Climate change has reduced global food productivity by more than 20% in the last 60 years, research shows
Climate change has reduced global food productivity by more than 20% over the past 60 years, research shows
- Farmers grow a fifth less food than when the weather was the same as in 1961
- In warmer areas such as Latin America and Africa, the decline is as much as 34 percent
- The US saw only a slowdown in growth of between five and fifteen percent
- The emergence of hybrid crops and better pesticides has not stopped the decline
- The world population is expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050
As the world population continues to rise, a new study indicates that agricultural productivity has fallen sharply due to the effects of climate change.
Globally, farmers grow 20 percent less food than they would if environmental conditions were the same as in the 1960s.
The primary is changing weather patterns, researchers say, including increased floods and droughts in various areas.
The drastic and unexpected shifts associated with climate change make it more difficult for malicious parties to plan productive strategies to deliver the most successful crop.
Current regions such as Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa have been hit the hardest, with agricultural growth at a third of what it could be.
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Climate change has led to a 21 percent drop in global agricultural productivity compared to what it would be if the weather pattern stayed where they were in 1961, according to new research
Total factor productivity is a measure of economic efficiency commonly used to determine how industries grow, typically by comparing the ratio of inputs to results.
But in agriculture, farmers do not have control over all factors that affect their production, making productivity difficult to calculate.
“When a farmer makes an economic decision, like what he plans in June, we won’t know the outcome of that decision until six months later,” said Robert Chambers, a professor of agriculture at the University of Maryland.
“So there’s a definite rift between input and output, and random events like weather can seriously affect that,” added Chambers, co-author of a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Warmer regions such as Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean have experienced delays in crop productivity of between 26 percent and 34 percent, the study said. In the US, growth has only slowed by about 5 percent to 15 percent
“Agricultural productivity calculations have historically not included weather data,” he said, “but we want to see the trends for these inputs that the farmer has no control over.”
Chambers and Ariel Ortiz-Bobea, an economist at Cornell University, created a model to calculate productivity, both as it is today and where it would be if the weather patterns had stayed where they were decades ago.
They found a 21 percent decline in global agricultural productivity since 1961, the equivalent of the loss of the past seven years in growth.
However, the effects are not uniform: Warmer regions such as Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean have seen a growth slowdown of between 26 percent and 34 percent, the study concluded.
In the US, growth has only slowed by about 5 percent to 15 percent.
“Some people see climate change as a distant problem, something that should mainly concern future generations,” said Ortiz-Bobea. ‘Our study establishes that [man-made] Climate change is already disproportionately impacting poorer countries that rely primarily on agriculture, ”he added.
The technological advancements that have led to better pesticides and hybrid crops “have not yet translated into more climate resilience,” he added.
With a projected world population of nearly 10 billion by 2050, Chambers warned that essential agricultural productivity is not only stabilizing, but growing faster than ever before.
“This gives us an idea of trends to help see what we can do in the future with new climate changes that are beyond what we’ve seen before,” he said.