Global warming increases crop pests and diseases in China

Global warming might double up crop pests and diseases in China by the end of the century, a study warned after analysing more than 5,500 historical crop pests and diseases records in China

Global warming might double up crop pests and diseases in China by the end of the century, warned a new study.

The study published earlier this month in the journal Nature Food also predicted a threat due to the surge in crop pests and diseases in the Asian giant’s food security.

Over 5,500 historical CPD records analysed

The research analysed a ton of previously unpublished data ranging from 1970 to 2016. The data comprised more than 5,500 historical crop pest and diseases (CPD) records in China.

The data compared long-term statistical records about pests and disease in the country with potential climatic driving factors such as temperature, precipitation, humidity, and factors from farming practices, including fertiliser application, irrigation and use of pesticides.

The international team of scientists found that the occurrence of crop pests and diseases in China increased by a factor of four since the 1970s. This team had scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

“Historical climate change is responsible for more than one-fifth of the observed increment of CPD occurrence (22% ± 17%), ranging from 2 per cent to 79 per cent in different provinces,” the scientists said. Climate change is likely responsible for one-fifth of the observed increase. Interestingly, a great variation of the impact was noticed between Chinese provinces.

Global food production under threat

Warmer night temperatures, caused by greenhouse gas emissions are likely to foster an increased chance for crop pests and diseases. “Our study shows that climate change affects the occurrence of crop pests and diseases, which threaten global food production and food security,” PIK scientist and study co-author Christoph Müller said.

“This also challenges existing crop protection systems and overall productivity. These findings should alert us that better data and more research is needed in this field to better mitigate the impacts of climate change on food production,” Dr Müller added.

The scientists have predicted further deepening the crisis until the end of the century. “Projections of future CPDs show that at the end of this century, climate change will lead to an increase in CPD occurrence by 243 per cent ± 110 per cent under a low-emissions scenario and 460 per cent ± 213 per cent under a high-emissions scenario, with the magnitude largely dependent on the impacts of warmer night-time temperatures and decreasing frost days,” researchers said.

If the world failed to limit greenhouse gas emissions that would cause a rise in global temperature by over 4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the occurrence of CPDs will double by the end of the century.

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