Climate Change Now

Current Effects of Global Warming

Climate Change Now - Current effects of global warming

As temperatures get hotter, predictions about flooding, droughts, ruined farmland, and global food shortages get worse. While there is plenty of data about future outcomes, there are very few studies that examine how global warming is currently affecting the planet’s agriculture. “It’s a frustration having to always answer questions about the future and having everyone think of climate change as something in the future,” states David Lobell, an agricultural scientist at Stanford University. “It’s not something we have to anticipate. It’s something we have to learn from and deal with right now.” Lobell and colleagues recently published a report in Science that analyzed the agricultural records of four major crops: corn, rice, wheat, and soybeans from 1980 to 2008. After controlling for seasonal variation, the researchers used historical weather data on temperature and precipitation and linked it to crop data by year. The results indicate that worldwide, yields of corn and wheat declined by 3.8% and 5.5%, while rice and soybean production remained the same. Although some scientists state that the paper doesn’t account for a number of factors, such as the price of crops, or specific advances in technology, Lobell maintains that temperature trends are dramatically affecting crop production. He agrees that new technology and better farming practices have led to an overall increase in productivity, but states, “this increase isn’t keeping pace with warming.”

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