Study predicts Global Warming will Cause Deserts to Grow – Watts Up With That?

Study predicts Global Warming will Cause Deserts to Grow – Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

As real world observations suggest deserts are shrinking, likely thanks to CO2 increasing drought resistance, a new model based study has presented a gloomy prediction of future widespread hunger, especially in Asia.

Third of global food production at risk from climate crisis

Food-growing areas will see drastic changes to rainfall and temperatures if global heating continues at current rate

Fiona Harvey 
Environment correspondent
Sat 15 May 2021 02.28 AEST

A third of global food production will be at risk by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at their current rate, new research suggests.

Many of the world’s most important food-growing areas will see temperatures increase and rainfall patterns alter drastically if temperatures rise by about 3.7C, the forecast increase if emissions stay high.

Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have calculated that about 95% of current crop production takes place in areas they define as “safe climatic space”, or conditions where temperature, rainfall and aridity fall within certain bounds.

If temperatures were to rise by 3.7C or thereabouts by the century’s end, that safe area would shrink drastically, mostly affecting south and south-eastern Asia and Africa’s Sudano-Sahelian zone, according to a paper published in the journal One Earth on Friday.

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The abstract of the study;

Climate change risks pushing one-third of global food production outside the safe climatic space

Matti Kummu, Matias Heino, Maija Taka, Olli Varis, Daniel Viviroli
Open Access
Published:May 14, 2021

Food production on our planet is dominantly based on agricultural practices developed during stable Holocene climatic conditions. Although it is widely accepted that climate change perturbs these conditions, no systematic understanding exists on where and how the major risks for entering unprecedented conditions may occur. Here, we address this gap by introducing the concept of safe climatic space (SCS), which incorporates the decisive climatic factors of agricultural production: precipitation, temperature, and aridity. We show that a rapid and unhalted growth of greenhouse gas emissions (SSP5–8.5) could force 31% of the global food crop and 34% of livestock production beyond the SCS by 2081–2100. The most vulnerable areas are South and Southeast Asia and Africa’s Sudano-Sahelian Zone, which have low resilience to cope with these changes. Our results underpin the importance of committing to a low-emissions scenario (SSP1–2.6), whereupon the extent of food production facing unprecedented conditions would be a fraction.

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How do you say “I call BS” in Finnish?

Even if rainfall patterns do deteriorate in some areas, I’m pretty sure 80 years of technological advances would provide a solution, perhaps a bunch of nuclear fusion or Thorium reactor powered desalinators, or some technology we can’t even imagine at this point in time.

Of course, it is doubtful such a severe widespread deterioration in growing conditions will occur. Decades of satellite observations suggests that deserts are shrinking, so model assertions that global warming is causing deserts to grow in my opinion are highly suspect.

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