Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: According to a recent study, air pollution in India seems to have a direct and negative impact on grain production. The drop came in yielding from the air pollution caused by fine particles such as soot as well as ozone-generated by sunlight, acting on emissions of precursor molecules.
Scientist have developed a statistical model to understand how air pollution caused wheat yields in densely populated states to be 50 percent lower than what they could have been in 2010.
"The numbers are staggering," Jennifer Burney, an author of the study and scientist at the University of California told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"We hope our study puts the potential benefits on cleaning up the air on the table," she said, noting that agriculture is often not considered when governments debate the economic costs of air pollution and new legislation aimed at combating it.
The Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences published a research paper "Recent climate and air pollution impacts on Indian agriculture" and it analysed what wheat production could have been if there was less pollution.
Because of new technologies and management techniques, food production in India continues to increase.
Historical data on crop yields, emissions, and precipitation were examined by scientist to draw their conclusions.
The historical research generally confirms what chemists and other scientists have said in past studies about the impact of air pollution on food production.
Reducing smog is often a simpler process that can take place at the national level, while tackling global warming requires international action.
"The technologies to fix this problem exist," Burney said. Trucks need better particulate filters for diesel, and the Indian government should help rural residents use cleaner fuels in their cooking stoves, rather than biomass, she said.
"None of these (mitigation techniques) are very high tech," she said, adding that better public policies on clean air could help India meet its goal of reducing hunger to zero.
(With Agency inputs)