Climate Change to Drive Food Prices Up By 40 Percent

Within the next fifty years, we will be seeing food prices raise dramatically. A 40 percent increase in food prices is expected with the worsening effects of climate change, according to a new study.

The research was published in the journal Climate Change and estimates that food production across the planet may drop by 0.5 percent by the end of this decade and to 2.3 percent by the 2050s, reports The Organic Authority. What’s more, these results remain the same under both optimistic and pessimistic scenarios of future greenhouse gas emissions.

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Food prices have already been on the rise for the past few years. According to State of the Planet, a blog out of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, world food prices have risen by 217 percent for rice, 136 percent for wheat, 125 percent for corn and 107 percent for soybeans between 2006 and 2008. State of the Planet goes on to say that prices have risen in grain-producing regions because of droughts, causing the global food price crisis which has led to food riots and political change in certain parts of the world.

The study’s researchers cite changes in global temperatures, carbon dioxide levels, river flow patterns, changes in weather patterns and changes in land areas—all effects of climate change—as the main factors that will continue to drive up world food prices. The powerful hits to food prices and production will come from changes in rainfall patterns and regional soil moisture in particular.

“Future climate change is likely to modify regional water endowments and soil moisture. As a consequence, the distribution of harvested land will change, modifying production and international trade patterns,” the study authors wrote. “Higher food prices are expected.”

Dr. Andy Wiltshire, the study’s co-author, also told Carbon Brief, “Often the impacts of climate on food and water are treated separately, but really the interaction is very important as agriculture is one of the dominant consumers of freshwater.”

Prices of the world’s most vital staples, like grains and sugar, could rise by 40 percent while fruits and vegetables may rise by 30 percent and the price of rice could increase by 20 percent.

The effects of climate change will not only change food prices though—they will also influence economies and welfare across the globe. The study predicts that there will be around 280 billion dollars in cuts to global welfare annually by 2050 regardless of whichever scenario, optimistic or pessimistic, actually plays out, reports Think Progress. This will be especially problematic for countries that depend on agriculture production as their main revenue source.

Ultimately, the future does not look very promising in terms of food production or prices, which is why it is important for us to work together now to demand change of our local, state and national governments and do our part at home too by reducing our carbon footprint as much as possible and not allowing fresh, never-touched food to end up in the landfill.

Image source: KitAy / Flickr

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