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Scientists claim that Ozone is a danger to East Asian crops. It costs $63 bln per year.
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Scientists claim that Ozone is a danger to East Asian crops. It costs $63 bln per year.

A combine harvester picks wheat from a field in Baoding province, China, June 17, 2018. Picture taken June 17, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

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  • Ozone buildup affects wheat, rice, and maize yields
  • China loses a third of its potential wheat production
  • Reduced fossil fuel use could reduce ozone levels

Jan 17, 2009 (Reuters) – Scientists claim that fossil fuel emissions are not just causing climate change and worsening quality of the air, but also hurting crop yields enough that they cause an estimated $63 billion annual loss in East Asia.

According to the International Ozone Pollution Report, China, South Korea, Japan and South Korea are experiencing decreased yields of wheat, rice, and porumbe due to high levels. A studyPublished Monday in Nature Food

China alone is losing nearly a quarter its potential wheat production, and almost a quarter of its rice yields due to ozone disruptions that affect plant growth. This has serious implications for the rest of the world, as Asia supplies the majority of the world’s rice supply.

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Zhaozhong Feng is an environmental researcher at Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology. He said that East Asia has one of largest bread baskets or rice bowls in the entire world.

Asia is also a hotspot of ozone. This happens when sunlight interacts and greenhouse gases like carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, and volatile organic compounds, which are released from the burning fossil fuels.

Ozone is a layer that protects the planet’s surface from ultraviolet radiation. Ozone can also cause harm to plants and animals near the Earth’s surface.

Feng and his collaborators used ozone monitoring data for crop damage estimates that cost approximately $63 billion. Computer simulations have been used in the past to evaluate the economic impact of ozone on crops.

Feng stated that ozone directly impacts food security in China, for all three crops.

This is a concern for China which already worries about its declining land quality. China must feed a fifth world’s population using only 7% of its farmland.

According to a survey by the state in August last year, China lost about 6% of its arable lands between 2009 and 2019. This is a result of competition between industry, energy, and urban growth for scarce land resources. Although Beijing has since set a red line for protecting existing agricultural land and experts expect the total to fall further by 2030, experts still believe that it will.

Ozone pollution is worse for crops in certain parts of the world than other major stressors like heat, drought, and pests. Katrina Sharps, a spatial analyst at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, stated that ozone contamination can affect crops in some areas. In A 2018 studyShe and other researchers estimated that global wheat yields were affected by ozone polluting in 2010 and 2012 at $24.2 billion each year.

Sharps stated that it is an under-recognized issue.

With stricter air quality regulations, ozone levels have dropped in America and Europe over recent decades. However, the pollutant is rising in Asia.

The majority of ozone pollution is caused by gases emitted from cities. However, rural areas are more affected by ozone formation.

Scientists believe that the best way to reduce ozone levels would be to curb the use fossil fuels. This is the same action required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

Sharps stated that Asia’s emissions control laws are not stricter than those in the United States.

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Gloria Dickie Reporting; Additional reporting by David Stanway Editing by Katy Daigle & Toby Chopra

Our Standards The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles

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