Hunger and food security – reasons to tackle climate change

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Pontiac Perspective  Peter J. Gauthier

Canadians spend about ten percent of their income on food.  While food expenditures as a percentage of income
is expected to rise
significantly over the

Pontiac Perspective  Peter J. Gauthier

Canadians spend about ten percent of their income on food.  While food expenditures as a percentage of income
is expected to rise
significantly over the
next twenty-five years, Canadians should be able to adjust to these rising food costs.  This is not the case for many of the poorer people of the world; those living in poverty spend fifty percent and the poorest as much as seventy-five percent of their income on food. When prices increase, these people must do without, and it is women who most frequently eat last and least.
There are a number of interrelated causes for the dramatic increases in food prices that have occurred in the past five years and that are expected to continue into the future. One of these causes is climate change. Climate change,
an increase in average
temperatures world-wide, affects growing patterns and the varieties of foods available, as well as their quantity and quality. 
The World Meteorological Organization’s surgeon-general summed up the
situation this way: “You just need a few extreme climates affecting a few big producers on the planet and a crisis occurs.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states the situation will worsen as the effects of climate change become more pronounced, but some of the effects are already noticeable.  South-western United States is suffering from a five year drought – especially in California and Arizona. Australia has suffered from excessive heat waves causing fires that
have destroyed significant portions of its agricultural lands. East Africa is suffering from unpredictable weather patterns that have resulted in a fifty percent drop in crop yields.
But the land is not the only source of food for humans. Fish accounts for approximately sixteen
percent of the animal
protein consumed worldwide; in some Asian
countries the proportion ranges as high as 30 to 50 percent. For about one billion people, seafood is the primary source of animal protein. Climate change effects may be most noticeable in the oceans and rivers of the world. Rising ocean temperatures result in fewer of the preferred fish species’ such as salmon and halibut, which require cooler waters to maintain their numbers. Warmer temperatures also result in glacial melt and reduced flow in many of the world’s key river systems. More than 40 million people rely on fisheries in the Lower Mekong delta in Asia. Projected reductions in water flows and increases in sea levels may negatively affect the water quality and fish species in this region, which would affect the food supply for communities that depend on these resources.
The green revolution of the 1970’s gave hope that the problem of providing adequate food for the peoples of the world could be solved, but climate change and its significant negative effects on food production will create a major crisis as hungry and starving
people struggle for food security. This may be the most significant reason
our governments have to
tackle the issue of climate change.