Authors: Rafael Faraco, Camilla Silva, Wellyngton Amorim, Ana Silveira, Samara Neiva, José Baltazar.
Understanding the complexity among food security, climate change and agriculture is a challenging topic. Projected growth rate of world population suggests a chaotic scenario in terms of food and water scarcity. This study reviews the major contributions by the scientific community in regards to effects on agriculture and food security as a result of climate change. The main conclusions are that the implementation of effective policies and mitigation measures for the effects of climate change are required to guide actions for a sustainable agriculture. The need for an intensive agriculture along with adaptation measures for human nourishment is necessary.
Food security, climate change and agriculture are intrinsically connected and interdependent areas. The understanding of these interconnected fields depends on the balance between international relations and the worldwide struggle against starvation. Climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions increases global average temperatures, which influences the food availability scenario around the globe.
This study aims at analyzing the contributions of the scientific community to understand the issue of food security in the context of mitigation strategies of climate changes. The most relevant scientific publications were studied in the period between 2000 and 2015, through a systematic literature review and a quantitative meta-analysis – bibliometric method.
The methodology used in the research, involved the study of scientific publications from three databases chosen for their relevance to other studies on academic performance, as Scopus, with over 21 million titles, Web of Science (WoS), with approximately 2,6 million publications and Science Direct with over 13 million publications.
Through the keywords Food Security, Mitigation, Climate Change and Agriculture, individual searches and their combinations were conducted in order to identify the most relevant articles within the subject under study. The combination with the highest number of publications was Food Security and Agriculture, especially in the Science Direct database. The Mitigation and Climate Change combination was underscored, with balanced numbers of publications in the three databases. At the end of this methodological step, the combination of the four keywords was executed, as this combination responds more precisely to the guiding research question previously exposed.
Then, temporal order filters were applied to the databases, cutting the scientific publications of the last 15 years (2000-2015) by subareas of interest within the subject being studied in the databases. Also with regard to the types of publications found, such as articles, conference papers, chapters of books, books, printed articles, and others. Finally, after the selection of 56 publications, another filter was applied to select the 10 most relevant publications of each searched database, obtaining a total of 25 articles that were systematically analyzed by the authors. These articles, according to the bibliometric study methodology, represent the most relevant research carried through over the past 15 years by the international scientific community within the subject.
The period between the years 2009 to 2011 was the most productive, with four publications per year. The article with the highest number of citations (1,206 times), Prioritizing Climate Change Adaptation Needs for Food Security in 2030, Lobell et.al., 2008, urged the scientific community to study the theme of Food Security in the context of Climate Changes. This is considered a key publication in the area of study.
The journal with the highest number of publications on the subject addressed in this study was the Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of the United States, with 20% of the analyzed publications. Countries that had excelled in delivering results in scientific journals were the United Kingdom and the United States, followed by the Netherlands and Germany.
According to the results of the systematic analysis of 25 articles obtained from the bibliometric study methodology, a top priority that was defined was the implementation of effective policies to mitigate the impacts on the environment caused by entropic action.
Policies should create a global awareness concerning the problem of Food Security and Climate Change, in order to ensure the adoption of synergistic actions. Furthermore, these policies should involve the participation of governments, the productive sector, the scientific community and development organizations worldwide in order to meet human needs for food in the coming years.
Moreover, the implementation of actions driven by food security policies and climate change mitigation requires investment in sectors such as science and technology. Altogether with this sectors, improvements in efficiency in agricultural production in deforested areas can be generated, contributing to the future demand for food; investment in professional training; curriculum reform in the universities, and investments to adapt agriculture to equate the trade-off between climate change and food insecurity.
To adapt agriculture to a future scenario of food insecurity is necessary: proper management of the land, of food production systems, genetic manipulation to make more resistant crops and the use new species of plants, as well as new techniques of tillage and management.
The change in the diet of individuals, favoring the consumption of foods with less meat, should contribute to the reduction of methane (CH4) and help fix carbon (C) in the soil. One of the biggest challenges of food production due to climate changes is the inclusion of appropriate adaptation and mitigation solutions through the integration of insights from physics, biophysics and social sciences.
The scientific community must be mobilized and study in depth the issues of climate change and mitigation to face a future of food insecurity in the world. The development of more accurate models of prediction and assessment of future scenarios in food production is urgent for climate science – especially when climate is a vital resource for agriculture and innovation. For that reason, the development of more intensive agriculture is necessary, aiming at minimizing changes in land use due to deforestation and burning.
Therefore, it is concluded that it is necessary to create a global awareness on the part of governments, the productive sector, decision makers and the scientific community altogether to prioritize efforts to overcome the issue of food insecurity in the world due to climate change.