Climate change - the literal hot topic of the 21st century.

The past three centuries in the developed world have witnessed limitless industrialisation enabled by the burning of fossil fuels and the accompanying release of greenhouse gases. It is these emissions that cause heat to be trapped in our atmosphere and hence result in major alterations to the climate. With the coming century expected to only exacerbate global warming a serious question has to be asked, who and how will populations be affected by climate change? 


The impact of climate change can be divided into two broad categories; warmer temperatures and more extreme weather events. Whilst in the UK that might mean longer and hotter summers - which most of us will gladly accept - and potentially some colder and rainier winters - which we are fortunately well equipped for with central heating and waterproof housing - the impacts on the world’s poor and hungry will be extremely different. 


Home to the worlds most vulnerable populations it is low and middle-income countries that will be devastated by the expected changes in weather patterns. Through agriculture, food systems and the spread of diseases, the livelihood and health of individuals, communities and countries may be changed forever. 


1 - Agriculture 

Crop productions, associated with employment, food availability and a countries economic status are set to reduce in yield. With country staples already grown at their thermal tolerance threshold and increased drought periods, exacerbated by increased temperatures, individuals reliant on grains as their main source of calories are likely to go hungry. 

In contrast, flooding, an extreme weather event, will damage infrastructure, destroy floodplains, and alter the capability of people from earning a living, in both rural and urban areas. 


2 - Food systems 

The access, availability and utilisation of food affected by crop production are inevitably going to change. Increased food costs will alter the populations purchasing power and increased animal feed prices will cause a rise in the cost of meat and animal by-products. Fish stocks are also set to decrease in association with changing water temperatures, placing increased pressure on land inclusive of deforestation and shoreline degradation. Acting as important sources of macro and micronutrients, the malnutrition status of many in the developing world will decrease directly impacting health status and in turn affecting household poverty. 


3 - Health effects 

In a bid to search for alternative food sources, wild animal hunting and consumption will increase. Aside from pressurising other ecosystems, the consumption of wild animals introduces an increased risk of viral transmission from animals to humans with detrimental effects on morbidity and population mortality. This has been recently observed with coronavirus (COVID-19) resulting in global catastrophic effects. Finally, mosquito-borne diseases are expected to spread and increase in frequency due to increased reproductive capacity and changing feeding patterns as well as spread to further regions. 


Developing countries, with trivial contributions to global gas emissions, are set to be the worst affected by climate change in the developing century. Set to disturb every aspect of society, environment and economy, in addition to preventing development by burdening the already vulnerable, drastic changes are required to restore hope for the global poor. These changes require international support and intervention and the changes we make in our day-to-day lives in support of sustainability are the front for this change.  

This blog post was contributed by Sarit.

Follow Sarit on Instagram: @thefermentedfoody