World news – Food security alert
© Getty Images
The IPCC’s latest report of 8 August 2019 warns that unsustainable land management is exacerbating the effects of climate change. According to this report, a rise in global temperatures of around 1.5°C represents a high risk to food security, and a very high risk should the rise be of 2°C. Within populations, women, the very young, elderly and poor are most at risk.
It should be remembered that the global population will in the near future reach 11 billion, all of whom will still need feeding despite global warming. The IPCC warns that without rapid action, we must expect the collapse of certain habitats and/or soil erosion until they disappear, leading to forced migration, war and more poverty.
Humans use 70% of ice-free land, a quarter of which is degraded by their activity. The expansion of agricultural techniques has without a doubt made it possible to feed a growing population, but at what cost? Agriculture, livestock and forestry today account for 23% of human greenhouse gas emissions, or 37% counting the food industry. Based on 7,000 scientific publications, international experts are now condemning many other symptoms such as desertification, the depletion of land and destruction of forests, or the loss of ecosystems and biodiversity. To complete the picture of this race for higher yields, a third of the world’s production ends up as waste….
What next ?
Moving on from its findings, the IPCC suggests several response options for mitigating the impact of the food system on the environment. The first proposal is to rethink land use. Trees play a major role through reforestation – it being recalled that forests retain greenhouse gases — or agroforestry, an agricultural land use that combines crops and livestock with trees, which capture moisture and reduce irrigation needs. Other avenues for exploration such as bioenergy and urban agriculture are mentioned, the report emphasising the importance of sharing technologies with less developed countries.
Encouraging the reduction of food waste, IPCC experts also advocate a change in consumption habits and patterns, with diets based less on meat and “featuring plant-based foods, such as those based on coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and animal-sourced food produced in resilient, sustainable and low-GHG emission systems”.
For more information:
Summary for Policymakers– IPCC 8 August 2019