A new NASA study released this week predicts worsening climate change will throw global food security into turmoil. The study predicts, for instance, that corn, which is critical to our food supply, could see yields decline by nearly 25%. This disconcerting conclusion came out of a recent study by NASA scientists that used advanced computer modelling to look at the expected temperature rise across the globe, changes in rain patterns and rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Lead author of the study, Jonas Jägermeyr, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and The Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York City, said:
“We did not expect to see such a fundamental shift, as compared to crop yield projections from the previous generation of climate and crop models conducted in 2014. A 20% decrease from current production levels could have severe implications worldwide.”
The study’s conclusion is expected to hold true if global warming continues at its current rate. But even if we improve our handling of greenhouse gases, there may still be problems.
“Even under optimistic climate change scenarios, where societies enact ambitious efforts to limit global temperature rise, global agriculture is facing a new climate reality. And with the interconnectedness of the global food system, impacts in even one region’s breadbasket will be felt worldwide.”
However, a bit of blue sky in a dark storm emerged from the study. Rice, the second most important crop grown for human consumption, could see yields jump by 17% in a warmer world.
The study focused on changes in temperature, rainfall, and even ground concentrations of carbon dioxide, which might affect photosynthesis and therefore the plants’ growth. Input for the models was garnered from real-life experiments with actual crops.