Published on November 8th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan2
Heat, Not Just Precipitation Changes, a Major Crop Concern
It’s long been understood that precipitation changes from global warming (i.e. droughts and floods) pose major crop problems. However, what has not been so widely discussed up to now is how much heat, itself, could cause considerable crop problems. Crops scientists are now finding, though, that this is a major problem.. already.
“We don’t grow tomatoes in the deep South in the summer. Pollination fails,” said Ken Boote, a crop scientist with the University of Florida. Snap beans also can no longer be grown in Florida in the summer for the same reason.
Reuters reports: “Interviews with crop researchers at American universities paint the same picture: high temperatures have already shrunken output of many crops and vegetables.”
Daytime temperatures, but even more so nighttime temperatures (which are increasing more rapidly than daytime temps, as climatologists predicted they would), are presenting some farmers with a currently insurmountable problem.
It’s just too difficult to maintain previous yields in the face of increasing heat.
“It’s amazing that there are still people who think that [climate's] not changing. Everywhere we go we’re seeing greater variability, the rains are changing and the timing of the rains is creating a lot more vulnerability,” Roy Steiner, deputy director for agricultural development for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack similarly said: “If people don’t understand that the climate is changing, it’s just hard to explain how anybody could not see that, given this year that we’ve had with natural disasters.”
So, yet again, for a more secure food supply, and lower food prices, we need to tackle climate change. Some top ways to do so: