In recent years, those who monitor crops have been most worried about harmful changes in the global water cycle under global warming – think droughts, severe storms, and floods, for example. Now, a new global warming worry has sprung up, reports Christine Stebbins at Reuters News. What if just the extra heat from global warming can harm crops? An unusual rise in day-time and, especially, night-time summer temperatures is being seen in crop belts around the world, and American crop researchers say that high temperatures have already shrunken output of many crops and vegetables. Neither tomatoes nor snap beans can be grown during the summer anymore in Florida, noted Ken Boote, a crop scientist with the University of Florida. “As temperatures rise we are going to have trouble maintaining the yields of crops that we already have,” said Gerald Nelson, an economist with the International Food Policy Research Institute. “When I go around the world, people are much less skeptical, much more concerned about climate change,” said David Lobell, a Stanford University agricultural scientist. Lobell co-authored a recent climate study of cereal crop yields over the past 3 decades. The study concluded that heat, not rainfall, was affecting yields the most.
Crop scientists now fret about more than just water. Crop scientists in the United States, the world’s largest food exporter, are pondering an odd question: Could the danger of global warming really be the heat? Reuters