United Nations Calls for Stronger Policies to Address Worldwide Drought
More consolidated efforts to combat the threat of climate change and counter its ripple effects on global food security are needed amid an intensifying global drought and increasing temperatures worldwide, the United Nations (UN) declared Aug. 21.
“Climate change is projected to increase the frequency, intensity and duration of droughts, with impacts on many sectors, in particular food, water and energy,” said World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud in a press release. “We need to move away from a piecemeal, crisis-driven approach and develop integrated risk-based national drought policies,” he added.
According to the news release, the WMO and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), along with other UN agencies, are intensifying efforts to establish a more coordinated and proactive strategy for managing drought risk to fill existing policy vacuums in countries around the world. As a result, a High Level Meeting on National Drought Policy has been scheduled from March 11-15, 2013.
Speaking at a press conference in Geneva on Aug. 21, Dr. Mannava Sivakumar, Director of the WMO Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch, underlined the severity and reach of the current drought and its potential impact on global food prices.
He noted that one quarter of the U.S. was experiencing exceptional drought while the entire country was facing its longest 12 month period in a drought since 1895. Dr. Sivakumar also emphasized that the effects of the drought on the U.S.’s soybean and corn harvests was having “a major impact on food prices.”
Meanwhile, pointing to the situation in India, he told reporters that the Asian country was similarly experiencing very serious droughts with countrywide rainfall 17 percent below normal. In Punjab, India’s breadbasket, rainfall was 70 percent below normal.
According to the WMO, severe drought also developed in parts of East Africa in late 2010 and continued through most of 2011 with the most severely affected areas encompassing the semi-arid regions of eastern and northern Kenya, western Somalia and southern border areas of Ethiopia.
“The 2010 drought-induced famine in the Greater Horn of Africa, the ongoing crisis in the Sahel region and the extensive drought in the USA show that developing and developed countries alike are vulnerable,” said Luc Gnacadja, executive secretary of the UNCCD. “Effective long-term solutions to mitigate the effects of drought, and address desertification and land degradation urgently need to be mainstreamed in national development plans and policies,” he added.
In 2009, international climate experts gathered at the International Workshop on Drought and Extreme Temperatures in Beijing released their climate projections for the 21st century, forecasting an increase in the frequency of severe droughts in the continental U.S. and Mexico, the Mediterranean Basin, parts of northern China, across southern Africa and Australia and in parts of South America.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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