The recent El Nino weather event in the world has caused food shortage, poverty, and panic in much of the middle class around the world. This is especially true in India, which has been greatly affected by the floods that have swept across the country in recent days. With millions facing food shortages this winter, the specter of a chronic food shortage looms over millions of people’s lives. However, one may not fully understand this catastrophe until they read the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC), released during the recent Earth Day. This panel is responsible for developing the report that discusses the impacts of climate change on the environment and how mankind can adapt to it. In its report, the panel notes that climate change is already having an effect on food prices and the consequences of which could be calamitous for future generations.
The panel noted that extreme weather events that are characterized by very high temperatures and extreme precipitation have resulted in a reduction in agricultural productivity in the areas most affected by them. These attacks of the extreme weather events have caused a drop in crop production, pushing down food prices, and causing mass starvation. Some countries, like Egypt, have suffered from severe drought, leading to a sharp increase in the price of food. These effects of climate change on food prices are directly related to the reduction in the availability of agricultural lands. As farming becomes more expensive, it becomes impossible for many people to even afford food, let alone eat.
This report emphasizes the need to alleviate this problem before it gets out of hand. The panel emphasized, “Food security is threatened due to increases in food prices and decreases in agricultural production.” In fact, it estimated that the expected rise in food prices as a result of this global food crisis would equal the loss of agricultural production worldwide. This will have a devastating effect on the poor people who make up the major chunk of the world’s population. It will also affect the economy of many developing countries in the way they continue to develop their economies.
Rising temperatures cause a reduction in the growth rate of the plants, which leads to lower production and a rise in food prices. This global food crisis has been made worse by the slowdown in the rate of economic growth in China, the major producer of global food. The slowing of China’s economy has led to a plunge in the value of the Chinese currency, further hurting the global food supply.
The panel added its voice to the global call for action against climate change. It said, “A combination of effective policies will be required to meet this challenge.” However, it added that there was no scope for global action on the basis of individual countries’ capacity to reduce emissions. Each country has its own responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the panel said. “A combination of national and intergovernmental action is needed to meet this challenge.” It called for a fundamental change in how we think of food as the key driver of climate change.
The panel concluded that a “nutrition-centered approach” would be more effective at dealing with the rapidly worsening condition of global food supplies. It called for “sound scientific research based on rigorous evidence about the adverse effects of climate change on food markets, farmers, and consumers.” The report recommends five steps: (a) urgent research; (b) technology development and deployment; (c) protection and innovation; (d) risk management and adaptation. The panel also recommended setting up a coordinating center to coordinate national efforts on agriculture, nutrition, and the environment. Such a coordinating center could be a vital hub to counter climate change and strengthen national action against food threats.
The panel expressed concern about the potential impact of climate change on agricultural productivity. It is estimated that the loss of agricultural productivity will cost one to two billion dollars per year by the end of the next decade. It said that the scope of damage caused by climate change is still speculative, but warned that the consequences of rapid and unchecked climate change are already being felt by people in many parts of the world. The report emphasized, “Food security is becoming a real problem for the global community.” In areas of poor nutrition, especially in Africa and Asia, malnutrition is becoming a major health problem.
The panel concluded its report by urging world governments to implement policies that will mitigate the negative impact of climate change on global food supplies. It called on all countries to take “immediate action” to mitigate the effects of climate change, to build the resilience of the global food system, and to improve the design of agricultural policies to minimize the negative impacts of climate change on food markets, farmers, and consumers. The report also stressed the need for increased funding to support research and the development of agricultural policies to deal with the global food crisis.