The authors of a new paper on how climate change could
affect crop yields in the future have reacted to an article in the
Times yesterday, calling the headline "very misleading".
The Times piece suggested the new research shows
climate change will boost crop yields, a conclusion the newspaper
said is "at odds" with the mainstream scientific view. But this
interpretation is "fabricating controversy where none actually
exists", the authors tell us.
new study is the first to quantify the effect of future
heatwaves on food production. The latest report from the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
concluded it is very likely heatwaves will get longer and
more frequent this century.
Until now, studies have only looked at what effect the
rise in the global average temperature might have on crops.
Writing in the journal Environmental Research Letters,
the authors looked at how the extra impact of heat waves will
affect yields of three major crops - maize, spring wheat and
Crops, heatwaves and carbon
Heat waves have a negative impact on all three crops,
with maize suffering the biggest losses, the researchers found.
Their findings show heatwaves could double maize losses by the
2080s, compared to the 1980s.
As well as temperature, the researchers took into
account how rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could influence
Experiments have shown that raising carbon dioxide levels
could make plants more efficient at using water, boosting
The new paper's calculations included the possibility
that this 'carbon dioxide fertilisation' effect could counteract
some of the losses that come from higher temperatures and