The Disaster Most Likely to Cause Global Famine is Not an Earthquake, Storm, Tsunami, or Flood

By Ria Misra on at

The world has faced down some incredibly large-scale natural disasters lately and the wreckage they left in their wake has been considerable. But the one that is most threatening to our food supply is a natural disaster that has been unfolding very slowly.

The US Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recently took a look at the toll natural disasters have taken on the ability of the world to feed itself. Earthquakes, powerful storms, tsunamis, and floods all played a role causing food-supply havoc but the biggest, by far, has been a quieter one: drought.

The Disaster Most Likely to Cause Global Famine Is Not an Earthquake, Storm, Tsunami, or Flood

It’s not just a drop in the total amount of food available that’s at risk, though: there’s also a subtler change that could take place.

A further breakdown of foods by type showed that the hammer of natural disasters falls very unequally, depending on which part of the farm market you’re looking at:

The Disaster Most Likely to Cause Global Famine Is Not an Earthquake, Storm, Tsunami, or Flood

Drought, so far the source of the most loss, has knocked down the livestock and crop markets particularly hard. Fisheries and forests have, for obvious reasons, taken less of a hit.

So what does this mean for the future? Simply that as we adjust to a future featuring a continuing sweep of natural disasters, it’s not only a lessening in the total amount of food we’ll have to face. It will also be a shift in the types of food available at all.

Images: Charts / FAO; Thailand flood satellite images / NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team


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