Global Warming and the Potential Effects on Crop Growth

Global warming has been a hot topic for discussion in most of the Global Conferences that are sponsored by the United Nations. Global warming refers to the rise in the temperature of the earth due to the emission of harmful gases like CO2. This emission is considered extremely harmful for the natural environment and is produced mainly by the burning of fossil -fuels and forest. According to a report, in recent weeks global warming has led to extreme variations in the U.S. weather. The experts believe that these kinds of extremes will come with the climate change but they have still not confirmed global warming as the main reason behind these extreme climatic variations. Dangerous wildfires, heat waves, and droughts are some of the recent examples of an extreme change in the U.S. weather.

Nature is highly unpredictable and extremely powerful. Past evidence has proved the fact that any kind of attempt made by mankind that has the capability to interfere with nature has always resulted in destruction and devastation in the form of floods, wildfires, droughts or earthquakes. Global Warming is the main reason behind global climate change and this has led to a significant impact on crop growth in the recent years. Agriculture is still the back bone of most economies and a poor crop growth can have a devastating effect on the global food supply. It is an amazing fact to know that the crops, livestock, and seafood that are grown, raised, and caught in the United States contribute at least $200 billion to the economy each year. The impact of rising temperatures, amount of CO2 emission, and intensity of extreme climate on crops has been both good and bad. Many crops tend to grow well in warmer temperatures and a slight increase in temperature might increase their yield. This means that the optimal temperature requirement is different for different crops and a temperature higher than the optimal temperature requirement could damage the yield.

Higher CO2 levels can increase the yield for some crops like wheat. According to a report, yield for wheat could increase by 30% or more under a doubling of CO2 concentrations. This increase in yield through an increase in concentration of CO2 is dependent on other factors also like optimal temperature, enough water and nutrition. An increase in temperature beyond the optimal level and lack of proper irrigation might lead to a decrease in the yield. On the other hand, for some crops (such as grains), faster growth due to warm temperatures reduces the amount of time that seeds have, to grow and mature. This can reduce yields (i.e., the amount of crop produced from a given amount of land).

Extreme situations like drought, floods, and wildfires can also damage the crops and can cause a significant decrease in its yield in the long run. South East Asia’s most important crops rice and cassava are under serious threat because of the climate change. According to research, severe flooding and drought throughout the region could reduce agricultural yields up to 50% in the next three decades and this could be a major reason behind the increase in food prices. In 2010, Thailand suffered $450 million in crop damages due to drought. Countries that lack adequate facilities for proper rain water storage are incapable of fighting these extreme drought situations and this reduces the yield of the crops up to a subsequent level.

Many weeds and pests thrive under warmer temperatures, wetter climates and increased CO2 levels. According to a report, for cassava in Southeast Asia, mealybugs and whiteflies are already endemic in the region. But new threats, such as the tiny green mite (Mononychellus mcgregori), are already emerging, says the research, published recently in the scientific journal Tropical Plant Biology. The farmers are already spending a lot to fight these pests and weeds, but in some parts of the world the situation is beyond the control of farmers.