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Climate Change: Food Production

Food sustainability and nourishment are significantly impacted by climate change. It undercuts present attempts to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of the over 1 billion individuals vulnerable to food insecurity. It will heighten the threat of malnourishment to an unimaginable level in the coming decades. Malnourishment is already the leading cause of death worldwide, killing 3.5 million people per year; nearly all are children in underdeveloped nations (Wheeler & Von Braun, 2013). Unless immediate action is taken, it will deteriorate. It would be impossible to ensure food and nutrition security for a growing population. Under a changing climate and the growing global population, food security is in great danger. The global community and governments should establish appropriate policies and resources to address the effects of climate change. This essay will discuss the effects of climate change on agricultural production, the causes of food insecurity and solutions to food shortages.

Climate change impacts all four aspects of food security: supply, affordability, stability, and use. Since it has a detrimental impact on the primary constituents of food production — soil, water, and biodiversity – it will diminish the food supply (Arnell et al., 2013). Recurring crop failure, animal loss, and reduced availability of aquaculture and forest resources are among the threats that rural populations face. The development of new pests and illnesses that impact animals, plants, and crops is also facilitated by shifting temperatures and weather patterns (Chakraborty & Newton, 2011). This directly impacts yield quantity and quality and food, feed, and fiber availability and pricing.

Food production relies on the climatic conditions of a given region. Any shift or change in the climate directly impacts the level of agricultural output. Climate change has resulted in adverse weather conditions like extreme rainfall, extreme drought, the melting of polar ice, heat waves, and acidic precipitation, which interferes with crop production and animal life (Barnett, 2011). These aspects inhibit crop and livestock production hence limiting the levels of food security in the entire world. Human livelihood entirely relies on the availability of food which depends on climatic conditions. Therefore, climate change must be addressed to enhance food sustainability.

Agriculture has constantly been exposed to unpredictably severe weather, but climate change has exacerbated this vulnerability. Some weather changes, like increased temperatures, may boost agricultural yield in some cases. However, climate change is wreaking havoc on agriculture, diminishing food supplies and driving food costs up. Numerous areas currently affected by hunger and food insecurity, particularly sections of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, are projected to face a decline in agricultural productivity. Crops are expected to become deprived of zinc, iron, and other essential minerals with the rising carbon dioxide levels. Climate change will almost certainly increase food prices and decrease agricultural output, contributing to food insecurity (Ray et al., 2019). Food prices may also increase as energy costs rise.

Drought and increased crop water use may result in water scarcity for food production. Humans consume a more significant amount of water, particularly for agriculture during drought seasons. When the air temperature rises, plants lose more water, necessitating increased irrigation. Both emphasize the critical need for additional water in dry areas. The aspects such as drought and water shortages that heighten the climate change pandemic are human-induced and are the key to the health problems that the world is experiencing today.

Climate change may enhance the competitiveness of land.

The greenhouse gasses that emanate from human activities like burning fossil fuels are hinged on food production and have contributed to tremendous global climate change. These activities and their implications for the natural environment mean that today’s kids might live in a world that will experience climate disasters three times worse than what their grandparents experienced because the rate at which the atmosphere is being wasted is alarming (Kaplan, 2021). Over half of all greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere were created after 1990, implying that most issues confronting today’s children result from their parents’ emissions. The activities, including greenhouse gasses produced as people clear lands for agriculture and processing of foods in industries, among others, would likely cause intergenerational climate inequalities. A closer examination of the disparities reveals how the worst effects of climate change will be felt in countries that contributed the least to global warming by people who had little say in policies that allowed emissions to continue. For instance, Infants in Sub-Saharan Africa are expected to experience 50–54 times the number of heat waves as those born before the industrial revolution (Kaplan, 2021, para. 6).

The greenhouse gases emanating from different human activities act as heat sinks when released into the upper atmosphere preventing heat loss and causing the ‘greenhouse effect.’ NASA research attributes recent global warming trends to these “greenhouse effects” caused by humans, which occur when the atmosphere traps heat radiated into space by the Earth. These long-lived greenhouse gasses are believed to be the “drivers” of climate change as the resulting temperature changes cause feedback gasses to react physically or chemically. Human activities like disforestation, food processing, and land clearing using fossil fuels contribute to the accumulation of these gases. These processes release gases like carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, and chlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere, aggravating the global climate crisis. Thus, food production and other agricultural activities are human-induced issues that create more harm than good to the global climate.

During the 1990s, food distribution and processing became significantly more energy-intensive, while land-use practices accounted for most emissions. Research shows that 71% of the emissions from food systems emanate from the uncontrolled use of land for agriculture. Comparatively, 32% comes from the changes that result from how agriculturalists use the land, including practices such as deforestation and degradation of the soils (Kart, 2022). These activities release emissions into the United States atmosphere. Also, food processing activities such as distribution and packaging account for 5.4% of the emissions (Kart, 2022). These emissions are rapid because, in the modern industrial environment, there is immense use of machines and pesticides in agricultural production to match the trends of advanced economies.

When forests are cut and burned and used as fuel in food processing and packaging, they release a lot of carbon into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. While forests are significant carbon dioxide sinks, they also act as carbon sinks by storing carbon in a dynamic, rapid-fire carbon cycle. Carbon dioxide has accumulated in the atmosphere due to fossil fuel combustion and degraded carbon sinks such as forests. According to Dean (2019), tropical forest loss between 2015 and 2017 resulted in approximately 4.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide. As the carbon dioxide accumulates, it traps heat in the lower atmosphere leading to rising earth temperatures. Droughts, tropical storms, heat waves, and wildfires have become increasingly severe and frequent, with increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere affecting agricultural production in turn. Maintaining a global temperature rise of fewer than 2 degrees Celsius reduces but does not eliminate dangers.

This discussion proves that although food production is a positive activity, it is also a central aspect contributing to global climate change issues. The various food production levels, including agriculture, industrial food processing activities, deforestation, and the greenhouse effect, cause climate change. These changes threaten future generations; therefore, there is a need for effective policies that would gravitate toward resolving the issue before it is too late. Protecting natural ecosystems and reestablishing forests is critical for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and delaying global warming through carbon sequestered in the atmosphere. Simultaneously, global greenhouse gas emissions from coal, oil, and gas must be dramatically reduced. If we only accomplish the first, we risk converting more of our carbon sinks to carbon sources as climate change advances. Controlling food production activities would reduce emissions, thus salvaging the world.

Climate change impacts food production, causing a diverse host of difficulties to farmers and the broader populations who rely on them for food, from irregular annual rainfall to changeable seasons. Food security and the dependable availability of adequate, accessible, and nutritional food are intrinsically tied to a stable climate and ecological sustainability. Climate change and accompanying weather conditions, periods of drought, wildfires, pests, and pathogens are now impacting food production worldwide. This essay tries to highlight two viable solutions to address the challenge of climate change in the aspect of food production.

The effects of climate change can be combated by minimizing food loss and waste, which serve as the basis for 8 percent of global carbon emissions. Minimizing food wastage is a significantly viable solution that can be used to mitigate heat-trapping emissions. Adoption of more adaptation strategies, notably a transition away from meat-eating, while challenging for sociocultural factors, can result in an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions from the agricultural sector (Macdiarmid & Whybrow, 2019). Much meat is lost or wasted along the supply chain during processing, packaging, storing, and transportation. Besides, the animals kept for meat produce more waste into the atmosphere in excretion and as wasted animal feeds. It is presumed that the increasing prosperity of emerging economies will fuel enhanced food demand based on the correlation between wealth and intake of agricultural products. Increased intake is linked to increased meat consumption and food waste, leading to increased carbon emissions.

In terms of dietary modifications, waste minimization is frequently mentioned as a demand-based strategy for addressing food security challenges. Food waste presently accounts for 30 to 40 percent of total food production in both developed and emerging nations; in developing countries, pre-consumer losses account for most food waste, whereas post-consumer losses account for the majority in affluent countries. Every year, around 13 billion metric tons of food are wasted worldwide. In addition to helping to ensure food production, the reduction of waste from some of the most resource-intensive processed foods (meat and dairy) could serve to minimize the demand for agricultural expansion and the need to enhance agricultural productivity, as more of the food that is produced would indeed be taken (Ray et al.,2019). Whereas waste minimization alone would not enable us to achieve our 2050 food security targets, it will contribute significantly in the same way that nutrient uptake appropriation will substantially close the yield gap.

Reduced food wastage in emerging economies might have an instant and considerable effect on the lives of most small-scale farmers who are on the verge of food insecurity. Optional strategies for acknowledging the economic aspect of the food security threat should be provided (Ray et al.,2019). Even further strong consideration should be given to extensive climate mitigation possibilities of a proper diet with less meat and the recognized nutritional benefits of preventing increased consumption of meat and dairy products irrespective of prospective difficulties involved in making adjustments in diet and consumption patterns (Macdiarmid & Whybrow, 2019).

Improved soil care on farmlands, including minimum tillage methods, can help maintain large carbon amounts in the soil while enhancing crop yields and profitability. A rise in outputs per hectare of land could alleviate the pressure for further deforestation, reducing emissions while protecting biodiversity and ecosystems from land-use modification and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (Anderson et al., 2020). In addition to increasing farmers’ earnings, sustainable agricultural practices that preserve soil health could also serve as an excellent solution against climatic changes for local farmers (Yang et al., 2020). Many farmers worldwide are abandoning fields that were once plowed or grazed because those grounds have been “farmed out.” The reasons for this span from harmful farming practices, inadequate market accessibility, and migration to desertification, among others. It is sometimes more cost-effective to move away from the land than it would be to cultivate it (Smith & Gregory, 2013).

The global deserted farmland is projected to be between 950 million and 1.1 billion acres in size acreage once utilized for crops or pasture. Most of these lands have not been recovered as forests or transformed into urbanization. This area presents the potential to increase food production concurrently, farmers’ incomes, ecological systems, and carbon reduction through sustainable agriculture practices (Anderson et al., 2020). The restoration of deserted farmland and grasslands is essential for feeding an increasing population while also protecting forests from degradation to make way for new farmland. Restoring abandoned lands for economical use has the benefit of converting them into carbon sinks. Neglected farmlands that have been allowed to degrade can become a source of greenhouse gas emissions (Smith & Gregory, 2013).

Natural vegetation recovery, the construction of natural vegetation, and the implementation of regenerative agricultural technologies are examples of what is meant by restoration. Active restoration is time-consuming, but it is required to rebirth agricultural production (Smith & Gregory,2013). Regeneration financing programs provide a critical impetus for action, enabling landowners to make improvements without having to put their entire farm on the line. Farming practices that promote greater soil fertility and increased productivity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions can dramatically minimize agriculture’s impact on climate change while also assisting in developing more viable solutions (Yang et al.,2020).

Because of the magnitude of the concerns of food production, climate mitigation, climate variability, and change adaptability, people no longer have the ability to choose between production-based and consumption-based food production solutions; people require both. As people control the consumption of land-intensive foodstuffs, consumers will be able to reduce the requirement to increase production efficiency. Unless people take immediate action, these challenges will intensify, the poor and disadvantaged will bear a disproportionate burden, and food insecurity will escalate.

Currently, the globe must consider how climate change affects the world’s food supply. Climate change is causing harm to the earth’s atmosphere and, as a result, creating unfavorable weather conditions for sustainable agriculture. Humans must also consider how climate change affects them (Catherine, 2021). Agriculture is the primary industry in most countries, providing work and food. Unsustainable agriculture has become a major factor contributing to the greenhouse effect attributed to climate change (Driver 2019). The acceleration of climate change that began in the mid-twentieth century and continues today is hurting agriculture and interfering with food production efficiency. Agriculture is being affected by droughts, rising sea levels, heatwaves, flash floods, and other extreme weather patterns resulting from climate change (Catherine, 2021). Crop failure, which causes famines and increases food costs, is one of the repercussions. On the other hand, agriculture contributes to climate change through its outputs, such as greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprints.

However, agricultural production is crucial in supporting the global food supply, with US farms providing about 25% of all grains in the global food market. Temperature, atmospheric carbon dioxide intensity, and frequency of extreme weather are all significantly influencing agricultural yields (Driver 2019). The consequences of rising temperatures will be determined by the crops’ ideal temperature for reproduction and development (Catherine 2021). Warming may enhance the sorts of crops cultivated in some places, allowing farmers to transfer crops grown in warmer areas. However, yields will be reduced if the greater temperature exceeds the crop’s optimal temperature (Driver 2019). Drought may become a problem in locations where temperatures are rising, causing soils to dry up. Increased irrigation can be viable in firm places, but aquatic supplies might be depleted in others, parting less liquid accessible for irrigation once most required.

In conclusion, climate change has become a widespread, rapid and intensifying global concern that is closely tied to global agricultural production and food supply. The potential impact of climate change on the world’s agriculture is significantly huge as reflected in the changing production cycle, volume and quality of food over the past few decades. The global climate has changed tremendously in recent years as a result of global warming. The significant shifts in weather patterns following climate change have adversely affected food production which rely on optimal weather conditions for optimal yields to support the growing food demand. On the contrary, the desire for global food production and agricultural activities is among the major factors contributing to the menace primarily due to deforestation, natural fossils, and its greenhouse effects, among other aspects. Although the impact of climate change so far may not be controllable, the global community and nations must take necessary actions to mitigate its potential impacts of food security and the global economy. They all need to invest in sustainable agricultural practices, renewable energy production, food waste management, environmental conservation and focus on increasing the global food productivity.

Works Cited

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