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Climate change: Rice crops heading towards collapse

  • Published at 11:03 am February 24th, 2019
Representational photo Collected

A massive humanitarian crisis will trigger if crop yield begins to drop due to climate change

Around 40% of the world’s population, which is more than three billion people, depends on rice to survive

However, the world’s most important crop is heading towards collapse due to climate change, according to research data published by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) titled “Rice and Climate Change.”

A billion people across the globe rely on rice crops as their main source of income. If crop yields begins to drop due to ongoing climate change, it will certainly lead to a massive humanitarian crisis.

According to multiple studies conducted by several state-owned and independent organizations throughout the world, the negative impact of climate change is affecting rice crops in five important ways.

Rising sea levels

Rice fields in low-lying countries are being flooded by seawater, caused by a steady rise of the sea level. Global sea levels are projected to rise as much as six and a half feet by 2100, according an article by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the US.

Rising temperature

An article published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the US projected that every 1 degree Celsius night time temperature increase will cause rice yields to drop by 10%.

The global temperature is on course to rise 3.8 degree Celsius by the end of this century, according to an article by Live Science.

Rising insect activity

Insects destroy around 5-20% of wheat, rice and maize crops. The rising global temperatures are causing insects to burn more calories, which in turn has increased their consumption of food, according to a research article by the University of Washington.

Hungrier insects could destroy up to 25% more crops for each 1 degree Celsius of global temperature increase.

Rising rainfall

Rice grows in water, but too much or too little water can severely harm the crops. Climate change has caused dramatic shifts in global rainfall patterns over the past 50 years, according a research article published by Scientific American magazine.

Asia will see fewer and fewer rainy days by the year 2100, but overall rainfall is projected to increase by 50%. Most days will not see any rainfall at all, but rainy days will cause torrential flows, which could wipe out the crops sensitive to water.

Dropping nutrition value

Too much carbon in the air significantly affects the nutritional value of rice. According to article published by The Guardian, even if rice crops survive climate change, they will be far less nutritious.

Due to climate change, the world will have less rice but people will need more of it to survive. Southeast Asia will be hit the hardest with the rice shortage.

Impact already apparent

Rice presently is the source of 25% of the all global calories. However, the impact of climate change on rice crops is already being felt.

Increasing temperatures and torrential monsoons are transforming India, which is the largest rice exporter in the world.

Meanwhile Thailand, the second largest rice exporter of the world, is facing rising sea levels, and so is Vietnam. In these countries, almost half of all rice crops are produced in low-lying conditions.

The Philippines is suffering from rising average temperatures and frequent droughts, and 89% of the people here rely on rice as their main food source.

Almost 40% of the world’s population has no alternative to rice, but if the climate change is not tackled soon, they will little to no option for survival.