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Environmental changes are a source of problems that seriously affect crop cultivation and livestock farming.

If you re wondering whether food is part of the problem or the solution when it comes to climate change, the answer is very simple: both! And I could stop there. But the links to be made are actually extremely complex and it would be interesting to take a closer look.

Taking stock of the effects of climate change at global level

Both farming reality and scientific observation demonstrate that climate change is already affecting crops. If we need any reminder of that, it is only necessary to point out how harvest dates have moved forward in France over the last century. Analyses conducted by many of my research colleagues and the resulting syntheses confirm this observation. This is an ongoing underlying trend that can be seen in many places across the planet. All this has definitely happened, and the effects will be accentuated if we do not change our modes of production and consumption

now, without waiting for the predicted disasters: crop schedules have been profoundly altered and yields are being affected. Many studies are now available, predicting significant reductions in yields. Of course, these changes will not have the same form or the same intensity everywhere. Generally, the forecasts predict a much greater fall in yields between the tropics, in regions where the issues of food security are already the most acute and demographic growth and migratory processes are the most intense. Once the impacts of global warming have been assessed, it is necessary to act. To forecast the global consequences of these disruptions and develop appropriate solutions for each area.

Anticipating the global consequences

The climate disruptions, which should really be thought of in the plural, are more than just a rise in temperature. All the conditions for crop culti- vation and physiological processes are affected, projecting us into unknown contexts and making it impossible to draw on simple, available solutions. One of the best examples of these transformations is the emergence of new health problems. In the same way as they affect human health, environ- mental changes are a source of problems that seriously affect crop cultivation and livestock far- ming, the availability of food and thus the prospects for human nutrition and health. The picture would be incomplete without mentioning the increasing frequency of extreme phenomena droughts, floo- ding, hurricanes, etc. whose impact on crops is fairly easy to imagine.

Patrick Caron Geographer at CIRAD and Chairman of the High Level Expert Group (HLPE) of the CFS

food transition and climate change: at the crossroads

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