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What Global Warming Means for Food Scarcity
The number of devastating effects that global warming has on the Earth is already staggering. According to a new report, “increased food scarcity” is going to make that list a little longer.

The report, commissioned by the British government and carried out by the U.K.-U.S. Taskforce on Extreme Weather and Global Food System Resilience, warns of the effects that global climate change will have on the world’s food supply.

“The chance of having a weather-related food shock is increasing, and the size of that shock is also increasing,” said Tim Benton, a population ecology professor at Leeds University. “As these events become more frequent, the imperative for doing something about it becomes even greater.”

The report analyzed the world’s most prominent “commodity crops,” those being maize, soy, wheat and rice, and how extreme weather conditions would impact their availability. Since the majority of those crops come from a small number of countries (the U.S., China and India, primarily), extreme weather could greatly impact their production.

Perhaps the most startling statistic featured in the report is that by 2040, the severity of crop failures once estimated to only occur once a century, will start happening every three decades.

“Action is urgently needed to understand risks better, to improve the resilience of the global food system to weather-related shocks and to mitigate their impact on people,” Benton continued. “Governments and businesses need to prepare people for not being able to eat certain crops or products anymore.”

Alexander Jones

Sources: Business Insider, BBC, Science Magazine
Photo: The Telegraph

papal_encyclical
Pope Francis’s encyclical is a timely response to the world’s most pressing challenge. Already, climate change is contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people every year. Attached, comes a costly price tag worth more than $1.2 trillion, according to the Guardian.

Since those who will bear the brunt of the burden will be the world’s most disadvantaged, the papal encyclical is even more imperative to understand in order to fully address global poverty.

Food Insecurity

The amount of food-insecure people will be anything up to 200 million people by 2050, and 24 million malnourished children. A lesser availability of food will make prices surge, resulting in a general 40-50 percent price increase by 2050, which will hurt the estimated 2 billion more impoverished people. The prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, said, “a 1C rise in temperature is associated with a 10 percent productivity loss in farming,” which equates to a $2.5 billion loss, or 2 percent loss in U.S. GDP.

Biodiversity Loss

Biodiversity loss is one of the main effects of climate change. As weather patterns shift, sensitive species are more likely to die out, inevitably affecting the many other species dependent on the original keystone species. The keystone species performs a crucial role to its ecosystem or habitat.

Extreme Weather

Scientific research indicates that climate change will result in stronger, more lasting, and more frequent storms. This affects the agricultural sector, which is for many developing nations one of the largest contributors to their economies. Thus, not only will extreme weather take more lives,but it will also take away fertile lands and replace them with over flooded and destroyed soil.

According to NASA, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecasts a global temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century. These storms may take 2 percent of the U.S. GDP by 2030.

Human Health

Extreme weather may lead to disease outbreaks. As temperatures increase, disease—ridden insects and other hosts are more likely to spread across wider niches, infecting populations unfamiliar and defenseless to the viruses. Malaria, dengue fever, cholera, and meningitis are among a few diseases that are prone to expand with global climate change.

The spread of allergenic plants, thanks to global warming, may also lead to an increase in human health cases worldwide. Air pollution, created by fossil fuel burning, also contributes to about 4.5 million premature deaths per year.

Global Economy

Damages by climate change value to about 1.6 percent of the global GDP. Researchers believe this will rise to 3.2 percent of global GDP within 15 years. The world’s least developed countries will suffer the greatest losses, losing up to 11 percent of their GDP.

The ugly truth is that climate change is, and will continue to upset every aspect of society from agriculture, energy, the economy, transportation, education, and even defense.

The papal encyclical has the potential to educate and inspire a massive population to embrace responsible stewardship. It will likely used by at least 1 billion Catholics, a large audience by anyone’s standards.

– Lin Sabones

Sources: The Guardian, NASA, USA News WWF,
Photo: Huffington Post

California_Agriculture_Drought
In 2013, California had its driest year ever. The problems brought upon by the state’s drought became so pressing on multiple levels that it even required the attention of the federal government.

Across the United States, California has established itself as one of the most agriculturally productive regions. The problem arises though because food exports out of California are expected to rise—and people of middle to lower income will receive the worst effects as a result.

In fact, California grows over 80 percent of numerous vegetables across the nation and the prices of them are expected to skyrocket.

However, people of California have been fairly successful in adapting to the drought. Joint initiatives across local and state levels of politics have begun to implement policies that save significant amounts of water. In addition to leading the way with cutting water usage by 20 percent, the state’s government has also asked its citizens to reciprocate their initiative.

With the magnitude of the drought that California has been experiencing for the past year, it is no surprise the state is said to be in “crisis mode” when it comes to water conservation.

But on a more positive note, after months of no rain, San Francisco finally got a bit of downpour. The rain provides somewhat of a break for the region, but the drought is expected to persist.

The reality of the situation is still quite a concern for the agricultural sector of California, which leads the nation as the top farming industry.  If the already longstanding drought continues through the future, the industry may contribute more unemployment to the region.

The energy sector is also expected to take a hit due to setbacks in California’s hydroelectric power production, which is also tied back to the drought. “It doesn’t just affect California’s ski industry or the rich farmlands of the central valley. It chokes the entire water system that underpins the state’s dams.”

The drought is coming at a time where other climate events are making headlines on an international scale. The polar vortex across the U.S. and the overwhelming heat wave in Australia only supplement reasons for the direction that California has been headed towards with clean energy development.

California has already been a national leader in renewable energy, yet it is still forced to adapt to climate events at local and state levels. However, because the federal government has had to address environmental concerns across domestic regions, significantly reducing carbon emissions may be placed into a much greater context with respect to its urgency.

– Jugal Patel

Sources: CBS News, Foreign Policy, Bloomberg, TIME
Photo: Huffington Post