Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Climate change to spur crop shortages by 2020

CTV News (Canada): The world may be 2.4 degrees warmer by the end of this decade, and that could have deadly consequences for global food production, according to a new study overseen by Nobel Prize-winning climate scientist Osvaldo Canziani.

"The Impacts of Climate Change on Food Production: A 2020 Perspective," was published Tuesday afternoon by an Argentina-based non-profit group called the Universal Ecological Fund released (UEF). According to the report, by 2020 there will be a shortfall of 14 per cent for global wheat production, 11 per cent for rice and nine percent for maize. Soybeans will be the only major crop that will meet world demand, with a surplus of five per cent.

The number of people going hungry could therefore jump to 20 per cent of the world's population from the current 14 per cent, the report estimates. The number of hungry children in the world could nearly double.

Those findings were based on a 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Researchers at UEF used more recent data from United Nations bodies such as the World Meteorological Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Bank to update the IPCC's conclusions. What they found is that by 2020, population growth and warming temperatures would significantly cut the world's four major food crops by the decade's end.

Liliana Hisas, the report's author, said she was surprised by what they found. "For the last 20 years we've been talking about future generations, and ‘this is not going to happen in my lifetime' and all sorts of other excuses not to take concrete decisions," Hisas said. "Hopefully this will help (us) realize that we better start doing things today, because this is happening much faster than anybody could anticipate."...

A farmer irrigates crops in the Sudan, in Kabkabiya camp in North Darfur. USAID photo

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