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

Why People are Still Hungry


Poverty and hunger are often accepted as issues that have little hope of going away completely because they are so widespread. In reality, however, it is quite the opposite. For example, the world produces more than enough food to feed everyone, which could, in turn, lead to dissolving global hunger and some aspects of global poverty.

The World Health Organization reported that between 2006 and 2008, there was enough food available to feed everyone in the world 2,790 calories each day. This amount increased from the 1960’s by 570 calories person/day.

The availability of food to those in poverty has decreased the percentage of chronically malnourished people from 34% in the 1970’s to 15% at the turn of the 21st century.

Despite this increase in available calories and decrease of impoverished people, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found in studies from 2012 to 2014 that “805 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, were [are] suffering from chronic undernourishment.”

Of that 805 million still undernourished people, 11 million reside in developed countries; however, the other 794 million people are from developing countries.

With enough food available to feed everyone, the question remains: why is the food not being distributed more equitably to those suffering from hunger and malnutrition?

A multitude of reasons go into why the food available is not reaching those who need it. The ability (or lack thereof) to mobilize the food is at the forefront. The cost of shipping food can greatly restrict its ability to be transported to areas in need. However, developed countries waste 222 million tons of food each year. That wasted food requires transportation to landfills. Rather than moving food to landfills, the money to move it could be directed to transporting it to people in need.

The 222 million tons of food wasted each year by developed countries is equal to “the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa,” according to World Environment Day. Making that wasted food available to those impoverished and hungry would drastically improve lives around the world.

A lack of healthcare and education also impacts the poverty rates around the world. Entering the 21st century with a billion people unable to read makes the possibility of rising out of poverty more difficult for individuals.

In a similar way, healthcare hinders the ability of individuals and families to rise out of poverty. When that individual or a family member is sick and unable to work and help the family, it makes feeding the family that much more difficult.

Food, education and healthcare all come back to one another in the world of poverty. As they each improve, it allows for people to worry less about where they are going to get their next meal. As long as food that could feed those in need is going to waste, and the healthcare and education the poor deserve is not being provided, poverty will continue to exist.

– Katherine Wyant

Sources: Global Issues, 2015 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics
Photo: Pearls of Profundity


What is the Global Food Security Index?
The Global Food Security Index ranks 105 countries according to their access to affordable, available and quality food.  The index was launched in 2012 by The Economist – Intelligence Unit (EIU) with sponsorship from the DuPont Corporation. The index is a dynamic quantitative and qualitative scoring model, constructed from 25 unique indicators which measure drivers of food security across both developing and developed countries.

Food security is defined as the state in which people at all times have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs for a healthy and active life based on the definition established at the 1996 World Food Summit. The overall goal of the study is to assess which countries are most and least vulnerable to food insecurity through the categories of Affordability, Availability, and Quality and Safety.

Beginning in October 2012, the EIU began updating the index on a quarterly basis to adjust for the impact of fluctuating food prices. This food price adjustment factor is applied to each country’s Affordability score and is based on changes in income growth and global and domestic food prices. Over time, countries’ scores improve if food prices fall, and deteriorate if prices rise. The country-specific adjustments and their goal of translating fluctuations in global food prices to the national level result in different levels of score changes for each country, with vulnerable countries hurt the most by rising prices.

All scores are normalized on a scale of 0-100 where 100=most favorable. There are scores based on three categories: 1. Affordability, 2. Availability, and 3. Quality and Safety.

As of the first quarter of 2013, the top three scores and the bottom three scores in each category are as follows:


Top three countries: USA (95.2), Australia (92.4), Switzerland (91.5)

Bottom three countries: Madagascar (20.4), DR Congo (17.4), Chad (14.4)


Top three countries: Denmark (92.4), Norway (91.8), France (88.3)

Bottom three countries: Niger (25.0), Haiti (22.4), Chad (21.7)

Quality & Safety

Top three countries: France (90.2), Israel (90.2), USA (89.3)

Bottom three countries: Togo (22.7), Ethiopia (20.0), DR Congo (16.1)

In a report titled ‘The Global Food Security Index 2012: An assessment of food affordability, availability and quality’, the EIU found that there is a positive correlation between countries with good food security and their related policies. Example policies include improving access to financing for local farmers, developing food safety net programs like school feeding programs, investing in agricultural technology, research & development, and promoting nutrition awareness.

Other key findings from the report :

  • The U.S., Denmark, Norway and France are the most food-secure countries in the world.
  • The food supply in advanced countries averages 1,200 calories more per person per day than in low-income economies.
  • Most food secure nations score less well for micronutrient availability.
  • Several of the sub-Saharan African countries that finished in the bottom third of the index, including Mozambique, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Nigeria, will be among the world’s faster-growing economies during the next two years.
  • China experienced the least volatility of agricultural production during the last 20 years, and three North African countries—Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria—among the most.
  • Landlocked countries fared nearly as well as those with a coastline.

– Maria Caluag

Source: Global Food Security Index
Photo: UN Earth News