Climate Change global food crisis

Published on October 29th, 2011 | by Tim Tyler

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Global Food Crisis (Global Crisis Series)

October 29th, 2011 by

food crisis

Just as the world is fragile and susceptible to devastation, so is the human race. If the perfect balance that keeps humanity together is disrupted, then some of the consequences can be quite unfortunate. The perfect balance that keeps the world in harmony is being disrupted and the possibility of a major catastrophe is imminent. There is an ominous global crisis about to transpire from a shortage of food and a decline in the global financial system, and it will have a dire effect on all humanity.

The possibility of a global food shortage is looming and the effects could be felt in the near future. There are several factors that contribute to this global dilemma. There is not one factor that is solely responsible for the problem, but a combination of factors that are disrupting the balance of the global food supply. With a likely end result being a shortage in the food supply, this will have an adverse effect on everyone.

Some of the more apparent reasons for a global food shortage at the moment are climate change, increased population, and plant diseases.

What is a Food Crisis?

“A food crisis occurs when rates of hunger and malnutrition rise sharply at local, national, or global levels. This definition distinguishes a food crisis from chronic hunger, although food crises are far more likely among populations already suffering from prolonged hunger and malnutrition. A food crisis is usually set off by a shock to either supply or demand for food and often involves a sudden spike in food prices.” Timmer, C. (2010)

–>> You might also like: Global Financial Crisis (Global Crisis Series)

Climate Change & Food Shortage

The effects of climate change are the leading cause of a food shortage. The world is experiencing a catastrophic change in weather patterns. Storms are becoming more volatile and droughts are becoming more severe. These changes are having an effect on crop production around the world.  Some of the weather conditions that are associated with climate change are extreme cold, extreme heat, and excessive amounts of rain and snow. These conditions contribute to damaged crops around to world.

“A report by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute says climate change will reduce irrigated wheat yields by 30 per cent in developing countries by 2050, pushing prices up by as much as 121 per cent. Irrigated rice yields are forecast to fall by 15 per cent and rice prices are expected to rise by up to 150 per cent.” Asa Wahlquist, R. (2009)

Global Population Growth & Food Crisis

The global population is growing at an alarming rate and providing enough food to combat this problem is becoming challenging. The current rate of food production will not be enough to feed the growing population. Food production will have to be increased according to the growth of the world’s population if we are to avoid a total food crisis.

“Global food production must increase by 50% to meet the projected demand of the world’s population by 2050. Meeting this difficult challenge will be made even harder if climate change melts portions of the Himalayan glaciers to affect 25% of world cereal production in Asia by influencing water availability.” Chakraborty, S. S., & Newton, A. C. (2011).

In order to have a sustainable future, more farmland will have to be designated to increase crop production. Accurate assessments of the growing population will have to be made in order to have enough supplies to feed the demand. With an increasing population, great caution will have to be taken to offset the effects of climate change and to prevent plant diseases from occurring.

Plant Disease

While climate change plays a big part in damaging the world food supply, plant diseases contribute to this dilemma as well.

Plant disease can demolish entire crops and spread to other crops within in a region. Plant diseases are hard to control, since they are usually discovered after they have infected the crops. “Pest and disease management has played its role in doubling food production in the last 40 years, but pathogens still claim 10-16% of the global harvest.” Chakraborty, S. S., & Newton, A. C. (2011). 

While plant diseases are not as significant as other causes of crop failure, they are a big concern to overall food supply, as anything that has an adverse effect on production can be devastating. Controlling plant disease will have to be considered on the global scale to ensure that the limited crops that are able to be grown are not damaged by disease.

Shortage of Food.. Who Will It Affect?

A shortage in food will drive food prices to unaffordable levels that most cannot sustain“Higher food prices are devastating for the over three billion poor people around the world who live on less than $2 U.S. dollars (USD) a day and spend 60 to 80 percent of their incomes on food.

With food prices predicted to rise by an annual rate of 10 percent over the next 10 years, the number of hungry people is expected to rise from around 890 million today to around 1.2 billion by 2025.” feu-us.org

In the event of a food shortage, the possibility of riots and chaos against governments pose a significant risk. If food supplies become too low, then the ability to replenish supplies will take a long period of time. This will result in people in less wealthy countries suffering from starvation and death. Malnutrition from lack of food will cause pandemics of diseases that could spread globally. I think the results of a likely food shortage will contribute to the start of a global crisis.

Image Credit: AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Oxfam International

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About the Author

Holds an electronic's engineering degree and is working toward a second degree in IT/web development. Enjoy's renewable energy topic's and has a passion for the environment. Part time writer and web developer, full time husband and father.



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  • http://www.larouchepac.com lastugro

    This article totally ignores two major irrigation projects of the planet; NAWAPA and Transaqua.
    Both this projects – proposed in the 1960’s – would green all North American deserts (NAWAPA) and the Sahara (Transaqua) but were axed because… greening the deserts would not be desirable according to the environmentalists. Transaqua would make the Sahara countries big food exporters. NAWAPA (North America water and Power Alliance) would have at least trippled the food production in North America. Instead this article blames a vague climate change which can not be scientifically proven as being caused by man’s activities while keeping the reader in the dark about NAWAPA and Transaqua.

    Do your own research and search on http://www.larouchepac.com : “NAWAPA”, “Transaqua”.
    Also check this out – food shortages in the USA now !!! http://larouchepac.com/node/19536

    Further on the article blames the food price rises on the… weather. The author has never heard of a financial “crisis” where the bailouts have produced an explosion of bailout money, a massive fresh money mass looking for SPECULATIONS wherever there is something on a bone to be devoured. Yes, the main factor of the recent food price increases is SPECULATION. Weather is NOT a speculator and the food production is actually only dwindling because… of the biofuel subsidies. Wall Street is a scavanging speculator gentlemen and is leveraging the bailout money to speculate on every profitable commodity including your very food.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/zshahan/ Zachary Shahan

      actually, the next piece of this series is on the financial crisis caused by such people and systems.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/zshahan/ Zachary Shahan

      furthermore, though, not acknowledging that the climate is a factor is ridiculous. it shows that you follow one specific aspect of the food markets but not this one, which is also important.

      Over 10% of the rice export world leaders’ rice destroyed by flooding. Most costly flood in Thai history a couple weeks ago (still increasing today) http://planetsave.com/2011/10/19/thailand-suffers-most-costly-flooding-in-history-10-of-annual-rice-crop-destroyed/

      Tremendous drought in the U.S. this year, causing $5.2 billion in crop losses in Texas alone. http://thinkprogress.org/green/2011/08/31/309138/economic-impact-of-texas-drought-could-be-greater-than-cost-from-irene/ (drought still going, too)

      Tremendous wheat losses in Russia last year from unprecedented fires. Russia decided not to export any wheat, driving the cost up.

      Also crop losses from record-breaking floods, droughts, hurricanes in other parts of the world.

      This is also having an impact

  • Mike

    See, this is why so many people remain unconvinced by the Green’s arguments. You take a perfectly reasonable concern and blow it way out of proportion and make claims that are simply not sustainable.

    To state “The effects of climate change are the leading cause of a food shortage” in the present tense is misleading in the extreme. Crop yields are at record levels according to the FAO. The main cause of rising food prices at the moment, as the UN and others have made clear, is the drive for biofuels to . . . wait for it . . . help combat climate change. No one now thinks this was a good idea. It has been described by the UN’s special rapporteur on the Right to Food as following “a criminal path”.

    Good article, but c’mon guys. More science, less hysteria please?

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