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Reports: Climate Change Effects Could Increase Hunger In Developing Countries By 2050

By 2050, climate change could lead to decreased outputs of corn, rice and wheat across the developing world resulting in price increases and hunger, according to an International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) study, Bloomberg reports (Ruitenberg, 9/30).

The IFPRI study, which is “the most comprehensive assessment of the impact of climate change on agriculture to date,” was prepared for inclusion in separate reports from the “Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank, both released on Wednesday in conjunction with international climate change meetings in Bangkok,” Xinhua writes (9/30). “The results show that southern Asia will be hit particularly hard by climate change, with some of the largest losses in crop production. In a worst-case scenario, the models show that farmers in this region could see a nearly 50% drop in wheat production by 2050 compared with potential production with no climate change,” Nature News reports (Gilbert 9/30).

The ADB report projects that Asia-Pacific countries “will suffer major social and economic changes if countries fail to adopt new practices — from liberalising trade to introducing better quality seeds for crops,” Reuters reports. “Under some scenarios, food prices could shoot up as much as 70 percent in the next 40 years as crop yields shrink, leading to a rise in malnutrition in some Asian countries, the ADB said” (Petty, 9/30). 

Developing countries will need between $75 billion and $100 billion each year to “enjoy the same level of welfare in the future world as they would have without climate change,” the World Bank said in its report, Bloomberg writes in a second story. The report looked at the amount of money required for countries to adapt to a world that is about 2 degrees Celsius warmer than pre- industrial levels in 2050. “That level of warming would lead to ‘more intense’ rainfall, droughts, floods, heat waves and other ‘extreme weather events,’ the study said.” The report recommends that funds be put towards “building infrastructure, ensuring a safe water supply, protecting coastal zones, increasing agricultural productivity and fighting diseases that flourish in warmer weather” (Kate, 9/30).

The Guardian examines other aspects of the IFPRI study, which found that 25 million children could go hungry by 2050 because of food shortages related to climate change.

Gerald Nelson, the lead author of the report, said, “The food price crisis of last year really was a wake-up call to a lot of people that we are going to have 50% more people on the surface of the Earth by 2050.” He added, “Meeting those demands for food coming out of population growth is going to be a huge challenge – even without climate change” (Goldenberg, 9/30).

Hunger Reduction Plans ‘Narrowly Focused On Farming,’ Analyst Says

In related news, Lester Brown, a “long-time environmental analyst,” said that “[g]lobal plans to reduce hunger by boosting food production are too narrowly focussed on farming” and “fail to recognise the need to stabilise climate and population,” Reuters reports. He said, “If we don’t address these two issues seriously, there’s not a chance that we’re going to be able to increase food security and eradicate hunger in the world.” Brown said he was struck by “the narrowness of the approach” to food security (9/29).

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