Climate change sucks. But bananas like it! So far…

Since 1961 banana yields have increased by an average of 1.37 tons per hectare [1]. This is thought to be due to warmer temperatures from climate change making them grow faster [1]. Like many of the benefits of climate change, however, booming banana growth is unlikely to last [1,3]. As temperatures continue to rise, it will become too hot for bananas in many areas, resulting in drops in banana yields to much lower than they are now [1].

But let’s not fixate on just one impact of climate change! Bananas’ positive response to higher temperatures may be lost if warming makes them more vulnerable to diseases and pests [4]. For example, as droughts become more serious due to climate change, bananas may suffer more from “Panama disease” [4]. This disease recently arrived in Latin America, raising concern that entire plantations may be wiped out [6].

Climate change can also shift the areas where diseases can survive [4]. “Black Sigatoka” is the most damaging disease for banana, and warming is projected to reduce its range by decreased humidity in certain areas [7]. We have mentioned how adapting to climate change is important: in this case, we could predict where the disease will not be able to survive, and focus banana-growing in these areas [2].

Bananas are a staple carbohydrate-rich food for many tropical nations [1], so working to maintain successful growth of bananas is important.

Every food crop has its own story [8] – we just took bananas as an example to show how responses to climate change are not simply “good” or “bad”, they’re complicated.


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