Climate Emergency Institute
Climate Science Library
Mexico's Future Food Security under Global Warming and Climate Change
Martha Marquez, Mexico
Original Post: Dec. 1, 2011
Crops security is one of the measures of a country’s wealth and economic health. Global climate change is jeopardizing an already perilous situation for developing countries, which are generally located in lower latitudes and have contributed less to GHE (green house gas emissions). Scientists declare that these countries will have a 10% detriment in their crops along with a 1ºC increase in global temperature.
Mexico is among the most damaged by the rising temperature, and it is losing crops, specifically wheat and maize.
The World Bank estimated a dire future for Mexico in Country Notes in 2009, considering its third national communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, including: increases in temperature, reduction in precipitation and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.
Monterroso-Rivas et al created a suitability map for maize production (applicable for other crops) in Mexico with current conditions, as well under climate changes, indicating that 63.1% of the national surface presented some degree of suitability. The third national communication gave different percentages due to lack of modern tools now available.
Porfirio Juárez-López et al states that “In relation to the CO2 increase, studies with maize predictability models indicate that the weight of dry matter might increase from 1.4 to 5.6 t/ha; however, in maize, wheat and soy affectation in quality are predicted, mainly lower content of protein, minerals and lipids. On the other hand, a study of sugar cane cultivated in a CO2 740 ppm an increase of 50% biomass and 29% more of sucrose content increase was observed, which resulted from higher photosyntetic rates with high CO2 content. Also in the potato crop there was an observed increase in the amount of tubercles on each plant. The rate of 1.5 tubercles for each 100 ppm increased of atmospheric CO2, until a 40% tubercle increase at 660 ppm. Despite these results, we cannot ignore that the direct benefit of CO2 increase might be decreased by other effects of climate change, such as increased temperatures and alterations in pluvial precipitation patterns.”
As Justin Gillis from the New York Times writes, “Agronomists emphasize that the situation is far from hopeless. Examples are already available, from the deserts of Mexico to the rice paddies of India, to show that it may be possible to make agriculture more productive and more resilient in the face of climate change. Farmers have achieved huge gains in output in the past, and rising prices are a powerful incentive to do so again. ”
It is up to us-physicians, agronomists, lawyers, government officials, students- to make the change and avoid the dreaded changes that will be irreversible if we sit down and wait until climate change “arrives”, because it is already here, and every single action we perform to avoid the heat increase will collectively be a step less in the temperature increase that will render our crops and economy ineffective, and our children’s children world hard to inhabit. Let us do something today.
"Assessing current and potential rain fed maize suitability under climate change scenarios in Mexico." Atmósfera 24.1 (2011): 53-67.
"Cambio Climático." Ehortalizas 25 Feb 2011.
Gills, Justin. "The New York Times." 5 June 2011. Dec 2011 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/05/science/earth/05harvest.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&ref=todayspaper
Reardon, Sara. "“Climate Change Already Hurting Agriculture”." Science Now (2011).