Modelling impacts of climate change on global food security

Abstract

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate that nearly 900 million people on the planet are suffering from chronic hunger. This state of affairs led to the making of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals in 2000, having the first goal to “Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger” with a target to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. However, projections of a rapidly growing population, coupled with global climate change, is expected to have significant negative impacts on food security. To investigate this prospect, a modelling framework was developed under the QUEST-GSI programme, which we have termed FEEDME (Food Estimation and Export for Diet and Malnutrition Evaluation). The model uses country-level Food Balance Sheets (FBS) to determine mean calories on a per-capita basis, and a coefficient of variation to account for the degree of inequality in access to food across national populations. Calorific values of individual food items in the FBS of countries were modified by revision of crop yields and population changes under the SRES A1B climate change and social-economic scenarios respectively for 2050, 2085 and 2100. Under a no-climate change scenario, based upon projected changes in population and agricultural land use only, results show that 31 % (2.5 billion people by 2050) of the global population is at risk of undernourishment if no adaptation or agricultural innovation is made in the intervening years. An additional 21 % (1.7 billion people) is at risk of undernourishment by 2050 when climate change is taken into account. However, the model does not account for future trends in technology, improved crop varieties or agricultural trade interventions, although it is clear that all of these adaptation strategies will need to be embraced on a global scale if society is to ensure adequate food supplies for a projected global population of greater than 9 billion people.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

References

  1. Arnell NW (2008) The global-scale impacts of climate change: QUEST-GSI, website: http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/research/quest-gsi/ (last accessed on 12/03/14)

  2. Beddington J (2009) Food, energy, water and the climate: A perfect storm of global events? Government Office for Science, London. Available at www.bis.gov.uk/assets/goscience/docs/p/perfect-storm-paper.pdf (last accessed on 12/03/14)

  3. Challinor AJ, Wheeler TR, Craufurd PQ, Slingo JM, Grimes DIF (2004) Design and optimissation of a large-area process-based model for annual crops. Agric For Meteorol 124:99–120

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. DEFRA (2013) Agriculture in the UK 2013, 113 pp. Available at www.gov.uk/government/statistics/agriculture-in-the-united-kingdom-2013 (last accessed on 12/08/14)

  5. Delgado CL (2003) Rising consumption of meat and milk in developing countries has created a new food revolution. J Nutr 133(11):3907S–3910S

    Google Scholar 

  6. Ewert F, Rounsevell MDA, Reginster I, Metzger MJ, Leemans R (2005) Future scenarios of European agricultural land use I: estimating changes in crop productivity. Agric Ecosyst Environ 107:101–116

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. FAO (2004) FAO methodology for estimating undernourishment. Food and Agriculture Organisation, Rome

    Google Scholar 

  8. FAO (2009) How to feed the world in 2050. Food and Agriculture Organisation, Rome, p 35

    Google Scholar 

  9. FAO (2012) The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012, Food and Agriculture Organisation, Rome. Available at http://www.fao.org/publications/sofi/en/ (last accessed on 12/03/14)

  10. FAO/WHO/UNU (2004) Human Energy Requirements. Report of a Joint FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation. Rome, FAO, FAO Food and Nutrition Tech. Report. Series. 1., Food and Agriculture Organisation, Rome

  11. Geerts S, Raes D, Garcia M, Taboada C, Miranda R, Cusicanqui J, Mhizha T, Vacher J (2009) Modelling the potential for closing quinoa yield gaps under varying water availability in the Bolivian Altiplano. Agri Water Manag 96:1652–1658

  12. Godfray HCJ et al (2010) Food security: the challenge of feeding 9 billion people. Science 327:812–818

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. James WPT, Schofield EC (1990) Human energy requirements. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  14. Kanerva M (2013) Meat consumption in Europe: Issues, trends and debates, Artec-paper Nr. 187, January 2013, Universitat Bremen, Bremen, ISSN1613-4907, www.academia.edu/2486553/ (Last accessed on 12/03/14)

  15. Kaufmann S (2000) A Selection of indicators for food and nutrition security programmes. Food and Agriculture Organisation, Rome

    Google Scholar 

  16. Leemans R, and van den Born GJ (1994) Determining the potential distribution of vegetation, crops and agricultural productivity (p 133–162) in Alcamo, J (ed.) IMAGE 2.0 Integrated modelling of Global Climate Change

  17. Lobell DB, Cassman KG, Field CB (2009) Crop yield gaps: their importance, magnitudes, and causes. Annu Rev Environ Resour 2009(34):179–204

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Lobell DB, Schlenker W, Costa-Roberts J (2011) Climate trends and global crop production since 1980. Science 333:616–620

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Maxwell D (1996) Measuring food insecurity: the frequency and severity of ‘coping strategies.’. Food Policy 21:291–303

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Mills G, Hayes F, Simpson D, Emberson L, Norris D, Harmens H, Buker P (2011) Evidence of widespread effects of ozone on crops and (semi-)natural vegetation in Europe (1990–2006) in relation to AOT40- and flux-based risk maps. Glob Chang Biol 17:592–613

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Nakicenovic N, and Swart R (eds), 2000, Special Report on Emissions Scenarios: A special report of working group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC

  22. Naylor RL, Battisti DS, Vimont DJ, Falcon WP, Burke MB (2007) Assessing risks of climate variability and climate change for Indonesian rice agriculture. Proc Natl Acad Sci 104:7752–7757

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Osborne T, Rose G, Wheeler T (2013) Variation in the global-scale impacts of climate change on crop productivity due to climate model uncertainty and adaptation. Agric For Meteorol 170:183–194

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Parry M, Rosenzweig C, Livermore M (2005) Climate change, global food supply and risk of hunger. Philos Trans R Soc B 360:2125–2138

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Portmann FT, Siebert S, Döll P (2010) MIRCA2000—Global monthly irrigated and rainfed crop areas around the year 2000: A new high-resolution data set for agricultural and hydrological modeling, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 24, GB1011, doi:10.1029/2008GB003435

  26. Rosegrant MW, Leach N, Gerpacio RV (1999) Alternative futures for world cereal and meat consumption. Proc Nutr Soc 58:219–234. doi:10.1017/S0029665199000312

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Rounsevell MDA, Reginster I, Araujo MB, Carter TR, Dendoncker N, Ewert F, House JI, Kankaanpää S, Leemans R, Metzger MJ, Schmit C, Smith P, Tuck G (2006) A coherent set of future land use change scenarios for Europe. Agric Ecosyst Environ 114:57–68

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Simon J (1981) World population growth: an anti-doomsday view. In: Menard SW, Moen EW (eds) Perspectives on population: an introduction to concepts and issues. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 123–128

    Google Scholar 

  29. Snowdon DA, Phillips RL, Fraser GE (1984) Meat consumption and fatal ischemic heart disease. Prev Med 13(5):490–500

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Tao F, Hayashi Y, Zhang Z, Sakamoto T, Yokozawa M (2008) Global warming, rice production, and water use in China: developing a probabilistic assessment. Agric For Meteorol 148:94–110

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Tilman D, Balzerb C, Hill J, Beforta BL (2011) Global food demand and the sustainable intensification of agriculture. PNAS 108(50):20260–20264. doi:10.1073/pnas.1116437108

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. UN (1975) Report of the World Food Conference, 5–16 November 1974. United Nations, Rome. Available at http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/XRef/X2H-DW-XSL.asp?fileid=15996&lang=en (last accessed on 12/03/14)

  33. UN (2000) United Nations General Assembly, United Nations Millennium Declaration, Resolution Adopted by the General Assembly, 18 September 2000, A/RES/55/2. Available at http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.pdf (last accessed on 12/03/14)

  34. van Vuuren DP, den Elzen MGJ, Lucas PL, Eickhout B, Strengers BJ, van Ruijven B, Wonink S, van Houdt R (2007) Stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations at low levels: an assessment of reduction strategies and costs. Clim Chang 81:119–159

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

This research was funded under the NERC QUEST-GSI project no. NE/E001866/1.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Terence P. Dawson.

Additional information

This article is part of a Special Issue on “The QUEST-GSI Project” edited by Nigel Arnell.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Dawson, T.P., Perryman, A.H. & Osborne, T.M. Modelling impacts of climate change on global food security. Climatic Change 134, 429–440 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-014-1277-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Food Security
  • Gross Domestic Product
  • Agricultural Innovation
  • Crop Simulation Model
  • Food Balance Sheet