Some decades ago, global warming and preservation were concerns of the tree-huggers with nothing better with which to occupy their minds. Fast forward thirty years, and Environmental Studies is a reputable college major, and many children are taught to “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” before they learn times tables. Global warming is now a global concern. The earth-shattering repercussions of man’s blatant disregard for his environment have become too serious to ignore. A recent report from the IPCC, “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability,” tallies these repercussions.
Arguably the most serious consequence of man’s longstanding environmental abuse is poor crop return. According to the report, “Based on many studies covering a wide range of regions and crops, negative impacts of climate change on crop yields have been more common than positive impacts (high confidence).” This conclusion may seem counter-intuitive because one would think that more sunlight would mean more energy for the plant. However, as evidenced by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “For some crops (such as grains), faster growth reduces the amount of time that seeds have to grow and mature. This can reduce yields (i.e., the amount of crop produced from a given amount of land).” According to an article by Suzanne Goldenberg of the Guardian, “Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns could lead to food price rises of between 3% and 84% by 2050.”
One place whose food security has already been greatly impacted by climate change is Ethiopia. In a 2013 Maplecroft report, Ethiopia was named the 10th country most at-risk to climate change effects. Red Cross has been in Ethiopia helping select communities reestablish food security. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Grawa, Ethiopia was “once known for its fertile land and production of cereals until recently… Due to climate change and other environmental factors, the area is now affected by shortage of rain and drought.” Several members of the community have died or have had to leave because of the terrible climate change. In Grawa, the Red Cross has aided the community by distributing “seeds, farm tools and fertilizers that are essential inputs to sustain the livelihoods of the vulnerable people.”
Just as Ethiopians are preparing themselves with the necessary tools to tackle farming in drought, so should the rest of the world prepare for their share of climate change consequences. Utilizing fertilizer made for drought conditions, saving water, and familiarizing oneself with crops needing less water may be the first small steps in the direction of dealing with the impending drought.
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