Saturday April 20, 2019

Climate Change Changes The Cost Of Eating Veggies

Food production itself is a major contributor to climate change.

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People shop at a vegetable and fruit market in Amman, Jordan, June 6, 2018. Climate change could drive up the prices of vegetables, according to a new study.
People shop at a vegetable and fruit market in Amman, Jordan, June 6, 2018. Climate change could drive up the prices of vegetables, according to a new study. VOA

Keeping healthy could become more costly as climate change and water scarcity cause a huge drop in the global production of vegetables and legumes, scientists said Monday.

The amount of vegetables produced could fall by more than a third, especially in hot regions like southern Europe and swaths of Africa and South Asia, said researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

By analyzing studies across 40 countries, with some dating as far back as 1975, they found that hikes in greenhouses gases, water scarcity and global temperatures lowered the amount of vegetables and legumes produced.

Such drastic changes could drive up the prices of vegetables, which would affect poorer communities the most, according to the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“If we take a ‘business as usual’ approach, environmental changes will substantially reduce the global availability of these important foods,” said Alan Dangour, a co-author of the paper, in a statement.

Scientists have warned that world temperatures are likely to rise by 2 degrees to 4.9 degrees Celsius this century compared with pre-industrial times.

Climate change
Climate change, Pixabay

This could lead to dangerous weather patterns — including more frequent and powerful droughts, floods and storms — increasing the pressure on agriculture.

Food production itself is a major contributor to climate change.

Agriculture, forestry and changes in land use together produce nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, making them the second-largest emitter after the energy sector, said the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

The volume of food transported around the world also is exacerbating global warming.

The global demand for food is expected to soar as the world’s population is projected to grow to 9.8 billion people by 2050, up from 7.6 billion today, according to the U.N.

Crops now take up 11 percent of the world’s land surface, and livestock grazing covers 26 percent of ice-free land, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Farming accounts for about 70 percent of all water used globally, said the OECD.

Water scarcity already affects more than 40 percent of the world’s population, according to the U.N.

Green vegetable
Green vegetable, Pixabay

That number is expected to rise due to global warming, with one in four people projected to face chronic or recurring shortages by 2050, the U.N. said.

Also read: Climate change driving dramatic rise in sea levels: NASA

“Urgent action needs to be taken, including working to support the agriculture sector to increase its resilience to environmental changes,” said Dangour. “And this must be a priority for governments across the world.” (VOA)

Next Story

New York City’s Mandatory Measles Vaccination Order Stands Still

The health department's lawyers argued that quarantining was ineffective because people carrying the virus can be contagious before symptoms appear.

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Materials are seen left at demonstration by people opposed to childhood vaccination after officials in Rockland County, a New York City suburb, banned children not vaccinated against measles from public spaces. VOA

Brooklyn judge on Thursday ruled against a group of parents who challenged New York City’s recently imposed mandatory measles vaccination order, rejecting their arguments that the city’s public health authority exceeded its authority.

In a six-page decision rendered hours after a hearing on the matter, Judge Lawrence Knipel denied the parents’ petition seeking to lift the vaccination order, imposed last week to stem the worst measles outbreak to hit the city since 1991.

The judge sided with municipal health officials who defended the order as a rare but necessary step to contain a surge in the highly contagious disease that has infected at least 329 people so far, most of them children from Orthodox Jewish communities in the borough of Brooklyn.

Another 222 cases have been diagnosed elsewhere in New York state, mostly in a predominantly ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Rockland County, northwest of Manhattan.

The New York outbreaks are part of a larger resurgence of measles across the country, with at least 555 cases confirmed in 20 states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health experts say the virus, which can cause severe complications and even death, has spread mostly among school-age children whose parents declined to get them vaccinated. Most profess philosophical or religious reasons, or cite concerns — debunked by medical science — that the three-way measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine may cause autism.

The judge rejected the parents’ contention that the vaccination order was excessive or coercive, noting it does not call for forcibly administering the vaccine to those who refuse it.

He also dismissed assertions in the petition disputing the “clear and present danger” of the outbreak. “Vaccination is known to extinguish the fire of contagion,” the judge said.

FILE PHOTO: A sign warning people of measles in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of Williamsburg in New York City, April 11, 2019.
A sign warning people of measles in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of Williamsburg in New York City, April 11, 2019. VOA

Secret identities

The vaccination order, which was extended this week, requires residents of certain affected Brooklyn neighborhoods to obtain the MMR vaccine unless they can otherwise demonstrate immunity to measles, or face a fine.

The court challenge was brought in Brooklyn’s Supreme Court by five people identified only as parents living in the affected neighborhoods. Their identities were kept confidential to protect their children’s’ privacy, their lawyers said.

In court on Thursday, they told Knipel the city had overstepped its authority and that quarantining the infected would be a preferable approach.

Robert Krakow, an attorney for the parents, estimated that just 0.0006 percent of the population of Brooklyn and Queens had measles. “That’s not an epidemic,” he said. “It’s not Ebola. It’s not smallpox.”

The health department’s lawyers argued that quarantining was ineffective because people carrying the virus can be contagious before symptoms appear.

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The vaccination order, which was extended this week, requires residents of certain affected Brooklyn neighborhoods to obtain the MMR vaccine unless they can otherwise demonstrate immunity to measles, or face a fine. Pixabay

The judge cited 39 cases diagnosed in Michigan that have been traced to an individual traveling from the Williamsburg community at the epicenter of Brooklyn’s outbreak.

Also Read: Short-Circuit Likely The Cause of Notre Dame Fire, Claims Police Investigators

The surge in measles there originated with an unvaccinated child who became infected on a visit to Israel, where the highly contagious virus is also running rampant.

The number of measles cases worldwide nearly quadrupled in the first quarter of 2019 to 112,163 compared with the same period last year, the World Health Organization said this week. (VOA)