Climate Chaos

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Human-induced climate change is already affecting crops, livestock, fisheries and forests, and the billions of people whose livelihoods depend on them. It is a tragic irony that those who have contributed least to global greenhouse gas emissions – the poor and marginalized – are expected to suffer the worst impacts.

This section examines potential impacts of climate change on food security, livelihoods and biodiversity, especially in the global South. Unchecked climate chaos means potentially catastrophic and irreversible destruction. The trends projected by climate scientists are profoundly disturbing; the outlook is grim.

Our aim is not to induce despair but to spur awareness and long overdue action. The genetic diversity of plants and animals and the diverse knowledge and practices of smallholder farmers, livestock-keepers, fisher people and forest-dependent communities offer a sure path for reducing vulnerability and building resilience – but they can’t do it alone. Governments must act urgently to slash greenhouse gas emissions and provide support for adaptation of food and farming systems. In the words of climate scientists Battisti and Naylor (2009), “Ignoring climate projections at this stage will only result in the worst form of triage.”

Links and Resources

  • UNDP. (2007). Human Development Report 2007/2008: Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world. Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved from
  • Lobell, D.B., Burke, M., Tebaldi, C., Mastrandrea, M.D., Falcon, W.P., Naylor, R.L. (2008). Prioritizing climate change adaptation needs for food security in 2030. Science, Vol. 319(5863),607−610. Retrieved from
  • Nelson, G. C., Rosegrant, M. W., Palazzo A., Gray I., Ingersoll C., Robertson, R., Tokgoz, S., Zhu, T., Sulser, T. B., Ringler, C., Msangi, S., and You, L. (2010). Food security, farming, and climate change to 2050: Scenarios, results, policy options. Washington, D.C.International Food Policy Research Institute. Retrieved from
  • Battisti, D. and Naylor, R. (2009). Historical warnings of food insecurity with unprecedented seasonal heat. Science, 323(5911), 240-244. Retrieved from

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