Climate change is not a joke. It could kill around 250 people in Albania and 500,000 people a year globally by 2050, by making our diets less healthy, a study says. 

In Europe, Greece and Italy are likely to be significantly affected, with 124 and 89 deaths per million people respectively, as extreme weather, such as floods and heat waves wreaks havoc with harvests and crop yields.

Estimated increases in food availability could be cut by a third by 2050, according to the experts' study published in The Lancet medical journal. This would lead to a reduction of 99 calories available per person per day, the assessment of the impact of climate change on diet composition and bodyweight found. 

In contrast with previous models, this study looks at the quality — not just the quantity — of food available on a warmer planet to estimate how this will impact health. “Even quite modest reductions in per-person food availability could lead to changes in the energy content and composition of diets that are associated with substantial negative health implications,” the paper says.

Albania is among the countries with the highest risk. According to a report published by the World Bank, the sensitivity of the agricultural sector to climate change has significant implications in Albania. With the majority of the rural population dependent on agriculture, rural communities are particularly vulnerable to any changes that may occur as a result of climate change.

While temperatures are projected to increase as a result of climate change in Albania, overall precipitation is projected to decline and become more variable. Season variation of this projected decline in precipitation could be particularly devastating for the agricultural sector, as the greatest declines are projected to occur during the crucial summer months.

While overall decline in annual precipitation is projected to be as high as 6.9 mm by 2050, decreases of up to 23mm are projected during the summer months, which can severely impact the growing season in Albania. These declines are projected to reach annual highs of 16mm by 2100, with projected decreases of more than 54mm during the critical growing season in the summer months.

Forecasted precipitation declines are greatest in the key May-September period, when precipitation is already at its lowest, particularly in the southern and northern areas of the country. Furthermore, winter floods in recent years in Albania indicate the potential impacts increased variability in precipitation can have on the country.

The strongest factor determining death rates is the estimated reduction of fruit and vegetable consumption. According to the study for climate change and its effects on our diet, Albania is ranked among the highest one in the world, with China and India on top and Italy and Greece leading in Europe./