Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Link Between Glaciers and Global Food Supply

Glaciers aren’t just for skiing or post cards, they also feed the rivers we use to irrigate crops. But as the globe gets warmer, these glaciers are getting increasingly smaller.

What’s worse, the problem of melting glaciers is a particular threat in the most populace corner of our planet: Southeast Asia.

According to
a New Scientist report, “The irrigation water vital for the grain crops that feed China and India is at risk of drying up, as global warming melts the glaciers that feed Asia's biggest rivers.” How big is this problem? One expert told New Scientist world food supplies have “never faced such a predictably massive threat.”

While major Southeast Asian rivers like the Ganges and Yangtze rivers get a boost from annual monsoons, glaciers on the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau are responsible for 70 percent of these rivers’ flows during the dry season. The Tibet-Qinghai glaciers are scheduled to disappear by 2060.

Framed by the reality of melting glaciers, the following facts are particularly worrisome:
  • China and India produce half the world’s wheat and rice
  • 40 percent of Indian children are already “underweight and undernourished”
  • To reverse this situation, we would need to cut carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2020

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.