About Author: Alina Khalid is a PRCCSF Fellow at Pakistan Research Center for a Community with Shared Future, Islamabad.
Hunger is made more dangerous by climate change, which also undermines sustainable development by destroying livelihoods, causing relocation, and deepening social inequities. Extreme weather-related events have doubled in number. Food costs have increased as a result of lower harvests. We all stand to lose since the hunger issue is being exacerbated by the climate disaster and our food systems are more interconnected than ever. However, it doesn’t seem like this tendency will stop anytime soon. Climate models project higher global average temperatures, hotter extremes, rising sea levels in coastal regions, and more frequent droughts in other regions in the future. Currently, the Horn of Africa is going through its worst drought in the past 40 years. Although understanding climate change might be challenging, the effects on people are obvious and very real.
Food security can be fulfilled only when each and every individual has an access to food for an active and healthy life. Whereas, food insecurity occurs when the dietary needs of these individuals are not fulfilled. In the contemporary era, the most prominent threat that has emerged is food insecurity which is alarming. Despite the contributions and policy implications of the United Nations along with other international institutions, more than 800 million people live in poverty. The number is growing day by day since no sufficient amount of food is produced to meet the need of individuals. Moreover, 70% of the world’s population depends on the agriculture sector and is living in poor conditions.
Climate change reverses the fight against food insecurity globally. Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change in their recent report highlight the risk of food security. As highlighted the most impacted societies would be agrarian as compared to non-agrarian ones. Along with food insecurity climate change impact trade and economic sustainability. Both direct and indirect effects of climate change are seen in agricultural production systems. Direct effects include the effects on certain agricultural production systems brought on by a change in physical attributes like temperature levels and rainfall distribution. Productivity is impacted by indirect effects when pests, pathogens, invasive species, pollinators, and other species are altered. These unintended consequences may be quite important. Due to a large number of interacting characteristics and links, many of which are yet unknown, they are far more challenging to estimate and project.
It appears to sense that if climate change decreases food production, it should likewise decrease people’s access to food. However, this straightforward example of supply and demand has significant effects. Inflation may result if one aspect of the food chain is disrupted as a result of a climatic catastrophe, major or minor. Since COVID-19 caused the suspension of foreign commerce, we have witnessed this over the past two years. The poorest households are particularly at risk from these price increases; according to one research, those who live in urban areas below the poverty line can spend up to 75% of their income on food alone.
Many of the world’s poorest nations depend heavily on agriculture, thus families eat in accordance with the seasons and the harvests of their own (and their neighbors’) lands. Families frequently skip one or more meals per day during the “hungry seasons” that precede harvest, when the previous food supply has been depleted and the next crops are not yet available for picking. Climate change has extended these lean seasons in many places. Even when a harvest is promising, more of it is being wasted as the climate issue worsens. When crops from high-drought regions are transported to humid storage facilities, they become more susceptible to pests and fungus infections. Additionally, flooding brought on by heavy rains can result in the growth of deadly mold on crops, so rain isn’t always helpful. We lose more food each year as a result of climate change and the increasing frequency of catastrophic weather events.
Currently, half of Pakistan is under water which is due to the result of drastic climate change. According to a new scientific estimate, climate change may have increased rainfall by up to 50% in two southern Pakistani provinces late last month, but global warming was not the main contributor to the nation’s disastrous floods, that` killed more than 1,500 people. The main cause of the tragedy that at one point submerged one-third of Pakistan under water is Pakistan’s general fragility, especially the vulnerability of those who live in danger. One of Pakistan’s worst flooding incidents on record is the subject of the latest analysis. For most of the summer, the nation had unusually intense monsoon rains, and August saw more rainfall than usual for the month.
Extreme flooding has had a negative impact on Pakistan’s capacity to feed its people, submerging large areas of farmland, destroying crops and food supplies, and destroying homes and ways of life. The government has warned that a food security crisis is about to happen. Rain and catastrophic floods have devastated crops of rice and cotton as well as vegetables like onions and tomatoes. Additionally, at a time when the world cannot afford another disruption in the food supply, they represent a threat to the forthcoming wheat sowing season. Early estimates suggest that up to half of Pakistan’s cotton crop may have been destroyed by the severe rains, according to planning minister Ahsan Iqbal on Tuesday. Pakistan is the fifth-largest producer of cotton in the world, contributing 5% to global production. The damage might result in a further decrease in the nation’s cotton supply. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN estimates that in low- and middle-income countries, around one-third of the food produced by farmers is lost between the farm and the market. Similar amounts are squandered between the market and the table in high-income nations. Since the food system now accounts for 21-37% of greenhouse gas emissions, food losses not only contribute to the climate issue but also have little impact on food security or levels of starvation.
The deteriorating humanitarian situation is also a climatic emergency. The world may anticipate a future marked by escalating global food crises, biodiversity loss, more frequent extreme weather events, and shorter growing seasons, even if rising temperatures can be contained to 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels (and now we are on schedule for 2.7°C). As freshwater becomes more limited and sickness and starvation rise, this will lead to more migration and war. Poorer nations, who make up a lesser fraction of the issue, are disproportionately affected by these effects. For instance, fewer than 5% of the total greenhouse gas emissions of the G7 countries are produced by the 27 most vulnerable nations, which are already hotspots for hunger and have the fewest financial means to deal with it. People who are already marginalized and subject to gender-based inequality, particularly women and girls, communities that are already extremely poor, and people who depend on agriculture, are the ones who are most seriously impacted.
Extreme weather-related disasters have increased in number since the early 1990s. Because of lower harvests, food costs have increased. We all stand to lose because the climate catastrophe is causing the hunger crisis, and because our food systems are more interconnected than ever.
For many people, including those in the United States and Europe, food is becoming more difficult to afford because of the rising costs of production and demand. The effects of climate change on our food system are expected to be exacerbated due to climate-induced changes in land management practices such as unsustainable farming practices (e.g., herbicide or pesticide use) or deforestation that reduces surface runoff. For example, a study found that emissions from large U.S. poultry farms alone are associated with a 2.5 percent increase in annual food prices.
2.37 billion People would be afflicted by malnutrition and infrequent access to food in 2020. Climate change is expected to have an impact on feed quality, the spread of pests, ruminant and zoonotic diseases, reproduction, growth rates, increased temperature-related stress and fatalities in livestock, as well as yield quantity and quality. There will be less water available for cattle due to increased runoff and depleted groundwater supplies. At 2°C, a 7–10% global drop in cattle is anticipated, along with economic losses of $9.7–12.6 billion.
Regrettably, this is a tendency that doesn’t seem to be abating anytime soon. Future climate predictions include higher global average temperatures, greater extremes, increasing sea levels along the coast, and more frequent droughts in other regions. Even while the topic of climate change may be difficult to fully understand, its repercussions on humans are quite tangible and obvious: because of global warming, millions of people go to bed hungry every night. Economic and social implications on livelihoods, food security, and nutrition accompany the physical effects of climate change on ecosystems, agroecosystems, agricultural production, food chains, incomes, and commerce. Those who are projected to feel the earliest and worst consequences of climate change are the most vulnerable communities, whose means of subsistence depend on agriculture sectors in areas sensitive to climate change.
However, there has to be a paradigm change in favour of more sustainable, productive, and resilient food and agricultural systems. The effects of climate change on the world food system make people who currently suffer from hunger and malnutrition more susceptible to further losses as the situation intensifies. We need to address the causes of climate change, especially at the political and policy levels, to achieve one of our top Sustainable Development Goals for the year 2030: ending hunger. To help the areas most affected by the crisis—areas that frequently emit relatively little greenhouse gas—we also need to give climate justice top priority.
 “How Climate Change Increases Hunger – and Why We’re All at Risk.” Concern Worldwide, August 12, 2022. https://www.concernusa.org/story/climate-change-and-hunger/#:~:text=The%20more%20climate%20changes%20and,%2D%20and%20middle%2Dincome%20countries.
 Devereux, Stephen, and Jenny Edwards. “Climate change and food security.” (2004).
 Dilawar, Faseeh Mangi and Ismail. “Pakistan’s Food Security Threatened by Massive Flooding.” Time. Time, August 31, 2022. https://time.com/6209889/pakistan-food-floods/.
 “Climate Change: A Hunger Crisis in the Making – World.” ReliefWeb, October 26, 2021. https://reliefweb.int/report/world/climate-change-hunger-crisis-making.