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Experts: global weather threatens food security

AFP/The Local · 7 Sep 2010, 07:50

Published: 07 Sep 2010 07:50 GMT+02:00

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"We are getting to a point where we are getting more water, more rainy days, but it's more variable, so it leads to droughts and it leads to floods," Sunita Narain, the head of the Centre for Science and Environment in India, told AFP on the sidelines of the conference.

"That is leading to huge amounts of stress on agriculture and livelihoods," she said, adding that "climate change is making rainfall even more variable."

Narain was one of around 2,500 experts from 130 countries gathered in Stockholm for the 20th edition of the World Water Week, which opened Sunday and is set to run until Saturday.

Her comments came as eight million people in Pakistan remain dependent on handouts for their survival after monsoons caused devastating floods throughout the country.

Russia is also still struggling with the aftermath of its hottest summer on record, during which drought and fires destroyed a quarter of the country's crops and prompted the government to slap a highly controversial ban on grain exports to protect domestic supplies.

This contributed to soaring global wheat and overall food prices and sparked worries of a crisis in global food supplies.

But it is not only in such extreme cases that changing weather patterns and unpredictable rainfall is causing problems.

"Millions of farmers in communities dependent on rain-fed agriculture are at risk from decreasing and erratic availability of water," head of the Sri Lanka-based International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Colin Chartres said in a statement.

IWMI published a report Monday stressing that the unpredictable weather required large investments in a diverse array of water storage options to counter the uncertainty.

Some 66 percent of total crops in Asia are not irrigated, while in Africa a full 94 percent is rain-fed, according to the institute, which estimates that around 500 million people in Africa and India would benefit from improved agricultural water management.

World Water Week director Jens Berggren agreed that unpredictable rainfall was wreaking havoc.

"Climate change will lead to different weather patterns, and that is what we are already seeing in many places like Pakistan and Russia. It doesn't rain the way it used to," he told AFP.

Farmers in Uganda for instance used to know when to sow to get the best crop, but now they can no longer predict when the rain will come, Berggren pointed out.

Story continues below…

"So they sow a little bit all the time to be on the safe side. They know their harvest could at any moment be washed away or dry up, so they try to spread the risk as much as possible," he said.

"But this means that they get much smaller harvests than before," he added.

While accepting that the world has recently experienced extreme weather shifts, Jan Lundqvist, who chairs the Stockholm International Water Institute's Scientific Programme Committee, is wary on blaming global warming.

Pointing out that there have been periods of extreme weather patterns before, he said: "These kinds of fluctuations are part of human history, but climate change is probably making them more extreme."

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:13 September 7, 2010 by calebian22
"These kinds of fluctuations are part of human history, but climate change is probably making them more extreme."

Well thank goodness the experts are so emphatic!
14:03 September 7, 2010 by millionmileman
Maybe the Russians should build a water pipeline from Pakistan to Russia.
16:45 September 7, 2010 by Swedesmith
By the time we get serious about this problem it will probably be too late.
17:54 September 7, 2010 by reason
Too late for what exactly Swedesmith?

Too late to ensure everybody is well fed? We can't do that today. It may get worse, but it's already in some sense 'too late' if that's what you mean.

Too late to do anything? It's never too late to act. Unless everybody's already dead of course, but it won't go that far. Food supplies may gradually become more unpredictable (even if unpredictability is not easily measured), but there's no particular point where we can say 'Oh, no point in getting serious now, it's already too late. Let's starve.'.
18:26 September 7, 2010 by RoyceD
well said reason
21:30 October 5, 2010 by Investor612
I wonder when there's ever been a period where "climate change" wasn't taking place?
20:33 October 21, 2010 by amosor
From: Dr Elsar (Amos) Orkan

Chairman of The Israeli Association for the Global Warming Fight

After 8 years of intensive investigation and study of the subject, we are obliged to bring to your knowledge and attention the recent conclusions reached by our Research Unit.

Unequivocally, there is no doubt that:

Global Warming is not anthropogenic.

1. The contribution of the so-called greenhouse gases to this phenomenon is minimal; in fact, practically zero. The fight against Global Warming through the reduction of CO2 emissions, in this context, is practically useless.

2. The rising concentration of CO2 in the air is caused by its release from the warming oceans.

3. The warming of the Earth's continents and oceans is caused by increased solar radiation, due to the shortening of the distance between the Sun and the Earth.

4. This shortening of the distance between the Earth and the Sun took place about 10 000 years ago, the catastrophic aftermath of the collision between Mars and Earth. This may read as shocking or surprising, but it is firm fact.

5. The huge ice shelves of the Polar Regions have protected us over the last 10 000 years, by buffering the climate through the absorption of excess heat due to their physical properties - the latent heat of ice.

6. The theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is wrong; this argument hampers the search for the real cause of Global Warming; it makes the correct conduct of the fight against Global Warming impossible, and consequently endangers our posterity.

The future is bleak. Mankind is unable to stop Global Warming, but rather must try to diminish its impact in order to survive. The huge investment in carbon caching must be redirected towards the research and creation of new techniques and technology in agriculture, water desalinization and an entirely different infrastructure, particularly with regards to electricity production and distribution.

incorporating the research results - published by Outskirt Press:

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