Climate change is clearly visible, as cascading extreme weather events have wreaked havoc across the globe. We’ve seen it all in recent years, from severe flooding, to erratic rainfall patterns, to scorching heat waves.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

If urgent action is not taken, the climate crisis will have a direct impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. One major concern that is looming around the world is the global food crisis. Food security is inextricably linked to climate and ecosystem health. According to the World Bank, nearly 80% of the world’s population — living in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia — is at high risk of crop failures and hunger caused by global warming.

Related: United Nations report finds climate change is a major threat to global food supply

The crisis is bigger than imagined. Many foods are expected to become scarcer as a result of climate change, according to experts. Moreover, crops are also threatened by pests and diseases as the climate warms and changes, putting farming’s future at risk. Unfortunately, global warming would also have an impact on crop nutrient value, thereby negatively impacting food quality. Here’s a list of some of the foods that require immediate attention.

Wheat

Drought and rising emissions endanger this staple food for 35% of the world’s population. According to one study, prolonged, extreme drought conditions are likely to affect more than half of global wheat production by the end of the century. This is primarily due to high temperatures increasing transpiration, which causes drought and low wheat yield.

In fact, even if global temperatures are kept below 2 degrees Celsius, drought-affected wheat production is expected to double in the next 20 to 50 years. On the other hand, wheat accounts for 20% of all calories consumed by humans. Hence, unabated carbon dioxide emissions are also likely to reduce wheat nutrition efficiency.

Coffee

Your daily sip of mood-boosting coffee is at stake owing to rising temperatures. Extreme weather calamities, such as increasing mercury levels, excessive rainfall and persistent humidity will have a severe impact on coffee production in many parts of the world. A scientific study claims that the world could lose half of its coffee-growing land by 2050.

Moreover, coupled with climate change, the plant’s health is also on the brink. The extreme weather factors will lead to a devastating disease called “coffee leaf rust” fungus. This fungus has the potential to reduce coffee production by 30% to 50%. 

Rice

Rice is another widely consumed food that requires immediate mitigation efforts. It is a staple for more than half of the world’s population, where nearly a billion of whom suffer from the issue of chronic hunger.

Droughts and irregular rainfall patterns put rice production at risk. This crop thrives in wetlands, therefore, rising sea levels are likely to jeopardize rise production in places like Bangladesh. The coastal flooding makes rice field cultivation difficult.

According to one study, rising sea levels could affect approximately 200,000 coastal farmers over the next 120 years. It may also have an impact on the livelihoods of small-scale farmers, who produce nearly 80% of the world’s rice. On the bright side, scientific progress has enabled the production of drought and flood-tolerant rice breeds, which could be beneficial in the future.

Corn

It is grown in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the United States. Corn is vulnerable to rising temperatures as well as irregular, sparse rainfall patterns. Furthermore, global warming is likely to slow corn growth. It is estimated that global maize production will decline dramatically over the next 50 years. According to climate change models, corn yields could drop by up to 15% in the next 50 years. 

Climate change is painting a bleak picture for major corn-producing countries such as Brazil and the United States. Additionally, small farmers will face significant challenges in cultivating corn in the coming years, primarily for local consumption.

Cocoa

The global demand for cocoa is expected to rise in the coming years. West Africa accounts for roughly 70% of global cocoa production. At the same time, West Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions to changing climate globally. 

Cocoa is heat and drought sensitive. The crop thrives in conditions that are favorable to it, such as consistent temperatures, a good amount of humidity along with plenty of rainfall. It is, however, threatened by erratic rainfall and warmer wind patterns. Other factors, such as pests and poor soil health, also contribute to a rapid decline in cocoa productivity.

Climate change will continue to have an impact on crop yield and nutrient value around the world unless urgent action is taken to make agriculture more resilient.

“We need to help rural populations build their resilience to extreme weather events and adapt to a changing climate. If not, we only go from one crisis to the next,” said Sabrina Dhowre Elba, Goodwill Ambassador for the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development. “Small-scale farmers work hard to grow food for us in tough conditions. Trillions of dollars were made available to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences. The same is needed for climate change. The same is needed for sustainable agricultural support. It’s crucial to the well-being and the food security of us all.”

Images via Pexels