Food-growing areas will see drastic changes to rainfall and temperatures if global heating continues at current rate
A third of global food production will be at risk by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at their current rate, new research suggests.
Many of the world’s most important food-growing areas will see temperatures increase and rainfall patterns alter drastically if temperatures rise by about 3.7C, the forecast increase if emissions stay high.
Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have calculated that about 95% of current crop production takes place in areas they define as “safe climatic space”, or conditions where temperature, rainfall and aridity fall within certain bounds.
If temperatures were to rise by 3.7C or thereabouts by the century’s end, that safe area would shrink drastically, mostly affecting south and south-eastern Asia and Africa’s Sudano-Sahelian zone, according to a paper published in the journal One Earth on Friday.
However, if greenhouse gases are reduced and the world meets the goals of the Paris agreement, in limiting temperature rises to 1.5C or 2C above pre-industrial levels, then only about 5%–8% of global food production would be at risk.
Matti Kummu, an associate professor of global food and water at Aalto University and lead author of the paper, said: “A third of global food production will be at risk. We should be worried, as the climate safe space is quite narrow. But there are measures we can take in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And we should empower people and societies in the danger zones, to reduce the impact and increase their resilience and adaptive capacity.”