Adapting agriculture to climate change

S.M. Howden, J.F. Soussana, F.N. Tubiello, N. Chhetri, M. Dunlop, H.B. Meinke

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Abstract

The strong trends in climate change already evident, the likelihood of further changes occurring, and the increasing scale of potential climate impacts give urgency to addressing agricultural adaptation more coherently. There are many potential adaptation options available for marginal change of existing agricultural systems, often variations of existing climate risk management. We show that implementation of these options is likely to have substantial benefits under moderate climate change for some cropping systems. However, there are limits to their effectiveness under more severe climate changes. Hence, more systemic changes in resource allocation need to be considered, such as targeted diversification of production systems and livelihoods. We argue that achieving increased adaptation action will necessitate integration of climate change-related issues with other risk factors, such as climate variability and market risk, and with other policy domains, such as sustainable development. Dealing with the many barriers to effective adaptation will require a comprehensive and dynamic policy approach covering a range of scales and issues, for example, from the understanding by farmers of change in risk profiles to the establishment of efficient markets that facilitate response strategies. Science, too, has to adapt. Multidisciplinary problems require multidisciplinary solutions, i.e., a focus on integrated rather than disciplinary science and a strengthening of the interface with decision makers. A crucial component of this approach is the implementation of adaptation assessment frameworks that are relevant, robust, and easily operated by all stakeholders, practitioners, policymakers, and scientists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19691-19696
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume104
Issue number50
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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Keywords

  • change impacts
  • united-states
  • adaptation
  • scenarios
  • variability
  • policy
  • co2
  • fertilization
  • biodiversity
  • management

Cite this

Howden, S. M., Soussana, J. F., Tubiello, F. N., Chhetri, N., Dunlop, M., & Meinke, H. B. (2007). Adapting agriculture to climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(50), 19691-19696. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0701890104