Climate change is threatening three decades of progress in curbing global hunger, according to a report published Jan. 20 by Bread for the World.
Global hunger has been reduced by half during the last 30 years, but that trend could reverse in the coming decades, the report said. There is potential for another 100 million people entering into extreme poverty due to climate impacts unless sufficient mitigation efforts are enacted.
The world population is expected to reach 10 billion people by 2050, requiring food production to keep pace with such growth.
Unpredictable weather patterns, more and longer droughts, as well as increases in weather-related natural disasters due to the changing climate will make such increased production difficult.
Further, “crops grown in conditions of elevated carbon dioxide levels have lower amounts of important minerals, including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur and zinc,” the report said. Research is ongoing to determine the precise reason for this phenomenon.
Prices for staple crops, such as wheat, rice and maize, could significantly increase due to climate impacts, creating an even greater financial burden on lower-income households that already spend the vast majority of their income on essentials such as food.
The only recourse for many will be to reduce food intake and adopt less healthy diets.
“Climate change and food security have many interconnections, and each affects the other in complex ways,” the report said. “The next few years are a critical time for the global community to adopt policies that put humanity on a path to ending hunger while averting catastrophic damage to the planet.”
In a Jan. 22, 2021, statement, Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute, welcomed President Biden’s executive order to have the U.S. reenter the Paris climate agreement.
“Climate change is a primary driver of hunger globally, and the world will not be able to end hunger unless we bring climate change under control,” she said.
“The U.S. is the largest emitter of the greenhouse gasses, which cause climate change, and must act to reverse the impact. As the administration and Congress begin the difficult work of restoring an economy broken by the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge them to take a comprehensive approach that includes creating green jobs that reduce inequality and transforming our food system to deliver better nutrition and slow climate change.”
The full report is available here.