Agriculture Fisheries and Food Production

Meeting the food needs of a still-growing and more affluent global population—as well as the nearly one billion people who already go without adequate food—presents a key challenge for economic and human security (see Chapter 16). Many analysts estimate that food production will need to nearly double over the coming several decades (Borlaug, 2007; FAO, 2009). Recent trends of using food crops for fuel (e.g., corn ethanol) or displacing food crops with fuel crops, along with potential opportunities for reforesting land for carbon credits, may amplify the food security challenge by increasing competition for arable land (Fargione et al., 2008). Climate change increases the complexity of meeting these food needs because of its multiple impacts on agricultural crops, livestock, and fisheries. The potential ability of agricultural and fishery systems to limit climate change adds yet another dimension to be considered.

Questions that farmers, fishers, and other decision makers are asking or will be asking about agriculture, fisheries, and food production in the context of climate change include the following:

• How will climate change affect yields?

• How will climate change affect weeds and pests, and will I need more pesticides or different technology to maintain or increase yields?

• Will enough water be available for my crops? Will the risk of flooding or drought increase?

• Should I change to more heat-resistant or slower-growing crop varieties?

• What new market opportunities should I take advantage of? How will competitors in other regions be affected?

• What adjustments do I need to make to guarantee the sustainability of the fisheries under my management?

• How will climate change affect my catch? Will I need new equipment and technology? Will regulations change?

• How will climate change affect the availability of food in domestic and international markets? Will food become more expensive? Will food security increase or decrease?

• How can changes in agricultural production and practices contribute to reduc tions in greenhouse gas emissions or dampen regional-scale impacts related to climate change?

The scientific knowledge summarized in this chapter illustrates how agriculture will be influenced by climate change, and it explores the less well understood impacts of climate change on fisheries. The chapter also indicates how agricultural management may provide opportunities to reduce net human greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and it offers insight into the science needed for adaptation in agriculture systems as well as food security issues. Finally, the chapter provides examples of a broad range of research that is needed to understand the impacts of climate change on food production systems and to develop strategies that assist in both limiting the magnitude of climate change through management practices and reducing vulnerability and increasing adaptive capacity in regions and populations in the United States and other parts of the world.

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