‘A Wake Up Call’: The World Needs to Prepare for Massive Crop Failure

Via Gizmodo, a report on the impact that climate change is having on the jet stream, and what it means crop production and the global farms race in the future:

The climate crisis has changed weather patterns, and this could increase crop failure in multiple agricultural regions around the world, a new study says. In a report published in Nature Communications this week, researchers in the U.S. and Germany outline how food-producing regions of the world will see significantly lower crop yields in the near future.

The researchers analyzed climate models and observational data from 1960 and 2014 and then looked at future projections between 2045 and 2099. By analyzing the data, they found that a changing jet stream has contributed to crop failure in the past. Jet streams are air currents that change weather patterns around the world. But many scientists have observed that climate change is changing how jet streams move, which could challenge crop-growing regions around the world. Climate models are equipped to show those changes in the atmosphere, but these models cannot always show how it affects conditions on the ground.

The study explains that under a high emissions scenario, a “strongly meandering jet stream” or a wavy jet stream could actually trigger some of these lower crop yield events worldwide. Data showed the researchers that years with “more than one wave event” often lead regional crop yields to drop up to 7%. They also found that agricultural regions in Eastern Europe, East Asia, and North America were likely to be impacted by these events. The study referenced a heat wave that significantly hurt agriculture in Russia back in 2010. The high temperatures that year were connected to a shift in the jet stream, according to the researchers.

Russia’s heat wave destroyed 9 million hectares (22,239,484 acres) of crops, and it also sparked droughts and forest fires, according to the UK Met Office. The fires killed Russians and displaced many families from their homes. That July, the city of Moscow recorded 14,000 deaths, that’s more than 5,000 more deaths compared to July 2009. This was just one event related to changes in the jet stream. “Potentially disruptive impacts have become more common and will increase further if greenhouse gas emissions remain unmitigated,” study authors warned.

Kai Kornhuber, a lead author in the study and researcher at Columbia University called this information a “wake up call.” He emphasized that instances of crop failure are underestimated, which could mean less adequate preparations worldwide. “We need to be prepared for these types of complex climate risks in the future and the models at the moment seem to not capture this,” he said in a press release.

This will worsen an already significant issue. More than 800 million people around the world were considered food insecure in 2021, according to the United Nations. That number increased in 2020 during initial covid lockdowns. Volker Türk, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, recently warned that climate change-related disasters will probably increase that number by more than 80 million by the middle of this century.

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About This Blog And Its Author
Seeds Of A Revolution is committed to defining the disruptive geopolitics of the global Farms Race.  Due to the convergence of a growing world population, increased water scarcity, and a decrease in arable land & nutrient-rich soil, a spike of international investment interest in agricultural is inevitable and apt to bring a heretofore domestic industry into a truly global realm.  Whether this transition involves global land leases or acquisitions, the fundamental need for food & the protectionist feelings this need can give rise to is highly likely to cause such transactions to move quickly into the geopolitical realm.  It is this disruptive change, and the potential for a global farms race, that Seeds Of A Revolution tracks, analyzes, and forecasts.

Educated at Yale University (Bachelor of Arts - History) and Harvard (Master in Public Policy - International Development), Monty Simus has long held a keen interest in natural resource policy and the geopolitical implications of anticipated stresses in the areas of freshwater scarcity, biodiversity reserves & parks, and farm land.  Monty has lived, worked, and traveled in more than forty countries spanning Africa, China, western Europe, the Middle East, South America, and Southeast & Central Asia, and his personal interests comprise economic development, policy, investment, technology, natural resources, and the environment, with a particular focus on globalization’s impact upon these subject areas.  Monty writes about freshwater scarcity issues at www.waterpolitics.com and frontier investment markets at www.wildcatsandblacksheep.com.