Warming Climate, Shrinking Food Supply

Researchers are predicting—and, in some places, already observing—how warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, and other effects of climate change will impact Africa’s food and water supply.

Sources: anna ballance; unep/grid-arendal.

1. Oceans are becoming more acidic as a direct result of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. This acidification will have major effects on marine ecosystems and the fish stocks upon which coastal populations rely.

2. The bleaching of coral reefs due to rising temperatures and lower sea levels could result in the extinction of major coral species, with associated losses of local fish stocks.

3. Scientists estimate that rising temperatures could result in a 33 percent reduction in maize grown in Tanzania.

4. By late January of this year, floods that had blasted northeastern Kenya sparked an epidemic of the mosquito-borne Rift Valley Fever, killing nearly 150 people and hundreds of animals.

5. Climbing temperatures in Kericho, Kenya, are threatening the region’s vital tea industry.

6. In Uganda, a temperature increase of 2°C would drastically reduce the area suitable for growing Robusta coffee, one of the country’s major exports.

7. Studies suggest that Sudan’s sorghum yield could drop by a staggering 82 percent with even a slight rise in local temperatures.

8. The level of Kenya’s Lake Nakuru has dropped dramatically in recent years, and by November 2006, more than 800,000 flamingoes had deserted its shores, robbing a lucrative tourist destination of its main attraction.

9. Prolonged drying trends in Botswana and else-where are adversely affecting nomadic societies that migrate in response to rainfall variations; as a result, both people and livestock are dying.

10. In Gambia, where groundnuts (or peanuts) account for 85 percent of exports, changes in rainfall patterns could cripple the national economy.

11. Rising sea-surface temperatures off the coast of Namibia may already be contributing to declining fish stocks; on land, scientists expect that warming trends could cause more than 30 percent of threatened plant species to become endangered or extinct by 2080.

12. Aridity is on the rise in Niger, which was hit hard in 2004 and 2005 by droughts that drove up the cost of grain and took a heavy toll on livestock.

Issue 25

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