Climate Change: A study warns that the increase in global temperature in the next 50 years would pose a risk not only for health but for food production.
Currently, only 1% of the earth’s surface (such as in certain areas of the Sahara) has an average annual temperature of 29ºC. This means that the maximum temperatures during the day can easily exceed 50ºC. But in 50 years this extreme heat will be able to reach 19% of the planet if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at the current rate.
These are the results of a study at the University of Wageningen (Netherlands) led by Marten Scheffer. Researchers have analyzed global temperatures and their variations from the Holocene (the current geological era after the last ice age, around 6,000 years ago) to 2015. They also recorded variations in the human population during that period, as well as the use of the earth. With all these data, they were able to make estimates of the climatic and population characteristics that we will have in 2070.
“There will be more changes in the next 50 years than in the last 6,000 years.” Marten Scheffer, one of the study’s lead authors.
According to the authors, the consequences of the increase in temperature in the human population will be harsher, broader, and will occur much earlier than previously thought.
Billions of people will be forced to move to other more temperate areas because the heat will be insufferable in large areas of the earth. In the most optimistic scenario, 1.2 billion people could no longer live in the current so-called “climate niche”, that is, places on earth that have adequate biotic and abiotic conditions for a species to keep its population stable since these areas will no longer be habitable.
These changes are projected to affect 1.2 billion people in India (which would be the most affected country), 285 million in Nigeria, and 100 million in both Pakistan and Indonesia and Sudan. In South American countries, a large number of affected populations are also expected. In Spain, it is not calculated that such high average temperatures will be reached, but the southern part will be especially affected and all these changes will increase migratory pressures. According to Xu Chi, another of the study’s authors, “we will need a comprehensive approach to protect our children against the coming social tensions.”
”We were amazed at the results of the study and therefore we spent another year checking all the results we obtained. Xu Chi, co-author of the study.
According to Scheffer, average temperatures above 29ºC are not viable. The affected population would have to move or adapt, but both have their limits. “If you have enough money you can use air conditioning and keep food, but that is not the situation for most people.”
To put it in perspective, the vast majority of the current population lives in areas with average temperatures of 11 to 15 ºC. A smaller number of people live in areas with an average temperature of 20-25ºC. These ranges are temperatures conducive to both health and food cultivation that have remained stable since the early Holocene. But 50 years from now the authors describe the situation as “almost unfeasible” for survival in many of these parts of the world, and foresee problems in food production systems.
The study authors said these results should make politicians pay more attention to investments in the development of clean energy.