"Climate change could kill more than 500,000 adults in 2050 worldwide due to changes in diets and body weight from reduced crop productivity, according to new estimates. The research is the strongest evidence yet that climate change could have damaging consequences for food production and health worldwide." - Marco Springmann, Daniel Mason-D’Croz, Sherman Robinson, Tara Garnett, H Charles J Godfray, Douglas Gollin, Mike Rayner, Paola Ballon, Peter Scarborough. Global and regional health effects of future food production under climate change: a modelling study. The Lancet, March 2, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)01156-3

The authors predict that, compared to a future without climate change, climate-change related reduction in fruit and vegetable intake could lead to an extra 534,000 deaths, mostly in China and India. This is the worst-case of the four scenarios used by the authors. Their message is we’ve got to get more serious about climate change.

The challenge is to find solutions that don’t lead to more lives lost than saved. For instance, policies that decrease global GDP in any significant way would increase mortality rates. Ditto for policies that make it hard for small farmers to diversify into a broader range of farm and nonfarm activities. And policies that make it harder to adopt GM crops will reduce food security, calorie consumption, and dietary quality for billions.

Additional References:

Salvador Pérez-Moreno, María C. Blanco-Arana, Elena Bárcena-Martín. (2016) Economic Cycles and Child Mortality: A Cross-National Study of the Least Developed Counties. . Economics & Human Biology.

Peter Hazell. Five Big Questions about Five Hundred Million Small Farms. Paper presented at the IFAD Conference on New Directions for Smallholder Agriculture 24-25 January, 2011

Qaim M, Kouser S (2013) Genetically Modified Crops and Food Security. PLoS ONE 8(6): e64879. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064879