Climate is changing naturally at its own pace, since the beginning of the evolution of earth, 4-5 billion years ago, but presently, it has gained momentum due to inadvertent anthropogenic disturbances. These changes may culminate in adverse impact on human health and the biosphere on which we depend. The multi-faceted interactions among the humans, microbes and the rest of the biosphere, have started reflecting an increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) i.e. CO2, CH4 and N2O, causing warming across the globe along with other cascading consequences in the form of shift in rainfall pattern, melting of ice, rise in sea level etc. The above multifarious interactions among atmospheric composition, climate change and human, plant and animal health need to be scrutinized and probable solutions to the undesirable changes may be sought.
Vulnerability is the degree to which a system is susceptible to, or unable to cope with adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes. Vulnerability is a function of the character, magnitude, and rate of climate change and variation to which a system is exposed as well as the system's sensitivity and adaptive capacity. Vulnerability to climate change varies across regions, sectors, and social groups. Understanding the regional and local dimensions of vulnerability is essential to develop appropriate and targeted adaptation efforts. At the same time, such efforts must recognise that climate change impacts will not be felt in isolation, but in the context of multiple stresses. In particular, the dramatic economic and social changes associated with globalisation themselves present new risks as well as opportunities.
Research on the impact of climate change and vulnerability on agriculture is a high priority in India as the impact, if it follows the predictions, is expected to be widespread and severe. Developing the ability to confidently estimate the impacts
S.N. Singh (ed.), Climate Change and Crops, Environmental Science and Engineering, DOI 10.1007/978-3-540-88246-6.2. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009
of climate change on agriculture is critically important. If ever achieved, it could provide the global information needed to help farmers develop their own long-range response to climate change. Fortunately, we are very near to having such a capability, and it may take 5-7 years to substantially improve the resolution and accuracy of the climate model and evaluate the implications for agriculture.
Changes in the atmospheric chemistry have increased during last few decades due to the heightened anthropogenic activities. Global negotiation have been under way for sometime to reduce the emissions of greenhouses gases to 1990 level, but the success of these endeavors are less certain today due to increasing reluctance of the major contributors to change. Considering the business as usual scenario, CO2 is projected to increase at the rate of 1.8 ppm per year, reaching 397-416 ppm by 2010 and 605-755 by 2070 (Watson et al. 1998). This along with changes in other greenhouses gases is likely to result in a temperature increase of earth's surface and atmosphere.
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