"The World Meteorological Organization has declared the onset of the first El
Niño event in seven years. It estimates 90% probability the climatic
phenomenon, involving an unusual warming of the Pacific Ocean, will develop
through 2023, and be of moderate strength.
El Niño events bring hotter, drier weather to places such as Brazil, Australia
and Indonesia, increasing the risk of wildfires and drought. Elsewhere, such as
Peru and Ecuador, it increases rain, leading to floods.
The effects are sometimes described as a preview of “the new normal” in the
wake of human-forced climate change. Of particular concern is the effect on
agricultural production, and thereby the price of food – particularly
“breadbasket” staples such as wheat, maize and rice.
El Niño’s global impacts are complex and multifaceted. It can potentially
impact the lives of the majority of the world’s population. This is especially
true for poor and rural households, whose fates are intrinsically linked with
climate and farming.
The global supply and prices of most food is unlikely to move that much. The
evidence from the ten El Niño events in the past five decades suggests
relatively modest, and to some extent ambiguous, global price impacts. While
reducing crop yield on average, these events have not resulted in a “perfect
storm” of the scale to induce global “breadbasket yield shocks”.
But local effects could be severe. Even a “moderate” El Niño may significantly
affect crops grown in geographically concentrated regions — for example palm
oil, which primarily comes from Indonesia and Malaysia.
In some places El Niño-induced food availability and affordability issues may
well lead to serious social consequences, such as conflict and hunger."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics