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‘Food Shocks’ Increase Over Last Five Decades

The report said trade-dependent countries must find ways to store food in preparation for inevitable shocks elsewhere.

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Food Shocks
'Food Shocks' Increase Over Last Five Decades

Food shocks, or sudden losses of crops, livestock or fish, due to the combination extreme weather conditions and geopolitical events like war, increased from 1961 to 2013, said researchers at The University of Tasmania in a report released Monday.

Researchers saw a steady increase in shock frequency over each decade with no declines.

The report, published in Nature Sustainability, said that protective measures are needed to avoid future disasters.

The authors studied 226 shocks across 134 countries over the last 53 years and, unlike previous reports, examined the connection between shocks and land-based agriculture and sea-based aquaculture.

“There seems to be this increasing trend in volatility,” said lead author Richard Cottrell, a PhD candidate in quantitative marine science at the University of Tasmania in Australia. “We do need to stop and think about this.”

Extreme weather events are expected to worsen over time because of climate change, the report said, and when countries already struggling to feed their populations experience conflict, the risk of mass-hunger increases.

FILE - A farmer harvests wheat in a field in Jdeidet Artouz, a suburb southwest of Damascus, Syria, June 19, 2017.
FILE – A farmer harvests wheat in a field in Jdeidet Artouz, a suburb southwest of Damascus, Syria, June 19, 2017.

The researchers found that about one quarter of food resources are accessed through trade, and many countries could not feed their populations without imports, making them particularly vulnerable to food shocks of trading partners.

As the frequency of shocks continues to increase, it leaves what Cottrell called “narrowing windows” between shocks, making it nearly impossible to recover and prepare for the next one.

The report said trade-dependent countries must find ways to store food in preparation for inevitable shocks elsewhere.

agriculture
The researchers found that about one quarter of food resources are accessed through trade, and many countries could not feed their populations without imports, making them particularly vulnerable to food shocks of trading partners. Pixabay

Countries must invest in “climate-smart” practices like diversifying plant and animal breeds and varieties and enhance soil quality to speed recovery following floods and droughts, the report said.

Also Read:Internet Addiction Among Teenagers Spawns US Treatment Programs

“We need to start changing the way we produce food for resiliency,” Cottrell said, adding that he had yet to see much action being taken by wealthy food-producing countries. “Because we are going to see a problem.”

The report was released the same day the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported findings on conflict and hunger.

That report stated that around 56 million people across eight conflict zones are in need of immediate food and livelihood assistance. (VOA)

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More than 11,000 Scientists Declare ‘Climate Emergency’

The study, called the “World Scientists' Warning of a Climate Emergency,” was led by ecologists Bill Ripple and Christopher Wolf of Oregon State University

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Scientists, Climate, Emergency
FILE - An aerial view shows a Japan Self-Defense Force helicopter flying over residential areas flooded by the Chikuma river following Typhoon Hagibis in Nagano, central Japan, Oct. 13, 2019, in this photo taken by Kyodo. VOA

A global team of more than 11,000 scientists is warning that the planet “clearly and unequivocally faces a climate emergency.”

In a report published Tuesday in the journal Bioscience warns in no uncertain terms that the world would face “untold human suffering” if it does not make deep and lasting shifts in human activities that contribute to climate change.

The study, called the “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency,” was led by ecologists Bill Ripple and Christopher Wolf of Oregon State University, and climate scientist William Moomaw of Tufts University, along with scientists from universities in South Africa and Australia. The signatories to the report represent several fields of study and come from 150 countries.

“Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations, with few exceptions, we have generally conducted business as usual and have largely failed to address this predicament,” the study says. “Climate change has arrived and is accelerating faster than many scientists expected.”

Scientists, Climate, Emergency
In a report published Tuesday in the journal Bioscience warns in no uncertain terms that the world would face “untold human suffering” if it does not make deep and lasting shifts. Pixabay

It is the first time a large group of scientists have collectively used the world “emergency” in reference to climate change.

The report identified six areas that need to be addressed immediately.

They include:

  • Cutting fossil fuel use by imposing carbon taxes and using energy more efficiently
  • Stabilizing global population growth by strengthening women’s rights and making family planning services “available to all people”
  • Cutting emissions of pollutants like soot and ethane
  • Moving to a more plant-based diet
  • Preventing the loss of biodiversity and the destruction of forests
  • Moving the global economic focus away from growth of wealth to sustainability and income equality

Also Read- Brazil’s Carbon Emissions Stable as Clean Energy Sources Use Offsets Deforestation

The scientists said it will most likely take strong actions by the public to move politicians toward adopting lasting policy changes.

“We believe that the prospects will be greatest if decision-makers and all of humanity promptly respond to this warning and declaration of a climate emergency, and act to sustain life on planet Earth, our only home,” the paper said. (VOA)