November 17, 2010
The predicted crisis, which the report warns could rival the 2007-2008 global food crisis, is based on cereal stocks falling by 6% due to poor harvests driven by "weather events", including the unprecedented heatwave and drought in Russia over the summer. The extreme weather devastated much of Russia's wheat harvest, causing the nation to put a rare ban on exporting wheat.
"Adverse weather effects are undoubtedly a primary driver of wheat production shortfalls and, with climate change, may increasingly be so," the report reads, adding that the rust fungi is another threat.
Already, many foods have seen prices rise: butter has reached an all time high, sugar and cassava are at 30-year highs, while wheat and maize have jumped 40% this year. The report states that both poor crops and a weakening US dollar have played a role in food price inflation.
The FAO calls for expansion of crops to meet growing demand: "For major cereals, production must expand substantially to meet utilization and to reconstitute world reserves, and farmers are likely to respond to the prevailing prices by expanding plantings. Cereals however may not be the only crops farmers will be trying to produce more of, as rising prices have also made other commodities attractive to grow, from soybeans to sugar and cotton."
However, optimism is not high that the next global crop will by a bumper one.
Price surges in food staples spurred the global food crisis of 2007-2008, which spurred unrest, protests, and food riots in dozens of countries.
Tropical agriculture "double-whammy": high emissions, low yields
(11/02/2010) Food produced in the tropics comes with high carbon emissions and low crop yields, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). In the most comprehensive and detailed study to date looking at carbon emissions versus crop yields, researchers found that food produced in the tropics releases almost double the amount of carbon while producing half the yield as food produced in temperate regions. In other words, temperate food production is three times more efficient in terms of yield and carbon emissions.
Farms in the sky, an interview with Dickson Despommier
(10/12/2010) To solve today's environmental crises—climate change, deforestation, mass extinction, and marine degradation—while feeding a growing population (on its way to 9 billion) will require not only thinking outside the box, but a "new box altogether" according to Dr. Dickson Despommier, author of the new book, The Vertical Farm. Exciting policy-makers and environmentalists, Despommier's bold idea for skyscrapers devoted to agriculture is certainly thinking outside the box.
Officials point to Russian drought and Asian deluge as consistent with climate change
(08/08/2010) Government officials are pointing to the drought and wildfires in Russia, and the floods across Central and East Asia as consistent with climate change predictions. While climatologists say that a single weather event cannot be linked directly to a warming planet, patterns of worsening storms, severer droughts, and disasters brought on by extreme weather are expected as the planet warms.