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The impact of climate and global change on crop production

Dixon, G. R. (2009) The impact of climate and global change on crop production. In: Letcher, T. M. (ed.) Climate change-observed impacts on planet earth. Elsevier, London, pp. 307-324. ISBN 978044453012

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Climate change adds an additional and very significant factor to the complex problem of ensuring that agricultural production worldwide has the capacity to feed a burgeoning human population. This must be done without adding to but by reducing environmental damage. Population growth, the loss of fertile land though degradation and use for housing and industry, reduced water supplies and aspirations for an increasingly protein based diet are integral dimensions of this problem. Supplying food is overall the most basic of problem that scientists and politicians must solve. Without a solution the spectre of famine and war stalks this planet. The first formal link between observed global changes in physical and biological systems and human induced climate change predominantly from increasing green house gases was demonstrated by Rosenzweig et al., (2008). They surveyed 29,500 data series of which 90% (P << 0.001) demonstrated that changes at the global scale are in the direction that would be expected as responses to global warming. In biological systems 90% of the data sets showed plants and animals are responding consistently to temperature change. This is mostly illustrated by phenological change with earlier blooming, leaf unfolding and spring arrivals. Events on the current scale have not been seen on Earth in the past 0.75 million years (King, 2005). Previously, no one single species (man) has gained control of the entire planet’s resources and reproduced in unprecedented numbers at rapid speed. The Earth’s resources are in imminent danger of exhaustion and its environment is changing in a manner that enhances the process. Stern (2008) identifies that “if no action is taken to reduce emissions, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could reach double its pre – industrial levels as early as 2035, virtually committing us to a global average temperature rise of over 2 oC. In the longer term there would be more than a 50% chance that temperature rise would exceed 5 oC.”

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Crop Science
ID Code:66429

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