As Asia’s monsoon season begins, leading climate specialists and agricultural scientists warned today that rapid climate change and its potential to intensify droughts and floods could threaten Asia’s rice production and pose a significant threat to millions of people across the region.
“Climate change endangers crop and livestock yields and the health of fisheries and forests at the very same time that surging populations worldwide are placing new demands on food production,” said Bruce Campbell of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). “These clashing trends challenge us to transform our agriculture systems so they can sustainably deliver the food required to meet our nutritional needs and support economic development, despite rapidly shifting growing conditions.”
Southeast Asia recently has experienced dramatic meteorological swings, as last year’s horrendous flooding in Thailand was preceded by a record drought across the region in 2010. These and many other extreme weather events around the world have hammered global food prices, stretching their impact beyond immediate personal and ecological tragedies.
In Thailand, a drought during the 2010 growing season caused $450 million in crop damages. One year later, massive flooding in 2011 caused $40 billion in damages that rippled through all sectors of Thailand’s economy.