Enjoy our faster App experience

Nasa research scientist wins World Food Prize

Cynthia Rosenzweig was honoured for innovative modelling of the impact of climate change on global food production



AP
AP

By AP

Published: Thu 5 May 2022, 7:44 PM

Last updated: Thu 5 May 2022, 7:45 PM

A Nasa climate research scientist who has spent much of her career explaining how global food production must adapt to a changing climate was awarded the World Food Prize on Thursday.

Cynthia Rosenzweig, an agronomist and climatologist, was awarded the $250,000 prize in recognition of her innovative modelling of the impact of climate change on food production.

She is a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and serves as adjunct senior research scientist at the Columbia Climate School at Columbia University, both based in New York.

Rosenzweig, whose win was announced during a ceremony at the State Department in Washington, said she hopes it will focus attention on the need to improve food and agricultural systems to lessen the effects of climate change.

“We basically cannot solve climate change unless we address the issues of the greenhouse gas emissions from the food system, and we cannot provide food security for all unless we work really hard to develop resilient systems,” she told The Associated Press during an interview ahead of the ceremony.

Jose Fernandez, the undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, said more than 160 million people worldwide experienced food insecurity last year, a 19% increase over the year before, and one of the root causes is a decline in food production due to global warming.

“Climate change has already had a significant and negative impact on global agricultural production and its impact is only going to get worse. We’re seeing rice fields drown in floods. We’re seeing other crops wither in drought. We’re seeing shellfish die in more acidic oceans and crop diseases are spreading to new regions. We likely would not understand all these problems as well as we do today without the work of Dr. Rosenzweig, this year’s World Food Prize laureate,” he said.

The Des Moines-based World Food Prize Foundation award recognized Rosenzweig as the founder of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project. The organisation draws scientists from around the world and from many disciplines to advance methods for improving predictions of the future performance of agricultural and food systems as the global climate changes.

The foundation credited her work with directly helping decision-makers in more than 90 countries establish plans to prepare for climate change.

In her work, Rosenzweig has studied how farmers can deal with climate change and how agriculture worsens the problem. For example, she contributed to a research paper published last month that said global agri-food systems create nearly one-third of the total global greenhouse gases emitted by human activity.

She said the world needs to reduce such emissions and adapt to the changing climate. She noted that greenhouse gases come from many parts of food production, including the release of carbon and carbon dioxide through the clearing of forests for farmland and the oxidization of carbon through the plowing of fields. The use of fertilizer also releases atmospheric nitrous oxide, farm equipment emits fossil fuels and cattle release methane.

Rosenzweig completed the first projections of how climate change will affect food production in North America in 1985 and globally in 1994, and she was one of the first scientists to document that climate change was already impacting food production and cultivation.

Nobel Prize laureate Norman Borlaug created the World Food Prize in 1986 to recognise scientists and others who have improved the quality and availability of food.


More news from World