Global warming has lowered the global yield of crops with up to 5% since 1980; not for soybeans, or tomatoes, or etc, but for wheat and corn – which are probably the most important crops.
A global problem
The study, which was published in the journal Science, states that the corn production has gone up since 1980, but it would have gone up even more, with 3.8%, if it hadn’t been for global warming, while wheat suffered a 5.5% decline.
“Climate changes are already exerting a considerable drag on yield growth,” the paper says.
The situation, of course, differs from place to place. In France, for example, the crop yield has not risen since 1990, and global warming is the main reason why this is happening, the study concluded. Wheat crops were hit dramatically in Russia, where they dropped with a shocking 15%, as well as in Mexico and Turkey. China isn’t doing much better either, reporting a drop in corn yields.
For soybeans and rice, the situation hasn’t changed almost at all, because warming some areas produced less crops, while warming other areas produced more crops, thus balancing it all out.
Fields and global warming
Researchers developed two separate models, one that simulated the situation as it happened until today, and one in which temperatures were the same, ignoring the effects of global warming. Another extremely interesting fact was that America was the least affected by these changes.
“Pretty much the rest of the world in terms of major agriculture producers have seen remarkable warming,” David Lobell, of Stanford University’s Dept. of Environmental Earth System Science and one of the paper’s authors, said in a Science podcast. “It looks like the United States, Canada and northern Mexico are outliers in terms of unusually stable weather over the last 30 years temperature-wise compared to the rest of the world.”
Even though this is yet another display of global warming negatively affecting our society, it shouldn’t be said that it is the biggest reason why the agricultural situation isn’t so good, especially in some places. Climate isn’t the predominant driver of change over time, in terms concerning crop production. In the 20th century, temperatures have risen on a global scale, with 1.33 degrees Fahrenheit according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. However, the growth rate is anticipated to increase in the next 20 to 30 years.
Andrei's background is in geophysics, and he's been fascinated by it ever since he was a child. Feeling that there is a gap between scientists and the general audience, he started ZME Science -- and the results are what you see today.