How will Climate Change Affect Future Cotton Supplies?
Last updated April 7, 2018
(Art and introduction, only)
How will climate change affect cotton's future growth and development, and what kinds of solutions exist to mitigate the challenges ahead? Learn more about cotton and climate change in this article at Ensia(link to article). I wrote this piece through the Ensia Mentor Program and appreciate having had the opportunity to work with such an excellent publication. I also wish to thank my mentor, Elizabeth Braun, who introduced me to Professor Michael Gore at Cornell University. Professor Gore's paper provided invaluable information and stretched the owl's scientific understanding of plant breeding.
This article was written by Laura Routh and originally published at Ensia.
Look who’s helping your clothes make the transition to a warmer world
The cotton industry is turning to innovation to help it weather challenging growing conditions ahead
February 20, 2017 — From well-loved jeans to linens, sneakers and T-shirts, cotton is woven into the products we love. Indeed, it is the most widely used natural fiber on the planet. Its use dates back to approximately 3500 BC in India and 3000 BC in Peru. Cotton plants — relatives of okra and hibiscus — are cultivated on every continent but Antarctica. All together, they produce some 20 million metric tons (22 million tons) of raw material for soft, breathable and absorptive textiles and other products each year.
But our affinity for cotton is facing bumpy roads ahead. Increasing temperatures, drought, limited freshwater and unpredictable rain patterns are expected to alter cotton plants’ ability to grow and produce. By 2100, given the slowest climate warming models, yields could decline in the U.S. by 30 to 46 percent. As a result, cotton producers around the world are working to get a handle on what climate change means for their crops and what they can be doing now to minimize problems ahead.
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