When you think of a changing climate’s impact on our food, what comes to mind? Some may point to declining yields of important crops. Or the fact that crop suitability will look very different in the future. But what about the people who cultivate these crops and the conditions they’ll face?
The animated map from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Scientific Visualization Studio provides context. It forecasts increases in dangerous heat days that could impact agricultural workers.
The map models extreme heat through 2100 under a moderate- and high-emissions scenario. In both scenarios, parts of South America, Africa, and Asia see significant increases in extreme heat days. North America, Europe, and Australia would also see dramatic impacts under a high-emissions scenario.
This comparison helps us better understand the risks of climate change. We can see how curbing emissions can reduce impacts and the perils we face if we don’t.
Unfortunately, many of the places expected to see the highest increases already suffer from extreme heat. The 2010–2014 baseline shows people in South America, Africa, and Asia are already vulnerable.
The interconnected nature of our food system means local threats have global impacts. Food production will be challenging with warmer temperatures. But we must account for the people who farm and harvest our food. The world depends on them.