By 2030, over one hundred million people could be pushed into extreme hunger due to climate change according to the World Bank. When climate change is discussed, conversation is often around rising sea levels and changes in weather patterns. However, the conversation does not typically include the impact climate change will have on our global food security. Food security means people have access at all times to enough nutritious safe food.
Last year, the U.S. experienced a substantial amount of natural disasters in different areas of the country. States and territories, like Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, experienced flooding and destructive winds during two hurricanes. In California, there were wildfires that displaced many households. Many of the headlines, understandably, focused on the lives and homes that were lost but not the agricultural impacts. For example, avocados and citrus fruits were lost in California and some farmers in Florida reported losing as much as 80-90 percent of crops.
While these tragedies were happening in the U.S., extreme flooding occurred in many south Asian countries causing many farmers to lose crops. Drought over the past four years has also caused Somalia to be on the brink of famine—putting 3 million people at risk of starvation. The U.S. gave additional funding last year to address near-famine conditions in Somalia and countries that are experiencing this due to conflict.
The world has made great strides in reducing hunger and poverty. However, the increase in climate related problems threatens food security. With the current reality and future threats of climate change, natural disasters are more likely to happen on a more regular basis.
In 2015, the member countries of the United Nations committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs have 17 goals that each country promised to attain within the next twelve years, like empowering women, giving more children access to free education, and to end extreme hunger by 2030. Although this may seem like an impossible feat, it is not unrealistic. From 1990-2014, extreme hunger was reduced by 39 percent. With technological advances and investments in safety-net programs, the remaining 800,000 people who struggle with extreme hunger can have relief.
The vision for a hunger-free world is threatened by climate change, but it is still possible. The U.S. and the rest of the world must invest in adapting to the current effects of climate change and invest in the necessary technology and solutions to keep the earth’s temperature under control. If you or your congregation would like to take action on responding to emergency responses to natural disasters, tell your member of Congress to make funding decisions in the FY19 federal budget to invest in domestic and international programs that will help to insecure food security.
For more information on climate change and food security, check out Bread for the World’s 2017 Hunger Report: Fragile Environments, Resilient Communities.
American Baptist Churches USA is a proud partner of ecoAmerica’s BlessedTomorrow, a program by people of faith, for people of faith, to offer ideas, tools, and messages that help us serve as faithful stewards of creation and act on climate change. Learn more about our partnership and the resources available to you here.