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The Climate Change Future: Bad Beer and Expensive Chocolate

By James Burgess | Mon, 16 September 2013 12:13 | 0

Climate change  could hit global food production hard in the coming decades, changing the food market power share and affecting modern living—possibly even hitting at some of our greatest pleasures, like  chocolate.  

A recent study published in the Climatic Change journal claims that the effects of climate change could cause food production to fall 0.5% in the next seven years and 2.3% by middle of the century.

Climate change will also indirectly affect regional economies by changing the playing field for global food markets, according the study, which also forecasts global welfare losses exceeding $280 billion by 2050.

Regions worst affected by climate change will increasingly rely on imports, with less and less food to trade, while areas where climate change will have fewer effects—like Norway and Finland--could see a boost in welfare.  

The study ranks the UK, France, Germany, the US and Russia as medium-risk countries in terms of climate change affects, while Bangladesh, India and the majority of African countries are listed as the most vulnerable economies.

Modifications to regional water endowments and soil moisture are also areas of concern addressed in the study, which warns about a coming change in the distribution of harvested land, which will in turn lead to changing production and international trade patterns.  

“The results suggest that a partial analysis of the main factors through which climate change will affect agricultural productivity provide a false appreciation of the nature of changes likely to occur,” the study says.

Staple foods are predicted to be up to 40% more expensive than they would be in areas less affected by climate change. The prices of fruits and vegetables are also likely to rise 30% by the middle of the century due to climate change.  

Some of our favorite foods are under threat thanks to climate change, including chocolate, beer, apples, honey, coffee and chili peppers, among other things that could soon enough become luxuries.  

Why chocolate? Well, according to the study, between 2030 and 2050, a warming planet will affect land suitable for cocoa production. And experts note that higher temperatures have already caused big swings in the price of cocoa in recent years. For instance, half of the world’s cocoa comes from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, and temperatures here are forecast to rise by 2.3 degrees Celsius by the middle of the century. If this happens, the breeding of cocoa pods will be affected, production will plummet and prices will rise exponentially.  

Pollinating honey bees are responsible for as much as one in every three mouthfuls of food that we eat. In the last fifty years, the domesticated honey bee population has declined by an estimated 50%, according to scientists.  There is hope, though, that honeybees will adapt to climate change.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com

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