A recent study from the University of Washington, published in â€œScienceâ€, warns that half of the world's population will face â€œserious food shortagesâ€ due to climate change by 2100. The worst areas affected will be the tropics and subtropics.
â€œRapidly warming climate is likely to seriously alter crop yields in the tropics and subtropics by the end of this century and, without adaptation, will leave half the world's population facing serious food shortages, new research shows.â€
[â€¦]"The stresses on global food production from temperature alone are going to be huge, and that doesn't take into account water supplies stressed by the higher temperatures," said David Battisti, a University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor.â€
The authors of the study say that we must start investing in adaption and develop new food crop varieties that can better withstand a warmer climate:
"This is a compelling reason for us to invest in adaptation, because it is clear that this is the direction we are going in terms of temperature and it will take decades to develop new food crop varieties that can better withstand a warmer climate," Naylor said.
"We are taking the worst of what we've seen historically and saying that in the future it is going to be a lot worse unless there is some kind of adaptation."
The authors also say that itâ€™s not just the tropics and Third World countries that will be affected by a warmer climate and the food shortages:
â€œThe serious climate issues won't be limited to the tropics, the scientists conclude. As an example, they cite record temperatures that struck Western Europe in June, July and August of 2003, killing an estimated 52,000 people. The summer-long heat wave in France and Italy cut wheat yields and fodder production by one-third. In France alone, temperatures were nearly 6.5 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term mean, and the scientists say such temperatures could be normal for France by 2100.
[â€¦]Currently 3 billion people live in the tropics and subtropics, and their number is expected to nearly double by the end of the century. The area stretches from the southern United States to northern Argentina and southern Brazil, from northern India and southern China to southern Australia and all of Africa.â€
"You can let it happen and painfully adapt, or you can plan for it," Battisti said. "You also could mitigate it and not let it happen in the first place, but we're not doing a very good job of that."
Climate Progress warns that this report may be seriously underestimated as the study is based on â€œthe â€˜middle of the roadâ€™ emission scenario, and that the climate is going to get â€œmuch, much hotterâ€.