Climate Change Threatens Global Food Supplies

Climate change has become more of a critical problem than we initially thought. Rising carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere will affect our food supply and cause nutritional issues in the future.

According to Dr. Sam Myers, a medical doctor and senior research scientist studying environmental health at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, climate change will impact the quantity, quality, and location of the food we produce.

”Because of these changes, food production must increase more rapidly... to keep up with the global demands,” Dr. Myers said.

Recently experts found that an increase of carbon dioxide levels initially acts as a fertilizer but the benefit will only be temporary. When average heat increases, the carbon dioxide levels and changes in the amount of rainfall will decrease the amount of food produced. Corn and wheat in tropical regions will be particularity affected. Crop-eating pests will also increase when the temperature rises. Bird migration patterns can also change, which will have an impact on the balance of the pest population and cause 25 to 40 percent increases in crop loss.

In terms of food production, tropical areas will take the biggest hit with the largest rise in temperature. This will cause farmers to work less—therefore, crop production will decrease. Fish, which have great nutritional value, will gravitate away from the tropics and toward the cooler poles, making them harder to find.

Some foods will lose their nutritional value while growing in atmospheres containing higher carbon dioxide levels. In 2014, the journal Nature reported that a plant growing in increased carbon dioxide levels will have lower amounts of proteins, zinc, and iron. People who have already demonstrated deficiencies in iron and zinc have health problems, and people who are healthy will also experience losses of iron and zinc.

Since climate change is already problematic, and now continues to interfere with our food supply, we now realize that the problem is more complicated than what we first thought.