Modeling Climate Change, Food Security, and Population

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Author(s): Moreland S, Smith E

Year: 2012

Modeling Climate Change, Food Security, and Population Abstract:

We developed a computer simulation model to help clarify the dynamic relationships between climate change, food security, and population growth. The aim was to develop a model that would be simple enough to adapt to a country and that could be used at the policy level to introduce population issues into the dialogue on adaptation to climate change in the context of food security. The resulting model links a population projection, a sophisticated economic model that takes account of the effects of climate change on agriculture, and a food requirements model that uses Food and Agricultural Organization formulas.  The model was tested and piloted in Ethiopia. The Ethiopia pilot demonstrated the usefulness of this model in quantifying the contribution of family planning in adapting to potential climate change-induced food security challenges. The model shows that the food security gap in Ethiopia is expected to be greater with climate change than the food security gap without climate change. The model also shows the potential of family planning to address this gap; the food security gap under an assumption of low population growth and climate change is lower compared to the gap with climate change and high population growth. In fact, by the year 2050 the model estimates that slower population growth will compensate completely for the effects of climate change on food insecurity.  We conclude that the model can serve as a starting point for a dialogue about the importance of taking into account population factors when adapting to climate change with regard to food security. While technological interventions on the supply side will surely be vital in adapting to climate change and achieving food security, addressing the demand side via population can also contribute to efforts to enhance food security in the face of climate change.