fruits and vegetables at a market


Climate Effects on Global Food Security


Climate change is expected to fundamentally alter the natural and economic systems that govern our globally-integrated community. We must think critically about these expected changes—and their ripple effects—to ensure the future resiliency of humankind. We are already beginning to witness the effects of climate change on food security at a global scale. While more is known about climate change impacts on food production, to date very little research is focused on understanding the way climate change will affect food access in communities that need it most. We anticipate that climate change will alter food markets and trade, making it increasingly difficult for some communities to access sufficient food resources.

The Climate Solutions Group at emLab is taking a data-driven approach to better understand how climate change may exacerbate inequalities in global food insecurity. We are using more than five decades of food production and trade data to examine the consequences of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation--a naturally-occurring global climatic phenomenon that increases temperatures across the tropics--on food security. Our findings suggest that climate change impacts on global food trade could cause a significantly larger inequality in food security, with the largest losses concentrated in Africa. Our insights on the future distribution of food insecurity hotspots indicate that climate change adaptation strategies should emphasize food policies and aid targeted at specific hotspots to dramatically reduce inequality in global food insecurity.