Climate science

Air pollution and climate change could mean 50 per cent more people going hungry by 2050, new study finds

  • 30 Jul 2014, 12:20
  • Roz Pidcock

The combination of rising temperatures and air pollution could substantially damage crop growth in the next 40 years, according to a new paper. And if emissions stay as high as they are now, the number of people who don't get enough food could grow by half by the middle of the century.

Burning question

Feeding the world's rapidly growing population is a serious concern.

Research shows  rising temperatures are likely to lead to lower crop yields. Other work suggests air pollution might reduce the amount of food produced worldwide. But nobody has considered both effects together, say the paper's authors.

The two effects are closely related as warmer temperatures increase the production of ozone in the atmosphere, the paper explains. 

The  new study looks at global yields of the four principle food crops - wheat, rice, corn and soybean - and how they're expected to change by 2050 under different levels of future emissions.

Together, these provide nearly  60 per cent of all the calories consumed by humans worldwide.

Global losses

The maps below show some of the results.

The top panel shows an optimistic scenario in which greenhouse gases stabilise at 630 parts per million (ppm) by 2100. For reference, we're at about 400 ppm now.

The team compared this with what might happen if greenhouse gases continue to rise as rapidly as they are now. That's the bottom panel.

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Does British belief in climate change really go up and down? A look at 14 polls

  • 29 Jul 2014, 15:30
  • Ros Donald

Newspapers love to cover surveys that show  belief in climate change has  risen or fallen. But how much can polls really tell us about what the UK public believes when it comes to climate change? We surveyed 14 polls to try and understand what's happening. 

We looked at polls by the  Guardian, the Sunday Times, the  Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC),  Carbon Brief ( twice), the  UK Energy Research Council (UKERC) and Ipsos Mori.  

The polls were released between 2009 and 2014, but UKERC's poll includes earlier results from surveys in 2005 2010 and  2012

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UK Parliament says IPCC report is an "unambiguous picture of a climate that is being dangerously destabilised"

  • 29 Jul 2014, 00:01
  • Roz Pidcock

A group of MPs has today released a report examining the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - the UN body tasked with assessing the state of climate change science. The report concludes that the IPCC presents "a clear and unambiguous picture of a climate that is being dangerously destabilised."

The report from the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change (ECC) committee completes a nine-month long investigation, during which a number of witnesses were called on to give evidence on the robustness of the IPCC's workings and conclusions.

The inquiry came mid-way through the publication of a series reports on climate change released by the IPCC over the course of a year.

Minutes released with the report show efforts by two climate skeptic MPs - Graham Stringer and Peter Lilley - to change the report to conclude that the work of the IPCC was unsound in various ways. But the committee rejected the changes - finding no cause for concern with the way the IPCC operates or the conclusions it reaches.

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