Easterling honored with top USDA award for global food security report

Michael Scuse, USDA acting deputy secretary (center), with members of the team of experts who produced the award-winning report, "Climate Change, Global Food Security, and the U.S. Food System." Those pictured are (back row from left): William Easterling (Penn State), Edward Carr (Clark University), and Peter Backlund (Colorado State University); front row from left): Rachel Melnick (USDA), Margaret Walsh (USDA), Scuse, Moffat Ngugi (U.S. Agency for International Development/USDA), and Karen Griggs (NCAR).  Credit: USDAAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — William Easterling, dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, was part of a team recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with the Abraham Lincoln Honor Award in the category of Increasing Global Food Security Outreach. The team was recognized for their comprehensive report “Climate Change, Global Food Security, and the U.S. Food System.”

The report, written by 32 experts from 19 federal, academic, nongovernmental, intergovernmental and private organizations in four countries, examines climate-change effects on the world’s food security through 2100. Easterling and the team received the award at a ceremony held Sept. 13 in Washington, D.C.

The Abraham Lincoln Honor Award is the most prestigious USDA award presented by the Secretary of Agriculture, recognizing noteworthy accomplishments that significantly contribute to the advancement of USDA’s strategic goals, mission objectives and overall management excellence.

“It’s an honor to receive the Lincoln Award and to have had the privilege to work with a team of top scientists on this report,” said Easterling. “Assessing the potential impacts of climate change on global food security is critical for our future. Our report highlights the challenges we as a global society face when looking at the consequences of climate change for the entire U.S. food system, not simply crop yield impacts. By identifying the close ties between food production, storage, transportation, processing and marketing and how climate change may affect those components, we get a more comprehensive picture of how climate change, global food security and the U.S. food system interact.”

About the report

The report is a peer-reviewed scientific assessment that identifies climate change effects on global food security and how the U.S. food system may be impacted by and mitigate impacts of climate change. The assessment is a contribution to the U.S. National Climate Assessment, is called for under the President’s Climate Action Plan, and was led by USDA.

It assessed the four components of food security, availability, access, utilization and stability, and found that climate risks to food security increase as the magnitude and rate of climate change increase.

The report determined that consumers and producers in the U.S. are likely to be affected by these changes due to a highly integrated global food system. The price and variety of food imports are likely to change, as are export demands placed on U.S. producers involved in food transportation, processing and storage. Demand for global food aid and advanced technologies to combat changing conditions may increase.

When the report was released in December 2015, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said climate change could reverse years of advances in combating world hunger. He said 200 million more people are food secure today than six years ago.     

The authors of the report discuss global food security in a video titled, “Climate Change, Global Food Security, and the U.S. Food System.”

Easterling, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is an internationally recognized expert on how climate change could affect the Earth’s food supply. He was a convening lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which in 2007 shared the Nobel Prize with former Vice President of the United States Al Gore.

Last Updated November 07, 2016