At UN Climate Talks, Researchers Insert Facts on How Food is Driving-and is Driven by-Climate Change
Applying scientific answers to the consumer question, "What do our food choices have to do with heat, hurricanes, floods, and droughts?", the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is launching today a set of "Big Facts" that highlight the complex relationship between agriculture and climate change. This effort illustrates not only the profound and diverse impacts of the changing climate on marine fisheries, livestock, forests, biodiversity and food crops but also the effects of agricultural activities, including emissions from biofuel production, on climate change.
The suite of 30 key facts, featuring infographics and compelling photographs from the field, cover everything from undernourishment and population to forestry and fisheries—integrating the latest and most authoritative research on relevant topics. To avoid oversimplification of complex issues and to provide additional information, a sub-set of facts supports each "Big Fact." The result: a one-stop, scientific source for facts about climate change, agriculture and food security.
"It is well understood that climate change has an enormous impact on what we can grow and eat. Conversely, the global food system—from production to transportation and refrigeration—emits up to a third of human-generated greenhouse gases. But with so much information about climate change available, it's difficult to know what the key facts are," said Sonja Vermeulen, the head of research at CCAFS and leader of the "Big Facts" initiative. "We scoured the latest research to identify the best and most current scientific knowledge. The result is a set of need-to-know facts that quickly and accurately crystalize the undeniable relationship between climate change and food security."
When taken together, the "Big Facts" reveal in stark terms the sweeping impacts—some positive but most negative—of the changing climate on farmers, fishers and other food producers, as well as on poor people who struggle to eat even now, before climate change has completely taken hold. They also underline agriculture's sizeable contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
As a leader in the climate change and food security field, CCAFS used its own research as a source of many "Big Facts." Two major research papers released by CCAFS last month, for example, shed new light on the impact of climate change on agriculture—and vice versa. One report looked at the potential impact of climate change on 22 of the world's most important food crops. The second estimated the food system's total contribution—up to 29 percent, possibly more than energy generation—to global greenhouse emissions.
Read the "Big Facts" at the Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security.
Farming image courtesy of the Big Facts website.