Water and Food Security

Dying crops due to exceedingly high temperatures and water loss from receding glaciers are just some of the concerns brought about by climate change. Today, there are 170.5 million food-insecure and crop-dependent people in parts of West Africa, India and China who live in areas where, by the mid-2050s, maximum daily temperatures during the growing season could exceed 30 °C (CGIAR Report, 2011).This is close to the maximum temperature that beans can tolerate, while maize and rice yields may suffer when temperatures exceed this level. Crops such as maize, rice, corn, and beans are critical sources of food for a majority of the world, and without them populations are going to suffer immensely. Adaptation strategies to combat these challenges need to be developed. Specific areas to focus on include:

  • Risk management, in which priorities are set based on the likelihood of a threat coming to pass and the magnitude of potential consequences
  • A public health-oriented framework, in which priorities are set based on factors that include the extent to which an approach is likely to be effective, feasibility of action, cost, ethical acceptability, political and social will, and potential for unintended risks [drawn from the Intervention Decision Matrix by Fowler and Dannenberg]

Please use this area to share thoughts and discuss ideas about mitigation strategies that can be used to address these problems.

 

 

Top: Jason Edwards/National Geographic, Bottom: Emilio Morenatti/AP

Comments

Is is possible to genetically modify crops to withstand temps?

The bullet points above address adaptation to the damage to food crops from high temperatures. My naive questions: Might we mitigate the damage to food crops by engineering new varieties that are drought and heat tolerant? Could we introduce different crops that are less water intensive?