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Published April 2, 2014 10:38 AM

IPCC warns over greater risk to food and water security

[NEW DELHI] The climate change-related risks from extreme events such as floods and heat waves will rise further with global warming, aggravating food and water insecurity, especially for some of the poorest communities, says the second installment of the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

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The report of the second working group of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), dealing with impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, and offering new insights into key risks due to climate change, was released this week (31 March) in Yokohama, Japan.

"Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change," IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri warned.

Christopher Field, the co-chair of the second working group, added: "We are not in an era where climate change is some kind of a future hypothetical. We live in a world where the impacts of climate change that have already occurred are widespread and consequential...There is no question that we live in a world that is already altered by climate change."

The report highlights many global shifts that climate change has already caused. It says that changing rainfall and melting snow and ice are affecting water resources in many regions. Glaciers continue to shrink, affecting run-off and water resources downstream. Permafrost is thawing. And wheat and maize yields have fallen in many regions.

The report also repeats warnings about shifts in species’ migratory ranges and the threats this may pose to food security. And it raises concerns about increased human displacement and resulting conflicts.

Impacts in Asia

Asia will be particularly hard-hit by water scarcity, food insecurity, the redistribution of land species and an increased risk to coastal and marine ecosystems, the report says. And it predicts that South Asia will be the region most impacted by global warming, due to more extreme weather events such as floods and droughts.

It has "rung warning bells for Asia" and has "very serious implications" for South Asia in particular, says Chandra Bhushan, deputy director at the Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based NGO.

A major reason for the greater impact in the region is its large population of impoverished people, says Bhushan. Bangladesh, India and Pakistan together account for almost half the world’s poor people, he says.

Read more from our affiliate, SciDevNet.

Flash flood image via Shutterstock.

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