Monday, April 07, 2014

Latest UN report says climate change is being felt now, and will reduce growth in crop production

A report last week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that summarizes and analyzes climate science, said "ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct," Justin Gillis writes for The New York Times. 

Scientists say that we haven't seen the worst of the situation, and now the nations are trying to agree upon a new global climate treaty. "Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change," said Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the intergovernmental panel, Gillis reports. (Read more)

One major concern is the world's food supply, Seth Borenstein reports for The Associated Press. Over the past few years, scientific literature has been revealing that climate change is impeding food production, said Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution of Science and lead author of the climate report.
The Carbon Brief graph shows projections of yield percentages for crops.
Improved agricultural techniques have boosted crop production by 10 percent per decade, and climate change is expected to "reduce yields by 1 percent a decade, so crop production will still go up, but not as fast," said David Lobell of Stanford University, one of the authors of the report's chapter on food problems. Yes, some crops might actually do better, but others will do worse—such as wheat and corn, Borenstein writes. (Read more)

The report also said demand will go up approximately 14 percent every decade, so climate change could make life even more difficult for some areas, especially poor regions, Mat Hope writes for The Carbon Brief. Of course, climate change will not occur uniformly across the planet, so some areas may experience more difficulties than others and some may benefit. (Read more)

The scientists who wrote the report say the consequences of climate change are not just waiting in the future but beginning to happen now. "Throughout the 21st Century, climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security and prolong existing and create new poverty traps," the Times reported.

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