Global warming will change the weather, meaning farmers will have to move to new areas and learn to grow different crops. After a long period of denial, researchers are now looking closely at agricultural areas in the U.S. in order to predict the changes that will occur if carbon dioxide levels double by 2060, as expected. But for U.K. farmers, the future has already arrived.
In order to predict the future as global warming progresses, researchers have created a new, more complex, computer model. In Discovery News, Larry O'Hanlon quotes Linda Mearns, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, as saying, "We're finding that (the new model) certainly made a bigger difference than expected. Agriculture didn't do as well."
Five out of the ten agricultural regions in the United States come out worse with global warming. Corn production will increase in the Northern Plains more than was expected, but growth will be worse than expected in the Midwest and Southeast. The Southeast will have a one-third loss in its agricultural economy if farmers don't prepare for climate change, and a one-fifth loss even if they do change the crops they grow to reflect warmer conditions. Cotton will thrive under the warmer climate, but other crops will have a harder time. We now import a great deal of cotton, but we may export it in the future.
The future is already here for farmers in the U.K. The driest autumn in 30 years has turned large parts of Britain?s best farmland into a dustbowl. Seeds planted two months ago have not yet sprouted and fields that should be starting to green are still brown. The birds have eaten the few seedlings that have come up and the rest of the seeds have rotted underground. This is an early indication of how global warming, which causes both floods and droughts, will change the areas in the world where food is grown in the future.
In the Telegraph, Robert Uhlig quotes farmer Paul Warburton, who says, "Oilseed rape sown in August should have come up in five days, but still there is no sign?All the farmers I know attended harvest festival. We all sank to our knees and prayed. My family has been farming here since the 1920s and I have never known anything like it."
Peter Kendall, of the National Farmers' Union, says, "East Anglia is a desert. They are [replanting] wheat in Wiltshire because the first sowing failed and at least a third of next year's oilseed rape crop is at risk. It is like a dustbowl all around me."
There have been major changes in the past that have affected entire cultures?and this may be another one.
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