Climate change threatens food security: World Population Day
We cannot feed 10 billion when climate change threatens food security: SPA
Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) has called for an end to global population growth to avert widespread suffering from hunger.
Current world population stands at 8.046 billion and is expected to rise to 9.7 billion by 2050 (UN median projections), peak at 10.4 billion in 2086, and then slowly decline to 10.3 billion by the end of the century.
SPA national president Jenny Goldie says these population projections take no account of current realities.
“The overwhelming reality is climate change,” says Ms Goldie. “We cannot maintain agricultural output if temperatures continue to rise. We have just had the highest planetary average temperature on record on Monday July 3, only to be broken the next day.
“The sooner we end population growth, the better for climate and food security.
“Food production will increasingly be affected by heat, drought, wildfires, and flooding, all of which are functions of climate change. A new study published just this week in Nature Communications warns that climate change could cause simultaneous harvest failures across major crop-producing regions, threatening global food security.”
Another study, published in the Nature Sustainability journal late last month, found more than 90% of the world’s marine food supplies are at risk from environmental changes such as rising temperatures and pollution, yet not enough is being done to adapt to these growing environmental risks.
“If sea levels continue to rise, the major food-producing deltas of the world will be inundated,” Ms Goldie says. “Already, thousand of people are forced to leave the Mekong Delta because of sea-water incursions, a direct result of climate change and sea-level rise.
“Other food-producing deltas will be similarly affected, including the Nile in Egypt, the Pearl River delta in China, and the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta in India and Bangladesh.
“Add to that the imminent decline in phosphorus, which has made farming vastly more prosperous, feeding the enormous increase in human population. The diminishing access to phosphorus poses a threat to the food system world-wide.”
Ms Goldie says it is widely accepted as to what must be done to stabilise population.
“We have to have universal access to contraception, improve the rights of women, educate women and girls, and change cultural attitudes that prevent women in some countries form gaining access to reproductive health services.
“We are at a critical moment in history when things have to change,” says Ms Goldie. “We cannot continue on the path we are on. We have to shift our efforts to ensuring everyone has adequate food, shelter and energy.
“This is, however, dependent on stabilising population everywhere, most importantly in industrialised countries where consumption is high. Resources have to shift to poorer countries to ensure nobody lives in poverty. At the same time, those countries must ensure their populations stabilise.”