Prof. Amos P.K. Tai of the Earth System Science Programme at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) was recently conferred the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Research Award for Young Scientists for 2015. The award was presented to Prof.Tai for his paper in Nature Climate Change, Volume 4, 2014, titled “Threat to future global food security from climate change and ozone air pollution”. Prof. Tai is the first Hong Kong scientist receiving the Award.
Prof. Tai’s study found that warming alone will reduce global agricultural production by more than 10% by year 2050, but the combined effect of global warming and air pollution can be even more detrimental to crop yields. In the worst-case scenario, the undernourished population in developing countries can climb up by about 50% by 2050. Nonetheless, strict controls on air pollution can partially offset the adverse impacts of climate change, leading to a smaller combined global crop production decrease. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the worldwide demand for food is expected to double by 2050, but human beings’ ability to produce enough food is severely challenged by climate change. Prof. Tai’s findings show that the interactive effect of global warming and air pollution can in particular significantly threaten global food production, suggesting that policy makers should take both factors into account in addressing the imminent global food crisis.
In presenting the Award to Prof. Tai on behalf of WMO, Mr. C.M. Shun, Director of the Hong Kong Observatory and Permanent Representative of Hong Kong, China with WMO, said, ‘Prof. Tai’s study on global food security is a timely reminder to us that the impacts of climate change are highly relevant to our daily life. Under the influence of global warming, high temperature records in Hong Kong have been broken rather frequently in recent years. Actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to make our society more resilient to climate change effects must be taken without delay. The Observatory will spare no efforts to undertake researches on climate change and support local institutions on related projects. My gratitude goes to Prof. Tai and other fellow scientists for their research results which translate into science-based climate information and services for all decision makers and stakeholders to carry out the mitigation and adaptation measures. Food security, water resources, disaster risk reduction, health and energy are the priorities of WMO in providing these climate services.’
About Prof. Amos P.K. Tai
Prof. Tai is an Assistant Professor in the Earth System Science Programme of the Faculty of Science at CUHK. His research examines the complex interactions between climate, atmospheric chemistry and the biosphere, focusing on aspects that directly impact human society such as air pollution, climate change, agriculture, and public health. For further information on Prof. Tai, please click here.