© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Climate Change Could Cut Output Of Staple Crops Like Corn And Wheat

A new study found that staple crops like corn and wheat, which provide a large proportion of the world’s calories and U.S. farmers’ output, will likely see negative impacts from rising global temperatures.


An international group of researchers compiled dozens of studies and found that every time global temperatures go up 1 degree Celsius – not quite 2 degrees Fahrenheit – crop yields fall. On average, the study found a drop of 3 percent for soybeans, 6 percent for wheat and 7 percent for corn.


International agreements, such as the Paris climate accord, hope to limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.


The study focused on the impact of the world’s temperature rising. It did not account for the boost plants can seefrom higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air.


As Inside Climate News reports:

Twenty-nine researchers from across the globe conducted the analysis of more than 70 studies—covering various types of models, approaches and locations across the world—and found that existing research all led, consistently, in one direction. "What you're seeing here is many different lines of evidence pointing to the same conclusion," said Alexander Ruane, one of the study's co-authors and research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.



Researchers used projections to calculate global average temperatures and yields. In some cases, yields went up. Writ large, however, the study found overall declines. Yields for corn and soybeans would decline more in the U.S. than in other parts of the world.


The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests any gains American farmers earn by adopting better farming technology will first have to make up for what’s lost to a warmer world.


Copyright 2020 Harvest Public Media. To see more, visit .

Grant Gerlock
Grant Gerlock is Harvest Public Media's reporter at NET News, where he started as Morning Edition host in 2008. He joined Harvest Public Media in July 2012. Grant has visited coal plants, dairy farms, horse tracks and hospitals to cover a variety of stories. Before going to Nebraska, Grant studied mass communication as a grad student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and completed his undergrad at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. He grew up on a farm in southwestern Iowa where he listened to public radio in the tractor, but has taken up city life in Lincoln, Neb.
Jeremy Bernfeld
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.