After Schmallenberg and Bluetongue, expert warns of new diseases threatening Britain's livestock and crops because of global warming

Bleak assessment of climate change means world was facing 'a lot more unanticipated events'

Environment Editor

Britain faces a wave of deadly new animal and plant diseases that threaten to wipe out crops and livestock as a direct result of global warming, the World Bank's top agricultural expert has warned.

The country can expect to import more diseases, such as the deadly Schmallenberg virus that arrived from overseas about 18 months ago and is sweeping through new-born cattle and sheep spread by midge bites, the expert said.

Rachel Kyle, the World Bank's vice president for sustainable development, told The Independent: "The rapidity with which the Schmallenberg virus is moving across the UK is increasing and we are probably going to see more of these things happening."

"We expect to see more outbreaks of unknown pathogens [disease-causing micro-organisms] as temperatures and weather patterns change," she added.

The arrival of the Bluetongue disease, which is also transmitted by midges and hit UK sheep farmers badly in the past few years, is another example of the kind of virus that is prospering in the warmer climate and that we could see more of in the future, Ms Kyle said.

In one of the bleakest assessment's yet of the implications of climate change, Ms Kyle said Britain and the world was going to have to get used to "a lot more unanticipated events".

"If you travel round the countryside, every gardener and farmer has observed the impact of climate change. It's not all down to the induced impact of climate change, but some of it is," she said.

The World Bank also warned that climate change was likely to damage Britain's crops in the future. A new variety of an old crop disease called "stem rust" could arrive in the country within the next year, said Erick Fernandes, a World Bank advisor on climate change.

The disease, known as Ug99 because it was first identified in Uganda in 1999, has since spread to other African countries such as Kenya, Sudan and Yemen and has now spread to Iran.

Mr Fernandes said: "Rust is clearly moving further north and there is little stopping it. It's not a question of if, but when it arrives in the UK. It could come in a year, although it's difficult to know when it might happen.

However long it takes, the spread is likely to be speeded up by climate change, Mr Fernandes said.

"Rust is carried with the wind through spores, which are the equivalent of eggs and work better under warmer conditions. So as temperatures get warmer, the conditions for these kind of fungal pathogens become even better," he said.

The World Bank experts spoke to The Independent as they launched a new report assessing the impact of climate change on Africa and Asia. Its findings on the UK were derived from the research for that report.

In one particularly alarming finding, the report, named Turn Down the Heat, said that the sea level is rising so fast that it may be too late to prevent large swathes of Bangkok disappearing under water in the next two decades.

The report predicts that by the 2030s droughts and heat will leave 40 per cent of the land in Sub-Saharan Africa that is now being used to grow maize unable to support that crop, while rising temperatures could cause major loss of savannah grasslands threatening pastoral livelihoods. By the 2050s the proportion of the population that is undernourished is projected to increase by up to 90 per cent compared to the present, the report found.

The World Bank is a collection of five organisations and its mission is to reduce global poverty by making loans to poor countries.

CLIMATE CHANGE WILL TRAP MILLIONS IN POVERTY

The Turn Down the Heat report finds that climate change will hit the world's poorest people, in Africa and Asia, considerably harder than the better off West.

One finding suggests that the sea level is rising so fast that much of Bangkok is likely to be under water in just two decades. The report finds a sea level rise of 15 centimeters by the 2030s and as much as 50 cms by the 2050s may already be unavoidable as a result of past carbon emissions.

World Bank group president Jim Yong Kim said: "The scientists tell us that if the world warms by 2C [the target world leaders have ambitiously set] - warming which may be reached in 20 to 30 years - that will cause widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat-waves and more intense cyclones."

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
News
i100
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?