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Chapter 2: Climate Change, Carbon Dioxide and Global Crop Production: Food Security and Uncertainty
2 Climate change, carbon dioxide and global crop production: food security and uncertainty Lewis H. Ziska INTRODUCTION As you read this, the global population will have surpassed the 7 billion mark (Table 2.1). At present growth rates, human populations will exceed 9 billion in the next few decades. As population expands, crop production must increase accordingly to maintain food security. While globally there are over 250 000 plant species, only a very small fraction of them, primarily cereals, are suitable for human consumption. Indeed, approximately half of global caloric intake can be accounted for by only three cereals – corn, rice and wheat (Diamond, 1997). To understand how crop production has been so successful in supplying the food needs of 7 billion individuals, it is necessary to examine the ‘Green Revolution’. A REVOLUTION IN FOOD SECURITY In the postwar period of the late 1940s, there was widespread concern regarding famine. Cereals such as rice were not responding to additions of water and fertilizer; given these additional inputs, the plant became top-heavy and lodged (fell over), and the seed would rot, actually reducing yields. The term ‘Green Revolution’ was first used by William Gaud, then administrator of the Agency for International Development (AID) in 1968 (Cassman, 1999). It was an acknowledgment of the work by Norman Borlaug, George Harrar and others in the development of new dwarf cereal varieties in the 1950s, and the global release of those varieties in the 1960s. These varieties were smaller in size and less top-heavy. They...
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