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How Food Supply is Threatened by Climate Change
Blog...How Food Supply is Threatened by Climate Change

How Food Supply is Threatened by Climate Change

Ecology News
fruit in bowl
How is food supply affected by climate change, what are the consequences of rising global emissions on the supply of food around the world, and is there a way to replenish the current scarce supply of food?
Ecology News
fruit in bowl

Climate change has impacted several different industries: from how the tech industry chooses to create a new computer or the travel choices people make, but there’s one industry that not only threatens the enjoyment of humans – but also their livelihood, and that’s the food industry currently struggling with a low food supply.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the world’s food supply is at an all time low, with excessive waste, food being thrown away, and incessant droughts that have compromised the viability of harvest seasons – the Earth’s rising temperatures is making it difficult to sustain the amount of food necessary to nourish the millions of people on the planet. 

How is food supply affected by climate change, what are the consequences of rising global emissions on the supply of food around the world, and is there a way to replenish the current scarce supply of food?

What is food supply?

A food supply refers to exactly what it sounds like it does: how much food is available for use or consumption in a given area, and in this case – referring to the global food supply available in the midst of climate change. Food supply is also commonly referred to as a food supply chain, which delineates that process of how food is first harvested in a farm and eventually ends up on someone’s table – such as how harvested grains then turn into the cereal in the bowl of someone eating breakfast.

Food supply refers to all food – not just the amount of produce, livestock, or dairy being produced. However, the problem with food supply is that even the most processed foods require some element that is created through farming – which has inevitably been compromised by the current state of climate change. 

wheat fieldwheat field

How much food supply is necessary to sustain everyone on Earth?

Overpopulation isn’t just a housing crisis, but it’s also a problem for food supply – as the current state of the world, moving at such a fast pace, makes it difficult to feed everyone on the planet. In fact, over one third of food is wasted globally each year – meaning the amount of viable food is already being wasted each year separate from the current climate change crisis.

In order to feed the 7.8 billion people on Earth, the world would have to provide over 3.7 billion metric tons of food every year. As of 2018, the world produced enough food to feed 10 billion people, which exceeded how much food is necessary to feed everyone on the planet – and yet, world hunger continues to exist. This is because developing countries lack the resources necessary to keep their food supply fresh, and leads to food being wasted that otherwise would have remained sufficient to feed their population. However, the lack of financial resources necessary to supply these developing countries with refrigerators on the other technologies to withhold their food supply isn’t what will continue to drive world hunger – it’s climate change.

sunset with crow flyingsunset with crow flying

How does climate change compromise the current food supply?

Climate change has resulted in drastic rising temperatures that have not only put humans at risk mentally and physically during dangerous heat waves, but have also spurred never-ending droughts, compromised water supply, and impacted the productivity of farmers and their harvest seasons.

In short, the rising temperatures across the globe have created longer, dryer summer seasons – making it difficult for successful harvests and ultimately shortening the available food supply.

Think of the importance of climate change in a food supply chain as someone trying to design a jacket. It’s true that many parts of the jacket could be produced without any natural resources available: such as from plastic for the zipper or synthetic fibers, but there might be parts of the jacket that have to be derived from a natural resource such as cotton. If climate change affects the quantity or quality of the available supply of cotton, then the final jacket can’t be produced – the same goes for various types of plant milk or a candy bar. If climate change impacts how cocoa beans or almonds are grown, those processed foods can’t be made – and ultimately can hinder the overall food supply.  

Climate change will ultimately continue to alter the way agriculture has to be practiced to provide a viable food supply for the planet. This is shown with projected statistics which demonstrate that regions across the world responsible for the largest production of corn will continue to see a decline in the amount of crops harvested – these areas include the Midwest of the United States, Indonesia, and Brazil.

Food supply may grow on trees, but they can’t grow well if climate change continues to persist. Unfortunately, it will take some time to reverse the current negative effects of climate change in the agriculture sector – but there are a few effective tactics that can be taken in the meantime.

potted plantspotted plants

How can farmers mitigate the effects of climate change on food supply?

The shortage of food supply due to the climate change crisis is alarming to the world, especially as the global population continues to rise – the food supply will continue to grow even more inefficient at sustaining the amount of food necessary to feed everyone in the world. However, there are two viable techniques that farmers could take to avoid the effects of climate change on food supply as best as they possibly can – of course, while action to reduce climate change itself is still being taken across the rest of the world.

One thing that farmers can do is implement climate smart farming into their agricultural practices. Climate smart farming is when farmers aim to use more sustainable agricultural techniques that will work alongside mother nature instead of against it. An example of climate smart farming include using quality seeds for planting, caring for the surrounding biodiversity, watering plants early in the morning so the photosynthetic process is productive with more sunlight hitting the water plants, and avoiding pesticides. Ultimately, the main purpose of climate smart farming is to improve upon sustainability within agricultural activity – but also help to stimulate the farmer’s business through increased amounts of viable produce being harvested and allowing for them to diversify the amount of crops to be planted and harvested. Climate smart farming can also help farmers to avoid the negative effects to be had of natural disasters provoked by climate change on farms: such as heat waves and droughts that could dry up crops and further threaten overall food supply. 

Another method that farmers could use to maximize their harvest is to create food forests. Food forests is an approach to planting food that mimics the way that plants would grow naturally in ecosystems, as doing so will result in a greater amount of crops to be harvested – ultimately aiding in the shortened food supply being caused by climate change. The goal of planting a food forest is to ensure that food is growing out in every direction, and to have various plants stimulating the growth or protecting another plant: such as by berry bushes protecting herbs on the ground. The other great benefit about food forests is that it pertains to the values depicted permaculture, can encourage a self-sufficient eco-systems, and make harvesting a “one-and-done” occurrence – as once a food forest is well established, it can produce food for years to come.

The cool thing about food forests is that they can also be done at home for those wanting to create their own DIY garden. Are there other ways the average person can prevent the global shortage of food supply?

pulling oranges from treepulling oranges from tree

How can you contribute to the preservation of the globe’s food supply?

The world’s food supply being threatened by climate change may not seem like an individual issue, but if more people make an effort to be mindful of their food waste, eating habits, or even their gardening approaches – the world could prevent a shortage of food supply. After all, there’s enough food in the world to feed everyone – it’s a matter of how that food is then preserved.

For instance, the food supply is being threatened by climate change as it is becoming more difficult to harvest produce in large quantities – which is often being used to produce processed food that many Americans will buy as pantry staples. Therefore, one of the easiest ways to prevent a shortage in the world’s food supply is to only buy what you will use. If people adjust their food purchasing habits to prevent food from being thrown out when they are aware they will not consume it before the expiration date, demand will decrease – as will the need for the supply of these natural resources needed to produce food.

Preventing wasted food can help aid the global shortage of food supply as we take on the fight against climate change. For example, if there is unused food in the cabinet at home or at the office, it’s best to take unused canned goods about to expire to a food shelter so that they don’t go to waste. Another technique to practice when living somewhere extremely warm or affected by climate change, is to get into the habit of putting food in the fridge right away to prevent it from spoiling. The same goes for when it is summer and trying to pack a lunch to go – high temperatures will spoil food within a few hours, and this contributes to food waste and compromises food supply. A solution is to invest in thermal containers for coffee or lunches to work or school – as this will help preserve the quality of the food and beverage being transported and prevent from needing to throw it away.

canned foodcanned food

Another great idea to encourage an increased global food supply is to build a food forest. Whether you’re an individual or a business, this is a great way to maximize the amount of food being produced by using a smaller amount of space and working in conjunction with nature. In addition to this, those who create their own food supply at home will waste less plastic – as they will no longer need to purchase herbs or salad mixed wrapped in plastic from the grocery store.

Climate change is no doubt threatening the globe’s food supply, but if we take these actions seriously in conjunction with other methods to fight against climate change as a whole – food supply won’t be as grave an issue as it is currently becoming.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about how food supply is threatened by climate change has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Businesses across the food industry may find it challenging to reduce their emissions and make use of their scarce supply of food, but Greenly is here to help – click here to book a demo and learn more about how we can help you to measure and reduce your various scope emissions. We’ve already helped others in the food industry, and we believe we can help your company achieve the same results. 

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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