Some might say that the planet is facing two main threats: climate change, and the ever-increasing global population putting a drain on the earth’s natural resources. However, the British Meteorological Office believes that one could actually benefit the other, especially in countries like the United Kingdom.
According to the department’s ‘Climate observations, projections and impacts’ report, the forthcoming decades could actually benefit UK farmers as the warmer weather would result in greater crop yields. In fact, it is estimated that if temperatures continue to increase as predicted, the country’s farms could see a 96% increase in productivity, especially with crops such as wheat, potatoes and barley. This would result in more food to feed the ever-growing population.
This “food boom” is predicated within 50 years as increasing global temperatures would see a decrease in cold nights. This would allow summer crops to be grown for much longer during the year.
There is a catch however – as no-one knows the EXACT effects of climate change, farmers could also face water shortages, flooding, and far hotter temperatures which could devastate crops.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Kirsty Lewis, principal climate change consultant at the Met Office, said: “It’s not necessarily going to become too hot, but there will be fewer days when there is a chance of frost damage which tends to be the limiting factor for productivity.”
The report has raised eyebrows with many questioning the factors behind it. Guy Gagen, chief arable adviser at the National Farmers Union, was quoted in The Times as saying: “It’s not true that frost is the most critical factor in most of our crops. The main risk is heat stress.”
He added that crops sown earlier would grow faster, but without long days of sunlight exposure the yield would be less.
Climate change and its effects are of great concern to the UK. With the population close to 75 million, coastal flooding is expected to affect 18 million people. Meanwhile, 2011 saw record low rainfall levels and the country’s reservoirs have been stretched as a result. Drought conditions were reported in some areas, but this is expected to get worse with temperatures predicted to rise by 3C in coming years.
The ‘Climate observations, projections and impacts’ report, published yesterday at the UN climate conference in Durban is the first time Britain’s weather has been mapped out for this long.
It was commissioned by Energy secretary Chris Huhne, who is charged with implementing the target to reduce Britain’s emissions by 80% by 2050. However, it is expected that the Durban meeting is expected to yield no major policy changes by the UK or its first world counterparts.
Via Daily Mail