Food shock: Crop-ravaging disasters highlight climate threat

PARIS: Ongoing crises linked to war, climate disasters and the pandemic have shaken global food systems and pushed millions of people into hunger and poverty.

Climate change is already playing a part, as floods, droughts and heat waves hit crops from Europe to Asia and threaten famine in the Horn of Africa.

And experts warn this could just be the start.

“If we don’t act now, this is just a sample of what could happen in the years to come,” said Mamadou Goita, an expert with the sustainability group IPES-Food, which works with farmers’ organizations. in Africa and around the world.

This issue will be front and center like never before at the high-stakes UN climate talks in Egypt next month.

Food production is both a key source of emissions contributing to global warming and highly exposed to the effects of climate change.

Some risks are slow-burning – declining yields, warming oceans, seasonal shifts between pollinators and plants, and heat threats to farm workers.

Others, like flooding, can cause “sudden devastation to livelihoods and infrastructure,” said Rachel Bezner Kerr, a Cornell University professor and lead author of the landmark IPCC report on climate impacts.

These can ripple through intertwined global supply chains, intersecting with other crises.

Weather extremes and COVID-19 had already pushed food prices to record highs earlier this year, when Russia invaded Ukraine – a key exporter of grains and sunflower oil.

Since then, record temperatures have withered crops across South Asia, the worst drought in 500 years has ravaged corn and olive crops in Europe, heat from scorched cabbage in South Korea has sparked a ” kimchi crisis” and floods submerged rice paddies in Nigeria.

In China, as a punishing drought has dried up the Yangtze River basin where a third of its crops are grown, authorities sent cloud-sowing drones to try to attract rain.