Connecting Dots Between Climate Change and Global Hunger

Connecting Dots Between Climate Change and Global Hunger

Among its many negative impacts, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has destabilized agriculture in one of the world’s most reliable food-growing regions. As a result, it’s reduced grain availability, increased food costs, and made food access and affordability more difficult. Similarly, the climate crisis continues to destabilize agriculture elsewhere, such as in India, where a massive heatwave depleted wheat harvests by at least 20%. Increased drought, fire, and floods The futures of major agricultural locations like California and southern Europe could be far less productive due to increased droughts, fires, and floods, according to the latest IPCC report.

CBS: Ukraine war threatens global food security, May 2, 2022.

CNBC: Will The US Face A Food Shortage?, April 20, 2022.

Why This Matters

The current global agriculture system isn't working now, and climate change will only worsen existing problems. The Ukraine crisis is estimated to push 12 million people into hunger worldwide, and climate change, which impacts innumerable food-growing regions, will upend much of the international food supply chain.

"The full impact of climate change will make the Ukraine crisis’s impact on food prices look like kindergarten. We are already living in a one-degree warmer world, and we are already seeing more pests, more droughts, more heat. If we continue on this trajectory, to 1.5°C or even 2°C, all hell will break loose,” Enock Chikava, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s interim director for agricultural development, told TIME.

Bloomberg: Increasing Risks of Global Hunger, April 7, 2022.

BBC: Past seven years hottest on record, EU satellite data shows, January 10, 2022.

The Economist: See what three degrees of global warming looks like, October 30, 2021.

Other Climate Costs For Food

The cost of a loaf of bread or can of beans is the result of many factors. As Yale Climate Connections points out: "Food prices are complex, with weather, biofuel policies, trade policies, grain stocking policies, and fluctuating international financial conditions all important factors.” So it’s not just the impact that extreme weather has on farms and crops directly. For example, last year’s Hurricane Ida and the cold wave that hit Texas drove up food costs by disrupting fertilizer production.

CNBC: The CEO of one of the world's largest fertilizer producers on the growing global food crisis, April 25, 2022.

Bloomberg: Ukraine | World’s Next Food Emergency Is Here as War Compounds Hunger Crisis, March 10, 2022.