Part Two- “The Great Climate Migration”: How Climate Change Will Affect Food Accessibility in Tucson

2 min read

In the recently published New York Times article titled “The Great Climate Migration”, author Abrahm Lustgarten describes several climatic changes that are heavily affecting rural agricultural families and their crops. In Guatemala he describes how drought, flood, bankruptcy and starvation affects rural farmers: “Almost everyone here experiences some degree of uncertainty about where their next meal will come from. Half the children are chronically hungry…” 

Lustagarten emphasizes the threat of desertification in Guatemala and other areas in Central America caused by the exacerbation of odd weather patterns like El Niño: “Many semiarid parts of Guatemala will soon be more like a desert. Rainfall is expected to decrease by 60 percent in some parts of the country, and the amount of water replenishing streams and keeping soil moist will drop by as much as 83 percent. Researchers project that by 2070, yields of some staple crops in the state where Jorge lives will decline by nearly a third.”

Climate change has had a similar effect on rural El Salvador as well: “Around 2012, a coffee blight worsened by climate change virtually wiped out El Salvador’s crop, slashing harvests by 70 percent.”

Such climatic phenomena are already creating food shortages in rural areas as aforementioned, but if the rate of climate change continues, food deserts in urban areas will also worsen. A publication conducted by the University of Arizona titled “A Comprehensive Food Access Analysis in Tucson” defined a food desert as an “area with low income and low access to food…  According to the USDA, census tracks qualify as ‘low-income communities’ when the poverty rate is 20 percent or greater and ‘low-access’ when the distance to the closest supermarket or large grocery store is more than 1 mile (10 miles for rural areas).” 

As conditions worsen for rural agriculturalists around the globe, our food prices are bound to increase, creating greater food insecurity. With a larger amount of people without access to fresh food, there will be a larger demand for organizations like Casa Maria to provide for our community, while donations potentially decrease.

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