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Currently around 870 million people in the world do not receive enough food to live healthily, equivalent to one in eight of the world’s population. A new report by Oxfam has now found that this number could increase by as much as 20% as climate change causes average income to fall, food prices to rise, and the nutritional quality of food to fall.
Tim Gore, head of policy for Oxfam’s GROW campaign, explained that, “just as the evidence of manmade climate change is becoming stronger, so too is our understanding of how it hits people, especially around hunger. We've long known that climate change will mean lost crops, but increasingly we're seeing its impacts through higher food prices, lower earnings, more health problems and lower quality food, too.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the top authority on climate change, studying all the effects on human life; but Oxfam focuses entirely on the effect on food availability, claiming that it can doom harvests by causing floods, droughts, heat waves, and cold snaps.
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Oxfam’s report said that “the changing climate is already jeopardizing gains in the fight against hunger, and it looks set to worsen. If the remainder of the 21st century unfolds like its first decade, we will soon experience climate extremes well outside the boundaries of human experience, ever since agriculture was first developed.”
The current rate at which the global climate is changing, coupled with the population of over seven billion, and growing, the planet’s ability to provide enough food to feed us all is stretching ever thinner, and 10-20% more people could suffer from hunger by 2050.
Oxfam say that whilst poorer countries will be the worst affected, it is a global problem and therefore disasters in third world countries, such as; the 2011 floods in Australia, and the 2012 droughts in Russia and the US, will become more common occurrences.
Oxfam also explains that as crops fail the smaller harvests will lead to higher prices. The UK Institute of Development Studies said that “the average price of staple foods could more than double in the next 20 years compared with 2010 trend prices — with up to half of the increase caused by climate change.”
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com