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Food Sovereignty And Climate Change: Nurturing Human And Ecological Communities In Stormy Times

Anne T. Gillis, CND for JPIC

This was the title of the third annual Social Justice Symposium sponsored by the Cooper Institute on Saturday, March 11. The afternoon began with “environmental” entertainment featuring a popular PEI singer-songwriter Teresa Doyle who sang a couple of her compositions regarding climate change including “The World Is In A Pickle” and “The New Titanic” which, among other things, suggests that: “A Ship Of Fools We Are, sitting on our deck chairs, we push the climate to the brink… and think the boat will never sink…”

The guest speaker was Dr. Nettie Wiebe, a retired professor of Ethics at the University of Saskatchewan who now farms with her husband near Delisle, Sask. In addition to writing and editing books on food sovereignty, she has served in leadership of The National Farmers Union and is an active participant in public discourse related to trade agreements, sustainable agriculture and the like. Nettie suggested that instead of using the term “global warming” we should be talking about “global storming,” a volatile, dangerous event propelling us into unknown territory. A significant contributor to this reality is the processing, transportation and consumption of food which accounts for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Because of shortages of water, extreme weather events and high temperatures due to climate change, which are interfering with the quality and quantity of food, our current food system is both a contributor to and casualty of climate change. It is really difficult to summarize her discussion of the effect of the usurping of the food system by corporate interest. Production of enough food isn’t the issue and we need to ask “who is not feeding the hungry?” The good news is, she says, that, food producers around the world are in the process of implementing innovative practices to adapt to and lessen the effects of climate change and we are being encouraged to support small, local farming operations.

So what can we do? Nettie says we need to change the way we live in the world becoming more conscious that “we are communities of human beings living among other living communities that need to be respected and protected.”

The symposium ended with a panel discussion featuring a young organic farmer, a member of the Sierra Club and a member of the Cooper Institute. Again the focus was rekindling our consciousness of the interconnectedness of all living beings. 


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