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Climate Change to Cut Global Food Production, Increase Water Demand
Posted on Nov 3, 2013
Two new studies, one leaked, the other released, paint a dire portrait of the human ecosystem as global warming’s impacts cut worldwide food production even as the population increases, driving up the competition for—and likely conflict over—access to potable water.
Together, the two reports suggest the changes will lead to the extinction of an unknown number of species of plants and animals, a shifting of agricultural zones, and human conflict.
The starkest assessment comes in the leaked study by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the international panel that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, and that releases reports every five or six years. According to The New York Times, the newest study, which could change in some of its details before it is released in March, is the starkest yet.
The second report, by the nonprofit World Resources Institute, warns that more than a quarter of the planet’s food production comes from “highly water-stressed areas,” according to Salon’s coverage of the study. “That includes half of irrigated cropland, which itself is responsible for 40 percent of the global food supply,” Salon says, defining water stress as a region in which 40 percent or more of the renewable water supply is used up each year.
The WRI sees significant global stresses, which you can assess here using the organization’s interactive Web tool.
Governments are grappling with other climate change issues, as well, including how to maintain infrastructure damaged by more cataclysmic storms. President Barack Obama signed an executive order Friday directing federal agencies to begin working with state and local governments to figure out a path forward as the nation confronts more extreme weather, from droughts to floods to hurricanes. The New York Times notes that Obama signed the executive order in part to get around Republicans in Congress who, despite overwhelming evidence and analysis by top scientists, don’t believe global warming stems from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activity.
At the same time, the Times says Obama’s order suggests that the executive branch, at least, believes climate change is here.
So in the face of cataclysmic climate change, the government forms a committee to make it easier to fix roads. Baby steps, but it’s a start.
—Posted by Scott Martelle.
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