an energy crunch of their own and are willing to pay a premium.

Europe’s Energy Crisis Is Coming for the Rest of the World, Too

Millions of people around the globe will feel the impact of soaring natural gas prices this winter.

By Stephen Stapczynski, Bloomberg Businessweek
Sept. 26, 2021

Nations are more reliant than ever on natural gas to heat homes and power industries amid efforts to quit coal and increase the use of cleaner energy sources. But there isn’t enough gas to fuel the post-pandemic recovery and refill depleted stocks before the cold months. Countries are trying to outbid one another for supplies as exporters such as Russia move to keep more natural gas home. The crunch will get a lot worse when temperatures drop.

The crisis in Europe presages trouble for the rest of the planet as the continent’s energy shortage has governments warning of blackouts and factories being forced to shut.

The spike has forced some fertilizer producers in Europe to reduce output, with more expected to follow, threatening to increase costs for farmers and potentially adding to global food inflation. In the U.K., high energy prices have forced several suppliers out of business.

Analysis: Global natural gas price surge looms for United States this winter

Scott DiSavino
Mon, October 4, 2021,
Reuters News

(Reuters) – Regional natural gas markets in the United States are seeing prices for this winter surge along with global record highs – suggesting that the energy bills causing headaches in Europe and Asia will hit the world’s top gas producer before long.

Gas prices in Europe and Asia have more than tripled this year, causing manufacturers to curtail activity from Spain to Britain and sparking power crises in China.

The United States has been shielded from that global crunch because it has plenty of gas supply, most of which stays in the country since U.S. export capacity is still relatively small.

The benchmark U.S. natural gas contract has been rallying, lately hitting seven-year highs, but its $5.62 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) price is a far cry from the $30-plus being paid in Europe and Asia.

However, the U.S. market is worried about the coming cold, particularly in New England and California – where prices for gas to be delivered this winter are far above the nationwide benchmark. In New England, buyers are expecting gas to cost more than $20 per mmBtu.

High winter prices are nothing new for New England and California, where the limited number of pipelines into both regions regularly become constrained on the coldest days. But this winter could be worse.

Stories such as these illustrate that the impact of geophysics, the Earth System, on our human economy is here and now. It is not a matter of when these impacts will be felt, any longer, but rather, how will our societies respond?

In a lower-income / moderate income region such as our North-Central Wisconsin, the impacts of natural gas shortages will be felt first, and hardest, by our elder population who depend on gas furnaces to maintain heat in their housing units during winter. Also impacted will be low-income workers and their children who pay their own utilities in rental units where the rent is already “too damn high.” Add in disabled persons trying to maintain independent housing. In summer months, elders will again be impacted by the need to maintain livable temperatures when temperatures rise beyond the level which is healthy for them, and they cannot afford the electric bills for air conditioning, when their electric utility burns natural gas to provide their electricity?

How can a society such as ours, which failed to come together to protect itself from a deadly pandemic, come together to handle the degradation of the energy substrate that underlies and powers the entire economic system of the society? If we understand both climate change and pandemics as deadly manmade disasters, how are we going to respond to the climate disasters better than we responded to the viral disaster?

These are the questions that we hope our North-Central Wisconsin people will begin to ask themselves, to take seriously, and to act on, in a unified and well-planned manner. These are matters that require very long-term planning, on the time-scale of decades, not 2-year Congressional election cycles. Are our communities going to be able to work together on such huge long timelines?

These are questions we need to be asking ourselves now

Our economy deteriorating pages: Climate change impacts on food supply

In his writing and interviews of early 2020, just as the Covid pandemic was developing into a global public health and economic crisis, Nouriel Roubini predicted a “Greater Depression for the Decade of the 2020s.” This caught our attention and we returned to his predictive warnings throughout the past 18 months since he first made them.

The brief summary of these “ten deadly drivers” appears in a short Yahoo Finance video, worth watching.

New York University’s Stern School of Business Professor of Economics & Roubini Macro Associates, LLC CEO Nouriel Roubini joins Yahoo Finance’s Julia La Roche to break down his economic outlook and recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic.[1]
June 29, 2020. Video link here

and I pointed out there were ten deadly drivers of this disruption and economic deficiencies. This started after the Global Financial Crisis, but they are being exacerbated by this Coronavirus crisis. Things like

1. Tax deficits and default.

2. Poor demographics is going to be a big liability.

3. Or initially deflation followed by debasement of currencies–debasement as we monetize the fiscal deficits; we’re going to end up, eventually with inflation.

4. We have features of disruption with A.I. and automation.

5. And then, rising inequality.

6. And then you have de-globalization, as there is a backlash against trade, immigration and open markets.

7. And then you have a democracy backlash.

8. And then from there you go to this duopolistic rivalry between the U.S. and China,

9. and the digital rivalry between U.S. and China as well.

10. And you finish with deadly, manmade disasters like pandemics and climate change–they’re not natural disasters, but as we know are manmade.

You combine these ten forces–and they’re all very disruptive–and you might have, eventually, a greater depression. But this is not the story for this year or next, but for the middle of the decade.

In keeping up with current events, the years 2020 and 2021 were filled with news stories highlighting the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the U.S. and global economy. In 2021 we began to see a number of stories which were highlighting the impacts of another human-made crisis: the effects of climate change on food supplies and the prices of food. Here is a brief run-down of some recent headlines that illustrate how the manmade crisis of global climate change is going to impact the hunger and poverty situation in the USA, particularly among the bottom 40% of our population.

The piece from Mongabay raises alarm over the second manmade crisis Roubini mentions, the impact of climate change–in particular the impact on food supply for the world’s people.

Mongabay Series: Agroecology, Covering Climate Now, Covering the Commons, Planetary Boundaries

A world of hurt: 2021 climate disasters raise alarm over food security”

by Sue Branford and Glenn Scherer on 4 August 2021

Human-driven climate change is fueling weather extremes — from record drought to massive floods — that are hammering key agricultural regions around the world.

  • From the grain heartland of Argentina to the tomato belt of California to the pork hub of China, extreme weather events have driven down output and driven up global commodity prices.
  • Shortages of water and food have, in turn, prompted political and social strife in 2021, including food protests in Iran and hunger in Madagascar, and threaten to bring escalating misery, civil unrest and war in coming years.
  • Experts warn the problem will only intensify, even in regions currently unaffected by, or thriving from the high prices caused by scarcity. Global transformational change is urgently needed in agricultural production and consumption patterns, say experts.

Crop yield reductions were noted by Producer-dot-com, which used the tem “disaster”, mentioning drought and flooding as causes, but did not go in the direction of linking these events to the increasing impact of climate change itself.

Crop failure story Jul 27

The trade was shaken by the July 12 U.S. Department of Agriculture monthly supply and demand estimate that pegged American spring wheat production at only 345 million bushels, down 41 percent from last year.

The disaster playing out in the northern part of this continent’s grain belt is finally making itself felt on crop futures markets.

The headline stories from 2021 are alarming, but there have been many warning stories over the past decade and before. For example, this September, 2019 story from Yale Climate Connnections–

A brief guide to the impacts of climate change on food production
by Daisy Simmons September 18, 2019

It all amounts to far more than anecdotal inconvenience: The U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Fourth National Climate Assessment report projects that warming temperatures, severe heat, drought, wildfire, and major storms will “increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity,” threatening not only farmers’ livelihoods but also food security, quality, and price stability.

Climate change poses not just one but a whole slew of challenges to farmers – and to the larger communities that depend on them for food. From erratic precipitation to changing seasons, consider just these five key climatic changes and how they stand to affect food availability now and in the future:

1) More extreme weather can harm livestock and crops. Major storms have always devastated farms, whether from damaging winds during a storm, or erosion and landslides that can rear up even as the storm subsides. But now they’re becoming even more common. In spring 2018, for example, unusually heavy rain and snow storms caused massive flooding across the U.S. Midwest, leaving some areas 10 feet deep in sand. In Nebraska alone, farmers lost an estimated $440 million of cattle. As a result of these flooding conditions, many farmers had to delay spring planting. Delays in commodity crops like corn and soybeans aren’t just stressful for farmers, either – they could lead to food price volatility and even potential food insecurity.

2) Water scarcity across the U.S. Southwest makes it more expensive and difficult to sustain crops and livestock. Drought is in the long-term outlook across the U.S. West, with declining snowpack making it more challenging to keep reservoirs full through summer. Lack of adequate water can easily damage or destroy crops, dry up soil, and threaten livelihoods. Between 2014-2016, for example, California endured an estimated $3.8 billion of direct statewide economic losses to agriculture as a result of drought.

3) Seasons aren’t what they used to be. Growing seasons are starting earlier and getting hotter in a warming climate. A longer growing season, over time, could theoretically have some advantages, but it also presents more obstacles in the short term, such as an uptick in pest populations is possible, with more generations possible per year. Early spring onset can also cause crops to grow before the soil holds enough water and nutrients, or to ruin fruit crops that bud early and then experience later spring frost. Plus, warmer winters can affect other farming practices like grain storage.

Parched and fire-damaged ag fields pose mounting challenges to farmers and consumers.

4) Wildfire can devastate farms – even when the flames don’t actually reach them. Ranchers across the West have recently seen major losses as a result of worsening fire seasons, from outright loss of life to charred grazing lands and decimated hay stocks. What’s more, “secondary impacts” abound, from a smoky taint that can ruin wine, to the ordeal of keeping a farm operational when fires are raging nearby and evacuation orders seem just around the corner. All this also causes costs to mount given that the respiratory dangers of laboring in smoky, excessively hot conditions can force farms to send workers home in the height of harvest season.

5) Warmer weather and rising CO2 levels adversely affect food supply, safety and quality. According to a 2019 IPCC land use report, between 25 and 30 percent of the food produced worldwide is wasted, not all of it for the same reasons. In developed countries, for instance, consumers, sometimes seemingly with abandon, simply discard what they see as “excess” or “surplus” food. In developing countries, much of the waste is brought about by a lack of refrigeration as products go bad between producers and consumers. The IPCC report estimates that food waste costs about $1 trillion per year and accounts for about 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from food systems. Meanwhile, some two-billion humans worldwide are overweight or obese even as nearly one billion are undernourished, highlighting the inefficiencies and inequities in food distribution.

Going back a bit further in time we note this story from 2014,

Climate change already impacting food supplies, says UN report

March 31, 2014 / 3:08 PM / CBS/AP

“Climate change is happening, the signs of it, the impacts, are detectible already,” says Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, lead author of the UN’s latest report on climate change. “If you live in a city, if you live along the coast, or if you eat to live, this is a problem you have to worry about.”

A review of scientific research conducted since 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report definitively concludes that the effects of climate change are already impacting everything from global safety to food supplies.

“There is no one on Earth who escapes the effects of climate change,” Oppenheimer told CBS News. The most pressing matter, he said, is food supply.

A warmer world will push food prices higher, trigger “hotspots of hunger” among the world’s poorest people, and put a crunch on supplies of Western delicacies like fine wine and robust coffee, according to the 32-volume report issued Monday.

Looking back to the era of the “Great Recession” and its aftermaths, we see that Scientific American had looked into the problem of climate change as it had impacted the Arab world, leading to heightened impacts in the “Arab Spring” events which began in 2011, the same year as the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in the USA.

Climate Change and Rising Food Prices Heightened Arab Spring

The effects of climate change on the food supply exacerbated the underlying tensions that have led to ongoing Middle East instability
By Ines Perez, ClimateWire on March 4, 2013

If the Arab Spring taught us something, it is that the effects of climate change can serve as stressors, contributing to regional instability and conflict, experts said.

In a report published last week, researchers from the Center for American Progress, the Center for Climate and Security and the Stimson Center examined the role of climate change in the Middle East’s upheaval during 2010 and 2011. Looking at long-term trends in rain, crops, food prices and migration, they were able to determine how these factors contributed to social instability in the region.

“The Arab Spring would likely have come one way or another, but the context in which it did is not inconsequential. Global warming may not have caused the Arab Spring, but it may have made it come earlier,” the report says.

For people who demand more of a peer-reviewed approach to the literature on global climate change and food production / food supply, here is a search-string for you to explore, using Google Scholar, and yielding results limited to stories done since 2017:

Search string: “climate change impacting food supply”–approx. 11,000 articles available


For everyone engaged in mutual aid work such as hunger task forces, or in Portage County, WI, the “Hunger and Poverty Prevention Partnership,” I will go out on a limb a bit here and suggest that now is the time for hunger-focused groups to partner up with the activist youth who are engaged in climate-change issues, the effort to leave behind fossil fuels (such as pipeline protests) and so forth. The addition human-energy input that will come from forming such coalitions will, I think, yield more dramatic results than having folks remain in “issue silos.”

My further suggestion is that hunger task forces should begin a transition from pure mutual-aid models, to strong advocacy on public policy change. This necessitates, of course, engagement with local, state, and federal governments. Not everyone engaged in the mutual aid work may be at liberty to engage in strong policy advocacy, and we recognize that Everyone should do what they can, up to the limits of what their position allows.

“Save as many as you can.”

In addition to Nouriel Roubini’s predictive framework, this will be informed by Nate Hagens, Labyrinth Consultants, Ugo Bardi and his Seneca Effect, Gail Tverberg and her Our Finite World site, League of Revolutionary Black Workers; Post-Carbon Institute and their Resilience-dot-org site, and others who grasp the concepts that energy and environment ARE the economy; there can be no separation.

So if you want to collaborate, submissions to


(no affiliation with Green Party nor the Green New Deal)

[1] Who is Nouriel Roubini?
Nouriel Roubini (born March 29, 1958) is an American econnomist He teaches at New York University’s Stern School of Business and is chairman of Roubini Macro Associates LLC, an economic consultancy firm.

The child of Iranian Jews, he was born in Turkey and grew up in Italy. After receiving a BA in political economics at Bocconi University, Milan and a doctorate in Intenational Economics at Harvard, he became an academic at Yale and a visiting researcher/advisor at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Federal Reserve, World Bank, and Bank of Israel. Much of his early research focused on emerging markets. During the administration of President Bill Clinton, he was a senior economist for the Council of Economic Advisers, later moving to the United States Treasury Department as a senior adviser to Timothy Geithner, who was Treasury Secretary under Barack Obama.