Agricultural Production in Many Developing Countries Is Especially Vulnerable

Despite general uncertainties about the rate and magnitude of climate change and about consequent hydrological changes, regional and global studies have consistently shown that

Table 10.1 Effects of Climate Change on Global Food Production Under Various Scenarios (Percent Change in Yield)

HadCM2

HadCM3 2080s 2080s

Table 10.1 Effects of Climate Change on Global Food Production Under Various Scenarios (Percent Change in Yield)

HadCM2

HadCM3 2080s 2080s

Scenario

A1F1

A2a

A2b

A2c

B1a

B2a

B2b

S550

S750

CO2 ppm

810

709

709

709

527

561

561

498

577

World

-5

0

0

-1

-3

-1

-2

-1

1

Developed countries

3

8

6

7

3

6

5

5

7

Developing countries

-7

-2

-2

-3

-4

-3

-5

-2

-1

Developed countries-

10.4

9.8

8.4

10.2

7.0

8.7

9.3

6.6

7.7

developing countries

differences

agricultural production systems in the mid and high latitudes are more likely to benefit in the near term (to mid-century), while production systems in the low latitudes are more likely to decline (IPCC, 2001). In biophysical terms, rising temperatures will likely push many crops beyond their limits of optimal growth and yield. Higher temperatures will create more atmospheric water demand leading to greater water stress, especially in semi-arid regions. Since most of the developing countries are located in lower-latitude regions, while most developed countries are located in the mid- to high-latitude regions, this finding suggests a divergence in vulnerability between these groups of nations, with far-reaching implications for future world food security (Table 10.1) (Parry et al., 2004).

Furthermore, developing countries often have fewer resources with which to devise appropriate adaptation measures to meet changing agricultural conditions. The combination of potentially greater climate stresses and low adaptive capacity in developing countries creates different degrees of vulnerability as rich and poor nations confront global warming. This differential is due in part to the potentially greater detrimental impacts of a changing climate in areas that are already warm, and in part to the generally lower levels of adaptive capacity in developing countries. The latter tend to be food-recipient countries in times of food crises, while developed countries are more often donors.

Figure 10.5 Generalized projection of world agricultural production potential and areal extent under low and high CO2 responses for increasing severity of climate change. (Note: severity of climate change may be taken as a proxy for decadal-to-century timeframe.) (From Fischer, G., and F. Tubiello. Personal communication, 2003.)

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