Crop Breeding Cannot Keep Up With Climate Change

Maize, particularly in Africa, is in big trouble. zhu difeng/Shutterstock

The team has proposed that, if business continues as usual, global climate models should be first used to determine future regional temperatures, and then new crop varieties need to be bred in order to match these by the time they’re planted and growing. “People are beginning to do this, but this paper provides the hard evidence of the necessity of it,” Challinor told BBC News.

The use of genetic modification will speed up the process of finding heat-resistant crops, but even then a long period of testing them will still be required – there’s no magic bullet for this situation.

Man-made climate change is scorching the Earth, but there are three parts of it that are particularly doomed if things continue the way they are. The Arctic, firstly, is warming at twice the speed as the rest of the planet, thanks to an interaction between ocean currents and a process known as Arctic Amplification.


Africa is in dire trouble thanks to man-made climate change. John Wollwerth/Shutterstock

Secondly, the Middle East is due to become uninhabitable by the end of the century thanks to its heat-absorbing deserts. Lastly, and perhaps most severely, the African continent is largely set to experience commonplace heat waves within the next few decades, meaning that agricultural collapse, drought, and subsequent war and conflict are more likely.

The world is in trouble, but as many studies have predicted, Africa may suffer the worst of all. Considering that the top three greenhouse gas emitting blocs on the planet are China, the United States, and the European Union, this is incredibly unfair.

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