As global warming continues, every 1oC rise in global temperature would result to a drop of 6% in wheat production. Despite all political effort around the world to keep the world’s climate steady, it is expected that a rise in 2oC is inevitable.
Analyses also point that greenhouse gas emissions may lead to a 5oC increase if they are not monitored and are allowed to continue at their current rate. These results were published at the journal Nature Climate Change.
These calculations were based off of tests made with 30 computer models set against field experiments in order to determine what would be the most likely result. Researchers discovered that a fall of 6% of wheat production per 1oC rise would be the end result.
6% might not initially sound like much but as the population around the world increases so does the demand for further crop production. Wheat is one of the world’s most important crops and is widely used for bread, pasta, beer, cereals, pasta, canned soup, and more.
Even the slightest drop of supply would greatly affect demand, raising prices by more than 10%.
Wheat and grain are also the primary food source for many people in developing countries. Different varieties of rice are an important part of every meal for most Asian countries. Riots have occurred in places where increase in price was less than 10%.
This only goes to show the vulnerability of people to increasing prices. This will only continue as the global population continues to rise. There are over 7.2 Billion people in the world as of 2015 and this will only increase to 9 Billion – or even 12 Billion – by 2050. Demand for wheat and grain will only go up.
Add the possibility of a 6% drop in wheat production due to global warming and it would only be a matter of time before the scales tip into chaos.
This outcome also counters what many global warming sceptics argue – that an increase in carbon dioxide would benefit crop production since photosynthesis relies on carbon dioxide instead of oxygen.
The researchers point out that global warming isn’t just about an increase in carbon dioxide but also an increase in temperature which could affect the availability of water as well as affect germination.
A radical increase in temperature also affects the capability of crops to grow. The researchers also stated in the publication that the effects of temperature stress on crop production are already observable in places around the world.
They did, however, state that there may be means of countering the adverse effects of global warming and these include genetic alteration of the plants as well as improved crop breeding.
These techniques might become a necessity instead of an option for some critical regions where the effects of global warming will be felt the most.
In the study conducted, the lead scientist hailed from the University of Florida while others came from other United States institutions as well as some from Germany, Mexico, Australia, China, and France.