Food Security Expert Lew Ziska Contributes to Landmark UN Climate Report

March 2, 2022

Climate change is an ongoing threat to human health and environments—including food and water sources around the world—and the world is running out of time to change course. The assessment is in a new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) featuring the expertise of leading scientists.

Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences Lewis Ziska, PhD, was a member of a Working Group of Reviewers who contributed to the document. An expert in food stability and availability, Ziska contributed to a chapter that focused on diet-related mortality.

The full report was approved by 195 member-governments of the IPCC.

The main findings of the report’s chapter five, to which Ziska contributed, shows what climate change will mean for water, food, and health and how its impacts are stressing agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and aquaculture, increasingly hindering efforts to meet human needs. The lack of food and nutritional quality will increase the number of people at risk of hunger and malnutrition, ultimately resulting in diet-related mortality.

“Climate change is a threat multiplier when it comes to food security, and the most vulnerable in the global population -- the young and the old -- are especially at risk in regard to supply, nutritional quality, and food safety,” noted Ziska.

The full report had five main findings:

•    Results of climate change have worsened considerably over the past 10 years.
•    If the pace and process of climate change does not lessen, the world will face extremely severe dangers even with a slight increase in global warming.
•    The world has not done enough to face the crisis and ensure safety for its citizens.
•    As warming continues, measures that are working today will be ineffective in the future.
•    Low-and middle-income countries are more vulnerable and face greater challenges than wealthier countries.

According to Jeffrey Shaman, PhD, professor of Environmental Health Sciences, director of the Climate and Health Program at Columbia Mailman, and Senior Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs at the Columbia Climate School, “There will be considerable inequities, around the planet, in the health impacts of climate change. We must work together to mitigate these effects and protect human health.”

Access the full UN Report