Food insecurity is becoming an increasingly large problem because of climate change.
Climate change is often seen as a myth or a “hoax,” as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has called it, largely because the effects of it are not clearly seen yet. Though this may seem true for communities that don’t live off of the land or have the money to combat the effects (through simple luxuries like air conditioning or big things like home insurance when flooding occurs), the global community is certainly suffering.
Food security is something that many middle class and above people don’t fret about, but it’s becoming an overwhelming issue that will eventually affect everyone. While some blame overpopulation, this is just a component in a much bigger problem. Climate change is adversely affecting land and seas everywhere, and soon this will be something that everyone must contend with.
That being said, here are four of the ways that climate change is currently affecting food security around the world.
The people who cause the least emissions are, unfairly, suffering the most from climate change
It’s extremely unfair, but poorer countries and communities that are causing the least amount of emissions are already feeling the effects of global warming. Climate change causes extreme weather on both ends of the spectrum, and this weather is harming people living in the developing world. It causes droughts, flooding, extreme heat and cold, and is hurting crops worldwide and those that rely on the production for their livelihood.
To look at a more specific example, the severity of the El Nino weather system caused 4 million people in Papua New Guinea to go without water as the horrible conditions persisted. The small nation produces 83% of its food in-country, meaning the unusually harsh weather that destroyed their crops is also causing them to go hungry.
Women in poor nations lose the only thing they own: crops
In most poor countries, women are able to own crops, but they aren’t able to own land. While it’s great that they can work autonomously to produce their own crops for sustenance and selling, it’s horrible when extreme weather hits and they are left with nothing. While crops can be demolished from one bad flood, the land beneath them remains and landowners don’t lose their investment. Since the women don’t own the land, all of their assets have been wiped out and they must start over with no income to hold them over in the meantime. As a result, some women cannot afford to rent the land while they start growing again so they completely back out or produce fewer crops on the small amount of land they can afford. Not only does the weather wipe out vital crops, but less are grown in the aftermath.
An increase in the change in climate means less fish are in the sea
A recent report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change revealed that extreme changes in weather affect the ocean and tropical fish behavior. Many fish die when they aren’t able to cope with the extreme weather and how it changes the ocean climate and behavior, and many more react in strange ways. This includes diving deeper to reach colder regions and becoming inaccessible to fisherman. The report stated that fish catches in some tropical areas are down between 40-60%, meaning fish are dying at an alarming rate and become less available in the marketplace.
Price increases cause more unstable governments (and hungrier citizens)
Price increases that affect food are occurring in a number of regions and are also a result of climate change. As water becomes less available or extreme weather wipes out fields, the number of crops being grown declines while the demand stays the same. The price of food then increases, which causes civil unrest for those that absolutely cannot afford it. A report from the International Monetary Fund showed that there is a strong correlation between rising food prices and “deterioration of democratic institutions.”
Since little is being done to combat the rapidly changing climate, the price increases are inevitable and will certainly hurt people around the world. For example, the Institute for Food Policy Research suggested that prices for foods like maize and sorghum, which are staples for sub-Saharan Africans, will increase 100% by 2050.
As horrible as climate change is in general for all people and animals, it’s consequences such as these that will hopefully help people realize that what humans are doing is adversely affecting everyone. Find out how to lessen your carbon footprint here to help do your part.
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