A much anticipated USDA assessment on how climate change may impact global food security and the U.S. food system is out. This assessment is rolling up into to the National Climate Assessment (and it’s called for under the President’s Climate Action Plan). The assessment is peer-reviewed and includes contributors from 19 organizations in four countries. The group was tasked not only with identifying the effects of climate change on global food security through 2100 (a herculean task), but also with analyzing how those changes might impact the United States. The assessment represents the consensus of the authors.
The release of the assessment ties in with the Paris climate talks. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is in Paris, attending those talks. (Read more here). Here is what Secretary Vilsack said earlier today:
The science is clear: climate change impacts global food security. Secretary Vilsack live from Paris now at #COP21 → https://t.co/kOiaQrJAwH
— USDA Press Team (@USDAPress) December 2, 2015
The assessment is located on a USDA web-based portal. The site contains several components, including the full report, an executive summary, a report in brief, a press release, a FAQs section and report figures. The portal also serves as a helpful jumping off point to access related topics. One of the related sites we’re digging into this afternoon is the USDA Climate Hubs page.
A key finding? Climate change will impact global food security (which impacts all of us in myriad and complex ways which are painful to think about, but absolutely essential to consider). Expect disruptions in agricultural production. In terms of impacts on the U.S., our food system is strong and resilient. But we are part of the global food system and we will experience significant impacts. Imports will change (in type and price) and what we export will change, too. There will also be increased demands for aid (food and development) and technological assistance. The brunt of the impacts will be experienced by the poor and vulnerable (including children) and those living in tropical climates.
For those who have kept up with the issues surrounding climate change and food security, there is not much surprising in the assessment, although it is disturbing. However, its publication is helpful in increasing the sense of urgency around addressing the threats climate change present to global food security. Some explicit connections are being made. And the accessible format of the assessment may encourage more people to dig into this incredibly important issue, which impacts all of us.