Global warming makes mouths hungry

According to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, almost a third of the world’s cultivated fields and livestock rangelands will be unsuitable for food production by the end of this century if emissions responsible for global warming are not greatly reduced.

There will be higher prices and 80 million more people at risk of hunger.

“No region will be spared,” said Rachel Bezner Kerr, IPCC lead author and global development researcher at Cornell University.

Scientists say the worst effects of climate change would begin to kick in if global temperatures rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The planet is expected to reach the 1.5 degree threshold within two decades.

Climate change has already stunted food production growth by around 21% over the past six decades – at a time when demand is increasing with population growth, the report says.

Heavy rains, high temperatures and poor soil quality are some of the things that will stumble grain supplies. Yields of corn, rice and wheat are expected to drop 10-25% for each degree of warming.

Hot or humid regions, including Southeast Asia, would suffer the most.

The impacts are not limited to land. Marine heat waves, ocean acidification, salt water infiltrating freshwater areas and harmful algal blooms are wreaking havoc on seafood.

Fish currently accounts for around 17 percent of global meat consumption and is expected to increase. But global fish yields have declined by 4.1% due to climate change between 1930 and 2010, according to the IPCC report, with some regions experiencing losses of up to 35%. As global temperatures continue to rise, this trend is expected to continue.


Teresa H. Sadler