Scientists have reached the conclusion that global warming might imply another alarming and, at the same time, peculiar effect upon flora and fauna. It seems that increased temperatures and lack of water go hand in hand in making plants and animals shrink.
Even though this might seem the perfect plot for a sci fi production, it is a real matter of great concern, since it has been established that it will have severe consequences upon food market in the near future.
According to researchers, the fact that plants and animals will decrease their size might put in danger the entire food security system, and also lead to poverty and world hunger.
"The worst-case scenarios [...] are that food crops and animals will shrink enough to have real implications for food security," stated Assistant Professor David Bickford, from National University of Singapore.
According to the 2011 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics, the number of people who starve every day is already alarming. There are approximately 7 billion people in the world.
If we take into consideration the numbers indicated by World Hunger Education Service for 2010, governments all across the globe have to deal with 925 million hungry people. In other words, 13.1 percent of the population can't afford to put food on the table, or you can just picture that 1 in 7 people are hungry.
Bickford and his colleague Jennifer Sheridan developed a study to prove that their theory is correct.
They used data provided by fossil records and studied other scientific materials which helped them conclude that several kinds of plants and animals such as spiders, beetles, bees, ants and cicadas measure less and have decreased their body weight.
This phenomenon is correlated with climate changes, especially increased temperatures. Scientists who led the study engaged their efforts in a new experiment, conducted using a variety of plants.
The trial proved that fruits get up to 17% smaller with every degree Celsius of warming. The same test, applied to small creatures revealed the fact that higher temperatures are responsible for reducing body size by up to 4% for invertebrates and up to 22% for fish.
For researchers, this is a serious matter which might have devastating consequences worldwide, unless, in the near future, governments will develop much more effective strategies of drawing boundaries in the matter of global warming.
"Survival of small individuals can increase with warmer temperatures, and drought conditions can lead to smaller offspring, leading to smaller average size," was the study's main conclusion.
The scientists are preparing the public for worst case scenarios. "Impacts could range from food resources becoming more limited (less food produced on the same amount of land) to wholesale biodiversity loss and eventual catastrophic cascades of ecosystem services," stated Bickford .
Even though this phenomenon is not yet visible on a large scale, consequences might still be devastating if we note that temperatures are still increasing, reaching higher rates every year.