While rising temperatures, extreme weather phenomena, and drought are well-known crops-damaging factors triggered by global warming, climate change might also have another, indirect impact on crops all over the world. According to a recent study, insect pests are proliferating more and eating more due to the warming climate.
A group of researchers from the University of Washington studied how the insects that commonly eat maize, rice, and wheat crops are responding to various climate change scenarios. The study, which was issued in the Science journal, found out that rising temperatures are making those insects to eat more. We’re talking about up to 25% more crops losses with every degree increase in temperatures, especially in the temperate regions of the world.
According to the scientists, global warming causes the insect populations to grow significantly and have increased metabolisms which means they eat more to cover their new needs. The study predicts that crops losses will rise to about 50% by the end of 2,100 for wheat, while rice and maize will lose approximately 20% and 30%, respectively.
Climate change would cause losses of 213 million tons of crops, annually, if not tackled
On the other hand, the proliferation of insect pests due to climate change will also translate into a global-wide financial loss, as maize, rice, and wheat crops account for 42 percent of the calories consumed by people, meaning they are the base of many foods we eat regularly. Thus, global warming is expected to cause an annual loss of about 213 million tons of crops.
To combat this gloomy prediction, farmers should focus on pest control, crop rotations, and shifting their planting dates to tackle the effects of climate change on insect pests that, due to increasing temperatures, are reproducing more and eating more.
“I hope our results demonstrate the importance of collecting more data on how pests will impact crop losses in a warming world, because collectively, our choice now is not whether or not we will allow warming to occur, but how much warming we’re willing to tolerate,” said Curtis Deutsch from the University of Washington.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.