We don’t know about humans, but insects are going to love it when the Earth gets hotter in the coming years. Apparently, climate change will enhance the appetite of ravenous bugs – there will less food on the tables as insects will end up chomping on 48 million ton of our food. That, at least, is the prognosis of Curtis Deutsch, a biogeochemist at the University of Washington in Seattle, US. In a study published in the well-regarded journalScience, he shows how as temperatures rise legions of insects will multiply and rev up their metabolisms.
To see what kind of damage this increased insect appetite might have on the global food system, a team led by Deutsch built a computer programme that combined physiological data on hundreds of insect species with climate models. Key staples like wheat, corn and rice account for 42 per cent of calorie intake worldwide. Hence, any uptick in scarcity will lead to a food shortage and conflict in poorer parts of the globe, if not worse.
When the average temperature of the planet went up by two degrees Celsius, the programme showed that wheat crops shrunk by 46 per cent, rice by 19 per cent and maize/corn by 31 per cent. The team predicted that productive regions like the US’ Corn Belt, wheat fields in France, and rice paddies in China are likely to be the hardest hit in the event of a hotter earth which would deprive the world of a further 19 million metric tons of wheat, 14 million metric tons of rice and 14 million metric tons of maize. Think about it.