The ability of livestock producers to adapt their herds to the physiological stress of climate change appears encouraging due to a variety of techniques for dealing with climate stress, but this issue is not well constrained, in part because of the general lack of experimentation and simulations of livestock adaptation to climate change.
Crop and livestock farmers who have sufficient access to capital and technologies should be able to adapt their farming systems to magnitudes of climate change common in the agricultural literature. Substantial changes in their mix of crops and livestock production may be necessary, however, as considerable costs could be involved in this process because of investments in learning and gaining experience with different crops or irrigation.
Impacts of climate change on agriculture after adaptation are estimated to result in small percentage changes in overall global income. Nations with large resource endowments (i.e., developed countries) will fare better in adapting to climate change than those with poor resource endowments (i.e., developing countries and countries in transition, especially in the tropics and subtropics) which will fare worse. This, in turn, could worsen income disparities between developed and developing countries.
Global agricultural vulnerability to climate change is assessed by the anticipated effects such change will have on food prices. Based on the accumulated evidence of modeling studies, a global temperature rise of greater than 2.5°C is likely to reverse the trend of falling real food prices. This would greatly stress food security in many developing countries.
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