“[Climate change] will increase the frequency and severity of extreme weather, leading to more regular closures of chokepoints and greater wear and tear on infrastructure. Rising sea levels will threaten the integrity of port operations and coastal storage infrastructure, and will increase their vulnerability to storm surges. [It] is expected to aggravate drivers of conflict and instability. It will also lead to more frequent harvest failures, increasing the risk of governments imposing ad hoc export controls. Climate change may also increase the risk of concurrent supply disruptions. As extreme weather events become more common, the chances of coincidental disruptions occurring at different locations are likely to increase.”
The Washington Post uses the example of Hurricane Isaac, which hit in August 2012 and closed ports and suspended barge traffic on parts of the Mississippi River.
It is a dire prediction for the future of food and one that Chatham House recommends governments start addressing before things get any worse, perhaps by creating alternative routes and supply sources. For ordinary citizens, the discussion about chokepoints is a valuable reminder of the importance to establish and support local food networks. Crop diversification and resilient organic growing methods are safer and healthier strategies than the industrial-scale monocrop production that’s become standard in much of the world and relies heavily on fossil fuels every step of the way, from planting and harvesting to transporting around the globe. The 100-mile diet (or less!) food movement isn’t just trendy; it’s sensible, too.