The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms that climate change has already cut into the global food supply and is fuelling wars and natural disasters. Unfortunately, governments are unprepared to protect those most at risk.
The latest report is the first update in seven year (watch video below). What is clear is that impacts are not just distant threat, but impacts are directly affecting people.
The most scary part that caught the attention of governments officials from 115 countries was the finding that climate change could threaten global food security.
There is enough evidence to say for certain that climate change is affecting food production on land and sea.
The rate of increase in crop yields is slowing – especially in wheat – raising doubts as to whether food production will keep up with the demand of a growing population. Wheat is the first big staple crop to be affected by climate change, because it is sensitive to heat and is grown around the world, from Pakistan to Russia to Canada. Projections suggest that wheat yields could drop 2% a decade.
Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns could lead to food price rises of between 3% and 84% by 2050.
Other food sources are also under threat. Fish catches in some areas of the tropics are projected to fall by between 40% and 60%, according to the report.
The report also connected climate change to rising food prices and political instability, for instance the riots in Asia and Africa after food price shocks in 2008.
The scientists also detected climate having an effect on heatwaves, droughts and flooding across the globe, and warned that those events would take a disproportionate toll on poor, weak and elderly people. The scientists said governments did not have systems in place to protect those populations. Warming of more than two degrees would increase the risks of “severe, pervasive and irreversible” consequences, the report said.
The report also warned for the first time that climate change, combined with poverty and economic shocks, could lead to war and drive people to leave their homes.
“Climate change can indirectly increase risks of violent conflicts,” the report said. It also warned that hundreds of millions of people in south Asia and south-east Asia will be affected by coastal flooding and land loss by 2100.