On Nov. 16, former Iowa Governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke at Iowa State University. His informed and inspiring nonpartisan lecture on global food security, climate, and the future of agriculture is available at http://bit.ly/2hXQyg0 for those who could not get to Ames that evening.
Among the studies he described is one by insurer Lloyd’s of London. It concludes that because only 23 percent of the Earth’s land is committed to agriculture but produces 70-80 percent of the world’s food grains, just three catastrophic weather events could disrupt production of up to 10 percent of the world’s food staples.
This, says Lloyd’s, would result in food shortages, increased prices, and political instability. At the end of his talk, Vilsack addressed young people, telling them they have the power to awaken consciousness and rediscover community for the rest of us. I’m not sure young people should be doing all this work, but they and others can, as Vilsack suggested, put food at the center of conversation about security, climate, and the future of agriculture.
In answer to a question he observed that Americans are good at innovation but need to work harder at enacting necessary transitions. I agree. I’m grateful to the ISU lecture committee and co-sponsors such as Citizens Climate Lobby and Interfaith Power and Light for inviting Vilsack to address this topic in Iowa.