Developing strategies to end hunger

The Promise- We Can Mitigate Climate Change Effects

During his State of the Union address on Tuesday, February 12, President Obama reiterated his promise to address climate change in his second term. The president said:

“Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods -- all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science -- and act before it’s too late.”

The president is right to make climate change a priority for his second term. Climate change-- the long-term shifts in temperature now taking place, and the results of those shifts-- alongside persistent poverty and inadequate policies and institutions, are all placing serious pressure on scarce natural resources. Food security is now inextricably linked to developments in the water, energy, and land sectors.

Photo: White House Press Office

It is increasingly clear that preparing to feed 9 billion people—the projected world population in 2050 – in a sustainable way requires our urgent attention now, not when all 9 billion of us are already here. Recent events—drought, scrambles to invest in farmland around the world, shifts in energy prices, and shocks in energy supplies— underline the scarcity of resources we depend on to produce the world’s food supply. The complex reality is that the world needs to produce more food with fewer resources. Eliminating wasteful practices and policies is essential.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), by 2085, climate change could result in the loss of 11 percent of arable land in developing countries. For Africa, the FAO estimate is far higher since its rain-fed agriculture systems are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.

This is another perfect storm brewing for the world’s poorest people. Rising energy prices, for example, have recently been raising farmers’ costs for fuel and fertilizer, increasing the demand for biofuel crops at the expense of food crops, and raising the price of water use. Additionally, the already high food prices in many low-income countries are intensifying the risk of hunger and malnutrition -- especially among the poorest households, who spend two-thirds of their income on food.

Can today’s situation get a lot worse? Unfortunately, the answer is “yes.” The number of people at risk of hunger is projected to increase by 10 percent to 20 percent by 2050. According to projections by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the number of malnourished children is likely to increase by up to 21 percent by 2050.

Given the far-reaching nature of the impact of climate change on livelihoods, efforts to mitigate these adverse effects must be holistic.

Developing countries need financial as well as technical support for both adaptation and mitigation. For example, understanding the interactions between agriculture and climate well enough to know how to respond effectively will require major improvements in data collection, dissemination, and analysis. These will help to promote community resilience and boost ongoing efforts such as Feed the Future and the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP). Targeted investments in adaptation measures that include agricultural research and extension, rural infrastructure, and strengthened social protection programs are also critical. Within countries, extension programs can help farmers adapt through new technologies, build farmers’ knowledge and skills, and encourage them to form networks for sharing information and developing other community-based adaptation options.


« New National Discussion on Immigration Senator Coons Does it Again »


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Promise- We Can Mitigate Climate Change Effects:

Stay Connected

Bread for the World