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While news reports and disaster movies remind us about tipping points for Arctic melt and sea level rise, some things closer to home get less attention. Take food supply: new modelling studies show that there are climate tipping points here too, beyond which crop yields will collapse.
"The single best predictor of a year's yield is the amount of time temperatures exceed about 29 °C and the extent to which they do so," they say...
..."Below this, warmer temperatures are beneficial for yields, but the damaging effects above 29 °C are staggeringly large."
Overall, the results suggest that yields of maize, cotton and soybean drop by roughly 0.6 per cent for each "degree-day" spent above 29 °C.
That's likely to rise as the world warms. Using a model of future climate change the researchers found that the number of degree-days above 29 °C in a growing season could rise to 413 by the end of the century if we do not cut greenhouse gas emissions. This would cause maize yields to fall by 82 per cent.
Even if we reduce emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 relative to 1991 levels – a target that governments are struggling to agree on – yields could still fall by between 30 and 46 per cent.
The US is the world's largest producer and exporter of crops, accounting for around 40 per cent of global maize and soybean production.
"If US yields go down a lot, it could drive up prices of staple food commodities all around the world", say the researchers. "Almost surely the poor would suffer far more that the US would."
Originally posted by KnoxMSP
The Govt' actually pays people to not farm their land and to not produce as much food as they could. If we are running out of food just cut Govt' subsidies and let the farmers farm to their heart's content. Problem solved.
On an off topic note; I will be growing all my own vegetables, and taking better car of the fruit trees I already have next spring.
Originally posted by Animal
The 82% decrease in productivity based on climate would still take effect. Unless you are saying we are producing 82% or greater BELOW our potential threshold, which I know is not the case, we still have a problem here.