Climate change means much more than a hotter planet.
It’s also resulting in droughts, heavy precipitation and flooding, harsher winters, and other types of dangerous and even deadly weather events.
And while these changes are concerning for a huge variety of reasons, a really big one is how they impact our ability to grow food.
We’ve seen that climate extremes like those mentioned above are responsible for major fluctuations in crop yields, and perhaps what’s more unsettling are the global hotspots that have been discovered. These are areas that produce a large percentage of the world’s crops and are more susceptible to climate variability; North America is one of them.
It’s helpful to understand what’s happening with our yields, but a clearer picture can be seen with the amount of food that’s actually available for consumption.
Some estimates have found that because of climate change we are losing 1% of consumable food calories per year of the world’s top ten crops. And there’s been noticeable decreases in consumable food calories in many countries that are already food insecure.
This topic comes full circle when we look at how our food system contributes to climate change. Agriculture is the largest contributor of non-carbon dioxide emissions (56%!) and contributes up to 29% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
I know these issues are scary, but I like to look at them with hope and activism, which is why I’m so passionate about the need to shift our food system in a new direction. That means the way we grow, harvest, process, package, transport, market, consume, and dispose of food needs to be overhauled to reduce climate change (and improve our health at the same time).
If you’re interested in this issue, and you should be, be sure to listen to my recent podcast episode with journalist David Wallace-Wells. Throughout our talk he shares his extensive research in the field of climate change. We talk about the dangers of doing nothing, the role of the food system, and why we need to take action to make a difference.
I hope you’ll tune in and learn how to change our food system and reduce the effects of climate change. You can click here to get more of the details on our fascinating talk.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD