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Climate change may be one of the most complex and fundamental drivers of future change. Not only are we seeing changes in the climate itself - the opening up of the Northwest Passage, local floods and droughts - it is exacerbating the rapidly emerging food crisis.
Australia's worst drought in 100 years has halved its wheat crop. An unusually cold year has damaged Ukraine's crops. Booming Chinese demand has pushed up prices while severe droughts have cut its own wheat production. In search of clean fuel, farmers have converted to biofuel crops, with at least one third of the US maize crop going to ethanol in 2006 even though some biofuels are dirtier than fossil fuels. Longer run, however, warming may allow Siberia and Northern Canada to become the new bread baskets of the world. The race for minerals and energy in the North Pole has already begun. While global carbon emission negotiations slowly edge forward, businesses, cities, citizens, regional governments and geo-engineers are rushing ahead. Examples of the green innovation range from carbon neutral cities such as China's Dongtan Eco-city, to the more radical technology solutions such as carbon absorbing synthetic trees.
This is part of Outsights 21 Drivers for the 21st Century ™, a future-orientated scan of the 21 key forces shaping this century.
- Plain sailing on the Northwest Passage
- Fresh records for price of wheat
- Drought grows slightly in E. Australian farmlands
- Biofuel demand to push up food prices
- Top scientists warn against rush to biofuel
- Global Warming: Who Loses—and Who Wins?
- Russia Claims the North Pole
- Dongtan Eco-city
- Can science really save the world?