Climate Change Poses Threat To Food System: World Bank

Climate Change Poses Threat To Food System: World Bank

According to a senior World Bank official, 10 years is all we may have before climate change disrupts the world's food system. While there is no need to fear climate change, there is a need to understand it and combat it. Scientists can do their share, but so must the industrialists and the common man. Otherwise, to quote Rachel Kyte, the World Bank Group Vice President and special envoy for climate change, the world is headed “down a dangerous path.”

Living dangerously is not good for our future generations. Climate change is set to ruin the ability of nations to feed themselves, especially in the developing world, according to Kyte. The expanding urban population and the clearing of land will create more demand and less supply of food. Apart from this, increase in the number of emissions from livestock reared to meet the nutritional shortfall will add to the GHG cocktail in the atmosphere. Climate experts are not making up a mock tale. This is the reality that threatens the world in the face of continued inaction regarding global warming and climate change.

"The challenges from waste to warming, spurred on by a growing population with a rising middle-class hunger for meat, are leading us down a dangerous path," Professor Kyte has been quoted as saying during the Crawford Fund 2014 annual conference in Canberra on Wednesday. Along with this, cereal yields are being hit by global warming as well, according to the IPCC.
"Unless we chart a new course, we will find ourselves staring volatility and disruption in the food system in the face, not in 2050, not in 2040, but potentially within the next decade," Kyte also added.

Kyte estimated that feed efficiency can lower to such drastic levels in arid Africa that every kilo of protein produced following livestock grazing will generate 1 tonne of carbon dioxide. While this is 100 times more than the developed nations, it should be remembered that industrial waste from the developed countries is also way more than that of the developing world.

Instead of the global tit for tat, we need a union of thought and will to combat global warming. Science can only help if leaders and decision makers will initiate and implement the changes they suggest and adopt the technology they invent.

Kyyte has also indicated that a world which will be even 2 degrees warmer, a scenario which is set to unfold by 2030 given the current emission trajectories, will cut cereal yields by one fifth in the world and 50% in Africa. Africa is already plagued by diseases and famine. With such an occurrence, the African countries will face further food insecurity and crises. River deltas of Asia that produce two-thirds of the globe's rice will also face seal level rise and storm surges.

Kyte has urged the adoption of “climate-smart agriculture” to combat such a scenario. She has said the focus should be on enhancing the productivity of crops and wasting less resources. The aim should also be to combat climate change through these measures. Consider the stellar work done by CSIRO and the International Rice Research Institute which has come up with new strains of rice that absorb more carbon and sunlight thereby needing less fertilisers. At least we can rest secure in the knowledge that the scientists will not fail humanity in the hour of need, which is right now.

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