Climate change: It's what's for dinner

Blaine Friedlander
Mike Hoffmann, right, speaks with horticulture graduate students Juana Munoz and Isabel Branstrom, following his climate change lecture at the April 18 Science Cabaret.

To change the minds of people who deny global warming, go through their stomachs.

Mike Hoffmann, executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions, and Gay Nicholson, president of Sustainable Tompkins, presented “Climate Change: It’s Personal and It’s Everybody,” at Science Cabaret April 18 at Coltivare.

With more extreme flooding and drought, added high-temperature stress and pests fortified by a changing agricultural system, Hoffmann pointed to worrisome impending adjustments in our diet. He noted that climate change has forced food production to markedly shift north from 1990 to now.

“Climate trends are complex,” Hoffmann said. “Longer growing seasons and longer frost-free periods aren’t necessarily good if farmers can’t plant, fertilize or harvest due to flooding.”

The U.S. gets many fruits and vegetables from around the world in winter. A prolonged drought in Mexico, for example, may have profound negative effects on our food supply, he said. “Growing food is no longer business as usual. International supply chains are changing, and the changing supply creates price volatility,” he said.

But there is hope. “Climate change is a grand challenge we can tackle, if we have the will,” Hoffmann said. “Accept the truth. Get informed, stay informed, make it personal and raise your voices. Act. Lead. Think food, think climate.”

Nicholson spoke on the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative, a climate action and clean energy coalition of leaders from education, business, local government, nonprofit and youth organizations. Nicholson outlined the many ways Tompkins County residents can help cool a warming globe, including Go Solar Tompkins, Heat Smart Tompkins; the Finger Lakes Climate Fund, where citizens can offset carbon footprints; and Mothers Out Front, mobilizing moms and others to preserve a livable climate.

Blaine Friedlander