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Study: Hotter climate puts crop-chomping insects in the mood, leads to rise in food prices

As temperatures continue to get hotter, swarms of hungry insects are projected to wipe out millions more tons of wheat, corn and rice – causing an increase in food prices, researchers say. (Photo: Pixabay)

SEATTLE – As temperatures continue to get hotter, swarms of hungry insects are projected to wipe out millions more tons of wheat, corn and rice – causing an increase in food prices, researchers say.

It’s like a domino effect, as temperatures rise, so do insects metabolism and reproduction rates, which leads to more hungry critters and vanishing crops, according to experts from the study, including those from the University of Washington.

America, the world’s largest corn maker, is estimated to see it’s corn loss rise by 40 percent – or 20 million tons a year.

A majority of the world relies on corn, rice and wheat, with demand increasing by a third by 2050, according to the United Nations. But with one in nine people already lacking enough food and the world’s population expected to reach 9.8 billion that same year, things aren’t looking too hot for us.

For every one degree Celsius rise in surface temperatures, insects will eat an extra 2.5 percent of the world’s rice, corn and wheat crops. So, if it increases to two degrees Celsius, 213 million tons of these staple crops would be eaten by insects – up from 166 million tons now.

Europe, which is considered the world’s most productive wheat-growing region, is expected to lose up to 16 million tons of wheat by 2050. And China, where a third of all rice is produced, could see about 27 million tons of rice eaten by insects annually.

And even if countries meet their climate goals in limiting their carbon emissions, insects are still expected to chomp away millions more tons of wheat, corn and rice by 2050.

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