Climate ChangeEnvironment

Climate Change Imperils World’s Food Supply

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United Nations Report Raises Alarm


(Archived story. Original version is here.)

On August 8 the United Nations released an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report by 107 experts from 52 countries, which warns that the world’s food supply is at risk due to “unprecedented” climate change, combined with the exploitation of land and water resources.

The IPCC report states that managing land resources can help combat climate change. Desertification and land degradation lead to drylands, water scarcity, fire damage, permafrost degradation and food system instability. Climate change affects food security’s four components: 

  1. Availability (yield and production) 
  2. Access (prices and ability to obtain food) 
  3. Utilization (nutrition and cooking) 
  4. Stability (disruptions to availability). The report documents that about one third of food produced globally is lost or wasted.

“We will see different effects in different countries, but there will be more drastic impacts on low-income countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Priyadarshi Shukla, an IPCC working group co-chair.

half-billion people already live in places adversely damaged by climate change. Higher temperatures on land and ocean and extreme weather disasters — such as drought, heat waves and hurricanes — endanger food and water supplies and increase soil erosion and landslides.

The report concludes that there is still time to take action to safeguard the world’s food supply. All options to effect sustainable land use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including by growing plant-based fuels, must be considered. But, the IPCC warns, the window to fight climate change is closing fast.