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Report: Extreme Weather Events Are Getting Worse, Affecting Food Availability

Report: Extreme Weather Events Are Getting Worse, Affecting Food Availability

More fre­quent extreme weather events and a chang­ing cli­mate, which impact farm­ing and food secu­rity on every con­ti­nent, are wors­en­ing, accord­ing to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The data gath­ered by WMO and pub­lished in its State of Global Climate Report 2021 show how human activ­i­ties have released record lev­els of green­house gases in 2021, one of the main dri­vers of aver­age sur­face tem­per­a­ture rise.

In 2050, we may have almost 10 bil­lion peo­ple to feed, and ensur­ing ade­quate food secu­rity for all while curb­ing green­house gas emis­sions and pro­tect­ing the envi­ron­ment is one of the biggest chal­lenges we face.– Lev Neretin, senuior nat­ural resource offi­cer, FAO

Increases in aver­age ocean tem­per­a­tures also accel­er­ated in 2021. The WMO esti­mated that ocean lev­els rose by 10 cen­time­ters in the last three decades.

Along with ris­ing tem­per­a­tures and sea lev­els, the WMO researchers added that the ocean is becom­ing more acidic, reach­ing a 26,000-year high.

See Also:Study Reveals Impacts of Climate Change on Spanish Olive Sector

The report fur­ther found that snow cover, sea ice cover and glac­i­ers also are shrink­ing at an alarm­ing rate. In addi­tion, the WMO warned that the last seven years were the warmest on record.

Antonio Guterres, the sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the United Nations, called the report a dis­mal litany of humanity’s fail­ure to tackle cli­mate dis­rup­tion.”

He warned that time is run­ning out to change course and cur­tail at least the worst impacts of cli­mate change.

In his video mes­sage, Guterres focused on imme­di­ate actions that could be taken in energy gen­er­a­tion, which is con­sid­ered the largest con­trib­u­tor to cli­mate change.

These actions require a par­a­digm shift, where renew­able energy tech­nolo­gies become essen­tial global pub­lic goods and are more eas­ily traded and exchanged.

The U.N. chief also asked for a more diver­si­fied and open renew­ables sup­ply chain and empha­sized the need to stop sub­si­diz­ing fos­sil fuels. On top of this, Guterres asked for pub­lic and pri­vate invest­ments in renew­able energy to triple before it is too late.”

Petteri Taalas, the WMO’s sec­re­tary-gen­eral, said, human-induced green­house gases will warm the planet for many gen­er­a­tions to come.”

Sea level rise, ocean heat and acid­i­fi­ca­tion will con­tinue for hun­dreds of years unless means to remove car­bon from the atmos­phere are invented,” he added.

According to Taalas, key indi­ca­tors show the grow­ing impact of cli­mate change on the pop­u­la­tion.

Loss and dam­ages of more than $100 bil­lion (€93 bil­lion), as well as severe impacts on food secu­rity and human­i­tar­ian aspects due to high-impact weather and cli­mate events have been reported,” he said.

Lev Neretin, senior nat­ural resources offi­cer at the office of cli­mate change, bio­di­ver­sity and envi­ron­ment (OCB) at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told Olive Oil Times that weather extremes are one of the biggest dri­vers of food crises together with eco­nomic shocks, con­flict and inse­cu­rity.”

Small-scale pro­duc­ers, includ­ing farm­ers, fish­ers, foresters and pas­toral­ists, are the back­bone of food secu­rity, but they are also the most vul­ner­a­ble to cli­mate change and extreme weather events,” he added.

According to the FAO, increas­ing cli­mate resilience is a top pri­or­ity that relies on many dif­fer­ent mea­sures such as expand­ing food pro­duc­tion through cli­mate-smart agroe­col­ogy and other inclu­sive approaches, strength­en­ing safety nets, diver­si­fy­ing liveli­hoods, pro­vid­ing crit­i­cal inputs for cereal and veg­etable pro­duc­tion as well as pro­tect­ing live­stock with treat­ments, vac­ci­na­tions, feed and water.”

Such an approach is even more rel­e­vant where food avail­abil­ity is lim­ited, and access to food is affected by ris­ing prices.

See Also:Global Agriculture Loses Billions of Working Hours to Heat, Study Says

Building resilience also requires aware­ness of cli­mate and envi­ron­men­tal risks and the effec­tive and timely man­age­ment of these risks, not just at the farm level but also across agri­food value chains,” Neretin said.

Anticipatory action is a key pil­lar of FAO’s work on resilience, which is a major step to shift from dis­as­ter response toward pre­ven­ta­tive and adap­tive action,” he added.

In 2050, we may have almost 10 bil­lion peo­ple to feed, and ensur­ing ade­quate food secu­rity for all while curb­ing green­house gas emis­sions and pro­tect­ing the envi­ron­ment is one of the biggest chal­lenges we face,” Neretin con­tin­ued.

He fur­ther explained how food secu­rity is not just about quan­tity, but also qual­ity. Humanity today relies on three main crops: maize, rice and wheat.”

This has a num­ber of impli­ca­tions. One of the con­cerns is the con­tin­u­ous loss of agro­bio­di­ver­sity, which ensures healthy and diver­si­fied diets,” Neretin added. Another is the pos­si­bil­ity of increas­ing food crises dri­ven by mar­ket volatil­ity and con­flict.”

OCB researchers also believe that food loss and waste is a global chal­lenge along­side grow­ing demand for ani­mal pro­teins and other resource-inten­sive foods.

Existing high amounts of food loss and waste could feed around 1.26 bil­lion peo­ple per year,” Neriten said.

Currently, food inse­cu­rity comes mostly from con­flicts. Between 2018 and 2021, the OCB said the num­ber of peo­ple in cri­sis sit­u­a­tions in coun­tries where con­flict was the main dri­ver of acute food inse­cu­rity increased by 88 per­cent, to just over 139 mil­lion.

Agrifood sys­tems and the rural econ­omy play a fun­da­men­tal role in peace and secu­rity that in turn ensures last­ing impacts on human devel­op­ment,” Neriten said.

FAO researchers believe that coun­tries should invest in adap­ta­tion and mit­i­ga­tion strate­gies and develop early warn­ing and action mech­a­nisms to cur­tail or avoid dam­age and losses from dis­as­ters.

Transforming agri­food sys­tems to become more effi­cient, inclu­sive, resilient and sus­tain­able is a key solu­tion to global crises: hunger, mal­nu­tri­tion, cli­mate change, bio­di­ver­sity loss and ecosys­tem degra­da­tion, ensur­ing safer, more afford­able and health­ier diets for the world’s grow­ing pop­u­la­tion,” Neriten said.

By lever­ag­ing the power of sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, inno­va­tion, bio-econ­omy and tra­di­tional knowl­edge, we can enter a new par­a­digm to ensure that agri­food sys­tems glob­ally are green and cli­mate-resilient,” he added.

But this trans­for­ma­tion will fail if it is not equal and inclu­sive,” Neriten con­cluded. Smallholder farm­ers, fish­ers and foresters and their com­mu­ni­ties, includ­ing women, youth and indige­nous peo­ples, are the key agents and ben­e­fi­cia­ries of our agri­food sys­tems.”