Early today, a United Nations (U.N.) report composed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was released in Geneva, Switzerland, detailing the fast approaching effects of climate change and their impact on global food security.
The report examined the correlations between various measures such as rising earth temperatures, soil degradation, and carbon dioxide emissions to analyze the future of food security worldwide. Soil is being lost significantly faster than it is forming which is made worse by the weather effects of global warming such as flooding, wildfires, and droughts. In an effort to create more usable soil, many countries are draining wetlands, a process that, for every 2.5 acres drained, produces the equivalent amount of Carbon Dioxide as burning 6,000 gallons of gasoline. Others are clearing forests to make room for livestock, which every year releases an emissions level equal to driving 600 million cars.
All of these statistics are just a part of the broader narrative on food security. By 2050, the population is estimated to reach almost 10 billion people. With ten percent of the population already undernourished, humans currently taking up over 70 percent of ice-free land, and the amount of viable soil shrinking rapidly, the world is set up to experience a major food shortage very soon. Earlier this month, Liu Zhenmin, the U.N. undersecretary-general for economic and social affairs, stated that “there’s been no good progress” on ending hunger, which he called “a tragedy for the international community.”
The report did outline ways to correct the damage done; however, action must be taken immediately. Researchers called for a re-evaluation of land use and human behavior surrounding agriculture and food products. Lowering the amount of food waste will have an immediate impact on the amount of land required for the agriculture industry, decreasing the need to employ practices that produce a large amount of carbon dioxide emissions and slowing the rate of deforestation.
While issues of food security are heavily concentrated in areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, the United States is heavily impacted as well. In Texas, a state which recently ended a program that helped low-income families pay their electric bills, one in six families are forced to choose between putting food on the table and financing other expenses. Those most at risk of food insecurity are African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, single-parent households and households in rural communities.
Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 9/12/16; AP News 7/10/19; IPCC 8/8/19; UN News 8/8/19; New York Times 8/8/19