Climate Change’s Effect on Food Production Could Lead to Widespread Death Worldwide

Climate change could kill more than 500,000 adults worldwide in 2050 due to reduced crop productivity, according to a new study published in The Lancet. The study is the first of its kind to assess the impact of climate change on diet composition and bodyweight, and to estimate the number of deaths each will cause. The study examines 155 different countries.

The countries likely to be most affected are, not surprisingly, low- and middle-income countries, particularly those in the Western Pacific Region and Southeast Asia; three-quarters of all climate-related deaths are expected to occur in China and India.

The study uses an agriculture economic model that incorporates data on emission trajectories, socioeconomic pathways, and possible climate responses in to evaluate the effects on global food production, trade, and consumption for 2050. The model predicts that reductions in fruit and vegetable intake could lead to deaths far exceeding the health benefits of reduction in read meat consumption.

This study underscores the need for local health departments to educate their communities on the negative health effects of climate change, advocate for safe and healthy environments, and work to mitigate the health affects of a warming planet.

Read the report in full.

About Katie Regan

Katie Regan serves as the Communications Specialist for Environmental Health, Pandemic Preparedness, and Catastrophic Response at NACCHO. Her work includes promoting local health departments' best practices through NACCHO's various storytelling and communications channels. Twitter: @katiejregan

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