Go ahead, call me a cad for casting an issue that will result in the starvation of billions in the light of decadent developed-nation dieting fanaticism. But would you really have clicked on an article advising that scientists have just published an analysis indicating that "Climate change will reduce crop yields sooner than we thought"?
But now that I've got your attention, guess what? The reprieve in harvest sustainability promised to North Americans and Europeans in previous studies may not materialize. According to the lead author of this new study, which evaluated changes of only 2°C:
As more data have become available, we’ve seen a shift in consensus, telling us that the impacts of climate change in temperate regions will happen sooner rather than later.
This study will inform the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is due out later this month (March 2014). The Fourth Assessment Report (2007) reassured North Americans and Europeans that their temperate climates would survive a couple of degrees of warming without harming harvests, perhaps even producing a bumper crop occasionally. But the high degree of interest in this topic has significantly multiplied the amount of available data on climate change and agricultural yields.
Led by Professor Andy Challinor, from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, a team of scientists analyzed 1700 published assessments of how climate change will affect crop production. This so-called "meta-analysis" allows scientists to draw statistical significance from the combined studies even when a single study might not be considered conclusive -- in much the same sense that no single weather event can be said to result from climate change but the statistical trend indicates that more extreme weather events will become more frequent in a warming world.
Even those nations where people in poverty plump up the statistics on obesity due to the low nutritional value and high caloric content of our cheap processed foods enjoy a high standard of availability of food -- consequently giving little thought to what it is like to experience severe food shortages.
Our concept of diet will change significantly in the years that experience decreases in food yields of over 25%, a situation which scientists say will "become increasingly common". Hopefully the realization by those in developed, temperate nations that they will suffer alongside the billions already facing food crises will motivate people to think more seriously about how we can change ourselves before our planet takes the decision out of our hands.