Beyond causing fish deaths, algal blooms resulting from climate change are also a source of phycotoxins that can cause serious health conditions when the toxins find their way into seafood consumed by humans.
The conversation on climate change is getting louder and more urgent. If there is one thing to take away from the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow held in November 2021, it may be that this has become the most critical decade for mankind to take action to arrest the rise in global temperature. Through human activities such as deforestation and fossil fuels burning, greenhouse gas concentrations are at their highest levels in 2 million years. According to the United Nations, the Earth is now about 1.1°C warmer than it was in the late 1800s, with the last decade being the warmest on record.
The consequences of climate change on the global ecosystem have been far-reaching. We are already witnessing its effects – melting glaciers, rising sea levels, increasing temperatures, ocean warming and acidification, and extreme weather events.
An impending food security crisis
The link between climate change and food supply has been well-documented by various scientific studies and international organisations. Climate changes are expected to affect critical components of the world’s agricultural and food production sector, such as crops, livestock and seafood.
For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has highlighted the impact of rising temperatures on declining crop yield and suitability. These may have downstream effects on pasture and feed quality, affecting livestock health and viability.
Our oceans too, are not spared from the effects of climate change. In December 2021, more than 1,700 tonnes of fish died in West Sumatra’s Lake Maninjau, in part due to extreme weather such as strong winds and heavy rains. Absorption of carbon dioxide has also made oceans warmer and more acidic. This lowers their capacity to absorb and store oxygen, as well as accelerates massive algal blooms, threatening the survival of marine life and supply of seafood.
More recently, in January 2022, warmer and drier weather led to the destruction of crops in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. This led to shortages in vegetables in the region, which had earlier been hit by excessive rains and floods. These examples illustrate the need to transform farming so that it can be productive, climate-resilient, and sustainable for the future.
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Last updated on Tuesday, April 14, 2020