Monday, November 28, 2011

Climate change, extreme weather spike food prices

As the latest round of international climate change talks begins Monday in Durban, South Africa, Oxfam is warning that extreme weather linked to global warming is causing food prices to rise and putting the world's most vulnerable people at risk.

Severe drought in Africa has pushed more than 13 million people into crisis, the aid agency reports, citing a 393% rise in sorghum prices in Somalia and a 191% spike in maize prices in Ethiopia in July compared to a five-year average. In Russia and the Ukraine, drought and fires following a heat wave destroyed much of the 2010 harvest, causing a 60% to 80% increase in global wheat prices within three months.

Oxfam's warning follows a report earlier this month from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that found heat waves, floods and other extreme weather worsen with global warming. The IPCC said worse heat waves worldwide are "very likely" and other extreme weather could intensify unless climate change is mitigated.

"From the Horn of Africa and South East Asia to Russia and Afghanistan, a year of floods, droughts, and extreme heat has helped push tens of millions of people into hunger and poverty," said Oxfam's Kelly Dent in announcing the report's findings. "This will only get worse as climate change gathers pace and agriculture feels the heat. Governments must act now in Durban to protect our food supply and save millions from slipping into hunger and poverty." More