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Global warming will make veggies harder to find: study

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Global warming is expected to make vegetables significantly scarcer around the world, unless new growing practices and resilient crop varieties are adopted, researchers warned on Monday.

By the end of this century, less water and hotter air will combine to cut average yields of vegetables — which are crucial to a healthy diet — by nearly one-third, said the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A 7.2 Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) increase in temperature, which scientists expect by 2100 if global warming continues on its current trajectory, reduces average yields by 31.5 percent, said the report.

“Our study shows that environmental changes such as increased temperature and water scarcity may pose a real threat to global agricultural production, with likely further impacts on food security and population health,” said lead author Pauline Scheelbeek of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Southern Europe, large parts of Africa and South Asia may be particularly affected.

The findings are based on a systematic review of 174 studies examining the impact of environmental exposures on yield and nutritional content of vegetables and legumes since 1975.

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Some previous research has pointed to a likely increase in crop yields as carbon dioxide rises, but the current review found that any such boost would be cancelled out by higher greenhouse gases, reduced water availability for irrigation and rising temperatures.

“We have brought together all the available evidence on the impact of environmental change on yields and quality of vegetables and legumes for the first time,” said senior author Alan Dangour, also of LSHTM.

– ‘Urgent action’ needed –

“Our analysis suggests that if we take a ‘business as usual’ approach, environmental changes will substantially reduce the global availability of these important foods,” he added.

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“Urgent action needs to be taken, including working to support the agriculture sector to increase its resilience to environmental changes and this must be a priority for governments across the world.”

A second study in PNAS found that rising temperatures will increase the volatility of corn, the most widely grown crop on the planet.

Researchers confirmed prior studies that showed global warming would likely cut back on corn growth.

They also showed that heat waves may boost inconsistency and volatility across various regions from year to year, leading to price hikes and global shortages.

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“Previous studies have often focused on just climate and plants, but here we look at climate, food and international markets,” said lead author Michelle Tigchelaar, a University of Washington postdoctoral researcher in atmospheric sciences.

“We find that as the planet warms, it becomes more likely for different countries to simultaneously experience major crop losses, which has big implications for food prices and food security.”

The vast majority of the global corn exports come from the United States, Brazil, Argentina and Ukraine.

“Under 4 degrees Celsius warming, which the world is on track to reach by the end of the century if current greenhouse gas emissions rates continue, there’s an 86 percent chance that all four maize-exporting countries would simultaneously suffer a bad year,” said the report.

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Sailing among the stars: Here’s how photons could revolutionize space flight

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A few days from now, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will lift off from Florida, carrying a satellite the size of a loaf of bread with nothing to power it but a huge polyester "solar sail."

It's been the stuff of scientists' dreams for decades but has only very recently become a reality.

The idea might sounds crazy: propelling a craft through the vacuum of space with no engine, no fuel, and no solar panels, but instead harnessing the momentum of packets of light energy known as photons -- in this case from our Sun.

The spacecraft to be launched on Monday, called LightSail 2, was developed by the Planetary Society, a US organization that promotes space exploration which was co-founded by the legendary astronomer Carl Sagan in 1980.

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Russians to prod Putin on poverty and his personal life as his ratings tank

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Russians are set to ask President Vladimir Putin about growing poverty at home and tensions abroad during an annual televised phone-in Thursday, which comes following a fall in his approval ratings.

The leader is also likely to face a degree of grilling on his personal life, according to questions submitted by the public online ahead of the live show.

Set to be held for the 17th time since Putin came to power in 1999, the show starts at 0900 GMT and usually lasts several hours.

Ahead of the carefully choreographed show, more than one million questions had been submitted, organisers told Russian news agencies.

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Trump could turn on Hope Hicks just like Michael Cohen: Trump family biographer warns

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Trump family biographer Emily Jane Fox explained that she didn't think that the president would turn on long-time aide Hope Hicks, but then again, it was the same thought about Michael Cohen as well.

In a panel discussion about Hicks' testimony during MSNBC's Brian Williams' Wednesday show, Fox recalled that Micahel Cohen once said that he would take a bullet for the president. Once it appeared that Trump would throw him under the bus, Cohen began looking for a way out.

The same scenario seems to be happening with Hicks now.

"She works at new Fox, which is a company run by a Murdoch son," Fox said. "It's a company that's brand new. She's the head of communications there. And there are shareholders who would take issue with the fact that a senior member of this company is being put in this situation and being thrust on the world stage."

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