Climate Change and Food Crops: Paradox and Positive Feedback
Global warming could reduce agricultural production as much as 2 percent each decade for the rest of this century, and demand for food during that period is expected to rise 14 percent each decade, according to a draft report being prepared by United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. UN projections say the world's population is expected to grow from 7.2 billion people today to 9.6 billion in 2050.
The draft report challenges previous assumptions that rising temperatures could actually increase food production because new crops could grow in northern lands presently unsuited for agriculture, and because higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere foster plant growth. Carbon dioxide, the main reason for climate change, also acts as a kind of fertilizer for plants. In the new report, a NewYork Times story "Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies” by Justin Gillis says, scientists "describe a natural world in turmoil as plants and animals colonize new areas to escape rising temperatures, and warn that many could become extinct.”
If forest land is cleared for agriculture to meet a growing global demand for food, loss of trees would result in even more carbon dioxide in the air, thereby accelerating the climate change expected to undermine crop production world wide. Read the Times story here.