News / Africa

    Climate Change Threatens World Food Production

    Report identifies 'hotspots' of future food insecurity

    Parts of India could eventually lose more than 5 percent of the growing season as a result of climate change. Here, an Indian woman cuts crops in Burha Mayong on May 26, 2011.
    Parts of India could eventually lose more than 5 percent of the growing season as a result of climate change. Here, an Indian woman cuts crops in Burha Mayong on May 26, 2011.

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Higher temperatures and changing rainfall patterns resulting from global climate change will threaten food production in many parts of the world - especially regions in the tropics already struggling with food security, according to a new report.

    How climate change affects you depends on more than just how it affects your local weather. It also depends on how much the weather matters to your livelihood, and how well you can cope with the changes.

    Identifying food insecurity hotspots

    Philip Thornton, with the International Livestock Research Institute, is one of the authors of the new report, a joint effort by a group of international agricultural research centers. Thornton and his colleagues wanted to find what they called “hotspots” of future food insecurity: places with the greatest exposure to climate change, highest sensitivity to its impacts, and the least ability to cope with them.

    Other studies have looked at the effect of climate change on growing conditions in certain regions. But Thornton says figuring out how that interacts with other factors affecting food security is a challenge.

    "It's very difficult to look directly at things like sensitivity of the food systems to climate change impacts, or even the coping capacity of populations to address the impacts. And so we used proxies."

    They used a region's cropland area as a proxy for sensitivity to climate change because changes in the weather would have bigger impacts on areas with more farmland. To examine coping capacity, they looked at national data on the prevalence of children stunted by malnutrition.

    They combined this data with climate change models that predict the impacts on temperature and rainfall by 2050 to come up with maps of the most vulnerable areas of the tropics.

    'Double whammy'

    For example, higher temperatures are expected to shorten growing seasons in the tropics. The report looks at areas expected to lose more than five percent of the growing season and finds about 270 million people highly vulnerable to this impact.

    That area includes much of South Asia, especially India; Nigeria, Niger, Mali and other parts of West Africa; and parts of Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia and other areas of East and Southern Africa.

    These are regions, Thornton notes, where hunger is already a problem. "It's almost like a double-whammy, if you like."

    Other criteria give smaller impacts. But the basic outlines are the same.

    Kansas State University professor Chuck Rice was a member of the 2007 U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He notes that some of the countries most sensitive to climate change and least able to cope with it, also have among the highest rates of population growth, which puts yet another strain on their food security.

    "I think that really pushes the need for increasing funding, not only for research but for outreach efforts to develop mitigation, but also adaptation strategies."

    Experts say those strategies include switching to more drought- and heat-tolerant crops, better water management techniques and insurance for crops and livestock to help farmers cope with the climate changes expected during the coming decades.


    Steve Baragona

    Steve Baragona is an award-winning multimedia journalist covering science, environment and health.

    He spent eight years in molecular biology and infectious disease research before deciding that writing about science was more fun than doing it. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in journalism in 2002.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora