Recently, I wrote a piece on water insecurity as a climate-related threat; now I will discuss food scarcity and broader resource scarcity, mostly as related to agriculture, oil and minerals. Such scarcity has a high potential to cause conflict. The U.S. intelligence agencies warn that dwindling natural resources are likely to trigger major conflicts, as “demand for food, water, and energy [grows] by approximately 35, 40, and 50% respectively” by 2030.
Food scarcity is inextricably linked to water scarcity. A Stimson Center-Brookings Institute report claims “growing water demand, decreasing water availability, and deteriorating water quality affect environmental quality, food security, municipal infrastructure, economic development, and overall human security….” Agriculture is one of the most water-intensive industries, accounting for 70% of water withdrawals globally. As droughts become longer and more common, food production will be put under increased stress. There could be an increase in rural to urban migration as farmers are forced to look for alternative work. This economically-spurred migration could lead to increased competition for employment, housing, and other resources and will heighten tensions within countries.
Food security will be influenced by more than just water scarcity. The Emergency Capacity Building Project, which aims to improve humanitarian response time to natural disasters, argues that “shifting weather patterns and extreme weather” will affect the availability, stabilization, and access to food sources. Poor populations will be forced to sell assets, migrate to find work, and go ever further in their search for food as the environment continues to change.
For the complete article, please see American Security Project.