Five Agricultural Consequences of Global Climate Change
Among the hard hit areas of global climate change is agriculture. This is a very critical area in modern civilization because agriculture plays a major role in sustaining development in densely populated and stratified societies. Agriculture creates food surpluses that enable societies to ensure food security.
How is agriculture affected by global climate change? Here are five agricultural consequences of global climate change:
1. Locust and rat infestations in agricultural fields
For unirrigated fields that are highly dependent on the rains like those found in Asia, drought especially during El Niño events can trigger heavy locust and rat infestations. The resulting low production forced many families in Indonesia to eat less rice, turn to cassava as a less nutritious food, and even sold their personal belongings just to survive.
Locust swarm (Source).
2. Spread of diseases
Warmer and wetter weather allows the spread of diseases in agricultural crops. In Peru, for example, late blight fungus invaded the potato fields that almost totally destroyed the crops of Chacllabamba farmers. Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior research scholar with the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University, noted that longer growing seasons mean more generations of pests during the summer, while shorter and warmer winters mean that fewer adults, larvae, and eggs will die off.
Chacllabamba farmers gathering potatoes (Source).
3. Shift in water availability can result to parched crops
The farmers of Kansas observed that summers and winters are warmer than usual. Rains fall in the early spring rather than summer when crops need water the most. This unpredictable shift in water availability can result to parched crops.
4. Pollen will be less viable thus crop production will be lower
Pollen, a critical factor in fruit development, can be arrested by higher temperatures. An experiment by Hartwell Allen of the University of Florida and the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that higher than normal temperatures are deadly when the plant starts producing pollen. This implies lower yield for products like peanut, which is dietary staple food for countries like India and West Africa.
5. Farmer displacement
Farmer displacement will be a major concern in countries with unirrigated agricultural fields. Repeated crop failures can push farmers to the urban centers as a coping mechanism. Consequently, less people will be involved in producing food critical to sustain a society that continually grows in numbers. Greater population density means greater food demand while food supply decreases.
Maathai, a Nobel Laureate, noted that lesser food production will be critical in places like Africa. It can lead to competition for power and control over diminishing resources like agricultural and grazing land. Consequently, conflicts, violence, displacements, migrations and death will result.
Halweil, B., 2005. The irony of climate. Worldwatch Magazine. Retrieved on March 27, 2010 at http://www.worldwatch.org/node/572
Maathai, W., 2009. Africa: Continent Must Protect Forests to Mitigate Global Warming. Retrieved on March 27, 2010 at http://allafrica.com/stories/200906231119.html
© 27 March 2010 Patrick A. Regoniel Five Agricultural Consequences of Climate Change