Thursday, January 19, 2012

Climate Negotiators Start Talking about Agriculture

Climate scientists, climate activists, farmers, agricultural scientists, and sustainable food advocates around the world have tried to highlight the close, and alarming, relationship between climate change and agriculture.  Current industrial agricultural methods contribute heavily to green house gas emissions (more than the entire transportation sector) while floods in Vermont, droughts in the south, wildfires in Texas, tornadoes in Mississippi and northern California, have shown that agriculture is threatened by more frequent extreme weather.  

This post, Agriculture and Climate Change, Revisted in the New York Times Green Blog by Justin Gillis, is a nice overview of the complexities related to how climate change is interrelated with global agricultural production.  Especially this quotation from Dr. Molly Jahn, a plant breeder at the University of Wisconsin: “Agriculture needs to be front and center, as an activity on which our lives very literally depend.”

This led me to a report from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change titled "Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change" which is definitely worth a read oiver, it's only 20 pages.  Here are two images that struck me the most (the first is on page 5 of the publication and the other is on page 6).
This map shows the areas that will gain in agricultural production by 2080 (in green) and those that will lose agricultural production (in red), notice what countries are in red (almost all developing countries).

 Now check out this image considering the green house gases emitted to produce food in different countries and how that food is used.

There are lots of solutions proposed to address these issues, mainly that we need more farms and more farmers in more places using sustainable methods.
Also it looks like America's beloved corn crops are going to be heavily affected by climate change, should we try planting something else? Maybe something that's a little bit more edible and healthy?

Just some more food for thought!

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