Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

A boy tends to a herd of cows in Cameroon

A boy tends to cows in sub-Saharan Africa, which stands to be hit hard by the effects of drastic greenhouse-gas cuts on food production. Credit: Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty


Hunger’s toll looks set to grow with tough action on climate change

Carbon taxes and related policies could lead to worse food shortages than climate change alone.

Strict policies to curb the effects of climate change could leave millions more people hungry than would a warming climate itself.

Scientists predict that climate change will cut crop yields, which will, in turn, raise food prices. Tough policies such as carbon taxes that aim to lower greenhouse-gas emissions are expected to help to address these problems.

To test this theory, Tomoko Hasegawa at the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Tsukuba, Japan, and her colleagues simulated global conditions in the year 2050. They found that under strict regulations, drops in food production and availability were due largely to the effects of the policies — not to climate change.

In one scenario, climate change alone would result in an extra 24 million people going hungry in 2050, compared with the number expected if today’s climate prevailed. When rigid policies were added, the number of hungry people jumped by a further 78 million, most of them in Africa and South Asia.

The authors say officials should consider the consequences for food availability when setting climate policies.

More Research Highlights...

Pulsar wind nebula illustration

Curving purple lines in this artist’s impression represent the magnetic field of a neutron star (white sphere) left over from a brilliant supernova. Credit: Salvatore Orlando/INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo

Astronomy and astrophysics

X-rays expose a clue to the mystery of the missing neutron star

Astronomers might have spotted the long-sought debris of a famous stellar explosion.
A bone fragment next to a dime

A bone fragment excavated in Southeast Alaska belonged to one of the earliest known domestic dogs in the Americas. Credit: Douglas Levere/University at Buffalo


An ancient Alaskan dog’s DNA hints at an epic shared journey

To scientists’ surprise, a 10,000-year-old bone found in an Alaskan cave belonged to a domestic dog — one of the earliest known from the Americas.
Emissions billow from smokestacks at a coal-fired power plant as the sun sets, India.

Black carbon emitted by power plants and other sources in Asia wafts to the Arctic, where the pollution accelerates the melting of ice and snow. Credit: Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg/Getty

Atmospheric science

Soot from Asia travels express on a highway to the high Arctic

Black carbon from fuel combustion in South Asia bolsters the effects of climate change on northern ice and snow.
Prevotella copri bacteria, computer illustration

The gut bacterium Prevotella copri (artist’s impression) has been linked to a reduction in the health benefits of a diet that skimps on red meat in favour of fish and vegetables. Credit: Kateryna Kon/Science Photo Library


Trying a Mediterranean diet? Gut microbes might sway the outcome

The composition of a person’s microbiome could influence the health effects of swapping steak for vegetables and olive oil.
Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing


Quick links