Food & Beverage

Research Links Global Warming To Increase in Metabolism of Insects

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Researchers from University of Washington in Seattle suggested that ravenous insects may destroy crops in near future

Rising global warming could lead to more drought, flooding, and crop-frying heat in the near future. However, a new study reveals that rise in temperature will produce more voracious grasshoppers, caterpillars, and other crop-devouring pests that could destroy more crops compared to flooding and drought. The research led by Curtis Deutsch, a biogeochemist at the University of Washington in Seattle, was published in Science on August 30, 2018.  

Deutsch suggested that as temperatures rise, all insects multiply and rev up their metabolisms. The increase in thermal energy in the environment leads to acceleration in different chemical reactions inside living things, which in turn requires more calories. The researchers built a computer program that combined physiological data on hundreds of insect species with climate models, in order to see what kind of damage this increased insect appetite might have on the global food system. The model predicted that rise in temperature by an average of 2°C would lead to 46% reduction in yield of wheat crops, by 19% in rice, and 31% in maize. Moreover, the model predicted such conditions by 2100 majorly in regions such as the U.S, France, and China.

The model predicted that for wheat and maize, the losses would continue to increase 10% to 25% for each extra degree of warming. However, rice yields might start to stabilize after a 3°C increase in temperature. This is mainly due to tropical environments in which rice is primarily grown. The insects might begin to die off after too much warming in such areas. Germany is expected to witness 20% loss in crop yield in 2018, owing to record-setting heat and lack of rainfall in the region. However, the results by the computational model have some limitations as the model left out several factors such as response of predators of insects to the global warming, diet of insects, and changes in farming techniques.