Warming Climate Will Hit Global Food Production — Reduction In Oxygen And Cultivable Land More Concerning Than Rising Ocean Levels

The steadily warming climate is expected to hit global food production. While rising ocean levels remains a concern, researchers have indicated that steady reduction in atmospheric breathable oxygen as well as cultivable land are the top fallouts of global warming.

Climate change, one of the 21st century’s most critical problems, is bringing a slew of issues on the global scale. While the steadily warming climate will undoubtedly hit the progress on reducing undernourishment around the world, it will also affect the oxygen levels, which might threaten all life on the planet. If global warming raises the ocean temperatures by even a few degrees, it isn’t the mass flooding of low-lying areas, but the huge reduction in atmospheric oxygen that would be the greatest threat to all things living, reported Medical News Today.

How is the oxygen reducing due to the warming climate? Over two-thirds of the oxygen present in the Earth’s atmosphere is produced by phytoplankton. These photosynthesizing microscopic organisms that inhabit the sunlit, topmost layer of nearly all our oceans and bodies of fresh water are responsible for silently generating the most critical component in the air that’s required for survival of breathing animals.

Warming Climate Will Hit Global Food Production
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Not only will the warming climate start eliminating the phytoplankton, the rate at which the microscopic organisms produce oxygen is greatly dependent on the water temperature. Needless to say, the warmer the climate, the less oxygen produced. According to the paper published in Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, a rise of 6 degrees Celsius in the temperature of the world’s oceans will be enough to kill all the phytoplankton. As a result, the levels of oxygen in the atmosphere will plummet to levels that will be fatal to all living creatures, reported University of Leicester. The most concerning aspect is that such a rise in water temperature is a very real possibility and unless something drastic isn’t done, the 6 degree rise could be observed before the century ends.

The second most critical problem is the steady loss of fertile land needed to grow crops. About a third of world’s cultivable land has already been lost in the past 40 years. Global warming has caused an unprecedented increase in soil erosion. Combined with pollution, our earth is under increasing threat of becoming a barren, uncultivable land. The ever increasing population critically needs arable land and more specifically, the fertile topsoil. However, the warming climate is the reason — agriculture land is increasingly becoming unproductive.

Warming Climate Will Hit Global Food Production
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Half a millennia is spent to produce just an inch of topsoil, and that’s if balanced agricultural practices are followed, reported Trade Arabia. Needless to say, the ever growing global human population demanding rapid food production has put tremendous pressure on the soil. If the land on which food is produced needs to remain fertile, the topsoil needs to be preserved, but the warming climate isn’t allowing it, shared Sheffield University biology Professor Duncan Cameron.

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“Soil is lost rapidly but replaced over millennia, and this represents one of the greatest global threats to agriculture.”

To ensure global food production is not just safeguarded but enhanced to feed more than 9 billion people by 2050, farmers need to make some radical changes in their farming practices. Ditching inorganic and artificial nitrogen based fertilizers, and increasing farmland under organic farming, are essential steps, advised biologists from Britain’s Sheffield University.

Modern day food production relies heavily on artificial chemical-based fertilizers, which not just consume 5 percent world’s global natural gas during production, but guzzle up two percent of the world’s annual energy supply as well. Simple reasoning indicates these industries are one of the main culprits behind the warming climate.

While the world leaders are hashing out stricter norms at the conference in Paris on climate change, they are primarily focusing on curtailing greenhouse gas emissions. The leaders should also consider such aspects before it’s too late, urged the scientists.

[Photo by Joseph Eid/Getty Images]