Climate shocks in just one country could disrupt global food supply

Climate shocks in just one country could disrupt global food supply

SOURCE: Reuters DATE: March 20, 2020 SNIP: Catastrophic crop failures caused by extreme weather in just one country could disrupt global food supplies and drive price spikes in an interconnected world, exposing how climate change threatens global stability, researchers said on Friday. They examined how the global trade and supplies of wheat, a crop used for food staples like bread and pasta, would be affected by four years of severe drought in the United States, one of the world’s top exporters of the grain. Based on two models of how countries could try to meet their needs, an international research team found the United States would deplete nearly all its wheat reserves after four years in both scenarios, while global stocks could drop by 31%. The 174 countries to which America exports wheat would see their reserves decrease, even though they did not themselves suffer failed harvests, according to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. “It affects almost every country in the world because the U.S. has so many trade links,” said lead author Alison Heslin, a researcher at Columbia University’s Center for Climate Systems Research and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Those links mean there is a cascading effect, either directly from the United States or via one of its trading partners, which could reduce the amount of wheat available and increase prices, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. As reserves are depleted, changes in production would have a bigger impact on the price of food, Heslin added. Reduced global reserves would also mean a smaller buffer against future shocks such as...
Newly identified jet-stream pattern could imperil global food supplies

Newly identified jet-stream pattern could imperil global food supplies

SOURCE: Phys.org DATE: December 9, 2019 SNIP: Scientists have identified systematic meanders in the globe-circling northern jet stream that have caused simultaneous crop-damaging heat waves in widely separated breadbasket regions-a previously unquantified threat to global food production that, they say, could worsen with global warming. The research shows that certain kinds of waves in the atmospheric circulation can become amplified and then lock in place for extended periods, triggering the concurrent heat waves. Affected parts of North America, Europe and Asia together produce a quarter of the world food supply. The study appears this week in the journal Nature Climate Change. “We found a 20-fold increase in the risk of simultaneous heat waves in major crop-producing regions when these global-scale wind patterns are in place,” said lead author Kai Kornhuber, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “Until now, this was an underexplored vulnerability in the food system. During these events there actually is a global structure in the otherwise quite chaotic circulation. The bell can ring in multiple regions at once.” Kornhuber warned that the heat waves will almost certainly become worse in coming decades, as the world continues to warm. The meanders that cause them could also potentially become more pronounced, though this is less certain. Because food commodities are increasingly traded on a global scale, either effect could lead to food shortages even in regions far from those directly affected by heat waves. The jet stream is a fast-moving river of air that continuously circles the northern hemisphere from west to east. It generally confines itself to a relatively narrow band, but can meander north...
IPCC Report Shows Food System Overhaul Needed to Save the Climate

IPCC Report Shows Food System Overhaul Needed to Save the Climate

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: August 8, 2019 SNIP: Negotiators for the world’s governments signed off on a report Wednesday that describes in alarming detail how agriculture, deforestation and other human impacts on lands are transforming the climate. The report, from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), shows the urgent need to overhaul the global food system to help control climate-warming emissions. Written by more than 100 scientists from around the globe, it takes an unprecedented look at the impacts of climate change on lands and the effects of land use on the climate. The authors say that the entire food production system, with transportation and packaging included, accounts for as much as 37 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, and that better land use, less-meat-intensive diets and eliminating food waste should be global priorities, crucial to the immediate, all-out effort needed to forestall a climate catastrophe. “There’s no doubt the window is closing rapidly,” said Pamela McElwee, one of the report’s authors and a professor of human ecology at Rutgers University. “That’s a key message of this...
Climate Change Is Taking a Bigger Toll on Our Food, Water, and Land Than We Realized

Climate Change Is Taking a Bigger Toll on Our Food, Water, and Land Than We Realized

SOURCE: Mother Jones DATE: August 8, 2019 SNIP: As the planet warms, parts of the world face new risks of food and water shortages, expanding deserts, and land degradation, warns a major new report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Those effects are already underway, and some of them could soon become irreversible. The changing climate has already likely contributed to drier climates in South and East Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East, reducing the food and water supply. In 2015, about 500 million people lived in dry areas that experienced desertification in recent decades as a result of human activities. Those problems are only going to get worse as climate change continues to take its toll. “Global warming has led to shifts of climate zones in many world regions, including expansion of arid climate zones and contraction of polar climate zones,” the IPCC says in the report, released Thursday. With high confidence, it adds, “Climate change has already affected food security due to warming, changing precipitation patterns, and greater frequency of some extreme events.” The new report focuses on land, which covers 30 percent of the Earth’s surface and is warming nearly twice as fast as the planet...
Pests to eat more crops in warmer world

Pests to eat more crops in warmer world

SOURCE: BBC DATE: August 30, 2018 SNIP: Insects will be at the heart of worldwide crop losses as the climate warms up, predicts a US study. Scientists estimate the pests will be eating 10-25% more wheat, rice and maize across the globe for each one degree rise in climate temperature. Warming drives insect energy use and prompts them to eat more. Their populations can also increase. This is bound to put pressure on the world’s leading cereal crops, says study co-author Curtis Deutsch. “Insect pests currently consume the equivalent of one out of every 12 loaves of bread (before they ever get made). By the end of this century, if climate change continues unabated, insects will be eating more than two loaves of every 12 that could have been made,” the University of Washington, US, researcher told BBC News. There is already reckoned to be a direct effect of climate change on crops, with yields declining by about 5% for every one degree increase in temperature. That loss will be 50% higher because of insect damage, said Prof Tewksbury from the University of Colorado Boulder,...