The Bugs Are Coming, and They’ll Want More of Our Food

Aug 31, 2018

By Kendra Pierre-Louis

Ever since humans learned to wrest food from soil, creatures like the corn earworm, the grain weevil and the bean fly have dined on our agricultural bounty. Worldwide, insect pests consume up to 20 percent of the plants that humans grow for food, and that amount will increase as global warming makes bugs hungrier, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.

That could encourage farmers to use more pesticides, which could cause further environmental harm, scientists said.

For every degree Celsius (two degrees Fahrenheit) that temperatures rise above the global historical average, the amount of wheat, corn, and rice lost to insects will increase by 10 to 25 percent, the study says. Temperate agricultural regions, like those in the United States and Western Europe, would be particularly hard hit.

The international Paris Agreement is designed to keep warming below two degrees Celsius, but the world’s countries are far off track from meeting that goal.

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