How will climate change affect world's agricultural supply?

BY CGTNDec 06,2018 at 16:00

Diplomats from across the globe are scheduled to meet in Poland over the next two weeks to try to put global climate negotiations back on track.

This year's message from the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is that time is running out, and action is required now.

Many countries have already been severely affected by climate change. Other regions have been more fortunate. For example, the Midwest of the U.S. has yet to fully experience the devastation climate change can cause. But weather patterns in the region appear to be changing.

A recent scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies laid out the devastating effects climate change will have on the economy, health and the environment.

For the Midwest, a key agricultural region, the report predicts an increase in crop failures, primarily because of extreme heat, drought and flooding.

Illinois climatologist Jim Angel, who contributed to a federal report on climate change /CGTN Photo

Jim Angel is the Illinois state climatologist and one of the report's authors. "The key findings at least for the Midwest is that we are going to see even more in the future the big impacts that we are seeing on agriculture already. And those are big economic impacts. Obviously, any time you are messing with the food supply, not only of the U.S. but the world, that can have major impacts around the region."

For Midwest farmers, the higher temperatures would likely add further stress to soil erosion, plant disease and an increase in pests.

Lin Warfel has farmed in central Illinois for 56 years. Although he remains skeptical over the cause of climate change, he has noticed the impact. “When it rains, it pours. So when we get a three or four-inch rain, we have flooding. And none of our crops like to be under water. They can stand a little bit but not for very long and then the yield drops, or they may even die.”

Illinois farmer Lin Warfel chats with CGTN about climate change. /CGTN Photo

The report says improvements in technology and science have so far largely insulated farming from the effects of climate change. But Angel, one of the report's authors, wonders how long that can last. “At some point, I think it is going to break down, and then I am very concerned. If you look at the food supplies of America and the world, we don't carry over that much from one year to the next. So if we get in a drought year, the supplies are fairly tight. If we have multiple bad years, that's when there is really going to be a large impact, not only in the U.S. but on the world markets."

There is still hope. Angel says making efforts to reduce greenhouse gases can still reduce the severity of the impact.


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