Saturday, December 16, 2006

Feeding ourselves on a warmer planet

I sometimes wonder if people are really thinking about the effects that global warming will have on their lives. Do folks just think the oceans will rise a little and erode away a few beaches? Maybe a few more intense hurricanes? I have a hunch most have no real clue just how far reaching the effects will be. Personally I've come to believe that our very survival is at stake and our ability to feed ourselves is at the top of the list.

The Guardian reports that the Search for crops that can survive global warming has already begun:

An unprecedented effort to protect the world's food supplies from the ravages of climate change will be launched today by an international consortium of scientists. The move marks a growing recognition that serious changes in weather patterns are inevitable over the coming decades, and that society must begin to adapt.

Some £200m a year will be poured into the research by governments across the world to help agricultural experts develop crops that can withstand heat and drought, find more efficient farming techniques and make better use of increasingly fragile soil and scarce water supplies.

Robert Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute, said: "The impacts of climate change on agriculture will add significantly to the development challenges of reducing poverty and ensuring sufficient food production for a growing population. The livelihoods of billions of people will be severely challenged as crop yields decline."

The Stern review of the economics of climate change said a 2-3C rise in average global temperatures would put 30-200 million more people at risk of hunger. Once temperatures rise 3C, 250-550 million extra people will be at risk, more than half in Africa and western Asia. At 4C and above, global food production is likely to be hit hard. The British scientist James Lovelock warned last week that such food shortages could trigger a growing number of conflicts this century between nations desperate to find fertile land to feed their people.



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