February 14, 2008

KlusterfucK: The coming food crunch

CLIMATE CHANGE: Africa, South Asia Could Face Famines (Feb 1, 2008)
BROOKLIN, Canada (IPS) - Climate change will cause major disruptions in the global food system, and adaptation to those changes needs to begin immediately, experts say.Otherwise one-fifth of the world's population could starve and millions of others become climate refugees, forced by heat and drought to abandon their lands and hunt for food elsewhere in the coming decades. To prevent this nightmarish future, researcher David Lobell says the world community should focus its efforts where climate threats are likely to make the greatest impacts. "We used historical data to determine what food-producing regions of the world were most sensitive to changes in temperature and rainfall," said Lobell, author of the study published in the journal Science today. "Impoverished regions of Southern Africa and South Asia will be hit first and hardest by climate change," Lobell told IPS from his office at Stanford University's Programme on Food Security and the Environment. Other climate risk hot spots include Central America and Brazil. The analysis compared 20 climate change models for those areas and determined that average temperatures would rise one-degree Celsius in most areas by 2030. (...) Around the world, soils are in decline, largely because of the focus on increasing crop yields. Agriculture depends on using solar energy from the sun to recycle nutrients from the soils into crops that we eat. However, if the nutrients removed from the soils are not replaced, soils become depleted. Recent research has found that chemical fertilisers do not replace these nutrients but rather mask declining soil quality. Equally important is the problem of soil erosion. As reported by IPS last September, 100,000 square kilometres of land becomes degraded or turns into desert every year. However, climate change is expected to boost agriculture output in some countries such as Canada and Russia, which would have longer growing seasons. That raises equity issues and requires a rethinking of global grain stocks, and whether these should remain largely in private hands and where they should be physically stored, says Tansey. "What is clear is that there are serious flaws in a (current) food system that globally leaves more than 850 million people undernourished and over one billion overweight (300 million of them obese)," he wrote.

Why a World-Wide Famine is Coming:
Vulnerable regions of the world face the risk of famine over the next three years as rising energy costs spill over into a food crunch, according to US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

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