Heat, Not Drought, May Pose Biggest Food Threat Under Climate Change

Interesting bit of work in today’s Science arguing that heat, rather than drought, may be the most significant determinant of declining food production as a result of climate change:

It will be extremely difficult to balance food deficits in one part of the world with food surpluses in another, unless major adaptation investments are made soon to develop crop varieties that are tolerant to heat and heat-induced water stress and irrigation systems suitable for diverse agroecosystems. The genetics, genomics, breeding, management, and engineering capacity for such adaptation can be developed globally but will be costly and will require political prioritization (5, 8, 9, 20). National and international agricultural investments have been waning in recent decades and remain insufficient to meet near-term food needs in the world’s poorest countries, to say nothing of longer-term needs in the face of climate change (1). History provides some guide to the magnitude and effects of high seasonal averaged temperature projected for the future. Ignoring climate projections at this stage will only result in the worst form of triage.

Notice an important bit of emphasis here. The authors are not using this as an argument for greenhouse gas reductions. Their argument takes climate change as a given, and suggests that steps need to be taken to help poorer regions of the world adap.