Scientific American uses the term "Cereal Killer" to describe the impacts of climate change on efforts to increase production of cereal grains to feed the planet' s burgeoning population.
A recent study into already happening impacts of global warming found that it has cut "harvests of wheat 5.5 percent and maize 3.8 percent from what they could have been since 1980."
"On a global scale, we can see pretty clearly significant changes in the weather for most places where we grow crops ," explains agricultural scientist David Lobell of Stanford University's Woods Institute for the Environment, who led the analysis published in the May 6 issue of Science. "Those changes are big enough to sum up to pretty big losses for wheat and corn ."
"Using U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization data going back to 1980 for crop yields in all major crop-growing regions of the world, and pairing that with temperature and precipitation data for their growing seasons, Lobell and his colleagues found that warming temperatures were reducing yields—although changes in precipitation did not appear to be having an effect, yet.
"Those temperature changes are the result of increasing concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), largely as a result of burning fossil fuels and agricultural practices. But CO2 also helps rice, soybeans and wheat grow. In fact, the researchers suggest the extra CO2 boosted yields for these crops by roughly 3 percent during the period studied ."
The study found that despite some CO2-driven crop increases, the temperature-caused decreases already outweigh them. The researchers were also able to cost out the declines. They found that climate change driven reductions had boosted the price of grain crops 18.9%. They noted that companies like Monsanto are now busy developing plants that will be tolerant of higher temperatures. Wait a second, isn't that Disaster Capitalism? Isn't this the very sort of thing governments ought to be doing for the public good, not the private sector's?