20 June 2024
Locust outbreaks intensify as climate change fuels weather extremes

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** Erratic weather patterns driven by **climate change** may lead to larger and more severe desert **locust outbreaks**, according to a new study. Extreme wind and rain are likely to intensify due to **climate change**, increasing outbreak risks. The study suggests that human-caused **climate change** is a major factor in the increased frequency and severity of locust outbreaks, which can devastate crops and threaten food security in vulnerable regions.

Locust Outbreaks and Climate Change: A Growing Threat

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In recent years, the world has witnessed an increase in extreme weather events, which have been attributed to human-induced climate change. A new study has found that these erratic weather patterns are likely to worsen desert locust outbreaks, posing a significant threat to agriculture and food security in regions already struggling with these issues. The study highlights the potential for extreme wind and rain to fuel larger and more destructive swarms of desert locusts, exacerbating the already devastating impact these insects have on crops and livelihoods.

Desert locusts are a particularly destructive species found in dry regions of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. These migratory insects travel in swarms of millions, consuming vast amounts of crops and vegetation along their path. In fact, a square kilometer swarm of locusts can devour enough food to feed 35,000 people in a single day. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has labeled them as “the most destructive migratory pest in the world.”

Climate Change and Locust Outbreaks

The study, published in Science Advances, emphasizes that climate change is likely to intensify the weather patterns that contribute to locust outbreaks. Researchers have found a strong correlation between extreme weather events like heavy rainfall and high winds, and the magnitude of desert locust infestations. Climate change-induced factors such as increased air temperature, precipitation, soil moisture, and wind are all linked to the occurrence of larger and more widespread locust outbreaks.

Countries in Africa and the Middle East, including Kenya, Morocco, Niger, Yemen, and Pakistan, have been identified as the most affected by desert locust outbreaks. The study predicts that vulnerable regions like Morocco and Kenya will continue to face high locust risks, with habitats expanding and outbreaks projected to increase by at least 5% by the end of the 21st century. This expansion could potentially reach regions like west India and west central Asia, posing a threat to global food security.

Climate Change and Locust Outbreaks

Addressing the risks posed by desert locust outbreaks requires a coordinated effort at the regional and global levels. The study underscores the importance of early warning systems and swift response mechanisms to prevent and control these outbreaks effectively. Researchers advocate for better cooperation among countries and control organizations to mitigate the impacts of climate variability on locust dynamics and agricultural productivity.

The financial toll of major locust outbreaks is significant, with response efforts to combat infestations costing hundreds of millions of dollars. The 2019 desert locust outbreak in East Africa, for example, resulted in billions of dollars’ worth of crop damage. As climate change continues to exacerbate the frequency and severity of these outbreaks, the need for proactive measures to reduce global warming and adapt to changing environmental conditions becomes increasingly urgent.

Wrapping Up: Addressing the Looming Threat of Locust Outbreaks in a Changing Climate

The study’s findings serve as a stark reminder of the interconnectedness of climate change, extreme weather events, and the risks posed by desert locust outbreaks. As the world grapples with the challenges of ensuring food security and sustainable agriculture in the face of a warming climate, it is imperative that collaborative efforts are made to mitigate the impacts of locust infestations. By understanding the role of climate in driving locust outbreaks and implementing strategies to address these risks, countries can work towards building resilience and safeguarding livelihoods in the face of this growing threat..


Links to additional Resources:

1. https://www.ipcc.ch/ 2. https://www.noaa.gov/ 3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Desert locust outbreaks, Climate change, Food security

Locusts (derived from the Latin locusta, locust or lobster) are various species of short-horned grasshoppers in the family Acrididae that have a swarming phase. These insects are usually solitary, but under certain circumstances they become more abundant and change their behaviour and habits, becoming gregarious. No taxonomic distinction is made...
Read more: Locust

Climate change
In common usage, climate change describes global warming—the ongoing increase in global average temperature—and its effects on Earth's climate system. Climate change in a broader sense also includes previous long-term changes to Earth's climate. The current rise in global average temperature is more rapid than previous changes, and is primarily...
Read more: Climate change

Food security
Food security is the availability of food in a country (or other geographic region) and the ability of individuals within that country (region) to access, afford, and source adequate foodstuff. The availability of food irrespective of class, gender or region is another element of food security. Similarly, household food security...
Read more: Food security

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