The latest Climate Report from the IPCC, confirms that climate change is and will increasingly cause food supply shocks. Harvests are predicted to fail simultaneously in multiple major food-producing countries. Such shocks will lead to shortages and price spikes. Climate change is a “threat multiplier,” making hunger emergencies worse. In some cases, it will be the primary cause. Food productivity is already down 21%.
Climate change does not act in isolation, it compounds food shortages from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, and makes risks increasingly complex and difficult to manage. Climate change is affecting agricultural productivity in many different ways. Climate change causes increases in mean and extreme temperatures, alters rain and snow amounts, changes the intensity and timing monsoons and storms .
Elevated CO2 concentrations cause uneven increases in temperatures worldwide. Fluctuating wind and jet stream patterns can bring arctic air south and tropical moist air into the arctic.
It is predicted that the world’s population will hit 10 billion people in 2050. It is also predicted that by 2050, we will have hotter temperatures, increased flooding, disruptions in rainy seasons, sea level rise, reduced access to freshwater, all of which will make feeding them more challenging.
The IPCC report demonstrates that if we surpass 1.5°C of warming in the next two decades, even temporarily will result in irreversible impacts to crop, animal and seafood production. Every inhabited region of the world will experience the effects of climate change on food.
Over 40 percent of the global population, already lives in places that are going to be devastated by climate impacts. Despite contributing the least to the problem, they face with the worst impacts and have little or no adaptation funding.
We laugh at the thought of lemmings running off cliffs into the sea. But humanity has all of the knowledge we need to know that we need to act immediately to build resiliency into our food production and distribution. And rather than taking action, the majority of people are continuing like zombies toward the cliff. We need to mobilize the resources necessary to prepare to the crisis we know is just around the corner.
We have to anticipate crop failures and encourage more production on moderate and low yield areas, so if, using an example from this year, floods reduce the wheat harvest in China at the same time that Russia and Ukraine go to war and potentially reduce global wheat supplies by 30%, there are alternate sources of food. We can do it. We need to stop being polite and demand action. Millions of people are at peril if these preparations are not made.