Why Care About Climate Change? The Effects Will Hit Home

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Researchers from Princeton University and the University of Oxford suggest that we aren’t as interested today in climate change as we should be. We all should care about how we can do our little part to help. Food Security is one of the reasons why.

Former Secretary of Agriculture Daniel Glickman says “The big thing that worries me is (that) climate change will result in a 2% reduction on annual basis in some crops.” He says the effects will be most obvious in California and other areas in the West.

Unfortunately, not everyone is so worried. Since 2007, there has been a notable decline in public interest level around the globe about climate change. Princeton and Oxford researchers suggest that it could be at least partially due to negative media reports.

Study authors William Anderegg from the Princeton Environmental Institute and Gregory Goldsmith, a postdoctoral researcher at Oxford's Environmental Change Institute, say, "If public interest in climate change is falling, it may be more difficult to muster public concern to address climate change".

Today, more than 840 million people are chronically hungry. If we continue along our same path, it will only get worse as population growth and changing diets will increase food demand by 60%.

The hardest part for most of us is grasping this very large concept. So The ABC Board in Australia brings this concern closer to home. What if climate change will ultimately cause us to lose our favorite foods?

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1. Chocolate.
Over the coming decades everyone's favorite guilty pleasure may become a luxury experience. Currently, more than half of the world's chocolate is sourced from African countries such as Ghana and the neighboring Ivory Coast. But according to a report funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and produced by the Colombian-based International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), temperature rises of 2.3 degrees Celsius by 2050 will decrease or eliminate the amount of cocoa that can be produced.

2. Oysters.
A 2010 report "Climate Change Adaptation in the Australian Edible Oyster Industry" noted that climate change impacts, in conjunction with issues around water quality thanks to our growing coastal populations, pose a risk to the oyster industry. In addition, ocean acidification will lead to smaller oysters. "The change in chemistry of the sea water will probably make it more difficult for oysters to form their shell," says Dr Richard Matear, from CSIRO's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies.

3. Coffee.
More than 600 billion cups of coffee are consumed a year, according to the International Coffee Organization. Almost 70 per cent of coffee uses Arabica beans, originally from Ethiopia. But the changing climate has led to scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to predict that by 2080 wild Arabica could be wiped out. The IPCC has also noted that changing air temperatures will increase likelihood of pests such as borers. It predicts coffee growers will have to move their crops to cooler locations, further away from the equator or higher into the mountains.

4. Meat.
According to Meat and Livestock Australia, a number of threats would impact our livestock production. These include productivity decline due to an increase in extreme weather events, poor quality pastures, reduced availability of water, and greater exposure of stock and crops to heat-related stress and disease.

5. Mangoes.
Mangoes are tropical fruits so it is obvious they enjoy a bit of heat. However, too much heat and humidity affects flowering.

6. Beer.
"All crops [including barley and wheat] will be impacted by climate change. It's a question of when and how," says PhD student from the University of Queensland, Peter Gous.

7. Wine.
Warmer conditions and drier soils will be just some of the problems expected to impact wine growers, and according to Dr Leanne Webb from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research. "Predicted average temperature increases affect the annual cycle of events like harvesting. We're already seeing some evidence of harvest coming earlier in the season," she says.

References:
The Chicago Council: Advancing Global Food Security in the Face of Changing Climate
ABC Australia: 7 of your favourite foods affected by climate change

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