For a long time now its been predicted that the world will run out of food. According to Jared Diamond and other doomsayers, we are mining our soils, depleting our water reserves and now, according to Al Gore, we also have a climate crisis.
The latest United Nation’s report on climate change** was, however, surprisingly upbeat for agriculture stating that:
“Crop productivity is projected to increase slightly at mid to high latitudes for local mean temperature increases of up to 1-3°C depending on the crop, and then decrease beyond that in some regions.
“At lower latitudes, especially seasonally dry and tropical regions, crop productivity is projected to decrease for even small local temperature increases (1-2°C), which would increase risk of hunger.
“Globally, the potential for food production is projected to increase with increases in local average
temperature over a range of 1-3°C, but above this it is projected to decrease.
“Adaptations such as altered cultivars and planting times allow low and mid- to high latitude cereal yields to be maintained at or above baseline yields for modest warming.
“Increases in the frequency of droughts and floods are projected to affect local production negatively, especially in subsistence sectors at low latitudes.”
Then yesterday I read at ABC Online that the United Nations predicts a surge in world cereal production:
“A United Nations food body is predicting world cereal production will increase by nearly 4.5 per cent this year, to a record 2 billion tonnes.
“The Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates the bulk of the increase will be in maize, with a bumper crop already being gathered in South America and US plantings up sharply.
“It is also forecasting wheat production will rise 5 per cent to 626 million tonnes.”
Even in Australia, with this terrible drought, I’ve been told the prediction is for a record, or near record, wheat harvest this season.
** Working Group II Contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report
Climate Change 2007: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability Summary for Policymakers