Saturday, December 4, 2010

Climate Change and Food Prices

When people talk about climate change, not much attention is given to how global farming practices could be affected. This article (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101201/ap_on_sc/lt_climate_food_2) discusses how global warming could lead to a doubling of food prices and cause many more people to suffer from malnourishment. This is not just a problem to be worried about in the future; scientists have found that change is already happening in some areas. For example, in India, warmer temperatures are maturing the wheat too quickly, resulting in reduced yields. The corn belt in the US could also see a reduction in productivity due to climate change.

As productivity and yields decrease, prices for grain will inevitably increase. This will only exacerbate the problems for people who already have trouble affording food. Experts suggest that some of these problems could be alleviated by developing higher yielding varieties of corn, wheat, etc. and having more flexible trade in food commodities. As we discussed in class, malnutrition is not caused by food shortage but by people not having equal access to food. We are producing more than enough food to feed all the peoples of the world. I’m glad that this article does not suggest producing more food in newer areas as a possible solution for this problem. Maybe this means that people are starting to realize the true causes of hunger.

After reading this article, I started wondering whether a reduction in productivity in the corn belt might actually be a good thing? A lot of the food problems we’re experiencing occur because we have too much corn. If less corn was produced, wouldn’t less corn be available for industrialized beef, hog and chicken industries? This would reduce the number of animals grown on these CAFOs and the pollutants released from these feedlots which would help reduce global warming. Quite the cyclic process.

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