Climate change could have damaging effect on crop production which will cause close to half a million extra deaths globally by 2050, due to starvation and malnutrition.
A study recently published at The Lancet said low and middle income countries like India and China will be worst hit. India alone will see close to 136,000 extra deaths every year. The research on the Future of Food at the University of Oxford was headed by Dr Marco Springmann. It is a first of its kind research to assess the impact of climate change on pattern of food consumption and bodyweight.
Scientists claim unless strong measures are taken to reduce global emissions, climate change could cut down food availability by about a third by 2050.
“Our results show that even modest reductions in the availability of food could lead to changes in the energy content and composition of diets,” said Springmann.
Food availability on an average will reduce by 3.2% per person, which is about 99 kcal per day. Intake of fruit and vegetable will go down by 4.0% (14.9g per day), and red meat consumption of 0.7% (0.5g per day).
“These changes will have major consequences for health. The proportion of fruits and vegetables in diets, for example, will almost certainly decline in a climate-change-addled world. Low- and middle-income countries will probably be hit hardest, with almost three-quarters of all climate-related deaths expected to occur in China and India,” he further said. . The team predicted the impact will be around 155 countries across the world.
“It is very difficult to estimate exactly what climate change impacts will be,” commented Andrew Challinor, a professor at the University of Leeds in England, adding, “Year-to-year variability of food production will become greater, which will make global food markets more unpredictable.”
However, adopting climate-stabilisation pathways would reduce the number of deaths by 20 to 71%, depending on their stringency, Springmann said
Last year, global leaders came together in Paris for the summit on climate change, where, various proposals were agreed upon to cut down on carbon footprint.
The study authors also looked at the opposite scenario. A future without climate change would increase food availability and consumption, and prevent 1.9 million deaths, the researchers said.