Friday, October 8, 2010

Some bad news about the world's food supplies

A couple of stories today are worthy of concern. The first is this from the UK:

In a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the scientists warned that rising temperatures would make crops mature more quickly, reducing their yield, while extreme temperatures could also significantly reduce yields.

More droughts would affect crops, while more intense monsoon rains could lead to flooding and crop damage, the researchers said.

If nothing else, it's noteworthy that a paper as conservative as the Telegraph is covering this. Of course, they also happily report the proposed solutions:
But they said the worst effects of climate change could be limited by investment in better farming and the development of new drought resistant or heat tolerant crops. This could be done by aid money, breeding and new technologies like genetic modification (GM).
Hmm. While I'd support GM if it really turns out to be necessary, I'd prefer to see enough of an effort made to fight climate change that we can get by without it. But that's another story.

The second story on this issue is what's happening to the vast Murray-Darling Basin that spans four Australian states:
Farmers and small business owners are predicting the Murray-Darling Basin Authority's recommendation for massive water cuts will force a mass exodus from their communities.

The authority predicts the reductions in water allocations may result in losses of up to $1.1 billion a year to irrigated agriculture production, 800 job losses and significant social impacts across the basin.

But business leaders in the New South Wales Riverina town of Griffith say cuts of 43 per cent for their area mean, at worst, a loss of 5,000 jobs across the region.

They say there will need to be a big investment in mental health facilities for not only irrigators, but the wider community.
From the ABC. The Murray-Darling basin today, the American southwest tomorrow...

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