The most current report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (drafted on Aug. 7, 2019) highlights the vulnerability of global food sanctuary to deviations in climate and land use. The report emphasized that adaptive strategies to reduce total carbon production and preserve natural ecosystems are humanity’s best chance at mitigating the climate emergency’s effects on food production.
The report stressed the extent of human dependency on land systems. Humans are currently using one quarter to one third of available land’s potential production capacities. Essential products that come from land use, including feed and natural energy sources such as fossil fuels, are crucial to agricultural yields and the sustainability of the food supply chain.
Land degradation is a general term describing negative trends in land condition, such as loss in biological productivity and ecological value to humans, Civilization is consuming assets at an exceptional degree. Therefore, land has become exhausted to the point that it will soon be unfeasible. Human disruption of natural processes is leading to adverse, irreversible effects on Earth’s natural systems.
The use and emissions of carbon in agriculture is cyclical in nature, advanced agricultural practices such as tilling are a major source of carbon output into the atmosphere. But, to produce crops with greater yields, we require the input of carbon back into the land through synthetic sources such as fertilizers.
This configuration of replacing lost carbon through unnatural supplementation disturbs the delicate balance of the Earth’s carbon cycle. As a result, more carbon is released into the atmosphere, leaving the soil unable to reabsorb extra outputs and cumulative overall greenhouse gas emissions. As emissions increase, so do global temperatures, causing further water and land stress and worsening many of the glitches connected with land use and food farming.
The scientific community agrees that the climate emergency will have disastrous downstream consequences on all levels of society. As such, climate change has led to concerns not only of environmental sustainability, but of social stewardship. In reality, the two issues are inseparable.
The report takes into consideration people living in areas vulnerable to desertification and land degradation, about half of the vulnerable inhabitants exist in, in already susceptible areas in South Asia, Central Asia, West Africa, and East Asia. Food anxiety will pose auxiliary problems to people living in vulnerable coastal areas, who now face the immediate risk of losing invaluable agricultural and residential land to rising sea levels.
Moreover, changes in food consumption patterns have created a global divide whereby approximately two billion adults are overweight or obese, yet an estimated 821 million people remain undernourished. Socioeconomic class and geographic location serve as the main determinants for the widening divide. Given sustained increases in mean global temperature, this divide will only deepen without rapid intervention from national governments and international organizations.
Exposure and sensitivity to climate change and extreme climate events can impact infrastructure and transport, and can cause direct and indirect changes to the income level and food purchasing power of low-income consumers. Without a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions or the enactment of carbon-reducing agriculture strategies, the cyclical patterns of poverty, malnourishment, and income inequality will become further fixed into global society.