“According to experts, climate change will affect the world’s food supplies in three main ways, location, quality, and quantity of food production,” said Dr. Sam Myers is a senior scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health. Effects of climate change on food are more severe than the general expectations.
Today, to keep up with world food needs agriculturists have to increase food production much faster than in the past. However, the fundamental biological basis is changing continuously.
The major focus of research nowadays is on studying climate change and its physical and biological effects on food production and the earth.
Climate Change and Location
Climate change will adversely affect the tropical regions and their agricultural sector. Rising temperature will make it hard for farmers to work in fields, leading to reduction in the production of food. In fact, the latest researches on human climate relationship showed that humans have some thermal boundaries which restrict them to work under certain conditions.
With the changing climate and increased global warming, other food sources, such as fish, will start moving to poles resulting in a decrease in available food options.
Later, to fulfill nutritional needs human population will struggle in the tropics. Changing climate will increase the growing-season and environment temperature near the poles but this will not help the farmers to produce enough food to compensate for the losses.
Effects of Climate Change on Food Quantity
Researchers believe that the changing climate will severely affect food production which will ultimately reduce the quantity of food worldwide.
They also believe that to increase yields in a continuously changing climate, rising carbon dioxide levels could be very helpful. The increased level of CO2 can be used as fertilizer for plants to meet their nutritional needs.
However, the combined effect of increased atmospheric CO2, temperature, and change in rain-fall can lead to a significant decrease in crop yields especially in tropical regions where food production cost is usually high.
Areas, where temperatures are rising due to climate change, are likely to be prone to pest growth. Pests are currently responsible for 25% to 40% of all crop losses, and with the changing climate, the pests will also continue expanding their localities. This will make them move to areas where plants may not be resistant to them and will ultimately result in greater food loss. The rapid climate change will also affect the bird’s migration, which is the best pest controlling agents so far.
Effects of Climate Change on Food quality
As researchers are trying to use CO2 as fertilizer to improve food quantity, there are several foods that lose their nutritional qualities, if they are grown in high atmospheric CO2 levels.
In a study, researchers have analyzed crops, corn, and wheat, under normal and elevated CO2 levels. The resultant produce from crops grown under raised CO2 levels showed low protein, iron, and zinc content. There are very prominent effects of climate change on food quality have been seen in the latest researches.
Nutrient depletion could exacerbate public health problems due to nutritional deficiencies. Zinc and iron deficiency is already a serious health problem nowadays. According to Myers, about 1 billion people are zinc deficient and will worsen in the future adding more 200-millon people globally to zinc deficiency. Protein and iron deficiency also showed similar results.
These surprising effects of climate adaptive techniques to combat climate change have warned the researchers to be more focused. While developing new climate-adapted approaches it is very important to prioritize the food quality and quantity both at the same time.