Monday, February 07, 2005

From the press release for "Outgrowing the Earth: The Food Security Challenge in an Age of Falling Water Tables and Rising Temperatures" by Lester Brown:

"Since 1970, the earth's average temperature has risen nearly 0.7 degrees Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit). The five warmest years during 124 years of recordkeeping began in 1880 occurred in the last seven years.

"In 2002, record-high temperatures and drought lowered grain harvests in both India and the United States. These reduced harvests helped pull world grain production some 90 million tons below consumption, a shortfall of more than 4 percent.

"In 2003, it was Europe that bore the brunt of rising temperatures. The record-breaking heat wave that claimed 35,000 lives in eight countries withered grain harvests in virtually every country from France in the west through the Ukraine in the east. The resulting reduction in Europe's grain production of some 30 million tons was equal to half the U.S. wheat harvest.

"Although climate change is now widely discussed, we are slow to grasp its full meaning for food security. Everyone knows that the earth's temperature is rising, but commodity analysts often condition their projections on weather returning to 'normal,' failing to realize that with climate now in flux there is no 'normal' to return to."