by BK Munn
A University of Guelph professor and a local cartoonist have teamed up to launch a Kickstarter to distribute their comic about a potential climate-change-related worldwide drought and food shortage. Evan Fraser, the Canada research chair in global food security at the University of Guelph, and Scott Mooney, an illustrator and cartoonist, are the creators behind #foodcrisis, a sci-fi graphic novel that documents “a massive food crisis hitting North America. Set in the year 2025, the novel weaves together several story lines that cover issues such as land grabs, rising food prices, food riots, inequality, migration, climate change and more.”
The 70-page story is backed up with 12 background essays, and “almost 200 footnotes” based on Fraser’s research into how we feed the world’s massive population of humans and factors like “climate change, soil degradation, deforestation, food waste, corporate influence of the food system, and the use of crops for nonfood purposes.” The book was written and illustrated with grant funding from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, so the Kickstarter money is being raised to print and distribute copies to schools. The initial $5000/150 schools goal was met after just 4 days, so the campaign has added some stretch goals for wider distribution and more comics.
Fraser previously authored Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations and has conspired with Mooney on several whiteboard videos on youtube as part of a larger project on global food security called Feeding Nine Billion that focuses on local food and farming issues.
Here’s Fraser on turning science into fiction:
“I have to be honest: #foodcrisis is a sensationalist piece of fiction that has sprung from the nightmarish part of my imagination that stays up late watching reruns of The Walking Dead. #foodcrisis is not (underline, NOT) a prediction of what the future is likely to hold. I have dramatized and indulged in rampant hyperbole while writing this manuscript. I do not really believe that Western Civilization stands on the brink of utter destruction and that we are all in imminent danger of starving to death. History is rarely, if ever, that dramatic.
Change tends to happen more slowly. Even the so-called “collapses” like the fall of Rome are more gradual. Rome’s decline was more of a centuries-long decay punctuated by a few episodes of High Drama.
But long decays are not really all that exciting to read about. So for this project, I’ve let myself go wild with apocalyptic predictions.
This being said, #foodcrisis isn’t just any old piece of fiction. The plot depicts events as they really happened during historic situations when crops failed due to bad weather.”