C-FEWS toolkit for farming and food insecurity to tackle climate change threats
27 Mar 2023 --- Scientists have developed the C-FEWS (Climate-induced extremes on Food, Energy and Water Systems) framework, a toolkit for farmers as climate change threatens the current food, energy and water system, presenting a set of analytical tools to forecast catastrophes and the needed measures to respond.
“It’s not hard to see that there are intersections between food, energy and water that could create some pinch points or constraints in the behavior of one part of the system versus another,” says Charles Vörösmarty, lead author and professor of environmental sciences at the City University of New York, US.
“We need to look at how these systems interact when they all get hit simultaneously by these climate changes,” he notes.
The study focuses on the US’s Northeast and Midwest regions, accounting for 40% of the US population and GDP.
Published in Frontiers in Environmental Science, the study was funded by the National Science Foundation and is part of a 14 articles series.
Need for resources
The scientists argue that as heatwaves, wildfires, droughts and floods threaten the current systems due to climate change, preparative measures must be implemented to tackle those events when they occur on a local and regional scale.
“In developing the framework, we’ve held several meetings with regional stakeholders, trying to develop a sense of what they care about, and then seeing how our modeling framework can be used to help them think through those issues,” says co-author Jerry Melillo, a scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, US.
The toolkit guides evaluating options and decision-making related to specific local conditions.
“We are particularly interested in how people respond to climate change in these two US regions given their various interests – and the focus was on the nexus of food, energy and water,” says Melillo.
Looking at data for the past 40 years, the scientists looked at two categories of infrastructure systems, gray infrastructure – power plants, sewage and water delivery systems – and green infrastructure, which encompasses floodplains, cropland and forests.
The researchers further examined how the systems have been affected by extreme weather to be able to calibrate models and forecast future impact.
“Even though it’s a global climate that’s changing, the manifestations of those changes are national, if not regional, if not the state level, in their scope. We’re learning how to tackle a regional perspective where we are focusing on these macro-scale dynamics,” highlights Vörösmarty.
Furthermore, the series includes climate-induced pressures on food, energy and water systems and stresses the importance of stakeholders and modelers to bring the topic up for conversation for the relevant policymakers.
“We’re trying to provide policymakers with a tool to think quantitatively about how best to manage these systems. With some optimum goal of minimizing unintended consequences and promoting intended consequences. We’re trying to provide a clear picture of appropriate policy levers for doing this management,” details Melillo.
The World Health Organization recently stressed the importance of water and sanitation systems for good nutrition and how climate change impacts crop productivity and food prices.
Edited by Beatrice Wihlander
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