Climate Change and Hunger Threats, a Hollywood Fiction that Is Becoming a Reality

By :

Rusma Mulyadi (Sukarelawan Conscious Planet – Save Soil)
Hendri Surya Widcaksana (Manajer Komunikasi dan Media Sosial – PISAgro)

“We didn't run out of television screens and planes, we ran out of food,”. One of the quotes from a Box Office movie called “Interstellar” is quite tickling to hear. However, if we contemplate it well, there’s an important message to convey. Even though it seems like a joke, this snippet seems to want to give us a hard slap that the earth is not doing well.

Recently, I tried to review a Hollywood movie that was actually released almost a decade ago, circa 2014. Despite being considered as an old movie, now it’s going to be more relevant. In simple terms, this movie directed by Christopher Nolan wants to tell the story of human efforts to seek and find a "new home" beyond the earth. The reason is that the planet that we have been living on has suffered very bad ecological damage.

The climatic conditions were so alarming that crop yields had been killed off, resulting in a great famine. Earth was sentenced to be sick, even entered the dying phase, so that it is no longer habitable. For its sustainability, humanity must find a new home or planet to live in. A fictional film that is quite scary if it actually comes true.

I'm not really a fan of science fiction. But the premise of this film is honestly enough to catch my attention. A premise that is very closely related to what I am currently speaking of, which is to save the land, to save our existence on this planet. This is a step and effort that I strive for as part of humanity, who cares about the sustainability of the place we have been living in. For me, we can no longer deny that the world's next steps must be in line with ecological principles. Ecosystems and strategies for the development of world civilization in the future must be balanced between economy, humanity and ecology

This ecological aspect should be addressed holistically, especially regarding the risk of soil extinction. This is because soil conditions will directly affect food availability. For me, this is a very important issue, because it directly touches the community. This issue is in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) number 2, namely our commitment to ending hunger and 11 other SDGs. Moreover, the issue of extreme weather, food security, and the threat of hunger are also a serious concern of the global community today.

In China, for example, Beijing authorities for the first time in history had to take the unusual step of issuing an emergency drought warning. This warning was issued after an extreme drought hit the Sichuan region in the Yangtse Delta. Climate change is the main factor. According to local government data, about 820,000 hectares of agricultural land in the Yangtse River basin have been damaged. This is even more concerning considering the immediate impact on the food security of 830,000 people, and the survival of around 160,000 livestock. In the American West, about 50 percent of farmers in California are also forced to cut down their trees and crops because of the extreme drought that hit. Ironically enough, due to crop failure, farmers seem to have no other choice but to destroy their own crops.

In Indonesia, recently, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) also warned that the impacts of climate change are now increasingly real and concerning. This condition can be a big threat to national food security, one of which is the threat of soil extinction. It is estimated that the land on earth that we live in will only be able to survive for the next 60 years. According to the UN Food & Agriculture Organization, the current state of the soil has even been degraded by 52%.

The subsequent depletion of the soil will affect the decrease in nutrients in the food we consume daily. This issue is even more worrisome, considering our current agricultural practices are still not environmentally friendly, including the use of hazardous chemicals and pesticides. Professor of IPB University, Prof. Dr. Ir Iswandy Anas Chaniago clearly revealed that 72% of agricultural land in Indonesia is currently "sick". The reason is the high use of chemical fertilisers.

This condition is certainly very scary for all of us. I recalled scene after scene in the movie Interstellar that suddenly came to mind. Then think, whether this Hollywood fiction film will actually become a reality? Moreover, we are currently faced with the reality that by 2060, the world's population will reach 10 billion people. Of all these, there is not one of them who does not need food. That is why food supply and security are very strategic and urgent issues today. "So, how do you plan on saving the world?". Cooper, a former NASA pilot in the film Interstellar asked. I believe we all agree that of course the answer is not to leave this planet we love so much. On the other hand, I believe, through collaborative actions from regulators, governments, business people, and all of us, planet earth can survive the threat of land extinction.

In my opinion, the world's attention should also be focused on saving the soil, especially agriculture soils. Nowadays with the urgency of climate change, almost everyone talks about carbon emissions and how they will achieve carbon neutral or net zero emissions. But there is very little attention or talk about the impact of soil fertility degradation on climate change and vis-a-versa . Healthy soil conditions have a very important role in mitigating climate change by storing carbon (carbon sequestration) and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.

Soil is the source of life, the source of food for all humans in the world. Because soil is life and the death of soil is the death of humankind. For this reason, we must be stronger and stronger in reminding and encouraging policy makers to protect, maintain, and maintain soil, especially the condition of soil organic content to a level that is able to support our food and life, namely at 3-6% organic matter. This is the mandate of one of the largest people’s movement in the world - Save Soil Movement.

PISAgro’s effort in Indonesia is very much aligned with the Save Soil Movement as they aim to create a partnership model that embraces farmers to implement more sustainable agricultural practices. The model, called the inclusive closed-loop, collaborates with industry, government, financial institutions, and education to form an ecosystem that facilitates farmers' access to a sustainable system and provides education and training according to the needs of the times. It will be good if consortiums like PISAgro who work with private firms as well as governments increase soil organic matter in agriculture soils as a fundamental basis in the work done towards ensuring sustainability of agriculture practiced by Indonesian farmers.

In turn, friends in the business world also need to understand that if we want to continue to run our business and obtain long lasting profitability, then the soils must be healthy and rich in microbiomes. . Here, the participation of the business world and industry, as well as the farmers is very much needed. Whether it's through innovation and technology, partnerships, implementation of regenerative agriculture, nature-based solution approaches to deal with pests, as well as other breakthroughs. But one of the indicators to measure the success of all these interventions can be % increase in soil organic matter.

What Is the End of Our Story?

Like a film, the life we live is actually a story. Unlike films though all of us - the actors, can determine the ending. So, what is the end of the story that we expect from the current climate change conditions? Everything is in our hands. If we want the earth we live in to be well maintained and maintained, then there must be real steps and solutions that we show.

We start with an awareness that all of this is our collective responsibility, not just me, you, them. Saving soil requires awareness and joint efforts from all of us. As Cooper, the NASA pilot, said in the film Interstellar: “I am thinking about my family, and millions of other families,”. We need to remember what this generation decides and does in these 5 to 10 years, will determine whether the fictional stories in the Interstellar films will become a reality for our children and grandchildren in the future.

About Save Soil Movement

With 52 per cent of the agricultural lands already degraded, the soil crisis in the world needs urgent attention. To bring a sense of urgency and focus to address this looming threat of soil extinction, Sadhguru embarked on a 100-day, 30,000-km lone motorcycle journey to Save Soil in March, he rode through Europe, Central Asia, Middle East, and India, meeting political leaders, scientists, influencers and citizens in each country. Receiving a resounding response, the Save Soil movement has touched over 3.9 billion people so far, with 75 nations agreeing to act to Save Soil.