Climate Change Agriculture Food Demand And Land

Interactions between agriculture, climate and patterns of land use are complex. Agriculture is a major user of the land, and patterns of land use are shaped through climatic conditions. The characteristics of agriculture in any location are largely determined by climatic factors. Evidence is amassing that increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gasses (GHG) like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) cause increases in global temperature. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that the build-up of atmospheric GHGs will cause a moderate increase in temperature and altered patterns of precipitation are projected for large parts of the world. Accompanying changes in agricultural productivity are to be expected. In addition agriculture may play a role in managing the future GHG concentrations by switching land use from crops to forests, trees or biofuels and by managing energy use, rice lands, cattle and manures among other things. Thus agriculture is affected by both sides of the climate change issue and will feel influences on production patterns and land use.

There is an ongoing dialogue about agriculture as potentially manipulatable source or sink of greenhouse gas emissions. Major changes in agriculture, regional climate and land use patterns are foreseen in the next couple of decades. Society needs to be prepared to implement measures that contribute to transform agriculture in an environmentally effective, economically viable and socially acceptable manner.

Food demand will also influence future patterns of land use. Global population is projected to increase to about 9 billion by 2050. Global income per capita is likely to increase by a factor of three and more by 2050, and the share of animal calories in diet is projected to increase from about 15% today to about a third in 2050. Such changes increase the demand for food and put pressures on the available land resources.

F. Brouwer andB.A. McCarl (eds.), Agriculture and Climate Beyond2015, 1-4 © 2006 Springer. Printed in the Netherlands.

Experience is needed based on cross-disciplinary science and policy-science interactions to explore the way land use may aid in addressing the climate change and food demand influenced future.

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