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Flourishing agriculture is essential for the global food system. Already, 690 million people are hungry across the world (8.9% of the global population). Climate change will only make that worse by combining unfavorable climates with destabilizing weather events, as well as decreasing water supply. Warmer temperatures will also encourage the spread of pests and other insects that are damaging to crop production. In addition to the devastating impacts on crops, climate change also harms the livestock sector through both extreme heat and precipitation. At the same time as food production decreases, food demand is expected to increase by 70%, fueling the global food crisis.

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Kids Fight Climate Change Team


Increases in temperature create poor conditions for growing crops across the world. Crops have an optimal temperature range, and for many vital crops, increases in temperature prohibits access to water and nutrients. While for some crops, this can increase growth by putting more regions in the optimal range, many more face certain decline. For instance, a NASA projection in 2021 found that corn production would decrease by at leaset 24% by 2030. In particular, extreme heat events hamper crop productivity even in areas where warmer temperature might be more suitable for production. Prolonged heat waves and droughts can also affect crops by drying out soil and making it difficult or impossible to grow crops. Furthermore, as droughts and changing precipitation decrease water supply, the available water for irrigated crops declines at a time where higher temperatures cause crops to require more water. 

These long-term temperature climbs also increase the spread of pests, insects, and disease that impact crops. Pests and disease-carrying insects are encouraged by higher temperatures which are more suitable for them. The range of these diseases also expands as a result of climate change, forcing, for instance, northern farmers to deal with diseases that only tropical farmers are accustomed to. 

Too much water is just as much of a problem as too little. Hurricanes and floods destroy swaths of farmland and pollute water supplies, damaging crops just as much as droughts do. Similarly, deluge (which increases from climate change) can drown plants. As rainfall patterns shift, unnaturally long dry and wet seasons will occur across the world, leaving very little opportunity for growing crops.


In addition to crops, livestock is directly affected by climate change. Droughts and floods both can destroy livestock’s food supply, dry out or drown pastures, and make it difficult or even impossible to maintain livestock. Pastures also become less productive because of extreme heat and changing precipitation patterns as they no longer have the vital water and nutrients needed for livestock to thrive. In addition, the animals themselves can be impacted. Exposure to heat can weaken animals, in extreme cases leading to death, but more often increasing risk of exposure to disease while harming fertility.


“Agriculture and Climate Change.” 2021. European Environment Agency. May 11, 2021.

“Climate Change and Agriculture.” 2019. Union of Concerned Scientists. March 20, 2019.

“Climate Impacts on Agriculture and Food Supply.” n.d. EPA - Chicago Climate Change.

Gray, Ellen. 2021. “Global Climate Change Impact on Crops Expected Within 10 Years, NASA Study Finds.” NASA Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. November 2, 2021.

Sulser, Timothy, et al. 2009. “Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation.” 1 ed. Food Policy Report. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020. 2020. FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO.

USDA. 2022. “Climate Change.” USDA Economic Research Service. June 10, 2022.

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