THE protracted crisis for food INsecurity is global climate change, or the multiple adverse impacts of global warming and climate change on crop productivity (please see site climatechange-foodsecurity.org).
At now unavoidable levels of global climate change the worst ever population and environmental health catastrophes must be expected and prepared for.
Any strategy for addressing food security must put urgent action on greenhouse gas emissions at the top of the action agenda. If those working for food security do not urge rapid action on emissions, who will?
We have known for many years that the regions most vulnerable to global climate change are where the most socio-economically deprived and vulnerable live.
Since the 2001 IPCC assessment it has been established that small increases in the global average temperature reduce crop yields in African and lower latitude regions. This also applies to 'localised small holders subsistence farmers and fishers' (IPCC AR4 2007). The food security therefore of billions of people is at risk at today's warming of 0.8C. Indeed research by Loebell out of Stanford has found discernible crop yield declines attributable to climate change affecting all the most vulnerable regions (Climate trends and global food production since 1980).
The future is far worse. Firstly, our simple summation research finds that today’s committed warming is above 3C by 2100 (this agrees with expert opinion that we now committing the world to a 4C warming). At 3C these billions of the most vulnerable suffer crop yield declines of over 50% according to very incomplete (so assumed) underestimating climate crop models.
Second, it is now becoming clear that the best food producing regions of the Northern hemisphere are not invulnerable to global climate change this century as has been assumed. There is good reason to think that temperate Northern hemisphere crops are going to suffer losses in the near future. In fact the same climate crop models show that all crop s in all regions are tipped into decline above a 1C warming with one exception, which is mid-high latitude wheat with assumed high CO2 fertilization benefit, and this goes into decline at 1.5C. The CO2 fertilization benefit is a highly dangerous assumption as it ignores increasing plant toxic ground level ozone, weeds, pests, heat waves, prolonged drought and floods. On top of this we have the rapid decline of NH albedo cooling from Far North Spring- Summer snow and Summer sea ice cover. The air conditioner of the entire Northern Hemisphere is melting away. The FAO has advised the days of cheap are over.
We can therefore expect volatile food prices to rise to unaffordable prices to the poor regions and the poor in all regions, as temperate NH crops are hit by increasing extreme weather events (more heat, drought and floods) - again affecting billions of people.
Only a radical reform of the world economy (that is badly biased to fossil fuel energy) and of the world food economy (badly biased against the most vulnerable populations) can mitigate the most terrible future losses of food and nutrition to billions of people.
Resepectfully submitted for this most important consultation,
Peter Carter, Canada
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These discussions are led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP)
and facilitated by the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)