Global Food Security at Risk: The Threat of Synchronised Harvest Failures

Climate change is a significant threat to global food security, with the potential for synchronised harvest failures caused by extreme weather events.

Despite the efforts of climate models, the true magnitude of this risk has been underestimated. Floods, droughts, storms, and other types of extreme weather threaten to disrupt and shrink the global food supply, leading to food shortages and increased poverty.

Food security is inextricably linked to a predictable climate and healthy ecosystems, and climate change is already threatening the production of food around the world.

Countries like Australia, the US, Canada, Russia, and the EU, which have long supplied the world with food surpluses, may soon find their yields diminished and prices soaring. But it’s not just these countries that will suffer; the impact will reverberate across the globe, affecting those who depend on food imports for their very survival.

What can governments and organisations do

Governments and organisations can take proactive steps to develop strategies for food production and access that can better withstand extreme weather events. Some strategies include:

  • Increasing organic carbon in soil to increase water retention, increasing resilience to drought.
  • Promoting education on food preservation and storage to reduce food waste.
  • Increasing public awareness of food security challenges caused by climate change.
  • Investing in research and development of crops that are more resilient to extreme weather events.
  • Developing policies that support sustainable agriculture practices.
  • Providing financial support to farmers to help them adapt to the impacts of climate change.
  • Encouraging the use of renewable energy in agriculture to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Food Security Statistics

Climate change is already affecting food security through increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and greater frequency of some extreme events.

Rising food commodity prices in 2021 were a major factor in pushing approximately 30 million additional people in low-income countries toward food insecurity, due to a decrease in crop yields resulting from extreme weather events.

Food security — the reliable access to safe, affordable, and nutritious food — is linked to a predictable climate and healthy ecosystems. Climate change and associated severe weather, droughts, fires, pests, and diseases are threatening the production of food around the world. Unless we act decisively, the poorest and most vulnerable people in countries that rely heavily on food imports for their food security will suffer, and instability will increase.

It’s recently been estimated that the global food system is responsible for about a third of greenhouse gas emissions—second only to the energy sector. Agriculture is the number one source of methane and biodiversity loss.

Impact on Agriculture from Climate Change

Climate change is having a significant impact on agriculture due to changing weather patterns.

Average global crop yields for corn may see a decrease of 24% by late century, with declines becoming apparent by 2030 according to a NASA study. Wheat, in contrast, may see an uptick in crop yields by about 17%.

The change in yields is due to the projected increases in temperature, shifts in rainfall patterns and elevated surface carbon dioxide concentrations due to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, making it more difficult to grow maize in the tropics, and expanding wheat’s growing range.

Our food security is at risk, and we must act now. Investing in research and development, promoting sustainable land management, and providing support to farming communities are crucial steps towards ensuring a stable and secure food supply for all.

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