Rising Food Prices from Climate Change a Serious Threat to Urban Poor

August 21, 2009

wheatfieldA Purdue University-led team determined that urban dwellers in developing countries could be the most adversely affected population by climate change. These include working people in countries like Bangladesh and Zambia. Even more developed countries like Mexico and others would be among those most at risk from more heat waves, droughts and extreme weather, which affect agricultural production and can raise food prices. Thomas Hertel, professor at Purdue and executive director of the university’s Center for Global Trade Analysis, said in Science Daily,

“Food is a major expenditure for the poor and, while those who work in agriculture would have some benefit from higher grains prices, the urban poor would only get the negative effects… This is an important finding given that the United Nations projects a continuing shift in population concentrations from rural to urban areas in virtually all of these developing countries.”

With nearly 1 billion of the world’s poor living on less than $1 a day, extreme events can have a devastating impact, he said. Other reports on climate change impacts relate the harm on coastal areas in developed as well as developing countries, and the impact of droughts and extreme weather on agriculture and public health globally. The complete article on the urban poor, co-authored by The World Bank’s Syud A. Ahmed, is at Environmental Research Letters.