2ND CEC-Detroit Research Project 2012: Climate & Food, Social Justice and the Environment


This assignment (paper) will help you develop an understanding of the science and policy of climate change.

Assignment Requirements

1)      Review the climate change materials on the Encyclopedia of Earth website http://www.eoearth.org/ and the food and agriculture materials on the website and

2)      Write a 2-page assessment of the impacts of climate change on Detroit’s food system and human health over the next 25 years.

This review is to be turned in on August 6th, 2012.  This material should be incorporated into your final project.

Keywords: Urban Farming, Food, Climate, Mitigation, Adaptation, Social Justice and Environment

Taking Urban Farming to the Next Level

I am going to jump in here with a few quotes why urban farming makes the best argument or sense from a social and environment justice viewpoint. However, we will see why and what we are up against from a strict business and economical viewpoint that maintains an adverse position or continuing obstructionist block toward any additional community development beyond their corporate shareholder interests, profit and greed for more money.

Betsy Mikel in her article entitled, Taking Urban Farming to the Next Level, puts it as follows in this way:

Like the majority of the fruit and vegetables on the shelf, those tomatoes have probably traveled great distances to get to you, and that can have a devastating effect on the environment.

Ideally, urban grocery stores would stock locally grown food, but securing large plots of real estate in major cities is not a financially sustainable option. Or is it? (Mikel, Taking Urban Farming to the Next Level, 2012 pg 1).

By 2025 almost 60 percent of the world’s population will be living in urban areas, according to the United Nations Population Division. By 2050, it’ll be 70 percent. If conventional farming in rural areas continues to produce the food needed for our growing urban population, the cost of transporting it will continue to rise.

Improved access to fresh, local produce year-round is more than a matter of convenience; it’s also a matter of health. If these urban farms can successfully grow a regular harvest of organic crops, the food produced has the potential to match inexpensive fast food prices and revolutionize urban eating habits for the better (Mikel, Taking Urban Farming to the Next Level, 2012 pg 2).

I would like to point out in the above quote where it states that, by 2025 sixty-percent of the world’s population will be living in urban areas and further stating that rural farms, therefore, must increase transportation costs to meet the demand, as well as, I think we can safely assume with reasonable certainty that greenhouse gases shall increase too. Moreover, the following quote exemplifies the need to mitigate these issues to help reduce the harm and negative impact rather than being adaptive and allowing additional complications to overcome.

The (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) IPCC uses the following definitions: Mitigation: An anthropogenic intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases (IPCC, 2001); Adaptation: Adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities (IPCC, 2001). From these definitions it follows that mitigation reduces all impacts (positive and negative) of climate change and thus reduces the adaptation challenge, whereas adaptation is selective; it can take advantage of positive impacts and reduce negative ones.

The former, climate change mitigation, is the more widely discussed and seeks to render climate change less damaging by reducing one’s impact or countering some of that impact by another compensating action. Climate actions undertaken for mitigation reduce the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In contrast, the latter response, climate change adaptation refers to actions taken to reduce the impact of climate change, once it occurs. Since human emissions of greenhouse gases have locked in a certain amount of future climate disruption, climate actions that undertake adaptation appear imperative as a key component of an integrated and balanced response to climate variability and change.

Climate change adaptation is a technical term that refers to adjustments in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects or impacts (Earth, 2012).

However, there is a continuing problem that we find ourselves litigating at judicial levels because social policy has provided for many adverse property rights regarding common-law that since the Industrial Revolution became more favorable to the financial sustainability of big businesses and economic gains. The following quote demonstrates why our social mindset and public policy must change in order support “Sustainable Development” in accordance with the United Nations Agenda 21 of 1992 for the health and welfare of all communities (Affairs, 2012).

Posted on July 30, 2012 by admin

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Michigan Tea Party lawmaker, and former TV weatherman, Rep. Greg MacMaster (105th) has introduced legislation that would make it illegal for any governmental unit to promote or support sustainable development.

Patterned after a similar retrograde law recently passed in Alabama, Michigan’s new proposed legislation HB 5785 of 2012 (introduced on July 18th) would prevent any unit of government in Michigan from adopting any of the principles found in the United Nations Agenda 21 of 1992 — a non-binding and voluntary initiative that has been widely accepted and implemented throughout the United States and has enjoyed broad bi-partisan support, until the Tea Party turned it into a dirty word.

Why do they object to Agenda 21?

They believe it is a regulatory burden that will interfere with their property rights (Hardin, 2012).

In conclusion, I want to leave you with a positive note of sincere encouragement from Michigan State Senator Virgil Smith, in the 4th District Detroit, who wrote in his legislative report regarding Urban Farming, “Detroit has approximately 35 square miles of vacant land. There are many who would like to use some of that space to grow their own crops. This could lead to more jobs and money in our great city and also serve as an opportunity to have healthier foods for our neighbors (Smith, 2012).

Works Cited

Affairs, U. D. (2012, August 1). Divison for Sustainable Development. Retrieved from Agenda 21: http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/res_agenda21_00.shtml

Earth, T. E. (2012, August 1). Climate Adaptation & Mitigation. Retrieved from The Encyclopedia of Earth : http://www.eoearth.org/article/Climate_adaptation

Hardin, A. K. (2012, August 1). Michigan Law Would Make Sustainable Development Illegal. Retrieved from Democracy Tree Watchdog Commentary on All Three Branches of Government : http://www.democracy-tree.com/michigan-law-sustainable-development-illegal/

Mikel, B. (2012 pg 1, August 1). Taking Urban Farming to the Next Level. Retrieved from Ecomagination: http://www.ecomagination.com/taking-urban-farming-to-the-next-level

Mikel, B. (2012 pg 2, August 1). Taking Urban Farming to the Next Level. Retrieved from Ecomagination: http://www.ecomagination.com/taking-urban-farming-to-the-next-level

Smith, V. (2012, August 1). Legislative Report: Urban Farming. Retrieved from Virgil Smith: http://www.virgilksmith.com/vks/blog/article/188

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