Climate change is already making it harder to grow crops and access clean water, raising the risk of hunger for millions of people across the globe. In fact, the United Nations has warned that climate change could push an additional 122 million people into poverty by 2030. We live in a world of climate change — if we do not take action to address the causes, food insecurity will only worsen.
The Problem: Food Insecurity in a World of Climate Change
- Drought and Crop Losses
Drought is one of the most common effects of climate change, and it poses a serious threat to food security. Droughts can lead to crop loss and decreased water availability, which can make it difficult for farmers to keep irrigation systems functioning. In extreme cases, droughts can also lead to wildfires.
- Flooding and Infrastructure Damage
Flooding is another common effect of climate change that can damage crops, homes, and critical infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Flooding can also contaminate water supplies with chemical pollutants and increase the spread of disease.
- Extreme Weather and Human Displacement
Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more intense due to climate change, and they can have a devastating impact on food security. Hurricanes, for example, can damage crops, homes, and infrastructure. They can also displace people, making it difficult for them to access food.
The Solutions: Building Resilience to Feed a Growing Population
There are a number of ways to address the problem of climate change and food insecurity.
- Agricultural Adaptation
Agricultural adaptation measures (such as better water management and crop diversification) can help to make farms more resilient to climate change. Water management is a particularly important adaptation measure, as drought is expected to become more common in many parts of the world. Crop diversification is also important, as it can help to protect against crop loss due to extreme weather events.
- Reducing Agricultural Emissions
Reducing emissions from agriculture (through improved livestock practices and clean energy use) can help to mitigate the problem of climate change. Improving livestock practices (such as feed efficiency and waste management) can help to reduce methane emissions from agriculture. And using clean energy (such as solar and wind power) can help to reduce emissions from farm machinery and irrigation.
- Building a Global Food Security System
Building an effective global food security system (by strengthening food systems and connecting smallholders to markets) can help to ensure that everyone has access to nutritious food. Strengthening food systems includes measures such as improving food storage and transport, as well as developing early warning systems for food shortages. Connecting smallholders to markets (through initiatives such as mobile banking and e-commerce) can help to ensure that they have access to the finance and information they need to produce nutritious food.
Climate change is a major threat to food security, and it is expected to cause crop losses, infrastructure damage, and human displacement in the future. However, there are a number of ways to address the problem, including agricultural adaptation measures, reducing emissions from agriculture, and building an effective global food security system. By taking these steps, we can build a more resilient world that can better withstand the effects of climate change.