Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Unexpected Reaction Farmers Could Have to Climate Change

Crop preparation by 17 machines (Credit: AP Photo/Andre Penner) Click to Enlarge.
For all intents and purposes, climate change is not going to be good news for agriculture.  Studies have shown that it will likely reduce crop yields, create a malnutrition crisis, and make large portions of the globe inhospitable to staple crops like maize or bananas.

But researchers from Brown and Tufts universities have a dire message for the world:  studies linking climate change to a decrease in crop production might be underestimating the true impact of climate change on agriculture.

“The real missing pieces have been about peoples’ decision making,” Leah VanWey, professor of sociology at Brown and senior deputy director of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, told ThinkProgress.  “This is not just about suitability.  It’s not just about the climate.  It’s farmers making decisions in real time.”

The study, published Monday in Nature Climate Change, looked at how climate change might affect crop production in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, a rapidly developing agricultural region of the country that produced 10 percent of the world’s soybeans in 2013.

But the study didn’t just look at crop yields, or the productivity of a certain crop per given unit of land.  The study took a much broader approach, looking at how farmers might react to climate shocks — how much land farmers will put into rotation if the climate changes, and how many different crops a farmer might grow.

Read more at The Unexpected Reaction Farmers Could Have to Climate Change

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