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Impoverished areas of Africa and Asia face severe crop losses from climate change in 20 years
Date:1/31/2008

Many of the worlds poorest regions could face severe crop losses in the next two decades because of climate change, according to a new study by researchers at Stanford Universitys Program on Food Security and the Environment (FSE). Their findings will be published in the Feb. 1 issue of the journal Science.

The majority of the worlds 1 billion poor depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, said lead author David Lobell, a senior research scholar at FSE, which focuses on environmentally sustainable solutions to global hunger.

Unfortunately, agriculture is also the human enterprise most vulnerable to changes in climate, Lobell added. Understanding where these climate threats will be greatest, for what crops and on what time scales, will be central to our efforts at fighting hunger and poverty over the coming decades.

Climate change and hunger hotspots

In the study, the researchers focused on 12 regions where a large share of the worlds malnourished populations reside, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, including much of Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Temperature and rainfall are key factors affecting crop yield. To determine the impact of global warming on agriculture in these regions, the authors analyzed 20 climate change models and concluded that by 2030, the average temperature in most areas could rise 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius), while seasonal precipitation in some placesincluding South Asia, South Africa, Central America and Brazilcould decrease.

To identify which crops in which regions are most under threat by 2030, we combined projections of climate change with data on what poor people eat, as well as past relationships between crop harvests and climate variability, Lobell explained.

Their analysis revealed two hunger hotspots where climate impacts on agriculture look particularly dire: Sou
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Contact: Mark Shwartz
mshwartz@stanford.edu
650-723-9296
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert

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