Save Humanity; Plant A Vegetable Garden



Storage yard at Pompeii

Journalist and historian Gwynne Dyer, author of Climate Wars, among many other books, recently did a piece titled "Four Harsh Truths About Global Warming"  for the Vancouver-based paper The Straight in which he explains that two years ago, he learned that a number of militaries around the world were beginning to consider the possible consequences of climate change:

The scenarios
predicted failed states proliferating because governments couldn’t feed
their people; waves of climate refugees washing up against the borders
of more fortunate countries; and even wars between countries that share

After investigating these scenarios, Dyer concludes…

…The generals are right. Food is the key issue, and the world food
supply is already very tight…. A 1°C (1.8°F) rise in average global temperature will take a
major bite out of food production in almost all countries that are
closer to the equator than to the poles, and that includes almost all
of the planet’s “breadbaskets.”

So the international grain
market will wither for lack of supplies. Countries that can no longer
feed their people will not be able to buy their way out of trouble by
importing grain from elsewhere, even if they have the money. Starving
refugees will flood across borders, whole nations will collapse into
anarchy—and some countries may make a grab for their neighbours’ land
or water.

Not a pretty picture. Whether this ugly prediction proves accurate or not, the mere possibility of the world running out of arable land is one more strike against the completely indefensible American yard: half an acre of chemically-treated turf that no one ever plays on, interrupted only by a few unhappy specimen bushes.


  1. Thanks for this post – on a related note, National Geographic has an excellent article in a recent issue about how the loss of SOIL suitable for growing food, in addition to climate change, is becoming a major issue in terms of global food security.

    Here’s the link:

    It’s a really excellent article for gardeners to read, and another reminder of how, even on a small scale, building the soil in our own gardens is one of the most important things we can do.

  2. Old news. There were food riots in many developing countries this past summer thanks to food supplies being used to make bio-diesel instead of feeding people. Blaming Americans with bad landscaping is illogical and quite extreme. And what does all this have to do with Pompeii?

  3. Dawn Hill, the pressure on agricultural lands around the globe is not solely about bio-diesel–and it is likely to be intensified by climate change. And given that pressure, it’s just insane, the way we waste our yards in this land-rich suburban nation.

    About the photo–you know, our staff Art Director is on vacation, yet one must illustrate the post with something! I think a picture of Pompeii suits a story about the sudden collapse of civilization perfectly.

  4. You could have weaved the thought of good agricultural lands being paved over by suburbia and strip malls with Pompeii’s volcanic pavement. But then I think a picture of the Dust Bowl and the migration of the Oakies may have been more appropriate and easily identifiable with the topic of this post.

    Next time your Art Director is on vacation feel free to consult me. (Ha)

  5. This is great info to bring to your next Town Hall meeting to ask that some sunny public land be designated for a community garden instead on yet another soccer field.

  6. Michele, I certainly hope people will plant food crops all over their private property or community gardens as they want or need. This is what gives me the creeps: Elitists telling property owners what they “should” be growing. That stuff you are preaching turns in practice into oppressive government regulation like “only 30% lawn in the front yard” or required plantings of this year’s miracle plant. Do you want somebody who “read it in a book” sitting at a desk in the Ministry of Private Garden Oversight deciding what we ought to grow?

    Also, I am put off by your negativity. Many people are blogging hard to put out a positive message of the rewards of gardening and homegrown food. You are stamping your feet, “Grow what I say or society will end! OMG!!!!”

  7. Hey, Dawn, I’m just letting our readers know about an article I stumbled across. I’m not predicting food wars–I’m not qualified to say how likely that is.

    And how am I an elitist for thinking wasted land is crazy?

  8. Thanks for violating the feel good world of garden blogdom and pointing out the potentially “unthinkable” results of global warming. Lawns may be the least of our worries.

  9. Michele, I didn’t think anyone believed in global warming anymore. You must be one of the handfull of people that hasn’t realized the earth has cooled by an historic amount in the last two years, Why, temperatures have dropped back 3/4 of the way back from the gains made over the last 100 years.

    Please you should realize the politically correct term today is climate change and the current claim is that the cooling we are experiencing is “weather” and the cause of this cooling is…yes, you guessed it, global warming.

    Really, please let’s get with the program. Global Warming is so passe. It is climate change brought on by global warming. You don’t know how silly it sounds to be worried about global warming when temperatures are dropping, snow cover is at record levels, glaciers are rebuilding, ice is blocking the Artic again, polar bears are saved. All very naturally. Personally I liked it better when global warming was actually was warming things.

  10. One of the real causes of hunger in the world is the fact that we subsidize farmers to grow corn to be burned in our gas tanks. this raises the price of fuel, pollutes more and raises the price of any food connected with corn and makes food less available worldwide and more expensive as well.

    This is causing increased starvation.

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