Perhaps one of the most vexing challenges posed by global climate change for policy makers is the impact such change will have on resource security, particularly food and water.

    As the World Bank Group makes clear, climate change will have a direct

    and probably devastating—impact on water resources availability and usage. Higher temperatures and changes in extreme weather conditions that characterize global climate change will affect the availability and distribution of rainfall, snow melt, river flows, and groundwater resources. This impact will, in turn, be manifested in several ways: diminished agricultural production, degradation of potable water sources, and a contraction in the amount of water available generally. The economic consequences of such stresses are clear. Countries will need to invest massively in water-related infrastructure (e.g. irrigation schemes, water distribution systems, coastal zone management, etc.) to cope with the challenges posed by global climate change to water resources.  And, as the Food and Agriculture Organization warns, “climate change will impact the extent and productivity of both irrigated and rainfed agriculture across the globe” (Climate Change, Water and Food Security, 2011). Agriculture already accounts for almost 70 percent of global water withdrawals; that percentage is expected to increase to meet the demands of a rapidly burgeoning global population that is confronting the challenges of global climate change. Moreover, access to potable water will become more challenging. Currently, almost 1.8 billion people live in countries or regions experiencing absolute water scarcity; that number could increase to 2.8 billion by 2025 ( ).

    The impact of climate change on food and water security extends beyond the agricultural sector. As UNESCO, in its 2016 report Water and Jobs makes clear, over 40 percent of the world’s total active work force are in job (e.g. agriculture, mining, resource extraction) that are heavily dependent on access to adequate supplies of water. Another 1 billion jobs are classified as “moderately water-dependent”. Any contraction in water resources or reduction in access to water will ripple across the economies of many countries.

    Finally, threats to global water and food resources could also have serious geo-political implications, as countries compete more intensively for scarce resources. In regions such as the Middle East that are already beset political unrest and intra-state rivalries, increased competition over strained water resources will complicate already unsettled political conditions.

    In short, global climate change will not only make it difficult for countries to meet the basic food and resource needs of their expanding populations, it will also exacerbate tensions within the international system as states compete for increasingly scarce resources.  

    Daniel Stoll is senior associate dean for faculty and academic affairs in the School of Continuing Studies. His research focuses on issues of water and food security, as well as water resources management, particularly in the Middle East.

    Other Responses

    How does climate change impact food and water availability?
    Climate change can disrupt food availability, reduce access to food, and affect food quality. For example, projected increases in temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, changes in extreme weather events, and reductions in water availability may all result in reduced agricultural productivity. more
    How does climate change affect food availability food accessibility food utilization and food systems stability?
    Climate change has been found to have an impact on food safety, particularly on incidence and prevalence of food-borne diseases. Increased climate variability, increased frequency and intensity of extreme events as well as slow ongoing changes will affect the stability of food supply, access and utilization. more
    Does hospice withhold food and water?
    It's simply part of the dying process. A person's need for food and water are significantly less than those of an active, healthy person. Hospice care does not deny a patient food or drink. If someone has the desire to eat or drink, there are no restrictions on doing so. more
    Is food coloring heavier than water?
    The food coloring has a slightly higher specific gravity, or relative density, than water, so before it has time to diffuse, it tends to sink in the water. more
    Does water help digest food faster?
    Drinking water during or after a meal can help with digestion. It does not dilute the digestive juices or interfere with digestion. Water and other liquids help break down food so that your body can absorb the nutrients. more
    Does food coloring settle in water?
    The solute (food coloring) is dissolved in the solvent (water) when the molecules of the solute are so thoroughly intermixed within the molecules of the solvent that they do not settle out or separate. This demonstration showed that food coloring can dissolve in water. more
    Can I replace food with water?
    Water, as almighty as it is, simply can't do that. Here's why. It's a Weight Loss Myth that you can replace hunger with water. One of the oldest diet falsehoods in the book is that drinking water, particularly ice water, helps curb hunger and melt fat away. more
    Does wet food count as water?
    A can of wet food is about 70–80% water. more
    Should I put water dog food?
    Adding water to your dog's food bowl when feeding a dry kibble will improve the rate of digestion. Hydrating a dog's stomach contents is a major assist in digestion by starting the breakdown of food particles. more
    Does water help digest food?
    Water is vital for good health. Water and other drinks help break down food so that your body can take in (absorb) the nutrients. Water also makes stool softer, which helps prevent constipation. Choose water when possible instead of drinks full of sugar. more
    What fast food gives free water?
    The Best Fast Food Deals to Grab Right Now Restaurant* Free tap water for non-customers? Tap water given with purchase? McDonald's Yes Yes Potbelly Yes Yes Burger King Yes Yes Hale and Hearty Yes (pitchers of water available, but usually for customers) Yes more


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