February 27, 2019
When most people think about the effects of climate change, they envisage the polar caps melting. Most do not consider the effects climate change will have on agriculture, and, as a result, world hunger. Here are a few ways in which these changes in climate and temperature may affect the world’s food supply.
Weather Conditions and Temperature Changes
Different continents are experiencing changes in temperature due to climate change. We are to blame for dramatic changes in temperature throughout the centuries and this can clearly be seen when you check out the temperature trends from the 1900’s to today. For example, the average annual temperature in Australia has risen year after year.
The difficulties associated with climate change are not limited to Australia; farmers in developing countries are also finding it difficult to grow food and crops. In areas where the temperature has risen, and rain comes less often, crops begin to fail. As rain seasons become harder to predict, farmers may plant their crops too late or too early. Even if farmers manage to plant their crops on time, they still risk losing their crops due to storms and droughts, things that in earlier days were few and far between. The consequences of failed crops can be disastrous for those already living in poverty.
Market Costs Can Rise
If agricultural production decreases due to climate change, then we can expect the price of food around the world to increase. With less food available to sell, what remains will become more valuable. As food becomes more expensive to produce, farmers and shopkeepers will need to charge a higher price so that they can still make money for themselves to purchase their own food. For some, even in developed countries, the rising cost of food can lead to poverty and world hunger.
Agriculture is Dying Out
As farming becomes more expensive and difficult, , agriculture is becoming a tradition no longer practiced. The temperature carries a lot of blame for this; with farmers no longer able to work out the best time to grow crops, they are giving up in search of other ways to bring income to their family.
Increasing temperatures are problematic for those who farm livestock, as well. Higher temperatures make it harder for animals to live; if farmers cannot provide enough fresh water to keep their livestock hydrated, they can become diseased or die of dehydration. Droughts are a big deal for all farmers. Unfortunately, as climate change increases the number of droughts, developing countries suffer the most.
Women and Children Are Most at Risk
Many women in developing countries do not get put through education. This means they are at a greater risk of going hungry, as their livelihoods often depend on physical tasks such as farming or selling foods at the market. Those with a higher education will be better off, even as temperature changes happen around the world. This is because those with a better education often have a better understanding of the world and know how to rebuild in the case of severe droughts or storms.
Those with a better education are usually in higher paying jobs, meaning that they are more financially prepared for a change in climate. This means even if disaster was to strike, they have the means to source food from elsewhere, without having to rely on the land. Furthermore, women often breastfeed their children, especially in developing countries and therefore require a stable diet with adequate calories to provide enough milk. If they are not getting this, they are more likely to become ill and unable to supply milk to their children.
Understanding climate change and the disastrous impact it can have worldwide is one way in which we can begin to change. Helping those in developing countries to build barns to protect their livestock from heat is just one simple way to limit world hunger. Ensuring every country has fresh, running water will also help when temperature rises cause problems.
About the Author: William is a climate/weather enthusiast who takes a great interest in topics related to both climate change and weather. He graduated with a degree in chemistry from the University of Dallas. He is currently retired and lives with his family in Dallas, TX.
*This is an independent article and does not necessarily reflect the views of WHES.