Climate-related threats to global food production include risks to grain, vegetable, and fruit crops, livestock, and fisheries.
See how global warming threatens food production in Vietnam—and find other hot spots with food impacts on the Climate Hot Map.
- Reduced yields. The productivity of crops and livestock, including milk yields, may decline because of high temperatures and drought-related stress.
- Increased irrigation. Regions of the world that now depend on rain-fed agriculture may require irrigation, bringing higher costs and conflict over access to water.
- Planting and harvesting changes. Shifting seasonal rainfall patterns and more severe precipitation events—and related flooding—may delay planting and harvesting.
- Decreased arability. Prime growing temperatures may shift to higher latitudes, where soil and nutrients may not be as suitable for producing crops, leaving lower-latitude areas less productive.
- More pests. Insect and plant pests may survive or even reproduce more often each year if cold winters no longer keep them in check. New pests may also invade each region as temperature and humidity conditions change. Lower-latitude pests may move to higher latitudes, for example.
- Risks to fisheries. Shifts in the abundance and types of fish and other seafood may hurt commercial fisheries, while warmer waters may pose threats to human consumption, such as increasing the risk of infectious diseases. Extreme ocean temperatures and ocean acidification place coral reefs-—the foundations of many of the world's fisheries-—at risk.
As with health risks, nations and individuals do not bear threats to the global food supply equally. Nations that lose arable land and critical fisheries may not have the resources or climate to pursue reasonable-cost options for maintaining food security. Some nations are also more vulnerable to unfavorable international trade agreements and regional strife that may interrupt food distribution.