Millions face starvation due to climate change

Climate change could see hundreds of millions in Africa and Asia facing starvation, according to a new international study.

The Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) study is the result of a ten-year collaboration between the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP), and highlights areas that will be hardest hit by rising temperatures caused by global warming.

According to the CCAFS, areas around the tropics including swathes of southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa face famine due to crop failures. The report found that hundreds of millions living in the areas are already being hit by what it terms a 'food crisis'.

"We are starting to see much more clearly where the effects of climate change on agriculture could intensify hunger and poverty," says agricultural economist Patti Kristjanson of the CCAFS.

The study based its findings on climate data from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), using the information to visually map the areas worst affected.

To avoid starvation, farmers in the affected regions will need to switch from water-intensive crops such as maize to more drought-resistant crops such as millet and sorghum.

But for many countries, such as the already hard-hit Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, which are already heavily dependent on millet and sorghum, there is little room for manoeuvre.

"In many places in Africa you are really going to need [a] revolution in farming systems," says Bruce Campbell, director of CCAFS.

World governments are currently aiming to limit the average increase in global temperatures to two degrees C by the end of the century - but if temperatures continue to rise at their current rate, Professor Martin Parry, a visiting professor at the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London told the BBC, the rise could be as much as three or four degrees.

Areas appearing in red in the map above indicate regions at risk from starvation as global temperatures rise.

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