THE UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published its latest study reporting that the impact of climate change will be felt most keenly in Africa, South America and Asia predicting droughts, food shortages and a rise in diseases such as malaria.
The report, titled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, from Working Group II of the IPCC, details the impacts of climate change to date, the future risks from a changing climate, and the opportunities for effective action to reduce risks.
It warned that all aspects of food security and productions, on land and sea, have already been hit by drought, flooding and changing rainfall patterns due to rising temperatures. It continued to say that the negative impacts of climate change on food security would become more apparent in the 2030s.
In the UK, the adverse weather conditions and widespread flooding over January and February demonstrated the detrimental damage climate change can have on food production, with many farmers losing crops and having to move livestock.
Around the world, the report warned that the warmer weather may further affect food production and security in parts of Asia with rice yields predicted to fall due to the shorter growing period. However, northern parts of Asia may benefit from the warmer weather leading to an increase in the production of wheat and other cereals.
Fisheries could also go into decline and fish yields in the tropics are already showing declines with some species predicted to become extinct as they migrate to the poles.
The report states that responding to climate change involves making choices about risks in a changing world. The nature of the risks of climate change is increasingly clear and the effects are already being seen globally in many different food industries. It concludes that risk from a changing climate comes from vulnerability (lack of preparedness) and exposure (people or assets in harm’s way) overlapping with hazards (triggering climate events or trends).
Vicente Barros, Co-Chair of Working Group II, said: “We live in an era of man-made climate change, in many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future.”
Chris Field, Co-Chair of Working Group II, commented: “With high levels of warming that result from continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions, risks will be challenging to manage, and even serious, sustained investments in adaptation will face limits.”
“The report concludes that people, societies, and ecosystems are vulnerable around the world, but with different vulnerability in different places. Climate change often interacts with other stresses to increase risk.”