During these last few months under the looming terror of COVID-19, many of us have experienced disruption in the food supply chain. Walking over to your local grocery store, you were welcomed by barren shelves and for the first time, many of us had experienced what it would be like for the food supply chain to break. Luckily, the large corporations have figured out how to resume the food supply chain without it really disrupting our lives too much. However, a bigger and more permanent threat to the food supply chain exists and it comes in the form of climate change. From basic necessities like water, to luxuries such as red meat; climate change threatens to eliminate all of it.
One of the biggest threats to our food supply due to climate change is the increase in droughts around the world. Droughts not only limit our fresh water supply, but also water needed to grow crops and feed consumable animals. These droughts have caused people to migrate away from their homelands in order to find access to water. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras that migrated to the border of the United States and Mexico increased fivefold in an attempt to find salvation to their food shortages. Scientists have linked of this mass migration directly to climate change.
However, the solutions to climate change have also had an adverse effect on the food supply chain. For example, creating new sources of bioenergy, for example growing corn to produce ethanol, has led to the creation of deserts and other land deformities, according to Climate Change and Land: an IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Special Report.
Another example of this is the planting of more trees. By planting trees in an effort to lower carbon dioxide in the air, it has taken fertile land away from growing crops, reducing the amount of space available to grow crops. According to Pamela McElwee, a professor of human ecology at Rutgers University, planting trees can reduce the amount of the greenhouse gases by 9 gigatons a year. However, this is also projected to increase food prices by 80 percent by the year 2050.
It seems like there is not a lot of options in protecting the food supply chain. Scientists are looking into new sources such as indigenous people who traditionally grow plant-based foods that are sustainable, as a resource to help create new ways of producing food.
Another way to protect the food supply chain is looking directly at your local government. There are many policies that are stuck in the assembly line that can help to start resolving these issues. But the longer we wait, the more damage we accumulate.
Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns