World agriculture faces the dual challenges of increasing crop production and addressing climate change. Increasing population, diets inclusive of more animal-based foods, and increased manufacture of biobased industrial products will require increased crop production of at least 50% by 2050. Agriculture produces approximately 10% of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) (CO2, CH4, N2O). Our plant and animal agricultural production systems will need to mitigate production of GHGs and adapt to the stresses of climate change, as well as take advantages of benefits. A bigger question for agriculture than change itself will be how to deal with the unpredictability of alterations in temperature, precipitation levels and patterns, and growing season and of extreme weather events. Furthermore, the challenges posed by climate change must be met by agriculture as the industry deals with declining reserves of fossil fuels and fertilizers.
As the scientific evidence of global climate change continues to accumulate and the predicted impacts of a warming planet become more widely known, national policies and international agreements designed to mitigate global warming have sought to strike a balance between environmental sustainability and economic achievement. The Kyoto Accord was developed to established binding emissions reduction targets and timetables for industrialized countries, and included flexibility provisions intended to reduce the overall cost of emissions reductions.
What can we human beings do to provide ourselves with a better world for the future at a time when we are facing major challenges, especially due to a global economy where problems in one country spread to others.
The potential impacts of climate change on cropping patterns are highly researchable but present significant methodological challenges. Climate-change impacts are not simply a question of increased or decreased productivity. The impacts may have dramatic effects on land use as well as cropping practices in a given region. Ecological niche modeling and crop-simulation modeling are powerful, complementary tools for examining the spatial and temporal aspects of climate-change impacts. Their successful application, however, requires effective interdisciplinary collaboration, including participation from plant biology
With climate change, there will be stresses on agricultural production in some regions and opportunities in others. Will there be financial and regulatory support for diversification into other crops and for possibly relocating agriculture production to other areas? Will there be investments in public infrastructure, such as transportation and water supply, to support the new regions where conflicting demands for available water leads to conflict.It is important to recognize that choices made now will have continuing economic and social impacts for a long time.
Rapidly increasing atmospheric abundance of CO2 and other GHGs leading to an increase in mean global temperature of 1 to 4°C by the end of the 21st century necessitates identification and use of relevant adaptation strategies. Depending on land use and management, sustainable agricultural ecosystems can be an important part of the solution to ACC and other environmental issues. Appropriate species, rotation cycles, and soil- and water-management options must be carefully assessed. Sustainable soil-management options include conservation tillage with residue management, integrated nutrient management, and restoration of degraded soils