Climate change is shaping the future of food

July 8, 2017, 7:25am

As climate change progresses, the way humans produce food will be drastically altered. In fact, agriculture will be the sector that’s most affected, according to the United Nations.

Already, changes in local climates have led to reduced yields for certain crops — and it’s only going to get worse. The Montana Farmers Union, for instance, predicts that by 2055, growers in the state could experience as many as 15 extra days above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Given that spring wheat relies on snowmelt for moisture, that could be a big problem. What’s worse is that agriculture is itself one of the biggest culprits. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that each year, 10 to 12 percent of the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted by humans comes from agriculture.

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Take the Brazilian beef industry. As the second-largest beef producer in the world, Brazil’s need for cattle-worthy land has directly contributed to Amazonian deforestation. And that, in turn, has seriously hindered humanity’s ability to combat climate change.

But climate change won’t just cause new problems for food production. It will also make existing obstacles worse. That’s what’s happening in Mexico, where unpredictable rainy seasons — caused by climate change — have facilitated the spread of a fungus that attacks coffee plants.

There are potential solutions, however, and some come directly from agriculture. In Mexico, for instance, a farmer named Ricardo Romero has perfected a practice known as carbon farming.

Some restaurants are also trying to do their part. In San Francisco, an eatery called The Perennial has been coming up with innovative ways to marry sustainability with fine dining.