The world’s breakfast eaters are about to get a hot, steaming serving of climate change with their bagels and croissants. In response to the climate change-fueled fires sweeping the Russian bread basket, Russia on Thursday banned grain exports, driving global prices to $7.83 a bushel, almost double their June low. This is the real climate change tax — higher food prices, higher air conditioning bills, skyrocketing firefighting expenses, and it’s way more costly than the relatively modest investments it will take to reduce the climate pollution exacerbating these global natural disasters.
This isn’t just a one-off effect. A team led by Gerald C. Nelson of the International Food Policy Research Institute recently released a comprehensive analysis finding that temperature increases and rainfall changes caused by climate change will cause dramatic price increases, well beyond those caused by other economic forces.
Commodity Climate-Induced Price Increase (2050)
Rice 32-37 percent
Corn 52-55 percent
Wheat 94-111 percent
Soybeans 11-14 percent
The researchers found that by making food so expensive, climate change will cause per capital calorie consumption to actually decline from 2050 to 2000, outpacing any monetary gains from overall development. In particular, they found greater child malnutrition. In other words, climate change will undo any other progress we make in feeding the world, causing the Earth of 2050 to be a much hungrier place than it even is today.