Severe crop overheating forecast

Articles
January 13, 2009

Severe crop overheating forecast

Today’s food shortages, as awful as they are, could be dwarfed by a disastrous overheating of crops by 2100—if global warming trends continue and agriculturists fail to adapt crops to the world’s rising temperatures, cautioned David Battisti, a University of Washington atmospheric scientist and Rosamond Naylor, director of Stanford University’s program on food security and the environment. Much attention is paid to the threat of drought because of climate change, but the potential impact of higher temperatures on crops is often overlooked, they wrote in the journal Science. For example, crop yields in the tropics could fall by 20% to 40% because of temperatures as much as 9 degrees above current summer averages, according to an account of the report in USA Today. “Because these regions are home to about half the world’s population, the human consequences of global climate change could be enormous,” they added. Moreover, parts of the United States—the Eastern seaboard, Southeast, Western Plains, Rockies and California—could face summers warmer than the highest temperatures of the 1900 to 2006 period, they warned. As an example, they noted tens of thousands of deaths in Western Europe due to record heat in the summer of 2003, which reduced wheat yield in France and Italy by one-third.

Today’s food shortages, as awful as they are, could be dwarfed by a disastrous overheating of crops by 2100—if global warming trends continue and agriculturists fail to adapt crops to the world’s rising temperatures, cautioned David Battisti, a University of Washington atmospheric scientist and Rosamond Naylor, director of Stanford University’s program on food security and the environment.

Much attention is paid to the threat of drought because of climate change, but the potential impact of higher temperatures on crops is often overlooked, they wrote in the journal Science. For example, crop yields in the tropics could fall by 20% to 40% because of temperatures as much as 9 degrees above current summer averages, according to an account of the report in USA Today. “Because these regions are home to about half the world’s population, the human consequences of global climate change could be enormous,” they added.

Moreover, parts of the United States—the Eastern seaboard, Southeast, Western Plains, Rockies and California—could face summers warmer than the highest temperatures of the 1900 to 2006 period, they warned.  As an example, they noted tens of thousands of deaths in Western Europe due to record heat in the summer of 2003, which reduced wheat yield in France and Italy by one-third.

The researchers based data on the 2007 report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

SupermarketGuru.com feels their comments are important and timely, and urges appropriate collaborative actions soon to prevent such catastrophe. Fortunately, we feel the timeline gives science, the government and industry the latitude to develop hardier crop varieties and smarter agricultural techniques.  The sooner we adopt them, the better for the future—and especially the better to help relieve the in-humanitarian hunger that plagues parts of the world today and doubtlessly will in the coming decades.