The latest in climate change science is beginning to point toward the distinct possibility, according to researchers from the University of Exeter, that food security all over the globe may be more immediately threatened by the negative effects of global warming than we first thought. A new study suggesting as much was just published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A and is a member to a series of published works on the subject within the thematic series entitled, “The Paris Agreement: Understanding the physical and social challenges for a warming world of 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.” Other studies are showing that India is already seeing some of the most detrimental threats to food supply seen among affluent, developed nations, which is to say nothing of so-called third-world countries and their pre-established dearth.
The study just published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A looked directly at the disparities observed between global warming extents of 1.5ºC and 2ºC in comparison with industrial levels. This was done for statistics relative to 122 developing and least-developed nations. The results show that 2ºC would drastically worsen conditions for 76 percent of those states, and about four countries might approach never-before-seen levels of food insecurity. “Climate change is expected to lead to more extremes of both heavy rainfall and drought, with different effects in different parts of the world,” according to Richard Betts, Climate Impacts Chairman at the University of Exeter.
“Such weather extremes can increase vulnerability to food insecurity,” Betts added. Overall, global warming is anticipated to soon yield drought in many places, and South American and African countries are expected to feel the worst of it. Researchers on the study say that food insecurity in several regions already exists as a relatively prevalent problem and may be thoroughly exacerbated. In 2017, some 80 percent of food insecure people in the world were found to live in Africa, and this was largely considered a result of drought according to an article recently published in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society.
The United Nations also found according to a report it released in 2016 that some 108 million people in the world could be classified as severely food insecure. This represented a stark uptick from 2015 when only 80 million people could be so classified; though that was still considered a woefully large figure, the leap between 2015 and 2016 was viewed by many experts as a morbid marker. Morbid cynicism, however, threatens to lift spirits for some countries at the expense of others in the sense that this problem is almost certain to see largely increasing efforts to help struggling nations due to wealthier and more powerful countries also hurting in similar ways, albeit to lesser degrees.
India is one such country — a climbing economy with a formidable stock exchange and one of the most fruitful tech industries in the world. These things have yet to absolve it from the detrimental effects of this worsening condition of global food shortage. In fact, India is one of the countries incurring the greatest risk of food insecurity specifically due to weather extremes affected by climate change according to the same study. Several other countries occupy the same position as India with rising or wealthy economies but with the harsh effects of climate change impacting their food supplies.
Besides India, these countries include Brazil, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Oman, and each of these is seeing vulnerabilities due to present-day climates threatening to see averages approach the 2ºC increase. “Some change is already unavoidable, but if global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, this vulnerability is projected to remain smaller than at 2 degrees Celsius in approximately 76 percent of developing countries.” Experts see global warming inducing wetter conditions eventually, but that’s an aggregate expectation for the world as a whole, which means in some pockets it may not be the case at certain times. Even so, overall, this will present significant flood risk for all sorts of countries that depend to varying degrees on agriculture, which will suffer in those areas.
Wetter conditions are likely to actually have far worse effects than drought in South Asia and East Asia. The worst predictions imply that the flow of the River Ganges might double (or worse) at that 2ºC milestone for global warming according to the study. “Some areas are projected to see an increase in flood event lengths of 4 days or more, particularly in India and Bangladesh, for which such increases are projected in all ensemble members to some extent,” the study says.
These are many of the immediate effects that stand as the long-established reasons why a 2ºC-increase in temperature is considered the temperature ceiling for what’s manageable for mankind and current civilization. It’s the regional shortages of food, impingements on fresh water supplies, and the losses of plant and animal species at accelerated rates. These things have already begun, which is why there are more and more studies looking at not only the extent of the current so-called sixth mass extinction but even the prospect of a worst-case-scenario seventh mass extinction.
[researchpaper 리서치페이퍼=Cedric Dent 기자]