Climate change is messing with your dinner

Climate change is messing with your dinner

The world’s dinner tables are seeing the impact of climate change.

As cold regions become warmer, and warm places hotter still, farming and fishing are shifting. An evolving climate means big changes for people who grow, catch and rear for a living, and everyone else who buys and eats what they produce.

There are winners and losers. There are rich-world problems (less cod, more lobster) and poor (drought and pestilence). There are threats to the quality of the world’s basic staples including wheat and corn, as well as such nation-defining luxuries as Bordeaux wine and Java coffee. And whether through dearth or deluge, supply shocks can shake up prices.

As temperatures rise, the best growing conditions for many crops are moving away from the tropics, and from lower lying land to cooler climbs. Fish and other underwater catches, too, are migrating to colder seas as their habitats warm.

Projected wheat yield to 2050

Coffee Land

Brazil’s suitable areas, whether hot or cool, are poised to shrink

Global Divide

Whether through crop failures or price impact, changes in climate have serious implications for nations concentrated in equatorial and tropical regions, whose economies and people rely on agriculture more than others.

Natural disasters have cost farmers in poorer countries billions of dollars a year in lost crops and livestock, and it’s getting worse thanks to climate change. Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are dependent on single crops—Ethiopia relies on coffee for a third of its export earnings and Malawi gets about half from tobacco.

Food supply shocks and surging prices have the power to displace people and destabilize governments, as riots in more than 70 countries during a crop crisis in 2007—2008 showed.

Food Dependence

Trade as a share of domestic food supply

Source: Bloomberg

Date: July 2018

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