Will we be losing our crops to climate change?

With the World’s population now past 7 billion and projected to increase to 9 billion by 2050, stress on the food production system is at an all time high. To make matters worse it appears that our crop yields may fall victim to the effects of climate change.

Crop yields to drop by 25 percent towards the end of the century.

Crop yields to drop by 25 percent towards the second half of the century.

A recent study, published in Nature Climate Change, led by the University of Leeds and CGS academics has shown that global warming of only 2°C will be detrimental to the production of rice, wheat and maize in temperate and tropical regions, with reduced yields from the 2030s onwards.

“Climate change means a less predictable harvest, with different countries winning and losing in different years. The overall picture remains negative, and we are now starting to see how research can support adaptation by avoiding the worse impacts,” says lead author Professor Andy Challinor.

The study shows that we will see, on average, an increasingly negative impact of climate change on crop yields from the 2030s onwards. The impact will be greatest in the second half of the century, when decreases of over 25% will become increasingly common.

These statistics already account for minor adaptation techniques employed by farmers to mitigate the effects of climate change, such as small adjustments in the crop variety and planting date.

The IPCC projected temperature increase for the next century.

The IPCC projected temperature increase for the next century.

 

The latest IPCC reports state that the expected temperature increase for the end of the century is somewhere between 1.5 and 4 degree Celsius. And so, unless drastic measures are taken place the warming will happen. And thus, major agricultural transformations and innovations will be needed in order to safeguard crop yields for future generations.

Read the full study here: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v4/n4/full/nclimate2153.html

 

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