Introduction

The three components of the conference title, Climate Change, Carbon Dynamics, and World Food Security (Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, June 10-11, 2003) are interrelated. This chapter makes a case that careful public policy is required to simultaneously address global warming (including carbon dynamics) and global food insecurity, which are two major problems of our time.

Judging by where people choose to vacation and permanently reside (if they can afford the "luxury"), warmer climates are preferable to cooler climates. Thus, global warming that brings balmy temperatures to more people would seem to be welcome.

One problem with that assertion is that global warming's geographic impacts are uneven, as is apparent for agriculture. To be sure, atmospheric carbon dioxide acts like a fertilizer to plants. Despite this, poor countries at or near the tropics fare badly, although temperatures are expected to rise more in regions distant from the tropics. With moderate adaptation of varieties and cultural practices by farmers, global warming of a 2.5°C to 5.2°C magnitude expected in the next century is projected to reduce cereal output in developing countries 6% to 7%, and to raise cereal output in developed countries 4% to 14%, which suggests virtually no net change in cereal production for the world as a whole (Rosenzweig and Parry, 1994; Mendelsohn and Neumann, 1999). Thus, global warming does not threaten global food availability in the 21st century.

Uneven regional impacts are troubling, however. With global warming, food production could expand in Canada and Russia, while it falls in Nigeria and Indonesia. Lowlands such as in Bangladesh would be inundated, and many people would need to be relocated to higher ground. One conclusion is that global warming is especially threatening to food security in tropical and semitropical regions, where chronic undernourishment is and will continue to be concentrated.

In the following sections, I first outline the food security problem and selected public policies to address it and global warming. Of special concern is whether measures to promote global food security promise to be compatible with measures to restrain global warming.

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