Climate change is a prominent force behind the global food crisis

Via Flickr

Grace Smith | October 21, 2022

Climate change and extreme weather are affecting the global food crisis significantly. Rising sea levels and extreme weather patterns like drought, wildfires, and floods make it extremely difficult for farmers to grow food to feed the hungry.

Samantha Power, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, spoke on this topic during a Thursday night gathering at the Iowa Events Center.

“Climate change is leading to ever-more disastrous shocks, and with so many of the harshest impacts falling on poor farmers, how do we break the cycle of lurching from food crisis to food crisis?” asked Power. “How can we harness the industry, the know-how, and just stubborn determination of farmers around the world as well as the work of tremendous innovators … to feed the planet without accelerating climate change even further?” 

Power brought up the Horn of Africa, where 828 million people go to bed hungry each night because of a drought-driven famine occurring in Somalia killing people and animals. Power said despite the aid received by the U.S., Somalia needs more help. 

At the gathering, Power suggested an idea to help control the global food crisis. Power mentioned World Food Prize Founder Norman Borlaug, who embraced agricultural innovation through research, which started the Green Revolution and saved many citizens from hunger. 

“Despite these trade-offs, the primary lesson of the Green Revolution was clear,” Power said. “With investments in agricultural productivity and publicly funded research, “food supply can grow faster than demand.”

Scientists use solar energy to make salt water drinkable

The sun sets in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. Oceans cover approximately 70 percent of the earth’s surface. (Mike/Flickr)

Nick Fetty | April 28, 2015

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered a way to make salt water drinkable using solar panels.

This innovation recently won first place for the U.S. Agency for International Development‘s  2015 Desal Prize because of its potential to provide clean drinking water for millions around the world. MIT and Jain Irrigation Systems came up with a photovoltaic-powered electrodialysis reversal (EDR) system which can desalinate water by “using electricity to pull charged particles out of the water.” Ultraviolet rays are then used to disinfect the water. The system functions using relatively low energy consumption in areas that may be off the grid.

The research team was awarded with $140,000 to continue their research. To be eligible for the prize money, designs had to be cost-effective, environmentally sustainable, and energy efficient. The system is capable of removing salt from 2,100 gallons of water within 24 hours. It is also capable of converting 90 percent of salt water into drinking water, compared to reserve-osmosis systems which purify 40 to 60 percent of water.

The researchers have been developing this technology across India since 2014. This filtration system is expected to alleviate water shortage issues in California and other drought-stricken parts of the developed world while improving living conditions in India and other underdeveloped parts of the world where clean water can be scarce.

“The water scarcity challenges facing India in the near future cannot be overstated. India has a huge population living on top of brackish water sources in regions that are water-scarce or about to become water-scarce,” said Susan Amrose, a civil and environmental engineering lecture at the University of California-Berkeley. “A solution with the potential to double recoverable water in an environment where water is becoming more precious by the day could have a huge impact.”