The impact of climate change on the earth is evidenced by the extreme storms, unrelenting droughts, increasing global temperatures and falling crop yields. Examining these factors alongside increasing disparages in wealth and the rising global population have led experts to sound the alarm about the impact of climate change on global food demand.
Water is a key component to the success or failure of crops. Fluctuations in rainfall, coupled with changing average global temperatures have both immediate and long term effects on the process of feeding a growing population. The Conversation reports that “globally, production of maize and wheat between 1980 and 2008 was 3.8% and 5.5% below what we would have expected without temperature increases.” Future projections suggest that falling crop yields will continue amidst the ever-increasing pressure to feed a growing population.
Tackling the issue will require a revised approach to farming, including a re-examination of planting and watering practices, as well as the timing of planting and harvesting, consideration of the nutrients and chemicals added to soil, and an ongoing conversation about the selection of crop varieties. Moreover, recorded rates of falling crop yields globally are suggesting the need for new types of plants – ones that can survive and thrive in a low precipitation environment.
Successfully addressing the global food demand today and into the future also includes the need to halt rising average global temperatures in any way possible. The immediate and long term consequences of the relationship between climate change and extreme weather are not limited to issues of drier land and falling crop yields. Many of the severe storms destroying homes, communities and crops can be linked back to increasing global temperatures that result in a warmer and more moist atmosphere. Higher moisture in the atmosphere equates to stronger, more devastating storms.
As experts continue to offer startling predictions about the implications of climate change and extreme weather on feeding a growing population it is important to remember that the choices made today can change the reality of tomorrow. When understood as part of the larger issue of climate change, the falling crop yields and increasing global temperatures of today can and should be used as motivation to re-write the predictions for tomorrow.