Save the Earth: It’s the only planet with chocolate?

save the earthA witty sign showing up at climate rallies proclaims: “Save the Earth – It’s the only planet with chocolate!”, and for good reason.  The severe weather, extreme temperatures and irregular rainfall associated with global warming is more pronounced in the tropical regions where cocoa is cultivated from West Africa to Indonesia to South and Central America.

With the impacts of climate disruption on cocoa and food production in mind, the Virginia Sierra Club declared this week “Chocolate Lovers for Climate Protection Week”.

“What better time to alert the public to the impacts of climate change on cocoa cultivation than Valentine’s Day week?” asked Ivy Main, Chair of the Virginia Sierra Club and a self-professed dark chocolate lover. “The rising cost of chocolate resulting from production issues associated with climate factors is a wake-up call for all of us who love chocolate.”

“If all of the chocolate lovers across Virginia take a moment this week to let our public officials know they care about climate change, we might get more meaningful action to address carbon pollution,”said Main.

Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) and Senator John Edwards (D-Giles, Montgomery and Roanoke) participated in the press conference on Thursday in the State Capital to acknowledge the impacts of climate change not only on the price of chocolate but food prices as well.  “I have three children at home who will ensure than no matter what the price of chocolate is, the industry will always be in business,” noted Delegate Rasoul. “But the impact of climate change on food prices is one more reason why we need to be investing on clean energy.“

“Reducing carbon pollution and combating climate change are not just about avoiding the negative consequences of inaction,” said Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington). “We have an opportunity to create a tangible economic benefit for the Commonwealth of Virginia through investments in clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency. These industries have the potential to create thousands of new jobs in Virginia and revitalize our economy, but only if we take action now to halt climate change in Virginia.”

Senator Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) added, “As a member of the Governor’s Climate and Resiliency Update Commission, I am committed to addressing the wide-reaching effects of climate change, including the increased scarcity of cocoa due to higher temperatures and more volatile weather. This Valentine’s Day, let’s show some love for the planet and take responsibility for the effects of human induced climate change. Only then can we take the steps needed to stem the growth of greenhouse gas emissions”

“The effect climate change is having—and will increasingly have–on food production is a non-partisan issue that can’t be denied,” agreed Del. Rip Sullivan (D-Arlington.) “As we approach Valentine’s Day, it’s important to remember that chocolate lovers the world over need to be concerned about climate change. I look forward to working with the Sierra Club on this important issue.”

“Remember the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s? Look it up,” added Richmond chocolatier, Kelly Walker ofChocolates by Kelly. “It was a horrible man-made disaster that needs to be remembered. This world is small. The balance of nature is brilliant and fragile, and we humans are not small. We are not insignificant. The things we do in, on, and to this planet make a difference, for better or worse. It is time we accept responsibility for the power we have to affect change. This is not just about chocolate, it is about maintaining balance.”  Chocolates by Kelly were sampled at the press event.

“Virginians may see the impacts of climate disruption on chocolate in the price of a candy bar,” said Main, “but the greater harm is borne by small farmers and agricultural workers whose livelihoods are tied to cocoa production.” The regions of the world where cocoa is produced include many developing nations with limited capacity to absorb the costly consequences of climate disruption. “This is no trivial matter,” said Main.

Sierra Club is delivering chocolate to Governor McAuliffe, Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and to all Virginia state legislators the week of Valentine’s Day as a reminder to them of what is at risk if we don’t act now to reign in climate change.

“Governor McAuliffe will be implementing the EPA’s Clean Power Plan in Virginia,” said Kate Addleson, Conservation Director for the Virginia Sierra Club, “and Senators Kaine and Warner are critical to defending these climate protections against attacks in Congress. This is a light-hearted way to remind them of the urgency of this issue. Their bold leadership in pursuing a transition to smarter, cleaner energy for the Commonwealth is greatly needed.”

“Even climate change skeptics love chocolate.” said Glen Besa, Virginia Sierra Club Director. “You never know; the threat to chocolate posed by global warming just might bring home the fact that climate disruption will affect us all.”

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