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Global warming may hurt some poor populations, benefit others
Date:2/20/2010

The impact of global warming on food prices and hunger could be large over the next 20 years, according to a new Stanford University study. Researchers say that higher temperatures could significantly reduce yields of wheat, rice and maize dietary staples for tens of millions of poor people who subsist on less than $1 a day. The resulting crop shortages would likely cause food prices to rise and drive many into poverty.

But even as some people are hurt, others would be helped out of poverty, says Stanford agricultural scientist David Lobell.

"Poverty impacts depend not only on food prices but also on the earnings of the poor," said Lobell, a center fellow at Stanford's Program on Food Security and the Environment (FSE). "Most projections assume that if prices go up, the amount of poverty in the world also will go up, because poor people spend a lot of their money on food. But poor people are pretty diverse. There are those who farm their own land and would actually benefit from higher crop prices, and there are rural wage laborers and people that live in cities who definitely will be hurt."

Lobell and his colleagues recently conducted the first in-depth study showing how different climate change scenarios could affect incomes of farmers and laborers in developing countries. He will present the results on Feb. 20 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego.

Household incomes

In the study, Lobell, former FSE researcher Marshall Burke and Purdue University agricultural economist Thomas Hertel focused on 15 developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Hertel has developed a global trade model that closely tracks the consumption and production of rice, wheat and maize on a country-by-country basis. The model was used to project the effects of climate change on agriculture within 20 years and the resulting impact on prices and poverty.

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Contact: Mark Shwartz
mshwartz@stanford.edu
650-723-9296
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert  

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