Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) concluded:

“Recent studies indicate that increased frequency of heat stress, droughts and floods negatively affect crop yields and livestock beyond the impacts of mean climate change, creating the possibility for surprises, with impacts that are larger, and occurring earlier, than predicted using changes in mean variables alone. This is especially the case for subsistence sectors at low latitudes. Climate variability and change also modify the risks of fires, pest and pathogen outbreak, negatively affecting food, fiber and forestry.”

Farmers are having to prepare for the heavy challenges that await them all over the world. With climate change the protracted implications include temperature increases, leading to more frequent bouts of heatwaves and droughts. This poses a massive problem for crop production.

Not only will there be temperature increases affecting crop production but due to rising sea levels coastal flooding will become much more prominent and therefore will affect the space available for crop production.

The variety of effects that accompany climate change have led scientists to debate as to how much food supplies will decrease. Estimates vary hugely but are usually within the 10% to 50% band.

The main problems will occur in the developing world, where modern agricultural methods will not be as widely utilised. This puts an added pressure on the industrialised world, not only do we have the technology but with most of the developed world being in the Northern Hemisphere, our climates will not be so adversely affected.

Its sensible enough to assume that food prices will continue to rise. The problem being that primary industries aren’t the developed world’s speciality. The focus is definitely on manufacturing and services, and as a nation we rely heavily on imports. If there are those huge reductions, prices will have to increase to cater for the lower yields.

In North America, the rise in temperature could lead to a 27% decrease in production. In Africa however, more rainfall is due, increasing yields by potentially 30% if certain methods and technologies are adopted.

Its far too difficult to asses what specific food groups will be affected, and whether our diets will have to change. But its safe to assume the impetus will be on buying locally in the future.Picture 1