Food production and climate change

A modelling study published in  The Lancet says that there could be 314 000–736 000 climate related deaths in the world by 2050 due to the effects of climate change on food production.

Global and regional health effects of future food production under climate change: a modelling study

One of the most important consequences of climate change could be its effects on agriculture. Although much research has focused on questions of food security, less has been devoted to assessing the wider health impacts of future changes in agricultural production.

In this modelling study, we estimate excess mortality attributable to agriculturally mediated changes in dietary and weight-related risk factors by cause of death for 155 world regions in the year 2050.

  • The health effects of climate change from changes in dietary and weight-related risk factors could be substantial, and exceed other climate-related health impacts that have been estimated.
  • Climate change mitigation could prevent many climate-related deaths.
  • Strengthening of public health programmes aimed at preventing and treating diet and weight-related risk factors could be a suitable climate change adaptation strategy.

The model projects that by 2050, climate change will lead to per-person reductions of 3·2% (SD 0·4%) in global food availability, 4·0% (0·7%) in fruit and vegetable consumption, and 0·7% (0·1%) in red meat consumption.

These changes will be associated with 529 000 climate-related deaths worldwide (95% CI 314 000–736 000), representing a 28% (95% CI 26–33) reduction in the number of deaths that would be avoided because of changes in dietary and weight-related risk factors between 2010 and 2050.

Twice as many climate-related deaths were associated with reductions in fruit and vegetable consumption than with climate-related increases in the prevalence of underweight, and most climate-related deaths were projected to occur in south and east Asia.

Adoption of climate-stabilisation pathways would reduce the number of climate-related deaths by 29–71%, depending on their stringency.

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This map shows that climate related deaths may reduce in some countries but increase, in some cases substantially, in most countries.

The biggest potential problems are in China, Russia and south east Asia.

New Zealand is shown as being at risk of a moderate increase which is odd, because of the huge amount of food production here over what the country’s consumption requires.

Lower production would mean less exports but enough for us?

But if there are world food shortages then higher demand will mean higher prices for export, making food less affordable in New Zealand.

What the report doesn’t say in it’s summary is what the risks of war due to food shortages could be. That would be difficult to predict and can’t really be modelled.

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55 Comments

  1. Iceberg

     /  4th March 2016

    Doesn’t more CO2 mean more plant growth, so more food? If they’re trying to scare the populace, wouldn’t they cover that off?

    Yet another of the thousands of predictions. How many of those worked out?

    Reply
  2. Brown

     /  4th March 2016

    Bollocks. There’s tons of food available and we waste vast quantities. I heard the milk powder price is at an all time high because it is so scarce. Wasting land on poster causes like biofuels will do more harm to the levels of food production.

    Reply
  3. Oliver

     /  4th March 2016

    This is why the Chinese are buying up land here in NZ. They know that China will be struggling to meet food demands in the future. So they produce food here and send it home to China, for a pretty price.

    Reply
    • Iceberg

       /  4th March 2016

      So you’re using population pressure as the reason, but blaming climate change?

      Reply
      • Oliver

         /  4th March 2016

        No, meat and dairy production. Population pressure isn’t the issue. Animal agriculture is.

        Reply
  4. David

     /  4th March 2016

    Why would the medical profession which is at the cutting edge of human progress think that we are incapable of any form of adaptation and improvement and so are doomed, doomed I say.

    Reply
  5. alloytoo

     /  4th March 2016

    Climate change signals opportunities, crops may change to suit conditions, new tracts may open up through previously unusable. That’s been happening for 1000’s of years.

    What this doesn’t factor in is the emergence of new technologies which could dramatically change the way we produce food. I’m not talking about GM crops, though they will play a role, but rather about fusion and solar energy generation technologies and affordable complex 3D printing.

    Reply
  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  4th March 2016

    The assumptions are? The uncertainty is?

    Reply
    • Mefrostate

       /  4th March 2016

      Standard deviations are reported above. Burden is on you to go seek out the assumptions.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  4th March 2016

        I read the section on uncertainty in the paper and for certain those standard deviations do not represent in any way the many unquantified major uncertainties.

        Had the paper not produced something sufficiently scary it could not have been published. That is the single biggest problem with “climate science”.

        Oh, and another unhighlighted point. Global food production is projected to continue to rise substantially during the period modelled. The paper is describing a small difference between the model run without climate change and the model run with guestimates of climate change.

        Reply
        • Mefrostate

           /  4th March 2016

          That’s how counterfactuals work, Alan. I can’t speak to bias in journal management, but it sounds like a scoop if you have any proof. If you don’t, then it just sounds like the kind of accusation that could be used to try to discredit any uncomfortable information.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  4th March 2016

            Proof of what? Everything I said is factual.

            Reply
            • Mefrostate

               /  4th March 2016

              “Had the paper not produced something sufficiently scary it could not have been published. That is the single biggest problem with “climate science”.”

              Seems to me that the headline effect would apply to evidence that disputed the effects of climate change too…

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  4th March 2016

              Fair comment, once a scary prediction had been canonised. But of course with the indeterminate uncertainties it would amount to saying that climate change mightn’t cause half a million food related deaths and the journal editor would probably say the original article actually encompassed that possibility too, it just never hit the headlines.

            • Mefrostate

               /  4th March 2016

              Right, and the media’s need for headlines and clicks complicates the issue even further, over and above the question of biases in scientific publication.

              The question then becomes: how do I get the information to ensure that my diet is ethical?

              I don’t know the answer, but I suspect it would require more effort than dismissing offhand any information that might be uncomfortable and require change.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  4th March 2016

              As soon as I see “could” or “might” in a climate change story I dismiss it out of hand. There are plenty of real things to worry about without engaging in fantasies.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  4th March 2016

              I should just add that very frequently the journal and/or the research institution feed that media need with press releases highlighting the scary possibility ahead of or contemporaneously with publication.

              This seems to be a practice solely confined to climate “science”.

            • Mefrostate

               /  4th March 2016

              Projections always contain uncertainty. It just sounds like you’ve made your mind up on climate change and don’t want to read anything that might challenge that conclusion. Would you be supportive of this behaviour from those who accept climate change?

            • Mefrostate

               /  4th March 2016

              I should just add that very frequently the journal and/or the research institution feed that media need with press releases highlighting the scary possibility ahead of or contemporaneously with publication. This seems to be a practice solely confined to climate “science”.

              It occurs in all sciences, but is unsurprisingly important for climate science since the forces attempting to obfuscate the issue are particularly loud.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  4th March 2016

              I haven’t seen this media manipulation anywhere else. Yes, big scientific discoveries get press release boosting, but they very rarely come peppered with “might” and “could” qualifications.

              I make up my mind on facts, not on mights, coulds and maybes. I do believe that sadly the vast majority of climate “science” is fraudulently incompetent swindling of the taxpayer.

            • Mefrostate

               /  4th March 2016

              Again, “might” and “could” are just standard language for projections. The TPP NIA is peppered with them.

              The problem with your expressed belief is that you’ll see all future research through that lens. It leaves no possible room for you to be convinced otherwise. Antivaxxers use the same reasoning to dismiss all vaccination “science”.

            • Oliver

               /  4th March 2016

              Can I interrupt this thread to say that both you and Wilky have no idea what you are talking about. But carry on, I need a good laugh.

            • Mefrostate

               /  4th March 2016

              Oliver you are absolutely more than welcome to highlight the points where we have no idea what we are talking about.

              But without doing so, you’re just interrupting an interesting discussion and filling it with meaningless rhetoric.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  4th March 2016

              Prior to climate science, speculative projections were rightly the domain of business plans and government planners. They weren’t published claiming to be science.

            • Mefrostate

               /  4th March 2016

              So you’d prefer science to completely stop building projections?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  4th March 2016

              I think the climate models are pretty much completely useless and by the time they are all averaged together they could pretty much be replaced by a simple two or three parameter function back fitted to the temperature record. They have very little predictive power and therefore all predictions built on their predictions like this paper have even less power.

            • Mefrostate

               /  4th March 2016

              “pretty much be replaced by a simple two or three parameter function back fitted to the temperature record”

              Maybe leave it to the experts, Alan.

  7. Pantsdownbrown

     /  4th March 2016

    The ‘climate experts’ have been so spectacularly wrong over the years in their predictions its a wonder that people still believe them – for instance;

    http://www.thenewamerican.com/tech/environment/item/18888-embarrassing-predictions-haunt-the-global-warming-industry

    Reply
    • Oliver

       /  4th March 2016

      PDB there is plenty of misinformation on climate change. So yes you can Google search arguments against climate change, because those who have money invested in business that are harmful to the environment pay to have this misinformation put out there to silence the ignorant.

      Consider this a tip for young players, like yourself.

      Reply
      • Iceberg

         /  4th March 2016

        What evidence do you have of that? See if you can find a link from business to Anthony Watts or Jo Nova, good luck!

        Perhaps you should think about the link between the hundreds of billions going from governments to “research”, green energy, swish conferences, subsidies. None of those billions would cause a skew in the information getting to the public, would they? Of course not, because every dollar spent by the government is virtuous right?

        Reply
      • Pantsdownbrown

         /  4th March 2016

        Unfortunately your naivety shines through yet again Oliver……..being a holocaust denier like yourself puts you into a very small bracket of people with major logistical issues, so forgive me if I disregard your comments as pure fantasy from a person of little to no intellect not worthy of a dedicated and detailed reply.

        Reply
        • Iceberg

           /  4th March 2016

          Clearly you weren’t aware that Oliver was an climate scientist before joining the army.

          Reply
        • Rob

           /  4th March 2016

          What does being a ‘holocaust denier’ have to do with climate change. The new American is a hard right right rag (and we all know that anything that will cost corporations money is wrong to them) with affiliations to the John Birch Society. You can find plenty of arguements for and against but the majority of scientists appear to believe in climate change. I for one do and I’d say we are the majority by far.

          Reply
          • Oliver

             /  4th March 2016

            Don’t bother trying to educate these two numbskulls. They share the same extreme ideology, you could show them the physical evidence and they would still deny it. We’ll just call the “climate change deniers”.

            Reply
            • Iceberg

               /  4th March 2016

              “could show them the physical evidence” but you chose not too for some reason.

            • Pantsdownbrown

               /  4th March 2016

              Yep -same old, same old – attack the article writer and not the content – what bits of the article were not factual? The FACT is climate change scientists so far have been way out in the majority of their projections – hell even Al Gore’s movie ‘An inconvenient truth’ has been proven now over time to be mainly fiction or pure fantasy. Happy hockey sticks!

          • Iceberg

             /  4th March 2016

            “the majority of scientists appear to believe in climate change” Seriously? since when?

            Even if they did, what other science is decided on votes?

            Reply
            • Oliver

               /  4th March 2016

              Climate change denier

            • Iceberg

               /  4th March 2016

              Yay, more tired lefty slogans from pinochio.

            • Dougal

               /  4th March 2016

              This type of comment smacks of shit stirring for the sake of it. Why is it almost all of your comments reek of seemingly deliberate contrary behaviour?

            • Iceberg

               /  4th March 2016

              Settle down big boy. So calling someone a “climate change denier” is not shit stirring? It’s a deliberate lefty insult.

          • Pantsdownbrown

             /  4th March 2016

            Rob: “but the majority of scientists appear to believe in climate change. I for one do and I’d say we are the majority by far”

            The issue isn’t that climate changes (it has since time began hence ice ages and warming periods) it is WHAT causes climate change. So called ‘deniers’ believe that the majority of any change in the climate is caused by natural means, opponents think it is mainly man made.

            Reply
            • Oliver

               /  4th March 2016

              And you are wrong PDB. Ice berg I’ve seen the polar ice caps melting with my own eyes. Dougal [Abuse deleted. PG]

            • Oliver

               /  4th March 2016

              PDB where would you be without Google. Up the creek without a paddle. How about doing your own research.

            • Pantsdownbrown

               /  4th March 2016

              Nothing like FACTS to ruin your argument Oliver – what do you use? ‘Feelings’? Spin the bottle? Ask Martyn Bradbury?

            • Dougal

               /  4th March 2016

              *MOD*

            • Iceberg

               /  4th March 2016

              Cry baby behaviour. Oliver has no credibility here. He’s well proven himself.

            • Iceberg

               /  4th March 2016

              Of course you have. That’s how you try to win debates, claiming credentials you don’t have. That’s about the most absurd thing you’ve ever said. What, you stood there and watched millions of square km melt? We know this one to be false, because the polar ice caps are growing.

            • Dougal

               /  4th March 2016

              Comment above, I can’t comment on the cray baby post..seems may be in moderation? Was not complaining about what Oliver said regards myself, more that he is just stirring the pot to provoke. I agree about his wild claims. Don’t be so quick to tar and feather me.. 🙂

            • Iceberg

               /  4th March 2016

              The way the comment nesting looks in mobile was confusing. I apologise for that.

              PG has taken a sword to the very heart of democracy by curtailing my ability to let fly at Oliver with swear words on a regular basis. History will judge him appropriately.

            • I think that Oliver’s words stand out more without being clouded by a clobbering.

      • Dougal

         /  4th March 2016

        The Oracle speaks!

        Reply

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