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    A hotter and hungrier world: How climate change is hampering the fight against poverty

    A hotter and hungrier world: How climate change is hampering the fight against poverty

    A hotter and hungrier world: How climate change is hampering the fight against poverty
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    By Harini Calamur   IST (Updated)

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    Cyclones, floods, typhoons, droughts, changing monsoon patterns and more, are all placing a tremendous strain on agriculture and food production, leading to an assault on the world’s collective fight against global hunger.

    In 1980, there were 133,000 natural disasters
    in the world; In 2015, there were 282,000. As climatic patterns across the world change, disasters caused by climate change are on the rise, accounting for 80 percent of all natural disasters. Cyclones, floods, typhoons, droughts, changing monsoon patterns and more, are all placing a tremendous strain on agriculture and food production, leading to an assault on the world’s collective fight against global hunger.
    The New Global Hunger Index, published this week, shows how hunger across the world has gone up since 2015, with 785 million then to 822 million in 2018. The two main contributors to this rise in hunger is climate change and conflict. It is expected in the years to come, climate change will directly lead to conflict with wars over water, and over grain. And, it is mostly those who do not substantially add to the carbon footprint who are most likely to suffer hunger. As Bill Gates pointed out “The big irony is that sub-Saharan African countries have less than 1 percent of
    Impact on farm output
    In India too, those majorly impacted are the poorest, and the most vulnerable. Often women farmers, landless labour, and other sections of society who have traditionally been marginalised. With the changing of monsoon patterns in India there are issues of major flooding in some areas, and drought in others. This is expected to have a considerable impact on crops. For example, rice that depends on the amount of water available, is the most vulnerable. Even this year that saw massive rainfalls in parts of India, seeing an overall increase in rain water of 1 percent, saw other parts of India having scarce rain. Parts of Maharashtra and Bihar, for example, saw floods. And, other parts of the same states saw 20-30 percent deficit in rains.
    As human activities, including crop production, raise the temperature of the earth by 0.2 degrees a decade, there has been an impact on farm output. Food production has been impacted by both rising temperatures and decreasing rain. Globally, yields of major crops such as maize, rice and wheat have been on the decline. This has a major impact on food access. As yield declines, prices go up, and food becomes expensive, and unreachable for most suffering from poverty. This has a direct impact on nutrition – especially of the most vulnerable. Additionally, nutritional value is also impacted by the rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. As per recent research protein, zinc and iron content of the crops decreases with increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
    Vulnerable areas
    As per the Global Hunger Index, South Asia is one of the most vulnerable areas when it comes to hunger. The other being countries in Africa south of the Sahara. India ranks at 102 in the GHI, sandwiched between Niger and Sierra Leone. The population size makes the extent of the problem even more severe. In India, according to the GHI report, there are just 9.6 percent of all children between the age of 6 and 23 months who are fed a minimum acceptable diet, leaving the rest with various degrees of malnutrition and stunting.
    A recent report suggests that India might reduce its stock pile of grains by giving it as aid to deserving countries. While this is a laudable notion and befits India’s aspirations of playing a meaningful role in world affairs, it may also be a good idea for the government to reflect on how it can reduce the nutritional imbalance within the country and combat hunger.
    Simultaneously the government needs to work with industry and agriculture and see how the impact of greenhouse gases can be mitigated. Right now, the people who generate the least emissions – they neither have cars, nor air conditioners, nor are they using gas guzzlers – the marginalised farmer family is facing the bulk of the backlash of an angry nature.
    Bleak outlook
    There needs to be change in the way the world’s resources are being consumed, and pace at which richer countries and regions devastate the environment in the name of development. Those changes have to be made fast, before it is too late. And, before we tell the poor and marginalised that this is their lot in life, and they have to learn to grin and bear it. Or even worse, tell them they have to produce and consume even less, so that the rich in the world can continue polluting.
    All in all, the outlook is rather bleak. We live in a world where climate change deniers not only are given equal footage and time with those who advocate climate change, but in many cases they are running nations and shaping policy. As a result, the fight against climate change has taken a beating. And, if you are in denial about climate change then the likelihood of action being taken to mitigate the damage caused by it will be non-existent.
    Harini Calamur writes on politics, gender and her areas of interest are the intersection of technology, media, and audiences.
     Read Harini Calamur's columns here.
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