Monday, March 1, 2010

Climate change impact on food prices and hunger

Many scientists believe that impact that climate change will have on hunger and global food prices will be quite large in years to come. The latest study by new Stanford University has also concluded that that higher temperatures could significantly reduce yields of wheat, rice and maize in the next 20 years, and such scenario would likely cause food prices to rise substantially which will in the end result in global increase in number of poor people that will struggle to survive.

However we must look this problem from more than just one dimension. To many of us the most logical thing seems the conclusion that if food prices are about to increase, this will automatically increase the amount of poverty in the world as poor people will have to spend a lot more money on food. This is true for some people but it cannot be applied to all people because "poor people category" has many different subcategories including people who farm their own land and they would for instance be actually benefiting from higher crop prices. The most affected will be definitely poor people that live in cities.

This study has come up with the three possible scenarios. According to the first scenario if global temperatures will rise 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) by 2030 then there will be relatively little change in crop yields, food prices and poverty rates.

Second scenario that includes temperatures increase by 2.7 F by 2030 is likely to cause a 10 to 20 percent drop in agricultural productivity, which will result in a 10 to 60 percent rise in the price of rice, wheat and maize, and the overall poverty rate will rise about three percent.

Under the third scenario in which global temperatures rise just 0.9 F (0.5 C), crop productivity would actually be increased, and there would be even surplus in food that could lead to a 16 percent drop in food prices.

Many scientists believe that the most likely of these three scenarios is the first scenario so in the next 20 years there should be no significant change in food prices and poverty. But if we continue with excessive carbon emissions we will not be able to avoid increase in food prices and global poverty because higher temperatures will significantly decrease the agricultural productivity, and food prices could skyrocket.

Therefore the world must do everything in its power to halt the further strengthening of climate change impact because otherwise poverty will rule the world. Even today there are around billion hungry people in the world, and unless we do something about climate change this big number will soon become lot bigger.

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