Food Supply Worries of an Agricultural Scientist

Part 3: Climate Change by Steve Savage on September 27, 2009

Drought in Java

Climate averages are not what matters for crop production – Variation is. A few days of intense rain or heat at the wrong time can devastate a crop. A few weeks of drought can do the same. A single hail or frost event can make all the difference in what a farmer can harvest. We have always had those risks for farming and only long term data will demonstrate whether there has been an increasing trend as is predicted. For instance, It isn’t possible yet to say that the current, extended drought in Australia is caused by elevated greenhouse gasses, but some day we will know whether it was by looking back historically. Of course that will be too late. Our actions have to come now. The other huge threat from climate change is that water supplies will be more limiting in many areas that are irrigated today. Though that area is much smaller than rain-fed areas, it is very important to the food supply.

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