Press Release

Food for thought: climate crisis threatens Scotland’s larders

Published on 11 October 2021

Climate change has the potential to disrupt food supplies to Scotland, a University of Dundee expert has warned.

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Field with yellow plants and a cloudy blue sky

Dr Alexandra Morel says that Scotland’s dependence on food imports makes the country vulnerable to extreme weather events in regions throughout the world.

While there are steps that the agricultural industry can take to protect crops from the effects of climbing temperatures, Dr Morel says that a warming planet will have a noticeable impact on the supply of food in the coming years.

She will be discussing the future of food with a panel of guest speakers for a free, online event, “Festival of the Future COP26 Series: Food,” which takes place from 2 – 3.30pm on Thursday 14 October.

“There are huge challenges to food production because almost every aspect of the sector is vulnerable to a changing climate,” said Dr Morel.

“Extreme weather such as heavy rainfall can delay or prevent harvesting of crops, while extreme heat could result in temperatures too high for farm staff to work safely in the field. Food distribution is also susceptible to disruption from extreme weather, while interruptions to power supplies can spoil food that must remain frozen or refrigerated.

“Large-scale failure of certain crops can occur due to climatic reasons where production is concentrated in certain geographic areas, driving up prices in other regions.

“Food production remains a huge source of vulnerability to a changing climate and this is a problem that we really have not addressed in a systematic manner.”

Humans have been producing food from agriculture for over 10,000 years, throughout which our planet has experienced a relatively unique period of climatic stability. However, current concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and observed warming are pushing our climatic conditions beyond this stability.

Joining Dr Morel to discuss the challenges posed by this problem include Professor Derek Stewart, from the James Hutton Institute, who will present on his innovative work in trying to ensure Scotland’s food security through new production methods. Professor Jennie Macdiarmid from the University of Aberdeen, will present on the international impacts of our current food system, while Dundee’s Dr. Beverley Searle will discuss the societal shifts likely to take place as our relationship with food production evolves.

“Food is both a deeply personal and internationally relevant topic,” added Dr Morel.

“But while the climate crisis has the potential to severely alter our relationship to food, we want our audience to be empowered and recognise that everyone has a constructive role to play in addressing this challenge.”

The event, “Festival of the Future COP26 Series: Food,” takes place from 2 – 3.30pm on Thursday 14 October. This virtual event is free to attend, but places must be booked in advance online.

Enquiries

Jonathan Watson

Media Relations Officer

+44 (0)1382 381489

j.s.watson@dundee.ac.uk