Professors Warn of Climate Change’s Effects on Food Supply

“Climate Change” is a real thing. You can debate until you’re blue in the face the impact that mankind (namely, automobiles and industrialization) has on it and you can debate whether or not it’s changing right now (“now” being relative, of course) but climate change itself is a real thing (read: “Medieval Warm Period,” “Little Ice Age”). Regardless of what you think about the subject of climate change, one Michigan State University professor sees climate change as a threat to food safety.

Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, MSU’s Ewen Todd warned that climate change has already begun to affect on the world’s food supply. One example cited was Vibrio, a pathogenic virus that has been known to cause gastroenteritis (diarrhea and vomiting) and septicemia (sepsis). Vibrio is found in warmer waters, yet in 2005 the virus found its way to Alaska when the water temperatures reached 15 Celsius (or 59 Fahrenheit).

Another impact of climate change that threatens our food supplies, according to Todd, is the extreme weather that has been experienced in recent years. This includes the higher costs of certain crops as others are being wiped out by drought or heavy rain.

Another speaker at the panel, titled “How Climate Change Affects the Safety of the World’s Food Supply,” was UCLA professor Cristina Tirado. Tirado warned that by 2020 we could see upwards of 50 million “environmental refugees,” adding “when people are not living in sustainable conditions, they migrate.” The 50M figure was cited from a United Nations report on the subject.

For thousands of years mankind has been at the mercy of nature for a good harvest and to keep food supplies steady. While we are far from being independently capable of producing food regardless of weather, the technology used to ensure food safety and maintain a relatively steady supply has never been better. Should it be a concern? I think so. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s something that should incite mass panic.

Not for a while, anyways.*


*I am a supporter of mass panic for any reason.

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