Chart Explaining Global Warming's Impact on What You Eat Global Warming Isn't Affecting Your Food Supply. At Least Not Yet. Chart Explaining Global Warming's Impact on What You Eat Global Warming Isn't Affecting Your Food Supply. At Least Not Yet.
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Chart Explaining Global Warming's Impact on What You Eat Global Warming Isn't Affecting Your Food Supply. At Least Not Yet.

by Peter Smith

June 8, 2011

Is global warming to blame for your shriveled corn crop or your expensive loaf of bread this year? Well, if a recent study published in the journal Science is any indication, probably not. Not yet, at least. And not yet in North America, where wheat production appears to be holding steady (blue) and other crop losses due to weather (red) have held relatively over since 1980.  

Still, soaring food prices across the globe raise a perennial question that has dogged oracles and prophesiers: Can the world feed 10 billion million people? Can we feed everyone if wheat, rice, corn and soybeans aren't making it to the dinner table because of global warming? Yes, we can, but only if we spur agricultural innovations and follow through on promises to invest in new crops, The New York Times' Justin Gillis reports. One Stanford scientist, David Lobell, told him: 

I kind of buy into the idea that humans can do whatever they set their minds to do. But adaptation is going to require people actually doing stuff. It’s not going to magically happen.

So let's hope the next generation of innovations can move beyond the legacy of the 20th century, when, for example, Fritz Haber's discovery of nitrogen fixation opened the doors to synthetic fertilizers that ultimately hastened greenhouse gas emissions. And whether or not you'll be experiencing the impact of climate change firsthand at lunch today, it's clear that a well-fed future depends on a serious and lasting commitment to changing the way we eat. 

Chart via "Climate Trends and Global Crop Production Since 1980." © 2011 AAAS

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Chart Explaining Global Warming's Impact on What You Eat Global Warming Isn't Affecting Your Food Supply. At Least Not Yet.