According to a new study published by Nature Climate Change, the current rate of climate change and ozone pollution could likely cause significant decreases in the world’s food supply.
The study examines the possible impact of climate change and ozone pollution on the world’s four major crops: wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans, reported MIT News. Ozone pollution can slow photosynthesis in plants and, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “ground-level ozone causes more damage to plants than all other air pollutants combined.”
Colette Heald, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, former CEE postdoc Amos Tai, and Maria Val Martin of Colorado State University all participated in the research.
Considering historic trends, the group discovered that if climate change and ozone pollution continue on their projected path, then various effects on world hunger and the food supply will occur, The Huffington Post reported.
By 2050, climate change could decrease the world’s annual crop yield by 10 percent. The effects of ozone pollution are far more grim. Environmental science panels have noted that ozone pollution is more tentative, making it more difficult to hypothesize a concrete result. However, according to historical models, Heald and her fellow researchers believe one of two scenarios can occur.
They have hypothesized an “intermediate” ozone scenario with crop yields decreasing by nine percent and a “pessimistic” scenario where crop yields would crop by 15 percent. These numbers may initially seem miniscule, but the effects, according to the research group, will be disastrous.
Under the intermediate scenario, the world’s undernourishment rate would increase by 27 percent, and the pessimistic rate of undernourishment by almost 50 percent. Heald says that crop yields are “very sensitive to ozone pollution. [These] findings show how important it is to think about the agricultural implications of air-quality regulations.”
Heald is insisting that lawmakers and governing bodies need to seriously consider the dangers and possible consequences of climate change and ozone pollution. Each is posing a heinous threat, not only to the environment, but also the other facets of the world which are dependant on a healthy, sustained planet and atmosphere.