Climate change ‘could devastate global food supplies’, researcher warns

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Wildfire on wheat field stubble after harvesting near forest. Burning dry grass meadow due arid climate change hot weather and evironmental pollution. Soil enrichment with natural ash fertilizer.
Wildfire on wheat field stubble: could global warming devastate crops? (Getty)

Climate change could devastate global food supplies, a leading NASA researcher has said in an interview this week - and the effects could come sooner than we think.

Jonas Jägermeyr, the lead author of the paper warned in an interview with Inside Climate News that global corn levels could drop by about 20% compared to current levels.

He said, “That’s a completely new realm. Across the world and in many breadbasket regions, this is going to occur in the next couple years. The main message here is: This is right around the corner.”

Jägermeyr led a team of researchers which published research on the subject last year.

Climate change scientist and crop modeller Jägermeyr also warned in recent interview with Scientific American that the conflict in Ukraine could combine with severe weather triggered by climate change to cause shortages.

Read more: Melting snow in Himalayas drives growth of green sea slime visible from space

Jägermeyr said in an interview with Scientific American, “Climate change is increasing weather and yield variability and if severe weather events such as droughts, heatwaves, or floods will hit this season there will be compound effects, destabilizing the food system further.

“China already indicated that their wheat outlooks are very poor and other world regions don’t look great either.”

Last year’s UN climate report warned that the world could face a ‘shocking rise in hunger,’ unless climate change is contained.

To contain warming at 1.5C, manmade global net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions would need to fall by about 45% by 2030, the report warned.

Read more: A 1988 warning about climate change was mostly right

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report shows unprecedented changes were needed across society to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

The review of thousands of scientific papers sets out the impacts of temperature rises of 1.5C compared to 2C, and what is needed to curb temperatures at that level.

Impacts including harm to yields of maize, rice and wheat will be less severe at 1.5C than 2C.

Matthew Spencer, Oxfam's director of campaigns and policy said last year: 'Climate change has set our planet on fire, millions of people are already feeling the impacts, and the IPCC is clear that things could get much worse without immediate action.

Read more: Why economists worry that reversing climate change is hopeless

'The faster governments phase out coal, embrace the renewable energy revolution and move to protect communities at risk, the more lives and livelihoods will be spared.'

He warned the world was already seeing the beginning of 'massive displacement and a shocking rise in hunger' - and unless temperatures stayed below 1.5C, island nations would disappear beneath rising seas.

Watch: Thousands march for global climate action

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