Helping Consumers Understand the Impact of Climate Change

The Lempert Report
August 21, 2015

Increased food shortages could well be a real problem in the near future.

A recent article in Business Insider, highlights the fact that climate change is contributing to a very real and growing problem;  food shortages.  The latest Grantham Mayo van Otterloo (GMO) quarterly report noted, as per the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that "humanity is risking ‘a breakdown of food systems linked to warming, drought, flooding, and precipitation variability and extremes.’”

Climate change threatens the way food gets produced around the world. According to a June report from the 'Global Sustainability Institute of Anglia Ruskin University' by 2040, food prices will be four times higher than they were in 2000. 

Business Insider reminds us of four ways that climate changes affects our food:

•A warming planet leads to less food. According to the IPCC's report from 2014, every decade of warming that happens decreases the amount of food the world can produce by 2%, or 4.4 million metric tons of food.

•Droughts cut back on the food produced. Take for example, the California drought. The USDA notes that "depending on its continued severity, the drought in California has the potential to drive prices for fruit, vegetables, dairy, and eggs up even further."

•Flooding decreases the amount of available land for farming. An example being that if the Mississippi and Missouri rivers flood, corn production could be cut by 27%, soybeans by 19%, and wheat by 7%. 

•More frequent extreme weather makes it harder to have a reliable crop yield. Tornadoes, torrential downpours, etc. cause damage to lands that otherwise contain crops. Climate change results in an increasing amount of these extreme weathers thus making it harder to rely on a steady supply of food, and driving up prices on what food there is.

With the mass of information and debates surrounding climate change, it can sometimes seem like an intangible issue for consumers, with many not really understanding and/or having an interest in how it may effect their everyday life. With a direct connection to shoppers, Supermarkets can and should do their part to educate the consumer and help them understand why this issue is important and how it will effect their weekly shopping. Supermarkets should provide information on how climate change can impact them as well as tips on what small changes consumers can do to help lessen their impact on global warming.