Scientific Reasoning and Comparative Political Analysis

  1. Development Of Research Question

Agriculture is a vital sector of the United States and the world economy. The US livestock, crops, and seafood production generate about $300 billion to the economy annually. A combination of food services and several other agriculture-related sectors contribute over $750 billion to US GDP. Agriculture is highly dependent on climate. An increase in carbon dioxide and temperature can result in high crop yields in some parts. However, soil moisture, nutrient levels, water availability, and other conditions must be constant to realize such benefits. On the other hand, changes in the severity and frequency of floods and droughts threaten crop farmers and ranchers, threatening food safety. In the meantime, extreme temperatures of oceans and sea waters are expected to disrupt a range of sea and ocean species, which could also upset ecosystems (European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) et al. 2020). Thus, this study explores the impact of climate change on US and global food security.

Research Question: What are the impact of climate change on US and global food security?  

Independent variable (IV): Climate change   

Dependent variable (DV): US and global food security

Hypothesis: climate change makes it more challenging to grow crops, raise animals, and similarly do fishing as we have done in the past, which threatens global food security.

  • Securitization Theory and Climate Change and Food Insecurity

Securitization theory explains climate change’s causal effects and threat to food security. Designed in the 1990s post-cold war, the securitization theory of Copenhagen redefined the concept of national security. The post-Cold War saw an emergence of a new approach to security in international relations. Before the changes, security threat was broadly defined as the danger of possible military attack from other states or nations. The theory widens the security concept to include non-military threats, including economic and environmental concerns, and then deepens security towards referent objects outside the national state. The securitization theory considers security as a socially constructed issue. In the securitizing process, security is regarded as neither subjective nor objective threat, but among subjects, and security issues are presented as external threats. If the public recognizes the issues, it has been securitized (Stritzel, 2014).

  • Verification

The theory’s truth is seen in the emergence of new international security threats, including climate change, which in turn leads to threats to food security globally. Climate change is an environmental issue in the securitization theory, albeit with extensive societal, economic, and political consequences. The concern on climate change came in the stage of world politics first in 1988 with the Global Conference on Implications for Climate Change, held in Canada 27th-30th June 1988. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was also born in the same year and the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. The Kyoto Protocol set targets for emission reduction and other measures to avert climate change and far-reaching consequences (Hubacek et al., 2017). The debate on full climate change securitization has been ongoing, with the first debate by Security Council in 2007 revealing industrial powers such as China are beginning to acknowledge climate change poses some level of security threat. In the second debate by the UN Security Council on climate change, 2011, more countries Germany advocated for climate change should be appropriately mentioned in terms of security, and UN Security Council should be part of the response to climate change (Baumann, 2021).

On the securitization of food security, the UNEP 1994 report grouped human security into seven broad sectors: food security, environmental, health, personal, economic security, community, and political security. The UNEP report stated that as for food security, people should have at their disposal at all times physical and economic access to basic food. The UNEP definition makes food and prerogative, implying that people should get food by growing food themselves, buy food by their means, or acquire food through public distribution schemes, making food security a requirement for security in any part of the world (Sommerville, Essex, & Le Billon, 2014). Insecurity is primarily because of poor food distribution, making some regions lack food (Allouche, Nicol, & Mehta, 2011). Food insecurity can also be caused by a lack of buying power despite available food. 

Further studies have shown climate change, and consequently, a threat to food security, has devastating consequences on human lives as war or other military-related threats could do. Climate change is cited as a threat multiplier hunger-prone and undernourished population worldwide. Study shows that nations often characterized by extreme hunger are also extremely susceptible to the impacts of climate change with a very low ability to adjust. Climate change impacts almost every aspect of the food chain. Climate change threatens global agriculture and food production as the demand for food increases. Life-threatening events such as floods and droughts, water scarcity, high temperatures, and higher carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are already impacting staple food globally (Sommerville, Essex, & Le Billon, 2014). Wheat and maize production has dropped in recent years because of extreme weather patterns, a decrease in water scarcity, and plant diseases. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization report shows that semi-arid regions such as the Sahel area of Africa are already experiencing unpredictable cereal crop yields at 80% because of climate change. Further study by NASA shows that maize crop production is estimated to decline by 24% by 2030, while regions such as the US may see a 17% increase in wheat production (Jägermeyr et al. 2020).

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In other regions such as Vietnam and Bangladesh, rising sea levels cause a different threat to food security. Saltwater due to rising sea levels floods the farmlands, killing rice crops. More than half of rice production in Vietnam comes from the Mekong Delta area, which is currently experiencing occasional floods, impacting rice production and threatening the country’s food security. If climate change impacts food production, then it is also viable to impact food access and nutrition. Climate change and associated weather disasters such as drought and flood cause inflated prices of the available food, leaving poor households in rural and urban areas vulnerable. For most food-insecure regions, another major concern is nutrition. (Hubacek et al., 2017). Access to a balanced diet is becoming a nightmare for the low-income population in rural and urban areas because of the continued decline in crop yields.

Furthermore, climate change negatively impacts the nutritional value of most food grown. Research has shown that higher CO2 concentration lowers crop zinc, protein, and iron contents. It is projected that about 175 million of the world population will suffer zinc deficiencies by 2050, making them susceptible to diseases, while about 122 million will suffer protein deficiency. Beyond crop-based nutrition, livestock production is also threatened by severe drought, with about 36% of the losses attributed to drought. The fish population is also adversely impacted by climate extremes. New studies suggest that climate extremes are likely to wipe out 60% of fish species by 20100 (Allen et al. 2019).

  • Origin of the Scientific Theories

Scientific theories originate from careful examination of facts through formulation and testing of hypotheses to predict the behavior of the natural world. They are reinforced by observation or experimental evidence, or both. However, many theories are also born out of logical reasoning instead of observation. One of them is the securitization theory, which emerged post-cold war because not all security threats can be military-related. During the Cold War, the idea of national security was almost utterly defined based on military terms and external threats. Such understanding of security formed the main pillar in major international relations theories such as liberalism and realism. The security policies for major countries worldwide were almost similar to defense policy and often were depicted as a zero-sum game (Özcan, 2013). However, professionals and academics progressively challenged this narrow perspective of the post-cold war. The critiques of the conventional security arrangement and understandings called from stretching the concept of security, logically arguing that security problems can also emanate from social, environmental, and economic contexts besides the military attack by other states. The critical reconsideration of the concept of security resulted in the development of the securitization theory. Securitization theory maintain that because of the shifts in political structure, new threats emerged that required not the conventional realists’ military response to threats (Stritzel, 2014).

Overall, climate change could hamper crop, animal, and fish production, which in turn has a ravaging impact on food safety. The impact of climate change also should be considered along with other factors that impact agricultural production, including farming practices and emerging technology. The securitization theory widens the scope of national security threats, including climate change and the resulting threat to food security, as pertinent issues that the world must address collectively.


Allen, M., Antwi-Agyei, P., Aragon-Durand, F., Babiker, M., Bertoldi, P., Bind, M., … & Zickfeld, K. (2019). Technical Summary: Global warming of 1.5° C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Allouche, J., Nicol, A., & Mehta, L. (2011). Water security: Towards the human securitization of water. Whitehead J. Dipl. & Int’l Rel.12, 153.

Baumann, F. (2021). Sounding the climate alarm—scientists and politics. In Conservation Science and Advocacy for a Planet in Peril (pp. 41-71). Elsevier.

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Maggiore, A., Afonso, A., Barrucci, F., & Sanctis, G. D. (2020). Climate change as a driver of emerging risks for food and feed safety, plant, animal health, and nutritional quality. EFSA Supporting Publications17(6), 1881E.

Hubacek, K., Baiocchi, G., Feng, K., Muñoz Castillo, R., Sun, L., & Xue, J. (2017). Global carbon inequality. Energy Ecol. Environ. 2, 361–369.

Jägermeyr, J., Müller, C., Ruane, A. C., Elliott, J., Balkovic, J., Castillo, O., & Rosenzweig, C. (2021). Climate impacts on global agriculture emerge earlier in new generation of climate and crop models. Nature Food2(11), 873-885.

Özcan, S. (2013). Securitization of energy through the lenses of Copenhagen School.

Sommerville, M., Essex, J., & Le Billon, P. (2014). The ‘global food crisis and the geopolitics of food security. Geopolitics19(2), 239-265.

Stritzel, H. (2014). Securitization theory and the Copenhagen school. In Security in Translation (pp. 11-37). Palgrave Macmillan, London.