Roughly 25% of all of the food currently eaten in the world is traded on international markets. This situation is especially true of staple foods such as wheat, maize, rice, and soybeans.
Owing to this reality, and the accompanying reliance on a relatively small number of important deepwater seaports, roads, and straits — so-called “choke points” — climate change threatens to greatly disrupt international food supply chains in coming years, according to a new report from the UK-based think tank Chatham House.
In other words, these “chokepoints” are places where even relatively minor and local climate disruption may lead to huge problems with regard to food supplies and pricing in some regions and countries.
“The risks are growing as we all trade more with each other and as climate change takes hold,” commented one of the report’s authors, Laura Wellesley.
Climate Central provides more: “About 20 percent of global wheat exports, for example, transit via the Turkish Straits, while more than 25 percent of soybean exports is shipped across the Straits of Malacca.
“But infrastructure at these junctures is often old and ill-suited to cope with natural disasters, which are expected to increase in frequency as the planet warms, said Wellesley.
“Roads in Brazil, the world’s largest exporter of soy bean, for instance, were exposed to the risk of flooding and landslides caused by heavy rains, while US Gulf Coast ports could suffer more storm surges boosted by rising seas, she said. That posed risks for the food security of importing countries and the economies of those exporting food, she added.”
Something else that should be taken into consideration here is that impacts to the global food trade can (and likely will) come indirectly as well, not just because of the effects of climatic instability on infrastructure. The geopolitical and social problems that will accompany worsening climate change will, in other words, themselves lead to global food supply problems.