Can Agriculture Cope with Climate Change? (CGIAR)

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Research & Impact: CGIAR on Global Issues:
CGIAR & Climate Change

CGIAR at COP15 – Dec. 2009

Global Climate Change: Can Agriculture Cope?

No one understands better than farmers do how the weather, especially when it takes a turn for the worse, can affect people and their land. That’s why farmers around the world have always talked and worried about the weather obsessively. But now, emerging weather patterns have a lot of other people worried, too, and their concerns are well founded.

According to a report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released in February 2006, the average temperature of the earth’s surface, having already risen by 0.74 degrees Centrigrade in the last 100 years, is expected to increase by an average of about 3 degrees over the next century, assuming greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at current rates. Even the minimum predicted temperature increase, 1.4 degrees, will represent a profound change, unprecedented in the last 10,000 years.

The scientific evidence behind these projections, says Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is unequivocal, leaving “no doubt as to the dangers mankind is facing.”

Heavy Weather

One of those perils consists of rising sea levels, caused by the expansion of ocean volumes and by the melting of glaciers and ice caps. Coastal areas around the world, including major urban areas, could be inundated, as depicted in Al Gore’s Academy Award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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