Sunday, June 12, 2011

Climate Change and Food

Growing Food Insecurity

~ A detailed study highlights how small changes in climate will have huge impacts on the food supply to billions of people, especially in the still-developing world.

CGIAR map of climate-induced food insecurity

The CGIAR Research Program study, "Mapping Hotspots of Climate Change and Food Insecurity in the Global Tropics," is the product of a team of scientists focused on "especially disastrous" impacts with the potential to affect billions.
The researchers pinpointed areas of intense vulnerability by examining a variety of climate models and indicators of food problems to create a series of detailed maps. One shows regions around the world at risk of crossing certain "climate thresholds" -- such as temperatures too hot for maize or beans -- that over the next 40 years could diminish food production. Another shows regions that may be sensitive to such climate shifts because in general they have large areas of land devoted to crop and livestock production. And finally, scientists produced maps of regions with a long history of food insecurity.

Troubling trends include decreasing length of growing periods, extreme weather events, droughts and floods, as well as the challenge of higher ambient temperatures.
[The] study suggests is that the speed of climate shifts and the magnitude of the changes required to adapt could be much greater. In some places, farmers might need to consider entirely new crops or new farming systems.
One mitigation would be to greatly increase the global trade in food, but there are many obvious problems with that too, including higher costs, and an even greater reliance on fossil inputs.

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