New studies reveal that increasing global temperatures are likely to put a damper on wheat crop yields. A six percent reduction in yields is expected for each 1.8 degree F (1 degree C) increase in temperature. Considering that current emissions levels could eventually lead to a global temperature increase of 9 degrees F (5 degrees C), this is very bad news.

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Despite the growing trend toward gluten-free lifestyles, wheat continues to hold its place as one of the world’s most important staple crops. The researchers used forecast modeling to test field experiments in an effort to save the crops, but the real life efficacy of these experiments remains unknown.

The intent of the research was not only to uncover the link between climate change and plant growth, but to develop strategies for mitigating the negative impacts. Some possible solutions under consideration include genetic modification or adaptations to plant breeding techniques.

Tiny fluctuations in the production of staple crops like wheat could cause serious problems for the delicate balance of supply and demand on a global scale. Our current struggles with world hunger could become even more dire as a direct result of climate change. Researchers hope to find ways to ensure that crops can continue to meet the needs of an ever-growing human population. The global population currently surpasses 7 billion and is expected to reach at least 9 billion by 2050. Some argue the population could be as high as 12 billion by that date, which would massively increase the demand for land and water resources.

Studies like this one turn a spotlight on the notion that climate change directly, and negatively, impacts humans.

+ Nature Climate Change

Via Grist

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