Last updated: February 25. 2014 6:40PM - 2450 Views
By Adelle Brodbeck Special for The Gazette



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GREAT DECISIONS

QUESTIONNAIRE ANSWERS

How interested would you say you are in issues related to the Food and Climate topic?

• 42 percent: Very Interested

• 58 percent: Somewhat interested

• 00 percent: Not too interested

• 00 percent: Not at all interested

Thinking about U.S. foreign policy goals, how important of a goal is combating world hunger?

• 72 percent: Very important

• 28 percent: Somewhat important

• 00 percent: Not important at all

• 00 percent: Not too important

Do you feel the amount the U.S. government spends on efforts to reduce hunger in poor countries is too much, too little, or about right?

• 8 percent: Too much

• 67 percent: Too little

• 25 percent: about the right amount

Please select which of the following two statements comes closer to your point of view.

• 4 percent: The U.S. should only send aid to parts of the world where the U.S. has security interests

• 96 percent: When hunger is a major problem in some part of the world, the U.S. should send aid whether or not the U.S. has a security interest in that region

When it comes to addressing the problem of hunger, there is a debate about whether the U.S. should just provide food or if it also should help poor countries develop their economies. Please select which of the following two statements you agree with more:

• 100 percent: It is important to help poor countries develop their economies so that they can become more self-sufficient

• 0 percent: Helping poor countries develop their economies is too complicated and it is impossible to tell if it is doing much good

Current U.S. food aid policy requires some of the food aid sent abroad to be grown or raised in the United States and shipped to countries in need. A current proposal before the U.S. government would relax these requirements and allow the U.S. government to give more flexible food aid, including purchasing food from local farmers or giving poor people in other countries money to purchase food themselves locally. Do you think the U.S. should maintain its current food aid policy or relax the current requirements to make food aid more flexible?

• 12 percent: The U.S. government should maintain its current food aid policy

• 88 percent: The U.S. government should relax the current requirements to make food aid more flexible

If you had to choose which countries should get U.S. aid, which of these would you select as most important?

• 65 percent: Countries with the poorest economics

• 17.5 percent: Countries needed by the U.S. as trade partners

• 17.5 percent: Countries important to U.S. security

Is it your overall impression that over the last few decades the number of people in the world who do not have enough to eat has increased, decreased, or stayed about the same?

• 75 percent: Increased

• 17 percent: Decreased

• 8 percent: Stayed the same

There is a controversy over what the countries of the world, including the U.S. should do about the problem of climate change. Here are three statements. Please select which statement comes closest to your own point of view:

• 4 percent: Until we are sure that climate change is really a problem we should not take any steps that would have economic costs

• 25 percent: The problem of climate change should be addressed but its effects will be gradual so we can deal with the problem gradually by taking steps that are low in cost

• 71 percent: Climate change is a serious and pressing problem and we should try taking steps now even if this involves significant costs

To deal with the problem of climate change, do you think the U.S. government is doing too much, not enough, or about the right amount?

• 4 percent: Too much

• 88 percent: Not enough

• 8 percent: About the right amount



The topic of climate change has been a popular water-cooler conversation for years. However, according to Ohio Wesleyan University professor, Laurel Anderson, there may be multiple overlooked factors contributing to and generated from the alterations in environment.


The botany/microbiology professor presented her lecture on the global state of food and climate to a bright room packed with local Delawareans as the opening event for the annual Great Decisions Discussion Series last week.


Anderson’s talk covered topics from pollination to compost and from greenhouse gases to what one can do to help minimize negative impacts on the environment. Overall she emphasized the idea that even though it can be easy to immediately localize environmental issues, these problems are problems globally, and not just in Ohio.


“There are many different types of changes that we’re seeing in our environment today … we’re seeing changes in the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and changes in the water cycle,” said Anderson towards the beginning of her lecture. Anderson followed with, “These (changes) have some really strong effects on food, which I am going to equate with plants … I think a lot about how plants interact with their environment and how their physiological processes, like photosynthesis and water uptake help them cope with stresses in the environment. And really if you think about food carefully you’ll realize that even if you’re eating animal products, those animals ate something and those were plants.”


Throughout the 50-minute discussion Anderson related many of the prominent environmental changes to affects on food production. For example, Anderson said that between 1888 and 2012 the overall global temperature has raised 0.85 degrees Celsius. Higher temperatures globally have led to rising sea levels which can, and have already, affect production of healthy crops. “Often when people think of sea level rise, they think of the movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ where this giant tidal wave engulfs New York City, and I’m actually thinking of something more insidious and harder to deal with. I’m thinking about salt water intrusion on crops.”


As Anderson revealed many direct effects of environmental changes on agriculture, she also introduces less discussed points of how agriculture affects climate. For example, she discussed the high levels of deforestation in areas such as Brazil because of the increased demand for ungenetically modified soybeans.


Anderson also raised the point that one of the prominent greenhouse gases, methane, is produced in high quantities in the “guts of ruminant animals,” largely from cattle industries. “The cattle industry is also associated with significant emissions of CO2 and deforestation,” according to Anderson.


In order to help decrease negative environmental changes, Anderson said the best things that one could do are not necessarily to drive less, but instead to “consider foods that have lower carbon and methane footprints (plants), support policies that reduce green house gas emissions and to replace old appliances with energy efficient models” among others options. And after all, as Anderson said, small actions are “the gate-way drug” to making bigger changes globally.

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