A Future Without Potatoes: Will Climate Change Force Us To Change What We Eat?

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the future is yellow

The United Nations committee on world food security has issued an alarming new report on the impact of global warming: we may have to stop eating potatoes and get used to bananas instead.

Based on research by the CGIAR agricultural partnership, the committee published a policy briefing this October explaining that given the diverse impacts of climate change — of which Superstorm Sandy is arguably one such freak example — we may be forced to change what we eat.

(MORE: Climate Change and Sandy: Why We Need to Prepare for a Warmer World)

The group analyzed the effects of climate change on 22 of the world’s key agricultural commodities as well as three important natural resources in the developing world.

While there are still many unknowns, the experts are unequivocal on one thing: “crops may not be able to grow where had been grown for many generations,” the report says

(MORECan GM Crops Bust the Drought?)

Given that the global population is projected to increase to as much as ten billion by 2050, farmers will also have to increase yield to meet the food demands of the world.

However what they will be growing may not be what the world has so far been used to eating. Potatoes, the humble tubers that feature heavily in local cuisines everywhere from America to north India, could be a casualty.

(MOREPre-Peeled Bananas Incur the Wrath of Humanity)

The majority of the world’s potatoes are grown in India and China, though its cultivation is better suited to cooler climates. With the climate heating up, those areas may soon be forced to grow alternative crops, such as bananas (a fruit which for some inspires fear).

More worrisome, the experts also believe that three of the world’s main food staples — wheat, maize and rice — will also become harder to grow in some areas due to climate change. Cassava, a hardy root vegetable native to Central and South America, could be a good substitute.

(MORE: Follow Your Nose: Food Company Launches ‘Smell-vertising’ for Potato Ads)

Speaking with the BBC, Bruce Campbell, the program director of the research group at CGIAR, argued that while these may seem like dramatic changes, people will be able to shift their farming and eating habits:

“This is an example of something that’s happening already. There’s been quite a shift from cattle keeping to goat keeping in southern Africa in face of droughts – when the farmers see the problems they are having with production, they really are willing to shift.”

Let’s hope that when the time comes, we’ll still have a place to grow potatoes.

9 comments
VictorWard
VictorWard

So, grow potatoes further North, what's the problem? Perhaps they will be able to grow grapes in Greenland like they did way back, why do you think it is called Greenland?

eetom
eetom like.author.displayName 1 Like

Many would go bananas when they have to eat bananas instead of potatoes.  Would mashed banana (Yak!) be served instead of mashedpotato?  Will people who watched TV hours after hours be called "couch bananas" instead of "couch potatoes"?  Would an arguable topic be termed"a hot banana" rather than"a hot potato"?  Or perhaps it should be more appropriately termed "a cold banana"?

MarkWright
MarkWright like.author.displayName 1 Like

expanseb syas it all. After peaking 8,000 years ago,global temperature has been declining with slight variations in the Minoan, Roman and Medieval Warm Periods and the Little Ice Age from which temperatures are recovering. Short term global temperature fluctuations occur on a 60 year cycle corresponding to the 60 year solar system center of gravity cycle independent of green house gasses. Global temperature has declined since 1998 while GHG increased. Last year the IPCC released a report that indicating all climate models were invalid; that global temperature may be either higher or lower in 3 or 4 decades; and that man's effect on global temperature is less below the noise level of natural processes.and may be either positive or negative. Moreover extreme weather events have greatly declined in the last few decades.

Why doesn't Time  publish a responsible report using widely available published data instead of representing this pop culture garbage as valid?

expanseb
expanseb like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

More global non warming propaganda. There are hundreds of varieties  of potatoes that grow from sea level to high altitude micro climates. Even if this non sense was true there are plenty of potatoes that will still grow quite happily. If you look ay this in a scientific way potatoes have been around for millions of years of climate variability, including times when it has been much warmer and much colder than now. Hello, this is normal cyclical climate variability, just as it has always been in the history of the planet. We are still coming out of the last iceage. It appears that in order to get government funding your study has to have global warming in the title. Just another example of bogus science in the service of the powers that be and their endless quest to tax us back to the dark ages.

SaraRose
SaraRose

No potatoes equals no french fries. McDonalds will be gutted.

bauserdotcom
bauserdotcom like.author.displayName 1 Like

@SaraRose McDonald's will be fine -- they'll just start serving us fried bananas with our burgers.