The Impacts of Climate Change on Sustainable Agriculture
A sustainable food supply is critical, but climate change is having a dramatic effect on agriculture in most parts of the world. In this paper I develop a statistical framework for modeling climate changes, and I produce a characterization that separates changes in annual average temperatures from changing variability within each year, to facilitate the analysis of the effects of these different factors. The data I use are records from weather stations on the Canadian Prairies since the 1870s. Many of the serious impacts on agriculture are due to within-year variation, and it is important to separate these from annual shifts. To the farmer, a gradual increase in the annual average temperature of one degree per century has a fairly small effect, particularly given that most of the increase, as is shown by this approach for Canada, has occurred in the winter. However there has been a substantial simultaneous increase in within-year variability, the impacts of which have much more immediate effect. When combined with changes in precipitation, these effects have an enormous impact on all aspects of agriculture. After producing this historical categorization, I then analyze the impact of these changes on the development of field agriculture on the Canadian Prairies, to show how important these two components of climate change have been.
Keywords: Climate, Change, Agriculture, History
Dr. Tony Ward
Chair and Professor, Economics, and Tourism and Environment, Brock University