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.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid