Monday, May 16, 2011

Global Warming Affects Crop Yields and Food Prices

A new study suggests that global warming may be causing a decrease in potential crop yields in many countries and may be a factor in increasing food prices globally. Wheat yields are down by more than 10 percents in Russia as well as a few percentage points in India, France and China due to an increase in global temperatures.

The study found that most of Europe and large parts of Asia, Africa and South America, have been effected by temperatures during growing seasons, which have warmed by an average of several degrees since 1980. The United States on the other hand seems to be getting a pass as the Midwestern corn and soybean belt which has not witnessed only minor temperature changes.

Plants are known to be sensitive to high temperatures, especially when they are in the flowering stage. Wheat, corn, soybeans and rice are the major sources of calories for the human race, either directly or via meat from animals raised on grains. Demand for these products is inflexible and rising, but as climate change affects the crops produced, the price increases.

The losses from climate change are said to have accounted for price increases of 6 percent in each of the above categories. The calculations imply that climate change is costing food companies about $60 billion a year, not to mention the amount of people who go hungry because they cannot afford food due to a price influx. The prices of many foodstuffs have doubled or tripled recently, causing rising food demands in Asia and other developing areas.

-Gabrielle Gurian