The planet is on fire, prices too

Pandemics, conflicts, economic policies… In addition to these well-identified factors of inflation, there is another: climate change, which also causes prices to rise. This is no surprise: scientists have been warning about the disastrous consequences of increasing greenhouse gas emissions for decades; For years we have witnessed a succession of summits with insufficient results.

When, because of climate change, the price of a liter of olive oil is doubled, when wine production is at half-mast or when the cocoa bean harvest fuels speculation, the consumer suffers the consequences. . Economists warn of this factor of rising prices, “whose influence will only grow in the years to come”, according to The Washington Post. By 2035, rising temperatures could be responsible for 1.2 percentage points of inflation worldwide, according to a study for the European Central Bank published in March by the Potsdam Research Institute for effects of climate change.

This abstract figure is illustrated by the surge in olive oil prices. The drought in southern Europe, the source of 60% of world production, the floods and excessive rains in Africa weighed on the harvest, and therefore on prices. Foodstuffs are in fact the most likely to be affected by inflation due to climate change, explains to the American daily Max Kotz, climate economist at the Potsdam Institute and lead author of the study.

“It’s a bit of an apocalypse”, summarized in The Wall Street Journal a young man who now eats his salad seasoned with lemon juice and a drizzle of vinegar. “We remember the time when we had olive oil.” Extreme weather events increasing with global warming “drives the production of some of the most enjoyable products – wine, olive oil, coffee and cocoa”, alerts the economic daily. When the weather goes haywire where these crops grow, the price consequences quickly become “dizzying” elsewhere in the world.

This is the case for cocoa: drought and then excessive rain in Africa in the fall decimated the beans. For coffee, speculation lurks “after the severe drought in Vietnam, which sent robusta prices soaring to their highest level in forty-five years”. In Italy, heavy rains are responsible for a “resurgence of mildew”, who attacked the vines. This is the world’s worst grape harvest since 1961.

Will we have to get used to no longer tasting olive oil, to doing without wine and coffee? Agriculture does not discover its sudden fragility, and seeks everywhere to adapt. In Burkina Faso, farmers are turning to “cultural techniques to fertilize the soil and fight against water erosion”, bring zaï up to date, which “allows runoff and organic matter to be concentrated in these holes where they will sow”, notes the daily Sidwaya. In France, winegrowers in Bordeaux are giving up leaf removal from the vines so that the grape clusters remain in the shade.

Grapes will grow further north, and Canada, the United Kingdom and Sweden are preparing to become wine-producing nations. But it takes time to transform cultures. An olive tree only reaches its full production at ten years old. Global warming is accelerating. “As the impacts of climate change become more frequent and severe,” explain to Washington Post Jerry Nelson, agricultural economics researcher at the University of Illinois, adaptation strategies will be less and less effective.

Will doing without good things accelerate awareness? Climate skeptics who oppose “end of the world” to “end of the month” will at least find themselves dispossessed of the wallet argument. The consequences of inaction are also financial.

In short

Victory in Hawaii

On June 20, a historic agreement committing Hawaii to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions was reached between the American state and young activists. Two years earlier, 13 children and adolescents from the archipelago had initiated legal proceedings accusing the transport department of systematically giving priority to the most polluting means of transport. The state now has a year to come up with a plan. “In addition to increasing the share of zero-carbon fuel for road, air and maritime transport, (it) must also improve alternative options in public transport and create pathways for pedestrians and bicycles,” detailed The Washington Post. To find out more, click here.

In India, an emergency department for heatstroke

Since May 8, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi has been welcoming hyperthermia victims into a specialized emergency department. Various newspapers, including The Times of India and the BBC, produced reports where we learned that, to cool them, patients are immersed as quickly as possible in a bathtub filled with crushed ice. Because from 42°C body temperature, there is a vital emergency. Between 1er March and June 18, heat waves in India caused more than 40,000 cases of heat stroke, and at least 110 deaths, according to the Indian Ministry of Health (whose figures are probably underestimated). To find out more, click here.

Cohabit like macaques


What if adapting to climate change required greater tolerance between individuals? In any case, this is what happened to macaques in Puerto Rico, according to a study that Science made headlines last week. After Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean island in 2017, the forest cover decreased significantly, providing less shade and forcing animals to share it. The researchers thus observed a reduction in their aggressiveness, “and the most tolerant animals are those whose survival was the most important”, specifies the magazine. To find out more, click here.

When solar power works on water

According to a new scientific study, whose site The Conversation echoes, several countries, such as Rwanda and Ethiopia, could cover their entire electricity needs by installing floating solar panels on their lakes. Supported by buoys and attached to the banks, these produce on average more electricity and have a longer lifespan than terrestrial photovoltaic installations. Researchers have identified nearly 2,000 bodies of water that could easily accommodate them. To find out more, click here.

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