A new paper discovered that global warming is causing the metabolic rates of insects to rocket, resulting in yet more crop devastation.
A new scientific paper has discovered that global warming is causing the metabolic rates of insects to rocket, resulting in them eating more crops. The research conducted by the University of Vermont reveals that critical food grains, mainly rice, wheat and corn, are the leading crops to face losses. The finding spells bad news for global food supplies; together, the three vital grains account for 42 percent of direct calories consumed by humans worldwide. “When the temperature increases, the insects’ metabolism increases so they have to eat more,” said Scott Merrill of the University of Vermont, co-author of the study. “That’s not good for crops.”
The link between insects’ appetites and decreasing crop levels are clear, but figuring out which crops are in danger comes down to a precise tipping point in temperature. Despite their appetites increasing as the temperatures rise, bugs find it harder to multiply in the scorching heat. For example, rice is grown in warm, tropical climates; but as the weather warms, and insects’ metabolism becomes more ravenous, their overall numbers decrease, tapering out their impact on food supplies. “The areas that produce the most grain, especially wheat and corn—the US, France and China are going to be hit hardest,” said Merrill.
The new findings could spell trouble for existing food predictions. The study raises concerns about how scientists currently model global food supplies because they rarely consider the quantities lost to pests. Increased crop losses will result in a rise in food insecurity, especially in those parts of the world where it is already rife, and could lead to conflict. The Middle East relies heavily on imported goods, so when the world food rates rise, inflation often follows. In 2008 Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, and Morocco saw demonstrations due to a rise in costly cereal imports and is widely thought of as a trigger to the Arab Spring in 2010.