Climate change has had a powerful impact on food production and distribution. Even a year with no rainfall or a devastating flood can affect crop yields and livestock. While modern solutions to exist to mitigate risks and boost production, it may not be enough in the long run.
Agriculture has always been at the mercy of the weather and rapid climate change has made it more vulnerable than ever. In some areas, temperatures may increase or decrease crop yields but nowadays, the effects have taken a negative turn. Food supplies may be reduced and prices will soar as climate change wreaks havoc on the earth.
Many areas are suffering from a massive food shortage and insecurity and the elevated carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are not helping. If those levels aren’t curbed, they can have an impact on iron and zinc nutrients that crops need to survive.
Vulnerability of food production depends on 2 factors:
- Geographic location
- Exposure levels, resilience and adaptation
Needless to say, the higher the exposure, the more damage crops sustain which affects yield and leads to losses. Areas that are incapable of adaptation are more susceptible to those negative effects.
That being said, some of the common issues that food production is susceptible due in the context of climate change include the following:
- Drought threatens pastures which in turn threaten feed supplies for livestock. This event also reduces the quality of forage available for grazing. With climate change, more intense droughts are wreaking havoc with higher temperatures and the lowest precipitation levels ever. Animals that rely on grain and foraging areas could be cut down in size.
- Rising production costs due to climate adaptation and mitigation have increased food prices. There is also a shortage of water for quality feed and energy needed for climate adaptation is also set to increase production costs. Access to food in this case will become limited.
- An increase in carbon dioxide levels can affect crop yields by stunting growth. However, other factors such as changing temperatures, ozone and nutrient deficiencies may counteract this. For example, if there is a shortage of nutrients and water, an increase in yield may be reversed. However, an increase in carbon dioxide levels may result in loss of quality in certain crops such as alfalfa.
- This is understandable as rising carbon dioxide levels can reduce protein and essential minerals in most species of plants. This includes the crops we consume such as rice, wheat and soybeans. This will have a direct impact on human health.
- As the tropics experience a rise in temperatures, which is set to increase by the year, certain fish species may face extinction. Additional stressors such as marine management practices and unsustainable coastal practices may reduce chances of their survival further. Coastal fisheries may face the brunt of the impact as fish species that depend on coral reefs decline.
- As rainfall patterns change, farmers may face multiple threats from droughts and floods. Both destroy crops fast and in large areas. Flooding washes away fertile topsoil that farmers need to maintain productivity and droughts dry it out, making it easier to blow or wash away. In addition, higher temperatures increase water requirements which makes crops weaker in dry months.
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