July 6, 2009

Oxfam Report - Climate Change & Hunger

"Climate change is the central poverty issue of our times," said Oxfam International Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs. "Climate change is happening today and the world's poorest people, who already face a daily struggle to survive, are being hit hardest. The evidence is right in front of our eyes. The human cost of climate change is as real as any redundancy or repossession notice." A survey of top climate scientists, also published by Oxfam today, said poor people living in low-lying coastal areas, island atolls and mega deltas and farmers are most at risk from climate change because of flooding and prolonged drought. The scientists, all contributors to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), named South Asia and Africa as climate change hotspots.

The report 'Suffering the Science - Climate Change, People and Poverty', combines the latest scientific observations on climate change, and evidence from the communities Oxfam works with in almost 100 countries around the world, to reveal how the burden of climate change is already hitting poor people hard.

The report warns that without immediate action 50 years of development gains in poor countries will be permanently lost. It says that climate-related hunger could be the defining human tragedy of this century.

Climate change's most savage impact on humanity in the near future is likely to be in the increase of hunger. Some of the world's staple crops, such as maize and rice, are very susceptible to rising temperatures and to more unpredictably extreme seasons. Almost without exception, the countries with existing problems in feeding their people are those most at risk from climate change.

Science is now as certain as it can be of harmful climate change. The only real uncertainty is about how much climate change and human suffering we are willing to allow and bear.

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