Rice Under Siege | South East Asia


Rice feeds more people than any other crop in the world and uses approximately one third of global freshwater resources. Most rice is produced and consumed in Asia. This talk will examine the evidence of current and future impacts of climate change and air pollution on rice yields in Asia.

4 thoughts on “Rice Under Siege | South East Asia

  1. As Prof. Maximilian Auffhammer spoke to his interest in rice. I partook in a delicious Orange Chicken Curry with potatoes, carrots, and of course rice. The talk this week was almost a crash course to the introduction of rice production. As I learned, I eat and gain a better respect/understanding of rice. I enjoy rice along with other starches with my meals. Maximilian informed us that rice is mostly produced in Asia and that it takes a lot of fresh water to produce. He also mentioned 25% is irrigated, 1% is grown in flood prone areas, and 20% is rain feed in low lying areas. The worlds freshwater resource is 24-30%. In Asia there was a belt concentration of where a large amount of rice is produced and Maximilian mentioned how there is also environmental conditions such as smog which he was able to show us with satellite imagery, that hampered the amount of clouds and in turn the amount of rainfall. He also mentioned other things that rice does not like, such as of course drought,excessive heat, submergence, and saltwater intrusion. The amount of water, that entails the quantity/level and its frequency and health. He also mention the importance of the farmers looking after the rice. Of course he could not leave out the fact that our environment is changing and that there are studies showing that there are some rice that can take some heat, which could be a good thing.

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  2. Maximilian Auffhammer’s presentation was eye opening for me. I never really acknowledged the importance of rice or how climate change can lead to the decrease of this important crop. Seeing that rice is the crop that feeds the most humans, according to Auffhammer’s presentation, it is vital for us to find ways to lessen the casualties that this crop may suffer in the near future. Given that rice does not grow well during warm nights, global warming poses a great threat to this crop. If the Earth keeps warming then we will suffer a decrease in rice production which will effect the world, since rice is a staple food around the world.
    Not only are the days warming but there will be more droughts in the future which would be fatal for rice crops. Thus, I wonder how can we as designers face this challenge? That is a question that Auffhammer’s presentation intrigued me with. However, I felt this presentation helped increase awareness of the effect that global warming has on staple crops that most of the world depends on to survive.

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  3. As Maximilian Auffhammer emphasized in his talk this week, food security is not a global issue but a local issue (we have enough food to feed all people on the globe, but not enough food in all places).

    However, the talk also suggested that food production is part of a series of nested ecological systems. Although food security may be a local problem, the overarching system in which food production functions is the global ecosystem. We learned that climate change can affect rice growth in multiple ways, and climate change is a global phenomenon. The actions of highly industrialized countries in one part of the world can impact the yield of small subsistence farmers in another part of the globe. Thus local problems do not need local solutions, but global ones. We are all connected.

    The problem is that in many parts of the world, we often remain naively unaware of the problems that other places are facing, because we have managed to insulate ourselves from their effects. In terms of food systems, for example, minor economic fluctuations – which we see as changing prices at the supermarket — are often the only impacts that we feel from droughts or disasters that may be devastating local societies in other parts of the world. In much of the developed world, we expect to always have things available to us even if we have to pay a little bit more for them. If the price seems too unreasonable, then we just buy something else. Scarcity is not manifested in our everyday lives because it is masked behind an endless variety of other options. Even with the drought in California, we have no water restrictions here in Berkeley. Our feedback mechanisms for scarcity are broken.

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  4. After listening to this presentation on rice, I have a newfound appreciation to what goes in to producing this imperative crop. Maximilian Auffhammer’s passion for rice gave new life to the subject and truly overshadowed the term, “plain white rice”. I knew that most countries have signature rice dishes but I did not realize, rice feeds more humans than any other crop, including corn, wheat, and soy. I enjoyed hearing the statistics, 90% of all rice is produced and consumed in Asia. There are several different was to water this crop but ¾ is from irrigating, 20% is rain-fed via lowlands, 4% from the mountains in the upland areas, and the final 1% from river flooding. Ultimately, rice receives water from above and below. Typically the rain-fed rice stays while the irrigated rice is sold. This mainstay crop is in danger due to climate change and water.

    Wanting to understand the effects of climate change led to scientific experiments to test the outcomes of the varying stressor scenarios. Rising temperatures will present challenges in the growth phase in terms of night and day. Changing relative humidity may lead to the inability to cool. Water needs to be the ideal amount, too little or too much will cause drought or submergence and saltwater intrusion. Air quality was another factor considered and how plants love CO2. Poor air quality could surprisingly mask the effects of global warming increased temperature due to the multiple air pollutants. The ABC or atmospheric brown cloud from aerosol pollution is a both a pro and con in this situation. One shortcoming in the experiments was the oversight of human impact. A scientifically lab grown crop is different than what actually happens in the field at the hands of the farmer. I believe Auffhammer did an exemplary job illustrating the system of rice production and how rice is grown. I have always been a fan of rice and now admire all those who produce it and study it as well. I hope that new ways are designed and implemented to ensure that this staple crop is not in short supply.

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