Climate Change To Worsen Food Security and Impact Poverty

In a report released by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), scientists say that there is cause for concern that global warming makes it more difficult to provide food for the world’s population. The scientists say the negative impacts of climate change on crop yields have been more common than the positive.

Further climate change is expected to slow down economic growth, hinder efforts at poverty reduction and generally diminish food security. Since climate change will negatively impact crop production, food prices will rise and therefore food insecurity will rise. This food insecurity will be especially prevalent in countries with high levels of income inequality and will most affect those that are already poor, thereby undermining efforts to get rid of the cycle of poverty. Indeed, the report mentions climate change as a “threat multiplier” to the lives of people living in poverty worldwide.

However, crop production is expected to increase given the constant improvement of agricultural techniques, which is set to expand production at a rate of 10 percent per decade. Since climate change is expected to decrease agricultural output at a rate of 1 percent per year, this means crop production will go up, but at a slower pace than it would normally, according to David Lobell of Stanford University.

Yet some rural areas in countries such as India do not rely on irrigation techniques to increase crop yield, but rely rather on rainfall. Such places would be affected greatly by the climate change.

The report also stated that climate change would increase food prices within the range of 3 to 84 percent by 2050. Staple agricultural products such as wheat and corn would be most affected, and the report mentions that the countries in Central and South America that grow coffee will be negatively impacted.

Climate change is a reality that we must face right now if we want to help prevent human suffering on a grand scale years from now. We have been warned, now it is up to all of us, including our governments and the private sector, to do something about it.

– Jeff Meyer

Sources: Denver Post, Huffington Post, IPCC: Climate Change, IPCC: Livelihoods and Poverty
Photo: InHabitat