Corn and wheat are staples in the diets of many across the globe, so anything that affects their yields has an impact felt by millions. According to an analysis done by a team of U.S. based researchers, global warming has already taken a big bite out of global food production, resulting in steep food price increases, as noted in a July 4, 2011 article on the Science News website.
The researchers tracked yields of wheat and corn in countries across the globe for almost three decades. While they found that harvests of these crops have climbed steadily since 1980, in part due to technological advancements, they calculated that the increases in yield would have been considerably greater if the climate had been cooler. For corn, they estimated that the reduction in production due to higher temperatures was roughly equal to Mexico's entire yearly production. According to David Lobell of Stanford, one of the researchers, every decade of climate change set back corn yields by about a year.
Some crops fared better as the world warms. Rice and soybean yields have so far been unaffected by increased temperatures. This points out the need for more research into crops that can tolerate and thrive in warmer conditions, notes Lobell. In the face of increased population pressure, it may be the best way to prevent food scarcity as the world heats up.
To read the entire article, go to Science News.