Climate Change And Rising Food Prices: IPCC Report
March 31, 2014

Climate Change Could Drive Up Food Prices And Increase World Hunger: IPCC

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

A new report from the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that climate change will push food prices higher and increase hunger around the world.

Released on Monday in Japan at a meeting of the IPCC in Yokohama, Japan – the new report is the second in a trilogy of climate change reports being released by the international organization of scientists. Each one produced by an IPCC Working Group, the first report looked at the physical science behind climate change and was released in September. The latest report focused on the impacts of climate change and how society might adapt to these impacts. In April, Working Group III is expected to release its report on how governments around the world can combat climate change.

“We live in an era of man-made climate change,” said Vicente Barros, co-chair of Working Group II, according to USA Today's Doyle Rice. “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.”

In a previous report released in 2007, the IPCC said it was too soon to determine if climate change would raise or decrease food generation capacity, noting improved agricultural methods. However, while crop production is growing about 10 percent per decade – climate change is suspected to negatively impact production by 1 percent a decade on average, the authors of the new report said. Additionally, some regions have seen yields fall from 2 percent per year to staying level. The report authors also said in places like India, where agriculture depends on rainfall not on irrigation, improved agricultural method have had little impact.

The report noted that some societies may be able to adapt to food shortages or the other widely reported impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise. However, these societal adaptations will have their limitations.

“Climate-change adaptation is not an exotic agenda that has never been tried,” said Chris Field, another co-chair in the IPCC’s Working Group II, according to Forbes reporter Paul Rodgers. “Governments, firms, and communities around the world are building experience with adaptation.”

“This experience forms a starting point for bolder, more ambitious adaptations that will be important as climate and society continue to change,” Field added.

The report authors said the construction of sea walls and levees would help to guard major urban areas against flooding. Another adaptation would be to provide more efficient irrigation for farmers in developing areas where water is in short supply.

The IPCC scientists emphasized in their report that the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities are fueling rising temperatures and increasing “the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” from climate change, reports Matt McGrath for BBC News.

“Understanding that climate change is a challenge in managing risk opens a wide range of opportunities for integrating adaptation with economic and social development and with initiatives to limit future warming,” Field said in a statement. “We definitely face challenges, but understanding those challenges and tackling them creatively can make climate-change adaptation an important way to help build a more vibrant world in the near-term and beyond.”