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Published on January 20th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer

24

We Might Still Have Food in the Future After All



We are so lucky to have people still willing to go into science. While scientists have been the recipients of abuse and even death threats for taking on the thankless task of alerting humanity to the dire dangers that we all face from climate change – other scientists have heeded those warnings carefully, rather than hysterically, and put on their thinking caps to innovate solutions.

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Scientists around the world have worked for a decade to solve one of the most apocalyptic aspects of climate change: that heat kills crops. This work is needed because, even just in the US, an 82% drop in corn and soy is predicted by the end of the century because there will be too many days over 86 degrees Fahrenheit in the Corn Belt, if we keep on adding greenhouse gases at the current rate.

Now, Philip Wigge and Vinod Kumar; two Norwich-based scientists at the John Innes Centre have just had the necessary breakthrough. They subjected grain plants to drought stresses that normally kill them, and isolated genes from survivors to create new variants, and just published their findings in the current edition of the US-based peer-reviewed scientific journal Cell.

They located the “thermometer” gene that helps plants sense temperature; even variations of just one degree Celsius, “and yet no one had asked how plants were able to do this”says Wigge.

They took the lab rat of plant research; the Arabidopsis (mustard) plant and studied all its genes to see which were affected by warmer temperature. It took five years for them to create a mutant plant that had lost its ability to sense temperature correctly. It grew as if the temperature was optimal all the time. The sensitive genes were then used in new plants.

It is possible that these scientists will be able to get it working just in time; within the next ten to fifteen years. In ten years, climate change impacts will be already widespread. Temperatures in the American West and Southwest could average nine degrees Fahrenheit hotter by the end of this century. Australia had to stop irrigating 40% of its crops in 2007.

The worldwide scientific consensus, as summarized in the papers at the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected that food production in some regions could be severely compromised by 2020.

Whenever plants are subjected to extreme stress, such as very high or low temperatures, they do not flower and grow because they divert their food to their embryo.

“Their instinct is to protect the next generation,” said Wigge.

Plants are better adapted to survive, than people are, in that respect. They might outlive us. But then they have had a million or so more years to learn that clever trick.

Related stories:

We Learn to Grow Crops in Salt Water

Up to 82% Drop in Corn, Soy and Cotton Crops in USA

California to Lose Crops to Climate Change by 2100

Image: Flikr user 50bybike

Source: IRINNews

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate, and GreenProphet. She has also been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.



  • Michael Ruger

    Hello

    I just happen on this site in search of a place to just commune with others.

    Maybe pass a few thoughts and ideas around .

    But here I am again with an Ain’t Soer like Neil Craig.

    Frankly I am tired of it.

    We always give all Neil Craigs a place to preach there dogma, but do theyxdo the sdame with us?

    Look Neil consider a closed garage with a vehicle motor running. Would you sit in your chair and enjoy the fumes all night?

    Consider how much the oceans are dying from human’s involvement.

    Consider the most recent beautiful sunset you have seen? Much of that beauty springs from human by-products.

    Now you say there isn’t any scientist that proclaims global warming comes from human activity?

    Well then where did so many people get this idea from? Look I read about problems with coal and atmosphres in a history book way back when I was in school. There was and event over in England a hundred or so years ago . It seems many people died in a short time due to smoke being stuck in one place for several days.

    Her In Pennsylvania out around Pittsburgh what 50 0r 60 years ago The same thiing happen.

    My point ? If humans can create all these other catastrophes with their elete ignorance of destroyiing their planet. Then Global Warming is just another stop of humankinds way out of existence.

    Yes Neil, we are talking about your children’s children never to be born.

    And Neil are you afraid of trying something new as far as cleaning up our planet.

    New technology you afraid of cleaner inventions, new ideas ?

    Neil if humans were like you way back when humans dwelled in caves.

    Then you would stil be rubbing two sticks together to make fire. Oh that isi f humans hadn’t cut the last tree down before that?

    Neil when was the last time you really went out and studied nature. Heck even a single leaf on the closest tree to you?

    Try it Please

    Regards

    Mike

  • Michael Ruger

    Hello

    I just happen on this site in search of a place to just commune with others.

    Maybe pass a few thoughts and ideas around .

    But here I am again with an Ain’t Soer like Neil Craig.

    Frankly I am tired of it.

    We always give all Neil Craigs a place to preach there dogma, but do theyxdo the sdame with us?

    Look Neil consider a closed garage with a vehicle motor running. Would you sit in your chair and enjoy the fumes all night?

    Consider how much the oceans are dying from human’s involvement.

    Consider the most recent beautiful sunset you have seen? Much of that beauty springs from human by-products.

    Now you say there isn’t any scientist that proclaims global warming comes from human activity?

    Well then where did so many people get this idea from? Look I read about problems with coal and atmosphres in a history book way back when I was in school. There was and event over in England a hundred or so years ago . It seems many people died in a short time due to smoke being stuck in one place for several days.

    Her In Pennsylvania out around Pittsburgh what 50 0r 60 years ago The same thiing happen.

    My point ? If humans can create all these other catastrophes with their elete ignorance of destroyiing their planet. Then Global Warming is just another stop of humankinds way out of existence.

    Yes Neil, we are talking about your children’s children never to be born.

    And Neil are you afraid of trying something new as far as cleaning up our planet.

    New technology you afraid of cleaner inventions, new ideas ?

    Neil if humans were like you way back when humans dwelled in caves.

    Then you would stil be rubbing two sticks together to make fire. Oh that isi f humans hadn’t cut the last tree down before that?

    Neil when was the last time you really went out and studied nature. Heck even a single leaf on the closest tree to you?

    Try it Please

    Regards

    Mike

  • silkworm

    Neil, normal people recognize the IPCC as the world’s peak body on climate science, but not you. You see it as a political body. Only a conspiracy theorist or a politically motivated troll would say something as daft as this. When normal people read your rants, they just laugh at you.

    There is no point making rational arguments with people like you. You deniers are narcissists who are immune to facts and logic. You only deserve to be mocked for the idiots you are.

  • silkworm

    Neil, normal people recognize the IPCC as the world’s peak body on climate science, but not you. You see it as a political body. Only a conspiracy theorist or a politically motivated troll would say something as daft as this. When normal people read your rants, they just laugh at you.

    There is no point making rational arguments with people like you. You deniers are narcissists who are immune to facts and logic. You only deserve to be mocked for the idiots you are.

  • Neil Craig

    The IPCC is not independent of government money. It is a political body appointed by the UN, funded by it & having its conclusions rewritten by it. It is about as independent as the Pope is independent of Catholicism. Since that is the very closest anybody here can find to any independent scientits supporting the warming scam I take my point as proven.

    Susan citing Hansen’s GISS as independent evidence is equally ludicrous. Anybody with integrity would now withdraw the calim of scientific consensus. Whether she or Ed here does or not we can accept the result as representing the very highest standard of honesty to which they & most of the “environmentalist” movement aspire.

  • Neil Craig

    The IPCC is not independent of government money. It is a political body appointed by the UN, funded by it & having its conclusions rewritten by it. It is about as independent as the Pope is independent of Catholicism. Since that is the very closest anybody here can find to any independent scientits supporting the warming scam I take my point as proven.

    Susan citing Hansen’s GISS as independent evidence is equally ludicrous. Anybody with integrity would now withdraw the calim of scientific consensus. Whether she or Ed here does or not we can accept the result as representing the very highest standard of honesty to which they & most of the “environmentalist” movement aspire.

  • Susan Kraemer

    No, Neil: NOAA says: “The idea of a global or hemispheric “Medieval Warm Period” that was warmer than today, however, has turned out to be incorrect”.

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/

  • Susan Kraemer

    No, Neil: NOAA says: “The idea of a global or hemispheric “Medieval Warm Period” that was warmer than today, however, has turned out to be incorrect”.

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/

  • Jacob

    Neil stop trolling environmental blogs with your idiocy, if you’re really such a genius e-mail a professor and post the conversation – surely his government funded lies will quail before your common sense.

  • Jacob

    Neil stop trolling environmental blogs with your idiocy, if you’re really such a genius e-mail a professor and post the conversation – surely his government funded lies will quail before your common sense.

  • Neil Craig

    Nick you still don’t name a single independent scientist who accepts catastrophic warming. The wikipedia article does not help. The University scientists you mention will all be in receipt of government funds which was my point.

    [Ed: Neil - the IPPC is that "single independent scientist" that you want to buttonhole.

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/contents.html

    It summarizes the work of the thousands of peer reviewed, published scientists about every three years, all around the world, and publishes updates.]

    If you know past history you will be able to confirm that the Medieval warming was warmer than now & the Climate optimum of 9,000-5,000BC was considerably warmer & both were lush rather than catastrophic eras.

    [SK Only according to Rush Limbaugh.]

  • Neil Craig

    Nick you still don’t name a single independent scientist who accepts catastrophic warming. The wikipedia article does not help. The University scientists you mention will all be in receipt of government funds which was my point.

    [Ed: Neil - the IPPC is that "single independent scientist" that you want to buttonhole.

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/contents.html

    It summarizes the work of the thousands of peer reviewed, published scientists about every three years, all around the world, and publishes updates.]

    If you know past history you will be able to confirm that the Medieval warming was warmer than now & the Climate optimum of 9,000-5,000BC was considerably warmer & both were lush rather than catastrophic eras.

    [SK Only according to Rush Limbaugh.]

  • http://www.PlanetThoughts.org David – green thoughts

    Thanks Susan for continuing to publish such useful information, and for speaking clearly about opinions of scientists in relevant fields as compared with opinions of those who just “want to believe” or who are paid by corporate interests.

  • http://www.PlanetThoughts.org David – green thoughts

    Thanks Susan for continuing to publish such useful information, and for speaking clearly about opinions of scientists in relevant fields as compared with opinions of those who just “want to believe” or who are paid by corporate interests.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Thanks, Nick.

    We in the media can only be so believable. I am not a climate scientist.

    I always assumed that it was a given that part of what our modern civilization is built upon (since the Enlightenment of the 18th century) is scientific method. Yet we seem to be entering a second Dark Ages, like after the Fall of the Roman Empire. It is very scary, as our future is threatened by non-action.

    Yet, switching to renewable energy is so easy. The solution is right there.

  • Steve Savage

    Susan,

    Thanks for the positive post about scientists. We should be glad there are people doing the work to help prepare for climate change. Many of the things they do in the process reduce fuel use and boost crop yields per unit of inputs which is good even if climate change skeptics turn out to be right (which is doubtful).

  • Susan Kraemer

    @Neil re your “petition” by the (now dead) tobacco shill.

    The layman opinions of dead tobacco shills, petroleum geologists and spice girls don’t count, because their specialty is not climate science. (Yes a climate scientist sent in the name of a spice girl for fun and was unquestioningly added to the list!)

    I am sure you wouldn’t want to drill for your oil, based on the lay opinions of those who signed that including an engineer specializing in historic renovations, a biologist studying blood-sucking mosquitoes, a hydraulic engineer, a heart researcher, and a family doctor. whose opinions are irrelevant.

    Of course not. You need science from actual petroleum geologists. They have studied the field.

    Modern life depends on us trusting the scientists in each discipline.Same with climate science.

    Only peer-reviewed climate scientists, published in climate science journals should be listened to in climate science. That is unquestioned in every other (non-controversial) scientific discipline. That is all that the IPPC summarizes. No doubt petroleum geologists also have peer reviewed papers and a similar summary of the international state of the science as the IPPC, or they couldn’t operate.

    But your side has certainly got the media control. You can see the startling results

    by looking at this huge difference between what climate scientists believe and the lay public believe: 97% of active climatologists agree, compared with a general public which includes 20 million Americans who get instructions on global warming from Rush Limbaugh every day.

    But the IPPC is the state of climate science, by climatologists. When your side agrees to drill based on the lay beliefs of botanists, geneticists and pharmacologists, that’s when I’ll get my climate science from my family doctor.

  • Nick

    Neil, here is a good place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Surveys_of_scientists_and_scientific_literature

    I am an undergraduate researcher in the atmospheric science department at a major US university. I have not found one single professor or researcher in my department, nor in the earth/space sciences department, that denies that the planet is warming.

    In fact, those that deny the planet is warming are essentially ignoring mountains of heavily scrutinized data from many independent groups. There is no data that has ever been presented that counters this. Even Richard Lindzen, funded by Exxon-Mobil and other fossil-fuel industry groups, does not deny the warming.

    The source of disagreement from some is whether WE have an effect, and how much.

    Even then, almost all atmospheric scientists (95%+ according to most of the surveys) are convinced by the overwhelming evidence that anthropogenic influences are responsible for the bulk of the warming we have seen. We understand the greenhouse effect and the radiative forcing of carbon dioxide – if there was no greenhouse effect, earth would be far colder, and CO2 would not have been proven to readily absorb infrared radiation.

    We also know through radioisotope analysis that the carbon dioxide we have emitted from fossil fuel sources is present in ever-growing quantities in the atmosphere.

    We also know that past climate shifts between glacial periods were caused by changes in the earth’s orbit around the sun – things such as eccentricity and precession – which altered incoming solar radiation. CO2 concentrations increased many centuries after the initial warming caused by these changes – CO2 did not drive the initial climate changes of the past, but they did add a forcing that, along with other things such as the response of ice sheets, warmed the climate far greater than the minor variations in incoming solar radiation.

    In essence, those who do not accept warming are, at this point, in denial. Those who do not accept the radiative forcing effects of CO2 are also in denial. Those who do not accept that our emissions are primarily responsible for the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere are also in denial.

    But, those who disagree with the severity of the projected warming – this is understandable, and at this point in our understanding, such disagreement is valuable to revealing further truths about the climate system.

    By the way, the Oregon petition has been ripped apart – duplicate names, names of organizations, names of scientists without graduate degrees or any substantial research to their name, names of famous actors/characters…it’s a joke at this point.

  • Nick

    Neil, here is a good place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Surveys_of_scientists_and_scientific_literature

    I am an undergraduate researcher in the atmospheric science department at a major US university. I have not found one single professor or researcher in my department, nor in the earth/space sciences department, that denies that the planet is warming.

    In fact, those that deny the planet is warming are essentially ignoring mountains of heavily scrutinized data from many independent groups. There is no data that has ever been presented that counters this. Even Richard Lindzen, funded by Exxon-Mobil and other fossil-fuel industry groups, does not deny the warming.

    The source of disagreement from some is whether WE have an effect, and how much.

    Even then, almost all atmospheric scientists (95%+ according to most of the surveys) are convinced by the overwhelming evidence that anthropogenic influences are responsible for the bulk of the warming we have seen. We understand the greenhouse effect and the radiative forcing of carbon dioxide – if there was no greenhouse effect, earth would be far colder, and CO2 would not have been proven to readily absorb infrared radiation.

    We also know through radioisotope analysis that the carbon dioxide we have emitted from fossil fuel sources is present in ever-growing quantities in the atmosphere.

    We also know that past climate shifts between glacial periods were caused by changes in the earth’s orbit around the sun – things such as eccentricity and precession – which altered incoming solar radiation. CO2 concentrations increased many centuries after the initial warming caused by these changes – CO2 did not drive the initial climate changes of the past, but they did add a forcing that, along with other things such as the response of ice sheets, warmed the climate far greater than the minor variations in incoming solar radiation.

    In essence, those who do not accept warming are, at this point, in denial. Those who do not accept the radiative forcing effects of CO2 are also in denial. Those who do not accept that our emissions are primarily responsible for the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere are also in denial.

    But, those who disagree with the severity of the projected warming – this is understandable, and at this point in our understanding, such disagreement is valuable to revealing further truths about the climate system.

    By the way, the Oregon petition has been ripped apart – duplicate names, names of organizations, names of scientists without graduate degrees or any substantial research to their name, names of famous actors/characters…it’s a joke at this point.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Thanks, Nick.

    We in the media can only be so believable. I am not a climate scientist.

    I always assumed that it was a given that part of what our modern civilization is built upon (since the Enlightenment of the 18th century) is scientific method. Yet we seem to be entering a second Dark Ages, like after the Fall of the Roman Empire. It is very scary, as our future is threatened by non-action.

    Yet, switching to renewable energy is so easy. The solution is right there.

  • Steve Savage

    Susan,

    Thanks for the positive post about scientists. We should be glad there are people doing the work to help prepare for climate change. Many of the things they do in the process reduce fuel use and boost crop yields per unit of inputs which is good even if climate change skeptics turn out to be right (which is doubtful).

  • Susan Kraemer

    @Neil re your “petition” by the (now dead) tobacco shill.

    The layman opinions of dead tobacco shills, petroleum geologists and spice girls don’t count, because their specialty is not climate science. (Yes a climate scientist sent in the name of a spice girl for fun and was unquestioningly added to the list!)

    I am sure you wouldn’t want to drill for your oil, based on the lay opinions of those who signed that including an engineer specializing in historic renovations, a biologist studying blood-sucking mosquitoes, a hydraulic engineer, a heart researcher, and a family doctor. whose opinions are irrelevant.

    Of course not. You need science from actual petroleum geologists. They have studied the field.

    Modern life depends on us trusting the scientists in each discipline.Same with climate science.

    Only peer-reviewed climate scientists, published in climate science journals should be listened to in climate science. That is unquestioned in every other (non-controversial) scientific discipline. That is all that the IPPC summarizes. No doubt petroleum geologists also have peer reviewed papers and a similar summary of the international state of the science as the IPPC, or they couldn’t operate.

    But your side has certainly got the media control. You can see the startling results

    by looking at this huge difference between what climate scientists believe and the lay public believe: 97% of active climatologists agree, compared with a general public which includes 20 million Americans who get instructions on global warming from Rush Limbaugh every day.

    But the IPPC is the state of climate science, by climatologists. When your side agrees to drill based on the lay beliefs of botanists, geneticists and pharmacologists, that’s when I’ll get my climate science from my family doctor.

  • Neil Craig

    There is no “scientific consensus”.

    I would like to take issue with the idea that there ever was a “scientific consensus” on global warming. I have asked journalists, politicians & alarmist lobbyists now totalling in the thousands to name 2 prominent scientists, not funded by government or an alarmist lobby who have said that we are seeing a catastrophic degree of warming & none of them have yet been able to do so. I extend this same invitation here.

    There is not & never was a genuine scientific consensus on this, though scientists seeking government funds have been understandably reluctant to speak. If there were anything approaching a consensus it would, with over 31,000 scientists having signed the Oregon petition saying it is bunk, it would be easy to find a similar number of independent scientists saying it was true, let alone 2. The whole thing depends on a very small number of people & a massive government publicity machine, both very well funded by the innocent taxpayer.

  • Neil Craig

    There is no “scientific consensus”.

    I would like to take issue with the idea that there ever was a “scientific consensus” on global warming. I have asked journalists, politicians & alarmist lobbyists now totalling in the thousands to name 2 prominent scientists, not funded by government or an alarmist lobby who have said that we are seeing a catastrophic degree of warming & none of them have yet been able to do so. I extend this same invitation here.

    There is not & never was a genuine scientific consensus on this, though scientists seeking government funds have been understandably reluctant to speak. If there were anything approaching a consensus it would, with over 31,000 scientists having signed the Oregon petition saying it is bunk, it would be easy to find a similar number of independent scientists saying it was true, let alone 2. The whole thing depends on a very small number of people & a massive government publicity machine, both very well funded by the innocent taxpayer.

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