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Back on solid food, New Annan senior says month-long hunger strike linked food security and climate crisis

Paul Jenkinson has completed his 30-day hunger strike and now he hopes his efforts and those of others will prompt government to take action and address the serious issue of climate change.
Paul Jenkinson has completed his 30-day hunger strike and now he hopes his efforts and those of others will prompt government to take action and address the serious issue of climate change. - Harry Sullivan
CENTRAL NEW ANNAN, N.S. —

After a month of undertaking a liquid-only diet as a personal protest against the climate crisis, Paul Jenkinson has resumed eating solid foods.

“I am feeling well, though somewhat shaky tonight as I am away from home and the broth and juice that sustained me the past 30 days,” he said, on the eve of his final day of subsisting on vegetable broth and fruit juice.

The 65-year-old New Annan resident ended his hunger strike on Tuesday.

The question of "why" is one he's been answering pretty much since he started, Jenkinson said.

“The Climate Crisis is having a direct impact on the human ability to grow food and the increase in crop failure, of crop yield reductions will grow with the heating up of the planet,” he said.

“Farmers are reporting that warmer than usual winters, early frosts, late rains, floods and droughts, all tied to the Climate Crisis, are leading to unpredictable crop yields.”

Crop failures are known to contribute increases in food prices as well as to the food insecurity for 3.2 billion people living in poverty, he said.

“Food insecurity is beginning to trigger massive human migrations. The food crisis has not reached us yet but it will if we do not act quickly.”

“If governments do not act decisively to both reduce carbon and engage in significant global warming mitigation then climate change will not only progress, but from the science I have read, it will rapidly escalate out of control.”

Jenkinson undertook his action as part of a larger Nova Scotia Extinction Rebellion Hunger Strike 4 Climate Change.

“I suppose being a senior raises possible health issues when proposing to do a longer hunger strike, still, unless one is willing to take risks around important climate issues no one takes you seriously,” he said.

And while his protest may not have generated the degree of political attention he had hoped for, Jenkinson said he believes he and the other Nova Scotia hunger strikers were able to “visually and verbally” connect the climate crisis with significant risks to the planet’s food production.

“If governments do not act decisively to both reduce carbon and engage in significant global warming mitigation then climate change will not only progress, but from the science I have read, it will rapidly escalate out of control.”

The hunger strikers want government to declare a “climate emergency,” he said. That would involve the government and media working together to communicate the urgency to enact policies that halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.

Jenkinson said such an effort should be led by a citizens’ assembly to address the climate crisis.

“I suppose I have a measure of hope for change though I worry about the lack of speed at which governments act,” he said. “Actions, not words, are what is needed when facing a crisis.”


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