Inderscience Publishers

Climate change and the future of agriculture

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Courtesy of Inderscience Publishers

The purpose of this paper is to review our current knowledge of the potential effects of climate change on agriculture and world food supply. Attention is first directed to the types of climate change, particularly reductions in soil water availability, likely to be most critical for agriculture. Secondly, a number of types of effects on agriculture are considered: 'direct' effects of elevated CO2, shifts of thermal and moisture limits to cropping, effects on drought, heat stress and other extremes, effects on pests, weeds and diseases, and effects on soil fertility. Thirdly, a summary is presented of likely overall effects on crop and livestock production. The conclusion is that, while global levels of food production can probably be maintained in the face of climate change, the cost could be substantial. There could be severe negative effects at the regional level. Increases in productive potential at higher latitudes are not likely to open up large new areas for production. The gains in productive potential here are unlikely to balance possible reductions in potential in some major grain-exporting regions at mid-latitudes.

Keywords: agriculture, climate change, carbon dioxide, crops, diseases, global food security, greenhouse gases, GHG emissions, pests, precipitation, food supply, livestock production

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