Could Climate Change Cause Famines?

by Caroline Chmiel

More than ever, the rapid growth of the world population is causing a heightened demand for food. Making this struggle infinitely worse is climate change. Per decade, food demand rises by 14%. Climate change reduces wheat yields by 2% compared to the amount without climate change, and corn yields by 1%. The demand for food causes worry and stress, so the idea that climate change worsens an already critical situation makes the fight to feed billions even harder. This is the bleak picture painted by Eduardo Porter writing in the New York Times. Food price spikes because of increased demand strongly correlate with urban unrest. From temperature changes due to global warming, production of crops can change. Less than expected production often causes producers to ban exports and importers to try to hoard the crop. Overall, commodity markets experience chaos and strain further than just feeding people. The culmination of climate change, increased population and demand for food leads to a serious question about the possibility of famine. More likely, though, is a volatile world full of wars over substances. The most highly affected population will be the poor, unable to afford increased food prices. Continue reading

Risk Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Food and Water Safety

by Ali Siddiqui

According to the background research done by `Ben A. Smith et al. temperatures and total annual precipitation across most of North America are expected to rise. They suggest that these expected changes would impact areas negatively especially if those areas are developing and population is increasing. The negative impacts arise from how food and water contamination can be increased by the longer survival of both old and new pathogens as well as the extended peak season for many microbial diseases. An example they provided was of Salmonella infections, which correlated with rising global air temperatures in most continents besides Europe, negated the rise in infections by using human intervention through public health. This intervention was implemented once a quantities microbial risk assessment (QMRA) model was utilized. QMRA models are typically developed assuming historical/static climate conditions. These researchers suggest, however, that adding climate change factors in food/water safety QRMA models make them increasingly complex due to the varying range of relevancy of variables. According to the authors, a framework is necessary in order to better understand the large data alongside the QRMA model elements so as to asses the potential impacts of changing climate variables on public health. Continue reading

Who Loses from Climate Change Effects on Agriculture? Who Wins?

by Caroline Vurlumis

Anthropogenic climate change may lead to more extreme weather events and will impact human health and the economy. One of the most important effects of climate change however is its impact on agriculture and the human population. Using ecological niche modeling (ENM), a technique to relate species presence to environmental factors, Beck (2013) sought to model suitability of agriculture in different regions based on soil conditions and climate. He applied this general and simple model for agriculture across the Old World (defined as Asia, Africa and Europe) and the Australia/Pacific region to create model scenarios of agriculture for the year 2050 and determined which countries would win or lose from climate change in the agricultural sector; different regions vary considerably in agricultural suitability which cannot simply be determined by a country’s wealth. Beck’s model predicted that parts of Europe, Africa and southern and eastern Asia will have a negative impact while north-eastern Europe and the Tibetan plateau will benefit. Continue reading

Heat Stress and Low Humidity with Climate Change will be Hard on Midwestern Corn Crops


by Christina Whalen and Emil Morhardt

Maize (corn) production continues to be a very important source of food, feed, and fuel all around the world, but climate change has raised the concern about being able to maintain the yield rates. A negative relationship between extremely high temperatures (above 30˚C) and yield has already been observed in various regions. Previous studies have not been able to demonstrate which mechanism causes the correlation between extreme temperatures and yield, thus it is possible that the relationship reflects the influence of another variable, such as precipitation rates. There are other possible explanations for the observed relationships. This study explores the mechanisms used in other studies that document the importance of extreme heat on rainfed maize using the process-based Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM). The study asks three main questions: can APSIM reproduce the empirical relationships—what farmers are seeing on the ground?; if so, what does APSIM imply are the key processes that give rise to these relationships?; how much are these relationships affected by changes in atmospheric CO2? Continue reading

Nigerian Yam Farmers Adaptation to Climate Change

by Alex Nuffer

Many farmers in the Ekiti State of Nigeria rely on the production of yams for their livelihood and food security. With the increasing rate of extreme weather events, such as flooding and drought, the productivity of the yams are unstable, which leads to crop failure. The yam farmers’ adaptation to climate change is essential in order to maintain their own and Ekiti’s well being. Strategies have been formulated to cope with changing climatic conditions, but are inhibited by lack of wealth, technology, education, infrastructure, resource availability, and sound management practices. There needs to be an effort on the national scale to make the farmers’ adaptation to climate change a top priority. Oluwasusi (2013) investigated the Ekiti State yam farmers’ ability to adapt to variations in the climate by assessing the socio-economic characteristics of the farmers, farmers’ constraints, farmers’ strategies to adaption, and the yam yield in the years 2008–2010. Continue reading

Effect of Climate Change on Australian and Global Food Production

by Shelby Long

Recent droughts associated with climate change have had immense negative effects on food production in Australia. Australia is an important producer and exporter of livestock, dairy, and wheat. Much of the wheat produced is exported to Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Yemen, Vietnam, and China. The Murray-Darling Basin is one of the main agricultural areas in the country, contributing 40% of Australia’s gross value of agricultural production. Water scarcity is accompanied by a high demand for water for both agricultural irrigation and non-agricultural uses (Quiggin and Chambers 2004). Therefore, it is necessary for crop producers to adopt new strategies to mitigate the impacts of drought. Some of these strategies include land use changes and introducing drought tolerant crop varieties. Qureshi et al. (2013) aim to use the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data and modeling to explore the possible future effects of Australian water Continue reading