At the world level, agriculture has a strong record of adaptability and the prospects are good that this can be maintained in face of the threat from global climate change. This optimistic scenario is qualified by concern about uncertainty in the climate forecasts, and the prospect of regional variation in impacts. It is expected that the impacts of climate change will be greatest in low latitude regions where crops are often grown close to their limits of heat tolerance and moisture availability. Even more significant is the lower adaptive capacity of farming communities especially the poor.

Attention has focused heavily upon the capacity for adaptation at the farm level. Strengthening adaptive capacity at this level is not likely to be sufficient without changes in national policy and the international political economy of the agricultural sector. The future continued success of adaptation in global agriculture requires changes at the national policy level and this in turn depends on the future pattern of world trade. The threat posed to world agriculture by long-term global climate change has to be understood in the context of shorter term changes in weather and the terms of trade.

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