Climate and Harvest: Global Warming Threatens the World’s Food Security

“Climate and Harvest: Global Warming Threatens the World’s Food Security.” Such a headline is relevant today, in light of new research conducted by American and European climate scientists. They conclude that global warming already in the nearest decades will lead to large-scale droughts and heat waves every 6-16 years in the key wheat-producing regions of the USA and China. This will reduce the food security of the world as a whole.

Extreme weather events are one of the consequences of global warming. Scientists use the word to describe abnormally high temperatures in winter, heat waves in summer, weekly torrential rains, droughts, and other weather phenomena. Clear examples are last year’s floods in Europe, heat waves in the U.S. and Europe this summer, and a super-hot summer in Russia in 2010.

A group of American and European researchers led by Erin de Perez, a professor at Tufts University (USA), were interested in how heat waves and other weather anomalies will affect the performance of major agricultural regions of the world – the American Midwest and Eastern China. Both of these areas account for a significant portion of the total volume of wheat produced in the PRC and the U.S., which are the first and fourth largest producers in the world.

As it turned out, already now the maximum temperatures during the heat waves in both the USA and China have risen by 5-6 degrees Celsius relative to what they reached in the 1980s, which indicates a sharp intensification of these weather anomalies. In the coming years, according to the scientists’ calculations, the heat waves will become even more intense and frequent, as a result of which the grains will spend 5-15 days with “switched off” enzymes, which will have a negative impact on the amount of harvest.

Heat waves, as suggested by climatologists, can affect the wheat crop in two ways. On the one hand, they reduce the amount of water available to plants. On the other hand, consistently high temperatures exceeding 27 and 32 degrees Celsius cause many key enzymes in wheat cells to stop working, preventing them from storing nutrients in the grains.

Similar events, according to climatologists, will occur every six years in Kansas and other wheat-growing regions of the United States, and every 16 years in Henan Province and other agricultural regions of the PRC. This poses a risk not only to the food security of these two countries, but to the world as a whole.

In light of such studies, measures must be taken to prevent the negative effects of global warming. For example, increasing the use of renewable energy sources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the irrigation system, and other measures aimed at preserving nature and the climate.

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