Thursday, April 10, 2008

The climate change diet

by Peter Lavelle

"It's not just our energy consumption patterns that will have to change. We'll need to change our food consumption to take into account the effects of climate change, say the authors of an online report called Health Professionals Taking Action on Climate Change, just published by the British Medical Association."

When we in the West think about the costs of climate change, we think of rising electricity and fuel prices. But these aren't the main concerns for people living in developing countries.

Egypt, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Yemen, Mexico… in fact over 30 developing countries face critical shortages of food due to sharply rising costs for staples like rice, wheat, soybeans and corn.

The cost of rice, for example – the staple food for half the world – has doubled over the past year, and increased five-fold over the past five years.

What's driving price increases is the sharp rise in the price of oil (a major input in the production and transport of food), rising demand from China, land scarcity, especially as more land is being turned over to biofuels, and increasingly erratic weather events – floods, storms and droughts – caused by climate change, which are pushing down crop yields.

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Go to: Health Professionals taking action on Climate Change Report Website