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Extreme weather

Extreme weather taking a huge toll on global food production

Saturday, April 09, 2011 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: extreme weather, crop failures, health news


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(NaturalNews) An increase in the prevalence of extreme weather events due to global warming will seriously affect global food production worldwide, climate and agriculture experts are increasingly warning.

"Climate change threatens to make large areas of the planet unsuitable for human habitation and for an adequate level of food production," writes Ervin Laszlo in the book Quantum Shift in the Global Brain.

"Very few countries are still food self-sufficient -- and the internationally available food reserves are shrinking."

In the past few months, a drought has devastated the Russian wheat harvest, floods have destroyed vast stretches of Pakistani farmland, and a heat wave led to the death of 2,000 cattle in Kansas. As greenhouse gas emissions continue and the planet keeps warming, climatologists are predicting "more and more hot extremes and worse unprecedented extremes and that's what we're seeing," said Neville Nicholls of Monash University in Australia.

The impact of such disasters has an implications far beyond the specific croplands affected. Russia's decision to ban exports of its shrunken wheat crop, for example, has caused alarm in wheat importing countries such as Egypt. Analysts worry about a return to the food riots of 2007 and 2008, when rising prices led to supply crises in poor countries.

"Over the whole globe all of these changes in climate ... are going to cause some real ripples in our capabilities of producing food," said Jerry Hatfield of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Research Service.

Crop failures are also expected to hit rice fields in the near future.

"That could start showing up in the next decade or so, because we're getting these heating peaks already," said Peter Timmer of the nonprofit Center for Global Development.

Beyond the next few years, researchers admit that they have no idea what our agricultural future will look like.

"In the longer term, all bets are off which crops can and can't grow," said Jay Gulledge, the senior scientist at the Pew Center for Global Climate Change in Washington.

Sources for this story include: http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNe....

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