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Global warming to drive up food costs among worlds' poorest

The UN scientific panel also warns of more acidic oceans

Global warming makes feeding the world harder and more expensive, a United Nations scientific panel said.
    
A warmer world will push food prices higher, trigger ``hotspots of hunger'' among the world's poorest people, and put the crunch on Western delights like fine wine and robust coffee, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded in a 32-volume report issued Monday.
    
``We're facing the spectre of reduced yields in some of the key crops that feed humanity,'' panel chairman Rajendra Pachauri said in press conference releasing the report.
    
Even though heat and carbon dioxide are often considered good for plants, the overall effect of various aspects of man-made warming is that it will reduce food production compared to a world without global warming, the report said.
    
The last time the panel reported on the effects of warming in 2007, it said it was too early to tell whether climate change would increase or decrease food production, and many skeptics talked of a greening world. But in the past several years the scientific literature has been overwhelming in showing that climate change hurts food production, said Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution of Science and lead author of the climate report.
    
But this doesn't mean in 50 years there will be less food grown. Thanks to the ``green revolution'' of improved agricultural techniques, crop production is growing about 10 per cent per decade and climate change is likely to reduce yields by 1 per cent a decade, so crop production will still go up, but not as fast, said David Lobell of Stanford University, one of the authors of the report's chapter on food problems.
    
Still, it is as if an anchor is weighing down the improvements to agriculture, Pachauri and Field said. Some places have seen crop yield increases drop from 2 per cent a year to 1 per cent or even plateau. And places like India, where 800 million people rely on rainfall not irrigation, the green revolution never improved crops much, Pachauri said.
    
Although changes in rainfall hurt, mostly the problem will be too much heat, Lobell said. ``No place is immune,'' he said.
    
Food prices are likely to go up somewhere in a wide range of 3 per cent to 84 per cent by 2050 just because of climate change, the report said.
    
``In a world where a billion people are already going hungry, this makes it harder for more people to feed their families,'' said Tim Gore of Oxfam International, who wasn't part of this study.
    
While some crops may do slightly better, staples like wheat and corn will be hurt, the Nobel Prize-winning panel of scientists said. The report specifically mentions warming squeezing out crops in some of the richer coffee-growing areas in Central and South America, apple orchards in eastern Washington and cherry orchards in California.
    
And where you get your wine may be changing. Both quantity and quality of wine can be hurt in much of Europe, the United States and Australia, but Portugal and British Columbia in Canada may become better places for wine, the report said.
    
It's not just crops on land. A warmer and more acidic ocean is changing where fish live, making them harder to catch, and making it harder to feed people who rely on fish, Pachauri said.

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  1. Frankie posted on 03/31/2014 10:32 AM
    These people would be without a job if it weren't for their pushing this agenda. Look at the earth over millenia and climate change has taken place long before humans "destroyed" the earth.

    We may play a small role in change but not nearly as significant as these people claim. We will have a catastrophe on our hands if we destroy our economies with unaffordable energy alternatives. No one bothers to calculate the energy involved in creating the electric power, especially when one gets away from nuclear and hydroelectric.
  2. Sarah posted on 03/31/2014 11:33 AM
    Is the climate screwy? Of course it is. Should we be worried? Absolutely. But you know what else is presenting a much more immediate and actionable problem when it comes to the rising cost of living?

    Oh gee, I wonder why.

    First, a public sector union goes on strike. Thanks to their in-any-other-circumstance-unlawful monopoly, they get their higher wage whether they've earned it or not. This raises taxes for everybody.

    Then, some private sector union notices their paycheques don't go as far. Doesn't really matter where they are; let's say it's the factory that makes Acme Stovetop Noodles. They go on strike demanding higher wages, since the tax increase raised the cost of living, and the factory owner caves. Now the price of the Noodles goes up so the factory can stay in business. Meanwhile, the same thing is happening with the shipping company that gets the Noodles to stores, so the price has to go up even FURTHER not only on the Noodles, but on everything else that company ships to make up for the higher cost of shipping it.

    And are they done screwing us? Oh no, because now everything in the supermarket costs more thanks to this unionized butterfly effect, and Joe Six-pack working minimum wage gets annoyed. Rather than speak up against the cause of all this, he demands a higher minimum wage, and gets it. Now businesses across the province have to increase their prices on everything AGAIN, to cover the higher cost of paying their workforce to do the same minimum-wage work.

    Then someone working in the public sector walks into the supermarket to buy some Acme Stovetop Noodles. "Hmm," she says, "everything is more expensive. I'd better bring this up at the next union meeting, we may need to go on strike for higher wages soon."

    Stop unions, stop the cycle!
    1. Frankie posted on 03/31/2014 12:23 PM
      @Sarah A very well explained analysis. Public unions are like Quebec; the more they threaten the more the governments cave in to them. The only way to stop the cycle is for governments to stand up to them. Governments will only stand up to them when enough citizens demand responsibility.

      Ontario Liberals have been in power for 11 years despite lying, "stealing", bribing unions, mismanaging, etc. Why should they change direction when they continually get voted in; their supporters are encouraging this behaviour.

      The other problem is the cancerous growth of the public service, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for the Liberals. The more civil servants you have the more Liberal voters you have. That's another dangerous cycle.

      If the civil service continues to grow unchecked we may all be civil servants. Isn't that called communism?
    2. Ryan posted on 03/31/2014 12:41 PM
      @Frankie One simple solution I'd like to see is that you only get a ballot if you DON'T rely on taxpayer money for your living. No welfare recipients, no public sector employees. That way we remove the conflict of interest that comes from voting for your own pay raise.
  3. john posted on 03/31/2014 01:28 PM
    yet another lame ass excuse to raise prices in food ..
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